Alonso takes surprise race victory at Singapore

Alonso Singapore 08

Double world champion Fernando Alonso scored his first win of the 2008 season with a fantastic drive in the first ever Formula One night race in Singapore. The Spaniard recorded his 20th career Grand Prix victory (his previous was back in 2007 at Monza) and the Renault team’s first since Suzuka two years ago.

The surprising race victory was made even sweeter as Alonso started the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix in a disappointed 15th position following a fuel feed problem in qualifying. The Spaniard had the speed to match the top runners but it was pure irony that his own team-mate Nelson Piquet Jr (who crashed into the wall on lap 14) that resulted in Alonso taking his first victory for the team.

As for Felipe Massa, who started the race from pole position, it was weekend to forget after yet another dramatic incident in the pits… The Brazilian was looking comfortable after leading from lap one ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Scuderia team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.

Meanwhile Fernando Alonso was making good progress after the team adopted an aggressive pit strategy for the race. It worked beautifully as the Spaniard made his first pit stop, two laps before his team-mate hit the wall resulting in a Safety Car period.

It was at this point, Ferrari chose to pit both Massa and Raikkonen for fuel and new tyres but it all went wrong for the Brazilian. Unlike the rest of the Formula One grid, the Ferrari team uses a unique gantry lights over the traditional ‘lollipop’. The lights above the pit told the driver when it was safe to go but unfortunately, it was human error by the pit crew to tell Massa to leave the area too prematurely…

Seeing the green light above him, Massa accelerated with the fuel hose still attached knocking over several mechanics… He rejoined just in front of Adrian Sutil, the same driver in that controversy pit lane incident in Valencia. Massa stopped his car at the end of the pit lane so that his Ferrari pit crew can remove the damaged fuel hose. It took a while to wrench the hose off the Ferrari but by then Massa had lost the lead and was way down the order. The Brazilian finished in a disappointing 13th with a drive-through penalty for ‘unsafe release in the pits’ adding insult to his injury.

During this Safety Car period, the pit lane was closed but Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica had no option but to pit as the pair were running low on fuel… And yes, that silly rule for pitting when the pit lane is closed means Nico and Robert were given ten-second stop and go penalties. But in the case of Rosberg, the Williams driver made up the lost ground by setting qualifying laps one after another that resulting in a superb second place at the chequered flag, his best ever for the German.

As for Lewis Hamilton, the championship leader extends his points lead with a third place finish. He is now seven points clear of nearest challenger Massa with three races left in this exciting season. The McLaren driver can afford to finish second behind the Brazilian in the remaining Grands Prix and still be crowned champion.

Returning back to Alonso, not even a second Safety Car period, caused by Massa spinning and an unsighted Sutil crashed into the tyre wall on lap 51 could prevent the Spaniard on winning this night-time race. The 2005 and 2006 champion benefitted from his short fuel stint in the first part of the race to leap up the order in the Renault. And thanks to running this aggressive strategy, good fortune and great pace, Alonso scored his 50th podium finish.

Kimi Raikkonen ended Ferrari’s weekend from hell by crashing in the final stages of the Singapore Grand Prix. The Finn simply clipped the chicane kerb a bit too hard, which resulted in the red car making heavy impact against the outside wall… It was another non-points finish for the reigning world champion and the Finn admitted afterwards that his title hopes are now over.

Toyota’s Timo Glock finished in fourth after passing Italian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel during the second restart. While BMW Sauber Nick Heidfeld, David Coulthard for Red Bull Racing, and Williams’ Kazuki Nakajima completed the points scorers ahead of Honda’s Jenson Button.

So a fantastic race at Singapore. With far more overtaking than the drivers had predicted, Formula One’s first-ever night race packed in plenty of excitement, and was adjudged a great success.

Race results from Singapore – 61 laps:

1. Alonso Renault 1h57:16.304
2. Rosberg Williams-Toyota +2.957
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes +5.917
4. Glock Toyota +8.155
5. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari +10.268
6. Heidfeld BMW Sauber +11.101
7. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault +16.387
8. Nakajima Williams-Toyota +18.489
9. Button Honda +19.885
10. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes +26.902
11. Kubica BMW Sauber +27.975
12. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari +29.432
13. Massa Ferrari +35.170
14. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari +43.571
15. Raikkonen Ferrari +4 laps

Fastest lap: Raikkonen, 1:45.599

Not classified/retirements:

Trulli Toyota 51 laps
Sutil Force India-Ferrari 50 laps
Webber Red Bull-Renault 30 laps
Barrichello Honda 15 laps
Piquet Renault 14 laps

World Championship standings, round 15:


1. Hamilton 84
2. Massa 77
3. Kubica 64
4. Raikkonen 57
5. Heidfeld 56
6. Kovalainen 51
7. Alonso 38
8. Vettel 27
9. Trulli 26
10. Glock 20
11. Webber 20
12. Rosberg 17
13. Piquet 13
14. Barrichello 11
15. Nakajima 9
16. Coulthard 8
17. Bourdais 4
18. Button 3


1. McLaren-Mercedes 135
2. Ferrari 134
3. BMW Sauber 120
4. Renault 51
5. Toyota 46
6. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 31
7. Red Bull-Renault 28
8. Williams-Toyota 26
9. Honda 14

Next race: Japanese Grand Prix, Fuji Speedway, October 10-12

Massa takes pole position in the dark around Singapore

Massa Singapore 08

Felipe Massa will start Formula One’s first ever night race from pole position after setting a comfortable margin ahead of his competitors. The Brazilian recorded a time around the floodlit street track at Marina Bay with one minute, 44.801 seconds, more than half a second faster than championship rival Lewis Hamilton, who will start the Singapore Grand Prix in second.

The Ferrari driver already held provisional pole after his first run in Q3, but Massa briefly lost the position to his title rival in the McLaren in the closing seconds. However even as Lewis crossed the start/finish line, the Brazilian was already on course to beat his lap, setting purple sectors in all three parts of the street circuit and recording that special qualifying lap.

His Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen could only settle for third, though the Finn had a brief scare during Q1. Raikkonen would have been out of the running in the first knockout stages of qualifying as he was pushed down the order by quicker cars. He managed to get through into Q2 and finally in Q3 by setting competitive times in the red car, though he is still slower than his Scuderia team-mate Massa.

BMW Sauber driver Robert Kubica will start in fourth ahead of Heikki Kovalainen in the McLaren, with Nick Heidfeld completed the top six in the second BMW.

Italian Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel qualified his Toro Rosso in an impressive seventh with Toyota’s Timo Glock joining him on

Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel followed up his Monza win with a competitive seventh place, with Toyota’s Timo Glock joining him on row four.

Williams showed resurgent form to get both cars into Q3 for the first time all season. Nico Rosberg will start ninth, with team-mate Kazuki Nakajima in his career best with tenth.

As for the double world champion Fernando Alonso, the Spaniard was deeply frustrated to qualify in only 15th after setting the pace in the previous practice session. Alonso would have been a contender in the battle for pole position, only for a fuel feed problem that hinders his performance during Q2.

So the very first night race in Formula One’s history at an exciting street circuit in downtown Singapore. Who will win? Can Massa reduce the points gap to Hamilton with victory? Will the McLaren star keep his composure as the championship reaches its conclusion or will we see a new winner joining the likes of Kubica, Kovalainen and Vettel on the top step of the podium?

Qualifying times from Singapore:

1. Massa Ferrari 1:44.801
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.465
3. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:45.617
4. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:45.779
5. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:45.873
6. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:45.964
7. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:46.244
8. Glock Toyota 1:46.328
9. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:46.611
10. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:47.547
11. Trulli Toyota 1:45.038
12. Button Honda 1:45.133
13. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:45.212
14. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:45.298
15. Alonso Renault 1:44.971
16. Piquet Renault 1:46.037
17. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:46.389
18. Barrichello Honda 1:46.583
19. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:47.
20. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari No time

Jack Bauer returns with a two-hour prequel movie

24 Redemption

American action hero Jack Bauer returns in an upcoming movie that will bridge the sixth and seventh seasons of hit television drama 24.

Filmed on location in Cape Town, South Africa, and Los Angeles, 24: REDEMPTION stars Emmy Award winner Kiefer Sutherland along with new cast members Cherry Jones, Robert Carlyle, Gil Bellows and Academy Award winner Jon Voight.

After sacrificing everything for his country, Jack Bauer (Sutherland) is wanted by the U.S. government and now stands to lose the only thing he has left: his freedom.

Working as a missionary in Africa, Bauer is called upon to stop a ruthless warlord from drafting innocent children into his murderous militia. First, Jack must confront his own torturous past and face an impossible decision that will change his life forever.

A decision that will set the stage and raise the stakes for season seven, which debuts in January 2009.

Judging by this three-minute trailer (shown below), it’s great to see the action shifting to new surroundings after six years in downtown LA. I am quite excited by this movie and it will certainly renew my interest in the show after that frustrating strike that postponed the new series last year. Bring on November 23rd!

Vettel takes historic victory at Monza

Vettel Monza 2008 winner

Toro Rosso’s superstar Sebastian Vettel takes his maiden victory with a commanding drive in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

At 21 years and 74 days he beats the previous record holder of 22 years and 26 days set by double world champion Fernando Alonso in the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix.

Vettel also scored the first victory for Scuderia Toro Rosso, the team formed by Red Bull back in 2006. The Red Bull Racing squad have yet to win a race but for the Toro Rosso former team as Minardi, this was the best result for the Italian-based organisation after two decades in the sport.

Vettel is also the first German driver to win a Grand Prix since the seven times world champion Michael Schumacher retired. And afterwards Vettel said: “This is the best day of my life.”

The 21-year-old German is now the 101st driver to win a Grand Prix, and joins Robert Kubica (99) and Heikki Kovalainen (100) as this season’s maiden winners. Appropriately, Kovalainen finished second and Kubica was third, so the newest winners filled the podium.

Vettel led from the rolling start to the chequered flag with ease making no mistakes in the wet conditions. He was comfortably the fastest thanks to his dry weather set-up with low downforce, making his Toro Rosso car the quickest down the famous Monza straights. He finished 12 seconds clear of the McLaren of Kovalainen – who was struggling with his brakes due to the low temperatures – and 20 seconds in front of Kubica in the BMW Sauber.

Renault’s Fernando Alonso benefited from the switch to the intermediates in the semi-wet conditions during his final pit stop to take fourth ahead of Nick Heidfeld. The German couldn’t match his BMW Sauber’s team-mate pace but did well to hold off Felipe Massa in the closing stages of the Grand Prix.

Massa was unable to gain an advantage on his title rival Lewis Hamilton despite starting several positions in front. A sixth place finish was the best the Brazilian could achieve in a difficult race for Ferrari. It also didn’t help that Massa spent much of the first stint trapped behind Nico Rosberg’s Williams and then stuck behind yet more traffic after making his first pit stop.

At least Massa reduced Hamilton’s world championship lead to a single point, as Formula One heads off to the Far East for the Singapore Grand Prix in two weeks time. Lewis Hamilton did his best to recover from his low grid position (P15, by far the worst in his Formula One career) but seventh was the end result. Despite this, Lewis put on a show with some spectacular overtaking moves on the likes of Giancarlo Fisischella, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber as he charge through the field hoping to score some much needed world championship points.

Mark Webber claimed the final point finish for Red Bull Racing with eighth, while Kimi Raikkonen – who was barely featured in the race – finished in a disappointing ninth. The only consolidation for the Finn was setting the fastest laps as the track dried out but it was too little too late for the former world champion.

Nelson Piquet in the Renault rounded out the top ten finishes at Monza. Remarkably, there was only one retirement from the Italian Grand Prix. Giancarlo Fisichella (Force India) crashed at the Parabolica corner after damaging his front wing on the back of David Coulthard’s Red Bull. The broken wing then folded under his car and the Italian was sent off the road and into the tyre barriers. Fisichella was unharmed in the incident.

So a fantastic drive from Sebastian Vettel, though you must feel sorry for Sebastien Bourdais in the sister car. The Frenchman qualified in his best ever grid slot with fourth but as the Safety Car led the pack into the first corner, Bourdais was left behind after stalling his Toro Rosso… He got going again once the mechanics fixed the problem but by then he was a lap down. Bourdais finished the race in a frustrating eighteenth.

The Singapore Grand Prix is the next round of this year’s dramatic Formula One World Championship and the event will become extra special, as it will be the first in the history of the sport to be staged at night. Like Valencia, the teams and drivers have no knowledge on the new street circuit so expect something exciting come late September when Formula One arrives on scene.

Race results from Monza – 53 laps:

1. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1h26:47.000
2. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes +12.512
3. Kubica BMW Sauber +20.471
4. Alonso Renault +23.903
5. Heidfeld BMW Sauber +27.748
6. Massa Ferrari +28.816
7. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes +29.012
8. Webber Red Bull-Renault +32.048
9. Raikkonen Ferrari +39.468
10. Piquet Renault +54.445
11. Glock Toyota +58.888
12. Nakajima Williams-Toyota +1:02.015
13. Trulli Toyota +1:05.954
14. Rosberg Williams-Toyota +1:08.635
15. Button Honda +1:13.370
16. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault +1 lap
17. Barrichello Honda +1 lap
18. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
19. Sutil Force India-Ferrari +2 laps

Fastest lap: Raikkonen, 1:28.047

Not classified/retirements:
Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 12 laps

World Championship standings, round 14:


1. Hamilton 78
2. Massa 77
3. Kubica 64
4. Raikkonen 57
5. Heidfeld 53
6. Kovalainen 51
7. Alonso 28
8. Trulli 26
9. Vettel 23
10. Webber 20
11. Glock 15
12. Piquet 13
13. Barrichello 11
14. Rosberg 9
15. Nakajima 8
16. Coulthard 6
17. Bourdais 4
18. Button 3


1. Ferrari 134
2. McLaren-Mercedes 129
3. BMW Sauber 117
4. Renault 41
5. Toyota 41
6. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 27
7. Red Bull-Renault 26
8. Williams-Toyota 17
9. Honda 14

Next race: Singapore Grand Prix, Singapore, September 26-28

Vettel takes maiden pole for Toro Rosso at Monza

Vettel Monza 2008

Scuderia Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Vettel claimed his first pole position in only his 22nd start in Formula One racing with an impressive display at a soaking wet qualifying session at Monza.

The 21-year-old German set his time early in Q3 with one minute, 37. 555 seconds – which was good enough to take the top spot as the rain steadily became heavier, making it difficult for the other drivers to beat his time.

By claiming his maiden pole position, Vettel becomes the youngest Formula One driver to take the top spot. His performance over the last Grands Prix has been nothing short of remarkable and with this latest achievement, the German proves why he is a future star in Formula One motor racing.

As for the world championship leader, Lewis Hamilton had a difficult session in which a gamble on intermediates Bridgestone paid a heavy price on his bid for the title… Even though he switched back to the extreme wets, Lewis failed to recover from his mistake and he was left struggling for pace and grip. He ended up in a disappointing P15.

His McLaren team-mate fared better with a front row start for Heikki Kovalainen. The Finn may have missing out on grabbing pole by less than a tenth of a second from Vettel but he has a good opportunity in winning his second race with P2.

Red Bull Racing Mark Webber will start in an excellent third ahead of the sister car of Champ Car champion Sebastien Bourdais.

Williams will be celebrating their 500th Grand Prix this Sunday and by starting fifth on the grid, Nico Rosberg will have a great chance of scoring valuable points for the team in the constructors’ standings.

What about the tifosi’s favourite team Ferrari? This is their home race and the passionate Italian fans are expecting a result from the red cars. So where did Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen qualifying? Well, Massa will start the race down in sixth after just managed to scrape through into Q3 while his team-mate Raikkonen didn’t. The Brazilian is now only two points behind Hamilton in the drivers’ standings following the McLaren driver being penalised in cutting the chicane in last weekend’s dramatic Belgian Grand Prix and he has an opportunity to gain the championship lead thanks to his better grid position over his title rival. As for Kimi, P14 is not ideal for a driver who will stay at the Scuderia until 2010 but at least he is ahead of Hamilton!

The Toyotas of Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock sandwiched Fernando Alonso’s Renault, with seventh, eighth and ninth respectively. While Nick Heidfeld – who spun in Q1 – completes the top ten for BMW Sauber.

With more rain possible for Sunday, a fantastic race is in prospect as Vettel and the others seek to capitalise on their performances. Kubica, Raikkonen and Hamilton do everything they can to overcome their tribulations and it will be exciting to see the three championship contenders racing through the field. Hopefully Lewis won’t be cutting the chicanes as he races with Kimi during the 53-lap race at Monza!

Starting grid for the Italian Grand Prix:

1. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:37.555
2. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:37.631
3. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:38.117
4. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:38.445
5. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:38.767
6. Massa Ferrari 1:38.894
7. Trulli Toyota 1:39.152
8. Alonso Renault 1:39.751
9. Glock Toyota 1:39.787
10. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:39.906
11. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:36.697
12. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:36.698
13. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:37.284
14. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:37.522
15. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:39.265
16. Barrichello Honda 1:36.510
17. Piquet Renault 1:36.630
18. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:36.653
19. Button Honda 1:37.006
20. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:37.417

Hamilton stripped of his Grand Prix win after harsh penalty

Kimi and Lewis Spa

This is the moment in which the most entertaining and dramatic Formula One race this season ended up the most controversial.

Entering the Bus Stop chicane on lap 42, championship leader Lewis Hamilton was alongside his race rival Kimi Raikkonen after getting a good slipstream from exiting Stavelot. The world champion in the leading Ferrari was struggling for grip in the treacherous conditions as rain fell on the Spa Francorchamps circuit and he was about to get overtaken.

Lewis was in a determined mood to retake the lead after losing it on the second lap at the La Source hairpin. The McLaren had a good run from Stavelot and through Blanchimont, and he was ready to make the manoeuvre. Kimi held his line and braked early for the chicane, forcing Lewis to take the outside line.

The Finn then edged his Ferrari out wide in a bid to stay in front… Pushing your rival wide was not very clever and it shows how much Kimi Raikkonen didn’t wanted to concede the race victory…

At this point, Lewis had to make a quick decision. Either crash into Kimi or take the escape route. The Briton took the latter and even though cutting the corner is against the strict Formula One rules, he had no choice but to avoid the collision with the red car.

Hamilton rejoined the circuit and he let through Raikkonen on the start/finish straight, in fear that he might get a penalty for missing out a corner. Immediately afterwards, he attacked the Ferrari into the hairpin with a bold pass down the inside on Kimi.

This series of events didn’t go down well with the race stewards, who decided that Lewis Hamilton ‘gained an unfair advantage’ by missing out the chicane. To throw out the winner of the race over this racing incident is simply ridiculous and it was no surprise to see the uproar of Formula One fans from around the world when the news broke out that the McLaren driver had been penalised and Felipe Massa (who finished second on the track) was awarded the race win.

Obviously McLaren are appealing over this decision as it won the race fair and square. It’s quite surprising that Ferrari didn’t lodge the complaint but it was the race stewards who did…

It shows the inconsistency of the FIA. Why is that Ferrari always seem to escape heavy punishment while the other teams get the full wrath of the sport’s governing body? Case in point, Malaysian Grand Prix 1999 (Ferrari ran illegal barge boards but allowed to keep the win), Felipe Massa running off the road in his duel with Robert Kubica in Fuji last year and more recently, Felipe’s near collision with Adrian Sutil in the pits at Valencia that resulted in just a small Euros fine…

It is completely ludicrous that during the same Grand Prix at Spa, Heikki Kovalainen received a drive-through penalty after his collision with Mark Webber, while Kimi Raikkonen, who forced Lewis wide at the same corner didn’t get any punishment whatsoever…

There is a running joke in Formula One, that the FIA stands for ‘Ferrari International Aid’ as the sport’s governing body is biased towards the Italian team. And if the sport is rigged, then what is the point of racing?

As a passionate fan of the sport (I’ve been following Formula One since the late 1980s), this decision is by far the most disgusting. I am deeply worried that the general image of Formula One has been corrupted by dirty politics and I wonder what the sport could do to get out of this messy situation in the long term…

Hamilton takes victory in thrilling finale at Spa

Lewis Hamilton winner Spa 2008

Lewis Hamilton edges closer to winning the drivers’ championship after snatching victory from Kimi Raikkonen in the dramatic closing moments at the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa Francorchamps.

Raikkonen was on course to take his long-awaited race victory at his favourite circuit after leading the race from lap two, benefitting from Hamilton’s spin at the La Source hairpin at the end of the opening lap. The Ferrari driver had been under pressure to perform after a series of poor results and race victory would have kick-started his title ambitions.

But during the final three laps, the Finn was uncomfortable in the wet conditions and lost the lead when Hamilton caught and passed him. In fact, the race stewards are investigating a situation at the Bus Stop chicane when the pair may have broken the strict FIA rules on cutting corners…

The incident happened on lap 42 with Hamilton drew alongside his rival on the approach to the chicane. Neither wanted to give way and Lewis was forced off the track by Kimi.

Hamilton arrived on the start/finish straight ahead of Raikkonen and having gained an unfair advantage by cutting the previous corner, the McLaren driver let his rival by. But then he re-passed the Ferrari at the following corner at the La Source hairpin.

Later on that dramatic lap, Raikkonen ran wide at Pouhon but managed to recover with more speed over Hamilton. Then Lewis came across a spinning Williams (Nico Rosberg) and took evasive action! Raikkonen also avoided the backmarker and in the process seemed to have hit his rival… But as soon as Kimi was back in the lead, he spun his Ferrari exiting the corner and Lewis was back in front!

The drama didn’t end there, as Raikkonen tried in vain to regain lost ground on Hamilton, he unfortunately lost control coming out of Blanchimont which resulting in his car and the world championship smashed to pieces against the barrier…

It was crude luck for the reigning world champion as Raikkonen was driving superbly in the leading Ferrari. After inheriting the lead from the spinning McLaren at the end of lap one, the Finn was on course in achieving his fourth successive victory at Spa Francorchamp but that late rain changed the fortune for the Finn.

With Kimi out, it was left for team-mate Felipe Massa to pick up the points and by finishing in second position, the Brazilian is still within touching distance of championship leader Lewis Hamilton in the remaining five races.

BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld gambled on a last-gasp change to intermediate tyres to grab third place on the last lap, ahead of Renault’s Fernando Alonso and Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel.

Team-mate Robert Kubica completed the top six, ahead of the unfortunate Sebastien Bourdais – who stayed out on slicks and was briefly in third, only for a group of intermediate-shod cars to cruise past him on the final lap… Toyota’s Timo Glock completed the points scorer with eighth place.

As for Heikki Kovalainen, this was a race to forget. The Finn made a poor start from third on the grid and he was forced wide at the La Source mayhem caused by Jarno Trulli fast-starting Toyota hitting the back of Bourdais.

That left Kovalainen down ten places in the first corner chaos and in the following laps, the Finn slowly made his way back up the field only for a tangle with Mark Webber at the Bus Stop chicane meant he received a drive-through penalty for punting the Red Bull car into a spin.

That incident cost him track position and although he recovered, the Finn was forced to retire on the final lap.

As for the other McLaren, it was an incredible race from Lewis Hamilton. He recovered from his mistake on lap two when he lost control of his car under braking. Lewis chased after Raikkonen lap after lap and with help from the fickle Belgian weather, the Briton was able to snatch the lead and take his fifth Grand Prix victory this season. Hamilton extends his points lead to eight over title rival Felipe Massa, who finished second in the 44-lap race.

Poor Raikkonen. He had the race in his hands and yet the late rain disrupted his winning performance and ended with a smashed Ferrari on the exit of Blanchimont… This non-finish for Kimi means he is now a massive 23 points behind Lewis in the drivers’ standings and Ferrari may well request the Finn to play the supporting role to aid Felipe Massa in the remaining Grands Prix.

The next race will be the glorious Monza circuit next week. This is Ferrari’s home race and the Italian team will be determined to score a good result in its battle for the world championship against Lewis Hamilton and McLaren-Mercedes.

Race results from Spa Francorchamps – 44 laps:

1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1h22.44.933
2. Massa Ferrari +14.461
3. Heidfeld BMW Sauber +23.844
4. Alonso Renault +28.939
5. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari +29.037
6. Kubica BMW Sauber +29.498
7. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari +31.196
8. Glock Toyota +56.506
9. Webber Red Bull-Renault +57.237
10. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes +1 lap
11. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault +1 lap
12. Rosberg Williams-Toyota +1 lap
13. Sutil Force India-Ferrari +1 lap
14. Nakajima Williams-Toyota +1 lap
15. Button Honda +1 lap
16. Trulli Toyota +1 lap
17. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari +1 lap
18. Raikkonen Ferrari +2 laps

Fastest lap: Raikkonen, 1:47.930

Not classified/retirements:

Barrichello Honda 21 laps
Piquet Renault 14 laps

World Championship standings, round 13:


1. Hamilton 80
2. Massa 72
3. Kubica 58
4. Raikkonen 57
5. Heidfeld 47
6. Kovalainen 43
7. Trulli 26
8. Alonso 23
9. Webber 18
10. Glock 16
11. Vettel 13
12. Piquet 13
13. Barrichello 11
14. Rosberg 9
15. Nakajima 8
16. Coulthard 6
17. Bourdais 4
18. Button 3


1. Ferrari 129
2. McLaren-Mercedes 123
3. BMW Sauber 105
4. Toyota 42
5. Renault 36
6. Red Bull-Renault 24
7. Williams-Toyota 17
8. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 17
9. Honda 14

Next race: Italian Grand Prix, Monza, September 12-14

Hamilton beats Massa to Spa pole position

Lewis Hamilton Spa 2008

Championship leader Lewis Hamilton scored his eleventh career pole position at the majestic Spa-Francorchamps circuit edging out his main title rival Felipe Massa in qualifying.

The McLaren driver set a lap time around the challenging 4.352-mile Belgian race circuit with one minute, 47.338 seconds. This was three tenths of a second quicker than Massa in the Ferrari. Their team-mates will line up directly behind with Heikki Kovalainen ahead of Kimi Raikkonen.

It was another disappointing performance from the reigning world champion. Kimi Raikkonen really needed a good result at Spa to kick-start his title campaign following a series of poor races. The Finn is a past winner of the Belgian Grand Prix – he won this event three times – but starting from fourth, Kimi will have a difficult task in achieving his fourth consecutive victory. He will need to display his race-winning pace on Sunday or else he will play the supporting role of Felipe Massa in the remaining Grands Prix.

BMW Sauber’s Nick Heidfeld is another driver under pressure for results. The German had suffered the problem of not setting quick lap times compared to team-mate Robert Kubica in qualifying. Heidfeld seems to be having trouble in maintaining good tyre pressure during his timed runs. But he responded with a fine fifth position at Spa. Indeed his time of one minute, 48.315 seconds was better than Kubica, who could only manage eighth position with one minute, 48.763 seconds.

Double world champion Fernando Alonso will line up sixth for Renault. A great result for the Spaniard and he had a chance of a strong finish in Sunday’s Grand Prix. His ambition is to help the team finish fourth in the constructors’ standing by out-qualifying and out racing Toyota. With sixth position, Alonso has the opportunity to close the points gap.

Australian Mark Webber will start in seventh for Red Bull Racing, ahead of Kubica and the Toro Rossos of Sebastien Bourdais and Sebastian Vettel respectively. Bourdais even set the fastest time in Q1, which was a fantastic achievement for the Champ Car champion.

So yet again the two championship contenders are on the front row. Can Lewis Hamilton extend his lead in the drivers’ standings with race victory? Or will Felipe Massa score another decisive win for Ferrari? What about Raikkonen? This is Kimi’s final chance to win at his favourite circuit and he needs a good result if he wants to challenge for title honours this year.

In addition the weather on Sunday could prove tricky for the twenty Formula One drivers. Let’s hope the racing will be better than the previous Grand Prix at Valencia a fortnight ago.

Starting grid for the Belgian Grand Prix:

1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:47.338
2. Massa Ferrari 1:47.678
3. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 1:47.815
4. Raikkonen Ferrari 1:47.992
5. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 1:48.315
6. Alonso Renault 1:48.504
7. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:48.736
8. Kubica BMW Sauber 1:48.763
9. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:48.951
10. Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:50.319
11. Trulli Toyota 1:46.949
12. Piquet Renault 1:46.965
13. Glock Toyota 1:46.995
14. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 1:47.018
15. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 1:47.429
16. Barrichello Honda 1:48.153
17. Button Honda 1:48.211
18. Sutil Force India-Ferrari 1:48.226
19. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1:48.268
20. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 1:48.447

Goldfrapp’s Lovely Head in Magnetosphere form

Goldfrapp abstract

This is simply beautiful. The song is taken from Goldfrapp’s first album ‘Felt Mountain’ featuring the lovely voice of Alison Goldfrapp. I love how a part of the lyric from ‘Lovely Head’ grows and expands during the three-minute or so track.

How was this created? Well, read Processing artist Robert Hodgin’s blog on his idea of Magnetosphere and how it might be implemented into the new visualizer for Apple’s iTunes music player.

This new Processing technique could be the next step in how with visualise music. Even the Barbarian Group website’s page for Magnetosphere says that “We’ve had a ton of interest in it, and we’ve got some exciting plans, but it’s gonna take us a couple months to make it all happen.”

If Apple does take this concept, it would look breathtaking on every computer’s screen. This is especially true on my gorgeous 24-inch iMac!

Solar, with lyrics. from flight404 on Vimeo.