Posts Tagged 'red bull'

Vettel takes over at the top

As Sebastian Vettel put down his winner’s trophy after holding it up in celebration on the Korean Grand Prix podium, Fernando Alonso tapped him on the back and reached out to shake his hand. It was a symbolic reflection of the championship lead being handed from one to the other.

After three consecutive victories for Vettel and Red Bull, the last two of which have been utterly dominant, it does not look as though Alonso is going to be getting it back.

Alonso will push to the end, of course, and he made all the right noises after the race, talking about Ferrari “moving in the right direction” and only needing “a little step to compete with Red Bull”.

“Four beautiful races to come with good possibilities for us to fight for the championship,” he said, adding: “Now we need to score seven points more than Sebastian. That will be extremely tough but we believe we can do it.”

Alonso (left) and Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel won the Korean GP by finishing ahead of team-mate Mark Webber and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso (left). Photo: Reuters

Indeed, a couple of hours after the race, Alonso was quoting samurai warrior-philosophy again on his Twitter account, just as he had in Japan a week before.

“I’ve never been able to win from start to finish,” he wrote. “I only learned not to be left behind in any situation.”

Fighting against the seemingly inevitable is his only option. The facts are that the Ferrari has been slower than the Red Bull in terms of outright pace all year, and there is no reason to suspect anything different in the final four races of the season.

Vettel’s victory in Korea was utterly crushing in the manner of so many of his 11 wins in his dominant 2011 season. The Red Bull has moved on to another level since Singapore and Vettel, as he always does in that position, has gone with it.

Up and down the pit lane, people are questioning how Red Bull have done it, and a lot of attention has fallen on the team’s new ‘double DRS’ system.

This takes an idea introduced in different form by Mercedes at the start the season and, typically of Red Bull’s design genius Adrian Newey, applies it in a more elegant and effective way.

It means that when the DRS overtaking aid is activated – and its use is free in practice and qualifying – the car benefits from a greater drag reduction, and therefore more straight-line speed than its rivals.

Vettel has been at pains to emphasise that this does not help Red Bull in the race, when they can only use the DRS in a specified zone when overtaking other cars. But that’s not the whole story.

The greater drag reduction in qualifying means that the team can run the car with more downforce than they would otherwise be able to – because the ‘double DRS’ means they do not suffer the normal straight-line speed deficit of doing so.

That means the car’s overall lap time is quicker, whether in race or qualifying. So although the Red Bull drivers can’t use the ‘double DRS’ as a lap-time aid in the actual grands prix, they are still benefiting from having it on the car.

And they are not at risk on straights in the race because the extra overall pace, from the greater downforce, means they are far enough ahead of their rivals for them not to be able to challenge them, let alone overtake them. As long as they qualify at the front, anyway.

It’s not all down to the ‘double DRS’, though. McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe said in Korea: “They appear to have made a good step on their car. I doubt that is all down to that system. I doubt if a lot of it is down to that system, actually. You’ll probably find it’s just general development.”

BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson will go into more details on this in his column on Monday. Whatever the reasons for it, though, Red Bull’s rediscovered dominant form means Alonso is in trouble.

While Red Bull have been adding great chunks of performance to their car, Ferrari have been fiddling around with rear-wing design, a relatively small factor in overall car performance.

They have admitted they are struggling with inconsistency between the results they are getting in testing new parts in their wind tunnel and their performance on the track, so it is hard to see how they will close the gap on a Red Bull team still working flat out on their own updates.

The Ferrari has proved adaptable and consistent, delivering strong performances at every race since a major upgrade after the first four grands prix of the year.

But the only time Alonso has had definitively the quickest car is when it has been raining. It is in the wet that he took one of his three wins, and both his poles.

But he cannot realistically expect it to rain in the next three races in Delhi, Abu Dhabi and Austin, Texas. And after that only Brazil remains. So Alonso is effectively hoping for Vettel to hit problems, as he more or less admitted himself on Sunday.

How he must be ruing the bad breaks of those first-corner retirements in Belgium and Japan – even if they did effectively only cancel out Vettel’s two alternator failures in Valencia and Monza.

If anyone had reason on Sunday to regret what might have been, though, it was Lewis Hamilton, who has driven fantastically well all season only to be let down by his McLaren team in one way or another.

Hamilton, his title hopes over, wasted no time in pointing out after the race in Korea that the broken anti-roll bar that dropped him from fourth to 10th was the second suspension failure in as many races, and a broken gearbox robbed him of victory at the previous race in Singapore.

Operational problems in the early races of the season also cost him a big chunk of points.

Hamilton wears his heart on his sleeve, and in one off-the-cuff remark to Finnish television after the race, he revealed a great deal about why he has decided to move to Mercedes next year.

“It’s a day to forget,” Hamilton said. “A year to forget as well. I’m looking forward to a fresh start next year.”

In other words, I’ve had enough of four years of not being good enough, for various reasons, and I might as well try my luck elsewhere.

There was another post-race comment from Hamilton, too, that said an awful lot. “I hope Fernando keeps pushing,” he said.

Hamilton did not reply when asked directly whether that meant he wanted Alonso to win the title. But you can be sure that remark is a reflection of Hamilton’s belief that he is better than Vettel, that only Alonso is his equal.

Whether that is a correct interpretation of the standing of the three best drivers in the world, it will take more than this season to tell.

In the meantime, if Alonso and Ferrari are not to be mistaken in their belief that they still have a chance, “keeping pushing” is exactly what they must do. Like never before.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2012/10/as_sebastian_vettel_put_down.html

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Vettel takes over at the top

As Sebastian Vettel put down his winner’s trophy after holding it up in celebration on the Korean Grand Prix podium, Fernando Alonso tapped him on the back and reached out to shake his hand. It was a symbolic reflection of the championship lead being handed from one to the other.

After three consecutive victories for Vettel and Red Bull, the last two of which have been utterly dominant, it does not look as though Alonso is going to be getting it back.

Alonso will push to the end, of course, and he made all the right noises after the race, talking about Ferrari “moving in the right direction” and only needing “a little step to compete with Red Bull”.

“Four beautiful races to come with good possibilities for us to fight for the championship,” he said, adding: “Now we need to score seven points more than Sebastian. That will be extremely tough but we believe we can do it.”

Alonso (left) and Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel won the Korean GP by finishing ahead of team-mate Mark Webber and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso (left). Photo: Reuters

Indeed, a couple of hours after the race, Alonso was quoting samurai warrior-philosophy again on his Twitter account, just as he had in Japan a week before.

“I’ve never been able to win from start to finish,” he wrote. “I only learned not to be left behind in any situation.”

Fighting against the seemingly inevitable is his only option. The facts are that the Ferrari has been slower than the Red Bull in terms of outright pace all year, and there is no reason to suspect anything different in the final four races of the season.

Vettel’s victory in Korea was utterly crushing in the manner of so many of his 11 wins in his dominant 2011 season. The Red Bull has moved on to another level since Singapore and Vettel, as he always does in that position, has gone with it.

Up and down the pit lane, people are questioning how Red Bull have done it, and a lot of attention has fallen on the team’s new ‘double DRS’ system.

This takes an idea introduced in different form by Mercedes at the start the season and, typically of Red Bull’s design genius Adrian Newey, applies it in a more elegant and effective way.

It means that when the DRS overtaking aid is activated – and its use is free in practice and qualifying – the car benefits from a greater drag reduction, and therefore more straight-line speed than its rivals.

Vettel has been at pains to emphasise that this does not help Red Bull in the race, when they can only use the DRS in a specified zone when overtaking other cars. But that’s not the whole story.

The greater drag reduction in qualifying means that the team can run the car with more downforce than they would otherwise be able to – because the ‘double DRS’ means they do not suffer the normal straight-line speed deficit of doing so.

That means the car’s overall lap time is quicker, whether in race or qualifying. So although the Red Bull drivers can’t use the ‘double DRS’ as a lap-time aid in the actual grands prix, they are still benefiting from having it on the car.

And they are not at risk on straights in the race because the extra overall pace, from the greater downforce, means they are far enough ahead of their rivals for them not to be able to challenge them, let alone overtake them. As long as they qualify at the front, anyway.

It’s not all down to the ‘double DRS’, though. McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe said in Korea: “They appear to have made a good step on their car. I doubt that is all down to that system. I doubt if a lot of it is down to that system, actually. You’ll probably find it’s just general development.”

BBC F1 technical analyst Gary Anderson will go into more details on this in his column on Monday. Whatever the reasons for it, though, Red Bull’s rediscovered dominant form means Alonso is in trouble.

While Red Bull have been adding great chunks of performance to their car, Ferrari have been fiddling around with rear-wing design, a relatively small factor in overall car performance.

They have admitted they are struggling with inconsistency between the results they are getting in testing new parts in their wind tunnel and their performance on the track, so it is hard to see how they will close the gap on a Red Bull team still working flat out on their own updates.

The Ferrari has proved adaptable and consistent, delivering strong performances at every race since a major upgrade after the first four grands prix of the year.

But the only time Alonso has had definitively the quickest car is when it has been raining. It is in the wet that he took one of his three wins, and both his poles.

But he cannot realistically expect it to rain in the next three races in Delhi, Abu Dhabi and Austin, Texas. And after that only Brazil remains. So Alonso is effectively hoping for Vettel to hit problems, as he more or less admitted himself on Sunday.

How he must be ruing the bad breaks of those first-corner retirements in Belgium and Japan – even if they did effectively only cancel out Vettel’s two alternator failures in Valencia and Monza.

If anyone had reason on Sunday to regret what might have been, though, it was Lewis Hamilton, who has driven fantastically well all season only to be let down by his McLaren team in one way or another.

Hamilton, his title hopes over, wasted no time in pointing out after the race in Korea that the broken anti-roll bar that dropped him from fourth to 10th was the second suspension failure in as many races, and a broken gearbox robbed him of victory at the previous race in Singapore.

Operational problems in the early races of the season also cost him a big chunk of points.

Hamilton wears his heart on his sleeve, and in one off-the-cuff remark to Finnish television after the race, he revealed a great deal about why he has decided to move to Mercedes next year.

“It’s a day to forget,” Hamilton said. “A year to forget as well. I’m looking forward to a fresh start next year.”

In other words, I’ve had enough of four years of not being good enough, for various reasons, and I might as well try my luck elsewhere.

There was another post-race comment from Hamilton, too, that said an awful lot. “I hope Fernando keeps pushing,” he said.

Hamilton did not reply when asked directly whether that meant he wanted Alonso to win the title. But you can be sure that remark is a reflection of Hamilton’s belief that he is better than Vettel, that only Alonso is his equal.

Whether that is a correct interpretation of the standing of the three best drivers in the world, it will take more than this season to tell.

In the meantime, if Alonso and Ferrari are not to be mistaken in their belief that they still have a chance, “keeping pushing” is exactly what they must do. Like never before.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2012/10/as_sebastian_vettel_put_down.html

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Win an exclusive tour of the Red Bull factory

Click here to read more about Win an exclusive tour of the Red Bull factory

The F1 Times has teamed up with Red Bull to offer you the chance to win an exclusive tour of the Red Bull Racing factory in Milton Keynes. All you need to do is test your reactions and skill to complete a number of tasks. The quicker you do them,… More »

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Raikkonen in rude health

Kimi Raikkonen already had a bottle of beer in his hand by the time he joined his Lotus team for the now-traditional group photo following a grand prix victory.

Knowing Raikkonen’s reputation, it will almost certainly not have been the last drink that passed his lips in Abu Dhabi on Sunday night as he celebrated his first win since returning to Formula 1 this year after two years in rallying.

“For sure we’re going to have a good party today,” the sport’s most famous hedonist said on he podium, “and hopefully tomorrow, when we are feeling bad after a long night, we will remember how we feel.”

How long will you celebrate for, he was asked.

“I have almost two weeks,” he said. “As long as I manage to get myself to the next race I think the team is happy. I try to get home at some point.”

The party is well deserved. Raikkonen’s comeback year has had its ups and downs, but a win has looked a probability since the start of the season, and in many ways the big surprise has been that it has taken so long.

Raikkonen has been remarkably strong and consistent in races this season, but until Abu Dhabi his best chances of victory had been squandered by starting too far down the grid.

Raikkonen has now taken 37% of his career victories after starting from outside the top three on the grid. Photo: Getty

He is the first to admit that he has made too many mistakes in qualifying. Indeed, for the first half of the season he was generally being out-paced over one lap on Saturdays by his novice team-mate Romain Grosjean.

But in the second half of the season his qualifying pace has edged forward, the mistakes have dried up, and this weekend everything came together to produce the result the team and he undoubtedly deserve.

Out of the car, Raikkonen is about as uncommunicative as they come. He simply refuses to engage in the media game. That can be frustrating for journalists who are searching for insight from an undoubtedly great driver, but still there is no mystery about his true character.

The radio messages that caused such amusement during the race sum him up.

His poor race engineer was only doing his job when he informed him of the gap to Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari behind him, and some may find it rude that Raikkonen would respond by asking him to “leave me alone, I know what I’m doing”.

But that is Raikkonen all over. He’s a no-nonsense character, and he just wants things the way he wants them. And if he is not comfortable in the spotlight, he was born to be in a Formula 1 car at the front of a grand prix.

“Kimi is a man of few words but he’s all about racing,” McLaren driver Jenson Button said, summing up the Finn’s unique appeal.

“It’s good to see him have a good race here and collect the victory. He does deserve it. He is back for the racing. That’s what he loves and it’s good to see that.”

For all his impressive performance, Raikkonen owed his win to Lewis Hamilton’s wretched fortune at McLaren.

Yet another failure – this one in a fuel pump on the McLaren’s Mercedes engine – cost Hamilton another victory. It’s the second time it has happened in five races and it is the story of his season.

Hamilton said on Sunday that he had “been at my best this year” and so it has looked, but he also made a pointed reference to McLaren’s myriad problems throughout the season: “We have not done a good enough job to win this championship.”

For the men who can win it, it was a weekend of wildly fluctuating fortunes.

Following Sebastian Vettel’s exclusion from qualifying because not enough fuel had been put in his Red Bull to provide the requisite one-litre sample, it appeared that Alonso had a golden opportunity to close down some of the advantage the German had eked out with his four consecutive wins through Singapore, Japan, Korea and India.

But after a wildly topsy-turvy race and an impressive drive by Vettel, the German joined his Spanish rival on the podium.

All three podium finishers gave an object lesson in racing to the many drivers who crash-banged into each other behind them, including each of their team-mates, and while Vettel’s drive quite rightly stood out, so too was a little luck involved.

Vettel damaged his front wing against Bruno Senna’s Williams on the first lap, but was able to continue and overtake the rabbits at the back of the field.

Then, not for the first time in his career, he made a mistake behind the safety car, misjudging the pace of Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso as the Australian warmed his brakes, veering to avoid him, and finishing off the front wing against a marker board.

The mistake forced Red Bull to pit Vettel when they were not going to and the fresh tyres he fitted at the stop meant he had a grip advantage over the drivers he now had to pass.

Again, he sliced rapidly through the backmarkers – this time without incident – so that he was up to seventh by the time the pit-stop period started for those in front of him.

By the time the leaders had all stopped, Vettel was in second place, and suddenly it looked like he might have a chance of pulling off a sensational victory.

Raikkonen’s Lotus team, for one, thought Vettel would not be stopping again, but Red Bull were concerned enough about tyre wear to want to play safe, and the 20 seconds he lost in his second pit stop were then wiped out by another safety car.

Fourth at the re-start, the fastest car in the field and on fresher tyres than Raikkonen, Alonso and Button ahead of him, it again looked like he might win.

In the end, though, Button’s clever defence kept him behind long enough to ensure that although he could pass the McLaren, third was as far as he was going to go.

BBC F1 chief analyst Eddie Jordan said Vettel’s ability to salvage a podium finish from a pit-lane start must feel like a “dagger in the heart for Ferrari” but if Alonso was disappointed you would not want to play poker with him.

He talked about his pride at finishing second in a race Ferrari had expected to deliver a fifth or sixth place – and as Red Bull team boss Christian Horner pointed out, Alonso celebrated on the podium as if he had won the race.

For a while now, Alonso has been saying Red Bull’s winning run would end, that eventually they would have some bad luck.

Well, in Abu Dhabi they had it, and still Alonso could gain only three points on Vettel, and it was noticeable that the tone of his remarks after the race shifted slightly.

In India two weeks ago, he said he was still “100% confident” of winning the title. After Abu Dhabi, though, he did not repeat that remark.

“Without the problem for Sebastian we were thinking we would exit Abu Dhabi with 20 points deficit or something and we are 10 (behind),” Alonso said. “In the end it was a good weekend for us.

“They will have the fastest car in the last two races. There is no magic part that will come for Austin or Brazil. But as I said a couple of races ago, they have the fastest car, we have the best team. So we see who wins.”

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2012/11/post_abu_dhabi.html

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Warrior Alonso bides his time

Almost Fernando Alonso’s first act after what must have been the huge blow of seeing Sebastian Vettel slash his world championship lead to just four points at the Japanese Grand Prix, was to quote that country’s great swordfighter and philosopher Miyamoto Musashi.

“If the enemy thinks of the mountains,” Alonso wrote on his Twitter account, “attack by sea; and if he thinks of the sea, attack by the mountains.”

That the Ferrari driver can reach for the words of a 17th century kensei warrior and strategist in a moment of such strain reveals a lot about the manner in which he combines an indomitable fighting spirit with a status as possibly the most cerebral Formula 1 driver of his generation.

But it will take more than relentlessness and clever strategy for Alonso to hold on to a lead for which he has struggled so hard this season, but which has now dwindled to almost nothing.

The 31-year-old, who spun out at Suzuka with a puncture after being tagged by Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus on the run to the first corner, has carried his Ferrari team on his back this year.

Alonso has won three races and taken a series of strong points finishes to establish what was until recently an imposing championship lead in a car that has never once been quick enough to set pole position in the dry.

He did so by driving, in terms of consistency and lack of mistakes, one of the most perfect seasons there has ever been – a feat made all the more impressive because it was done in not the best car.

Fernando Alonso leads Sebastian Vettel in the Championship by four points. Photo: Getty

Yet now, through no fault of his own, Alonso has failed to finish two of the last four races and in that time Vettel has made hay, taking 37 points out of his rival’s lead.

Heading into Japan, it was already beginning to look as if Vettel was going to be hard to resist.

While the Red Bull has been a forbiddingly quick race car all season, the team did not in the first half of the season find it very easy to get the best out of it in qualifying.

But since mid-summer they have found consistency, and started to qualify regularly at the front of the grid as well. At the same time, luck has deserted Ferrari and Alonso.

More than that, Red Bull also appear in recent races to have made a significant step forward in the performance of their car.

Vettel looked very strong in Singapore two weeks ago, trading fastest times with Lewis Hamilton throughout the weekend and taking victory after the Englishman’s McLaren retired from the lead with a gearbox failure. And in Japan the Red Bull looked unbeatable from as early as Saturday final practice session.

How much of this is to do with the new ‘double DRS’ system which came to light in Suzuka is unclear.

Team boss Christian Horner said he thought it was more to do with the characteristics of the track suiting those of the Red Bull car. Perhaps, but the ‘double DRS’ certainly won’t be doing any harm.

Unlike the system that Mercedes have been using since the start of the season, which uses the DRS overtaking aid to ‘stall’ the front wing, Red Bull’s works entirely on the rear wing.

What it means is that they can run the car with more downforce in qualifying without the consequent straight-line speed penalty caused by the extra drag, because the ‘double DRS’ bleeds off the drag.

This does bring a straight-line speed penalty in the race, when DRS use is no longer free. But as long as the car qualifies at the front, this does not matter, as it is quick enough over a lap to stay out of reach of its rivals.

It is not clear how long Red Bull have been working on this system at grand prix weekends, but to the best of BBC Sport’s knowledge, Japan was the first time they had raced it. Coupled with a new front wing design introduced in Singapore, it has turned an already strong package into an intimidating one.

Vettel used it to dominate the race in the fashion he did so many in 2011 on his way to his second-consecutive title. As he so often does in the fastest car when he starts at the front of the grid, he looked invincible.

Alonso, though, is not one to be intimidated easily and will take solace from the fact that Ferrari’s pace compared to Red Bull was not as bad as it might appear at first glance.

Alonso may have qualified only seventh, but he reckoned he was on course for fourth place on the grid before having to slow for caution flags marking Raikkonen’s spun Lotus at Spoon Curve.

And judging by the pace shown by his team-mate Felipe Massa in the race, Alonso would have finished in a sure-fire second place had he got beyond the first corner. He might even have been able to challenge Vettel, given how much faster the Ferrari has been in races than in qualifying this year.

Alonso’s problem for the remainder of the season is that salvaging podiums is no longer enough – he needs to start winning races again. Which means Ferrari need to start improving their car relative to the opposition.

Meanwhile, spice has been added to an already intriguing final five races by a seemingly innocuous incident in qualifying in Japan.

After slowing as he passed Raikkonen’s car, Alonso continued on his flying lap, but when he got to the chicane, he came across Vettel, who blocked him.

Ferrari reckoned this cost Alonso somewhere in the region of 0.1-0.2secs, which would have moved him up a place on the grid. The stewards, though, decided to give Vettel only a reprimand.

They justified this on the basis that they believed Vettel had not known Alonso was there – and they let him off not looking in his mirrors because they felt he had reason to believe no-one would be continuing on a flying lap following the Raikkonen incident.

But some would see that as flawed thinking. Alonso was one of several drivers who had at that point not set a time in the top 10 shoot-out, and all of them were likely to be continuing their laps because whatever time they did set was going to define their grid slot.

Although there is no suggestion Vettel held up Alonso deliberately, the Red Bull driver is a sharp cookie, and almost certainly would have known this.

Even if he did not, his team should have warned him. And on that basis, it can be argued that Vettel’s offence was no less bad than that of Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne, who was given a three-place grid penalty for delaying Williams’s Bruno Senna in similar fashion earlier in qualifying.

Ferrari were distinctly unimpressed by the stewards’ verdict, but Alonso being Alonso, he has not mentioned any of this publicly. Alonso being Alonso, though, he will have lodged it away for the future.

In the meantime, before heading to Korea for another potentially pivotal race next weekend, might he be studying Musashi a little more?

You must “know the times”, Musashi wrote. “Knowing the times means if your ability is high, seeing right into things. If you are thoroughly conversant with strategy, you will recognise the enemy’s intentions and thus have many opportunities to win.

“If you attain and adhere to the wisdom of my strategy, you need never doubt that you will win.”

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2012/10/post_4.html

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Raikkonen in rude health

Kimi Raikkonen already had a bottle of beer in his hand by the time he joined his Lotus team for the now-traditional group photo following a grand prix victory.

Knowing Raikkonen’s reputation, it will almost certainly not have been the last drink that passed his lips in Abu Dhabi on Sunday night as he celebrated his first win since returning to Formula 1 this year after two years in rallying.

“For sure we’re going to have a good party today,” the sport’s most famous hedonist said on he podium, “and hopefully tomorrow, when we are feeling bad after a long night, we will remember how we feel.”

How long will you celebrate for, he was asked.

“I have almost two weeks,” he said. “As long as I manage to get myself to the next race I think the team is happy. I try to get home at some point.”

The party is well deserved. Raikkonen’s comeback year has had its ups and downs, but a win has looked a probability since the start of the season, and in many ways the big surprise has been that it has taken so long.

Raikkonen has been remarkably strong and consistent in races this season, but until Abu Dhabi his best chances of victory had been squandered by starting too far down the grid.

Raikkonen has now taken 37% of his career victories after starting from outside the top three on the grid. Photo: Getty

He is the first to admit that he has made too many mistakes in qualifying. Indeed, for the first half of the season he was generally being out-paced over one lap on Saturdays by his novice team-mate Romain Grosjean.

But in the second half of the season his qualifying pace has edged forward, the mistakes have dried up, and this weekend everything came together to produce the result the team and he undoubtedly deserve.

Out of the car, Raikkonen is about as uncommunicative as they come. He simply refuses to engage in the media game. That can be frustrating for journalists who are searching for insight from an undoubtedly great driver, but still there is no mystery about his true character.

The radio messages that caused such amusement during the race sum him up.

His poor race engineer was only doing his job when he informed him of the gap to Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari behind him, and some may find it rude that Raikkonen would respond by asking him to “leave me alone, I know what I’m doing”.

But that is Raikkonen all over. He’s a no-nonsense character, and he just wants things the way he wants them. And if he is not comfortable in the spotlight, he was born to be in a Formula 1 car at the front of a grand prix.

“Kimi is a man of few words but he’s all about racing,” McLaren driver Jenson Button said, summing up the Finn’s unique appeal.

“It’s good to see him have a good race here and collect the victory. He does deserve it. He is back for the racing. That’s what he loves and it’s good to see that.”

For all his impressive performance, Raikkonen owed his win to Lewis Hamilton’s wretched fortune at McLaren.

Yet another failure – this one in a fuel pump on the McLaren’s Mercedes engine – cost Hamilton another victory. It’s the second time it has happened in five races and it is the story of his season.

Hamilton said on Sunday that he had “been at my best this year” and so it has looked, but he also made a pointed reference to McLaren’s myriad problems throughout the season: “We have not done a good enough job to win this championship.”

For the men who can win it, it was a weekend of wildly fluctuating fortunes.

Following Sebastian Vettel’s exclusion from qualifying because not enough fuel had been put in his Red Bull to provide the requisite one-litre sample, it appeared that Alonso had a golden opportunity to close down some of the advantage the German had eked out with his four consecutive wins through Singapore, Japan, Korea and India.

But after a wildly topsy-turvy race and an impressive drive by Vettel, the German joined his Spanish rival on the podium.

All three podium finishers gave an object lesson in racing to the many drivers who crash-banged into each other behind them, including each of their team-mates, and while Vettel’s drive quite rightly stood out, so too was a little luck involved.

Vettel damaged his front wing against Bruno Senna’s Williams on the first lap, but was able to continue and overtake the rabbits at the back of the field.

Then, not for the first time in his career, he made a mistake behind the safety car, misjudging the pace of Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso as the Australian warmed his brakes, veering to avoid him, and finishing off the front wing against a marker board.

The mistake forced Red Bull to pit Vettel when they were not going to and the fresh tyres he fitted at the stop meant he had a grip advantage over the drivers he now had to pass.

Again, he sliced rapidly through the backmarkers – this time without incident – so that he was up to seventh by the time the pit-stop period started for those in front of him.

By the time the leaders had all stopped, Vettel was in second place, and suddenly it looked like he might have a chance of pulling off a sensational victory.

Raikkonen’s Lotus team, for one, thought Vettel would not be stopping again, but Red Bull were concerned enough about tyre wear to want to play safe, and the 20 seconds he lost in his second pit stop were then wiped out by another safety car.

Fourth at the re-start, the fastest car in the field and on fresher tyres than Raikkonen, Alonso and Button ahead of him, it again looked like he might win.

In the end, though, Button’s clever defence kept him behind long enough to ensure that although he could pass the McLaren, third was as far as he was going to go.

BBC F1 chief analyst Eddie Jordan said Vettel’s ability to salvage a podium finish from a pit-lane start must feel like a “dagger in the heart for Ferrari” but if Alonso was disappointed you would not want to play poker with him.

He talked about his pride at finishing second in a race Ferrari had expected to deliver a fifth or sixth place – and as Red Bull team boss Christian Horner pointed out, Alonso celebrated on the podium as if he had won the race.

For a while now, Alonso has been saying Red Bull’s winning run would end, that eventually they would have some bad luck.

Well, in Abu Dhabi they had it, and still Alonso could gain only three points on Vettel, and it was noticeable that the tone of his remarks after the race shifted slightly.

In India two weeks ago, he said he was still “100% confident” of winning the title. After Abu Dhabi, though, he did not repeat that remark.

“Without the problem for Sebastian we were thinking we would exit Abu Dhabi with 20 points deficit or something and we are 10 (behind),” Alonso said. “In the end it was a good weekend for us.

“They will have the fastest car in the last two races. There is no magic part that will come for Austin or Brazil. But as I said a couple of races ago, they have the fastest car, we have the best team. So we see who wins.”

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2012/11/post_abu_dhabi.html

Emerson Fittipaldi Rudi Fischer Dan Gurney Paddy Driver


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Raikkonen in rude health

Kimi Raikkonen already had a bottle of beer in his hand by the time he joined his Lotus team for the now-traditional group photo following a grand prix victory.

Knowing Raikkonen’s reputation, it will almost certainly not have been the last drink that passed his lips in Abu Dhabi on Sunday night as he celebrated his first win since returning to Formula 1 this year after two years in rallying.

“For sure we’re going to have a good party today,” the sport’s most famous hedonist said on he podium, “and hopefully tomorrow, when we are feeling bad after a long night, we will remember how we feel.”

How long will you celebrate for, he was asked.

“I have almost two weeks,” he said. “As long as I manage to get myself to the next race I think the team is happy. I try to get home at some point.”

The party is well deserved. Raikkonen’s comeback year has had its ups and downs, but a win has looked a probability since the start of the season, and in many ways the big surprise has been that it has taken so long.

Raikkonen has been remarkably strong and consistent in races this season, but until Abu Dhabi his best chances of victory had been squandered by starting too far down the grid.

Raikkonen has now taken 37% of his career victories after starting from outside the top three on the grid. Photo: Getty

He is the first to admit that he has made too many mistakes in qualifying. Indeed, for the first half of the season he was generally being out-paced over one lap on Saturdays by his novice team-mate Romain Grosjean.

But in the second half of the season his qualifying pace has edged forward, the mistakes have dried up, and this weekend everything came together to produce the result the team and he undoubtedly deserve.

Out of the car, Raikkonen is about as uncommunicative as they come. He simply refuses to engage in the media game. That can be frustrating for journalists who are searching for insight from an undoubtedly great driver, but still there is no mystery about his true character.

The radio messages that caused such amusement during the race sum him up.

His poor race engineer was only doing his job when he informed him of the gap to Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari behind him, and some may find it rude that Raikkonen would respond by asking him to “leave me alone, I know what I’m doing”.

But that is Raikkonen all over. He’s a no-nonsense character, and he just wants things the way he wants them. And if he is not comfortable in the spotlight, he was born to be in a Formula 1 car at the front of a grand prix.

“Kimi is a man of few words but he’s all about racing,” McLaren driver Jenson Button said, summing up the Finn’s unique appeal.

“It’s good to see him have a good race here and collect the victory. He does deserve it. He is back for the racing. That’s what he loves and it’s good to see that.”

For all his impressive performance, Raikkonen owed his win to Lewis Hamilton’s wretched fortune at McLaren.

Yet another failure – this one in a fuel pump on the McLaren’s Mercedes engine – cost Hamilton another victory. It’s the second time it has happened in five races and it is the story of his season.

Hamilton said on Sunday that he had “been at my best this year” and so it has looked, but he also made a pointed reference to McLaren’s myriad problems throughout the season: “We have not done a good enough job to win this championship.”

For the men who can win it, it was a weekend of wildly fluctuating fortunes.

Following Sebastian Vettel’s exclusion from qualifying because not enough fuel had been put in his Red Bull to provide the requisite one-litre sample, it appeared that Alonso had a golden opportunity to close down some of the advantage the German had eked out with his four consecutive wins through Singapore, Japan, Korea and India.

But after a wildly topsy-turvy race and an impressive drive by Vettel, the German joined his Spanish rival on the podium.

All three podium finishers gave an object lesson in racing to the many drivers who crash-banged into each other behind them, including each of their team-mates, and while Vettel’s drive quite rightly stood out, so too was a little luck involved.

Vettel damaged his front wing against Bruno Senna’s Williams on the first lap, but was able to continue and overtake the rabbits at the back of the field.

Then, not for the first time in his career, he made a mistake behind the safety car, misjudging the pace of Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso as the Australian warmed his brakes, veering to avoid him, and finishing off the front wing against a marker board.

The mistake forced Red Bull to pit Vettel when they were not going to and the fresh tyres he fitted at the stop meant he had a grip advantage over the drivers he now had to pass.

Again, he sliced rapidly through the backmarkers – this time without incident – so that he was up to seventh by the time the pit-stop period started for those in front of him.

By the time the leaders had all stopped, Vettel was in second place, and suddenly it looked like he might have a chance of pulling off a sensational victory.

Raikkonen’s Lotus team, for one, thought Vettel would not be stopping again, but Red Bull were concerned enough about tyre wear to want to play safe, and the 20 seconds he lost in his second pit stop were then wiped out by another safety car.

Fourth at the re-start, the fastest car in the field and on fresher tyres than Raikkonen, Alonso and Button ahead of him, it again looked like he might win.

In the end, though, Button’s clever defence kept him behind long enough to ensure that although he could pass the McLaren, third was as far as he was going to go.

BBC F1 chief analyst Eddie Jordan said Vettel’s ability to salvage a podium finish from a pit-lane start must feel like a “dagger in the heart for Ferrari” but if Alonso was disappointed you would not want to play poker with him.

He talked about his pride at finishing second in a race Ferrari had expected to deliver a fifth or sixth place – and as Red Bull team boss Christian Horner pointed out, Alonso celebrated on the podium as if he had won the race.

For a while now, Alonso has been saying Red Bull’s winning run would end, that eventually they would have some bad luck.

Well, in Abu Dhabi they had it, and still Alonso could gain only three points on Vettel, and it was noticeable that the tone of his remarks after the race shifted slightly.

In India two weeks ago, he said he was still “100% confident” of winning the title. After Abu Dhabi, though, he did not repeat that remark.

“Without the problem for Sebastian we were thinking we would exit Abu Dhabi with 20 points deficit or something and we are 10 (behind),” Alonso said. “In the end it was a good weekend for us.

“They will have the fastest car in the last two races. There is no magic part that will come for Austin or Brazil. But as I said a couple of races ago, they have the fastest car, we have the best team. So we see who wins.”

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/andrewbenson/2012/11/post_abu_dhabi.html

Mike Hawthorn Brian Henton Billy Garrett HeinzHarald Frentzen


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Vettel: You haven’t seen the best of me

Click here to read more about Vettel: You haven't seen the best of me

Sebastian Vettel is confident that he can still improve his performance in Formula 1 despite already being a three-time champion. The German became only the third driver in history to complete a title triple with Red Bull this year, emulating the… More »

Source: http://feeds.totalf1.com/~r/totalf1-recent/~3/mo1JC77gVoM/

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