Tag Archives: Motorsport

German Grand Prix – Hockenheim – Race

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso yesterday became the first driver to win three times this season.

It was an incident filled day, which began even a couple of hours before the race got underway, when Red Bull were reported to the Stewards following FIA technical delegate Jo Bauer’s report surrounding the legality of the teams’ engine maps.

Bauer was of the opinion that the engine torque maps of the RB8’s were in breach of Article 5.5.3 of the Technical Regulations, the thought being that the engines were able to deliver more torque at a given engine speed in the mid RPM range, thus potentially altering the aerodynamic characteristics of both cars, in direct contravention of Technical Directive 036-11.

Horner, being chased by a pack of journalists through the paddock area into the pit-lane, was clearly annoyed by the interest the investigation was generating, taking the unusual stance of challenging the media’s ability to be in the pit-lane whilst a support race was underway. A clear indication, in your author’s eyes, that there was something amiss.

Following meetings with representatives of both Red Bull and Renault however, examinations of ECU (Engine Control Unit) data, stewards said that “while they did not accept all the arguments of the team, they concluded that as the regulation is written, the map presented does not breach the text of Article 5.5.3.”

In effect, the stewards say the rules are as clear as mud. It is widely expected that clarification will be issued by the FIA in the near future.

Horner’s McLaren counterpart, Martin Whitmarsh refused to be drawn to make a comment in the run up to the decision, but said that he hoped “the FIA would take advantage of a meeting of the sport’s Technical Working Group on Monday to issue a clarification that banned what Red Bull were doing.” He went on to state “It’s an advantage. You don’t do things like that which are challengeable unless there is a performance advantage.”

With the decision being delivered close to the start of the race, the Red Bull’s were allowed to start from their qualifying positions, Webber however being relegated to eighth on the grid, following a gearbox change on Saturday.

It was an eventful first lap, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, starting in a very disappointing 13th, collided with the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo. Massa’s front wing was seen to fly through the air and debris was all over the track at turn one. We have seen Safety Cars deployed for less, but unusually Charlie Whiting decided against sending out the Mercedes SLS AMG.

Grosjean and Senna would suffer front wing damage, Senna also suffering a puncture to his front left tyre. Another victim of a puncture on lap 3 was Lewis Hamilton; he struggled to get the car round to the pits, even reporting to the team on his way round that he should retire. The team changed the tyres and sent him on his way, despite being way down the field, ultimately his pace was reasonable.

Jenson Button in the sister McLaren was proving that the upgrades they had bought this weekend were working well, overtaking both Hulkenberg and Schumacher, promoting himself to third by the 11th lap.

With Vettel stopping one lap later than Button, he was able to come out in front of the McLaren driver, but the pace of the MP4-27 finally proved to be good and he closed in on the German and second place during their second stints.

As the halfway stage of the race approached, Vettel began to catch Alonso with just under a second between them. But the out of position McLaren of Hamilton was on fresher tyres and he was determined to unlap himself into the inside of the hairpin, which he was well within his rights to do, much to the annoyance of the German.

Button would then take the race to Vettel, pitting on Lap 41 to what would seem to have been the quickest pit-stop of the season so far at 2.31 seconds. With Vettel’s tyres ‘falling off’, he would pit for tyres on lap 42 at the same time as Alonso.

Approaching the pit exit as the Red Bull of Vettel was still building speed, Button made the pass stick and moved into second place behind Alonso. Button’s race engineer heard saying over the radio ‘that was perfect Jenson, let’s have Alonso’.

Button continued to catch Alonso in the closing laps, while behind him, Vettel seemed to be nursing his tyres. With ten laps remaining, Button had closed the gap to Alonso to just half a second. Meanwhile, teammate Hamilton had retired with what is thought to have been a gearbox issue, the only retirement of the race.

In the final five laps however, Vettel seemed to have benefited from nursing the tyres and by this time was around 0.2 of a second faster than that of Button, who appeared to be struggling for grip, Alonso increasing his lead at the front.

On lap 66 however, Vettel was able to benefit from using DRS into the hairpin and managed to make the pass, but Button and his engineer were quick to complain that the pass was made outside the circuit, his engineer confirming they had already made a complaint to Race Director, Charlie Whiting.

Annoyingly, Vettel said after the race in several interviews that Button didn’t tell him that he thought he would be handed second place back, despite us clearly hearing that conversation take place before the podium celebrations began.

A stewards inquiry ensued, and some time after the race was over, the stewards agreed that Vettel had indeed made his pass outside the limits of the circuit and he was handed a 20 second penalty, demoting him back to fifth and handing Button back his rightful second place. Raikkonen and Kobayashi also benefiting from the German being penalised.

With the McLarens showing an improvement in pace, despite Hamilton’s difficult outing, the upcoming weekend in Hungary; a track where the team are not only competitive, but with 10 wins they are the most successful Constructors. The McLaren pair are also multiple winners at the Hugaroring; Hamilton winning in 2007 & 2009, Button in 2006 & 2011.

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Grand Prix Legends – Sir Stirling Moss OBE

Ever since I can remember, the name Stirling Moss has been synonymous with motor racing. He is a household name and truly deserved of the title of Legend, the greatest British driver ever to have lived.

Born in London in 1929, motorsport was already coursing through his blood, having an enthusiast racer for a father and a keen trials and rally driving mother. Alfred Moss was a regular racer at Brooklands, and came 14th in the 1924 Indianapolis 500.

His parents’ aspirations for Stirling were not at all motorsport related however; they wanted him to become a dentist and follow in the footsteps of his father. But Stirling had something of an indifferent school career and despite extra tuition; he failed to make the required grade.

Aged seventeen, Stirling was competing in local speed trials in his father’s BMW sports car, and went on to compete in hill climbs in a borrowed Cooper 500. This was the beginning of his career-long association with the marque.

Just before turning eighteen, Stirling had managed to convince his father that it would be a good idea to buy a Cooper 500 of his own to race. His father only agreed that he could, if Stirling funded it himself. Selling almost everything he owned, he unfortunately fell short of the required £600 (a King’s ransom in those days). His parents however saved the day and made up the shortfall on his eighteenth birthday.

Competing in the Cooper both nationally and internationally his ability was clear for all to see, and it wasn’t long before he went on to compete in Formula Three and ultimately to Formula One. Moss was one of the pioneers of Formula One motor racing, developing and running several cars.

After a spat with Ferrari in 1951 when the car he was promised to race in was given to another driver, he was deeply embarrassed and vowed revenge on the prancing horse. After driving for Mercedes and Maserati respectively, he was once again being chased by the Maranello outfit, but vowed to take the seat of a British team.

From there on, perhaps to his detriment, he decided to always drive for a British team wherever possible; “better to lose honourably in a British car, than win in a foreign one” he was famously quoted as saying. Many believe this was the reason he never attained the elusive World Driver’s Championship. He remained the most successful British driver of all time right up until 1991 when he was overtaken by Nigel Mansell, however Mansell competed in many more races than Moss overall.

His first race in a Formula One car was the 1951 Swiss Grand Prix, but failed to secure a win until his home race, the British Grand Prix held at Aintree in 1955; driving for Mercedes Benz, bagging a 1-2-3-4 domination for the German manufacturer.

He sealed another milestone at the same race; it was the first time he had beaten teammate and mentor Juan Manuel Fangio. It is widely debated that Fangio let him win the race by relinquishing the lead in the final corner, allowing him to celebrate in front of his home crowd. Moss is said to have repeatedly asked Fangio if this was the case, but the all-time gentleman of the sport merely replied “you were simply better than me on the day”.

Perhaps the most unique thing about Stirling Moss was that he not only competed in F1 races, but several other disciplines at the same time. Competing in as many as 62 races a year, and driving as many as 84 different marques throughout his career. He would very often drive several races of different levels on the same day.

Throughout the fifties, he most notably ran in the 1952 Monte Carlo Rally in a Sunbeam-Talbot 90 with John Cooper as co-driver, finishing second; the 1955 Mille Miglia (an Italian open-road endurance race) winning in a record time 10 hours 7 minutes and 48 seconds, a whole half hour in front of his then teammate Fangio.

In 1957 he won the longest Grand Prix race ever to have been run. The Italian Pescara Circuit held the gruelling 25.8 kilometre race, where Moss beat Fangio (who started on pole) by just over three minutes; the race lasted a punishing three hours.

Pescara was an arduous circuit with two long straights between villages and some demanding corners in the seaside town. The bumpy, narrow roads also involved a mile-long stretch which ran next to cliffs with 500 ft drops directly into the sea, which stood to demonstrate his outstanding driving ability; Moss not only won the race, but to this day still holds the lap record.

Throughout his revered ten year F1 career he drove for Mercedes Benz, Maserati, Vanwall, Rob Walker Cooper and Lotus. From 1955 to 1958 he finished second each year, and is probably the most famous British racing driver never to have won the World Driver’s Championship.

Stirling’s motorsport career spanned from 1948 through to 1962, and with a total of 529 races, he won 212, including 16 Grands Prix. He amassed 16 pole positions, 24 podiums and 19 fastest laps. His last F1 victory was the 1961 German Grand Prix; his final career race was in the United States Grand Prix of the same year.

Racing a Lotus in the Glover Trophy at Goodwood in 1962, Moss was involved in a horrific crash in which he was badly injured. The accident rendered him partially paralysed down the left side of his body, and put him in a six-month long coma.

He recovered, and was well enough to be back behind the wheel testing a Lotus in 1963. However, despite being only a few tenths slower than before, he felt that he did not quite have the control he once enjoyed and his retirement was inevitable.

In later years, Moss has continued to have an involvement in motorsport, though non-competitively. He continues to make appearances at The Goodwood Festival of Speed, several Grands Prix throughout the season; (especially the British Grand Prix), and is still thought of affectionately by most British Motorsport fans; myself included.