On Monday, April 20, 2009, the FIA reveals the complete discussions that took place at the relative hearing for the double diffuser, which took place in Paris on Tuesday, April 14, 2009. The session opened after an appeal was made following the Australian Grand Prix, where Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams were put on the dock. Their speakers have been definitively declared legal, even if the same designs presented by McLaren and Renault were rejected. In a statement issued by the FIA, it was explained how the decision was reached not to accept the complaints filed by Ferrari, Renault, Red Bull and BMW after the Australian commissioners had already rejected the protests. First of all, the speakers used by the investigated teams were designed on the same concept, while differing in design. Scuderia Ferrari contested the validity of the decisions for an alleged violation of paragraph 6.10 of the names governing Formula 1, as the stewards must disclose the reasons for certain decisions.
Brawn GP and Toyota pointed out that the reasons for the decisions, contested by the appellants, are evident in the context. Given the confidential nature of the material, on which the contested decisions were based, the commissioners were corrected in giving a general explanation. On a general principle, the court finds it normal for certain decisions to be declared to understand why they are, to allow anyone to be able to defend their rights. The court finds, in this specific case, that the addressees of the contested decisions were in a position to know why certain determinations were accepted or rejected by the commissioners. The discussions were presented in detail, including those on specific interpretations of the regulations, which were finally rejected with free will by the commissioners. Renault's team principal had not been tender towards Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, after the FIA judgement that legalised double diffusers. Briatore had given Button the name of curbstone and retiree to Barrichello. Consequently, there is no lack of response from Button, winner of the first two Grands Prix of the season.
"As long as he remains at the head of a Formula 1, our sport loses credibility. Maybe he forgot that he wanted to sign me for this year".
Rumours had come out in which it was thought Renault to replace Piquet with Button.
"Briatore is very angry about how the story of the diffusers ended. He is irritated because he didn't build a machine as strong as ours. We worked hard at Brackley at a time of great difficulty, so he shouldn't afford to say certain things. But he's very, very annoyed by the situation".
Meanwhile, McLaren's team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, decides to stand with the Brawn GP regarding the issue of television rights, questioned by Flavio Briatore. The head of Renault had said that Brawn, has changed its name, and could not continue Honda's journey and get the same money as television rights, about 30.000.000 euros. However, Whitmarsh explains:
"We support the Brawn GP, also because during the winter we all tried to help the team not fail for the sake of Formula 1. Now it would be hypocritical to change their mind just because they did a good job and they are very competitive. After all, the distribution of television rights was decided by the Concordian Pact".
Whitmarsh advised staying calm and united within the Fota:
"There is a lot of crisis in the world. The motorsport world is not going through a good time, so we must try to stay united and set a good example. If we decided to support the Brawn GP, we can't change our minds, but continue to support what was decided at the beginning and in line with the Concordia Pact".
McLaren's team principal, after the fifth and sixth place obtained in China by Kovalainen and Hamilton, warns his opponents that the British cars are returning and soon they will be back at the top.
"Some people think the season is almost over. We don't have this philosophy because we will do everything to get back to the top. If we said that the season is closed, it would not be what Mercedes and our partners expect to be told about our overt leadership for years. It's not even what I expect from myself. The MP4-24 ran with a new front wing in China and the speaker was modified on Hamilton's car. From this moment on we have begun to see improvements".
Lewis Hamilton doesn't resign either. The reigning World Champion, after his best finish of the season in China, looks more optimistically at the next Bahrain Grand Prix.
"Sunday's race was heavy. Nothing could be seen, especially at the start. It was a shame for me to make a pair of tails. I like to run in the wet but on Sunday I could do better in the rain. I received congratulations on the placement, but honestly, I didn't do my best. I have to thank my team There were a hundred people who worked for Heikki and me in the rain. At home, in Woking and Brixworth, there are at least a thousand other people who are working to improve the car, doing their best to get back to the top and I will do my best to reward their efforts".
Regarding Ron Dennis' farewell to McLaren, Lewis Hamilton comments:
"He has done great things for the team in recent years and each of us must give him the right credit. From me and my family, I will do everything possible to make the car better. I hope the team continues to be proud of me. I can't forget that I wouldn't be here if I hadn't met Dennis when I was only twelve".
Bernie Ecclestone and Ron Dennis never shed good blood, and the Formula 1 patron reiterates in the days leading up to the Bahrain Grand Prix that the former McLaren team manager cannot feel called out of order from what happened in Australia. On 29 April 2009, the World Council will meet to decide what measures to take against McLaren, guilty of lying to the race commissioners at the end of the Australian Grand Prix. Ryan, a veteran of the Woking team, has already lost his place for his work and it seems that in trouble may also be former team manager Ron Dennis, whose decision to completely abandon the McLaren team (a few months after deciding to leave the helm to Martin Whitmarsh) intrigued Bernie Ecclestone.
"If Ron believes he can get by simply by calling himself out of McLaren F1 then he has done the wrong counts. The Council will clarify what happened and if Dennis proves to be complicit in any way, he will be adequately sanctioned".
The association of Formula 1 teams, founded just last year in Maranello under the guidance of Luca Montezemolo, had made headlines in the weeks immediately preceding the start of the World Championship, avoiding the new system of awarding the title and the introduction of the standard engine, placing among other things on the plate some ideas on short and long-term objectives to be pursued to make Formula 1 However, we know how things went, starting from the Australian Grand Prix: the controversy regarding the speakers of Toyota, Williams and Brawn, against which Ferrari, Red Bull, Renault and BMW had lashed out, which last weekend another problem emerged, that relating to the television revenues that must be distributed according to the championship trend of the teams present the previous year, has not yet subsided. Williams' Adam Parr, also involved in a controversy immediately returned with Stefano Domenicali, admits that there were moments of tension:
"Luca Montezemolo, the president of FOTA, with the help of Ron Dennis and John Howett is managing to keep this precious organisation together".
While Christian Horner, Red Bull Racing team principal declares :
"It’s clear that there are some very delicate aspects to discuss, but I believe that dirty clothes should be washed in the family. The climate of tension between the different stables is a test case to be able to look beyond personal interests for the common good".
BMW has so far won only four points, so even for the Hill-based team the 2009 season has not started in the best way, but Robert Kubica looks optimistically at the Bahrain Grand Prix. In the desert sand, the Polish driver took his first pole position last year and then got on the podium.
"I like the track even if it's not among the most competitive. I can't wait to race on his two long straights and the three fast corners that need heavy braking. Sakhir is important to balance the car, while the sand that is carried on the asphalt can change the grip".
BMW, like Ferrari and Toyota, tried in winter at the Sakhir circuit, although a sandstorm practically took away a whole day. However, BMW lapped for several kilometres, as admitted by team manager Mario Theissen:
"We did some good tests in Sakhir. This race also closes this intense period of racing, all enclosed in five weeks. For us, this Grand Prix, like the one in Shanghai, is also very important for our first-class market".
Renault also wants to shake off the unhappy start of the season, which sees it sixth in the standings with four points, those won by Alonso in Australia. The two-time World Champion declares on the eve of the Bahrain Grand Prix:
"Unfortunately in China, we were unable to make the most of our potential after conquering the front row. But we have shown the progress that should be highlighted in Bahrain, thanks to the new technological innovations that we will have, such as the double diffuser, which we have hurriedly mounted in China. With this, I have to thank the team for the hard work done. This track is very competitive and I have good memories. The laps change from time to time so you have to be very careful. But there's an opportunity to overtake, especially at Turns 1 and 4".
Nelson Piquet Jr. adds:
"In China, I hoped there would be a dry race, unfortunately, it didn't go like this and the lack of visibility and aquaplaning made me do a series of off-track exits. To be honest I don't like Sakir as a track, although there are some parts I like as Turns 5 and 6. This is one of the hottest races that require a lot of effort to the physique".
Renault had already brought a prototype double speaker to China for Fernando Alonso. Bob Bell, technical manager of the transalpine team, confirms that also for the second Nelson Piquet Jr. guide this device will be available for the Bahrain Grand Prix scheduled for Sunday, April 26, 2009.
"We had so limited time to realise that it has already been a success to bring one to Shanghai! We did a crazy job in the factory and I think I can say that Nelsinho should use it in Bahrain too. The first results were very encouraging, but it is clear that we are still at the beginning and this area of the car can provide enormous potential. Our Formula 1 will undergo further changes to which the cars are normally subjected during the season".
Adrian Sutil knows that Bahrain will not be a favourable track for his Force India. The German driver was the author of a great performance in China, where he could finish sixth if he had not left the track a few laps from the end.
"We will have some evolution in Bahrain, which should help us do better in qualifying but for the race, I'm not very optimistic. We'll have to try to fight to move from the last rows. However, I'm confident for the future, because we're developing innovations that should allow us to be more competitive".
On the eve of the Bahrain Grand Prix, Norbert Haug makes a small accusation against the teams regarding the use of the KERS system. In Melbourne and Sepang, the futuristic component was mounted on both Ferraris and Renaults, as well as on the BMW of Heidfeld. McLaren was the only team to use it on both cars for all three Grand Prix so far.
"I admit that at the beginning even we at Mercedes were not too enthusiastic about this new specification, especially because the costs of fine-tuning the system are exorbitant, but we worked head-on and I believe that our KERS is the reference point to date. I don't understand the decisions of other teams that have mounted it except to retrace their steps: this is not how development proceeds".
The boss of Mercedes Motorsport also admits that the team is evaluating its relationship with McLaren in Formula 1. The German supplier currently owns forty per cent of McLaren's shares, but he is not at all happy with the team's image problem.
"We are part of this team and we will continue until 2010 without problems. But the image damaged by Melbourne's lie has created discontent within Mercedes "We need to manage things in the right way, but in the important positions of the team there are no people who are part of Mercedes".
Mercedes, in addition to supplying the engines to McLaren and having a direct partnership, also supplies the engines to the Brawn GP and Force India. Haug also reported that Mercedes could change its position in Formula 1 by deciding to provide more teams rather than just one, McLaren.
"Once a year we evaluate our situation in Formula 1 thinking about our future in the sport. It's clear that we leave other options open by also deciding to change our position, deciding to stay there only as engine suppliers, without any partnership within a team".
Finally, Norbert Haug suggests to the media that Mercedes is interested in acquiring the performance of the German driver Sebastian Vettel. After his second victory, this time in China, Vettel was praised by the vice president of Mercedes Motorsport, who recognises the talent of the 21-year-old Red Bull standard-old standard-old.
"Red Bull has invested heavily in the young talent and is now reaping the rewards. We are interested in him. We provide three teams, but we are working with McLaren as a direct partner, so we would like to take Vettel on a Silver Arrow".
Brawn GP had a lightning-fast start at the start of the championship, scoring 36 points out of the 45 available. The team won two Grands Prix in a row stopping in China. For the team principal of the British team, Ross Brawn, the balance is more than positive:
"Our start was fantastic, the first three races were intense and we faced the situation in the best possible way. Jenson and Rubens also did a great job in China, finishing third and fourth respectively".
Jenson Button also looks with confidence at the next commitment:
"I've always liked the Bahrain track. I'm comfortable both on the circuit and in the country. It's a track that increases my qualities because I can take the car to the limit. Here you can also overtake it at Turn 1, which is at the end of a long straight where you brake thoroughly. Braking is just the most important part that allows you to do the last lap".
Rubens Barrichello has every intention of going fast to reach Jenson Button at the top of the Formula 1 World Championship standings, ahead of him in the six-point world championship.
"Sakhir is not a particularly fast circuit, but it's interesting to drive. The difference can be made by the wind that often arises in the afternoon, also bringing sand to the circuit that changes the state of the grip. This will be the key to qualifying when everyone will try to get on track in the final to find it cleaner. Fortunately, it shouldn't rain here like in the last two races in Malaysia and China".
In Red Bull, after the amazing victory of the Chinese Grand Prix, there seems to be no problem between Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber. The two get along, as team councillor Helmut Marko points out:
"There is a healthy competition between the two. At first, Mark refused to accept the same asset as Vettel, then he had to change his mind because it was faster".
The idea of perfecting the current slick tyres is under scrutiny by Bridgestone and the FIA, after the first data was collected in 2009. Hirohide Hamashima, head of Bridgestone's development, admits :
"It's clear that the current single-seaters, without aerodynamic appendages, are very different to balance compared to those of last year. With the FIA we are thinking of reintroducing narrower front tyres for 2010, as we are asked by the teams. It shouldn't be a difficult idea to implement, since already in 1997 we realised something similar. It would be much more complicated to expand the rear tyres, also for logistical reasons. In the winter we tested prototypes for the new season, in any case still too wide for cars equipped with KERS, and we got better manoeuvrability than Formula 1, so I think this is the way to go".
Scuderia Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali doesn't expect miracles at the next Bahrain Grand Prix. According to the head of the Maranello team, there will not be many differences in performance at Sakhir, despite Ferrari having done tests on the circuit in winter. Maranello's team is last in the standings, still at zero points.
"We are having serious difficulties at the beginning of the season. I don't think we can avoid the troubles suffered in China here in Bahrain too. We will probably take a step forward starting from Spain, currently, it is difficult to hunt for the teams that are in command. We must develop our car in the best possible way and we are all working to get out of this uncomfortable situation as soon as possible. Indeed, we're still at zero points in the standings but we certainly haven't already laid down our weapons for the title chase. We still have 252 points per team. The most important part now is to develop the car well and return competitive in the next races. It's not Ferrari's philosophy to give up, after all, we are the same group that has won four titles in the last two years. We faced a difficult start to the season. We knew we would suffer in China, and in all chances, we will suffer again this weekend. After this race, we hope to take a step forward already from the Spanish Grand Prix, although we certainly can't believe that those in front of us stop to expect us... Anyway, the most important thing is that the whole team is working very hard to get out of this situation as soon as possible. We haven't finalised yet and the gap with the top in the standings is great, but we haven't given up fighting for this year's championship titles. We will do the development in parallel with the races. This has always been the case every year and this will proceed whatever the results of the next competitions. Even if the situation were worse than this, we would not let go because this behaviour is not part of Ferrari's philosophy and, with the same group of people today, we have already fought in situations like this, in situations that seem impossible to manage from the outside. The same group of people who have won three out of four titles in the last two years".
Ferrari in Shanghai ran without Kers, discarded for doubts regarding the safety of the apparatus. Now the engineers are working to try to solve the problem: Friday it will be decided whether or not to use it in the race, but the goal is to reintroduce it. The F60 is suitable for using the energy recovery system, especially concerning the balance of the single-seater and especially for Felipe Massa, for whom there are fewer weight problems: when fully operational, it gives a clear advantage in performance. Red Bull's newfound competitiveness and the temporary downsizing of the Brawn GP invite you to never take anything for granted. Stefano Domenicali concludes:
"The lesson we need to learn is that it’s too early to conclude how the season will evolve. This is further confirmation that Ferrari must not fall into its intention to win the titles".
Kimi Raikkonen doesn't hide Ferrari's difficulties either, and he talks about it openly so as not to delude anyone. The Finnish driver, on the Ferrari website, takes stock of the situation starting from the last Grand Prix raced in China, projecting towards that of Bahrain.
"Unfortunately, it was still a difficult weekend for us. We also remained dry in China, where we still had reliability problems. Friday was very difficult. The balance of the car was not bad but simply lacked downforce compared to the others. Aerodynamic upgrades were also fitted to my car on Saturday, so much so that qualifying was a little better than we expected. Unfortunately, we decided not to mount the KERS for safety reasons and we lost a few tenths of the performance. In the race, I stayed behind slower cars a few times, and on those occasions, a little more power would have helped. In the rain things never seem to go right but I still like driving in the wet: it's clear that when there is a lack of grip and load things are difficult. We are without points and this does not make our life easy but we have already experienced very complicated situations. The team must remain focused and give its best: there will be a lot of news in Barcelona, and after that race, we should understand where we will be compared to the others. In Bahrain, we travelled a long time this winter, but the temperatures should be much higher than the tests. Ferrari has always won at the Sakhir circuit in the last two years but, honestly, I don't think it will be possible this time. If we can have a whole weekend without problems then we could try to bring home points and maybe a podium".
Michael Schumacher has not yet decided whether to stay at Ferrari after the deadline of the contract scheduled for the end of the year. The former World Champion, now a consultant to the Maranello team, declares - answering a question about a possible extension of his contract - that for the moment there are no signs either on one side or the other because there has not yet been a concrete discussion on this issue and there will not even be in the immediate future. Schumacher, therefore, postpones the speeches to after the summer, when you will see what makes sense to do, and what doesn't. In any case, the issue must be looked at from both sides. Meanwhile, Schumacher comments on Jean Todt's farewell to the Maranello team:
"I could have taken Jean Todt’s place, but it’s clear that it wasn’t for me and it would have been the wrong time. Above all, I think Stefano Domenicali, current head of the sports management of the Maranello team, can do this job better than me".
And with regard above all to his disputed presence at the wall in the first two Grands Prix, Schumacher admits:
"We made bad decisions and I also made wrong assessments. It's one thing to stay in the car and observe things from there, it's another to do it from the pits".
Among the controversies that have been widely talked about against Scuderia Ferrari is also the speech on the use of KERS. In Bahrain, Ferrari will return to using the KERS only on Felipe Massa's car, not excluding the option that can also be introduced on that of Kimi Raikkonen:
"We won’t use it, we’ll see how it goes on the other car in free practice and then we’ll make a final decision on the way forward. However, we will need to compare the data".
Kimi Raikkonen declares. Scuderia Ferrari also announces that in Bahrain the Finnish driver's car will be equipped with a new lighter chassis, which has recently passed the crash tests.
"We’re probably faster with KERS somewhere, but in the last race, we didn’t go so bad after qualifying. Probably with the KERS here we could go faster, but for us drivers, there is not too much difference between having it on the car or not".
Wanted by the FIA, the device, in the first Grand Prix, came under fire for the peculiarity of greater tyre wear, in particular, in Australia, the Ultra-Soft had lasted less than ten laps, frustrating the performance surplus. Also for this reason, in addition to the aforementioned safety problems, Ferrari had decided to do without them. Not to mention that the contested cars equipped with the suspicious speaker, then approved by the International Federation, discarded it a priori. Demonstrating the uncertainty that reigns in Ferrari, a team that wants to find the right path at all costs, the one that has led it in the last thirteen years to always fight for the World Championship, but that is in the uncomfortable position of having to proceed with attempts, so as not to make mistakes in evaluations anymore and optimise all the weapons available. During Friday's practice, Felipe Massa's car will be heavier, as he will mount the KERS, while Kimi Raikkonen will try to understand what effect it has to race without it. Ferrari mechanics are ready to bet on its reliability, but they still don't fully trust it and then they divide the problem in two: maybe Raikkonen can be fast on the straight even without the KERS, which weighs down the thirty-five-kilo car. The split was already expected during the Chinese Grand Prix, but then it was preferred not to take risks, after a short circuit during the Malaysian Grand Prix had taken Raikkonen away from the power of KERS and its presence in the race. Bahrain, on the other hand, the dilemma is attacked, because, as Massa claims,
"The KERS respond 0.4 seconds lead per lap in the race and 0.5 seconds lead in qualifying".
In a moment of extreme difficulty, to give it up. Although Kimi Raikkonen, the protagonist of Plan B, takes courage by telling that in China the car in qualifying had a good pace, then in the race they lost momentum and any illusions have gone. Now dreams must no longer dissolve; Brawn GP and Red Bull Racing don't wait. We must begin to reduce the gap, even if this car arrived in the middle of the desert is very similar to the one with which the Grand Prix in China was faced. Kubica's BMW will also race with KERS for the first time. In any case, you will have the verdict by the evening of Friday, April 24, 2009: either the KERS also moves to Raikkonen's car or it will be definitively abandoned. Waiting may be to return to Barcelona, with the help of the double diffuser. The fight between Max Mosley, FIA president, and the Formula 1 teams does not subside. Thursday, April 23, 2009, Max Mosley waited for a response from the teams on the roof to the budget, after proposing a maximum limit of 33.000.000 euros, but the teams want a higher figure. For FOTA, the association of teams, it is likely that its president, Luca Montezemolo, will arrive in Bahrain; however, the president of Ferrari says that he will only take a position on May 6, 2009, after a meeting already set with the team principals and bosses of the Formula 1 team. The possible costs contained meanwhile bring out sensational rumours such as the participation of the US GP team, Lola, and even Aston Martin.
Friday, April 24, 2009, Nico Rosberg confirms himself very fast at the end of the first two free practice sessions of the Bahrain Grand Prix and scores the best time of the day. In the morning, however, we see an excellent performance by Lewis Hamilton, who marks the best time. Scuderia Ferrari remains in difficulty, with its drivers not going beyond the eighth and ninth time during the first session, before falling into sixteenth (Felipe Massa) and eighteenth position (Kimi Raikkonen) at the end of the second session. The German Williams driver, in the afternoon, set a time of 1'33"339, ahead of Fernando Alonso with a time of 1'33"530 on Renault, and Jarno Trulli, on Toyota, in the third position with a time of 1'33"616. Sebastian Vettel's fourth half was positive with Red Bull, in 1'33"661, winner of the Chinese Grand Prix last Sunday, just ahead of teammate Mark Webber, who scores the best time in 1'33"676. Jenson Button with Brawn GP, Adrian Sutil with his Force India, Timo Glock with Toyota, Rubens Barrichello with the other Brawn GP and finally Kazuki Nakajima with Williams complete the top ten. Eleventh time for Lewis Hamilton with McLaren-Mercedes and the twelfth for Giancarlo Fisichella with Force India. As I said, back the two Ferraris. Felipe Massa scores a time in 1'34"564, while his teammate, Kimi Raikkonen, does not go beyond 1'34"670.
The current World Champion Lewis Hamilton had managed to set the fastest time in 1'33"647 with his McLaren-Mercedes, ahead of Nick Heidfeld’s BMW-Sauber, second with a time of 1’33”907 and a gap of 0.260 seconds, and Robert Kubica, third with a time of 1'33"938 and a gap of 0.291 seconds. Nico Rosberg's Williams-Toyota is fourth, followed by Jenson Button's Brawn GP, fifth. The Finnish driver Heikki Kovalainen finished sixth with the other McLaren-Mercedes, followed by Rubens Barichello’s other Brawn GP and Felipe Massa’s Ferrari. The other Ferrari is tenth, Kimi Raikkonen’s one: the Brazilian had gone 0.942 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton, while the Finn had failed to go beyond a gap of 1.181 seconds. Jarno Trulli and Giancarlo Fisichella are also bad, respectively fifteenth and sixteenth; even further behind Fernando Alonso, eighteenth, who was able to recover in the second session. If it is true that the Friday session is usually not extremely indicative, because everyone performs the tests they deem appropriate, often hiding their performance with higher amounts of fuel, seeing Lewis Hamilton in the lead conveys a positive feeling to the whole audience. McLaren-Mercedes has been lagging behind Brawn GP and Red Bull Racing since the beginning of the season, as well as Ferrari, but immediately gave the session to have taken the right path to return to the top. In the afternoon, other drivers also set excellent times, such as Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.
Scuderia Ferrari is among the few teams that have never touched the top positions, oddly in the company of the Brawn GP. But if at the time of Todt and Schumacher a Ferrari sixteenth to Friday - when it happened - had done practice, in this case, it could be the Brawn GP to play hide and seek, if anything. Whose Ross Brawn dealt, with great results, with technique and strategies. The image that comes out of the first day in Bahrain is disheartening, although in the evening Ferrari announces with joy that today in qualifying both cars will mount the KERS, a device that can grant advantage of 0.5 seconds in qualifying and could guarantee access to Q2. Certainly not pole position, which will probably be disputed between Rosberg, Alonso, Trulli, Vettel, Webber, and Button. Far from the two Maranello cars, which are in difficulty and at the bottom of the ranking with very heavy detachments, more than a second: Massa sixteenth, and Raikkonen eighteenth, conclude the tests even behind the Force India, which with the infamous diffuser has recovered 0.6 seconds at once, leading Giancarlo Fisichella to admit that driving is completely different.
At the moment, the feeling is that the other teams can find solutions, while Ferrari remains firm in the hope that the speaker will be mounted at the Spanish Grand Prix, which will be held on Sunday, May 10, 2009, in Barcelona, can perform the miracle. A crisis, in the Maranello team, World Champion in 2008, is reaching record levels and transmits disturbing signals not only about qualifying and the race that will be held on Sunday but also in the future. Deluding oneself can hurt and no one tries, not even inside Scuderia Ferrari. We cling to the diffuser, to the important steps forward in the field of aerodynamic research, but we fear that the way out may arrive perhaps in two months and that in the meantime you will be forced to endure an extremely difficult situation. Scuderia Ferrari's team principal, Stefano Domenicali, continues to enjoy the unconditional trust of President Luca Montezemolo (who will be present in Sakhir on Saturday, to stay close to the team) and does not hide the difficulties. In the dilemma regarding the use of KERS, the choice to exploit its potential is important:
"Because the single-seater was designed to have it, not using it means taking refuge in a compromise, while as for the diffuser you have to redo the entire back. But we must work calmly so as not to make further mistakes, until we honestly recognise that this year we have everything wrong, about reliability, speed, and construction of the single-seater. There is awareness of the mistakes and the desire to remedy it".
Stefano Domenicali also wants to point out that Ferrari is not losing its mind, as Niki Lauda insinuates because it is entrusted to the Italians and not to the work culture of the German driver Michael Schumacher:
"It can be cumbersome, but his advice is often useful. We are the same ones who in the last two seasons have won three out of four world championships available".
Ferrari suffers, but Stefano Domenicali swears that the situation will be resolved. Not here, where even the pilots are depressed, and where Kimi Raikkonen admits:
"We’re too slow".
Felipe Massa concludes by saying:
"Not even the gasoline we had onboard consoles us, the times are disappointing".
Meanwhile, on Friday, April 24, 2009, the McLaren-Mercedes team officially apologises to the FIA following the events that occurred during the Australian Grand Prix, where the managers of the Anglo-German team lied to the race commissioners. Martin Whitmarsh contacts the FIA to apologise before the sentence set for Wednesday, April 29, 2009, before the FIA Council, which will decree any sanction to be imposed on the Woking team. Following that lie, David Ryan, McLaren's sporting director, has already paid the price, she was fired after requiring Hamilton to say that he had not received team orders.
"We're collaborating with the FIA, I wrote to Max, but I can't say anything until after the sentence".
Obviously, until after April 29, 2009, you will not be able to comment. McLaren-Mercedes risks a fine to disqualification. This is the second serious case that troubles McLaren-Mercedes after the recent spy story with Ferrari, which took place during the 2007 season. Now the McLaren-Mercedes team is trying to collaborate with the FIA.
"Well, those who have observed the relationship that has been in recent years between McLaren and the FIA can now conclude that a healthier confrontation between the parties is needed".
McLaren-Mercedes team principal tries to restore a new relationship with the FIA, given the past problems experienced with Ron Dennis when the latter was head of the Woking team. Meanwhile, there are clarifications that Mercedes does not intend to abandon the Formula 1 program, although it cannot guarantee a future long-term commitment. This is in summary the speech made by Norbert Haug. The German car manufacturer now no longer counts on the partnership with McLaren but also supplies the engines to the Brawn GP and Force India. Right now you are enjoying the excellent performance with the Brawn GP, which has 36 points in the standings against McLaren's 8.
"I never said Mercedes could leave Formula 1. In the coming months, we will evaluate the economic situation of society and then see if things are recovering or not. Of course, having more customers in Formula 1 is good".
The problems are always linked to the difficult economic situation that has mainly affected the automotive industry sector, in Germany and the world.
"It's clear we can't say what we're going to do for the next five or more years. However, if F1 confirms that it wants to cut costs and put a ceiling on spending, then things will certainly get better".
Haug added. In this regard, FOTA is trying to find the right solutions with the FIA to try to solve these problems of an economic nature. But at least, the McLaren-Mercedes team also manages to find reasons for happiness and serenity, since finally, as mentioned, Lewis Hamilton had been ahead of everyone in the first free practice during the morning, while in the second he backed back to eleventh place. McLaren has begun to progress in China and Bahrain should continue its development.
"Finally, here we found a good balance of the car. The asphalt had a lot of grip at the beginning and with the use of the medium tyres we went very well".
Hamilton, however, appeared more satisfied than usual. In the afternoon Hamilton tried both the Super-Soft Soft and the Medium Bridgestones, where, however, he could not stay ahead of everyone again. However, English is happy:
"Our two sessions were very productive. We are following our steps even if we have not made significant improvements and we have not brought anything new. Our goal remains to score points".
Saturday, April 25, 2009, Timo Glock is the fastest of the third and final free practice session of the Bahrain Grand Prix, with the Ferraris in a timid recovery. Neither the Brawn GPs nor the last race winner, the German driver Sebastian Vettel, are probably hidden among the first. This would certainly reduce the test of the two cars in Maranello, even if all the time is one second - a second and a half better than those of Friday's two sessions, demonstrating that the teams, or at least some of them, have increased the pace. With a time of 1'32"605, the Toyota driver, who is forced to abandon the tests four minutes before the end due to problems with the single-seater, left along the track, precedes Felipe Massa, author of a time of 1'32"728, and the Williams driver Nico Rosberg, who scores a time of 1'32"906. Fourth chronometric response in 1'32"975 for Lewis Hamilton with McLaren and fifth (1'32"986) for Kimi Raikkonen with Ferrari. Nelson Piquet with Renault, Robert Kubica with BMW, Kazuki Nakajima with Williams, Jarno Trulli with Toyota and Nick Heidfeld with BMW complete the ranking of the top ten. Nineteenth time for Giancarlo Fisichella.
Prevented the danger of precipitation, the Saturday afternoon session immediately sees the two Force Indias by Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil, and the Toro Rosso by Sébastien Buemi and Sébastien Bourdais, immediately leave the scene. Australian Red Bull driver Mark Webber is also excluded by surprise, who at the end of the practice session will complain to Sutil Reo in his opinion that he slowed down in the last two laps. Even in Bahrain the scissors that divide the first from the last narrows further, so much so that between the best (Vettel) and the slowest (Bourdais) there is a gap of less than a second and a half. In Q2 the battle is as always tight and the difficulties of the BMW emerge, with both pilots (Robert cubica and Nick Heidfeld) blatantly excluded. Nelson Piquet Jr., the worst of the Q2 session, as well as Kazuki Nakajima and Heikki Kovalainen, not far from the top ten, are also eliminated. The irritation of the Finnish McLaren-Mercedes driver is visibly understandable, while Jarno Trulli marks the best time of the day. In Q3 it becomes clear that Toyotas are preparing to live a day of glory.
Timo Glock and Jarno Trulli, the first to get out on track, immediately set front-row times that, although beaten by other drivers, would have returned to them in the last seconds of practice. For Jarno Trulli, this is the fourth pole position in his career, more than three years after the previous one, obtained in the inglorious United States Grand Prix, held in Indianapolis, in 2005. With Timo Glock by his side, Toyota gets the best test performance in its history, improving the Malaysian result obtained just a few weeks earlier. In the second row will start the fearsome German Red Bull Racing driver, Sebastian Vettel, with a time of a few thousandths of a second slower than that scored by Jenson Button, with a Brawn GP that still seems to have to discover its real competitiveness. Behind them will kick the resurrected Lewis Hamilton and Rubens Barrichello. Seventh Fernando Alonso, ahead of Felipe Massa's Ferrari. The last two positions are for Nico Rosberg and Kimi Raikkonen. The abysmal gaps that have occurred in the last ten minutes suggest that from Fernando Alonso down there are single-seaters pregnant with fuel: it will be enough to wait a few minutes to get the official confirmation from the FIA, which as is well known makes public the data concerning the weight of the cars.
In the closed fist shown by Jarno Trulli during the return to the pits, there is pride and the feeling of having accomplished a feat.
"Important for me, for my team, but also my people, for Abruzzo, for those who are suffering so much and maybe, with my pole, they were able to enjoy for a moment. I don't fool myself, I know I didn't let anyone forget the problems, but I would be happy if at least I had snatched a smile from those who no longer have a house".
Jarno Trulli was the fastest in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix. An incredible pole, with heavy detachments from those who had more or less their own gasoline. Jenson Button, fourth, is at 0.6 seconds. The teammate, Timo Glock, is closer, second, for a Toyota that begins to reap some fruit of hard work since in its history it had never monopolised the front row. German Red Bull Racing driver Sebastian Vettel takes third place, having been 0.029 seconds faster than Jenson Button, and is running for a second victory after the triumph in China, in Shanghai. Jarno Trulli returns to his hotel in a good mood :
"Because my problem was qualifying, I had brake problems, I did not trust the light car at the gas pump, while I know that with a lot of fuel I have a great pace and I can play the victory".
The Italian driver closes the day with great joy in his heart: in the afternoon, after being very quick in the car, he had also hit the mark with words, his special rivalry with Ferrari.
"I’m Italian and I know that Formula 1 is red with us, everyone lives in Ferrari myth and who knows how many will cheer me if on the last lap I was in the lead and I had Massa behind me".
Trulli's thought is also constant towards the areas affected by the earthquake, in Italy:
"My charity initiative is having a huge success. I mobilised all the drivers, we raised more than 20 thousand euros, auctioning suits and helmets, and at the end of the season, I will personally bring the money to Abruzzo because I want to throw myself into a really useful project. The dream? I have little children, I'd like to build a school or a kindergarten".
The Italian Toyota driver enjoys the moment, anticipating a victory, a historic seal because the Japanese team has never won a race, and does not think about the contract expiring at the end of the season.
"Because if one goes strong, he necessarily renews. Rather, I'm happy to have grown the team, I think my advice has been decisive. Now we too can fight for the World Championship, even if we know that McLaren is almost back, that Ferrari will soon arrive, that there are not only Brawn and Red Bull, that this is the most exciting World Championship in recent years and will be full of twists and turns until the end. Other than controversy, the show is back. Every race in front there is a different car".
Spectacle, uncertainty, and perhaps even a bit of Ferrari, since the announced catastrophe did not occur; on the contrary, there has been a slight recovery. Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen passed the first two rounds big, to close the decisive qualifying phase in eighth and tenth place. Their cars are full of gasoline, much more thoughtful than that of Jarno Trulli, but also of the downsized Brawn GP, which will see Rubens Barrichello take sixth place; the strategy could favour the comeback of the British team and, in case of intervention of the Safety Car at the right time, even bring them closer to the podium. Ferrari president Luca Montezemolo also appears on the Sakhir circuit.
Ferrari gives signs of recovery in small steps, even if the F60 is the distant relative of the car that has won the last two world manufacturers. However, both cars produced in Maranello reached the top two positions, with Felipe Massa eighth and Kimi Raikkonen tenth. And at the end of the tests, the Brazilian driver admits:
"It looks like we've taken a step forward. In the morning the car was more driveable than in the afternoon when it suffered from oversteer due to the conditions of the track. I hope to have a regular race and to be able to enter the top eight positions".
Ferrari's problem remains reliability, especially with the high temperatures in Sakhir, which reach 38 °C on Saturday, where Massa has won the last two races Saturday.
"We will try to score points and finish the race, KERS will be able to help us, especially at the start".
Ferrari will also have to try to optimise the tyres, which at the beginning of the season have always given some problems. After leaving room for the Brazilian driver, Kimi Raikkonen also expresses his opinion on the qualifications just concluded:
"Twelfth place was the most I could do. In the first two heats, the car was very manoeuvrable, while in Q3 the soft tyres did not make a difference, also because by now I had used all four sets. The performance of the machine has improved thanks to the KERS. Let's see tomorrow what happens, it will be a very tough race, where we will try to score points".
Luca Montezemolo, present in Sakhir, after attending the qualifying of the Bahrain Grand Prix sends a very little visible message to the FIA and its president, Max Mosley.
"For everything that has happened and happens we have a lot of patience but our patience is not infinite".
The president of Ferrari and the Formula One Team Association is struggling with a disappointing start to the season by Scuderia Ferrari. And he attributes much of the failure to the regulatory chaos that reigns in the circus. Warning bluntly, that if the chaos were to continue, the Maranello team could make irrevocable decisions.
"We have a lot of respect, and in this sense, we are legalists, for federations. We have it and we continue to have it but patience is not infinite. The day we decide to talk and make decisions, we will do it only once. I hope that Formula 1 will be the channel in a sense of responsibility, stability, and credibility. For what we can do, we will make all our contributions but patience is not infinite. We had difficult times but I have great confidence. Unclear regulations have been made, with different interpretations and which are leading to three Formula 1. We have single-seaters with kers, those without Kers, and those with speakers. Unclear regulations have led to different interpretations, I don't mean correct or not".
But Ferrari is also to blame. Maranello cars didn't even win a world point in the first three Grands Prix of the year.
"We started the preparation of the new car very late because in 2008 we fought until the end for the World Championship with McLaren. We've had difficult times but Ferrari never gives up, we're working around the clock and we want to get back competitive. I have great confidence in a team that has won three of the four world championships available and the last one you know how it lost it".
Montezemolo would have liked to see Michael Schumacher at the helm of the Maranello team after Jean Todt's farewell.
"I wanted Michael Schumacher to become Jean Todt’s successor. I wanted him to work with him for a year and then collect his legacy. I'm sorry he didn't. Schumacher does not have a role of responsibility in the team, but as a counsellor does".
Despite the internal disagreements that in recent days have undermined its unity and credibility, FOTA continues to protest against the FIA. In this regard, Flavio Briatore opens a dispute against the use of KERS, requesting that the Federation make it illegal starting from the next championship.
"We knew right away that it was a useless and very expensive device. I think it was wrong, especially for how it was imposed. As for the speakers with the hole: it was necessary to clarify the thing before the championship began! Now we find ourselves realised with this device that in the end does not give us any real advantage and above all makes the spectators even more confused, who see some cars running with the KERS and others without, some with the double-decker and others with the single one. I honestly don't think it's a good thing for the sport".
After the debacle of the Chinese Grand Prix, where only three cars used it, in Bahrain, the KERS was mounted in Ferraris and for the first time also on Robert Kubica's BMW. Reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton, after a difficult start to the season, is recovering and this is demonstrated by the fifth-place obtained at the end of Bahrain qualifying, two better positions than the British McLaren-Mercedes driver expected. Sign that the potential of Anglo-German cars is growing.
"This is the result of the whole team. We have been working hard in the last two months after we realised how much we needed to improve in Australia. Our result today starts from the hard work done for China".
Hamilton hears the progress of his MP4-24, even if nothing new has been brought to Bahrain:
"It will be interesting to understand where the others will be, but I think we can fight to overcome a couple of competitors".
Jenson Button's title chase is tougher, after the first two pole positions and their victories at the beginning of the season, now the Brawn GP does not give the idea of being the best car. Button himself admits that Toyotas and Red Bulls are now faster. Button finished third in China, while in Bahrain he will start from the fourth position.
"We had to fight more than we should because our pace is no longer that of the first two races. It will be a difficult race for us, certainly not a walk. Toyota and Red Bull are now superior to us and starting fourth are not the best. Our race pace seems better as we showed on Friday. We gave our best, if it's as hot as this morning we can still have our say".
Adrian Sutil loses three positions on the grid for hindering Mark Webber's fastest lap. In this way, the two will start paired in the race, in eighteenth position Webber, and in nineteenth position the German driver of Force India, who had obtained sixteenth position. While Sutil was making his lap, Webber was trying to score a time and was forced to pass him at the last corner, then re-surpassed by the German, who accepted the verdict of the stewards, admitting the mistake.
"I didn't realise that Mark was doing his fastest lap. I was trying to reduce the gap from Alonso and I didn't see Mark, to whom I apologise".
After the tests, the future of the British Grand Prix is discussed: after the announcement, dating back to a few months ago, of the new contract with Donington, the situation has precipitated in the last two days. Summarising the troubling events that led Bernie Ecclestone to give the welcome to the organisers of Silverstone to transfer to Donington, starting from 2010 and for ten years, the event organised in Great Britain, it must be said that the organisers of the Grand Prix that is generally held at Silverstone, whose contract expires this year, have had multiple solicitations from Bernie Ecclestone for a modernisation of the archaic structures no longer in line with current safety and entertainment standards. Despite the numerous promises and a futuristic project that seemed to be able to revive the former British airport, the Formula 1 boss considered the proposals of the Donington organisers more credible, who were granted the exclusivity of the event together with numerous requests to complete the work by the summer of 2009. Thursday is the news that Donington now lacks the funds to complete the works and the company Wheatcroft & Son Ltd, which owns the park where the new track should stand, has taken legal action against the consortium that had committed itself to carry out the work. Kevin, son of founder Tom to whom the pit straight is dedicated, says that the current debt of about 2.500.000 euros is no longer tolerable by the family business. Bernie Ecclestone is altered by this situation, also issuing accusations against the British government, completely absent in these delicate moments.
"They are completely caught up in the 2012 Olympics, if only they invested 0.0002% for the Formula 1 race there would be no problems. I categorically exclude a return to Silverstone anyway: either the Derby track will be completed in good time or the United Kingdom will be definitively removed from the world calendar".
Damon Hill, 1996 world champion and president of the BRDC, responds to Bernie Ecclestone by publicly declaring:
"Despite everything, we continue to have very close relations with Bernie, and I believe that Silverstone can continue to host the British Grand Prix. He's doing his interests, and he's trying to find the nation that offers him the most money to get a Grand Prix. Some countries are willing to shell out exorbitant figures, thinking about the tourist and commercial benefits that a Grand Prix could bring with it; but if you think in terms of the free market, then it is clear that you cannot expect a government to be willing to shell out money for a race".
Sunday, April 26, 2009, at 3:00 p.m., the Bahrain Grand Prix, the fourth round of the World Championship, is held in an extremely hot climate. The German Toyota driver, Timo Glock, starts perfectly from the second position and takes the lead in the race. Jarno Trulli is second and is forced to defend himself from the attacks of Lewis Hamilton, who tries to pass the Italian driver at the first corner, after overtaking Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel starting from the fifth position on the grid thanks to the help of KERS. Jenson Button overtakes Sebastian Vettel, who handles a higher fuel load. Kimi Räikkönen, meanwhile, thanks to an excellent start brings his Ferrari to sixth position, recovering four. Further back, Felipe Massa, Nick Heidfeld, Robert Kubica and Kazuki Nakajima are forced to return to the pits to replace the front wings, while Heikki Kovalainen loses a position concerning the start due to a mistake made in corners. Felipe Massa complains about problems with his KERS system due to a temperature problem: the Brazilian driver is advised to turn it off. At the beginning of the second lap, Jenson Button overtakes Lewis Hamilton and climbs to the third position. Hamilton's McLaren, helped by KERS, manages to stay ahead of Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull; only when Lewis Hamilton enters the pits during the fifteenth lap, Sebastian Vettel will finally be able to overtake the British driver.
Since both Toyotas compete in this first phase of the race with little fuel on board, both Jarno Trulli (on the fourteenth lap) and Timo Glock (on lap 12) refuel in advance. When Jenson Button stops during the fifteenth lap, riding softer tyres, the British driver manages to recover enough ground against Jarno Trulli in a single lap to be able to get out in front of the Italian driver. Timo Glock also wastes so much time with his opponents, that when he returns to the post he does so by slipping behind Lewis Hamilton, crashing to seventh place, after the McLaren driver completes his pit stop. The stop for Sebastian Vettel is made during the eighteenth lap. The German driver returns to the track ahead of Lewis Hamilton, and only thirty metres from Jarno Trulli's slower car, preventing him from challenging Jenson Button to take the lead of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Jenson Button takes the opportunity to create a 7.5-second lead against Jarno Trulli when both reach the end of the twenty-second lap. At the end of the thirty-fourth lap, Jenson Button increases his lead to 15.6 seconds, making him in clear control of the race.
When the second round of supplies is completed, Jenson Button remains ahead of his opponents, this time mounting Hard tyres. The strategy of the Toyota team's different use of tires does not give any advantage to the two drivers, while Sebastian Vettel, with Super-Soft tires, records fast times after he gets rid of the presence of Jarno Trulli, who returns to the pits to make the second stop. After making the second stop, the German Red Bull Racing driver (now with the Hard tyre) manages to return right in front of the Italian Toyota driver. On lap 44 Kimi Räikkönen and Timo Glock engaged in a fight for the sixth position, with the Finn overtaking the Toyota driver at Turn Four. Rubens Barrichello had lost a lot of time at the beginning of the race and has not immediately been able to overtake Nelson Piquet Jr.'s Renault, equipped with KERS. However, the Brazilian driver subsequently managed to take advantage of the pace of his Brawn GP by taking ahead of Kimi Räikkönen, even after making an extra pit stop and then creating a small advantage during the last laps. During the forty-eighth lap, the increase in oil pressure on Nakajima's Williams caused the only withdrawal of the race. After the fifty-seven laps scheduled, Jenson Button wins the Bahrain Grand Prix, bringing the victories since the beginning of the season to three, seven seconds ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who tried to catch up by increasing the pace in the last laps.
Jarno Trulli crosses the finish line two seconds behind Sebastian Vettel, followed by Lewis Hamilton. Rubens Barrichello finished in fifth place, followed by Kimi Räikkönen, who won the first points for Scuderia Ferrari, mercilessly last after winning the World Championship in 2008. Timo Glock finishes in seventh place, less than a second behind the Ferrari driver, while Fernando Alonso finishes in eighth place, 52 seconds behind Button. Nick Heidfeld equals Michael Schumacher's record of twenty-four consecutive arrivals, finishing the race with his BMW-Sauber in nineteenth and last place. Jenson Button's wonderful moment continues: in Bahrain, the British driver wins the third victory of the season and consolidates first place in the drivers' standings. With this success, the Brawn GP driver capitalises on the supremacy of the British team, which is said to fall rapidly with the return to Europe. The Englishman can now count on twelve points ahead of his teammate, second, and thirteen compared to third, Vettel. The English team sets sail in the manufacturers' ranking, with almost twice the points compared to Red Bull and Toyota, separated by a single length. Thanks to Hamilton, McLaren is a little less anonymised, while a marginal role is played by Renault, Toro Rosso and Williams. Ferrari managed to do better than Force India alone, bound at zero in both classifications.
The current leader of the World Championship has won his third victory out of four races. His race had a turning point when he managed to recover on Sebastian Vettel, then duelled with Lewis Hamilton, but he prevailed. However, this was not an easy race for the British driver.
"It was a difficult race for us. I was in the lead for most of the race, but we didn't have the advantage we had in the first two races. I don't know frankly what happened, but the gap with our competitors is thinning and today someone could even stand in front of it. I knew I had to start well because Vettel was heavier on fuel than me. I managed to stay third and that allowed me to win. It was a difficult race, but I had fun".
At the same time, Rubens Barrichello silences the rumours concerning him about his possible departure from the Brawn GP already in 2009, to make way for a new driver. Barrichello, who was supposed to leave Formula 1 last year, was recalled by Ross Brawn and teammate Jenson Button for his experience, still useful for developing the new car.
"Formula 1 has become quite bizarre, incredible things were said, even on the Internet, something was true, nothing else was. Anyone today can write false things and circulate them. I don't know why people invent these things. This week came the rumour that Bruno Senna would have driven in my place. Incredible. People should update themselves and write real things. What I've been experiencing for a long time, is being able to drive a winning car with equal treatment. It has always happened to me in the past, except alongside Schumacher at Ferrari, where he had superior treatment. That's why I left, to show my true potential in a competitive car. Now that I've got all this, I want to fully enjoy it".
Reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton, even if he did not finish at the top of the Grand Prix, is the same as satisfied with his fourth position, which allowed him to increase his score by another five points. In Sakhir, the British driver fared better than last year, when he finally won the title. Hamilton, fifth on the grid, was the author of an amazing start, thanks to KERS that allowed him to even finish second, then he was passed by Trulli, finally, it was Button's turn, impossible to keep behind.
"Unfortunately I wasn't able to keep the third place, because Jenson was too fast in corners".
In the end, Hamilton finished the race thirteen seconds behind Sebastian Vettel and Jarno Trulli, because he was forced to use super soft tyres in the last stint, which must be used at least in one part of the race, but was worn out a lot.
"I'm happy with fourth place. Toyota, Brawn GP and Red Bull are uncontainable in fast corners, so I couldn't do anything against them. It's another step forward for the team and me. Now we have to progress to fight for the top positions, the important thing was to bring home points and so it was".
Hamilton adds that in Barcelona he doesn't expect to return to the top because it is another circuit where it requires a lot of downforces, so the teams currently leading the standings remain favoured. The British driver will still try to stay in the top ten. Lewis Hamilton finished all four of the first races in the top ten places, including in Australia, where he was disqualified. The McLaren driver has 22 points behind his compatriot Jenson Button, increasingly leader of the World Championship. Lewis Hamilton, however, confesses that he thought he would leave Formula 1, after the scandal that involved him in Australia.
"I was no longer sure I wanted to honour my five years of contract with McLaren for the too much criticism I am subjected to. I can't move without being photographed, but it's part of my job. I love the fans, for them, I decided to stay, I thank them and I would like to hug them all. I won't always be able to give one hundred per cent, I'm human, but the commitment will always be there. For over ten years I had dreamed of driving this car and now there are I am. We won and lost a title together, and we will lose and wing again, the main thing is to be a team. To me, Mclaren is a family. I’m happy about where I am and if I thought about leaving was because of F1 not for McLaren".
It's possible to live moments of tension inside of Renault when Fernando Alonso, out of the cockpit at the end of the race, fainted from dehydration. In his car didn't work the system that helps the driver to drink during the race so the Spanish driver, with about 50 C in the cockpit, resisted until the end, but then he fainted, fortunately, fixed. The Spanish, about the race, will say, after recovering:
"We did our best today, the start was not the best, I lost positions, I found myself eighth and so I got to the bottom, even because no one was withdrawn. We wanted to score more points we only took one. We must improve for Spain".
And Flavio Briatore adds:
"We had high expectations for this race, unfortunately, we only took one point. Fernando did not make a good start and this compromised our efforts. Nelson instead did well because, starting fifteenth, he managed to progress, and was aggressive and consistent, too bad he didn't get points".
Nelson Piquet Jr., which must contain media criticism, in the end, is satisfied:
"I ran a good race and the car behaved well. If I had had the first stint shorter and the second more I would have done better, but it’s okay. I made a good run and it’s what I wanted".
Fernando Alonso was right: early in the season when he had seen the Brawn GP, admitted:
"Nobody stops them anymore".
In Bahrain, Jenson Button beat everyone, even the duo Trulli-Glock who with the very fast test Toyota started from the front row. After him, Sebastian Vettel, followed by Jarno Trulli, Lewis Hamilton, Rubens Barrichello, Kimi Raikkonen, Timo Glock and Fernando Alonso. And Felipe Massa? Only 14th. Scuderia Ferrari nevertheless conquers the first points of the 2009 season, but it is a small consolation. And to understand the deep crisis Ferrari just analyze the two events of the race: Kimi Raikkonen has a delay of twenty seconds from Timo Glock after just nine laps from the start, while at twenty-two laps at the end, Jenson Button double Felipe Mass. The single-seater produced in Maranello is not competitive: times speaks clearly. At the end of the race, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel spun on the pace of 1'35"5, and Raikkonen on 1'36"4. All with hard tires and all with the same amount of fuel in the tank. In any case, Button’s victory marks deeply the World Championship ranking of Formula 1, because thanks to the ten points conquered today, the British driver reaches 31 points. Behind him, his teammate Rubens Barrichello, with 19 points, and the German driver from Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel, third with 18 points. The Italian driver of Toyota, Jarno Trulli rises from sixth to fourth place, with 14.5 points. And it’s precisely from this resounding ranking that they lack both Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes, the two top teams of the 2008 season, which the controversy over the excessive Brawn’s technical superiority. To speak, however, is the team principal of the Renault, Flavio Briatore :
"We saw that the two Brawns are unbeatable, but it just doesn’t make sense run like this: it's normal for Red Bull to be in front of them, but for others it makes much less sense".
In any case, it's useless to discuss now: it’s necessary to take cover, to mount the the rear diffuser, refine kers, do anything to Catch up from Brawn GP. Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes, with their enormous organizational capacity, can succeed in the enterprise. Ferrari’s president, Luca Montezemolo, present in Sakir, doesn’t lose his faith :
"We will return to the top this year, I’m sure. I came here calm, I knew that in any case I would have brought bad luck because less than zero can’t be done. Jokes aside, this is not the 2005 car, that made us talk about World Championship finished after a few races. We blamed the tires, but the problems were other. Now there is the potential, the reasons for a rough start are others. Essentially three. Rules are at least badly written, which allowed, someone to be smart and divide the Championship World into three categories, those of loudspeaker, the kers, and the fools like us, who have staked on this, thinking also of single-seaters of series, and those who don’t have anything. The fans at home struggle to understand. Then that we left late, we and the McLaren in October fought for the World Championship, the others already thought about the 2009 single-seater. Finally the presumption: led us to some mistakes. Until I, after Malaysia, I didn’t bring the robe".
But now it’s possible to hope for a title?
"Ferrari never gives up. And Domenicali isn’t in question. Our men are working great now. We’re looking at 15 days of fire. A few weeks and we’ll be very close to the others. Kimi showed great grit. For a few laps was even in the lead. For Felipe, I’m sorry, because he motivates the team. Even here, he had many problems".
In the meantime, the future of F1 is rising.
"You mean the one that we at Fota are building?"
The one of the FIA. Wednesday, in Paris, there is the World Council. Future rules are on the agenda.
"We won’t be there. We had to talk only about McLaren, out of respect we had decided not to introduce ourselves, at the last moment they also inserted the new rules, knowing that the Fota had a meeting on May 6. Without us builders, nothing is done, be careful, so that our patience is wide, but has a limit. I’m speaking with several presidents of large manufacturers, who are never so close to farewell. If they want Formula 2 or Formula 3, that’s their business, we’re not in".
And even less a two-category World Championship, with strict rules for some and maximum free for those who spend little. The law must be the same for everyone.
"To approve this reform, they will have to pass on my corpse".
The Ferrari rescue? Everyone is waiting for it for the next Spanish Grand Prix, scheduled for Sunday, May 10, 2009, in Barcelona. There finally the cars of Maranello will have the long-awaited speaker and there for the first time since it started this hectic championship, mechanics will be able to bring a modified car with relative calm. It’s the same president, Montezemolo, to explains that technicians and engineers are working 24h to change the car, but the point is no one does miracles, even Ferrari. President Montezemolo will have many thoughts when he saw Kimi Raikkonen twenty seconds behind Timo Glock after just nine laps from the start. This is what gives the measure of the gap from a bridge, a significant gap, and the speaker that will come for certain alone will not do any good. And not only because, as Red Bull has shown, but you can also win even without it: is the whole car that must be designed to make that slide work. The same team principal of Scuderia Ferrari, Stefano Domenicali, admits it with great honesty:
"Thinking it’s just the diffusers the solution to our car it’s wrong. We saw a competitive McLaren, we had the confirmation that Red Bull is very fast and it didn’t go bad. Because of Barcelona, what we are doing at home will represent a good jump. But it will have to be evaluated when we meet with the others. We don’t know what our adversaries will bring to the circuit. As for us, what we expect is a car that has a better grip. Barcelona is the first step in aerodynamics. But there is not only that. Then there will be versions of subsequent changes already set. Already in Barcelona, we will make a nice jump in terms of performance, we expect a lot from the double diffuser and the aerodynamic novelties, But it will be a long leap also from our rivals and their improvements. One thing is for sure: our World Championship is not compromised. No one in Ferrari is willing to give up. Until arithmetic allows us to hope no one has to think about 2010".
Similar speeches in concept, different in the shades, President Luca Montezemolo is more cautious, and the team principal of Scuderia Ferrari, Stefano Domenicali, is eager to return quickly to have a competitive car. Both, however, are certain that the run-up, with the three points won by Raikkonen, has begun and that the Ferrari ransom will come. A rebirth that must be developed in the next ten days, the time separating from the Grand Prix of Spain. The task force that was created by Maranello has been at work for weeks and its activity, if possible, will become more intense, and not only in the back of the car. The double diffuser is ready, Friday or Saturday should be tested in track for the first time in Fiorano. But the car you will see in Barcelona will be profoundly different, not only in the back with the infamous slide but also in the wings front and back, in the air vents and in everything that can promote the grip, making that lack of grip that until now has made the deep car suffer in Maranello. Domenicali is clear:
"We’ve identified the gap now, we will do everything to eliminate it".
We cannot speak of a new Ferrari, because in a single-seater there is not only aerodynamics but certainly what is being born is a revolution. In the hope that it will suffice to return to the first, perhaps with a few steps to of Brawn, until now has not developed the car, or of Red Bull, that at the moment does not provide for double speaker, and are careful to make it faster than McLaren, that already on Sunday gave abundant signs of revival, but that after paying 630,000 euros to settle and close the Spy Story with Ferrari - tomorrow in Paris should be sanctioned by the FIA World Council for the lies told in Melbourne. It is obvious that in Spain all the teams will bring updates. But one thing is certain: no other team in the world has technicians as capable as those present in Maranello and Wolking, and almost infinite means. For these reasons, Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes expect the most significant progress. STR4 will also be presented in Spain with a new speaker that should take the Scuderia Toro Rosso higher, which is stably in the centre of the group but, since the forces are very close to each other, it is an easier leap in quality. In this regard Franz Tost, the team principal of Scuderia Toro Rosso, claims:
"We are already focused on Spain. To Barcelona will have updates on the rear speaker that will allow us to have more downforce. The key to everything will be in qualifying, where we have to try to pass Q1. Generally, we are all very close so the fight is always thought".
Returning to the speech on the car produced in Maranello, the problem is that when a car loses almost a second to the lap in every race condition, more than significant progress would serve as a miracle. But as Scuderia Ferrari’s Brazilian driver Felipe Massa explains:
"We all have a desire to go up the we will never give up. I am always at zero points but it doesn’t mean anything. yesterday I had the opportunity to do good but I was unlucky. I would say that in Spain I would take back the satisfaction that I missed at this beginning of the season".
And he admits with a lot of honesty Kimi Raikkonen:
"I’d be crazy if I cheered for a sixth place. We made some improvements, here the car was faster, but we still have to grow a lot".
The kers helped the Finnish driver at the start; from the tenth place at the start, Kimi Raikkonen climbed to seventh. A good strategy, with only one imperfection in the second pit stop, and overtaking Timo Glock allowed the Finnish driver to advance by another step. Too bad for those wheel covers that you could not unscrew. The time lost in the second pit stop prevented the Ferrari driver to fight Rubens Barrichello. The Brazilian driver finished fifth four seconds ahead, his Brawn GP could be a tough try. I linger in the pits; nothing comparable with the troubles that happened to Felipe Massa. The kers did not work at the start, and the Brazilian driver’s sprint was not the best. At the first corner, Kimi passed him, Raikkonen, taking the front wing away from the Brazilian driver. Massa would like to rush to the pits, but the mechanics are not ready and must remain on track another lap. In the meantime other problems: telemetry to the pits does not work and engineers can not help the driver Brazilian, forced even to communicate from the radio the level of fuel that is on board the car. It’s not easy to cope with all these unforeseen events, and Felipe Massa underlines it elegantly:
"When there was no traffic, I was fast. In Barcelona, we will take a big step forward. Everything is happening to me, even the accident at the first corner. But bad luck will pass".
In Sakhir the hypothesis of a possible landing of Fernando Alonso in Ferrari. In Bahrain, in fact, before the start of the Grand Prix, a meeting takes place between the president of Ferrari, Luca Montezemolo, with the president of the Spanish banking group Santander, Bruno Boutin, who as well as bearing the bank’s brand as a sponsor of the Maranello’s team, mediates for a possible purchase of the performance of the World Champion Fernando Alonso. During the morning, Bruno Boutin meets Bernie Ecclestone, then Martin Whitmarsh and subsequently, Fernando Alonso and the team principal of Renault, Flavio Briatore. To understand what was Ferarri previously and now, just compare this hopeful statement of Mass with the results in track: in Barcelona in 2007 Felipe Massa dominated, and the following year Kimi Raikkonen managed to repeat the positive result. If at that time Massa or Raikkonen asked him something about the race, they answered immediately with a double shot. But Maranello’s team it's not the only one to be disappointed by the outcomes. Jarno’s dream to win with his Toyota it veins or rather says resizes. In Bahrain cheers again Jenson Button, who wins three victories out of four races. Sebastian Vettel confirms second, with a Red Bull that is not a surprise. Jarno Trulli is just third. But the Italian driver started on a pole, there were other hopes. Trulli played everything at the start. No one passed in front of the first corner, but behind team-mate Timo Glock.
"The engine has flooded, was full of oil, that stutter, initial cost me a lot".
With an honesty that honours him, the Italian driver avoids picking on his team, but not even the strategy was effective. It was known that Toyota would struggle with Hard tyres:
"However, the data in our possession provided different answers".
With this type of tire, the Toyota team forces Trulli to drive one very long race stint, losing the second position to Sebastian Vettel. In the final, with inverted tires, the Italian diver had at his disposal a very competitive car:
"I tried in every way to put his pressure".
Jarno Trulli hoped he could dedicate the possible enterprise to the region of Abruzzo. Instead, Jensen Button risks finishing his dedications. The British driver from Brawn GP had to overtake Lewis Hamilton at the start, he helped himself with the strategy to overtake the two Toyota drivers, and in the end, he triumphed and now is more than ever on the run in the world championship. Concluded the Bahrain Grand Prix, Monday 27 April 2009 the McLaren team is disqualified for three races, but on a sentence. This unexpected decision of the FIA condemns, and at the same time saves the team of Woking, according to a script now consolidated in Formula 1, where nothing is clear. The thinking sanction will be imposed only if further facts on the matter emerge within the next twelve months, as provided for in Article 151c of the Sports Code. The accusation against the McLaren team is serious: the driver Lewis Hamilton and the sports director Dave Ryan declare false to the commissioners causing the relegation of Jarno Trulli’s Toyota. A subsequent investigation, enough to listen to the recordings of the talks box in the race, brought out the impropriety of the diver and his sports director was subsequently dismissed with immediate effect from McLaren. But it wasn’t enough to disqualify Lewis Hamilton from the Australian Grand Prix and give back the third place to Jarno Trulli: the McLaren-Mercedes is accused of violating article 151c of the international sports code and in theory also risks exclusion from the Championship of the World 2009. However, Martin Whitmarsh wrote a letter to FIA President Max Mosley, admitting that he was behaving incorrectly and apologizing to avoid drastic changes. Evidence which, of course, has not been taken.
"Taking into account the transparent and Honest with which the team principal Martin Whitmarsh addressed the World Council is taking into account the change of culture that took place in its organization, the World Council decided to suspend the application of the penalty it considers suspend the application the sanction it considers appropriate".
In short, the Federation has appreciated Whitmarsh’s behaviour, but one thing is certain: no one has remembered that this same team was convicted two years ago as part of the Spy Story against the Scuderia Ferrari. And that therefore the last case of false statements to the judges, more than a road accident for the British team, seems in this historical period a real strategy.