F1: Spanish Grand Prix live blog

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarSunday, April 27th, 2008

 
 

There’s only one show in town at the Circuit de Catalunya today and that’s Fernando Alonso. The stands are lined with blue and yellow flags, representing his home region of Asturias, and the fans don’t give a damn that Renault has changed its livery. The stands opposite his garage are groaning with eager supporters hoping to get a glimpse of their hero…

Well, that’s the script, and yesterday in qualifying Kimi Raikkonen deviated from it spectacularly, snatching a last-minute pole from the homeboy. Alonso’s still on the front row but he’s got two distinctly edgy drivers behind him in Felipe Massa and Robert Kubica.

And a McLaren third row waiting to take advantage of any first-corner pushing and shoving that ends with big names fuming in the gravel trap.

Was Alonso running on fumes at the end of qualifying? Will his car be able to keep up with the top flight, or will he lose his head in his desperation to impress the home crowd? Stick with us to find out… and remember to hit refresh to get the latest posts.

_________________________

Drivers’ championship standings now as follows: Raikkonen 29, Hamilton 20, Kubica 19, Massa 18, Heidfeld 16, Kovalainen 14.

– – – – –

Post-race: Ron Dennis interviewed – he says Kovalainen appears to have nothing worse than concussion. Something seems to have got between the wheel rim and the tyre to deflate it but they don’t currently know what. He blames the team’s fuel strategy for putting the cars on the third row in qualifying and says “we need a bit more speed”. This appears to chime with what Raikkonen’s mechanic said on the radio shortly after the chequered flag – praising him for putting the car on pole and saying it would have been a difficult race otherwise.

It transpires that the last eight pole-sitters have won the Spanish Grand Prix – compared to four in a row at the next-up season highlight Monaco. Brundle gives Hamilton his driver of the day award for keeping the Ferraris within sight. Kimi Raikkonen’s appearance on the podium reveals a truly alarming buzz-cut that makes him look more than ever like one of the hypnotized factory workers from last night’s episode of Doctor Who.

In the press conference Hamilton is subdued and seems disappointed with his performance. He says that Ferrari had superior tyre strategy and praises Kubica for keeping him in sight. But his final verdict is positive: “We’ve had two bad races. To come back on the podium is fantastic.”

– – – – –

Final result:

  1. Raikkonen, Ferrari: 1 38:19.051
  2. Massa, Ferrari: + 3.228
  3. Hamilton, McLaren: + 4.187
  4. Kubica, BMW Sauber + 5.694
  5. Webber, Red Bull + 35.938
  6. Button, Honda + 53.010
  7. Nakajima, Williams + 58.244
  8. Trulli, Toyota + 59.435
  9. Heidfeld, BMW Sauber + 1:03.073
  10. Fisichella, Force India + 1 lap
  11. Glock, Toyota + 1 lap
  12. Coulthard, Red Bull + 1 lap
  13. Sato, Super Aguri + 1 lap

– – – –

Lap 66: Raikkonen’s lead on Massa remains at three and a half seconds. He wins with no problems whatsoever and it’s as you were for the rest of the points positions.

– – – – –

Lap 65: Apparently the Spanish fans have actually remained in the stands to watch the remainder of the race, despite Alonso being out. How magnanimous of them.

– – – – –

Lap 64: Raikkonen, Massa, Hamilton, Kubica, Webber, Button, Nakajima and Trulli are the points-scorers as things stand at the moment. We can guess four midfield teams will be jolly pleased with that.

– – – – –

Lap 62: DC’s taken Sato! And no-one’s in the gravel! At four seconds a lap faster, it’s about time too. The television director’s sticking with this little battle, as the only thing worth watching on the track.

– – – – –

Lap 61: Coulthard narrowly avoids overtaking Sato – he’s fuelled up and his car is heavy which is impeding him. If this doesn’t end in tears, we’ll be amazed… More interesting is the fact that Hamilton is taking time out of Massa on every lap. Probably not enough laps left to do anything but you’ve got to admire the boy…

– – – – –

Lap 60: Hamilton is pushing Massa and Kubica is pushing Hamilton. DC is trying to overtake Sato. Tin hats, everyone.

– – – – –

Lap 59: Running order is Raikkonen, Massa, Hamilton, Kubica, Webber, Button, Nakajima, Trulli, Heidfeld, Fisi, Glock, Sato, DC. Commentators point out that the inability of the Ferraris to pull away from the McLaren and BMW drivers does hold out some hope for an interesting championship.

– – – – –

Lap 58: Only seven seconds separate the first four cars. Stewards are investigating the Glock-Coulthard incident after the race.

– – – – –

Lap 57: Raikkonen 2.7 secs ahead of Massa. Hamilton is catching Massa but still not in a position to challenge. Excellent fuel strategy from Honda has propelled Jenson Button into sixth.

– – – – –

Lap 55: Button has had to pit from fifth for fuel, Heidfeld has finally taken Fisi and hared off into the distance immediately. Mark Webber is in sixth. DC rejoins 13th and last.

– – – – –

Lap 54: Glock and Coulthard have had a coming-together while the ads were on. The accident-prone young GP2 champion has perpetrated a rear-end shunt on the veteran Scot, giving him a rear left puncture. DC is nursing the car back to the pits, Glock has had to pit for a new nose after going for a gap that wasn’t there. Not DC’s fault on this occasion.

– – – – –

Lap 51: Drivers are out of sequence following the pitstops but there are some interesting battles going on, not least Fisi holding off Heidfeld. His renaissance at Force India being compared to DC’s at Red Bull. Hamilton still hanging onto the Ferraris but not challenging. And off to ads we go.

– – – – –

Lap 50: Kovalainen is being flown off to hospital in Barcelona for precautionary further checks following a bang on the head. There seems to be little else wrong with him, apparently, but that was a hell of an accident. Whitmarsh talking to Louise Goodman says a sudden deflation of tyre pressure following a part of the rim becoming detached was to blame but beyond that they’re still in the dark. Confirming what we saw, in other words.

– – – – –

Lap 49: Alonso interviewed, says that he’s pleased with his qualifying performance and that he thinks that the improvements to the car will stick.

– – – – –

Lap 48: Kimi pits, is a bit slow getting away, but what difference does it make? Next in are Hamilton and Kubica who leave the pits in that order, possibly indicating the first race this season without a BMW on the podium. Ice Man’s car is unlikely to give up. Massa’s or Hamilton’s could – but it’s probably as you were from this point on.

– – – – –

Lap 47: Massa pits and Raikkonen has just put in a new fastest lap. Webber and Trulli are both in too. Very slow pitstop for Trulli, to Webber’s advantage.

– – – – –

Lap 45: Fisichella pits. Massa has just done the fastest lap of the race at three quarters of a second faster than Hamilton. Looks like the Stevenage lad is looking at the lowest step of the podium, at best. Heidfeld has had to make yet another trip to the pits to fuel, something that attentive readers will recall you can’t combine with a penalty.

– – – – –

Lap 44: Unofficially it is being said that Heikki Kovalainen is going to walk away unhurt from that massive crash. Whitmarsh has said he will give an official statement in due course.

– – – – –

Lap 43: Sato’s had to come in, which has disrupted his hunt for points, perhaps fatally. Fisi’s being ordered on his team radio to push hard.

– – – – –

Lap 41: Nico Rosberg is now retiring with a massive engine failure. As a result Sato is in the points and Jenson Button just outside them.

– – – – –

Lap 40: Lewis Hamilton seems to have found a bit of speed and has just set the fastest first sector of the race. Now, can he do anything with it? Kubica is also having a damn good look at his rear end.

– – – – –

Lap 38: Raikkonen leading Massa by three and a half seconds and four tenths of a second quicker on the last lap. Hamilton is reported as hanging onto the back of the Ferraris, about two and a half seconds behind. Kubica hanging onto the back of Hamilton but then there’s a bit of a gap to Mark Webber.

– – – –

Lap 37: Renault confirm that Alonso was felled by an engine failure, perhaps to no-one’s surprise.

– – – – –

Lap 36: Barrichello’s car’s let go now – just 14 runners left. He’s managed to drive back to his garage where he is pictured throwing his balaclava to the ground in disgust. Left running are: Raikkonen, Massa, Hamilton, Kubica, Webber, Trulli, Rosberg, Nakajima, Sato, Fisi, Button, DC, Glock, Heidfeld running last following his rather unfair stop-go.

– – – – –

Lap 35: Alonso parked up on the grass with a smoking engine and flames coming out of the back of the car. He’s out safely – but that’s not going to please the crowd much. In conversation with a fellow fan yesterday the phrase used to describe what that Renault would go through trying to keep up with the McLarens, Ferraris and Beemers was ‘overcooked’. And sadly it seems to have happened. Briatore, sans any running cars at all, is pictured with his head in his hands

– – – – –

Lap 32: 16 runners still on the track. Just to remind you, the retirements are Davidson, Vettel, Piquet, Bourdais, Kovalainen and Sutil (but not necessarily in that order). Brundle says he thinks Red Bull might have leapfrogged Toyota which would be about par for the course since we’ve just swapped one for the other in our McLaren Grand Prix League team…

– – – – –

Lap 29: Race re-starts with Raikkonen, Massa, Hamilton and Kubica in front. Then come Heidfeld (pre-penalty), Alonso, Webber and Trulli. McLaren tell Ted Kravitz that their man is “conscious and stable” – and have started the inquisition into what’s gone wrong.

– – – – –

Lap 27: Kovalainen is OK, and thank God for that. He’s taken off on a stretcher but an overhead camera catches him giving a thumbs-up. His car is absolutely totalled with the safety capsule penetrated – and he’s strapped down in a way that might indicate broken legs. Now the broadcasters feel able to show the footage from his on-board camera. It shows something flying off the front left of the car and shredding a tyre. Now the big question is whether Hamilton’s car’s OK.

– – – – –

Lap 26: Barrichello’s nose cone is revealed to have been knocked off in his own garage as he came down off the jacks. He pits again and rejoins in 16th. Still nothing on Kovalainen and the silence makes us very nervous.

– – – – –

Lap 25: Still an ominous silence about Kovalainen. A tarpaulin now screens his car from the crowd. The pitlane opens and the mid-field drivers are flocking in. Barrichello, leaving the pits, has somehow destroyed the nose cone of his car, so he’ll be going straight back in again.

– – – – –

Lap 24: Rosberg rejoined in 15th place after his pit stop with things skewed thanks to the safety car. Heidfeld has been forced to pit and will get a penalty. Webber is radioed to warn him that the safety car period will be a long one. The car is out of the tyre wall now but we have no information about Kovalainen yet.

– – – – –

Lap 22: Safety car out due to the amount of work required to extract Kovalainen from the tyre wall. Running order behind the car is Heidfeld (no stop), Raikkonen, Massa, Hamilton, Kubica, Barrichello (no stop). Problems for anyone running on fumes, as the pit lane is currently closed.

– – – – –

Lap 21: Hamilton and Kubica pit. Hamilton comes out behind Nico Rosberg in sixth place. Kubica now in seventh. Kovalainen appears to have had an awful crash from third that the cameras missed. He’s buried deep in the tyre barrier and we haven’t seen him yet. A replay shows something breaking on his car and the Finn hurled at the barrier like a dart at a dartboard. This is a nasty one.

– – – – –

Lap 19: Massa pits from second. Eight-second stop and he’s being criticised by Martin Brundle for not stopping in his box properly. He gets away well and rejoins. Raikkonen’s come in next. McLaren mechanics are not out yet. Hamilton is currently leading the race.

– – – – –

Lap 17: Alonso dives into the pits first, as expected since qualifying. Clean stop, he comes out in 11th place behind Barrichello. Hamilton, freed up, is now setting personal-best lap times. Louise Goodman interviews Anthony Davidson who, with his usual tact and style, is blaming Piquet for his car giving up. The nasty Brazilian dragged stones onto the track, one of which got into his radiator, apparently.

– – – – –

Lap 15: Alonso still out, to the surprise of all. BMW appear to be preparing for a stop. Renault reportedly making tyre pressure adjustments.

– – – – –

Lap 14: Yellow flag has gone in. It might (we say cautiously) be safe to potter off, check your emails, do those little errands that have been nagging away at you. Things could get dramatic again – or they could continue like this for the next hour or so.

– – – – –

Lap 13: Still under yellow flag. Massa apparently making no dent in Raikkonen’s lead. Order behind the red cars is Alonso, Hamilton, Kubica, Kovalainen. Plus ca change, in other words. Put the kettle on…

– – – – –

Lap 11: Those cars who have kept out of trouble are processing round at present. Raikkonen has stretched his lead to three seconds. Hamilton is gaining fractionally on Alonso. Kubica and Kovalainen are clinging heroically to the back of the front-running pack. Commonsense would suggest that someone is going to have to come in for fuel pretty soon. And Alonso would be close to the top of the list…

– – – – –

Lap 9: Bourdais’ engine has been switched off. Davidson in the pits, with mechanics peering at the underside of his car. Now he’s being wheeled into the garage. It’s a race of attrition alright – but, so far, the attrition’s at the back of the field and not having much impact on the exciting stuff.

– – – – –

Lap 7: And much good they did him. He’s tried to overtake Bourdais on the inside, been blocked and ended up shoved off the track. Piquet is now out of the race, and Bourdais has pitted for a new nose. He’s nicking a bit of fuel while he’s in there.

– – – – –

Lap 6: Piquet’s had to come in for fresh tyres.

– – – – –

Lap 4: Piquet has taken an extensive unscheduled excursion from 10th through the gravel trap. He’s dropped down to 18th as a result of that one. Raikkonen is lapping four tenths of a second faster than Massa. Hamilton faster than everyone but Raikkonen. Michael Schumacher is visible on the Ferrari pit wall.

– – – – –

Lap 3: Still under safety car conditions, but it’s about to come in. Ferraris shoot off and everybody else holds position. Heidfeld has taken Webber somewhere in the middle of all this, so those two are seventh and eighth. Rosberg is the biggest gainer, moving from an uncharacteristically poor 15th qualifying spot to 11th.

– – – – –

Lap 1: Raikkonen and Massa squeeze out Alonso and Hamilton takes Kubica. Adrian Sutil’s Force India car has spun artistically and been collected by Vettel by way of Coulthard. Safety car. Order is Raikkonen, Massa, Alonso, Hamilton, Kubica, Kovalainen. Coulthard still running. Alonso’s fuel strategy has just been given a boost…

– – – – –

Parade lap: The option tyre is apparently being favoured by at least the top 10 drivers. Lewis Hamilton’s been booed a bit, apparently, but we’re sure he’s old and wise enough to deal with that. Alonso has briefly put his car off the track while warming up his tyres

– – – – –

Grid: James Allen points out on ITV1 that the Circuit de Catalunya tends to reward pole-sitters. We also predict that Kimi Raikkonen will be spectacularly hard to dislodge. And the Spanish Grand Prix has not always provided the most thrilling of races, but the start of this one in particular may be worth paying close attention to…

– – – – –

Pre-race: Well, well, well. We’ve just noticed that the BBC is reporting that Bernie Ecclestone wants Max Mosley to resign. Obviously this is huge, but at this point we’re sticking to the racing, thanks, and leaving the politics until later. In the meantime, read more here: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport/formula_one/7369696.stm

Martin Brundle’s gone to the back of the grid where he’s all on his lonesome, poor bloke. Will the BBC drop the grid walk altogether next season? Looks to us like it might have had its day.

There he finds Anthony Davidson who admits the only person he’s racing is Takuma Sato. This could be his last Grand Prix if things don’t go his and Super Aguri’s way. Sad thought…

Does Brundle uncover the first tiny signs of disillusionment in Vijay Mallya? He says something is “not right” but insists it will be sorted out by the next race.

Brundle to Sebastian Vettel: “What’re you doing back here, son?” Vettel, to his credit, answers with plenty of self-possession.

Comments are closed.

 
  • McLaren eshop

    McLaren store

  • F1 gear (and more) at OnPole.com

    2012 F1 Merchandise from OnPole.com