Vettel wins dramatic race in Valencia


Sebastian Vettel took his second victory of the season in a dramatic European Grand Prix in Valencia. Lewis Hamilton put in a brave fight for McLaren with second position and even a drive-though penalty for overtaking the safety car was unable to affect his determination to beat the Red Bull. Team-mate Jenson Button finished in third but he is one of nine drivers to be investigated by the race stewards during the safety car period.

As for Mark Webber, this was a race to forget. The Australian made a poor start and was overtaken by Lewis Hamilton and both Ferraris into the Turn 2. At the end of the opening lap, the Red Bull was down in ninth while team-mate Vettel was resisting the pressure from Hamilton at the front.

Hamilton’s run off the line was so good he was able to get partially alongside Vettel into Turn 2, where firm contact was made, sending the Red Bull slightly sideways and taking a chunk from the McLaren’s front wing, though both continued ahead of Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Robert Kubica and Button.

Unable to make progress around the twisty street circuit, Webber made an early pitstop at the end of lap seven, where he lost a few more seconds as his left-front wheel proved stubborn.

That lost time put the Australian behind Heikki Kovalainen and as he tried to pass the Lotus three laps later he went flying over the back of the car on the fast approach to the Turn 17 hairpin.

The Red Bull wiped out an advertising board hanging over the track before landing upside down, rolling back onto its wheels and ploughing into the tyre barriers – though remarkably Mark climbed out unscathed.

With the safety car called, most drivers from fifth-placed Button back immediately dived into the pitlane, while the top four continued. Vettel was already past the pit exit by the time the safety car emerged, but for Hamilton he was not so fortunate. After a moment’s hesitation, he accelerated past but having passed the relevant safety car line across the track, that meant the McLaren would later be penalised for overtaking the safety car.

Vettel and Hamilton were therefore able to rejoin first and second, while the Scuderias were caught behind the safety car and fell down to P10 and P17 – leaving the team furious.

Fortunately for Hamilton, Sauber decided not to call in Kamui Kobayashi under the yellow and he jumped up to third. So while the top two charged clear at the restart – which saw Vettel hold the line despite outbraking himself and sliding through the final corner – the Sauber bottled up the rest of the pack. By the time race control awarded Hamilton his drive-through penalty, he had enough of a gap over Kobayashi to take the penalty without losing a position. A remarkable job.

Hamilton started carving into Vettel’s lead setting purple sector times around the Valencia street circuit. His progress was superb although the Virgin of Timo Glock and Bruno Senna’s Hispania held him up momentarily. The pair were fighting over track position and shortly afterwards making contact. But Vettel had the advantage and was able to resist Hamilton’s charge with a new fastest lap five laps from the chequered flag.

Kobayashi kept Button and the rest at bay until finally making a single pitstop on lap 53, which handed McLaren its second podium position, ahead of Rubens Barrichello, Renault’s Robert Kubica and the Force India of Adrian Sutil.

The frustrated Alonso spent the final laps all over Sebastien Buemi’s Toro Rosso but ended up losing eighth to Kobayashi as the Sauber rejoined on its fresh Bridgestone and dived past the double world champion with a lap to go. Kobayashi then chased down Buemi too and grabbed seventh at the very last corner.

But these positions may yet be subject to change, with the race stewards set to investigate whether Button, the Williams, the Renaults, the Force Indias, Buemi and Pedro de la Rosa exceeded the permitted speed on their way back to the pits under yellow.

After several hours following the chequered flag, the race stewards penalised Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Nico Hulkenberg, Robert Kubica, Vitaly Petrov, Adrian Sutil, Sebastien Buemi, Pedro de la Rosa and Vitantonio Liuzzi with five seconds penalties for exceeding the safety car-in lap time.

The penalties mean Fernando Alonso is elevated from ninth to eighth, as he overtakes Buemi, and Nico Rosberg gets the final point from Pedro de la Rosa, tenth in the race.

As for the Silver Arrows, this was a nightmare weekend. Nico Rosberg lost so much ground on the opening lap and by the end, he was classified in a disappointing P12. As for team-mate Michael Schumacher, the seven-time world champion suffered from a bad strategy call during the caution period and ending up P16 after multiple pitstops.

So Germany takes top honours ahead of the England in Valencia. An omen to the World Cup match taking place in South Africa?

Race results from Valencia, 57 laps:

1.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           1h40:29.571
2.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           +5.042
3.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +12.658
4.  Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth          +25.627
5.  Kubica        Renault                    +27.122
6.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes       +30.168
7.  Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +30.965
8.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +32.809
9.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +36.299
10. Rosberg       Mercedes                   +44.382
11. Massa         Ferrari                    +46.621
12. De la Rosa    Sauber-Ferrari             +47.414
13. Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +48.239
14. Petrov        Renault                    +48.287
15. Schumacher    Mercedes                   +48.826
16. Liuzzi        Force India-Mercedes       +50.890
17. Di Grassi     Virgin-Cosworth            +1 lap
18. Chandhok      HRT-Cosworth               +2 laps
19. Glock         Virgin-Cosworth            +2 laps
20. Senna         HRT-Cosworth               +2 laps
21. Trulli        Lotus-Cosworth             +4 laps

Fastest lap: Button, 1:38.766

Not classified/retirements:
Hulkenberg    Williams-Cosworth            50 laps
Kovalainen    Lotus-Cosworth               9 laps
Webber        Red Bull-Renault             9 laps

World Championship standings, round 9:

1.  Hamilton     127
2.  Button       121
3.  Vettel       115
4.  Webber       103
5.  Alonso        98
6.  Kubica        83
7.  Rosberg       75
8.  Massa         67
9.  Schumacher    34
10.  Sutil         31
11.  Barrichello   19
12.  Liuzzi        12
13.  Buemi          9
14.  Kobayashi      7
15.  Petrov         6
16.  Alguersuari    3
17.  Hulkenberg     1

1.  McLaren-Mercedes          248
2.  Red Bull-Renault          218
3.  Ferrari                   165
4.  Mercedes                  109
5.  Renault                    89
6.  Force India-Mercedes       43
7.  Williams-Cosworth          20
8.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari         10
9.  Sauber-Ferrari              7

Next race: British Grand Prix, Silverstone. July 9-11.

Vettel leads Red Bull front row in Valencia

Red Bull Racing resumed their qualifying form with Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber taking the front row at the Valencia street circuit.

Championship contender Lewis Hamilton will start the European Grand Prix in third, alongside home crowd favourite Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.

Initially it was Webber who held provisional pole going into the closing moments of Q3, but a superb lap from his team-mate push the German to top honours, the first time since Shanghai. His pole lap in the F-duct RB6 was one minute, 37.587 seconds. A difference of 0.075 seconds.

An error on his final qualifying run saw Hamilton unable to defend his provisional front row slot and he will start the race in third, just ahead of the Scuderias of Alonso and Felipe Massa respectively.

Both Renault and Williams got both cars into the top-ten shootout, with Nico Hulkenberg and Rubens Barrichello setting identical times! Although Hulkenberg takes eighth over last year’s Valencia winner by virtue by setting his lap first. Robert Kubica takes sixth with team-mate Vitaly Petrov four places back.

As for Jenson Button, the defending world champion could only manage seventh for McLaren. For Mercedes, the silver cars enduring their worst qualifying session even after the troubles at Montreal. Nico Rosberg could only manage P12 after a dramatic brake-locking last lap. While team-mate Michael Schumacher was struggling and will start the race down in P15, his worst ever Formula One starts.

The Force Indias of Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi will share row seven. And it was an encouraging session for Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi, who grabbed P11 and came within 0.034s of sneaking into Q3.

Schumacher’s last-gasp Q1 escape meant it was Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi who ended up down with the new teams for the second event in a row. His team-mate Pedro de la Rosa was just two places ahead, with Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso splitting them.

Lotus remained on top among the tail end group, but this time the gap to the rest of the field was back up to 1.3 seconds. Jarno Trulli overturned team-mate Heikki Kovalainen’s recent superiority and led the battle of the new teams – and there was a change of form at Virgin Racing too, where Lucas di Grassi outqualified Timo Glock for the first time.

Qualifying times from Valencia:
1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault      1:37.587
2.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault      1:37.662
3.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes      1:37.969
4.  Alonso         Ferrari               1:38.075
5.  Massa          Ferrari               1:38.127
6.  Kubica         Renault               1:38.137
7.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:38.210
8.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth     1:38.428
9.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1:38.428
10. Petrov         Renault              1:38.523
11. Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1:38.586
12. Rosberg        Mercedes             1:38.627
13. Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1:38.851
14. Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes 1:38.884
15. Schumacher     Mercedes             1:39.234
16. de la Rosa     Sauber-Ferrari       1:39.264
17. Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1:39.458
18. Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari        1:39.343
19. Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth        1:40.658
20. Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth        1:40.882
21. di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth       1:42.086
22. Glock          Virgin-Cosworth       1:42.140
23. Chandhok       HRT-Cosworth          1:42.600
24. Senna          HRT-Cosworth          1:42.851

Hamilton leads McLaren one-two in Canada

McLaren-Mercedes took its second successive one-two finish as Lewis Hamilton led home Jenson Button in an exciting Canadian Grand Prix, in which tyre wear played a major role on the race strategy.

Fernando Alonso put in a brave fight for the lead but traffic affected his progress and in the end, had to settle for third in the Ferrari. The Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber finished fourth and fifth respectively, with the former nursing a car problem and the latter struggling with grip on graining Bridgestone.

This was a race of tyre strategy and it was fascinating to see the difference in grip and durability in running the super-soft compared to the medium. In the case of Lewis Hamilton, he started the race on the super-soft and after switching to the medium, had the speed advantage and desire to take the chequered flag in style.

As for the Red Bulls, both Webber and Vettel opted the medium compound in the first stint in a bid that this Bridgestone tyre will be more durable, but in the race that all-familiar problem of graining occurred and in Webber’s case, he was losing grip and time (not help by traffic as well) that cost him track position.

Nico Rosberg recovered from being pushed back into the mid-field during a chaotic first lap to take sixth for Mercedes GP, ahead of Renault’s Robert Kubica, who had a wheel-banging battle with Michael Schumacher in the early stages that saw both take to the grass.

Schumacher’s tyre troubles affected him the most compared to the others, with the Mercedes stopping three times in the pits and was still lapping four seconds off the pace in the final stint… Sebastien Buemi passed him for seventh, and he was then caught by Felipe Massa.

The Brazilian and Tonio Liuzzi managed to tangle twice during the first two corners of the race, damaging both cars. After pitting for repairs, they charged back towards the points, only for Massa to lose his front wing when Schumacher defended his position aggressively with six laps to the flag.

Liuzzi then took up the challenge of trying to overtake Schumacher, who slid over the final chicane and banged wheels with the Italian more than once as he fought to maintain his position in ninth. On the last lap, Schumacher tumbled down to P11 as the Force Indias forced by to take the remaining championship points.

Other drivers hitting trouble on the opening lap were both Saubers and Vitaly Petrov. The Renault took to the grass on the run towards the first corner and ended up spinning into Pedro de la Rosa, damaging both cars, with Petrov also receiving a jump-start penalty. The second Sauber was soon heading for the pits too – Kamui Kobayashi sliding into the wall at the final chicane as he jousted with Nico Hulkenberg’s Williams.

In the battle of the second division of Formula One, Heikki Kovalainen took the honours for Lotus with P16 but alas his team-mate Jarno Trulli had to retire with mechanical problems. Karun Chandhok and Lucas di Grassi were the remaining drivers to be classified while their respective team-mates Bruno Senna and Timo Glock were forced to pull out from the race.

By winning the Canadian Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton now leads the drivers’ standings with 109 points, three ahead of Jenson Button and six over Mark Webber. In the constructors’ the McLaren team now heads the field with 215 over Red Bull’s 193 and the Scuderia on 161 points.

Race results from the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, 70 laps:
1.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           1h33:53.456
2.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +2.254
3.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +9.214
4.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           +37.817
5.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +39.291
6.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +56.084
7.  Kubica        Renault                    +57.300
8.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap
9.  Liuzzi        Force India-Mercedes       +1 lap
10. Sutil         Force India-Mercedes       +1 lap
11. Schumacher    Mercedes                   +1 lap
12. Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +1 lap
13. Hulkenberg    Williams-Cosworth          +1 lap
14. Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth          +1 lap
15. Massa         Ferrari                    +1 lap
16. Kovalainen    Lotus-Cosworth             +2 laps
17. Petrov        Renault                    +2 laps
18. Chandhok      HRT-Cosworth               +4 laps
19. Di Grassi     Virgin-Cosworth            +5 laps

Fastest lap: Kubica, 1:16.972

Not classified/retirements:
Glock         Virgin-Cosworth              50 laps
Trulli        Lotus-Cosworth               43 laps
De la Rosa    Sauber-Ferrari               31 laps
Senna         HRT-Cosworth                 14 laps
Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari               2 laps

World Championship standings, round 8:

1.  Hamilton     109
2.  Button       106
3.  Webber       103
4.  Alonso        94
5.  Vettel        90
6.  Rosberg       74
7.  Kubica        73
8.  Massa         67
9.  Schumacher    34
10. Sutil         23
11. Liuzzi        12
12. Barrichello    7
13. Petrov         6
14. Buemi          5
15. Alguersuari    3
16. Hulkenberg     1
17. Kobayashi      1

1. McLaren-Mercedes          215
2. Red Bull-Renault          193
3. Ferrari                   161
4. Mercedes                  108
5. Renault                    79
6. Force India-Mercedes       35
7. Williams-Cosworth           8
8. Toro Rosso-Ferrari          8
9. Sauber-Ferrari              1

Next race: European Grand Prix, Valencia. June 25-27.

Hamilton beats Red Bull to pole in Canada

Lewis Hamilton scored his first pole position of the season with a thrilling qualifying session at the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve. In doing so the 2008 world champion maintains his excellent qualifying form at this circuit and this result means he has ended Red Bull Racing’s dominance in qualifying with a superb lap in the McLaren.

The battle for pole was a tight conflict between Hamilton, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso. Each of the drivers traded the top spot running different tyre compounds but it was Lewis who took the honours in the end with a time of one minute, 15.105 seconds. Moments later Lewis had to stop his McLaren as it was nearly out of fuel!

Championship leader Mark Webber will start the Canadian Grand Prix in second while team-mate Sebastian Vettel managed to record a decent lap time to take third after initially struggling in Q3. The young German had to abandon a lap when he went straight over the final chicane but held it together in the final run.

Fernando Alonso starts fourth for the Scuderia, ahead of Jenson Button while Tonio Liuzzi took a fantastic sixth for Force India. A great achievement for the Italian and the team.

Sharing row four is Felipe Massa and Robert Kubica, with Adrian Sutil and Nico Rosbeg completing the top ten.

The shock of the qualifying session was Michael Schumacher’s failure to get through into Q3. The Mercedes driver was only four-tenths adrift of team-mate Rosberg, but that translated to six positions in Q2, as Schumacher was edged outside the top ten in the final seconds and then made a mistake at the final chicane when trying to respond.

As the Williams of Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg, the pair improved to take row six, forcing Schumacher down to P13. The seven-time world champion will not be pleased with this low grid position.

The same can be said to the Sauber team. Both Pedro de la Rosa and Kamui Kobayashi was unable to find decent pace and were knocked out as early as Q1. The Japanese even had to fend off the flying Lotus of Heikki Kovalainen, who was only two-tenths slower in the end as he beat team-mate Jarno Trulli by four-tenths in the new team pack battle.

Qualifying times from Montreal:

1. Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1:15.105
2. Webber         Red Bull-Renault       1:15.373
3. Vettel         Red Bull-Renault       1:15.420
4. Alonso         Ferrari                1:15.435
5. Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:15.520
6. Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes   1:15.648
7. Massa          Ferrari                1:15.688
8. Kubica         Renault                1:15.715
9. Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1:15.881
10. Rosberg        Mercedes              1:16.071
11. Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth     1:16.434
12. Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth     1:16.438
13. Schumacher     Mercedes              1:16.492
14. Petrov         Renault               1:16.844
15. Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:16.928
16. Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:17.029
17. de la Rosa     Sauber-Ferrari        1:17.384
18. Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari        1:18.019
19. Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth        1:18.237
20. Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth        1:18.698
21. Glock          Virgin-Cosworth       1:18.941
22. Senna          HRT-Cosworth          1:19.484
23. di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth       1:19.675
24. Chandhok       HRT-Cosworth          1:27.757

Time’s up: Jack Bauer is no more

Last night on Sky1 was the final episode of Day 8 and after nine years in the life of CTU agent Jack Bauer, the hit real-time drama has come to an end.

It has been an emotional ride with thrills and spills over the course of 192 episodes/hours. From losing his wife Teri in season one plus the constant kidnapping of daughter Kim, not forgetting losing his colleagues one-by-one in the following seasons, it’s been a tough life for Kiefer Sutherland’s character in 24.

Guardian writer Charlie Brooker has posted his view on the show and what the creators can do with a plausible idea of a spin-off!

Jack Bauer is no more

So. Farewell then, Jack Bauer. CTU agent and terrorist-botherer extraordinaire. You thwarted countless unspeakable plots. Apart from the ones perpetrated by your own writers. In those you were sadly complicit. Now your time has finally ended. But even a stopped clock tells the right time twice a day. Unless it’s using the 24-hour format. Which yours, ironically, didn’t.

Apologies to EJ Thribb. Anyway, that’s enough poetry for one column. By the time you read this Bauer will be dead. Well, not dead exactly, but gone from our screens. The former hit series 24 has ground to a halt due to public indifference; the final episode, broadcast on Sky One this evening, culminated in surprisingly low-key fashion. Jack said goodbye to Chloe and shuffled off into the sunset, limping a bit because he was moderately wounded (“moderately wounded” by his standards, at any rate: anything less than a full lung dangling out of his chest cavity is a minor inconvenience to Bauer). He now exists only in the minds of fans and the creative team planning his first spinoff movie, which presumably will last precisely 240 minutes if there’s to be any notional continuity at all.

It’s a fairly inauspicious end to a series that, let’s not forget, was groundbreaking when it first appeared, back in 2001 when season-long story arcs were still a rarity rather than the norm, and the “real time” concept was an arresting gimmick. Furthermore, its sheer brutality was shocking. Not many hit series end their inaugural season with the hero cradling the corpse of his pregnant wife. It certainly didn’t work for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. The audience choked on its Ribena. But 24 pulled it off. Which made it all the more disappointing that, having established an exciting new form, the show proceeded to repeat itself ad nauseum, until it all became so predictable that Jack was visibly yawning during some of the later torture scenes, and sometimes had to splash himself in the face with cold blood just to stay awake.

The real-time format was partly to blame, of course: it eventually turned the series into little more than a string of preposterous deadlines. Sometimes it felt like watching an adaptation of a paperback spy thriller as recounted by a six-year-old boy, who’s regurgitated a rough storyline from memory in one breathless sentence: “And then Jack stops the bomb but the man runs away so Jack chases him in a car but the car crashes into the sea and then a shark comes to eat Jack but Jack kills the shark with a sword and then Jack builds a helicopter out of some reeds and a coathanger and then Jack flies the helicopter into the terrorist’s head THE END.”

Come to think of it, rather than cancelling the series, Fox should be incredibly bold and recommission it using that system for next year: get a six-year-old boy to recount the plot of season one from memory, and then force everyone involved to shoot a word-for-word re-enactment of whatever he says, no matter how absurd. Don’t know about you, but I’d definitely tune in to watch Jack on the trail of a man with funny arms who stole his Lego. In episode four he rides a horse up the side of a building. In episode nine he climbs inside a robot and blows up everyone in the war. In episode 12 he eats some spaghetti and hides from a giant with a purple beard. It is, without question, the finest television series ever made.

Failing that, the “ticking clock” format is too good to leave alone. If CSI and NCIS can spin themselves off into independent mutations, why shouldn’t 24? How about a Sex and the City/24 hybrid in which Samantha has 24 hours to conceive? With anyone – man or beast? Potentially pornographic. OK, more sensibly: what about a version of 24 set during the second world war? Or in the middle of a Towering Inferno-style disaster? Or by a wall somewhere in or near Plymouth? Admittedly, that last concept needs work.

Best of all, they could create the ultimate mind-mangling edition by setting the whole thing 20 years in the future. Halfway through the series, a group of futuristic terrorists (white hair, silver bodysuits) set off a time-reversing pulse-bomb that makes events unfold in reverse. Fiendishly, they detonate it on the last Sunday in October, at the precise moment when the clocks go forward an hour. In the immediate aftermath, 10 members of Jack Bauer Jr’s team die of confusion trying to synchronise watches. It’s down to Jack Jr himself to save the day, but since the detonation of the timebomb moves further away with each passing second, his task gets harder and harder, and the series carries on way beyond its allotted 24 episodes, all the way back through the passage of time until it reaches the big bang, at which point it is revealed that the universe itself was created by a similar explosion – an explosion Jack’s great great great great great great great great forefather somehow manages to thwart, thereby cancelling the formation of time and space itself.

“The following takes place between now and never o’ clock.” Come on. It’s got a ring to it.

Source: The Guardian