Button-McLaren rumours gather pace after factory visit

McLaren have confirmed that Jenson Button and his management team visited the team’s Woking headquarters this week prompting further speculation about the Briton’s whereabouts in 2010.

Negotiations between Button and Brawn GP have stalled with the Brackley based team refusing to meet the Briton’s demand of a return to the £6-8 million a year salary that he would have received had he not been forced to take a pay cut in the wake of Honda’s exit at the start of the season.

That has triggered speculation that Button could jump ship in 2010 and McLaren-Mercedes have emerged as a possible option for the newly crowned world champion. Those rumours gathered pace this week when it emerged that Button and his manager Richard Goddard visited McLaren’s headquarters in Woking.

“Having just arrived at Heathrow, Jenson made a small detour to Woking to say hello,” a McLaren spokesman confirmed to the British press.

Forumula1.com also understands that Button was absent from Brawn GP’s homecoming parade at Brackley – team principal Ross Brawn and chief executive Nick Fry fronted the show.

It is understood that Brawn are unwilling to give Button a significant pay rise but they are considering offering him a higher proportion of freedom with respect to personal sponsorship deals, which could allow the driver to raise his pay packet to meet his own expectations.

“We aren t asking for anything outrageous,” Button s manager Richard Goddard explained to British newspaper the Express.

“Just three months before Honda pulled out last November, Jenson signed a contract which would have given him a lot more money than we re looking for now

“We recognise times have changed but he is the world champion now and the team have turned things around.”

F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone believes that it is far more likely that Brawn and Button will come to an agreement than Button move to McLaren.

“It would not be an ideal for F1 to have two world champions in the same team,” Ecclestone explained.

“But Brawn and Button are probably just sparring at the moment and something will be worked out.”

It should also be noted that Button is not the only potential McLaren driver who has visited Woking in recent weeks. Early this week, Kimi Raikkonen’s management team went to McLaren’s Technology Centre as guests of team boss Martin Whitmarsh.

Leading F1 figures back Silverstone

Formula One’s big-hitters are turning out in their droves to urge Bernie Ecclestone to offer Silverstone the contract to host the British Grand Prix in 2010 following the failure of Donington Park to come up with the necessary funding.

Donington Park won a 17-year contract to host the event but the failure of Simon Gillet’s Donington Ventures company to demonstrate it has put Silverstone back in the frame.

However, a 2010 British Grand Prix is still by no means certain since the circuit-owning British Racing Drivers’ Club (BRDC) are once again loggerheads with Bernie Ecclestone over the fees to host the event.

Mark Webber has become the latest figurehead to lend his support to Silverstone, joining team principals Ross Brawn (Brawn GP), Christian Horner (Red Bull Racing),

Here’s what they had to say:

MARK WEBBER (Red Bull Racing): “We have to have the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. It’s a total no-brainer,” he told the BBC Look East. “It’s a sensational circuit. And it’s always been very well attended.”

“I know all the other F1 drivers love coming here. It’s got that amazing feel about it in terms of the very, very quick corners. It’s a challenging circuit. It’s one that is back to the roots of what F1 is all about.” Source: BBC Sport.

ROSS BRAWN (Brawn GP Team Principal): “We saw a fantastic event at Silverstone this year, with the huge support it had. I think it was (BRDC President) Damon Hill who made the point, with which I completely concur, that F1 is what it is because of the balance of races it has, the history it has, the heritage it has.

“The reason that F1 as a championship and as a series is so attractive to countries like Abu Dhabi and the new races we’re going to is because of that heritage and that history, and if we destroy that, then perhaps we don’t remain as attractive for countries in the future.

“We’ve got to get a balance between keeping the history and heritage of F1 and the new opportunities we have at fantastic circuits like [Abu Dhabi], so I think it would be a tragedy if we lost Silverstone and I hope Bernie can find a solution with Silverstone to keep the race there. The Donington episode has been an unfortunate distraction, but let’s hope that he can find a solution for the BRDC to run the race at Silverstone in the future.”

CHRISTIAN HORNER (Red Bull Racing Team Principal): “You have to consider the difference in resources available to the different circuits,” added Horner. “[The new Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi] has a nation behind it; Silverstone is effectively a private entity. I think Silverstone and the British Grand Prix is a very important and significant part of the calendar. It’s a historic race, it’s been there since the start of the world championship, it’s a great circuit, the drivers love it and it’s a local grand prix to probably more than fifty per cent of the teams.

“I really, sincerely hope that now that the Donington bid appears to have stumbled, a solution can be found between Silverstone and FOM, and I’m sure that every effort is being made to achieve that. We would certainly see Silverstone as a great loss from the calendar should it not be there in 2010.”

BOB BELL (Renault Team Principal): “I totally agree with Ross in that I think one of the great strengths of F1 is its diversity,” the Englishman stressed, “and it would be very, very wrong to threaten that with an all-new era. That’s important and equally, as Christian said, it is the home grand prix for probably the majority of people who work in F1.

“I know how important that is to the ordinary members of staff in the factories that turn out the pieces for F1 and provide the entertainment, and I think it would be a great shame for all of those people and their families if they weren’t able to enjoy it locally. I’m a great supporter of it, the team is a great supporter of it and it would be a great shame if it was lost.”

Button ‘sad’ to see Toyota go

Jenson Button has spoken of his sadness at seeing Toyota pull out of Formula One.

The newly crowned 2009 world champion, who came close to being without a drive this season after seeing his own team Honda pull the plug on grand prix racing, says he expected the Japanese manufacturer to continue in the sport.

“It’s sad,” Button told reporters. “I thought they would continue, but they haven’t been able to, which is a pity for Formula 1, and obviously a pity for Toyota. A little bit sad, and hopefully we can survive without them. Two manufacturers leaving this year.

“A couple of new teams are arriving, but they won’t be competitive straight off, so it’s sad, but they obviously have their reasons, as Honda did.”

Kimi keeping his options open

Kimi Raikkonen finds himself in the unusual position of being without a contract going into the 2010 season, and while paddock insiders place him firmly at McLaren alongside Lewis Hamilton next season, the Finn says he is keeping his options open.

“It s hard to believe that I have been in Formula One for nine years already,” the 30 year-old said on his official website. “I am very motivated to win races and a championship again and will only remain in Formula One if I can race for a team that can give me a car to fight at the front. Let s wait and see what happens.”

“I can do whatever I want,” he said, “but like I said before, I haven t made my decision about what I want to do yet. Basically I have a few different options and we will see what is the best one overall and then I ll make my decision.”

Hamilton: ’09 has made me stronger

lrg-3491-01f1gpaus2850Lewis Hamilton says he is has grown even stronger as a driver after a testing and character-building 2009 season with McLaren.

Hamilton was unable to defend his world championship this year after McLaren, on the back foot by the sweeping regulation changes, went the wrong way with the design of the MP4-24 and spent the first half of the season playing catch-up to pacesetters Brawn GP and Red Bull Racing.

“We knew the car wasn t the fastest,” reflected the 2008 world champion on his official website, “but, at the Barcelona test in week 11, it became really clear to us that we were struggling and we just didn t have the pace of the frontrunners.”

“I remember phoning Ron and Martin and explaining to them that we had a lot of work ahead of us if we were going to turn MP4-24 into a race winner.”

“That was a difficult call, but Ron and Martin gave me their full support and we actually started to look at a rescue plan immediately there was no waiting. So what was a difficult experience at first actually turned into a positive one.”

McLaren arrived at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix over a second off the pace.

A damage-limiting charge to third place at the chaotic season-opening Australian Grand Prix was quickly undone by the lie-gate scandal which saw an emotional Hamilton breakdown in front of the press after being found guilty of misleading stewards about the way he passed Jarno Trulli under a safety car period.

“That was a difficult time for me personally,” reflects Hamilton, “but I strongly believe that I used that experience to grow as a person and to become stronger through it.

“I m a firm believer that every experience you have even the bad ones help to define and build your character. You can t change the past, but you can definitely learn from it, and I overcame that situation in Melbourne, I had the courage and conviction to man up about it in Malaysia and, ultimately, I came out of it stronger.”

McLaren’s turnaround in the second half of the season saw Hamilton take race victories at the Hungarian and Italian grand prix, while notching up four pole positions.

And at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Hamilton and McLaren issued a stark warning of the threat they pose in 2010 by easing to pole position by over half a second.

Unfortunately though the race ended in retirement for Hamilton due to a brake problem.

The 24-year-old insists that the 2009 season as a whole has made him stronger.

“I ve learnt a lot about effort, dedication, motivation: things that you almost take for granted when you are at the front, but which mean a lot more when you are fighting at the back. I ve grown as a man, and as a driver I ve faced bigger hurdles this year than in my previous two seasons and I think I now know how to cope with things better than I did even from one year ago.

“I also think we are a much closer group now, too. We ve known each other for one more season, and the physical bonds between us all are so much tighter we ve been through a lot together and we know each other a lot better. That s something I really appreciate and I think that will make us a better fighting unit next season.”

Alonso arrives at Ferrari

Fernando Alonso made his first visit to Maranello on Friday to begin his preparations with Ferrari ahead of racing for the team in 2010.

The double world champion, who will replace Kimi Raikkonen at the Scuderia next year in what is one of the most long-awaited driver transfers in Formula One, met with team boss Stefano Domenicali and Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo before hitting the famous Fiorano race track in a 458 Italia sports car.

A Ferrari team statement read: “Today early in the morning, just after 8am. Fernando Alonso arrived at the gates of the Scuderia Ferrari for his first contact with the new team, although still not as an official member due to his contractual commitments regarding image management, which still tie him to his previous team and his sponsors.

“The first meeting was with Stefano Domenicali, who then left him to the technicians, who started to work with the driver on the upcoming season s programme.

“Between meetings connected to the new single-seater s project Fernando visited the wind channel to see the model and worked on the sitting position in the car s cockpit, while the day ended just after 5pm. Before leaving Maranello, Alonso was received by Chairman Luca di Montezemolo, who personally wanted to welcome the Spaniard at Ferrari in a cordially meeting of around half an hour.

“Today s intermezzo was a couple of laps on the Fiorano race track with the 458 Italia, naturally in red: as he couldn t yet drive a red Formula 1 car Fernando wanted to feel the emotion of driving a Ferrari on the track where all the Prancing Horse s single-seaters are born and raised.

Kobayashi eyes Lotus seat

No sooner had newcomer Kamui Kobayashi dazzled the world of Formula One with his aggressive racing style and a points haul in only his second grand prix – he finds himself poised to return to his father’s sushi restaurant after Toyota pulled the plug on grand prix racing.

The Japanese driver was acting as a stand in for the injured Timo Glock at Toyota, but a staunch defence of his position against Jenson Button in the Brazilian Grand Prix, followed up by an impressive charge to fifth place in the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, looked set to consolidate his position on the grid next year with the Cologne-based outfit.

But in the wake of Toyota’s shock withdrawal from the sport this week, Kobayashi has been forced to look at alternative options for 2010, with the new Lotus team top on the list of his priorities.

“Obviously my seat [at Toyota] is gone,” he told the Times. “I was close to signing the contract for that season only, but with four new teams, and a couple of current ones with no confirmed drivers, there are options, but to the current teams, I am a “risk”, which isn’t very good for my morale really,”

“I do believe I’ll get a seat, if I had to choose a team, I’d choose Lotus. The name is enough really.

“McLaren are out of my league, Ferrari are the same, Renault I’m not sure of, Red Bull are secure, Brawn have Rosberg I think, Williams are done, I do not even know if Sauber will be here next year, Toro Rosso just want the same drivers. I think for me, my options are the four new teams really.”

Kobayashi confirmed that Toyota are offering him support to find a seat despite pulling out of Formula One.

“They’re working with myself and my agent to help me find a seat, they are doing the same for Kazuki Nakajima as well, Toyota explained to me that they couldn’t compete in the sport no longer but will help me in my career as much as possible.”

Renault set to fight on?

REN2009031730289 PVRenault chief offers glimmer of hope for beleaguered French team.

Renault’s F1 managing director Jean-Francois Caubet has eased speculation that Renault is on the verge of following Toyota out of Formula One by insisting that the French team has a working budget in place for 2010 which will keep it in the sport.

Following Toyota’s shock exit from the sport on Wednesday, all eyes turned to Renault as its board held an emergency meeting in Paris to discuss the team’s future in Formula One in the wake of the global credit crisis, which continues to take its toll on the motoring industry.

Renault is widely believed to be next in line to follow Toyota given its involvement in the Singapore Grand Prix race-fixing scandal, the loss of its title sponsor ING, and the manufacturer’s dire financial situation brought about by falling car sales.

But Renault F1’s managing director Jean-Francois Caubet offered a glimmer of hope on Thursday by saying that the team had secured a working budget for 2010 which would keep the team and the drivers on the grid next year.

“We have already contracted our drivers, had our budget approved and are enrolled in the world championship,” the Frenchman told daily sports newspaper L’Équipe. “Season 2010 has begun already. We will not be world champions in 2010, but we do have hopes to be much improved.”

An official announcement from Renault regarding their position is expected to come before the end of the year.

Renault Chief Executive Carlos Ghosn confirmed that no decision had been reached during the crisis talks in Paris.

“You will have to be patient,” Ghosn told reporters. “We will make an announcement on our participation in Formula One before the end of the year.”

Should Renault pull out of Formula One it would become the fourth major car manufacturer to do so in the past eleven months joining Honda, BMW Sauber, and most recently Toyota.

Vettel heads Red Bull 1-2 in Abu Dhabi season finale

28595 1 thumbnail 750x550 page1 96864Vettel and Red Bull shine in Abu Dhabi to end ’09 in style; frustrated Hamilton forced to retire.

Sebastian Vettel ended the 2009 season in style with victory in the inaugural Abu Dhabi grand prix, while Mark Webber secured Red Bull’s fourth 1-2 finish of the season by fending off newly crowned world champion Jenson Button in a nail-biting final few laps under the city’s night sky.

Pre-race favourite Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire with a brake problem paving the way for Vettel to charge to his fourth win of the season.

Jenson Button came close to disrupting Red Bull’s party by hounding Mark Webber in the final few laps of the race as the Aussie struggled with his tyres. But some impressive racing from both drivers, and a staunch defence of his position on Webber’s part saw the pair hold station at the chequered flag.

The result sees Red Bull Racing end the season as the in-form team with three straight race wins, but the Milton Keynes based outfit will rue their lack of reliability in the first half of the season which compromised their title challenge against Brawn.

Rubens Barrichello was fourth in the sister Brawn car ahead of BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld.

Toyota stand-in Kamui Kobayashi impressed in his second race to finish in fifth place ahead of teammate Jarno Trulli. The Japanese driver made his one-stop strategy work to good effect by passing his new best friend Jenson Button after the Brawn driver made his first pit stop.

Toro Rosso rookie Sebastian Buemi picks up the final points paying position.

Race analysis:

Whether it was the thought of the impeding winter break, the absence of a title battle, or the fact that half of the drivers are still looking for a seat next year, Formula One’s first ever twilight grand prix was a relatively tame affair – the last few laps aside – when compared to the carnage of the opening few laps in Brazil a fortnight ago.

For a brief moment it looked as though Hamilton and his McLaren team, fittingly graced by the presence of Ron Dennis at the season finale, would finish the 2009 season as they had intended to start it: quick, reliable mightily dominant.

Then on Lap 21 of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix it became clear that they would finish the season exactly as they started it as poor reliability intervened to prevent the Hamilton-McLaren package undoing some of the damage that a year of frustration, poor pace, and missed opportunity has inflicted.

The raw underlying pace of the McLaren MP4-24 around the demanding new Yas Marina circuit, marking the team’s sizeable turnaround in performance, was of little consolation to Hamilton as he was instructed to tour into the pitlane with a suspected brake problem. A short justification and apology from team principal Martin Whitmarsh to his driver marked the end of a frustrating season for the Woking team.

That enabled Vettel – who in fairness to Red Bull had already leapfrogged Hamilton at the first round of pitstops after hounding the McLaren driver through the opening laps – to canter to the chequered flag ahead of Mark Webber, sealing the team’s fourth 1-2 finish of the season.

Vettel, who remained an outside contender for the title going into the Brazilian Grand Prix – and arguably could have clinched the championship with better reliability from his Red Bull car – said the result was the perfect way to finish the season.

“It was a fantastic race,” he said in the post-race press conference. “We had a very good launch, a good start. It was not enough to out-accelerate Lewis but it was close, I was surprised.”

“Then going on the long back straight he pushed the [KERS] button and that was it, he disappeared into the distance. I was able to stay close, we knew we were heavier but I was able to keep with him. There was a lot of pressure in the pitstops.

“After that he retired but it was a fantastic race. I had a gap to Jenson and Mark behind so I was able to pace myself, but the car was fantastic on both tyres. It was a pleasure to sit in the car tonight.

“To sum up the season, it is up and down. The second half we have been very strong, fourth 1-2 for Red Bull, so congratulation to the team. They have been pushing a lot, working a lot. It is a perfect way to finish the season on a high.”

Newly crowned world champion Jenson Button conceded that there was little he and Brawn could have done to stop Red Bull winning the race.

“I was struggling a bit with the prime tyre but I tried to make the best out of it,” he said. “After the second stop I found I had very good grip and had good initial turn in and that was why I was able to close down Mark.”

Speaking of his assault on Mark Webber in the closing laps, Button added: “I couldn’t make the move stick. I was very excited by that battle but Mark is a very difficult person to overtake. We were clean but on the edge. It’s disappointing not to get second place but I enjoyed the fight.

“Today was a bonus after winning title in Brazil, I enjoyed driving this weekend. After Brazil it would have been easy to say let’s enjoy ourselves and not worry about Abu Dhabi – but we did.

“We should be proud of what we achieved. But [Red Bull] had the legs on us so we could not challenge.”

Vettel meanwhile was quick to congratulate Button and Brawn for their achievement across the season.

“Obviously I think there was a misunderstanding in Brazil that I didn’t have the chance, so congratulations to Brawn and Button,” he said.

“After Brazil, coming here we knew we had a very, very strong package and the priority number one was to secure second in the drivers’ championship, and we succeeded. To do it with victory is the best possible result.”

“It would be very good to continue like that,” he said. “Now we face a long winter, especially for all us drivers, there’s long break with no testing. Back in England, back in the factory, the guys are pushing very hard. The cars do not change much until next year but you cannot refuel, so it is a bit unknown.

“This season was very special, I remember a couple of years back those two were driving and I was watching. Hopefully the next one will be as exciting as this one. I’m definitely looking forward.

“We had a very, very good season, some positive but some things we did wrong. It is not a shame, we just need to know and understand why that happened and come back next year.”

Abu Dhabi was Button’s opportunity to assert himself and demonstrate that he has what it takes to stand alongside the likes of Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen when the predicted McLaren-Ferrari line-ups are confirmed next year.

To that end, Button could have delivered more. Out-qualified by his teammate again and perhaps not aggressive enough against Webber in the final few laps, the man from Frome will have to up his game in 2010 when McLaren and Ferrari will no doubt close the performance gap.

Elsewhere, Kamui Kobayashi impressed in only his second race for Toyota with an auspicious passing move on Jenson Button on the back of a duel down the long back straight.

Nick Heidfeld may just retain his seat at BMW Sauber next year following his charge to fifth place, but doubt looms over Heikki Kovalainen. A five place grid penalty set him back but a rather unspectacular climb to eleventh place did little to get him noticed.

Ferrari struggled badly at the new Yas Marina circuit. Kimi Raikkonen who finished in twelfth place behind Kovalainen will no doubt be hoping to get that McLaren contracted sorted out sooner rather than later.

Renault’s miserable season was compounded with Alonso climbing to fourteenth place after getting knocked out of opening qualifying, while questions continue to be asked about the

Forced India seemed to take a step back in performance with Toni Liuzzi finishing in fifteenth place with Sutil ahead of his ex-teammate Giancarlo Fisichella in seventeenth.

Hamilton and McLaren end ’09 as they started

Whether it was the thought of the impeding winter break, the absence of a title battle, or the fact that half of the drivers are still looking for a seat next year, Formula One’s first ever twilight grand prix was a relatively tame affair – the last few laps aside – when compared to the carnage of the opening few laps in Brazil a fortnight ago.

For a brief moment it looked as though Hamilton and his McLaren team, fittingly graced by the presence of Ron Dennis at the season finale, would finish the 2009 season as they had intended to start it: quick, reliable mightily dominant.

Then on Lap 21 of the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix it became clear that they would finish the season exactly as they started it as poor reliability intervened to prevent the Hamilton-McLaren package undoing some of the damage that a year of frustration, poor pace, and missed opportunity has inflicted.

The raw underlying pace of the McLaren MP4-24 around the demanding new Yas Marina circuit, marking the team’s sizeable turnaround in performance, was of little consolation to Hamilton as he was instructed to tour into the pitlane with a suspected brake problem. A short justification and apology from team principal Martin Whitmarsh to his driver marked the end of a frustrating season for the Woking team.

That enabled Vettel – who in fairness to Red Bull had already leapfrogged Hamilton at the first round of pitstops after hounding the McLaren driver through the opening laps – to canter to the chequered flag ahead of Mark Webber, sealing the team’s third 1-2 finish of the season.

Vettel, who remained an outside contender for the title going into the Brazilian Grand Prix – and arguably could have clinched the championship with better reliability from his Red Bull car – said the result was the perfect way to finish the season.

“It was a fantastic race,” he said in the post-race press conference. “We had a very good launch, a good start. It was not enough to out-accelerate Lewis but it was close, I was surprised.”

“Then going on the long back straight he pushed the [KERS] button and that was it, he disappeared into the distance. I was able to stay close, we knew we were heavier but I was able to keep with him. There was a lot of pressure in the pitstops.

“After that he retired but it was a fantastic race. I had a gap to Jenson and Mark behind so I was able to pace myself, but the car was fantastic on both tyres. It was a pleasure to sit in the car tonight.

“To sum up the season, it is up and down. The second half we have been very strong, fourth 1-2 for Red Bull, so congratulation to the team. They have been pushing a lot, working a lot. It is a perfect way to finish the season on a high.”

Newly crowned world champion Jenson Button conceded that there was little he and Brawn could have done to stop Red Bull winning the race.

“I was struggling a bit with the prime tyre but I tried to make the best out of it,” he said. “After the second stop I found I had very good grip and had good initial turn in and that was why I was able to close down Mark.”

Speaking of his assault on Mark Webber in the closing laps, Button added: “I couldn’t make the move stick. I was very excited by that battle but Mark is a very difficult person to overtake. We were clean but on the edge. It’s disappointing not to get second place but I enjoyed the fight.

“Today was a bonus after winning title in Brazil, I enjoyed driving this weekend. After Brazil it would have been easy to say let’s enjoy ourselves and not worry about Abu Dhabi – but we did.

“We should be proud of what we achieved. But [Red Bull] had the legs on us so we could not challenge.”

Vettel meanwhile was quick to congratulate Button and Brawn for their achievement across the season.

“Obviously I think there was a misunderstanding in Brazil that I didn’t have the chance, so congratulations to Brawn and Button,” he said.

“After Brazil, coming here we knew we had a very, very strong package and the priority number one was to secure second in the drivers’ championship, and we succeeded. To do it with victory is the best possible result.”

“It would be very good to continue like that,” he said. “Now we face a long winter, especially for all us drivers, there’s long break with no testing. Back in England, back in the factory, the guys are pushing very hard. The cars do not change much until next year but you cannot refuel, so it is a bit unknown.

“This season was very special, I remember a couple of years back those two were driving and I was watching. Hopefully the next one will be as exciting as this one. I’m definitely looking forward.

“We had a very, very good season, some positive but some things we did wrong. It is not a shame, we just need to know and understand why that happened and come back next year.”

Abu Dhabi was Button’s opportunity to assert himself and demonstrate that he has what it takes to stand alongside the likes of Alonso, Hamilton and Raikkonen when the predicted McLaren-Ferrari line-ups are confirmed next year.

To that end, Button could have delivered more. Out-qualified by his teammate again and perhaps not aggressive enough against Webber in the final few laps, the man from Frome will have to up his game in 2010 when McLaren and Ferrari will no doubt close the performance gap.

Elsewhere, Kamui Kobayashi impressed in only his second race for Toyota with an auspicious passing move on Jenson Button on the back of a duel down the long back straight.

Nick Heidfeld may just retain his seat at BMW Sauber next year following his charge to fifth place, but doubt looms over Heikki Kovalainen. A five place grid penalty set him back but a rather unspectacular climb to eleventh place did little to get him noticed.

Ferrari struggled badly at the new Yas Marina circuit. Kimi Raikkonen who finished in twelfth place behind Kovalainen will no doubt be hoping to get that McLaren contracted sorted out sooner rather than later.

Renault’s miserable season was compounded with Alonso climbing to fourteenth place after getting knocked out of opening qualifying, while questions continue to be asked about the

Forced India seemed to take a step back in performance with Toni Liuzzi finishing in fifteenth place with Sutil ahead of his ex-teammate Giancarlo Fisichella in seventeenth.