Three teams ready for Silverstone test

At least three teams are going ahead with the young driver test at Silverstone this week.

With November’s Abu Dhabi plans up in the air, there had been uncertainty the Silverstone alternative was going ahead at all until HRT said Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua will be running on Thursday and Friday. The French-language news agency AFP now reports that Williams and Marussia will also be in action.

Williams will be running its reserve and ‘Friday’ driver Valtteri Bottas, while the Marussia-sponsored GP2 drivers Max Chilton and Rio Haryanto will also be in action. AFP said Thursday’s running will be on the full British grand prix circuit, before a shorter 10-corner layout is used on Friday.

It is rumoured, meanwhile, that Ferrari will be running its young drivers neither at Silverstone nor Abu Dhabi, opting instead to test alone at Jerez at the end of the season.


Ecclestone thwarts Silverstone test plans

F1 looks set to call off plans to relocate this year’s ‘young driver test’ to Silverstone.

The original plans, with young and up-and-coming drivers able to get some running in November after the Abu Dhabi grand prix, were called into question due to the unusual calendar congestion at the end of the 2012 season. So most teams – with the exception of Red Bull, Toro Rosso and McLaren – organised instead to run their young drivers at Silverstone in July.

But according to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport, Bernie Ecclestone has intervened. The report says the F1 chief executive has informed teams that the Northamptonshire circuit will actually not be available in the week after July’s British grand prix. Ecclestone’s race contract with Silverstone also gives him control over the circuit in the days immediately before and after the grand prix.

“Silverstone and the teams had agreed on the test date without first talking to him (Ecclestone),” said the German publication.

The move – interpreted by some as Ecclestone’s favour to Abu Dhabi – could “force all the teams to test in Abu Dhabi”, it added.

But Ecclestone’s move could also backfire, according to Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn.

“There was an unanimous agreement that this year there should be a young drivers’ test in two different locations,” he said. “This agreement is broken. So we are not obliged to go to Abu Dhabi,” Brawn insisted.

Sauber’s Monisha Kaltenborn agreed: “It is quite possible that most of the teams will cancel the test in Abu Dhabi.”


Photographer brands Kimi ‘Rude’ and ‘Arrogant’

Following our coverage of the incident between Kimi Raikkonen and World-renowned photographer Paul-Henri Cahier ahead of Sunday s British Grand Prix, the photographer has now issued a statement in his defence.

Raikkonen s camp defended the driver, who pushed over the photographer, insisting he had been provoked after Paul-Henri had “touched” the 28 year-old and “stood on Kimi s gear”.

However, in a statement on Cahier s website, The Cahier Archive , the photographer felt it necessary to clarify a few points saying:

“There never was any contact between the two men, nor did Paul-Henri ever touch Kimi s equipment. Furthermore, the distance at which Paul-Henri Cahier was taking a picture, although close, was completely standard. The photographers who take pictures at Grand Prix races are all professionals who have been accredited by the FIA, and as the dozen other photographers who were standing next to Paul-Henri Cahier prove, there was nothing unusual or unethical about this situation.”

The photographer went on to say that he “has been an F1 photographer for almost forty years and has been close to the greatest champions, but none of them has ever behaved in such a rude manner. It is understandable that drivers might get irritable because of the pressure they undergo, but Kimi Raikkonen never even attempted to express his discontent in a non violent way. Paul-Henri Cahier luckily did not suffer any injury, and so does not intend to take any action, but he regrets the arrogance with which Kimi Raikkonen treated someone who was merely doing his job.”

Discuss who was at fault here, and view the video of the incident between Cahier and Raikkonen on our F1 Forum here.

Mad dogs and one incredible Englishman

Hamilton SilverstoneMidday sun it was not, but the way Lewis Hamilton was driving on Sunday it could just have well have been.

“We’ve done it, we’ve bloody done it,” were the words of elation from Hamilton after he gave his peers a masterclass in the wet at Silverstone and produced his greatest drive to date.

The Briton’s reaction a private message to his McLaren mechanics broadcast to the world on the team radio after sixty laps of rain-soaked chaos says it all. This wasn’t just about winning. This wasn’t just about fulfilling a school-boy fantasy and triumphing in front of a home crowd, though it clearly meant everything. These were the words of something grittier: raw delivery against the odds, at a time when those around him had begun to doubt.

The stakes could not have been higher going into Silverstone. Mistakes at the Canadian and French Grand Prix, combined with some over-zealous reporting on his off-track pursuits, led to mumblings that the British youngster had begun to take his eye off the ball. The implications of another disappointing result on his championship hopes, not to mention the backlash from the press, were unthinkable. A mistake in qualifying which saw the McLaren ace line up in fourth place compounded the situation.

His response on race-day couldn’t have been better: a flawless charge to victory in conditions where flawless was simply inconceivable. A lightening start saw him vault out of the starting box and nail Mark Webber and Kimi Raikkonen, but a near coming together with team-mate and pole-sitter Heikki Kovalainen almost ruined his race there and then.

“To be honest, I lifted too early into Turn One,” Lewis admitted. “Heikki had the outside line, so he had the grip but unfortunately I was on the inside and I was just sliding, sliding across. There was nothing I could do to avoid him, I think we tapped or we touched.”

“I had another opportunity on the exit of the last corner but that’s not a place to overtake really. We were almost side-by-side and I had an oversteer moment and the last thing I wanted to do was take my team-mate out, so I just tried to keep it on the track.”

The inevitable could not be delayed for long though and a few laps later the Finn relinquished the lead. There Hamilton stayed for the duration of the race, keeping his head in treacherous conditions, to take the chequered flag some fifty seconds ahead of his closest challenger, and a full lap ahead of championship rivals Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa (see full race report HERE).

“The team were telling me that it was forty seconds, 48 seconds, you’re five or eight seconds or whatever it was faster than the guy behind,” Hamilton said afterwards. “And I’m thinking, hold on a second, what’s going on? I’m not even pushing. I’m driving to a comfortable pace. I didn’t want to slow down because the moment you slow down, you perhaps lose concentration, so I just said ‘I’m comfortable at the pace I’m going’ and even then I was a silly amount quicker than everyone.”

“So I really had to be very, very sensible. Imagine I was a minute, sixty seconds ahead and I came off, and I didn’t win. There would be no way you could come from that. That would be the most embarrassing thing. You would have to retire. I was comfortable with the pace I was doing but I asked the team ‘How much slower can I go?’ They gave me a margin which I was comfortable with, yet I still did a 1m36s and that was quicker than I’d been in my last stint. But I was comfortable there. The car felt good, I felt comfortable where I was.”

Hamilton well and truly silenced those critics who have begun to doubt his raw talent, but he did more; he hurled the questions back. ‘Is Lewis Hamilton the quickest driver in Formula One?’ his performance asked. He dominated in a context where underlying skill and flair behind the wheel of an F1 cannot be masked, as he did at Monaco. He was the only driver not to make any mistakes while his peers, including Kimi Raikkonen, Robert Kubica and Fernando Alonso all had their moments. Food for thought.

Besides stopping the onslaught of criticism in its tracks, Hamilton also kept his title dreams alive and his victory paves the way for the mouth-watering prospect of a three-way title race between himself and the Ferrari pairing. As a result of Ferrari’s problems in the race (see HERE) Lewis currently find himself leading the championship but tied on 48 points with Raikkonen and Massa.

McLaren dominated both qualifying and the race this weekend, but it would be wrong to assume that they have an advantage over their Italian counterparts. As the track dried in the run up to the first round pit-stops Kimi Raikkonen was hunting Hamilton down at a rate of knots. Had Ferrari correctly predicted further rain and changed the Finn’s tyres to fresh intermediates, as McLaren had done with Hamilton, then who knows what would have happened.

“We could have won this race with Kimi but we made a key mistake at the first pitstop, choosing to stay on the same set of tyres” Stefano Domenicali, Ferrari’s Team Principal explained. “The rain did not ease off and lasted longer and our drivers – Felipe had also gone for the same choice – found themselves in difficulty. With hindsight it’s easy to say we should have changed tyres, but Formula One is not an exact science – sometimes strategic choices pay off and sometimes they don’t.”

“All the same, we have to admit that, this weekend, we did not operate to our usual standard. We made mistakes at every level and even our performance did not match our expectations and now we have to work out why, but calmly without panicking.”

Heading to Hockenheim its advantage McLaren. It was always going to be a case of damage limitation for McLaren at circuits such as Magny-Cours and Silverstone, and Hamilton’s win at the latter, combined with Ferrari’s disappointing points haul couldn’t have been a better result. But as in Monaco when mistakes masked the underlying pace of the F2008, so in Silverstone, Raikkonen could equally have taken the top step of the podium. So the gap in performance between the two teams is minimal.

Raikkonen Lashes Out At Photographer

Raikkonen endured a mare of a race during yesterday s British Grand Prix as his Ferrari team struggled to adapt their strategy to the changing weather conditions. However, it appears the Finn was frustrated even ahead of the red lights going out.

As the 28 year old exited his F2008 Ferrari after bringing the car to the Silverstone grid, noted photographer Paul-Henri Cahier started to capture images as he removed his helmet. Kimi objected to the attention as the Frenchman used a flash enabled camera just inches from the driver s face. When Cahier came closer, standing on the Ferrari driver s race equipment, Raikkonen pushed the photographer over backwards.

It was a heat of the moment reaction, and as such Paul-Henri will not be taking the matter further. However, it does raise the question of how much access the press should have ahead of such an event, as drivers and teams attempt to prepare for races of which Championships and millions of pounds worth of sponsorship rest upon.

Speaking of the encounter to Finnish television station, Kimi s manager Steve Robertson was quoted as saying: “This one particular photographer was actually standing on Kimi’s gear, and obviously he’s preparing for the race. He actually touched Kimi, and Kimi is obviously trying to protect himself – you know he’s got his work to do. They should respect the fact that Kimi has got to go out there and race, and not to get too close.”.

Click here to view the confrontation between Raikkonen and Cahier on our forums.
Update Article – Photographer brands Kimi Rude and Arrogant