Not again Hispania!

Young Australian driver Daniel Ricciardo – currently Toro Rosso and Red Bull reserve – looks like he might be breaking into the F1 world very soon indeed. Because Hispania are at it again. They look to be setting aside Narain Karthikeyan for the majority of the rest of the season, apart fromm the Indian Grand Prix, and replacing him with the Aussie.
So far Hispania have made no announcement about this, so take the news with a pinch of salt until then. It’s also not on Autosport yet. The first reports came from the Australian media.
So is this a safe risk for Daniel? He already has his Formula Renault 3.5 campaign to worry about. On the other hand, Carlin’s Robert Wickens and his ISR teammate Kevin Korjus look to be dominating there. He might not have a chance to win. Besides that, driving with Hispania unfortunately doesn’t seem to do your reputation any good. It’s for ‘deseperate’ drivers at the moment (Tonio Liuzzi in particular).
I like Hispania. But I’m not sure taking Narain out mid-season is a good idea. He hasn’t raced in F1 for a while so he will take a little time to get back on pace. We shall see. But every time HRT do this my respect for them drops. Ricciardo will be the seventh driver to sit in an HRT in their two seasons!

Exhausting Monaco GP with overtakes

That was… incredible! Vettel gets yet another victory in the bag. No pole to flag this time, especially after his crew messed up the pit stop. But the team’s decision to run a 1-stop strategy served him well. Vettel, Kobayashi and Liuzzi all did 1-stop races, and Petrov had only done one before his crash.
Petrov was hurt but not seriously when the front runners of Vettel, Alonso and Button got tangled up with his group of runners. Unlike last year, five of the drivers from the three youngest teams finished, with Trulli ahead of Kovalainen in his second P13 of 2011.
Williams got points for the first time, breaking their duck despite Hamilton taking out Pastor Maldonado. The McLaren driver had a scrappy race causing Massa and Maldonado’s crashes. Sutil was the driver who caused the mega crash at the end that took Petrov and Alguersuari out and resulted in the red flag. Thanks to the red flag, Vettel was able to put on fresh tyres and easily maintained his lead in the final laps. However, Webber managed to set another fastest lap: his fourth of the season with a 1:16.234. It’s still 1.8s off Schumacher’s 2004 record.
Kobayashi got up from 12th to 4th before having to give a place up to Webber in the final stages when he cut the chicane. However he stayed ahead of Hamilton. Sutil finished P7, a lap behind but ahead of Heidfeld, Barrichello and Buemi.
The other race retirees were Schumacher, whose car died on him just outside the pits, and Glock. There were two safety car periods. This race weekend has seen five red flags, two injured drivers and a lot of crashes. But it has also seen overtakes, a fierce battle for the lead, and fairly durable Pirellis.

There are bound to be penalties, with Hamilton expected to recieve one for the Maldonado incident (the Williams driver was classified as he had completed enough of the race laps), and D’Ambrosio also for not allowing the Lotuses through in the final laps despite blue flags. So we shall see…

There was a FR 3.5 race this morning. Ricciardo won. Nothing exciting though. They use fairly durable Michelin tyres, so there was less of the unpredictability. Championship table will also be updated for that series.

Morning practices

First up today was Formula Renault 3.5, and Daniel Ricciardo set the fastest time. He won at Monaco last year, though the race has been won by rookies three years running. It was a fairly standard session.

Today’s Formula One FP1 was not standard at all. Narain Karthikeyan was the first man to set times on the track, first at almost 1:40, but quickly bringing the times down. Then the other cars got on track and went even faster. Felipe Massa set a 1:18.582. Then there was a red flag, caused by a water leak on the start/finish straight. It was quickly fixed (yeah, I know!) and the session began again.
After that, they got faster. Karthikeyan ran 37 laps – almost half race distance – in the session, but still ended up botttom. Webber didn’t set a time due to a gearbox problem. Liuzzi and Schumacher both crashed out – Liuzzi at the chicane coming out of the tunnel, and Schumacher at Ste Devote. Watching the drivers tear around Monaco almost daring themselves to hit the walls is a very scary experience. The fastest lap was set by Vettel, with Alonso and Rosberg just behind. Hamilton got caught up in traffic and was unable to join them.

Schumacher’s crash delayed the start of GP2 practice by 10 minutes, as repairs were needed. It seems like the whole track is falling apart! The session was filled with a smattering of yellow flags and a red flag, caused by an accident not a water leak. Monaco is a dangerous, smashy track that only the best drivers can survive. That’s why Nick Heidfeld has a 90% finish record here. Romain Grosjean went fastest in the GP2 session.