Tag Archives: Kimi Raikkonen

Jenson Button wins Formula 1 Championship & Lewis Hamilton races to 3rd in Brazil

I’ve been quite critical of Jenson Button over this season, as have a lot of others. As a Lewis Hamilton fan it was hard to watch Jenson race to victory after victory at the start of the season while Lewis struggled to get into the second part of qualifying with his underperforming McLaren MP4-24.

Button has the advantage of driving a car that had a lot of money and time pumped into it by virtue of Honda forgoing success in the 2008 season to concentrate on the 2009 season. Of course that didn’t quite go to plan when late last year Honda announced they wouldn’t be taking part in the 2009 season – at this point Jenson Button, and team mate Rubens Barrichello, were without a ride for the 2009 season. The rest of the Brawn GP story, as they say, is history and perhaps both drivers were deserving of such a superior car for sticking with the team.

There’s no doubting that for the first 7 races the Brawn GP were far superior to any others on the grid, with the Red Bulls being the closest in terms of performance. Even though the likes of McLaren and Ferrari have turned up year after with superior cars, this felt different, and I almost resented the Brawn’s performance and Jenson’s success. As the season progressed and other cars got better, specifically the McLaren, the playing field evened out. The only problem, if you can call it that, is that Button had built up such a lead that only his team mate had any chance of catching him, with an outside chance going to either Sebastian Vettel or Mark Weber at Red Bull. This meant that even though Button was under-performing he was still going to be the champion and for me that spoiled the season a little bit.

Moving on to the Brazilian Grand Prix and I was firmly behind Barrichello and wanted him to take both the victory at Interlagos and then the Championship from Button at the very first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix two weeks later. As Vettel had qualified 14th there was no chance he was going to challenge Jenson. Hamilton qualified in 17th which was pretty poor but as always I’d be behind in, hoping he’d be able get past a few people and get some points, maybe even enough to match or get past Kimi Raikkonen on the leader board.

What I witnessed on Sunday was Button having the race of his life and putting on a performance worthy of a champion. With his lead having been eroded over the weeks and there being a strong chance of Barrichello winning after starting from pole position, Button was obviously fighting for his championship and for the first time this season felt very much under pressure. I just wish he’d raced like that for the previous 8 races rather than relying on his cushion of points amassed earlier in the season. Because of his fantastic performance I was pleased for him when he became champion, though at the same time extremely gutted for Barrichello who once again had no luck during his home race.

Congratulations Jenson Button, the 2009 Formula 1 Drivers World Champion, and to Brawn GP, the 2009 Formula 1 Constructors Champions.

2009 World Champion (Photo Credit: ANTONIO SCORZA/AFP/Getty Images)

2009 World Champion (Photo Credit ANTONIO SCORZA/AFP/Getty Images)

After qualifying in 17th, Hamilton also had an amazing race and thanks to a great tactical decision of pitting and changing tyres while the safety car was out early in the race, along with some great driving, he managed to overtake Barrichello with a few laps left and come home in 3rd, another podium finish. Importantly, this meant he overtook Raikkonen and has a 1 point lead going into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – hopefully he can keep the 5th place while helping McLaren remain in 3rd in the Constructors Championship.

Lewis leads the way (Photo Credit: Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images)

Lewis leads the way (Photo Copyright: Mauricio Lima/AFP/Getty Images)

While there a few lesser places still to be decided, like Vettel and Barrichello’s fight for second place, we go into the first ever Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with both the Drivers and Constructors Champions already crowned. Still, next season should be fantastic, as long as the FIA don’t throw too many spanners into the works!

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Lewis Hamilton wins Hungarian Grand Prix!

That’s a headline I, and many others, probably didn’t think they’d be writing a few days ago. However, it became clear in practice and then qualifying that the McLaren’s were much improved with Hamilton and Kovalainen qualifying in 4th and 6th respectively. With KERS on their side, there was the potential for both McLaren drivers to get a very good start in Hungary and possibly get a first McLaren podium of the 2009 season.

What actually happened was beyond anyone’s expectations. Lewis did have a good start going up to 3rd, but Sebastian Vettel didn’t start so well which hampered Hamilton’s progress a bit. Undeterred, Hamilton pressed on and attacked and overtook Mark Weber at the first opportunity, on a track which is notoriously difficult to overtake on! When Fernando Alonso pitted after just 11 laps Lewis Hamilton found himself at the front of the pack and leading the race – something he hadn’t done thus far in the 2009 season.

From then on we witnessed a flawless drive form the 2008 World Champion as he came home to take victory and the full 10 points. This was a day of firsts:

McLaren’s first podium of 2009
McLaren’s first victory of 2009
Hamilton’s first podium of 2009
Hamilton’s first victory of 2009
Formula 1’s first KERS victory

Hamilton Wins! (Photo copyright Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

Hamilton Wins! (Photo copyright Dimitar Dilkoff/AFP/Getty Images)

Heikki Kovalainen came in 5th making it a very good day for McLaren. Going forward, as a McLaren fan, I can only hope that this form is here to stay. I am under no illusion that Hamilton or Kovalainen will be challenging for the Driver’s Championship, but they can grab some good points, have some good races, and finish 2009 on a comparable high when looking at the first 9 races of the season. It also gives renewed optimism for the 2010 season where McLaren will hopefully be back where they belong – at the top!

Interestingly there have 4 different winners in the last 4 races: Button in Turkey, Vettel in Great Britain, Weber in Germany and now Hamilton in Hungary. Hamilton is now on 19 points and is 8th, 51 points behind leader Button, and Kovalainen is in 12th place on 9 points. McLaren move up to 5th in the Constructor’s Championship with 28 points, with Brawn GP way ahead at the top with 114 points.

This was a great race to watch as McLaren fan after the frustrations of the season so far. Hamilton in particularly, while never grabbing many points, has always been an entertaining driver to watch – just look back his battles with the likes of Weber, Alonso and Raikkonen this season. It’s fantastic to see him not only trying, but succeeding again too.

Away from the race, my thoughts go out to Felipe Massa who has a horrific accident in qualifying yesterday and is currently in a serious but stable state in hospital. The latest I heard is that he is improving, which is great news and I, along with everyone I’m sure, wishes him a speedy a recovery and quick return to the sport he loves and is so very good at.

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Alonso Stays At Renault

Amongst speculation that he may go elsewhere, 2 time former World Champion Fernando Alonso has signed with Renault for another 2 years. Given the progress Renault made in the 2nd half of the season and the fact that all the competitive teams have their drivers signed up for the 2009 season, this announcement comes as no surprise. What may surprise some is that he has signed for 2 years. Neither Kimi Raikkonen or Felipe Masa is contracted for the 2010 season and Ferrari is the team Alonso has been linked with on numerous occasions.

Also not going to Ferrari is 2008 World Champion Lewis Hamilton. Though his short term future is set with McLaren, through to the end of the 2012 season, Edie Ervine said earlier this week that Hamilton must drive for Ferrari at some point in his career. Hamilton yesterday confirmed what he has always said, that he wants to stay at McLaren and has no plans to ever drive for Ferrari.

Returning to Team Renault, it was announced yesterday that Nelson Piquet would be returning as Alonso’s team mate in 2009. Having a somewhat troubled season, the rookie improved in the 2nd half of the season, much like his esteemed team mate, and obviously did enough to secure his drive for 2009.

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Victory in China

From pole to finish, Lewis Hamilton led the Chinese Grand Prix, with Kimi Raikkonen chasing until such time as it was right to let title challenger Felipe Massa pass.

With his 5th victory of the season, Lewis is now 7 points ahead of Felipe Massa going into the last race of the season in Brazil in 2 weeks time. 5th place or higher and Lewis Hamilton is the 2008 Formula 1 World Champion.

As much as I was thrilled to see Lewis win and edge that much closer to the Championship, as a race fan it was a pretty dull race with little action. What it did reinforce was how much the Renault cars have come on as the season has progressed with Fernando Alonso spearheading that renewed charge.

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Pole Position, but the enemy is close.

After a mistake in his penultimate lap of Q3 it looked like Hamilton could have some chasing to do at the start of the Chinese Grand Prix tomorrow, but a lightning quick last lap saw him streak to his 7th pole position of the season, more than 3 tenths of a second ahead of closest rival Kimi Raikkonen.

However, things are not as rosy as they seem; Hamilton shares the front row of the grid with 2007 Champion and team-mate of Felipe Masa, Kimi Raikkonen. Sitting in the second row of the grid are Hamilton’s current Championship challenger and Raikkonen’s Ferrari team-mate, Felipe Masa as well as Hamilton’s ex-team-mate Fernando Alonso. Alonso said this week that he will try to help Masa win the Championship. In 5th place, and lining up in the 3rd row on the grid, is Hamilton’s team-mate at McLaren and nearest ally, Heikki Kovalainen.

If Hamilton doesn’t get a good start tomorrow he could be in for the fight of his life and it’ll be time to truly test his mettle and rise to meet the expectations of his many fans, and shut the critics up. Hamilton can seek solace in the fact that Robert Kubica, who is currently 3rd in the Championship and statistically the only driver other than Masa who can beat Hamilton for the Championship, qualified in a lowly 11th place.

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Faux Pas in Fuji

This picture of the podium in Japan shows Fernando Alonso as the winner, Robert Kubica in 2nd and Kimi Raikkenon in 3rd. Championship contender Felipe Masa gained 1 point with an 8th place finish while Championship leader Lewis Hamilton got no points finishing in 12th.

After being overtaken by Raikkenon at the start, Hamilton took a very aggressive strategy which led to him losing more places, colliding with Masa (well, Masa colliding with him!) and ending up at the back of the field. A drive through penalty for both Hamilton and Masa for separate incidents meant neither were going to add to their Championship totals by much.

Hamilton didn’t need to attack quite so vehemently and in doing so he probably cost himself a decent haul of points and an extension of his lead at the top of the Championship. Hamilton races with the head of a Champion at times, but at others, like in Japan today, he races with a hot head which leads to unnecessary mistakes which put his potential as the Champion at risk. Hamilton needs to learn that he doesn’t need to win every race to win the Championship and sometimes holding back a bit is better in the long run.

We look forward to China and Brazil with the Championship very much still up for grabs and a chasing Kubica even looking like an outside chance – remember Raikkenon last year?

UPDATE: Masa actually scored 2 points after Sébastien Bourdais got penalised post-race and relegated in the race positions, in what is a ridiculous call on the part of the stewards.

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Hamilton takes pole in Japan!

In an incredibly exciting round of qualifying at Fuji Speedway in Japan, Lewis Hamilton snatched pole position from an ever improving Kimi Raikkonen with his last lap of the session. It got even better as fast laps from Fernando Alonso and McLaren team-mate Heikki Kovalainen meant Championship challenger Felipe Massa is down in 5th on the grid for the start of tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix.

It is one year ago that Lewis Hamilton gave a career best performance in the Land of the Rising Sun and put himself in an almost unreachable position at the top of the Driver’s Championship. Of course subsequent events showed that position to be oh so very reachable, as Kimi Raikkonen ended up overtaking Hamilton and claiming the 2007 crown.

With a lead of 7 points, hopefully Hamilton can match last year’s performance and go into the last 2 races of 2008 with an even bigger lead and an increased chance of ending the season as the Champion.

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