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GP Week : Issue 163
w BRIEFLY » Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen reached a century milestone in Hockenheim this week. The McLaren driver was amazed by how quickly the time has passed since his 2007 debut. “I still remember my first [race] as if it were only yesterday,” he said. “I guess Formula One has that effect on you!” McLaren had a private celebration for their driver, in contrast to the paddock party they threw for Jenson Button in Hungary last year, when the Briton reached his 200th GP. Kovalainen’s century was less about the racing and more about the weekend – due to a DNS in Barcelona two years ago, it is actually the Caterham driver’s 100th GP weekend, not his 100th race start. “Hockenheim will be my hundredth grand prix weekend,” Kovalainen said. “That’s a good milestone to reach and I’m pleased I’ll be able to celebrate it with a really good team of people, and a lot of friends in the paddock.” On Saturday night, Caterham threw a surprise party for their driver in Speyer to celebrate his achievement. » » The Ecclestone family was in the headlines this week when it emerged that a dental technician had attempted to extort £200,000 from Bernie Ecclestone after falsely claiming that he had kidnapped daughter Tamara. “This was a crudely-executed, perhaps not frivolous but rather amateurish, attempt to obtain money from Mr Ecclestone,” said prosecutor Philip Lemoine. “Amateurish it might have been, but it was a targeted offence. The family is vulnerable and Mr Ecclestone took it seriously. The impact on Tamara Ecclestone as a human being has been significant in her home and working life.” Martin Peckham pleaded guilty to charges of blackmail, but the hearing was adjourned before sentencing, so that an appropriate jail term could be determined. F1 >>> NEWS While there are still a number of unanswered questions surrounding the Duxford testing accident involving Marussia test driver Maria de Villota, the team this week confirmed that their investigations had eliminated any fault with the car. “The Marussia F1 Team conducted an initial analysis immediately after the crash,” the team explained in a press release. “This aimed to identify the causes and contributory factors behind the accident and also served to determine if there were any car-related implications for the impending British Grand Prix. Having carefully examined all the data and supplementary information available at that time, the Team were satisfied that there were no such car-related issues and cleared its chassis for race weekend participation. “Following its initial investigation, the Team proceeded to carry out further detailed analysis of the accident. An external forensic investigation was commissioned and carried out at Duxford Airfield (a FIA-approved and much used testing venue, compliant with the recommendations for a test of this nature) and with the team at the Marussia Technical Centre in Banbury. This external analysis has been carried out autonomously of the team’s own internal investigation.” While Marussia’s internal investigations are now complete, there is an on-going investigation by the UK Health & Safety Executive, as is required by British law. That investigation should determine the exact cause of the crash, and the outcome will determine whether additional precautions will need to be made during future straight-line tests, both at Duxford and at other FIA-approved venues. “We are satisfied that the findings of our internal investigation exclude the car as a factor in the accident,” team principal John Booth (right) said.” We have shared and discussed our findings with the HSE for their consideration as part of their ongoing investigation. This has been a necessarily thorough process in order to understand the cause of the accident. We have now concluded our investigatory work and can again focus on the priority, which continues to be Maria’s wellbeing. In that regard, we continue to support Maria and the De Villota family in any way we can.” In happier news, Marussia announced this weekend that de Villota’s recovery had progressed to the stage where the Spanish driver had been discharged from Cambridge’s Addenbrooke’s Hospital and flown home to Spain to continue recuperating surrounded by friends and family. “Maria left Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge [on 20 July] and returned directly to Spain,” the team announced in a press release. “Over the course of the past two weeks, Maria has made significant progress. More comfortable and familiar surroundings, plus the support of her wider family and friends, will undoubtedly provide a more conducive environment in which Maria can commence the next phase of her recovery.” MARUSSIA EXONERATES CAR 6 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: