Formula 1: Round 9: This Is Silverstone

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Formula 1: Round 9: This Is Silverstone

Well, where can I start? The world of F1 is being shook up again in the hands of the FIA. There are accusations from the fans of bias towards Ferrari and a singling out of McLaren.

The Woking based outfit has their blindfold on, they are stood up against the wall, and the people with the guns are: Big Bernie, Cool hand Whiting, and a line up of quick draw sharp shooting stewards.

It’s a debate, which has sparked much controversy within our Formula 1 community here on Bleacherreport.com so what does everyone else think about it?

Sir Jackie Stewart (F1 Legend) - "A lot of people – and not McLaren personnel—are saying that the FIA are more interested in finding faults at McLaren than at other teams. For example, in the French race, Kimi Raikonnen’s exhaust system broke and part of it was visibly hanging off the car. Why wasn’t he called into the pits to have the loose piece removed…Some people will say that if it had happened with a McLaren, the team would have been fined."

Gridcrasher.com (Motorsport Blog) - "Part of Kimi Raikkonen’s exhaust fell off during the French GP, but should he have been allowed to drive round with it hanging off in the first place? It could have flown off in any direction. Worst case scenario: it hits another driver, or a steward, or a spectator. Okay, the chances of that happening are very slim indeed, but why do we get the nagging feeling that had it been a McLaren, and then different action may have been taken? Charlie Whiting should have at least ordered a black-and-orange flag, forcing Kimi into the pits."

Ron Dennis (McLaren Mercedes Team Principle) - "Draw your own conclusions."

Ben Auty (Bleacher Report #1 F1 community ranked writer) - "I do feel that bias is unfortunately starting to creep in and it’s somewhat unnecessary, the FIA need more consistency with their decisions. Hamilton and Rosberg handed 10 place grid penalties, five maybe, but 10 is excessive. Then Kovalainen was deemed to have blocked Webber, no, Heikki was out of the way, it was Nakajima who blocked and even Mark Webber will tell you that. Hamilton cut the corner? No, he avoided an accident, and very well. Ironically Vettel did exactly the same to Kovalainen in a previous race and was not punished. Kimi not brought in to the pits for a dangerous car, just typical really. I just feel that the cars are fairly equal on their day and they should be allowed to battle it out on track. Let them do their jobs and stop bloody meddling."

BREAKING NEWS

(Source - Formula1.com)

The FIA have released a statement along with the release of the new provisional 2009 calendar (See my previous article)

The FIA’s statement reads - The FIA will enter into a wide-ranging consultation with the Formula One teams to examine plans for improved efficiency, including new technical regulations for the Championship. This will also involve a review of the governance of Formula One.

So while the debate roars on we have to get back down to business and the small matter of...THE 2008 SANTANDER BRITISH GRAND PRIX. It’s exciting times for us Brits because GP comes home (Well home for us).

We love a good old knees up at the GP being back where it belongs on the old Silverstone airfield. A few facts for you to ponder on:

  • Built in - 1943
  • Laps – 60
  • Distance - 3194 Miles (5141 Kilometres)
  • Corners - 17
  • Lap Record - 1:18:739 (M Schumacher, Ferrari, 2004)

So its 60 years since the very first Silverstone Grand Prix, held in 1948 it was won by Luigi Villoresi in his Maserati. He was one of only five non-domestic based players to enter into that grand prix.  There were seven UK entrants that year. Fast forward to now and he has only three Brit racers out of 20 entrants. Times have certainly changed.

This is why I am so passionate about the British Grand Prix continuing to be a feature of the Formula 1 calendar. We need it to continue our pursuit in more young home grown talent coming through the ranks and progressing to the dizzy heights of Formula 1 racing.

With DC facing retirement very soon and some say Jensen Button has more loyalty than sense, (Not me, I think Honda will be competitive next year) the hopes of the expectant nation that is the UK rest on the shoulders of one man, love him or hate him, Lewis Hamilton is our No. 1 prospect for the first UK champion since Damon Hill in 1996.

As we enter the Diamond anniversary of Silverstone, we have a very open world championship with only 10 points splitting the top four of Massa, Kubica, Raikkonen, and Hamilton.

It’s fair to say that the outcome could go anyway, but traditionally, it has been said that Silverstone is a Ferrari track so will we witness another Ferrari 1-2, for the sake of my team McLaren and of course the world championship I sincerely hope not.

A McLaren 1-2 this weekend would not only spark things up top  of the drivers leader board but will make it a three horse race for the constructors championship as well so that’s what I am routing for.

We are currently on day two of testing at Silverstone and Massa ran in the fastest time of day one, with Kovalainen second and Kubica third, only eight-tenths of a second separated them on the day, so it’s certainly going to be tight at the top.

Today’s practice session has just finished, and the McLaren was head and shoulders above the rest, Heikki drove the fastest lap a full second ahead of the Massa driven Ferrari who could only manage the seventh fastest with the BMW of Kubica just slightly ahead in sixth.

It’s unclear right now after two days testing who will have the pace next weekend.

I will be at Silverstone myself tomorrow (Thursday) for the full practice session. 

I will be able to give a firsthand account of just where the drivers stand bearing in mind that many teams are making changes over these testing sessions whether it is an aerodynamic tweak, an engine tweak, or a whole new fuel and lubricant package like McLaren.  Therefore, track times may not reflect race times. (Report to follow on Friday)

Everything is even on the day and no penalties will be helping or hindering any one driver.  It’s a level playing field and the first time in a couple of grand prix where we can say that a race has been either won or lost on pure racing pace or strategies.

It excites me that going into the British Grand Prix we have a tight competition where still we have any one of six drivers to tip the balance.

Kimi Raikkonen – Desperately needs to stamp some authority as the reigning champion, hasn’t had a great run as of late with some very disappointing results and last week’s “oh so close” moment where it was in his grasp and then, boom, you lose 80bhp as your exhaust blows up.

Felipe Massa – Having quite the opposite to Kimi, a fantastic run, which has seen him jump to the top and he is now leading the championship, revitalized and competitive he will be running fast again and should be the one to beat.

Lewis Hamilton – Starting unhindered this time and it’s his to lose. We know Lewis is fast, very fast and it makes no difference how fast the Ferraris may be in testing or practice or qualifying they know that Lewis will push them and cause big problems whenever he is behind a car he doesn’t want to be, combined with the world’s best tacticians you can bet that the strategy will be world class in getting him where he wants to be.

Heikki Kovalainen – Heikki drove a fantastic race in Magny-Cours and said that the car felt right on the track, confidence may be back after a terrible time early season. Luck didn’t run his way and I think that after last week’s performance could be a contender. Watch out for a fast Heikki in qualifying.

Robert Kubica – It’s Mr. Reliable once again, not a consistent winner, in fact as you all know he got his first and only GP win in Montreal, BUT, he is always up there and he always scores highly and that has been his success story. Struggled with the car in France but you can rest assured he will still be up there come race day.

Fernando Alonso – Finally finding his pace in the Renault, a slight hiccup last week in Magny-Cours late on cost him a place to team mate Piquet but you can be assured that you can’t put a good man down and he will put in another great qualifying lap to certainly put him in with a shout for a high placing again.

So how do I think it’s going to span out?

I think you can bet a substantial amount of money that it’s going to be between Hamilton on his home turf with the crowds behind him and Raikkonen with a point to prove. Raikkonen won here last year and would love to tap in a double.

Hamilton failed to win his home GP at first time of asking but you can bet that he will be in a confident mood and come qualifying and race day I think the crowd support could easily be worth five- tenths? What do you think?

Qualifying prediction is as follows:

  • Pole – Lewis Hamilton
  • 2nd – Felipe Massa
  • 3rd – Kimi Raikkonen
  • 4th – Robert Kubica
  • 5th – Heikki Kovalainen

I think that as usual it will go down to the last one minute before these solid times will be put in to get the final positions, and I expect both Ferraris to be heavily fuelled over Hamilton to try and capitalize on Hamilton’s track position.

I expect Kovalainen’s fuel load to be a big one in the hopes of leapfrogging Robert Kubica’s BMW. Anticipate good times in from Alonso, Webber, Trulli, and Rosberg after last week’s poor result in Magny-Cours.

Race result prediction is as follows:

  • 1st - Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes)
  • 2nd - Kimi Raikkonen (Scuderia Ferrari)
  • 3rd - Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren Mercedes)
  • 4th - Felipe Massa (Scuderia Ferrari)
  • 5th – Fernando Alonso (Renault)

Reason for my choice is because I think that home advantage may be in favor of Hamilton this time, he has a point to prove and what better place to do it than home.

Kimi also has a point to prove but Hamilton will have blistering pace come race weekend and Kimi won’t be able to get the edge. Heikki will use heavy fuel load and confidence boost to take the podium place from Massa.

Another problem filled GP for Kubica, maybe coming off the boil but still finishing high enough to keep him in with a shout. So that is my race weekend prediction.

Outside bet to consider – McLaren 1-2... Not impossible but it’s a long shot that just might happen?

How does that fair with you? Do you agree/disagree? What about the Witch Hunt on McLaren, bad judgement by FIA? Ferrari 1-2 a possibility? McLaren 1-2 a possibility? Let me know your thoughts and use my suggested talking points for ideas, hope you enjoyed the article. Thanks for reading

Ben, Over and Out!

PS – I will be at Silverstone on Thursday for the third day of F1 Testing.  If you see me, give me a shout. Also, look out for my testing report on Friday/Saturday (Depends when I get it done, just be patient).

 

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