Alonso crashes out of his 200th F1 race

Fernando Alonso crashed out of his 200th F1 race in Malaysia.

The Spanish driver, who took victory at the same circuit last year, looked set for a good race having qualified in third. However he damaged his front wing at Turn Two when he nudged Sebastian Vettel as he fought for the lead of the race.

Alonso chose to stay out on circuit with the damaged front wing rather than pit for a new one. Unfortunately the front wing broke and became wedged underneath his Ferrari on the finish straight causing him to slide into the Turn One run off area and see an early end to his 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix.

Engine change for Maldonado

Pastor Maldonado will start the Malaysian Grand Prix with a new engine after it was discovered post-qualifying that his old engine had suffered from some damage to the pistons.

Regulations state that drivers are permitted to use eight engines per season. As the new engine will be the second unit for Maldonado this season he will not incur any penalties for the change.

Sauber introduces new fuel system measures

Sauber have introduced new measures to ensure the problem that meant Hulkenberg was unable to compete in the opening race of the 2013 F1 season will not happen again.

“What happened was that many factors led to the creation of a vacuum in the fuel cell – so it collapsed in on itself,” Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn explained.

“That damaged the fuel cell. The engineers already had a good understanding of it in Melbourne. We tested some things here and had some tests in Hinwil.

“We have introduced a couple of measures and looked at different reasons that should lead us to solve the problem.”

Kaltenborn also said that the problem was disappointing for Hulkenberg as he had qualified well and had a chance to score some points.

“Everything is no speculation in terms of where he could end up,” Kaltenborn continued. “He had a good chance to get in the points and if you see this chance fizzle out maybe two hours before the race, it is particularly disappointing.”

Fangio’s 1954 W196 to be auctioned

Fancy owning a piece of Formula One history? A ‘forgotten’ F1 car is to be auctioned off at the Goodwood Festival of Speed in July.

The car in question is a 1954 Mercedes-Benz W196 that was driven by Juan Manuel Fangio. The car is special because it featured a lot of innovative technology including a fuel-injected engine, all-round inboard-mounted brakes and a lightweight chassis.

The car will be sold ‘as is’ with all it’s blemishes and dirt. The car has been stored in a warehouse for the past three decades and is said to have been ‘largely forgotten about’.

The 2 1/2 litre eight-cylinder single-seater is the car that Fangio won the 1954 German and Swiss Grand Prixs in.

Van der Garde: We are hoping for rain

Giedo van der Garde is hoping for some rain at his team’s home race in Malaysia.

“For the moment it does look like Marussia are a little bit faster than us but coming to Sepang we have conditions that will suit our cars better,” said van der Garde.

“In testing we found that our car performs quite well in the wet and when we arrived here, in the past two days it has rained at 4pm, which is the time the race starts on Sunday.

“So, with good preparation and some improvements to the car, then with some rain, we can expect a totally different picture here in Sepang.”

The Dutch driver will be sporting a specially designed helmet which will be auctioned off for charity after the race.

“At first we thought of putting the Malaysian flag on it,” van der Garde explained. “But then we found out that the tiger is a special symbol of this country so we went with that. The helmet will be auctioned off for charity after the race.”

Honda to power McLaren from 2015?

Honda are reportedly planning a return to F1 in 2015. According to a Jiji Press report, Honda is reportedly working on Formula One engines for McLaren.

The Japanese car manufacturer quit F1 at the end of the 2008 season with the team sold to Ross Brawn, who changed the name to Brawn GP and went on to win the 2009 World championship.

If the rumours about the Honda-McLaren partnership are true, it would not be the first time that the pair have teamed up. Their previous partnership was between 1988 and 1992 and in that time, they won four constructors’ World Championships.

Button hoping for mixed conditions at Malaysian GP

It appears that Jenson Button may be hoping for rain at this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix as it might help the team be more competitive.

“I’d rather it was mixed conditions,” Button told Autosport. “hen we have more of a chance to score points.

“Inters were very good to us in the last race, with P3 in Q2. When you have a quick car, you want it to be dry every day; no wind, calm, but when you don’t have such a quick car you want everything thrown at the field so you have an opportunity.”

The British F1 driver has also acknowledged that McLaren may not be able to compete at the front this weekend.

“It’s going to be another tough weekend,” Button explained. “But this is a circuit where we are a little bit lucky in terms of the bumpiness.

“It’s a lot smoother than the last race, which should help us quite a bit. The car was bouncing around quite a bit in the last race, which doesn’t help the setup. Where it is less bumpy, especially in low speed corners, it should really help us put the car where it should work.

“We won’t be fighting at the front but at least we can get the best out of the car that we have.”

Button also revealed that he doesn’t think Kimi Raikkonen will be victorious in Malaysia.

“Lotus did a great job and Kimi did a great job in the race but a lot of people will have learned from what they did,” Button said. “It’s very different conditions with the heat and the type of circuit.

“I think you will be seeing a different winner here.”

Five things we learned from the Australian GP 2013

The 2013 F1 season kicked off in Australia last weekend with a historic victory for Lotus and Kimi Raikkonen. Here, Hugh Podmore analyses what fans can take away from the new season so far.

1) Raikkonen and Lotus are awesome
Any thoughts that Lotus’ 2012 season was a flash in the pan were banished by their performance in Melbourne. They do seem to be on an upward curve of performance and maximised it this weekend to outwit and outrace the opposition. As for the man himself, Raikkonen showed that his motivation has not sapped over the winter. His stylish flourish of the fastest lap towards the end put the pretender Fernando Alonso firmly out of any delusions he might have had of winning the race.

2) Tyres – and strategy – are all-important
Mischievous Pirelli’s decision to spice up the racing – as if it weren’t spicy enough already – has meant super softs that decay quicker than is strictly necessary, frankly. Teams have little or no idea how to handle them as yet, and it makes for very interesting racing. Adrian Sutil’s ability to run with the front of the pack was less a demonstration of his return to form (admirable though that may be) than a clear indication of how strategy can put you amongst the roosters. Proof of that assertion is to be found in his eventual placing just a sliver ahead of team mate Paul di Resta. Why did he end up there, though? Because his tyres were shot by the end. Upshot: first team to master the tyres and thus have cards to play around with strategy will start to bound ahead.

3) Red Bull are not all conquering…yet
Red Bull have started the season significantly less ahead than they finished the previous. In fact, on pure race pace, they seem to trail Lotus and Ferrari, although when the tanks are empty as during qualifying their devastating speed has not completely left them. And that’s why there’s a “yet” in number three above – because you’d back Adrian Newey and his team probably before all others to figure out how to handle the tyres and the vagaries of the new season. And transform that Saturday (Sunday morning in Melbourne) velocity into Sunday wins.

4) Relative overall performance is still nearly as unknown as before the Australian race
…principally because the temperatures were so low at Melbourne to render much data inconsequential. The hot, humid denseness of Malaysia should start to bring the picture into focus – those who profited this weekend may find the behaviour of the tyres very different. Which is great because it’s unpredictable.

5) The usual suspects (and Massa) are still the best in town
Staggeringly quick performances from Raikkonen, Alonso, Vettel, Massa and Hamilton among others in Australia. That list looks familiar because it is a list of the best drivers in the world at the moment. Regular readers of this column will know it has previously been especially hard on Felipe Massa, but derserving of such credit was his performance on Sunday that the word ‘renaissance’ was bandied about. Justifiably – it was only a strategy call that meant he was behind his team mate. Many more showings like that and he may find himself profiting from Ferrari strategy! Meanwhile, fans’ relief at seeing Hamilton in a vaguely competitive machine will only be tempered by his post-Melbourne righteous indignation at being ‘talked down’ prior to season’s start. Well, yes, Lewis, but a lot of that negativity came from the mouths of Merc employees. Fortunately, there’ll be no more of it now. Unlike at McLaren…

No problems with Webber ECU

Mark Webber confirmed that he had telemetry and KERS issues during the 2013 season opener in Melbourne. However McLaren have said that they believe the issue stems from somewhere in the Red Bull garage rather than a fault with the ECU.

A post-race inspection by McLaren Electronic Systems has pointed to an issue with the garage. Talking to Autosport, the Managing Director explained, “There was an issue with Mark Webber’s data system in the garage during the formation lap. The ECU on the car was fine.

“We regret any disruption caused to Mark’s preparations for the start of the race and will continue to work with the team to prevent any recurrence.”

Chilton happy with Formula One debut

Max Chilton has said he is happy with his F1 debut. The 21 year old British driver finished 17th at the Australian Grand Prix, a full lap behind his team-mate Jules Bianchi after a collision with the Caterham of Giedo van der Garde caused him into an early pitstop.

“It was great beforehand because all the crowd were cheering my name on the parade lap,” Chilton said. “I enjoyed that.

“Overall, I was happy with the job I did and the car, and I can now tick off the fact I have done an F1 race and brought the car home. That was the goal. It’s good to get the race under my belt, even if it was less than straightforward, and we now know where we stand relative to the competition.

“I hit the blue flag period (waved to back markers), and it was a bit of a battle to recover the ground I lost,’

“Obviously you don’t want to be messing up other people’s race, but there is a bit of an art to it and you learn when to go off line. It is one of those things you don’t know until you’ve done a race.”

Chilton has revealed that the team are confident ahead of the next race in Malaysia. Having managed to get on the podium in GP2 last season Chilton is looking forward to next weekend’s Malaysian race.

“We are confident,” Chilton continued. “Although the race had its frustrations, I feel like I’ve learned a lot I perhaps wouldn’t have learned otherwise and that will be useful experience over the next few races.

“I am looking forward to Malaysia now so I can roll all that back into my racing and be able to take the fight to the midfield pack.

“I was in Malaysia last year in GP2 and I managed to get on the podium, so I know the track in the wet and dry.”