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GP Week : Issue 60
Team-By-Team: European Gra McLaren took the concept of giving the latest developments to their number 1 driver to a new extreme in Valencia by giving Lewis Hamilton a totally different car to Heikki Kovalainen. The shorter wheelbase MP4/24 given to the World Champion should have proven faster around the street track, but Kovalainen had the champ pegged in qualifying and the duo lined up 1-2 on the Filling in for Felipe Massa was always going to be tough, even more so when you’ve also got to fill in for Michael Schumacher. The job was handed to Luca Badoer, a return to F1 after a 10 year hiatus. With four pit-lane speeding fines in his first day back, things didn’t get off to the best start. Then he qualified last. And finished the race last. And got a drive- When we’d last been racing BMW was having a bad season. When we arrived in Valencia, BMW was having a bad last season of racing. The board’s decision to pull out at the end of 2009 took everyone by surprise, not least Mario Thiessen, Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica, who reportedly saw the news on the internet. But while Thiessen works behind the At the start of last week, Renault was uncertain as to whether it would even be racing in Valencia. Its race ban was overturned by the International Court of Appeal on Monday, and the team was handed a fine for its Hungarian GP safety violation. A much more sensible decision. And so it was that the Spanish fans got to see Alonso, and Romain Grosjean got to make his F1 debut. The Franco-Swiss driver New parts for Toyota and a driver pairing who were looking forward to getting back to racing meant that the first day of running was greeted with much anticipation. Both Glock and Trulli declared themselves happy and confident after practice, but with neither driver in the top 10, Toyota’s season didn’t look like it was going to turn around anytime soon. 30 grid, demonstrating just how far even the original car has progressed of late. In the race a bum shout from McLaren caught out both Hamilton and the team, and led to a botched pitstop, which probably cost him the win. In race conditions, Kovalainen didn’t have the same pace as his team-mate but a result of second and fourth after the nightmare year can be seen as a great result. through penalty. And let Grosjean through in the pits for no apparent reason. His race was so abysmal his name became a trending topic on twitter during the GP. The team will stick with him for Spa, but nobody can figure out why. Oh, and Kimi Raikkonen took a podium, but by then Ferrari was having to explain why Badoer had crashed into Sutil’s Force India in parc ferme. scenes trying to save the team, and their drivers start looking for jobs elsewhere, there is the small matter of the remainder of the season. 10th and 11th in qualifying was actually a pretty good performance on the balance of things. Come the race, Heidfeld finished where he’d started in 11th, but Kubica raced his socks off to bring home a much needed point in eighth. bedded himself in maturely and sensibly. Getting to Q2 was a great effort for him on his debut. Alonso, meanwhile, was top 10, but unhappy with eighth. In the race he fought hard to finish sixth, while Grosjean had an early tangle and lost his wing. After that he raced well and received the first bit of praise from Flav for a Renault driver in his first F1 race in three seasons. With Trulli out of qualifying in Q1 in 18th and Glock narrowly out-qualifying rookie Grosjean in 13th in Q2, the grid didn’t shape up as either had hoped. Neither would the race. Glock had to pit for repairs at the end of lap 1, and wound up 14th, while Trulli finished one place higher in 13th. But with the German setting the fastest race lap there is hope for the future.