2011 European Grand Prix Website Round Up

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Slightly longer summary than normal as there was lots to read. FYI, the order is simply the way they bookmarked on my computer.

Ferrari

Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro took its third podium finish of the season at the Valencia street circuit, as Fernando Alonso finished second. Having started from fourth on the grid, the Spaniard made up a place at the start and then managing to maintain an advantage over Mark Webber’s Red Bull, whose team-mate Sebastian Vettel won the race. In the other Ferrari, Felipe Massa came home fifth.

The Formula 1 circus is back in action over the weekend of 10 July at Silverstone for Round 9, the British Grand Prix.


The Valencia race threw up some interesting points: for example, for the first time this year it paid to stick longer with used tyres rather than bring forward the pit stops, when it was a case of switching from the Option to the Prime. That was clearly the case in the duel that was one of the highlights of the afternoon, between Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber, with the Spaniard gaining over a second and a half on the laps when he still had the Softs, while the Australian had just fitted a new set of Mediums. The job was completed by the Ferrari mechanics who produced a perfect pit stop in 2.9 seconds, with an overall time including driving off of 3.2.

On the subject of pit stop times, it is worth noting that there are various factors which have a significant influence on them. For example, the times shown over the television pictures come via a photocell buried in the road surface within the pit stop area: when the car stops, the photocell links up with FOM-supplied transponder fitted inside the car and the timing then begins. Clearly, depending on the position where the driver stops, the link between transponder and photocell can be less than perfect and that can give rise to a difference of up to half a second, either plus or minus, from the real time. It goes without saying that all teams time their own stops themselves to try and analyse every aspect of the operation in the minutest detail in order to improve and to find the tenths of a second that can make the difference.


Williams

Sam Michael:We had a new rear wing in Valencia which we raced with. We also took a new exhaust system but we decided not to run this before qualifying. Having reviewed the practice and race data, we now plan to run the revised exhaust system again at Silverstone.

Both our drivers performed well this weekend. We let Pastor down in qualifying with the fuel system problem, we then had a problem getting the car off the line at the start of the race. Pastor had a puncture during his first stint which forced him into an early pitstop and a change in strategy from a two to a three stop. When Pastor exited the pits, he was at the back of the field from where he had to fight for the remaining 56 laps.

We have a new front wing and revised diffuser for Silverstone. We will test two diffusers on Friday with the new off-throttle ban coming into play, as well as testing various new over-run maps. We are going to Kemble to undertake some additional aero testing in preparation for our home event.

Red Bull

Sebastian Vettel:From the outside, I’m not sure if it seemed that much was happening in the race, but I enjoy it so much when it’s between you and the car on every single lap. Of course, I had pressure from behind, especially as the strategy was a little bit different with Mark and Fernando – sometimes they were pitting earlier and sometimes later. I had a gap before the first pit-stop, but I came out very close to them, so again I had to push hard while judging the tyres and trying to imagine what the end of the stint might be like. You are trying to foresee the strategy, so every single lap it’s between you and the car. I enjoy this track a lot, last year I had a very smooth weekend here and again this year too. It’s fantastic, the team has done a phenomenal job preparing the car. Even though we come here every year and think it may be tricky for us, as there are no real fast corners, we managed to come here and have a faultless weekend. I’m obviously very happy with the result.

Mark Webber: I think we should have finished second today. It was a good race with Fernando, I think it was my best race of the year to be honest until the last pit stop. It was quite close with all three of us (Fernando, Mark and Seb), obviously we were trying to go as fast as possible and manage the tyres at the same time. I was very happy with how the race was going until the last stop and it was my fault basically. I was worried about Fernando getting the undercut and it was not really known how the medium tyre would behave on the out lap, but it was a risk I decided to take. I lost out to Fernando, he drove a good race. We had a gearbox problem at the end, so we backed right off, but we had a massive gap to McLaren, so we could cruise to the end and look after the gearbox.

Toro Rosso

Races that are exciting and deliver points are even better, which is why the European Grand Prix was a fantastic afternoon for us, ending in Jaime Alguersuari taking his second consecutive eighth place finish. And if his result in Montreal a fortnight ago owed something to the weather and to other cars retiring, today in Valencia he truly deserved it as not one single car retired from the 57 lap race. So a round of applause for our Spanish driver who went from eighteenth on the grid to eighth at the flag. But let’s not forget this is a team sport so well done to the backroom boys and girls who delivered us some useful upgrades, the mechanics who worked so hard and performed very well during a total of five pit stops between our two drivers and well done to the strategy crew who realised Jaime could do something special on just two stops – he was the only points scorer to change tyres less than three times. And well done too to Sébastien Buemi, who did not have the best of days after a promising early stint, for being sporting enough to immediately congratulate Jaime on his achievement. Today’s performance which sees us maintain our seventh place in the Constructors’ Championship, means we extend our lead over Force India and close up a bit on Sauber, even if the Swiss team still has a healthy 11 point advantage.

This had been a very tough weekend for our young Spaniard, with the media hassling him about his future and his car developing a problem which saw him lose the whole of the Friday afternoon session. The relief at the final outcome was written all over his face, his very wet face, when he decided to celebrate by throwing himself into the harbour that is the backdrop to the Valencia paddock.


McLaren


Lewis Hamilton: “I got a poor start and lost out to both Ferraris.
“After that, it was a long race – the team asked me to stay out for as long as I could, and I was pushing all the way, but I struggled with oversteer and to be honest didn’t feel totally comfortable with the tyres. To be able to finish fourth is still a good result though – and 12 points is a decent haul after the last two races – so I can’t really complain. However, in terms of performance, we weren’t as quick today as we’ve been in the last three races. But I want to say a big thank-you to the team for some amazing pitstops today – we’ve really made some positive improvements in that area and it’s really appreciated. So, thanks again, guys.”


Jenson Button: “I got a reasonable start, but the field bunched up into Turn Two and I was stuck on the outside, where I lost out to Nico [Rosberg]. I didn’t have enough straightline speed to be able to overtake him easily, but I braked really late and got him into Turn Two, which I don’t think he was expecting. That was the highlight of the race for me. I had decent race pace after that, and I pushed the Option tyres for as long as I could. Then halfway through the race I lost KERS Hybrid, which hurt me not only on corner exits but also under braking. So it wasn’t a fun race, all told – but, given the way the car felt, it’s a pleasant surprise to finish only eight seconds behind one of the Ferraris. Nevertheless, we’ve got a bit of work to do before Silverstone.”


HRT


Colin Kolles: “We struggled the whole weekend with the tyres, especially on the rear end of the car. We had to go for a three stop strategy since the wear of the tyres was too high; our main competitors were on two stops. The pace overall was good but due to the additional stop we could not gain positions. We have to work hard, especially in improving the aero and the rear end of the car, in order to reach our targets for the championship”.

Narain Karthikeyan: “As expected, the car was quite difficult to drive in the race because of the heat; the rear tyres were degrading a lot and we had the same braking problems as the whole weekend. At the beginning I was trying to keep with the pack, with Liuzzi and D’Ambrosio, but after seven laps I locked the front and after that I had a lonely race. I finished the race but there aren’t many positives I can take away from it”.

“Obviously our performance wasn’t the best but the local support has been great and we were hoping for more here”.

Vitantonio Liuzzi: “It was a really difficult race for us because we were struggling with the rear tyres. We knew since Friday that it would be difficult because we were overheating the rear and this was wearing the tyres out even more and that is why we were forced to do a three stop strategy and, unfortunately, were unable to cope with the Virgins. In the first two stints we were fighting with them but then, because we stopped one more time than them, we were struggling to fight with them”.

“We need to fight hard if we want to keep up with the pace of our competitors, we need to improve and work hard day and night. It’s a shame because we were in front of our crowd, they have been fantastic with us but we need to push for the rest of the season”.

“The weekend was really tough but beautiful because Valencia has been a fantastic city that has welcomed us really well. We had a beautiful week, it’s a shame because we wanted to achieve a better result but now we are fighting for the future”.


Lotus Renault


Nick Heidfeld: Well, today was a little disappointing given where we both qualified for the race. We managed to have some more fun out there today than we’ve previously had here, and there were a few overtaking manœuvres (a few more than in previous years) so from that point of view it was probably more open.
I lost a position to Adrian (Sutil) and then had to fight hard not to lose more. I finished more or less where I had been for the majority of the race (behind Sutil). I managed to overtake him once but then he used DRS to get past me and, unfortunately, I was not able to attack any harder to get by him. To be honest, I did not expect to finish behind a Force India and a Toro Rosso so we need to look at why we were so off the pace.
We pushed hard throughout the weekend, but it’s just not been possible to get the pace out of the car that we wanted. We will need to take a step forward for Silverstone.


Team Lotus


Mike Gascoyne: "A very solid race from both drivers. We had considered two stops on both cars but when we saw higher degradation levels on Heikki's car we put him onto three and kept Jarno on two to give both of them a chance to fight. Jarno nearly passed Heikki in the final stops but Heikki's fresh rubber gave him the chance to edge ahead and the key goal today was to make sure they both finished, so I am pleased we achieved that. This has not been our most competitive type of track but despite that we finished well and that sets us up nicely for Silverstone."


Tony Fernandes: "A pretty good day for us. I am happy both cars finished but as we are steadily increasing our competitiveness it would have been good to have finished a bit higher. It is obviously a big challenge for us to find the 0.5 second that will propel us towards the midfield teams, but we have the right elements in place to help us do that. We will find more downforce and we will continue to grow, both in experience and in pace, and that is why I see days like today as another step in the right direction."


Virgin


The team scored its fifth double finish of the season today, in a European Grand Prix that will go into the history books as only the third time in Formula One history that all the cars that have lined up on the grid have made it to the finish - the others being Monza 2005 and Zandvoort in 1961.

Timo got off to an awesome start, blasting past both of the Lotus pair, and even passing a Toro Rosso at one point. But as soon as DRS was enabled by Race Control, the close followers were able to use the speed advantage provided and get back in front.

Jérôme got off to a good start too, but was unable to pass Liuzzi until he stopped for new rubber about a third of the way into the race. From this point it was more or less plain sailing round the Valencia harbour, with the two cars running on their own and the planned two-stopper worked well.

Timo finished 21st with Jérôme 22nd, which isn't much reward for a good performance but that's racing!



John Booth: “Overall a pleasing result with both cars taking the flag and Jérôme improving from his qualifying position yesterday by overtaking Liuzzi on track. This means that the cars finished in the correct pace order compared to our direct rivals. Looking on the positive side, we seem to have moved closer towards our nearest competitor ahead of us on the grid, however with such strong reliability throughout the field it’s a little disappointing to end up 21st and 22nd. We got the strategy about right, although perhaps we should have stopped Jerome slightly earlier in the first stint as he was just falling into the second stage of tyre degradation but unfortunately we were already stopping Timo on that lap. Towards the end of the race with Timo we spotted an issue with fuel dropouts in turn 1, which meant he was having to back off. We now head back to the factory for a longer than usual period, ahead of our home race at Silverstone. We are all very excited about working in the new pits and we’re hoping to keep up our current momentum for the next few races.”


Sauber


James Key:“We are disappointed to finish outside the top ten for the first time this year. We took a gamble with both cars with the strategy to try and make something out of our compromised grid positions. Sergio did an excellent job to do a one stop race, which for here was always going to be pretty tough. He made his way to P11 in the end and wasn’t too far from the cars ahead in the points. He got quite badly held up by blue flags, and lost quite a bit of lap time there. That happened just before the last stops, and it dropped him back a bit, so we couldn’t make it there at the end. However, it was a good effort from him to hang on to the tyres. Kamui started on the soft tyres, then went on the medium in the middle stint, and tried to use the new soft tyres in the end as a two stopper. That didn’t quite work out. The medium tyres were too slow, but we didn’t want to run too long on the soft in the end. In hindsight maybe a three stop strategy would have been better. It was always going to be difficult to get a car in the points from where we started, because overtaking is still difficult here. We now have to go to Silverstone, a very different track from the last three, and make sure that we can improve.”


Force India

Adrian Sutil: “To finish ninth feels great and I’m pleased that we’ve managed to get the maximum from the car through the whole weekend. I made a good start: jumping ahead of Heidfeld and was then able to keep up with Schumacher in the first stint. I pushed hard but there was no opportunity to get by him. In the middle of the race I had some clear track, good race pace and we were up to P8. After the final stop, I came out behind Alguersuari, who was doing a two-stop race. I tried all I could to overtake him, but the DRS zone did not make overtaking very easy and I had to settle for P9. The car felt really nice to drive today and I’m really happy for the whole team with this result.”

Paul di Resta: “I’m not sure that we got the strategy quite right today. There were a couple of laps in the first stint where my tyres had gone off and we didn’t stop early enough. We made up for that during the second stop, when I jumped Heidfeld and Barrichello, but I lost out again at my final stop. It’s tough when the tyres go off because it costs you around two and a half seconds per lap, which is a lot when the fight in the middle of the pack is so close. Even without those issues it would have been tough to score points today because overtaking was more difficult that I thought it would be, even with the DRS zone. So it hasn’t been the best of weekends, but I’ll put that behind me and look forward to my home race at Silverstone.”

Dr. Vijay Mallya: “The two points scored by Adrian are a welcome reward after a very strong weekend for us. The car has worked well from the start of practice and Adrian has not put a foot wrong. The only frustration is that we were unable to contain the Toro Rosso of Alguersuari, who managed to jump ahead of Adrian with a two-stop strategy. Paul once again delivered a fighting drive, but was unlucky with the way the strategy unfolded. It was a reminder that even stopping one lap too late can be very costly in terms of track position. So we leave Valencia pleased to be back in the points and determined to carry our good form into Silverstone, a local circuit for our factory and a race that everybody enjoys.”

Mercedes


Nico finished the European Grand Prix in seventh place today in Valencia. Nico ran a three-stop strategy of used option/new option/used option/prime, stopping on lap 12, 30 and 45. “I’m happy with my seventh place today as that is the maximum that we could have achieved and we got everything out of the car. It was great to overtake Jenson at the start, and we made the right strategy choice to go for three stops.


The introduction of DRS was a positive for the race here in Valencia, and we saw some nice overtaking moves. Now we need to keep pushing for our two home races to close the gap to the fastest teams. I’m sure the whole team will work very hard before Silverstone, and I look forward to racing in front of so many people from the team and their families.”


Michael had a more eventful race, after his afternoon was spoiled when, as he left the pits after his first stop, he slid into Petrov in turn one on lap 15. Michael finished the race in 17th position: “Not a very satisfying race for me today. The outcome was decided after lap 15 when I slid into Petrov and lost the points I could perhaps have achieved.


Our race pace should have allowed me to finish more or less where I started, but that is only speculation after the incident. I saw Petrov quite late, even though I was aware that he was coming, and tried to brake as late as possible and go round the corner with him. But when I wanted to draw back, I locked the front wheel and slipped into him, which was clearly my mistake. From then onwards, the race was done and I just had to drive the car over the finish line. We will now look ahead to Silverstone which is one of our home races.”
 
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