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GP Week : Issue 10
THE Istanbul weekend was, in one way or another, all about safety. It began with Heikki Kovalainen being passed fit to take part in the race, and ended with the revelation that Lewis Hamilton had been forced to take a three stop strategy in order to avoid potential tyre delamination. In between that we saw some pretty major crashes and the intervention of wildlife. All in all, there was much to discuss. Kovalainen was in good spirits in the Thursday press conference, smiling his usual happy smile and trying as best he could to give the media the answers they needed to fill their newspapers as he recounted for the five thousand, four hundred and sevent- second time, what exactly had happened in Spain and how he didn’t feel it would affect his driving this weekend. The fact that Heikki was even sitting back in a racing car so soon after the accident has much to do with the safety not only of the modern Formula 1 car, but also the circuits. The FIA does a very good job of ensuring that the safety standards are set at the highest level, but so too does the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA). The GPDA itself has come in for a bit of a bashing lately, most prevalently by Lewis Hamilton’s non-attendance at meetings. Then, this week, Felipe Massa announced he had quit. There are now four current F1 drivers not associated with the group – the aforementioned duo, Kimi Raikkonen and Adrian Sutil. To me, their non-attendance seems slightly churlish. I will admit we live in a free world where the individual’s choice reigns supreme. But would it really take that much to turn up to one meeting at every race, which usually only lasts a few minutes, and give your opinion on something which ultimately affects not just you but those around you? Ultimately it all comes down to the question of perception, and in not attending the GPDA, these four drivers appear not to care about the safety of their fellow competitor. Be it true or not, that’s just the way it seems. On Friday, GP2 qualifying saw Durango’s Davide Valsecchi involved in a high speed shunt at Turn 12. His car had appeared to lose some braking power and had slammed into the barriers in a style similar to which we had seen with Kovalainen two weeks earlier. The problem for Valsecchi was that the point at which he’d gone off track saw him go straight down an escape road, miss the gravel trap, and hit the wall with minimal retardation. Mark Webber, as a director of the GPDA and himself involved in a fair sized shunt on Friday, was horrified and promised when we spoke to look into that part of run-off. After all, if it could happen to a GP2 driver, it could just as easily happen to an F1 driver. Then, on Sunday morning, Bruno Senna hit a stray dog during the GP2 race. Again, I went to see Webber, and again he confirmed that the GPDA would be looking into ways of making sure this did not happen again. Come Sunday night, there was evidence that, in fact, Lewis Hamilton really does care about safety. If he hadn’t he might have chosen to risk two stops instead of three. But he didn’t. Because he’s not stupid. He cares about what happens to him, and he doesn’t really want to have to end a race in a tyre barrier. If he does, he wants to know that everything’s been done to make sure he gets the best possible treatment. Because he’s a smart chap. Why then would he not want to have some influence on that? In a weekend in which the world saw just how little Hamilton gets a say in the manner in which his F1 career is overseen via the farcical promotional work to which he was subjected (Apollo in overalls anyone?), joining the GPDA wouldn’t just allow the guy to have his own voice for once, but if he lobbied to get the meeting time changed, he might also have an excuse to get himself out of a few sponsor commitments! Every cloud Lewis … every cloud. Pos # Driver Team Laps Time Grid 1 2 Felipe Massa Ferrari 58 1:26:49.451 1 2 22 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 58 +3.7s 3 3 1 Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 58 +4.2s 4 4 4 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 58 +21.9s 5 5 3 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 58 +38.7s 9 6 5 Fernando Alonso Renault 58 +53.7s 7 7 10 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 58 +64.2s 6 8 7 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 58 +71.4s 11 9 9 David Coulthard Red Bull-Renault 58 +75.2s 10 10 11 Jarno Trulli Toyota 58 +76.3s 8 11 16 Jenson Button Honda 57 +1 Lap 13 12 23 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 57 +1 Lap 2 13 12 Timo Glock Toyota 57 +1 Lap 15 14 17 Rubens Barrichello Honda 57 +1 Lap 12 15 6 Nelsinho Piquet Renault 57 +1 Lap 17 16 20 Adrian Sutil Force India-Ferrari 57 +1 Lap 19 17 15 Sebastian Vettel STR-Ferrari 57 +1 Lap 14 Ret 14 Sebastien Bourdais STR-Ferrari 24 Spin 18 Ret 8 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 1 Accident 16 Ret 21 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Ferrari 0 Accident 20 FORMULA 1 | Round 5 TURKEY Points – Drivers: Raikkonen 35, Massa 28, Hamilton 28, Kubica 24, Heidfeld 20, Kovalainen 14, Webber 10, Alonso 9, Trulli 9, Rosberg 8. Manufacturers: Ferrari 63, BMW 44, McLaren-Mercedes 42, Williams-Toyota 13, Red Bull 10, Toyota 9, Renault 9, Honda 6. F1 TURKEY >> o p in io n WiLL BUxTOn GPWeek Editor Every cloud… 35