Monday, 17 March 2008

The first Grand Prix of the season


The GP season has roared off with no traction control on the cars – taking them back a bit more to the ‘good old days’. It was the youngest ever front row - Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren and Robert Kubica in the BMW.

Hamilton’s new team-mate, the friendly Haiki Kovalainan, was third on the grid. It was good to see the two of them beforehand enjoying a chat together – a bit of a change from the bad-tempered relationship that Alonso brought to the team last year. It was the first Grand Prix for 17 years without a driver called Schumacher.

Heading for an early talk with Louise
On the first lap quite a few cars discovered that three into two won’t go and still leave all the numbers whole! Webber, Button, Vettel, Davidson and Fisichella all out while Massa ended up at the back after having his own one off accident. Sutil out in the second Force India car by lap 10. Raikonnen, who had had qualifying problems, jumped up many places during the chaos.

Massa and Coulthard collided as the former overtook the Scot and took him out. Coulthard was a little annoyed and commented that he expected Massa to admit the fault or he’d “kick the shit out of the little bastard.”. I bet that doesn’t make it to the edited highlights programme! Another safety car..

After it came in Raikonnen well overcooked an attempt to overtake Haiki and ended up running through the gravel trap and losing a load of places. As Brundle commented – he’d have needed an anchor to slow down enough to take the corner.

Piquet and Takuma Sato both stopped out on the track as did Massa – down to eleven cars and eight score points with 28 laps to go! Raikonnen put it on the grass and went back in the field again.

Then rookie Timo Glock did likewise but he managed to crash his car with a degree of spectacular bouncing and revolving that left him somewhat shaken.

Under the safety car Barrichello had to come in for fuel (or run out of fuel on track) which would have got him a penalty even if he hadn’t taken out the fuel filler men as the lollipop man lifted the lollipop too early.

Hamilton pitted just before the safety car but Haiki Kovalainen, who was running a solid second place, had to come in for fuel and that dropped him back to ninth in the crocodile behind the safety car. Nakajima hit Kubica on the restart and the BMW driver was out. Barrichello, despite his 10 second penalty, rejoined in eighth with Nakajima the only runner not looking like scoring points.

With six laps to go the remaining prancing horse went lame. Does he run the 5000 engine parts to bits and suffer a ten place penalty on the grid next time or retire and lose his two points. In the end the engine appeared to decide it for itself. Kovalainen still fighting Alonso for fifth place at the line and after a pass he got re-passed as his McLaren seemed to lose drive.

Poor rookie (but experienced ex Indy car driver) Sebastian Bourdais’s Torro Rosso (with a Ferrari engine!) lost out to five championship points as it blew up with four laps to go.

Hamilton had the advantage of all his main rivals scoring few or no points. The result -
1. Lewis Hamilton (GB) McLaren-Mercedes 58 laps one hour 34 minutes 50.616 seconds
2. Nick Heidfeld (Ger) BMW Sauber +5.478 secs
3. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Williams-Toyota +8.163
4. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Renault +17.181
5. Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) McLaren-Mercedes +18.014
DQ Rubens Barrichello (Brz) Honda +52.453
6. Kazuki Nakajima* (Jpn) Williams-Toyota 1 lap behind
7R Sebastien Bourdais (Fra) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 55 laps completed
8R Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Ferrari 53 laps
R Robert Kubica (Pol) BMW Sauber 47 laps
R Timo Glock (Ger) Toyota 43 laps
R Takuma Sato (Jpn) Super Aguri-Honda 32 laps
R Nelson Piquet Jr (Brz) Renault 30 laps
R Felipe Massa (Brz) Ferrari 29 laps
R David Coulthard (GB) Red Bull-Renault 25 laps
R Jarno Trulli (Ita) Toyota 19 laps
R Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India-Ferrari 8 laps
R Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull-Renault 0 laps
R Jenson Button (GB) Honda 0 lap
R Anthony Davidson (GB) Super Aguri-Honda 0 lap
R Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Toro Rosso-Ferrari 0 laps
R Giancarlo Fisichella (Ita) Force India-Ferrari 0 laps

* Nakajima handed 10-place grid penalty for next weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix


  1. Why was Nakajima handed a grid penalty?

  2. For causing an avoidable accident, I think. One of the minor shunts.


Comments are always welcome.