Formula 1: 2008 United States Grand Prix Recap

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Formula 1: 2008 United States Grand Prix Recap

 

Due to Bernie Ecclestone’s short-sightedness and money-hungry ego there was not a United States Grand Prix in 2008. To correct this lapse of reason (among other things wrong with Bernie), I’ve gotten with the folks from Texas A&M University’s Engineering Department to travel into another dimension and see how this race went down.

Sorry it took a couple of days, but this dimensional-travel thing gives a whole new definition to "Jet lag". 

This year the actual U.S. Grand Prix will take place on two wheels as the top-notch pilots of the Moto GP motorcycle Championship will blast around a reconfigured road course at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in September.

So go throw on your team colors, grab a snack and a beverage, and follow along as we look back at the 2008 U.S. Formula 1 Grand Prix.

The grid looks like this:

Row 1: Felipe Massa (Ferrari) and Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari)

Row 2: Robert Kubica (BMW-Sauber) and Fernando Alonso (Renault)

Row 3: Mark Webber (Red Bull Renault) and Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren-Mercedes)

Row 4: Nick Heidfeld (BMW-Sauber) and David Coulthard (Red Bull Renault)

Row 5: Nelsinho Piquet (Renault) and Jarno Trulli (Toyota)

Row 6: Jenson Button (Honda) and Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes) (+10 spot)

Row 7: Timo Glock (Toyota) and Kazuki Nakajima (Williams-Toyota)

Row 8: Sebastien Bourdais (STR-Ferrari) and Nico Rosberg (Williams-Toyota) (+10 spot)

Row 9: Rubens Barrichello (Honda) and Adrian Sutil (Force India-Ferrari)

Row 10: Sebastien Vettel (STR Ferrari) and Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India-Ferrari)

Lewis Hamilton actually had the second-best time in Q3, but the penalty sent him back to 12th. Nico Rosberg was flying with a great effort, timing in sixth, but having to start 16th.

Adrian Sutil and Sebastien Vettel started from the pit lane. Speculation is that due to the frequency of crashes on lap one, the teams wanted to try to give them a chance to get through without being involved.

The weather was great, sunny with some broken clouds and a slight breeze out of the west as temperatures headed up to 86. The cars completed their formation lap and warm their tires as they pull onto the front stretch of the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The estimated 125,000 Formula 1 fans are on their feet, flags flying, and colors adorn the grandstands around the Brickyard.

To quote Bob Varsha from Speed TV, “Here come the lights. Turn up the volume as we start the 2008 United States Formula 1 Grand Prix!”

Everyone gets away at the start, and going into turn one a little brake lock-up for Kimi Raikkonen opens the door for Robert Kubica to swing by into second. The chase is on as Felipe Massa leads the way.

Trouble occurs back in the pack, as the Renault of Piquet and Honda of Jenson Button got together and spun off course. Both climb safely from their damaged mounts and are out of the race. Hamilton got around the incident, but there was nose damage on Timo Glock’s Toyota and Kaz Nakajima’s Williams. Both will have to pit for a replacement.

With some debris on the track, Adrian Sutil made it through without trouble, but Sebastien Vettel had cut a tire down on the STR and will have to stop. The safety car was deployed to control the field as clean up took place.

Lap 1 The running order is Massa, Kubica, Raikkonen, Alonso, and Webber.

Lap 3 The Mercedes Safety Car is off and we’re back to green. Massa takes off but Kubica stays with him. Again there was some lock up on the Ferrari of Raikkonen going into turn 1. Could there be a problem with the car? Heikki Kovalainen gets a good run on Mark Webber and makes a clean pass going into the first turn, moving the Finn into fifth. Lewis Hamilton slips by the Toyota of Jarno Trulli under braking, and is up to ninth. Nico Rosberg overtakes Bourdais and has his Williams up to eleventh.

Lap 4 and Raikkonen is really trying to get by the BMW of Kubica, but seems to get lock up going into turn one. The length of the run at full throttle can cause the brakes to drop below optimum temperature, and it seems to be giving Kimi fits. Timo Glock pits his Toyota again, and is pushed into the garage. Apparently he suffered some gearbox damage in the first lap incident.

Lap 7 Sebastien Bourdais slid off track and into the wall under braking going into turn 8. His Scuderia Toro Rosso was damaged but he has climbed from the car. This ends a disappointing day for the 4-time Champ Car Champion making his return to the United States. There was a local yellow but the car was quickly moved to safety.

Lap 8 Massa is pulling away by about half a second a lap. Kubica seems to be a little heavier on fuel. Alonso is all over the back of Raikkonen, who is still having some lock up and some minor flat-spotting on his tires.

Lap 10 Felipe Massa has about 4 seconds over Kubica. Alonso turned under Kimi Raikkonen going into turn 8 and is stretching the difference. Kovalainen is fifth, Mark Webber sixth, and Nick Heidfeld is seventh. 

Lap 15 The Force-India Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella pulls into the pits, much too early for a scheduled stop. The car is pushed into the garage, with a mechanical failure the cause for retirement. This must be disappointing after a ninth-place run at Indy in 2007. 

Lap 19 Lewis Hamilton is the first to dive for pit road. It seems he was light on fuel to counteract the 10 grid-spot penalty from Canada. It’s allowed him to close up on David Coulthard in eighth before stopping. This will also give the team the opportunity to replace the soft tires with the hard compounds, on which the MP4-23s have been much happier this season. 

Lap 20 The Ferrari fans are jubilant as Felipe Massa continues to pace the field. His lead over Robert Kubica has opened up to 8.5 seconds, and Alonso is another 7 seconds in trail, with Kimi Raikkonen obviously struggling with his brakes and seeing the McLaren of Heikki Kovalainen in his mirrors. Pit stops are expected soon. 

Nico Rosberg was apparently on a lighter fuel load to start, and dives into pit lane from 10th for service from the Williams crew.

Lap 21 Leader Felipe Massa pits the Ferrari, and as his crew changes tires and fuels the car. Robert Kubica brings his BMW to the attention of the mechanics. Massa is in for 6.8 seconds, and that should carry him for about 30 laps. Kubica is serviced and rolls after 6.5 seconds. Alonso is in the lead with Raikkonen chasing him. 

Lap 22 Fernando Alonso makes for the pits, relinquishing the lead to Kimi Raikkonen in the Ferrari, and the faithful are going nuts. Heikki Kovalainen, Mark Webber, and Jarno Trulli come in, as does Nico Rosberg in the Williams. 

Lap 23 More of the field pits as Raikkonen continues to show the way. He is still showing lock up under heavy braking going into turn 1, and his teammate is closing up behind him. Kubica has resumed the chase in third. Nick Heidfeld brings his white and blue BMW Sauber in for service. David Coulthard pits the Red Bull-Renault, and must have had an issue as he rejoins just behind Lewis Hamilton. 

Lap 24 Felipe Massa is back on the point as Kimi bring in his Ferrari, but he looks to have slowed well before the pit in. Kubica is several seconds back of Massa, chasing for all he’s worth. Alonso is third, and Webber is just behind Kovalainen in the McLaren. Something looks wrong with Raikkonen’s car. The mechanics are looking at something, and are rolling it into the garage. Perhaps his brake issues have finally taken their toll.

Lap 25 With Raikkonen retired, and Hamilton a ways back, the door is open for Felipe Massa and Robert Kubica to put a push on for points in the World Driving Championship. Kubica is trying to repeat what Lewis Hamilton did in 2007 – win both races in the North American swing for F1. The word from the Ferrari stall is a hydraulic failure has put Kimi on the sidelines. 

A third of the way through the 2008 United States Grand Prix, and the running order is as follows: Felipe Massa is out front, Robert Kubica second, Fernando Alonso third, Heikki Kovalainen fourth, Mark Webber fifth. Nick Heidfeld runs sixth, then Lewis Hamilton and David Coulthard in the final point-paying position. A lap down are Jarno Trulli in ninth, Adrian Sutil tenth, and Sebastian Vettel eleventh. Kaz Nakajima and Reubens Barrichello are almost two laps down and are the last of  12 cars still running of the 20 that started. 

Lap 30 Massa’s lead is up to 10.3 seconds over Kubica. It looks like Felipe is untouchable today at Indy.

Lap 32 Poof! A cloud of bluish-white smoke erupts from the back of Kaz Nakajima’s Williams as the engine, “done blowed up” when he went to power coming out of turn 11. This ends an unfortunate day for Kaz as he coasts into the pits and retires the car. 

Lap 35 The best racing on the circuit is between Mark Webber and Heikki Kovalainen for fourth. Kovalainan is just ahead but Webber makes a run on him going into turn 1. Webber gets on the inside of the McLaren as they make the right-hander, but now Heikki has the advantage on the inside of the left-hand turn two. They’re side-by-side as they round three but with Webber on the inside Kovalainen has to back off going to four, and trails the Red Bull car in the right-hand bend of turn 5.

The young Finn makes a surge to cross-over going into the left-hand turn six, and Webber slams the door on him! Again Heikki will try as they turn right into seven, and a slight brake lock forces him to back down. Mark Webber pulls away down Hullman Boulevard. That was some great moves by the veteran to hold off the youngster.

Lap 38 Kovalainen is still pursuing Webber’s Red Bull car, and looks like he’s sizing Mark up for another run. Meanwhile back in the pack Adrian Sutil and Sebastien Vettel are dicing back and forth in a show by some of the up and coming talent of F1. Both pitted on lap 37 and are on a one-stop strategy, having started from the pit lane and heavy on fuel. 

Lap 45 Things are strung out around the 4.1-kilometer circuit at Indy. Massa’s lead over Kubica continues to build by about three-tenths of a second a lap. Kubica has a gap back to Alonso, and Kovalainen has swapped fourth with Webber twice, with the Red Bull in front of the McLaren once again. 

Lap 47 Trouble for David Coulthard as he gets loose coming around turn six and stalls the car. A quick local yellow allows the Red Bull to be moved safely out of the way. It doesn’t look like Coulthard will enjoy a repeat of the great run he had in Canada.

Lap 48 Lewis Hamilton makes the turn for the pit lane for his second stop. He’s been running seventh and gaining ground on Nick Heidfeld’s BMW. A good stop for the McLaren crew gets their driver back on track without losing a position. 

Lap 49 The aforementioned Heidfeld comes in for service, as does Fernando Alonso and Nico Rosberg in the Williams. Robert Kubica is still chasing Felipe Massa but the Ferrari has a 14.1 second lead. The Ferrari team is setting out for a stop, so it looks like the leader will be coming in next time by. 

Lap 50 Sure enough, Massa pits from the lead to take on fuel and soft tires for the run to the finish. Kubica comes in behind the leader for attention from the BMW Sauber mechanics. Rubens Barrichello seems to be a little off pace in the Honda, but he pits the white and green machine with those bizarre-looking “Elephant Ear” fairings on the nose. Heikki Kovalainen is in for his second stop, as is Mark Webber in the Red Bull. 

Lap 51 Jarno Trulli brings the Toyota to pit road, and that cycles all the cars through their second stop, save for Vettel and Sutil, who are on one-stop strategies. They’re still racing close on the track, having swapped positions several times but both are almost three laps behind the leader. 

Lap 55 Felipe Massa continues to show the way in the Ferrari, Robert Kubica is second almost 18 seconds in trail, Fernando Alonso third some twenty seconds behind the BMW, Heikki Kovalainen runs fourth about 20 seconds back of the two-time champ. Mark Webber is slipping back, and may fall into the clutches of Lewis Hamilton, but the McLaren will have to put on a push to remain on the lead lap, as Nick Heidfeld was just passed by the leader. Jarno Trulli is two laps back in eighth. 

Trouble for Reubens Barrichello as his Honda gives up the ghost in a cloud of smoke. He steers the car off the racing line and out of the way at the end of pit out, and marshals are able to push the car out of the way. 

Lap 57 Attrition is high and Adrian Sutil’s Force India-Ferrari was blowing smoke for the past couple of laps. He’s brought it to pit lane and it appears his day is done with a gearbox failure. This ends the entertaining racing between he and Sebastian Vettel in the STR-Ferrari, who is soldiering on three laps down in tenth-last of the cars still running in the 2008 U.S. F1 Grand Prix. 

Lap 60 Only ten cars remain on track and this race is Felipe Massa’s to lose. He’s building out about half a second a lap over Robert Kubica in the BMW, who is poised for another podium finish, and a chance to build on his lead in the Driver’s Championship. Nico Rosberg and Jarno Trulli are now two laps down, Nick Heidfeld is a lap behind, and Massa has his sights on Lewis Hamilton, who runs sixth. Hamilton has had a good day, considering he started in 12th, and avoided the first-turn collision between Nelson Piquet and Jenson Button. He’s up in the points, and will lose ground to Kubica, but will pick up a few on Kimi Raikkonen. 

Lap 62 Lewis Hamilton gives room for Massa to make a clean pass, and he receives a thank-you wave from the Ferrari pilot. Hamilton is closing up on Mark Webber for fifth, but time is running out to catch him, much less get past a tough driver. 

Lap 68 Five to go, and Felipe Massa’s run couldn’t have been better. He passes Mark Webber, and that leaves only the Ferrari and three others on the lead lap here at Indianapolis. Kubica is 21 seconds back, Alonso 47 behind Massa, and Kovalainen is closing up slightly, 17 seconds behind Fernando’s Renault. The Ferrari faithful are on their feet waving Modena red, Italian, and Brazilian flags each time Massa comes by. 

Lap 71 Lewis Hamilton is pushing to get to the back of Mark Webber’s Red Bull-Renault. Webber has run a phenomenal race and will be tough to get around. Time is working against Hamilton as he wants to minimize the damage from the 10 grid-spot penalty from Canada. 

Lap 73 It’s all over but the shouting, and there’s plenty of that has Felipe Massa roars around turn 13 and swings over by the pit wall to dust the Ferrari mechanics as he wins the 2008 United States Grand Prix! This is Massa’s first win at Indy, but Ferrari’s seventh in nine at Indianapolis. Robert Kubica brings the BMW Sauber home in second, a good follow-up to his win in Canada. Fernando Alonso is third in the Renault. 

Well, it was a typical F1 race at Indy. The winner comes from the front row, and Ferrari rues the day. There will be a shake-up in the Driver’s Championship, with Raikkonen not scoring any points and Hamilton having to settle for sixth.

 

2008 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix 

Pos  No       Driver                  Team                 Laps   Time/Retired   Grid   Pts

1      2        Felipe Massa         Ferrari                  73  1:32:14.781      1      10

2      4        Robert Kubica      BMW Sauber          73  +23.7 secs        3       8

3      5       Fernando Alonso   Renault                 73   +48.9 secs        4       6

4      23     Heikki Kovalainen   McLaren-Mercedes  73 +65.4 secs         6       5

5      10     Mark Webber        Red Bull-Renault     72  +1 Lap             5        4

6      22     Lewis Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes   72  +1 Lap            12       3

7      3       Nick Heidfeld         BMW Sauber           72  +1 Lap            7         2

8      11     Jarno Trulli            Toyota                   71  +2 Laps          10       1

9      7       Nico Rosberg        Williams-Toyota       71  +2 Laps          16

10    15     Sebastian Vettel    STR-Ferrari             70  +3 Laps          19

11    20     Adrian Sutil           Force India-Ferrari   57   Gearbox         18

12    17     Reubens BarrichelloHonda                    55   Engine           17

Ret   9       David Coulthard    Red Bull-Renault      47   Accident         8         

Ret   8       Kazuki Nakajima    Williams-Toyota       32   Engine           14

Ret   1       Kimi Raikkonen      Ferrari                    24   Hydraulic        2

Ret   21     Giancarlo Fisichella  Force India-Ferrari   15   Mechanical      20           

Ret   14     Sebastein Bourdais STR-Ferrari             7    Accident         15

Ret   12     Timo Glock             Toyota                   3    Gearbox         13

Ret   6       Nelsinho Piquet       Renault                  0    Accident          9

Ret   16     Jenson Button        Honda                    0    Accident         11

 

2008 Driver Standings after United States Grand Prix

Pos      Driver                           Nationality        Team                            Points

1          Robert Kubica              Polish               BMW Sauber                   50

2          Felipe Massa                Brazilian            Ferrari                            48

3          Lewis Hamilton             British              McLaren-Mercedes           41

4          Kimi Raikkonen             Finnish             Ferrari                            35

5          Nick Heidfeld                German            BMW Sauber                   30

6          Hekki Kovalainen          Finnish              McLaren-Mercedes           20

7          Mark Webber               Australian         Red Bull-Renault              19

8          Fernando Alonso          Spanish            Renault                          15

9          Jarno Trulli                   Italian              Toyota                            13

10        Nico Rosberg               German            Williams-Toyota                8

11        Kazuki Nakajima          Japanese           Williams-Toyota                7

12        David Coulthard           British              Red Bull-Renault               6

13        Timo Glock                  German             Toyota                            5

14        Sebastien Vettel            German           STR-Ferrari                      5

15        Rubens Barrichello        Brazilian            Honda                             5

16        Jenson Button               British             Honda                             3

17        Sebastien Bourdais       French              STR-Ferrari                      2

18        Giancarlo Fisichella       Italian                 Force India-Ferrari            0

19        Nelsinho Piquet            Brazilian             Renault                           0

20        Takuma Sato                Japanese           Super Aguri-Honda          0

21        Anthony Davidson        British               Super Aguri-Honda          0

22        Adrian Sutil                  German             Force India-Ferrari           0 

Note – Super Aguri withdrew from the championship after round four. 

I’m just glad the folks down at A&M were able to get me back in one piece, and I didn’t wind up in a cloning experiment they’re working on. My laptop also made it, so I was able to put together this recap of the 2008 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix. Now if I could just go back to the Stars / Red Wings Game 6 when Dallas won…

But the gang at A&M said they won't have the time machine ready until the DeLorean is out of the shop...

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