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post #1 of 38 (permalink) Old 10-30-2008, 03:54 PM Thread Starter
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Brazilian Grand Prix.

Brazilian Grand Prix Preview.

Thu 30 Oct, 07:36 PM



Lewis Hamilton or Felipe Massa? That is the question on everyone's lips as the 2008 F1 World Championship finale dawns this weekend at Interlagos in Brazil - just who will lift the ultimate prize?

It is perhaps entirely appropriate that the 2008 Formula 1 World Championship title showdown should take place at Interlagos, since the circuit lends itself perfectly to drama and - whatever happens - the outcome of this weekend will make grand prix history.

Lewis Hamilton stands on the precipice of being crowned the sport's youngest-ever world champion should he come out on top - and if he doesn't, then Felipe Massa will prevail, to become the first Brazilian to lift the drivers' laurels since the late, great Ayrton Senna last did so 17 years back. And he would do it in Brazil.

Either way, it will be a momentous occasion, and in a city as vibrant as is São Paulo and a setting as spectacular as is Interlagos - literally 'between the lakes' - whoever wins there is sure to be a fiesta atmosphere after the race.

Hamilton undoubtedly enters the weekend as hot favourite to seal the deal, carrying as he does a seven-point advantage over his Ferrari rival and needing to finish just fifth, regardless of where Massa takes the chequered flag. Lest we forget, however, the British star had the exact same comfort margin over Massa's team-mate Kimi Raikkonen heading into the same race this time last year - and ended up crossing the line just seventh, thereby conceding the title to the Finn by a single point.

Whether that memory will be playing on the 23-year-old's mind no one can say, but he has vowed to play it safe rather than risk going all-out for glory as he did at Fuji earlier this month - with disastrous consequences. The Lewis Hamilton in Shanghai just a week later appeared to be a very different, far more composed driver, but nerves can sometimes be telling and it will be fascinating to see what lessons have truly been learned.

That's not to say, of course, that the pressure will all be on Hamilton, as Massa has not only a seven-point deficit to overturn - a sizeable enough task in itself - but also the weight of expectation of an entire home nation upon his shoulders, willing him on to return the crown to Brazil for the first time since 1991.

The São Paulo native has insisted all the focus and pressure will be on his rival, but he would dearly love to clinch the championship at a circuit on which his hero Senna triumphed twice and where he himself prevailed two years ago. Massa would likely have won there last season too, but for having had to support Raikkonen's title bid and settle for second place.

At least this time around the 27-year-old knows he has the full backing of the Finn in his own championship challenge, and with the 2007 world champion having seemingly returned to form in recent weeks - even out-pacing Massa weekend-long in Shanghai last time out - that arguably hands Ferrari an advantage over McLaren, for whom Heikki Kovalainen has been inconsistent to say the least. The battle of the 'second drivers' in Brazil could ultimately transpire to be just as significant as that of their 'team leaders' in determining who emerges on top.

BMW-Sauber's Robert Kubica, meanwhile, is aiming to defend his third place in the drivers' standings from the resurgent Raikkonen, and will need to extract every last ounce of performance out of his F1.08 if he to succeed in doing so, as the Munich and Hinwil-conceived challenger has fallen increasingly shy of the leading pace of late. There is also still a slim chance that BMW can overhaul McLaren for the runner-up spot in the final constructors' rankings, should Kubica and team-mate Nick Heidfeld rack up the points and the Silver Arrows endure a weekend to forget.

More likely as a podium contender, though, is Renault's Fernando Alonso, who has incredibly notched up comfortably more points than any other driver on the grid over the past five grands prix to manoeuvre himself past McLaren replacement Kovalainen into sixth spot in the drivers' chase. The former double F1 World Champion has been supreme in recent weeks, making full use of the Régie's late-season resurgence, and his Singapore and Japanese successes were a just and richly-merited reward.

Whether the Spaniard can again mix it for the top step of the rostrum at Interlagos - the circuit where he claimed both of his drivers' crowns in 2005 and 2006 - remains to be seen, but he is sure to make his presence felt and will doubtless be giving it his all, as will team-mate and home fans' favourite Nelsinho Piquet. The Brazilian rookie has improved considerably over the second half of the campaign following a distinctly shaky start to his career in the top flight, and he needs just one more strong performance in front of his adoring supporters in São Paulo to prove that he deserves to stick around for a while longer yet.

Having been forced to surrender the coveted fourth position in the constructors' standings - one that the team had so long occupied in 2008 - to Renault in China, Toyota approach the finale with nothing to gain, but equally nothing to lose. Both Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock are keen to end the year on a high and are more than capable of delivering, so it will be interesting to see whether the big-budget Japanese manufacturer - whose continued presence in F1 has been the subject of some speculation of late - goes all-out in a bid to sign off the season in style.

Scuderia Toro Rosso, Red Bull Racing and Williams, meanwhile, are all still fiercely battling for sixth spot in the constructors' chase, with the advantage very much to the former, but nothing yet set in stone. Sebastian Vettel will be making his final start for STR before graduating to the 'parent' Red Bull outfit in 2009 and so will be eager to leave with a flourish, whilst team-mate Sébastien Bourdais will similarly be aiming to return to the points as he conversely stakes his claim to stay at the Faenza-based squad next year.

Mark Webber and David Coulthard will be doing battle for RBR as the energy drinks-backed concern endeavours to avoid the embarrassment of being beaten by its 'junior' team, with the popular Scot bringing down the curtain on a long and successful career in F1 this weekend, and no doubt desperately hoping to conclude with what would be the 122nd points-scoring finish of a remarkable 15-year stint.

Williams, too, are hoping for points, as Nico Rosberg battles to retain his career momentum in the top flight and Kazuki Nakajima prepares to celebrate the first anniversary of his grand prix debut, whilst the weekend also offers Force India the Silverstone-based squad's very last chance to break its points duck in 2008 - a tall order, to say the least.

Honda's Rubens Barrichello, finally, may, like Coulthard, be making his F1 swansong in Brazil, even if he is hoping that will not be the case. With still no confirmation regarding drivers for next year from his employer Honda, the future of the 36-year-old - with no fewer than 269 grand prix starts under his belt, the most experienced competitor in the long history of the sport - remains unclear.

Whilst Massa may yet be crowned 2008 world champion, the most enthusiastic support at Interlagos, you can't help but feel, might just be reserved for a man who has captured the passion and inspiration of millions of his countryman like no driver since Senna - braveheart 'Rubinho'.

by Russell Atkins
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post #2 of 38 (permalink) Old 10-31-2008, 09:51 AM
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First practice Massa, Hamilton, Kimi! It looks really tight!
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post #3 of 38 (permalink) Old 10-31-2008, 02:29 PM Thread Starter
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Friday practice - selected driver quotes

Friday practice - selected driver quotes
Renault’s Fernando Alonso on his late run to the top; Toyota’s Jarno Trulli on fighting off the flu; and championship favourite Lewis Hamilton on a low-key second session for McLaren. All 20 drivers report back on Friday’s Interlagos action (note - positions and times refer to practice two)…

Fernando Alonso, Renault (1st, 1m 12.296s):
“The day has gone well. We have been able to complete our programme without any problems and we have recorded lots of interesting data. We still need to work hard to improve the car in time for tomorrow, but I'm pleased with my day.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (2nd, +0.057s):
"It might only be Friday, but it's important to get off to a good start on such an important weekend. We found a good set-up for the car, which seemed to be well balanced in both sessions. The track here offers a lot of grip and so, even with today's low temperatures, that was not a problem, especially given the tyres we have available to us here. My aim? To be in front of everyone, both tomorrow and on Sunday. Then we can do the maths when it's over. Racing at home, with the crowd on your side is a great motivation for me: it's a fantastic feeling, but difficult to put it into words."

Jarno Trulli, Toyota (3rd, +0.139s):
"I was ill with the flu yesterday so I took the time to rest in order to help me recover. Today I have been feeling better and I was able to drive with no problems. We had a good Friday session in general, going through the set-up work and looking at tyre choice for the race. We worked on balancing the car and we had some success. We still have some areas to improve but in general I'm happy and we have shown a good level of competitiveness so far. It's only Friday and ideally we would like higher track temperatures but all in all this has been a good day."

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (4th, +0.304s):
"It was a generally positive day for us, although it is still only Friday, which means it's too early to drawn any definite conclusions. We worked through our usual programme and tried various settings on the car. The only difficulty was linked to the weather, with the rain coming down occasionally. My aim? To do my own race and help the team reach its objectives and I know what I have to do for that to happen. It will be a tough race on Sunday and you never know what could happen: we have to be prepared for every eventuality."

Mark Webber, Red Bull (5th, +0.354s):
“We had a pretty productive day. I was happy with the car quite early on in the session as we got the balance right, which is always a good start. Getting on top of the tyres is not easy and we had quite changeable conditions, but overall that was a good start to the weekend.”

Sebastian Vettel, Toro Rosso (6th, +0.391s):
“Free practice was mainly dry, but conditions were tricky in the drizzle: you would see the drops on your visor and wouldn’t know how far you could go. We made a big step, improving the car from the morning to the afternoon. I think here it will be quite tricky to get the tyres working well over a long run and you could see several people struggling with that. Towards the end, you could see the grooved tyres become slick tyres, so maybe we’re already getting ready for 2009!”

Nelson Piquet, Renault (7th, +0.407s):
“I did lots of laps today, which was what I wanted as I needed to find the limits of the circuit. The initial information we have is interesting, but the track was very slippery today and so I think I can still find some more speed and I can still improve the set-up of the car with my engineers. But on the whole the result from this first day of practice is encouraging.”

Nico Rosberg, Williams (8th, +0.465s):
"I think we’ve shown ourselves to be a little bit more competitive here than we have at other tracks. That doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll be further up the grid tomorrow, but we might be a little bit closer. We carried out some productive set-up work today which has given us some interesting results. In terms of tyres, it’s pretty clear which way we’ll go, which is positive as well. The direction we’ll go with other variables like rear wing level will depend on the weather forecast and the likelihood of rain."

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren (9th, +0.531s):
"Our car was blindingly quick this morning despite the cold weather, which made the track feel quite slippery. This afternoon we focused on our race pace - but we were interrupted by the threat of rain and the changeable wind direction. I flat-spotted my tyres on a couple of runs, but I’m positive that the changes we’ve made will put us in a good position for tomorrow."

Kazuki Nakajima, Williams (10th, +0.590s):
"Today went quite well. We made some good progress on the set-up of the car, which is positive, but we still need to find some more performance as we have to improve before qualifying tomorrow."

David Coulthard, Red Bull (11th, +0.600s):
“There were changeable conditions out there. It was spitting with rain in the second session, so we took the decision to run a fresh set of tyres early on, just in case it rained towards the end. We haven’t achieved the ultimate lap time, but I think we made progress during the day to stabilise the car..”

Robert Kubica, BMW Sauber (12th, +0.675s):
"This was a usual Friday and we finished our scheduled programme. We did some basic set-up work and evaluated the different tyre compounds. At the end of both the sessions there was drizzle in some of the corners. However, the few drops did not really influence the grip. We shall now analyse the data we collected today."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (13th, +0.742s):
"After being really unhappy with the balance of the car in the first session, we improved it for the afternoon, but I still find the car difficult to drive. Because of the weather the programme was a little bit different to normal, but we have enough information to work on further improvements. The track isn't as good as it was after it was freshly resurfaced last year, but it is still far better than it used to be! I would say it is on the same level as other Grand Prix circuits."

Timo Glock, Toyota (14th, +0.745s):
"It was a pretty difficult day for me. This is one of the races I did for Jordan in 2004 so I have experience of this track. That was a tricky race for me but the track surface is not as bumpy this year. Still, the car felt a bit strange so it's hard to understand where we are at the moment. We will have to analyse the data and see what we can do to make it right for tomorrow. Hopefully we can find a good direction, otherwise I will hope for rain! Whatever the weather, we should aim to make the points again as we did in China."

Heikki Kovalainen, McLaren (15th, +0.917s):
"A decent Friday practice session and we now have a good understanding of tyre performance following our comparison work and evaluation. We were fine-tuning the balance of the car all the time and the outcome makes me happy, although this isn’t reflected in the fastest lap times. So we’ve found a good baseline to work on for the rest of the weekend."

Rubens Barrichello, Honda (16th, +0.925s):
"It's a real pleasure for me to be racing at Interlagos this weekend, especially in front of the Brazilian fans and my family. We had two straightforward practice sessions with no real issues today however, as we expected, the car is lacking performance. We will do our best to maximise the data that we were able to achieve today but it will be a big ask to progress into Q2 tomorrow."

Sebastien Bourdais, Toro Rosso (17th, +0.977s):
“I know this track from having raced here in F3000 in ’01 and ’02 and it’s less bumpy now, although it still seems to have quite a slippery surface, especially when we had a bit of rain. Those conditions made it a bit difficult to evaluate how the car was reacting and how the track was evolving and therefore it was tricky to assess whether any performance gains came from changes on the car or on the track surface. Generally, it’s been a decent day, even if I didn’t get the balance right on the Option tyre. Most of the day me and Seb were fairly evenly matched until the big gap came when I made a mistake on one quick lap at the last corner. But we have plenty of data to analyse to prepare ourselves for the race.”

Jenson Button, Honda (18th, +1.045s):
"It's been a busy day and the conditions have provided some challenges with light rain in both sessions. Our main focus was trying to get the option tyres to work. Everyone seems to be having a problem with graining on the options so we tried various things to improve their performance over one lap and the long runs. I had an electrical problem this morning which cost me some time and set-up work, however with the information that we gathered this afternoon, we have plenty of data to help us move forward before tomorrow."

Adrian Sutil, Force India (19th, +1.132s):
"We didn't have any problems today so we could get through our schedule as planned. I was quite happy with my performance and we can see how the tyres are working now. The soft ones seem to be better compared to the medium tyre at the moment. We'll study the data and work on it for tomorrow."

Giancarlo Fisichella, Force India (20th, +1.395s):
"The whole day we struggled with the grip, when it was dry or wetter. We seem to have problems in particular with graining, even after a couple of laps. My speed on the straight is also relatively low, which means we aren't able to take advantage of the long straight. At the moment we don't know why or what the problem is but we have another practice tomorrow before qualifying so we'll try and get it better for that."
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post #4 of 38 (permalink) Old 10-31-2008, 08:35 PM
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Excellent summary by Russell Atkins...Thank You
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post #5 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-01-2008, 08:38 AM Thread Starter
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Final practice - Alonso at the last

01 Nov 2008
Final practice - Alonso at the last

Fernando Alonso wore the biggest smile after the final practice session for the Brazilian Grand Prix. The Spaniard spoiled the symmetry of a McLaren one-two literally in the closing seconds of the session, when he jumped from 18th to first place with a lap of 1m 12.141s for Renault.

Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen were very happy, however, with 1m 12.212s and 1m 12.225s laps apiece, since they put them clear of fourth-placed Felipe Massa on 1m 12.312s in the Ferrari.

Kimi Raikkonen should have been with them in the second F2008, but messed up Sector Two and thus had to be content with 12th place in 1m 12.698s.

Once again the times were close in a session that was run on a dry road but in overcast and windy conditions that saw the track temperature rise from 28 to 36 degrees Celsius as the hour progressed.

Sebastian Vettel was fifth ahead of Nick Heidfeld, the Toro Rosso driver recording 1m 12.389s to the BMW Sauber driver’s 1m 12.402s, then came Vettel’s 2008 team mate Sebastien Bourdais on 1m 12.426s and his 2009 team mate to be Mark Webber, on 1m 12.453s for Red Bull. Renault’s Nelson Piquet and Toyota’s Jarno Trulli shared 1m 12.457s for ninth and 10th places, then came Williams’ Nico Rosberg on 1m 12.625s, Raikkonen, Toyota’s Timo Glock on 1m 12.712s, and BMW Sauber’s Robert Kubica on 1m 12.971s.

Kazuki Nakajima failed to break 1m 13s, but only narrowly as he wheeled his Williams round in 1m 13.054s, ahead of Red Bull’s David Coulthard (1m 13.058s), the Hondas of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button (1m 13.135s and 1m 13.278s respectively), and the Force Indias of Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil (1m 13.460s and 1m 13.680s respectively).

Remarkably, there were no significant incidents.
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post #6 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-01-2008, 01:01 PM
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How the hell are the Toyotas doing so much better? Trulli starting second? Wow.
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post #7 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-02-2008, 12:00 AM
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How the hell are the Toyotas doing so much better? Trulli starting second? Wow.
Running very light on fuel. All for show. I just hope Trulli does not screw up the race from the front row.

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post #8 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-02-2008, 08:58 AM Thread Starter
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Qualifying analysis - title rivals do what they need to do

02 Nov 2008
Qualifying analysis - title rivals do what they need to do

In warm conditions Ferrari’s Felipe Massa duly took pole position at Interlagos on Saturday, his sixth of the season and the first time anyone has set three consecutive fastest times at the Brazilian circuit, to start the race exactly where he needs to. Jarno Trulli sprang a surprise with a late run to second for Toyota, but McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton seemed very happy with fourth just behind Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen given his fuel strategy, and really just needs to make a clean start to keep his title aspirations firmly on track. At the back of their minds, all of the teams are worrying about tyre degradation if it is a dry race, and safety car interventions if the expected rain materialises...

Ferrari
Felipe Massa, 1m 12.312s, P4/1m 12.368s, P1
Kimi Raikkonen, 1m 12.698s, P12/1m 12.825s, P3
A very happy Massa took the pole position that he needed, and did not really need to complete his second run to be sure of it. The belief is that he is running lighter than Raikkonen and Hamilton, and with Trulli also there in the mix he may be able to make the break he needs at the start. Raikkonen said his was not a perfect qualifying, but that he was happy with third on the grid

Toyota
Jarno Trulli, 1m 12.457s, P10/1m 12.737s, P2
Timo Glock, 1m 12.712s, P13/1m 14.230s, P10
The Toyotas have been there or thereabouts all weekend, but Trulli’s late run to second place was still a surprise, and one that McLaren probably felt they could do without. The Pescara homeboy said that he’d been preparing for this one for a long time since he felt the TF108 could be very good here, so he was delighted with his result. Glock improved his set-up since Friday and also made the top 10, but rued the decision not to save a set of tyres for Q3.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 12.212s, P2/1m 12.830s, P4
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 12.225s, P3/1m 12.917s, P5
Hamilton seemed very relaxed with fourth place and spoke a lot about fuel strategy, suggesting that he is running a fair bit heavier than Massa and maybe even Raikkonen. Kovalainen was very quick in Q2 (setting the fastest lap of the weekend to date in 1m 11.768s), but with rain and safety cars distinct possibilities on Sunday McLaren opted for a less aggressive strategy than Ferrari and Toyota to protect against such interventions.

Renault
Fernando Alonso, 1m 12.141s, P1/1m 12.967s, P6
Nelson Piquet, 1m 12.457s, P9/1m 12.137s, P11
Alonso said he thought it would be hard to match Ferrari and McLaren, and figured that sixth on the grid was the best he could have expected, which didn’t exactly factor in Trulli’s run. Piquet said he pushed hard, but it wasn’t enough and he missed the Q3 cut by three-hundredths of a second.

Toro Rosso
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 12.389s, P5/1m 13.082s, P7
Sebastien Bourdais, 1m 12.426s, P7/1m 14.105s, P9
Once again the Ferrari-engined Toro Rossos were both in the top 10. Vettel in particular was very strong in Q2 (second fastest), but admitted that he lost time on his second run in Q3 as he lost feel for the state of the tyres. Bourdais said ninth place was ‘super’ and that his lap was the best he had done all season. He was also delighted to make up for a disastrous first run in Q1 when he hooked a kerb.

BMW Sauber
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 12.402s, P6/1m 13.297s, P8
Robert Kubica, 1m 12.971s, P14/1m 12.300s, P13
Heidfeld was the happy guy here, and the one who found the grip, Kubica was not. In other words, it was a role reversal. The former thought his Q3 lap was good even though he had expected more than a three-tenth improvement switching from the medium to the soft Bridgestone tyre, but Kubica was simply non-plussed as he struggled for the second race in succession.

Red Bull
Mark Webber, 1m 12.453s, P8/1m 12.289s, P12
David Coulthard, 1m 13.058s, P16/1m 12.717s, P14
Webber was disappointed with only 12th place, but said his RB4 simply didn’t have the pace to get through to Q3. Coulthard was also disappointed to line up 14th for his final F1 race appearance, and said he just couldn’t find sufficient grip in the middle sector during Q2.

Honda
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 13.135s, P17/1m 13.139s, P15
Jenson Button, 1m 13.278s, P18/1m 12.810s, P17
Barrichello pushed as hard as he could at home, but 15th was the best he could do with Honda’s RA108. He did well to get through to Q2 on the option tyre, but couldn’t find the same grip he’d had in Q1. Button didn’t make it through from Q1, which was a disappointment as he had found more front-end grip since the morning session. He admitted to a mistake in Turn Four, but in any case his car stopped at Turn 14 at the end of the session. Honda didn’t share the reason for that.

Williams
Kazuki Nakajima, 1m 13.054s, P15/1m 12.800s, P16
Nico Rosberg, 1m 12.625s, P11/1m 13.002s, P18
Another tough qualifying saw Williams only 16th and 18th. Both Nakajima and Rosberg said their FW30s were tough to drive, as they struggled for tyre temperature.

Force India
Giancarlo Fisichella, 1m 13.460s, P19/1m 13.426s, P19
Adrian Sutil, 1m 13.680s, P20/1m 13.508s, P20
Fisichella reported front brake locking and oversteer through to the second sector in Q1, and said he struggled particularly in Turns Eight and 10. Sutil had no real explanation for the slowest time.

David Tremayne
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post #9 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-02-2008, 11:59 AM
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Wow

Now that is just an amazing ending for Hamilton.

Massa apparently didn't know he had lost the championship throughout his entire cooldown lap.

Should be interesting in the interviews.

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post #10 of 38 (permalink) Old 11-02-2008, 01:35 PM
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I never thought that could actually happen in Formula1. What an amazing finish, I almost lost all hope and was ready to break the TV! It's definatelly payback from last year when he lost the title with one point less.
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