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!

Yep, Jenson definitely won

Overnight, no change. Jenson Button keeps his victory. The collisions between Button and Hamilton, and Button and Alonso were both deemed to be ‘racing incidents’. Phew. It was Jenson’s 100th points finish and 10th race win, on the race after he got McLaren’s 10,000th lap leading the race.
I’m sure Sebastian Vettel is happy as well. He knows he made a mistake on the last lap, and while he might be disappointed with P2 after leading the whole race, nobody likes to be gifted victory when the leader is penalised.
As for Jenson, his race was compromised anyway through collisions and tyre changes and he ended up at the back of the pack at one point, so to come from that to first shows his skill and ability in these conditions. McLaren deserved the win for that. McLaren, scarily, have won three of the last four Canadian Grands Prix, with Coulthard taking the win for Red Bull in 2007. That remains Red Bull’s only win in Canada, though Vettel and Webber are the first Red Bull drivers to get on the podium apart from that race.
Hispania finished 13th with Liuzzi. Though I am a big Team Lotus fan and am disappointed that Kovalainen is now behind Liuzzi and D’Ambrosio in the championship, I am happy for my favourite team of all. They are once again ahead of Virgin. Liuzzi has one thirteenth-place finish and his fellow Italian Trulli has two. It’s a big, hopeful step up for the Spanish team. Maybe they’ll finally get some sponsors!

The 2011 Canadian Grand Prix was the longest race in Formula One history at 4:04:39.537 when Button crossed the line. It was even longer than the 1961 Indy 500, which counted for the championship though a lot of drivers didn’t bother racing in it. It is naturally a long race and lasted 3:36:11.36. That year’s Monaco GP was the longest race under F1 rules, and took 2:53:45.5. Both times blown out of the water. The race also wins the record for the most times a safety car was employed in a single race: six. This beats the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix which had five.

Virgin vs Hispania

Virgin will be updating their car for the last time at the British Grand Prix before focusing on their 2012 car following the change in direction that the team have decided to take. Hispania are beginning to move ahead of their rivals, with Liuzzi outqualifying the Virgins today in Montreal, and they are also slightly more reliable, which should see them take eleventh in the championship by the end of the season, just as they did last year.

Race

H avg qual

V avg qual

H avg finish

V avg finish

H ret

V ret

AUS

23.5

21.5

N/A

14

N/A

0*

MAL

23.5

21.5

16

2

1

CHN

23.5

21.5

22.5

21.5

0

0

TUR

21

22**

21.5

20

0

1

ESP

21.5

21.5

21

19.5

1

0

MON

22.5

20.5

16.5

15

0

1

CAN

22

23

*Glock retired for a short while before coming back out of the pits. He finished but was not classified.
**D’Ambrosio was demoted five places.

Canada is the first time in qualifying that – without any penalties – a Hispania has qualified ahead of a Virgin. Having started off not even being able to qualify, Hispania have come on in leaps and bounds. Continuing to develop their car, Canada has definitely been an improvement for them. Okay they’re still way off Lotus. It remains to be seen whether they will maintain the qualifying performance in the race, or how they will do in other races.
Virgin of course will struggle if they don’t update. They may not be able to meet the 107% rule as other cars continue to develop, and this will cost them. As a bit of a Hispania fan, I hope the Spanish team continue to improve. I don’t see them matching the Lotuses this year, but who knows for 2012?

No race for okay Perez

HRT are racing tomorrow. Perez is not. This means that Karthikeyan has the rare pleasure of starting ahead of his quicker teammate. Perez ‘only’ has concussion, but with his car so smashed up and the doctors saying he can’t race, he will not be on the grid. The Mexican will return for Canada. This means everyone below him moves up a place.
Hamilton had his lap disqualified for cutting the chicane, so starts in P9, while Petrov is now P10. He has started in the top 10 for every race. Alonso, Button, Hamilton, Massa, Rosberg and Vettel are the other drivers to have done this, but Petrov is the only one of these seven to have not made it into Q3 each time.
It was Perez’s first time into Q3, as he has previously qualified 13th, 16th, 12th, 15th and 12th. Apart from the first two races, he has always qualified ahead of Kobayashi.
Vettel earned his 20th pole position today. He got 5 of them this year, 10 of them last year, four of them in 2009, and one of them at the Italian Grand Prix in 2008 for Toro Rosso. This equals the number of poles that Fernando Alonso and Damon Hill have achieved, but less than Schumacher (68), Senna (65), Clark and Prost (33 each), Mansell (32), Fangio (29), Hakkinen (26), Lauda and Piquet (24 each). Vettel is likely to beat most of these guys by the end of the season, let along the end of his career! In terms of the percentage of pole positions he has earned, that is 29.4%. Only Senna, Clark and Fangio have a better percentage of career poles (though Senna’s 40.1% is a long way off yet). At the start of this season he had 24.2%, while Schumacher had 25.3% pole positions. Now they have swapped places. Hamilton had 25.4% pole positions, but now is down at 23.4%.
Vettel will start from the front row for the 29th time, totalling 42.6%. At the start of the season it was 34.8%, and Hamilton had 40.8% while Schumacher had 42.8%. Now Schumi has 41.8% and Hamilton has 40.3%. Vettel has only overtaken Hamilton in this record for this Monaco Grand Prix. It would take a lot to beat Fangio’s record 92.3% front row starts!

There will probably be more to talk about tomorrow after the race, so see you then!

Tom Dillmann dropped?

GP3
Disappointing news for Tom Dillmann, who had a fantastic start to his GP3 campaign in Turkey. Having taken third place in the first race after being on pole position, he stands 4th in the championship on equal points with Alex Sims. However, he won’t be driving for Carlin this weekend in Barcelona. Considering that he is currently way ahead of Carlin’s other two drivers – Conor Daly and Leo Cordeiro – in the championship standings, it seems a strange decision.
This has only been reported on Twitter so far through the driver’s account. There has been no information from Carlin on their Twitter account or website. Tom is currently working with his management to try and get back in the car for Valencia at the end of June.

F1
Following the earthquake in Lorca (Murcia, Spain), Hispania Racing are working hard to support the efforts of their countrymen, and helping to raise money to support the victims. The team’s headquarters are based in that area, as well as in Germany and expanding into the UK. Part of the fundraising involves a friendly football match between Real Madrid and Murcia locals, which will be attended by the president of Hispania, Jose Ramon Carabante, and the president of Murcia Basketball Club. The game will also be on Spanish national TV, so someone might stream it if you want to watch.
I can only wish Hispania all the best with the fundraising efforts, and offer my best wishes and prayers to Spain, Murcia and Lorca.

Virgin take on GP3 Adrian

In GP3/F1 news, Adrian Quaife-Hobbs had great fun doing an aero test for Virgin in Spain at the weekend. The British driver was a natural choice for the team as he is competing for Manor Racing in GP3 for the second season in a row. Last year he finished fifteenth with 10 points, having had one podium and two fifth-place finishes in an otherwise quiet year. Currently he is 19th in the 2011 championship.

Now, all the teams for the three series are preparing to head out to Barcelona. Well, except for Hispania. They’re already there! They’ve put a picture on their Facebook wall of the empty garages waiting to be filled.

If you’re in the UK and for some reason you missed it, there was an RB6 and a T127 on Richard Hammond’s Engineering Connections last night. He was doing an episode on Formula One. The episode also features Mike Gascoyne, the Team Lotus technical director, and David Coulthard driving around Silverstone. The BBC clearly loves these teams more than any other. Anyway, you can check it out on iPlayer.

Williams’ dramatic changes

In terms of results, 2011 has been Williams’ worst ever start to a season. In response to that, Williams’ Sam Michael (technical director) and Jon Tomlinson (chief aerodynamicist) have resigned with effect from the end of the year. Considering the FW11 was supposed to be a championship challenger, and the great fuss that was made over the tight rear end, the car has simply failed. After winter testing, everyone thought the team’s worst issue would be with KERS, which had caused them the most problems. Instead, both speed and reliability have affected the team. In the first two races, neither driver made it to the end. In China, though Rubens Barrichello managed to hold Sebastien Buemi up, Pastor Maldonado finished behind Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus and Sergio Perez who was suffering the indignity of two drive-through penalties.
Mike Coughlan, who resigned from McLaren after the 2007 ‘Spygate’ scandal (more info here), will be the team’s new chief engineer. His two-year ban from F1 has been expired for some time, so I’m sure he will be glad to get into the sport. Hopefully he will be able to prove himself, and shake off some of the bad image.

In other news, HRT have got a shiny new website hispaniaracing.com. It looks very nice, is a lot easier to navigate, and has a countdown timer. They’ve also launched their ‘HispaToons’ videos, which can be viewed on their Facebook page. They’re weird but funny.
Teams and drivers are on their way to Turkey today and tomorrow, ready to walk around the track on Thursday before the practice sessions begin on Friday. After three weeks, it’s good to have F1 back again.