Afternoon practice and GP2 qualifying

In the second practice this afternoon, the track was damp to start with and everyone went out on inters. Eventually it dried enough for slicks and the times tumbled before the rain came down again. Amidst those conditions, it was Mark Webber who went fastest, with Alonso in second and rain master Button third. Webber’s teammate Vettel only went tenth fastest. The Force Indias always get on well at Spa, and came in eight and ninth with Nico Hulkenberg replacing Adrian Sutil for the session. Sergio Perez did even better with the seventh-fastest time, and Rosberg was sixth-fastest. Massa found himself a familiar fifth, and Hamilton fourth.
The Renaults were also struggling, and a steering problem for Petrov left him unable to set a competitive time. His new teammate came in 17th, a few tenths off Barrichello but still well ahead of the backmarkers. But Senna had been doing well earlier in the session as the track dried. Maybe he has some of his uncle’s talent in the rain.
The times aren’t really representative, and we may not find out where everyone lies this weekend until race day, with heavy rain expected tomorrow.

A wet qualifying session saw Sam Bird become the first casualty. Later, Charles Pic ended up going off the track at turn 17, which caused final sector problems. Fastest was Christian Vietoris, with Luca Filippi second and Pic third. Bianchi took fourth before one of two top-ten surprises – Michael Herck, who has picked up just one point so far this season. Romain Grosjean only managed eighth, while Johnny Ceccotto Jr became the second surprise. He currently starts 9th. I expect that we will see some penalties being issued, including to Vietoris who set his fastest final sector under yellow flags.

In the afternoon practice session at a hot Red Bull Ring, the fastest driver was once again Mirko Bortolotti. Benjamin Lariche did well to finish third, while Sunghak Mun got in a hot lap less than a second off the leader to finish sixth. If he can do that in qualifying he’ll probably turn into a moving traffic island, unfortunately. He was nine hundredths ahead of Alex Brundle in seventh. Eighth was Christopher Zanella. Again Julian Theobald has managed to beat his brother, and seems to be getting on better with the track. Thiemo Storz was a disappointing 18th while Mikkel Mac and Armaan Ebrahim will have been surprised to be slowest.

Summer day 26 – Mark Webber

Mark Webber – 2
It’s been a tricky season for Mark Webber. On the one hand, he’s second in the championship and taken pole several times. On the other hand, his teammate is leading the championship by a long way. While Sebastian Vettel had led most of the laps this season, Mark hadn’t led a single one until the German Grand Prix.
It all began in Australia – his home venue, but one which he has always struggled on. Since his debut with Minardi he has never managed to improve from that fifth-place finish.
Next came Malaysia, and Mark qualified third for the second race in a row. Despite taking the fastest lap, he once again missed out on the podium while his teammate shone. Then China, and in a shocking qualifying session he became the ‘fall guy’ starting 18th on the grid. His race became a push, and he fought his way past almost everyone. In the final lap, he was closing on second-placed teammate Sebastian Vettel and probably would have beaten him too if the race had been a lap longer. Partly this was because he hadn’t used up any of his soft tyres in qualifying.
Turkey was a much better race. Starting second, he finished there too behind his teammate. In Spain, he took pole position for the first time, losing places to Vettel at the start. He missed out on the podium in Monaco as well, though he took his fourth fastest lap of the season, then in Canada and Valencia came third.
It was a much better day for Mark at the Silverstone Grand Prix. Taking pole position, he lost out on the start. But he was competitive throughout the race. In the final laps, he was closing in on his teammate, and battling bravely for second place while ignoring calls from his team to ‘maintain the gap’. Never enjoying being a ‘number two driver’, he was very annoyed after the race.
But in Germany, Mark was not a number two driver at all. In a three-way Red Bull-McLaren-Ferrari battle for victory, it was Mark rather than Vettel who was at the front. The German was trying to fight with Felipe Massa. At Hungary, he struggled again. No pole or podium for the Aussie. Despite the fact that he’s had no wins, it’s been a good season. But overcoming the gap to his teammate is going to be tough.

Points: 149
Worst qualifying: 18
Best qualifying: 1
Worst finish: 5 (Australia, Hungary)
Best finish: 2 (Turkey)
Average difference: 0.45
Laps completed: 681/681 (100%)
Average race position: 4.96 (Best: 2.2 Germany; Worst: 10.8 China)

Former Hungaroring winners

There are plenty of former winners from the Hungaroring taking place in the races this weekend. Quite a few drivers made their win debuts at this track as well, helped perhaps by the difficulty in overtaking.

First Formula One, where the track has been part of the world championship since 1986. First won by Nelson Piquet, of the current F1 crop the first winner was Michael Schumacher in 1994. He also got pole position and fastest lap for Benneton. Schumi has also won here in 1998 (pole, fastest lap), 2001 (pole) and 2004 (pole, fastest lap, led every lap), but hasn’t dominated in comparison to his usual record at tracks. Rubens Barrichello also won here in 2002 for Ferrari getting pole and barely beating Schumi to the line, and the next year it was Fernando Alonso in the Renault – unsurprisingly, he also had pole.
More recently, the race hasn’t been won by anyone in their championship year. 2006 was the debut win for Jenson Button, who took the first victory for a British driver since Australia 2003. Incredibly Jenson did not start on pole – he qualified 4th and an engine change meant he started 14th. The next year was Lewis Hamilton’s debut season; the race was hit with controversy when Alonso held up his teammate in the pits. Hamilton qualified second, but started 1st because of a five-place grid penalty given to Alonso. Another win from pole.
2008, and Heikki Kovalainen’s first season with McLaren. He took his debut (and so far only) win at the Hungaroring after Hamilton got a puncture and Massa’s engine blew up. He’d started second on the track. Kovalainen became F1’s 10th winner. The next year, Hamilton won again, incredibly qualifying ahead of both Brawns. He was assisted by problems for Alonso on pole and Vettel who’d started second.
Last year, Mark Webber won the race because of a drive-through penalty for teammate and polesitter Sebastian Vettel, who had fallen too far behind the safety car and thus broken sporting regulations.

In GP2, Sebastien Buemi won the sprint race in 2008. Pastor Maldonado won the feature race last year. Neither are likely to win this weekend, but may score some points for their teams.
Current GP2 drivers Giedo van der Garde and Adam Carroll have also both won here in the series. Carroll won the feature race in 2007, and van der Garde won the sprint in 2009.

Last year’s GP3 feature race winner Nico Muller, who has won a race this year, took the feature GP3 race last year. If things continue the way they have been going, however, we’ll get another two new winners at Hungary.

A few drivers have had victories here in Formula Renault 3.5: Daniel Ricciardo won the first race in 2010, though if he won this year it would be a miracle. GP2 driver Fairuz Fauzy won the first race in 2009, and Giedo van der Garde won the first race the year before his GP2 victory at the track.

Saturday Summary

It was a good day for Russian racing drivers today. In Formula Two, Max Snegirev – who’s done a bit of driving at Brands Hatch – got his second points finish with a strong qualifying and race to finish 7th. He’s now 16th in the championship. In Formula One, Vitaly Petrov got into Q3 at the expense of his teammate. And in GP3, Ivan Lukashevich didn’t get points but finished 11th – his best finish of the season.

There was a threat of rain at the start of the race, and a couple of drivers took the risk of wet tyres. But that was a mistake as the rain held off for the moment. They were forced to pit and change tyres. Mitch Evans maintained his lead from pole, while Lewis Williamson became second. But Evans – along da Costa – had a bit of a problem caused by their teams. Their cars had had their tyres fitted too late on the grid. They were given 10 second stop-and-go penalties.
Conor Daly had a fantastic start and moved into the points with Evans’ penalty. Other drivers also benefited and managed to move up the field, including Ivan Lukashevich and Nico Muller. Rio Haryanto on his best race weekend ever was battling with Williamson for the lead.
Then, in the last four laps, it began to rain. A few drivers pitted for tyres – giving Conor Daly even more points – and the frontrunners were struggling on slicks in conditions remeniscent of the Formula One race in 2007. Haryanto, Williamson and James Calado struggled against each other, but it was the Indonesian driver who took the win. There aren’t a lot of racing drivers from his country, but he’s shown that Indonesians have talent. Well done Rio!

Caterham Team AirAsia provided a lot of the entertainment but failed to score points after Fabio Leimer pushed Luiz Razia off the track while they were battling for 9th. Auto GP championship leader Luca Filippi in his 100th GP2 race moved from second to first in the pits, then pushed and pushed to gain a small lead and take the win. Charles Pic and Romain Grosjean took the remaining podium places.
Marcus Ericsson overtook van der Garde at the end to take fifth behind Jules Bianchi, and in seventh was Dani Clos. On pole tomorrow will be Sam Bird. Clos was gifted seventh place after Parente recieved a drive-through penalty.
Fabio Leimer got into trouble twice in the race – he almost took out Adam Carroll on his charge before he pushed off Razia. He has been excluded from the race results. Meanwhile Pal Varhaug has a 10-place grid penalty for tomorrow after colliding with Kevin Mirocha on the first lap and causing a safety car period while the marshals rescued the two cars from the track.

A brilliant cheeky move by Jack Clarke between the polesitter and Ramon Pineiro got him into first place. Pineiro got into second. An unlucky accident on the first lap saw Jordan King go off along with Lariche, Snoeks and Marinescu. Alex Brundle retired shortly after with a broken suspension, and Thiemo Storz beached himself in the Brands Hatch gravel.
But apart from that, it was a good race with Jose Luiz Abadin battling Mikkel Mac for 10th. Abadin got the point in the end – his first. Armaan Ebrahim also scored two points.
Jack Clarke took the win and fastest lap. Pineiro came second. Further back, a battle for third had polesitter Hegewald in the lead all the way, with Silver Lining’s Miki Monras fourth and Mirko Bortolotti fifth. Bortolotti still extends his lead over Zanella as the Swiss driver came sixth. James Cole also broke his points duck by coming eighth.

Qualifying almost went as normal. The expected drivers went out in Q1 along with a less expected Kamui Kobayashi. But he’s done well starting from the back before. The Toro Rossos, Perez, Heidfeld, the Williams and di Resta went out in Q2, leaving Sutil and Petrov in Q3 along with the Mercs, Ferraris, Red Bulls and McLarens.
It was close. In the end, Hamilton split the Red Bulls. But the Red Bulls were not in their typical order. Webber took his second consecutive pole, while Vettel is off the front row for the first time since Monza last year. Alonso is next to him. It will be an interesting race.
Liuzzi was relegated five places and will start from the back of the grid. But as it turns out, that is 23rd. Sebastien Buemi has had his qualifying results excluded because of irregularities in his fuel. He will probably start from the back of the grid or the pit lane.


Sorry for the silence on practice and qualifying. I have been very busy recently.

Webber takes pole! They only managed to get one dry run in Q3, but it was enough for the Aussie to go quicker. And Heikki Kovalainen made it to Q2 after the rain prevented the other teams from getting in a better lap. Daniel Ricciardo qualified – as expected – in 24th place, while Timo Glock outqualified Jarno Trulli struggling this weekend in his Lotus.
McLaren are having real trouble. Hamilton is only 10th on the grid tomorrow while Di Resta made it into 6th next to Button in 5th. The Ferraris share row 2.

A wet qualifying messed things up, with all the frontrunners in the middle of the field. Dangerous for accidents. But unlucky Bianchi got in a hot lap before the rain came down and takes pole. Grosjean starts 13th after qualifying 3rd because of his penalty after causing an accident in Valencia.

This morning pole was taken by Adrian Quaife-Hobbs, with James Calado alongside him after a penalty was revoked. Lewis Williamson and Mitch Evans take row 2 for Arden, and hopefully will do well to seal a great day for their boss Mark Webber. Nigel Melker starts 16th after his penalty.

The races are up next. Let’s see what happens…

Valencia snores, but King scores at Spa

I watched the start and the end of the race today. With the excitement we’ve had recently in F1, you’d think that means I’d miss crazy overtakes galore and a smash or two. But no. No smashes and few overtakes. This suggests to me that what you need for an exciting F1 race is not DRS or Pirelli. What you need is everyone driving a similar car. This was the case in the exciting GP2 and GP3 races this morning. Instead, we had Vettel winning from pole and setting the fastest lap along the way. Boring! Although Alonso did manage to get on the podium ahead of Webber.
I hear the F2 race at Spa was more exciting. Jordan King managed to get up to third at the start, but a mistake slid him down to seventh and he was eventually overtaken by Brundle in the final laps. But for a rookie F2 driver coming from Formula Renault, it’s a brilliant start! The winner was Mirko Bortolotti who led from pole. Second was Zanella and third yesterday’s winner Will Bratt after Hegewald went off the track at Les Combes.

In better news, although Jon Lancaster didn’t make it to race in Spa, he is alive and well. At least, he tweeted about the F1 race and posted a picture of the inside of a car. I’m not sure why he didn’t race but hopefully I’ll find out shortly. I was very worried when he disappeared and nobody said anything.

My brother and his family are visiting today so I haven’t got time to update all the tables until tomorrow. Hope you’re having a good weekend!

Practice sessions

Lots of practice sessions today. It’s been hard to keep track! Jordan King was one of the slowest in F2 morning practice, at which Ramon Pinero set the fastest time, but third fastest in the afternoon. He’s getting the hang of the F2 cars and Spa very quickly. It must be crazy going out there for the first time. Miki Monras was fastest in that session.
The F2 driver missing out on this weekend is Natalia Kowalska. For some reason that I am unable to discover, Jon Lancaster hasn’t set a single lap in the morning or the afternoon despite his tweets to say that he would be driving at Spa. I hope he is okay.

In Formula One, Nico Hulkenberg crashed Paul di Resta‘s car in morning practice, and it was not ready for the Scotsman until very close to the end of the second session. Karun Chandhok suffered gearbox problems, and didn’t set a time. Red Bull are gearbox suppliers to Team Lotus, but the team were unable to get the spare parts until after the session. Jarno Trulli‘s car was ready for the afternoon.
The Red Bulls failed to dominate. Mark Webber went fastest in the morning, but it was Fernando Alonso who dipped below the 1:37s mark in the afternoon with Hamilton second and Vettel third. Jaime Alguersuari’s car had problems and the Spaniard failed to set a time.

In GP2, several drivers set good times but in the end it was Jules Bianchi who went fastest for Lotus ART. Esteban Gutierrez, who won the race here in GP3 last year, did well and finished P8 ahead of Davide Valsecchi the Monaco feature race winner. They are currently in the middle of the first qualifying session.

Finally in GP3 Alex Sims went fastest followed by birthday boy Mitch Evans. They have a second practice sesson later.