Autosport International, which begins today and runs into the weekend at the NEC in Birmingham, we be visited by a real collection of star drivers. Damon Hill OBE will be reunited with his winning Williams FW18 car – exactly 20 years since winning the 1996 Formula 1 World Championship. Revered triple World Champion Petter Solberg joins Hill at Autosport International and will be piloting his Citroen Xsara World Rally car around the confines of the 5000-seater Live Action Arena.
Lewis Hamilton’s victory at the British Grand Prix was inspired by an early pit stop to fit Pirelli’s Cinturato wet tyres, having conceded pole position to his Williams rivals at the start. Mercedes made the right strategy call a second time, when Hamilton was brought in for his second stop (for intermediates) just as proper rain hit the end of the grand prix.
Lewis Hamilton claimed the second drivers’ championship of his career after winning the title decider in Abu Dhabi, using a two-stop strategy. It was the first time Hamilton has won a championship on Pirelli tyres. The Mercedes driver started on the P Zero Red supersoft tyre from second on the grid, but took the lead […]
Two grands prix into the 2014 Formula One season, Pirelli motorsport director Paul Hembery believes that tyre strategy is already becoming “a bigger factor”. Much of the pre- and early-season analysis has focused on the new powertrains and regulations introduced into F1 this season, while Pirelli has been careful to provide harder, more conservative tyres to compensate for the concentration devoted to engineering the substantially altered F1 cars. However, the occasion of the Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai, where the P Zero White medium and P Zero Yellow soft tyres will be used, provides an early opportunity for teams to apply what they have learned so far to using the Italian manufacturer’s tyres more strategically.
Following the conclusion of Formula Ones three preseason tests in Bahrain, Pirelli has stated that the characteristics of the 2014 P Zero tyre range were in line with expectations, maintaining similar performance to last year but with less degradation. Pirelli said there had been no blistering and very little graining, while also claiming a reduction in tread wear levels. The results of the final test also showed an increased performance gap between both the hard and the medium compound, and the medium and the soft compound: the two combinations of tyres that will be used at the first four races. Pirelli said this would give plenty of scope for the teams to formulate interesting strategies to boost their race prospects.
In a season full of surprises and controversy, the signing of Fernando Alonso by Ferrari – completed today in a deal that will see the Spaniard racing with the flashiest of constructors from 2010 to 2012 – does not rank highly in terms of shock factor. However, the Spanish driver’s defection from Renault is sure to add to the list of potential world champions next season; a season for which Ferrari says it is already planning, following a year in which the team has looked decidedly off the pace. Kimi Raikkonen will make way, with Felipe Massa joining Alonso on the grid to complete a team that has much to prove, especially if Alonso’s ambition to follow in Michael Schumacher’s footsteps (detailed on the BBC’s website) is to be realised.
Lewis Hamilton benefitted from some good fortune to become the youngest ever Formula One World Champion after running an uncharacteristically conservative Brazilian Grand Prix. With Felipe Massa already over the line in first place and sitting at the top of the Drivers’ Championship, Hamilton scraped past Timo Glock – who was slowing due to difficult wet weather conditions – on the penultimate bend to retake fifth position at Interlagos and first place for the season. The last British Champion Damon Hill, commentating on the BBC, described the race as “the most exciting Formula One race I have ever seen”.
Much of the drama was prompted by difficult weather conditions. When drops of rain began to fall ten laps from the race’s conclusion, the pits saw a flurry of action as Kimi Raikkonen, Hamilton and Massa all changed to intermediate tyres. On Lap 69, just two from the end, Sebastian Vettel – punching above his car’s weight in the rain once again – took his Toro Rosso past Hamilton into fifth place, meaning that the Briton would have lost out on the Championship in Brazil for the second time in two seasons. However, Glock’s slower pace allowed Vettel and Hamilton to gain one more place each before the finish line, concluding the season dramatically, and leaving Massa to spray his winner’s champagne with less vigour than he might have expected moments earlier.
The BBC – which will take the reins of Britain’s live coverage from ITV next season – left it to Hamilton’s girlfriend and Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger to sum up the emotional rollercoaster of the final minutes: “it was so tough late on. I almost did collapse in the garage. I couldn’t calm down, nor could Nicholas [Hamilton’s brother]. We just both kept screaming at each other.” Scherzinger attributed Hamilton’s victory to a source of power higher than even the weather: “I can only thank God for that moment when Lewis crossed the line as champion.” Hamilton’s father Anthony experienced similar emotions: “I believed in God. I believed that right would come through – now, where’s Timo? I want to give him a kiss.” It was unknown, however, what Massa had done to upset the Big Man, with championship victory mere seconds from his grasp.
Felipe Massa held the advantage in opening practice at his home country’s Grand Prix in Interlagos, Brazil, though championship leader Lewis Hamilton was only two-tenths behind having led for much of the time the pair were on track. The race, which takes place this Sunday, will decide the winner of 2008’s championship, though Hamilton is in the box seat seven points ahead of his Ferrari-driving rival.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa took the European Grand Prix on the streets of Valencia over the weekend, holding off the challenge of Championship leader Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren. The placing of the drivers, coupled with the retirement of Kimi Raikkonen, thanks to engine failure, means that Hamilton increases his lead on second place to six points, while Massa moves up to second.
BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica took the final spot on the podium, while Hamilton’s McLaren colleague Heikki Kovalainen took fourth to follow his debut victory in Hungary. McLaren’s performance means that it has closed the team’s Constructors’ Championship deficit to eight, with Ferrari continuing to lead the way.
With the F1 Australian Grand Prix – the first of the 2007 season – taking place on March 18 drivers are getting ample opportunity to get a better feel for the Bridgestone tyres during practice sessions. The March 16 practice sessions saw Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa shine through as the best overall performers. The first practice session began on a wet circuit, which meant that Bridgestone’s wet and extreme wet tyres were given an airing. With the second session run in much drier conditions the medium and soft dry compound tyres were put into use.
Yesterday the Swiss Sauber team tested tyres from its new supplier, Michelin. Driver, Felipe Massa used last season’s C23 and obviously succeeded in finding a good balance between the tyres and wheel suspension, at the first attempt. Bridgestone tyres had previously been fitted to the model.