Buemi fit to race; Alonso unconcerned about engine woes; Vettel wants f-duct; Whitmarsh defends Hamilton; Sutil reprimanded; Ecclestone confirms 20 races in 2011; Eddie Jordan to miss Grand Prix due to Icelandic Volcano
Sebastien Buemi has confirmed that he was not hurt, following his horrific shunt during practice for Chinese Grand Prix.
The Toro Rosso driver was left a passenger when the the newly-designed front right upright of his STR5 failed underbraking for the hairpin at turn 14.
Despite this, the Swiss driver is in rude health, but is disappointed not have managed to run in Friday’s second session.
“There’s not much to say about what happened in FP1.” he said, “I braked, the wheels came off and that was it.”
“Physically, I was fine though. But I have to say, I am extremely disappointed that, once again, through no fault of my own, I have been unable to run for almost all of the three hours available.
“I will have to try and catch up on Saturday morning and we will be relying on Jaime’s data from today to see which way to go.”
The team immediately launched an investigation into the incident, with technical chief Giorgio Ascanelli claiming that the cause has been identified and dealt with.
“Sebastien’s accident this morning was down to a technical problem on the right hand upright, which proved simple to identify once we got the car back.” he said, “We have resolved the problem, which the many laps completed by Jaime this afternoon confirms”
The other talking point from today’s practice sessions was Ferrari’s continued unreliability, with Fernando Alonso suffering another engine failure.
The Spaniard had been forced out of the Malaysian Grand Prix with a similar problem. Fortunately the engine which failed was the engine that the Scuderia has opted to replace ahead of the Bahrain GP.
Today’s failure leaves Alonso with only six more six engines at his disposal, before he has to start taking penalities. Despite this, the double world champion appears unconcerned:
“Clearly I’m not happy to have had an engine failure, but I’m not the slightest bit worried by it.” he said, “The engine I had this morning was the one we had changed after qualifying in Bahrain and we knew that, sooner or later, it could break.”
“It happened today, but it won’t have much effect on our original engine management plan.”
Both Alonso and Massa tested a version of the f-duct in today’s sessions. Pioneered by McLaren, the system is currently sought after by a number of teams one of which appears to be Red Bull, with driver Sebastian Vettel stressing its need.
“If you compare to the other teams and compare the sector times where you lose times and so on, it is clear on the sectors where you have more straights that you tend to lose more to a McLaren than another car,” said the German.
“It (the f-duct) is something you have to have, no matter if you have a midfield car or probably one of the best cars. It is worth quite a bit, and is quite a big advantage in terms of lap time. It probably depends on the circuit, but it is up to five tenths (of a second.)
“I think you would need to find a lot of parts that work well to give you half a second advantage for one lap – no matter in which conditions and which state of the car – heavy fuel loads and so on.
“So everyone is under pressure to copy and come up with something similar, which is very difficult because McLaren has been planning this for a long time. And, it is not that easy even if you have it to make it work, to operate with it.”
Lewis Hamilton’s defensive tactics in the Malaysian Grand Prix has remained under the spotlight in China, amid fresh criticism from drivers.
Hamilton was given the black and white flag during the race after weaving from side to side on the pit straight, in an attempt to fend off the Renault of Vitaly Petrov.
It is expected that the incident will be discussed in today’s meeting of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association. Nevertheless, this has not stopped a number of drivers speaking openly to the media about the incident.
F1-Veteran Rubens Barrichello told Autosport: “If he was beside me I would have given him some b******ing because it wasn’t right,”
“There are arguments to cover that, to say that he was under acceleration, not in the braking area.
“There are so many things that they could come up with, but the drivers have an agreement, sort of an agreement, obviously a verbal agreement, nothing that has been signed, that you should move only once during the protection of your line.
“So that for me was a Formula Ford thing.
“It shouldn’t have been done, to be honest.”
However, the McLaren driver has been defended by team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who insisted that the matter had been dealt with by the stewards in Malaysia and that Hamilton was not a dangerous driver.
“The stewards looked at this and decided not to penalise Lewis,” Whitmarsh said in China.
“Lewis was seeking to break the tow, not prevent an overtaking move.
“As always Lewis drives and races passionately, but always seeks to be entirely safe.”
Meanwhile, Adrian Sutil has been issued with a reprimand by the Chinese Grand Prix stewards for setting a fastest sector time while yellow flags were waving.
The Force India committed the offence shortly after Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari had pulled off at turn 6 with its engine failure.
Autosport has revealed that Michael Schumacher was also investigated for a similar breach of the rules, but was later cleared after the stewards spoke to Mercedes GP team manager Ron Meadows and acknowledged that the German had taken necessary action in the yellow flag zone.
In other news, Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed that the Formula One World Championship will expand to twenty races next season, with the addition of the Indian Grand Prix.
“We are not dropping anything. [It’s] 20 races – getting ready for 25.” the F1 supremo told Autosport.
The Englishman also stressed that the future of the Chinese Grand Prix was not in doubt, despite low attendance figures. Ecclestone laid the blame at the Shanghai organisers for poorly promoting the event.
“It’s a shame, because the whole venue’s super and everything’s good,” ITV F1 reports him as saying. “They’re not promoting it properly, it’s as simple as that.”
“These people who run the place ought to do a bit more,
“You can be in Shanghai and not even know the race is here.”
Finally, viewers in the UK will be without Eddie Jordan this weekend, after the Irishman was left stranded due to the cloud of Volcanic ash which has grounded flights throughout Europe.
BBC F1 anchor Jake Humphrey broke the news over twitter:
“So…no EJ for this weekend…he’ll join us on the phone at some point tho(ugh). Can we fly home is the next question…”
The news means that Jordan misses the Chinese Grand Prix for the second year in succession.