Announcement

November 6, 2009

Hello to all my loyal and, as such, long-suffering readers.  For technological reasons best summed up by my saying that WordPress scares me a bit, all of my future blogging updates about motor racing will now take place here:

http://plus-one-lap.blogspot.com/

If you have enjoyed any of this bumpf, please amend your bookmarks, links and RSS feeds accordingly to the new site, where I am honestly going to try and update more frequently than I managed to this year.

As for this place, it will remain up at this location, so you can relive all of your favourite articles and typographical errors again and again.

Thank you.

Ed.

Twenty points left to play for and the leader of the title standings with a 14 point head start.  Never before has such a shoo-in seemed quite so parlously placed.  Jenson Button’s position is even stronger still, when you consider that he has won the most races of the 2009 season and cannot be overhauled on that count.  This leaves Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel needing to overtake his points tally – a tie will not be enough.  So, Rubens Barrichello needs 15 points and Sebastian Vettel 17.  With 20 remaining on the table.  It speaks volumes for the strangeness of the 2009 season that it is perhaps Vettel who looks like the champion-in-waiting following his blitz of the Japanese Grand Prix.  Today, Toto Roche’s Flag takes a look at what each man needs to do and how likely they are to do it.

Sebastian Vettel (69 points)

In needing 17 points with two races remaining, Vettel is looking to emulate Kimi Räikkönen, who pulled back that exact deficit to win the 2007 title.  The elephant in the room for Vettel, however, is his engine situation.  Vettel has now used all eight of his 2009 engine allocation, at least 3 of which are in a bucket somewhere in Milton Keynes, having lunched themselves in exotic locations around the world.  The question is, does Red Bull have enough good horsepower remaining to give him the best chance of chasing up the steep hill of Interlagos’ pit straight and securing top honours?  Taking a ten-place grid penalty for a ninth powerplant would surely signal the end of Vettel’s ambitions, as finishing lower than second place in Brazil would put him out of the fight for this season.  As such, I imagine they’ll be throwing caution to the wind.  It’ll be win or bust, or win or blow your engine, in São Paulo.

What Vettel needs to do:

Put simply, to outscore Jenson Button by 17 points in the final two races, Vettel needs a win and a second place at the bare minimum.  Even then he’ll be dependent on Button’s results.  In Brazil, he needs to outscore Jenson Button by 7 points, which means finishing second at the very lowest.  Vettel will be simplifying the challenge and chasing after two wins.  With the field so close, Interlagos thought to be a circuit better suited to Brawn and his engine worries, Vettel is still very much the outsider.  However, I have a sneaking feeling that, if the title chase goes down to a last race decider (for what would be the fourth consecutive season) it will be Vettel, rather than Barrichello, still in the hunt.

Rubens Barrichello (71 points)

Rubens Barrichello cannot win the championship before the last race in Abu Dhabi, which would be his 285th Grand Prix start.  This would see him comfortably overhaul Nigel Mansell’s record of 175 starts before a first world title.  What we’re looking at here, then, is the fairytale aspect which every good story needs.  Rubens needs 15 points on Jenson Button in the final races, which means he must finish at least 4th in Brazil (with some help from elsewhere) to keep the fight going.  To add to the fairytale aspect, then, it seems likely that Rubens will need to win his home Grand Prix if he wants to entertain decent prospects of his first World Championship.  Rubens Barrichello winning at Interlagos – the track where, as a child, he first glanced a racing car from over a wall – would be the biggest fairytale of them all, not least because of his indecently bad luck on home ground.  Next weekend’s event will be his 17th home race, his results in the previous sixteen are as follows:

1993 DNF (gearbox), 1994 4th, 1995 DNF (gearbox), 1996 DNF (spin), 1997 DNF (suspension), 1998 DNF (gearbox), 1999 DNF (engine), 2000 DNF (hydraulics), 2001 DNF (collision), 2002 DNF (hydraulics), 2003 DNF (fuel system), 2004 3rd, 2005 6th, 2006 7th, 2007 DNF (engine), 2008 15th

Raw statistics don’t always paint the most accurate picture, but these give, at the very least, a reasonable impression.  However, even these can’t fully describe the extent of Barrichello’s Interlagos curse… in 1999 he led the race on merit. He led again in 2000 and 2002, looking on course for a comfortable podium finish behind teammate Michael Schumacher (in a dominant and otherwise unfailingly reliable Ferrari).  In 2003 he started from pole, turned the fastest lap and was leading the  race easily when a fuel pick-up problem caused him to run out of juice.  He was on pole again in 2004 – a year when Ferrari won 15 out of the 18 races – but on race day his car couldn’t match the pace of Williams or McLaren.  It’s at times like this when you must be tempted to dig up your house’s foundations to make sure it’s not been built on a Native American settlement or the like.

If it was anyone else – taking into account the Brawn car’s likely pace at the track, taking into account the driver’s local knowledge and motivation – then Barrichello would be the comfortable pre-race favourite.  However, as much as I would love to see his luck finally change at home, I just can’t even picture what that would look like.

What Barrichello needs to do:

Rubens has to outscore Jenson Button by 5 points in São Paulo, which means he cannot finish any lower than 4th place.  He has said this week that he’s not interested in maths and contingencies, and will just be going for the win.  That’s all he can really do now.  Because whilst it must be said that his position is a little stronger than Vettel’s, he is in the same car as Jenson Button and his teammate has been regularly finishing right behind him.

Jenson Button (85 points)

Jenson Button won 6 out of the first seven races, you know.  Honestly, he did.  Four of them from pole position.  Two of them with fastest lap.  You must surely remember?

Since the Turkish Grand Prix, which was on June 7th, Jenson Button has only scored 24 points.  One-third of these came at one race, in Italy.  It’s fair to say, then,  that his championship chances are fairly heavily predicated on the 61 points he accrued before everything went to bits.

Duly, he’s come in for some frenzied criticism, most of it coming from anxious British journos, all secretly hoping for another home champion.  Some of it is probably well founded.  However, the beginning of his slide into mediocrity was to do with his car, rather than any issues relating to feeling the pressure: Rubens Barrichello did not finish ahead of his Brawn teammate until he won the 11th round in Valencia, emphasising the fact that the team’s problem was the team’s problem and not Jenson’s.  However, it is fair to say that since Rubens complicated the issue by his two excellent late-season wins, Button has looked a shadow of his former self.   Since Valencia in August, he’s only finished ahead of Barrichello once.  It’s almost comforting, the way British sportsmen always refuse the easy path.  Button’s two predecessors in his vaulnted position – Damon Hill and Lewis Hamilton – underwent similar wobbles.  For Hill, it was his starts.  During the summer of 1996, his inability to get himself cleanly off the line saw Jacques Villeneuve able to grab great handfuls of Damon’s points cushion at every race.  Hamilton, meanwhile, twice demonstrated a curious loss of judgement and composure, causing him to once just lose the title and once just win it.

Jenson’s problem is qualifying.  In the races, he is driving well.  However, with the entire field’s qualifying times usually covered by 1.5 seconds, he’s having to drive well mired in traffic with the flying wings and the wheels banging.  Martin Brundle has said that Button really needs a champion’s drive now, something commanding enough to demonstrate that the title being his was never in doubt.  Damon Hill did it at Suzuka in 1996 and Lewis Hamilton in Shanghai last year.  I honestly believe that if Button can secure the title in Brazil, the release of pressure will see him take a win of such dominance in Abu Dhabi, we’ll all wonder how anyone else could possibly have won a race in 2009.  Sadly, it currently seems that if the title will fall to him at Interlagos, it will most likely drop into his lap as his winning it any other way.

All of this said, the points never lie.  Button is 14 points ahead because he was an insuperable obstacle in the first races of the season.  No-one since has demonstrated the same mix of consistency and speed.  If he backs his way slowly into this thing, he’ll deserve it as much as anyone else.  Let’s be honest here: both Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel would love to be in the position of being able to stumble towards the title.  Whoever wins the World Championship always deserves it.  There’s no duffers there.

What Button needs to do:

Despite what he may be thinking, what people may be saying and the way that he may be driving, Button has the least pressure of the three contenders.  Put simply, Button will be in the hunt all the way to the end of the season.  In the worst-case scenario, he’ll arrive in Abu Dhabi for the finale with Rubens Barrichello needing to take five points on him.

To take Vettel out of the running, he needs to finish within 6 points of the German.  This means that if Vettel wins, Button has to finish 5th.  If Vettel is second, Button needs seventh.  If Vettel finishes lower than second, he is out of the race.

To take Barrichello out of the running, Button needs to finish within 4 points of him.  So, a Barrichello win would require 3rd.  Barrichello in second would need 5th, third would need 7th and fourth can be covered with 8th.  As I said before, Rubens cannot finish lower than 4th in Brazil if he wants to be World Champion in 2009.

If he manages to cover both of these contingencies – i.e. finishing within 4 points of Barrichello and six of Vettel – at the same time, he will be champion in Brazil.  If Button really wants to make things easy for himself, all he needs to do is finish in third place at Interlagos, which will put this thing for bed once and for all.

All Jenson Button needs is belief now.  Because winning the title from 15 or 17 points behind with two races left is pretty unbelievable. Read the rest of this entry »

Tiers and tantrums

May 12, 2009

As I had hoped, the Spanish Grand Prix answered a lot of questions about the potential direction of the 2009 season.  It’s now clear that Brawn are set fair to be the team to beat this year and that when it comes undone, as it inevitably will, in terms of reliability, mistakes or other japery, that Red Bull are the team most likely to pick up the pieces.  Ferrari, too, are starting to show their teeth, and in a season where the field is covered, front-to-back, by 1.5 seconds, it can’t be too long before someone other than Jenson Button or Sebastian Vettel wins a race.

The quality of the racing was also notable for its improvements.  The cars are now certainly following one another closer than they have been able to for some time, and although overtaking is still incredibly difficult (which, I have always believed, it should be… this is Formula 1, after all), steps which have been taken to improving the closeness of the racing have been steps in the right direction.

Of course, F1 being the sport it is, it threw up just as many new posers in the process of answering these points of competition.  Firstly, the budget cap issue has the potential to be the post divisive and damaging since the FISA-FOCA wars of the early 1980s.  Ferrari’s board are today meeting to discuss whether or not they would still be willing to enter a two-tier version of the sport.  Whilst I firmly subscribe to Max Mosley’s view that the sport can survive without Ferrari – it did so for great swathes of the 1980s and 1990s, from a competition standpoint at least – more of a concern is that the Scuderia are merely at the vanguard of a larger exodus.  Dietrich Mateschitz, the owner of Red Bull, was in Barcelona to state categorically that his teams would similarly not enter next season’s championship in the current proposed form.  It also looks likely that Toyota will follow suit… even if it proves to be  a move of financial expendiency dressed up as a sporting objection.

Formula 1 would be hugely devalued by such a walk out.  Ferrari, the Red Bull quartet and Toyota are more than just eight cars, they are thousands of exceptionally talented and experienced people, many of whom count the business of Formula 1 racing as their whole life’s work.  A turnout of hastily cobbled-together teams with new names, mercenaries and refugees racing to an arbitrary financial constraint, probably all with a Cosworth engine… it would be the end of the sport in everything but the name.

It cannot be denied that, particularly now, the costs of Formula 1 racing are totally unsustainable.  To complain that new teams are being put off from entering, blanching at the level of fiscal commitment, however, is to ignore the fact that it was ever thus.  During the insane turbo era, Formula 1 saw more entrants than at any time in its history.  Very few remnants of those heady days still exist in their current form, but notable drivers and engineers have been cherry-picked from the projects and have gone on to enjoy famous careers.  Formula 1 is a meritocratic exercise.  The better you are, the more money you earn.  The more money you earn, the better you can invest in being better still.  However, you only need to point to this season as an example of the fact that it’s not simply a case of money talking.  The raft of measures the FIA has instituted in recent years have been with a view to helping the teams to help themselves, to help the sport.  I think that they have worked.  Before the budget cap row erupted, talk was of two new teams entering the sport for 2010.  Things looked healthier than they had in nearly 20 years.  Perhaps the best thing the FIA can do now is to take a step back and try and help the sport themselves.

Maybe a better solution would be to get each team to declare their outgoings for the previous season at the start of the new, and then apply a penalty in that season’s constructor’s championship – let’s say a point for every $1 million dollars, over a certain sum of money.  This would allow teams to set their own budgets, but also allow them the option of balancing this against a better position – and ultimately more prize money – in the following year’s Constructors’ Cup standings.  Either way, to penalise the teams for their decades of excess is one thing, but to end up penalising the fans can simply not stand.

It’s a scary future, so the best thing we fans can do is relish the present.  2009’s big sporting issue is currently Rubens Barrichello.  After years of toeing the Ferrari party line, Rubens’ throwaway comment that he’d not tolerate a similar situation at Brawn has been gleefully jumped on by the media, trumpeted as a QUIT THREAT or an ULTIMATUM.  Things are, in reality, likely to be far less fractious.  Barrichello knows why it was he lost the Spanish Grand Prix – his pace in the vital 2nd and 3rd stints was just not sufficient.  He and his team will, I’m sure, work to work out precisely why this was.  Because if Rubens starts to find himself in a position where he can’t trust the team or their strategic judgement, he knows better than anyone that his role will be completely untenable.

This is a situation I simply can’t see a man as intelligent as Ross Brawn allowing to happen.  Barrichello’s huge experience – Jenson Button is Formula 1’s 4th most-experienced current driver, yet Rubens has started nearly 120 Grands Prix more – was an important part in giving Jenson the car that allowed him to win pole position and the race.  It will continue to be priceless, more and more so as Button and Brawn edge closer and closer to a sensational championship tilt.  Rubens Barrichello’s day in the sun will come in time.  At the moment, he just has to accept that no-one is driving at Jenson Button’s level.  This is evidenced by the fact that he won on Sunday on a non-optimal two-stop strategy.  If Ross Brawn, the sport’s most celebrated tactical genius, wanted to deliberately scupper Rubens Barrichello’s race, I’m sure he could think of a better way than giving him the faster strategy and hope beyond hope that it would go wrong somehow.

For all the new and exciting in 2009-vintage Formula 1, it’s in a way comforting that hot air, rumour and hearsay still rule the roost.

2009 season opener?

May 6, 2009

And so, then, the Spanish Grand Prix.  This is the one we’ve been waiting for, when the pre-season favourites will suddenly re-emerge and put the upstarts in their place.  Sadly, for them at least, this is not a theory I subscribe to.  I expect that McLaren, Renault and Ferrari will make some significant progress as the year goes on, but I do not see that it will be at the expense of the teams who have started 2009 running at the front.  It should present an almighty treat for us, though, if in an already extraordinarily close year we were to gain four, six or even eight new cars and drivers with a realistic chance of winning any particular weekend.

The new look to the front of the pack this season has, I think, tricked a lot of people’s minds into thinking that there’s something not quite real about the current championship situation, that things will soon be redressed when we all wake up.  The fact of the matter is, however, that all the races so far have been normal events with points to be had.  For all of the new winners and surprised-looking mechanics and grim-faced Ferrari management, Jenson Button arrives in Barcelona with 31 points from a possible 35, twelve ahead of his teammate and 13 ahead of Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel – looking increasingly likely to be a serious championship protagonist this year.

Had Lewis Hamilton or Felipe Massa arrived at the Circuito de Catalunya with such a margin, people would already be writing this season off as a contest.  They’d be treading dangerous ground to do so, but there’d still be a reasonable chance they’d be proven completely correct.  I don’t see why the same can’t be applied to Button’s chances.  The reason why we expect Hamilton, Räikkönen, Massa or Alonso to be in Button’s position is because they drive for teams who have, traditionally, done the best job in producing a fast car.  This year, Brawn did the best job.  Quite whether they will be able to match their more experienced rivals’ pace of development is a big question mark, as is how they will balance this season’s races with their efforts to maintain their competitiveness in 2010.  Let there be no doubt, though.  However plain their car’s paintwork, however unlikely the story, Jenson Button is very much in the mix to win this.  The points don’t lie.

Spain will, though, be a race of much intrigue.  Countless new parts will be appearing all over every car in the pitlane – including on a Brawn car which looked a little breathless against Toyota and Red Bull in Bahrain, if only in qualifying.  Ferrari and Renault will be looking for big steps forward, whilst McLaren – finally free from the Melbourne fiasco and able to concentrate on going forward – will be looking to continue to steadily build, as they have impressively been doing at every race this season.

Even the smallest teams will be looking for any advantage, in a season where half a second either can either bring you a point or see you last of the runners.  Force India’s KERS is, I understand, nearing being ready for race weekends.  Williams’ innovative flywheel system cannot be too far behind, either.  All of this brings BMW’s struggles into stark contrast: the Munich outfit will be without the system this weekend.

However, for me the most important indicator of progress I’ll be watching for on Sunday afternoon is whether or not the new rules – designed with the specific purpose of improving the racing on-track – are really working.  Barcelona has, in recent years, provided some of the starkest, bleakest and most dismally processional races you could ever wish to see.  Forget finding out who’s going to be competitive for the rest of the year… I want to find out if one car will be able to make a competition of it by passing another one on the circuit.  Fingers, as ever, crossed.

Useless prediction:

Pole position: Button (Brawn Mercedes) (because Barcelona favours the most aerodynamically efficient cars always)

Race result: 1st: Button (Brawn Mercedes); 2nd Vettel (Red Bull Renault); 3rd: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes).

This time they are really spoiling us…

The BBC’s exceptional coverage of the 2009 Formula 1 season continues at apace with these magnificent pieces from their cavernous archives.  Readers in the United Kingdom can watch re-runs of their Grand Prix highlights package from the Spanish Grands Prix of 1981 and 1986 online. Watching even a processional dirge from those grainy turbo days is always a joy, so these two outstanding races have much more to offer.  They are especially noteworthy for two virtuoso, sleight-of-hand victories, under extreme pressure and in inferior equipment, by two of the sport’s greatest ever drivers. Commentary, of course, comes from Murray Walker and the delightfully thrummy James Hunt. Here’s hoping that the BBC – who have been presenting such online treats all season in the week before races – continue in the same vein throughout the 2009 season, particularly in the historically rich European season.

Ayrton Senna

May 1, 2009

It’s hard to believe that it has been fifteen years today since the death of Ayrton Senna in the San Marino Grand Prix.  Hard to believe because there is something seemingly timeless about Senna.  Hard to believe, too, because he represents a such a different time, a different challenge in a different age, that it is difficult to equate what we now know as Formula 1 with the activity he dominated for ten years.

Dominance comes in a variety of forms, of course.  Senna ran the gamut.  He was a man of unearthly talent: plainly, simply and demonstrably faster than all the rest.  To that, he added phenomenal determination and focus, the ability to transform this basic natural gift into results within the World Championship framework.  Most of all, though, his extraordinary personality projected such an air over the sport that it was inevitable, perhaps, that the day he was no longer there would be the day Formula 1 would fundamentally change.

It is rare that such genius – that word so over-applied in sport and in life – emerges.  In sporting terms, any given activity might be lucky enough to experience its emergence once per generation.  This has certainly been the case in motor racing.  However, in the 1980s, two men arrived at the same time.  That their battle would be titanic was never in doubt.  However, what actually transpired between Senna and Alain Prost was so fierce – to the point, sometimes, where it seemed like neither man had any fear for their own life – made it transcend the rather cosseted world of Formula 1 motor racing, or motor sport in general.  A genuine clash of the titans, you could honestly believe – watching them during their two years as McLaren teammates in 1988 and 1989 – that not only were there no other cars on the track, but that they were the only two human beings left in existence.

Ayrton Senna is the reason why I am so interested in Formula 1.  However, it took his death for me to follow it to an obsessive degree.  The first race I actively sought out to sit down and watch was the first race of the post-Senna era, the 1994 Monaco Grand Prix.  Before this, I was a casual observer, watching bits here and bits there, aware of the key protagonists and something of their histories.  I always knew exactly what Ayrton Senna was doing, though.  He was the star man of the piece, even in a world inhabited by terrifying 1000bhp turbocharged engines, exotic locations and drivers like Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell or Nelson Piquet.  There are some people who are just too big to be contained by a wood-veneered television.

I am particularly grateful to the gods of fate that, at age 9, I happened upon the re-run of the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix.  That race, the culmination of the Senna-Prost rivalry in their days together at McLaren, has been bored into my psyche.  Nothing I’ve seen since my days of study, passion or hunger for Formula 1 has been anything quite like it.  The atmosphere could peel paint from the walls.

Ayrton Senna was 20 years older than me.  When he died, he was 34, a completely distant concept to any 14 year old.  Now I am just 5 years shy of that mark, I still feel unable to understand him, his life or his motivations with any greater clarity.  Such is his enigma, I think he will always remain miles ahead – as he so often was – ageless and untouchable.  I have no doubt that soon another generation will tick over and there will be another Formula 1 star of such fingertip genius that his rivals are left floundering in his wake.  Maybe it will prove to be someone already in place, like Lewis Hamilton or Fernando Alonso.  They will always be younger than me, though, which makes a big psychological difference to how special they will be to me, to my life.  The difference with Ayrton Senna is that he was that special to everyone – from children as I was, to hardened, cynical motor racing journalists, years his senior and who should have known better.  For all the numbers – ages, years, career statistics – Senna will remain a man apart, different to the rest.  His achievements on the track have since been dwarfed by the exceptional career of Michael Schumacher.  They will, in time, be nudged further down the all-time ladder.  Nevertheless, his name will continue to be the first one anyone looks for in the list; whose achievement one tries to equal.

Ayrton Senna da Silva is the single greatest sportsman I have ever seen.   I feel increasingly privileged to have shared a planet, albeit for such a short time, with such an outstanding human being.  I loved him.

Roland Ratzenberger 1960-1994

It would have been convenient for me to finish this piece there, all punchy and whatnot.  However, to do so would be unfair to the memory of the forgotten man from that shocking weekend at Imola 15 years ago.  Roland Ratzenberger – whose 15-year anniversary was yesterday – was the first man to die at the wheel of a Grand Prix car in eight years, the first at a race meeting in 12.  He was, as are the majority of Grand Prix drivers, an exceptionally talented man.  His popularity with his peers was starting to infect the Grand Prix paddock on a wider scale when he died.  He was old for a Grand Prix newcomer by modern standards – 33 – and the greatest shame for us all is that the most notable lasting effect from his time in the sport was to become a grim historical footnote, rather than allow us the chance to get to know him better as a driver, as a sportsman, as a man.

Ratzenberger’s accident – a head on impact with a retaining wall at 195 mph – is the cruellest and most vicious I have witnessed in Formula 1 during my lifetime.  Partially because it was caused by a mechanical problem and was not his own fault, but mainly because at the time the world had grown blasé about the phenomenal strength and safety of the cars.

Ratzenberger’s greatest legacy to the sport he loved is that, aside from Ayrton Senna a day later, Formula 1 has now entered its longest ever spell without a mortal accident.  But more than the awareness he so tragically raised, the sight of him and of Senna sat lifeless in ruined cars on global television has made the powers that be – the FIA, the drivers and the circuits – never relent or rest on their laurels in trying to improve the chances for the drivers or spectators when, as they always will, things come unstuck.

It could be argued that Roland Ratzenberger will prove to be one of the most important racing drivers in the history of Formula One.  But I can’t help but wish he’d merely have slipped, alive and well, into gentle anonymity instead.

Date with destiny

April 29, 2009

This morning could have a significant effect on the destiny of the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship, as an increasingly competitive McLaren team face the World Motorsport Council on charges of  deliberately misleading the race stewards of the Australian Grand Prix.  Their guilt, of course, is already established.  The role of the WMC sitting today is to decide on what punishment, if any, this warrants.  McLaren International’s actions thus far – sacking team manager Dave Ryan, a series of public apologies including one from Lewis Hamilton plus a private letter sent to the FIA, chairman Ron Dennis standing down from his Formula 1 responsibilities and the team’s decision to stand silent at the hearing – all point, in my mind, to a team who has a nasty suspicion that it will not merely be a slap on the wrist.

The tendency of such hearings is for their outcomes to be representative of a team’s general conduct over a longer period than just for the incident alone.  With the cannily-named Spygate saga still fresh in people’s minds, this could have come at a better time for McLaren.  However, it must also be remembered that the team paid an astronomical fine for that transgression – $100 million – plus countless more millions in lost prize money for their disqualification from that year’s constructor’s championship.

Given all of this, plus the novel nature of the infringement, has left most commentators and experts very much in the dark as to what will happen this time.  The WMC has almost limitless powers for censure.  McLaren could escape with a warning, but just as easily could find themselves with a blanket ban from this year’s championship, or longer.

My own feeling has mellowed somewhat since my piece written on the 3rd of this month, with the subject still fresh in my mind.  I ended that article with the words: “The FIA say they reserve the right to punish the team further for this transgression.  I hope that they throw the bloody book at them.”  I maintain the view that the team deserved to be punished.  However, I now question the value of too swingeing a judgement.  McLaren’s actions were indefensible, but they have been caught and the wrong it caused – in terms of the results of the Australian race – has been righted.  They have also subsequently admitted their culpability and apologised – although I can’t help but feel that their scarcely-credible second denial of any wrongdoing to the Malaysian Grand Prix stewards a week later may well come back to haunt them.

Toto Roche’s Flag being a completely anal project, it would be remiss of me to not look back at previous similar incidences and their outcomes, before speculating on what McLaren’s fate might be and what I think it should be.

1984: Tyrrell

The accusation: Tyrrell Grand Prix were caught with traces of lead in their water tank after Martin Brundle’s car finished second in the Detroit Grand Prix.  It transpired that the team – hampered by the weight limit of the time, being the sole non-turbo engined car in the field – had been topping up their water tank late on in races with water filled with lead pellets to bring the car up to weight, having run the majority of the way under the limit.  The FIA charged the team with virtually everything it could throw at it.  The hydrocarbon traces in the water tank could be interpreted as the illegal use of an additional fuel cell, we were told.  No matter that the team – who as the sole remaining Cosworth outfit were a perpetual thorn in the side of the turbocharged remainder, in terms of Ken Tyrrell’s veto in Formula One Constructors’ Association meetings – scarcely needed their full fuel quota to finish the races with their frugal normally-aspirated engines.  Particularly as the team could also be charged with illegally running underweight, or using unsecured ballast.

The outcome: It was very much considered a fait accompli by many, an act of vengeance following pressure by the FOCA hoardes against a plucky outsider.  Nevertheless, the fact remained that Tyrrell had broken the rules.  Whether or not the punishment fitted the crime, however, is another matter.  Tyrrell, found guilty, were banned from competing in the balance of that season’s World Championship – three races – plus had all of the results they had gained up to that point in 1984 rescinded.

1994: Benetton and McLaren

The accusation: Benetton Ford and McLaren Peugeot were both accused of using banned electronic aids at that year’s  ill-fated San Marino Grand Prix.  Such gadgets, which had been banned at the end of 1993 with a promise of “mindblowing” sanctions for those caught using them in 1994, would have given any team a significant advantage as the rest of the teams got back to grips with passive suspension and no traction control.  Benetton and McLaren were specifically accused of using fully automated launch control devices at the start, but rumours darkly circulated about automatic gearboxes and traction control as well, particularly in light of Benetton’s stellar start to the 1994 season.

The outcome: Both Benetton and McLaren were acquitted due to insufficient evidence.  Both teams later received stern penalties for their drivers after trangressions in the races.  Both Michael Schumacher and Mika Häkkinen served race suspensions, with Schumacher sitting out both the Italian and Portuguese races for ignoring a black flag at the British Grand Prix.  This was interpreted by some as a disproportionate response, a way to punish them for both offences via the back door.

2005: BAR

The accusation: BAR Honda were caught using a supplementary fuel tank at the San Marino Grand Prix.  Once this tank was drained by scrutineers after the race, the car was found to be underweight.  The team were accused of illegally using fuel as ballast.

The outcome: BAR were found guilty of the charge.  Jenson Button was disqualified from his 3rd place at Imola, plus the team were suspended from the subsequent Spanish and Monaco Grands Prix.

Where, then, does this leave McLaren?  The BAR verdict in 2005 shows that the powers that be have no compunction in depleting a 20-car field to just 18 runners, if they think the crime warrants it.  Such sporting concerns as ‘the show’ are secondary, in other words, to sporting concerns such as probity of conduct.  Like Tyrrell in 1984, there is also no technological argument to be made, no potential loopholes to be explored, no questions of guilt or innocence.

In such circumstances, it’s hard to not see some sort of stiff penalty being handed down.  However, with the $100 million fine probably still not yet even entirely spent, McLaren’s conduct since should – and probably will – be some mitigation.  If it were my decision, I would ban the team for the next race, plus make them run for the next 2 years with a further suspended ban which made it clear that any further similar infraction would result in a total disqualification from that year’s World Championship.  What I suspect will happen is a two race ban and another substantial fine.  Let’s see.

The most extraordinary aspect to last weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix was the closeness of the field.  Never before in the history of Formula 1 have such tiny margins covered the entire grid from front to back.  As such, it’s making it easier than usual to spot which drivers are on top of their game and which drivers are struggling.

I started watching Grand Prix racing in earnest from this point in the season – round 4 – 15 years and sixteen seasons ago.  The grid that day, the Monaco Grand Prix a fortnight after the death of Ayrton Senna, was a faintly surreal sight in the context of last weekend’s.  At the end of the Q1 session, a scant 1.5 seconds covered 20 cars.  In Monaco 1994, the same margin more or less accounted for the front row, Michael Schumacher winning his first ever F1 pole from Mika Häkkinen’s McLaren Peugeot.  Schumacher’s 1m18.560 lap was 5.5 seconds ahead of the 20th car, Olivier Panis’ Ligier Renault.  Meanwhile, Paul Belmondo, the 24th and last qualifier in the dismal Pacific Ilmor was 18.337 seconds away, 10.8 shy indeed of his own teammate in 23rd place.  All the more remarkable, considering that at the time, this was considered progress in itself, the field having been closed up by a raft of technical regulations at the end of the 1993 campaign.

Nowadays is perhaps the toughest time ever to be a Formula 1 driver in terms of scrutiny of your performance.  Not only did being a tenth off your teammate’s qualifying time – whilst far from ideal, you should be ahead of him – not used to constitute a crisis, it would also make little difference to your team’s overall fortunes.  Now it can be the difference between a podium finish or spending Sunday afternoon battling outside the points.  It is little wonder that already drivers like Nelson Piquet, Kazuki Nakajima and Sebastien Bourdais are nervously editing their CV’s.

Brawn GP are perhaps the team least troubled by this.  Whilst their car seems to have been caught in terms of outright pace by Toyota and particularly Red Bull Racing, in race trim the BGP001 seems to offer its drivers a platform to deliver consistently good results.  Still, Jenson Button will be feeling happier than Rubens Barrichello, who, although scoring points in every round, hasn’t joined the Briton on the podium since the opening weekend in Melbourne.  Button drove a wonderful race yet again, by far his best of the season thus far.  His pass early in the race on Lewis Hamilton – at the end of the straight and against a car with the same engine but with KERS – was truly and deservedly a race winner.

Red Bull‘s drivers, too, seem to be pretty evenly matched.  In terms of pace, at least, as again Mark Webber’s luck deserts him at the least opportune moments.  Nevertheless, Sebastian Vettel is driving beautifully at the moment and the RB5 car, still without a magical diffuser, looks to be another addition to Adrian Newey’s hall of fame after some quieter years.

Toyota‘s drivers may prove a little more under the cosh.  The Toyota was very much the car to have in Bahrain, yet neither Jarno Trulli or Timo Glock could deliver on Sunday.  The team have blamed the strategy for this one, but many more weekends like that and it will make people start to wonder.  Personally, I’ve been wondering about Jarno Trulli for years.  Few people are as quick as him in qualifying, but come Sunday all the push, drive and aggression seem to have left him.  Third place was much less than the team deserved.  All this bitching bitched, though, he very much had the measure of Glock this weekend, and added his first ever Grand Prix fastest lap.

McLaren‘s progress continues.  The car itself seems to have found over a second in terms of lap time in the last two races, an exceptional achievement in a field covered by little more than 150% of that.  Lewis Hamilton is driving better than I have ever seen him, for less reward than he’s ever had in his whole racing career.  If the World Motorsport Council are kind to McLaren this week – about which, more on Wednesday – and the team are allowed to continue unfettered in 2009, I expect Lewis to be on the podium by mid-season and a race winner again before the year is out.  Kovalainen continues to be a slim margin behind Hamilton in everything he does, but the penalty for this is proving increasingly severe.

Ferrari finally managed to scrape enough bits together to get a car into the points, plus both cars in the Q3 top ten shootout – a feat which has so far eluded McLaren in 2009.  However, in the race their bad luck continued, Massa enduring a troubled run and more Ferrari KERS gremlins.  Kimi Räikkönen, meanwhile, kept his head down and delivered a drive which left you in little doubt that it was the best that car could have achieved.  The problem is the horizontal nature of the team’s development thus far, which will be at least confronted, if not remedied, by a major aero update for Barcelona on May 10th.

Renault, too, are in a position where their efforts at developing a recalcitrant car are being put in the shade somewhat by McLaren.  Fernando Alonso remains optimistic, which is not an unreasonable position given the team’s huge mid-season advances in 2008.  Nelson Piquet had his best weekend of 2009 thus far, making it to Q2 and finishing the race a handful of positions and a respectable 13 seconds behind his teammate.  I have a feeling, however, that the decision to replace him will already have been taken and that the onus is on the Brazilian to do something outstanding enough in the next X races to make the decision be untaken.  A tall order in a difficult car against such a distinguished team leader.

Toro Rosso kept it on the straight and narrow again, but this, the first race of the season without safety cars or rain to mix things up, is probably the truest indication of their true form so far in 2009.  Of the two Sebastiens, Bourdais will be the happier.  Under pressure to perform against his promising rookie teammate Buemi, the Frenchman comprehensively outraced him on Sunday… although again failed to outqualify him after mechanical troubles in morning practice.

Force India, too, probably found themselves in a more representative position.  However, the team must surely be heartened by some of the flashes of genuine midfield pace the team’s new interim aerodynamic package was able to give them.  It’s testimony to the skill of the people they have there that they have been able to produce any updates as quickly as they have, that they seem to be a step in the right direction is an extra bonus.  Their drivers, Fisichella and Sutil, finished line astern in 15th and 16th places, a clear indication that the car hasn’t much left to give at the moment.  However, they are still looking like they are capable of giving some big names a hard time at any point of the weekend.

Williams bold march backwards continues at apace.  Nico Rosberg was again fast in practice but faded away in the race, having initially made a nuisance of himself towards the lower end of the top 8.  He eventually missed out on a point by a shade over 5 seconds.  Kazuki Nakajima, meanwhile, succumbed to bad oil pressure – the race’s only retirement and Nakajima’s third DNF in four starts this year.  Some day in 2009, Williams will have a eureka moment and finally wring some sustained pace from their car on race day.  Is Nakajima the man to be able to exploit it?  He has much to prove.

Last and very much last, BMW.  Their weekend was a plain and simple nightmare.  Finishing 18th and 19th, after myriad problems in the race including KERS issues and the loss of front wings left, right and (mainly) centre, would be bad enough for a team who qualified on pole here 12 months ago.  However, the fact that, based on practice and qualifying pace, they’d have fared little better with an unhampered run is much more of a concern.  BMW have got it very wrong somewhere along the line in their 2009 concept.  Improvements will have to be made quickly, or else the season will be a write-off and 2010 made the focus.  For an outfit who went into this year with huge preparation and significant confidence, it must be a winding blow.  Nick Heidfeld’s breaking of Michael Schumacher’s record of 24 consecutive race finishes will be little consolation: Schumacher’s 24 were all top three results.  Heidfeld brought up his 25th with 19th and last place.

Bahrain and the BBC

April 23, 2009

Sakhir is the next venue for the Formula 1 circus, for the fifth year in a row.  A pioneer race for the Middle East in Grand Prix racing, Bahrain will be joined by Abu Dhabi this season as F1 looks to find any available money teat which is still producing.  Bahrain has, nevertheless, been a fine venue for the sport and tends to produce interesting – if not necessarily thrilling – Grands Prix.

To be completely trite and obvious about it, this race marks a line in the sand for all the teams, the last event before the European season kicks off in Barcelona next month.  This, then, probably represents the last race for the current order in the sport.  From May 10th onward, expect to see some more established names make inroads as their car developments come thick and fast whilst the diffuser gang plateau.

Still, they will have it all to do to catch Brawn GP.  Regardless of last week’s result, the BGP001 car is still the class of the field.  Tripped up in strategic terms by the rain in Shanghai, the team are much less likely to be so afflicted in the desert and go into the race as favourites.  Their chief competition, I expect, will come from Toyota and Red Bull.  I also have a sneaking feeling that Ferrari will return to the points at this race, or at the very least be running there when their car breaks.  Felipe Massa is a Bahrain specialist, whilst the team spent significant time testing at Sakhir during the winter break.

Williams will also be looking to show well and make their practice pace come alive in official sessions for the first time in 2009.  Of the three double diffuser teams, they are perhaps the outfit with the most to gain from the return to Europe and the factories after the flyaway beginning to the season.

Of the teams making inroads, I expect McLaren to be the best of the rest.  The team seem to be making steady progress, rather than a fuss about how unfair it all is, the chosen method of some of their rivals.  Bahrain also features a few decent length straights where their KERS system should do serious damage to their competition come race day.

I don’t see much else in the way of change on the horizon until Spain.  It will, however, be interesting to see what progress Renault – on the front row in Shanghai’s dry qualifying, remember, albeit with a light car – have made.  On the driver front, I’ll have a gimlet eye on Nelsinho Piquet again… he really needs to make it into the same qualifying session as Alonso and quickly… and will also be watching out for the nascent Sebastien Buemi to see if he can continue his good work so far.

My rubbish and useless prediction:

Pole position: Jenson Button (Brawn Mercedes)

Race result: 1. Jenson Button (Brawn Mercedes); 2. Sebastian Vettel (red Bull Renault); 3. Timo Glock (Toyota)

The BBC

Bahrain will also be the fourth round for the BBC’s new coverage of the Grand Prix racing.  I still find myself instinctively looking at the ITV listings to see what time programmes start, which in itself says a lot for the majority of the Beeb’s coverage.  This is not to denigrate it at all, however.  ITV did an excellent job in its 11 years with the sport.  The greatest tribute that they can be paid is that Auntie have seen little reason to change much of the presentational format.  Personnel-wise, the BBC seem to have chosen wisely.  I never subscribed to the James Allen hate-in, feeling he was just experiencing the fallout for the terrible if unavoidable crime of not being Murray Walker.  Jonathan Legard is no better or worse than Allen, but he’s still not Murray Walker, so I expect to start to hear the rumblings of discontent soon.  Martin Brundle and Ted Kravitz came over from the commercial darkside, and are both excellent aquisitions.  The last of the mainstream commentary team, Lee McKenzie, has also slotted in seamlessly, which, I say again, is all you could really ask from them.

On the presentation side, Jake Humphrey still looks like a bizarrely stretched 12-year old boy, but it’s fairly obvious that he isn’t just there for his yoof appeal and that he has a passion for the subject.  He seems to be the chief concession to a more DYNAMIC approach that the BBC have taken – he walks up and down the pitlane whilst talking, where Steve Rider used to stand still.  Alongside him, David Coulthard is yet to really cut loose as a pundit, but I reckon it’ll be worth the wait.  Eddie Jordan is more of a question mark.  His ex-team owner and I-used-to-run-that-driver schtick is already wearing a little thin.  However, there’s no denying Jordan – who has huge experience as both a driver and an owner – has the potential to make a significant contribution.  Even if he doesn’t, he at least knows how to speak English properly, which makes him a step forward from Mark Blundell.

So, the big change’s biggest service to the viewer has been to remain the same.  What is noteworthy, though, is the vast amount of additional coverage the BBC has been able to provide, through its interactive TV and online streaming.  Every minute of the weekend’s action is now covered, the majority of it at inhospitable times on Friday mornings.  However, if you can sneak away and have yet to do so, watching one of the 90-minute free practice sessions is well worth it.  Not for the on-track action, which is as relevant to the TV viewer as an exotic screensaver, but for the soundtrack.  The BBC’s second-string – i.e. Radio Five – commentary team sit in and are doing a really exceptional job.  David Croft is a wily one, knowledgable but with a nice line in mischievous devil’s advocacy.  He is usually joined by the outstanding Anthony Davidson, truly the heir apparent to Martin Brundle’s mic.  Also on hand will be the vastly knowledgable Maurice Hamilton, recently joined by another seasoned figure from the paddock, Ian Phillips – formerly the editor of Autosport magazine and of Jordan Grand Prix, now employed by Force India.  All four bring their years of experience to bear with considerable aplomb – entertaining, controversial, wry, observant and educational.  Highly recommended and, as with so much of the BBC coverage so far, available later on on the BBC Sport website.

Slow starters

April 22, 2009

There has been much discussion in the press, on the broadcast media and online about the dismal start to the Grand Prix season being endured by Ferrari.  This reaction is understandable given their almost monotonous level of success over the past decade, where they have won all but two Constructors’ Championship titles.  However, Ferrari are no real strangers to adversity, as you might expect from any team of a 59-year pedigree.  Previous fallow periods include the early 1990s – when the team went for nearly 4 full seasons without a race win – the early 1980s and the early 1970s, which culminated in a season of such lacklustreness in 1973 that the team often ran just one car for Jacky Ickx and didn’t even bother entering four of the the last six events.

The common uniting thread in all this, however, is that competitiveness has always returned.  In 1974, under new management with a new car and new drivers, Ferrari began a 6-year spell which yielded 3 drivers’ and 4 constructors’ championship titles.  The early 1980s saw a pair of dismal years immediately followed by two title-winning efforts for the team.  And the 1990s slump led to the construction of the Todt-Brawn-Byrne-Martinelli-Schumacher superteam who swept all before it in unprecedented style.

Ferrari’s problems this year seem to be related to grip, which a new aerodynamic package will be looking to address.  More of a concern must be their lack of reliability.  Previously bulletproof, Ferrari will be mindful of the old motor racing truism that it is easier to make a reliable car fast than it is to make a fast car reliable.  I think it’s fair inconceivable that the team will be in the doldrums for the whole of the 2009 season.  Felipe Massa particularly has demonstrated good speed in the races, only to be let down by his machinery, and their technical team is second to none.  The fact, however, remains that the team go into this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix knowing that a failure to score any points for the fourth successive race at the start of a season will be a new low tidemark.

In the spirit of Toto Roche’s Flag, I have decided to take a look through the history books (literally, in this case), to look at Ferrari’s other bad starts to a Grand Prix season.

1993 After 3 events: 1 point (@ 0.167 points-per-start)

Ferrari were really in a hole in the early 1990s.  Their drivers – Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger – managed just a finish apiece in the first 3 races of 1993, with Berger taking the only point at the season opener at Kyalami.  In the July of this year, Jean Todt was brought in as team manager after a success in a similar role at Peugeot motorsport. 

What happened next: Fortunes picked up slightly as the season wore on, but the team only managed a final total of 28 points, good enough for 4th place.  The high point were three podium finishes – two for Alesi and one for Berger – with a best of 2nd in Italy.

1992 After 3 events: 5 points (0.833)

At the end of a disappointing 1991 season, where the team failed to win a race a season after fighting for the drivers’ championship, lead driver Alain Prost was made the scapegoat and sacked for unflattering comments about his car’s handling in the press.  Lacking any real experience or direction, Jean Alesi and Ivan Capelli struggled on as best they could with an unreliable and slow car.  Their haul of points all came at the third round in Brazil as the cars finished 4th and 5th, after retirements for both drivers in the first two races. 

What happened next: The team again finished 4th, with just 21 points to their name.  Alesi managed two podium finishes again – including one in the fourth race.  Capelli, however, struggled badly and was dropped for the last two races, replaced by the none-more-successful Nicola Larini.

1986 After 3 rounds: 3 points (0.500)

Again, Ferrari made a meal of things a year after a season where their lead driver challenged for the world crown.  In this instance, their points came from Stefan Johansson’s 4th place at the season’s 3rd round in Imola.  The problems were again twofold, with a slow and unreliable car. 

What happened next: Ferrari finished 4th with 33 points, Stefan Johansson’s four 3rd places and Michele Alboreto’s second in Austria the highlights.  Behind the scenes, major changes were afoot.  For 1987, Ferrari signed McLaren designer John Barnard, whose Guildford Technical Office built a car which won the final two races of the 1987 season in the hands of Gerhard Berger.

1981 After 3 rounds: 0 points

1980 After 3 rounds: 0 points

Ferrari began the 1980s in a terrible state.  Their 1980 season was a disaster, with defending World Champion Jody Scheckter scoring only 2 points all year and failing to qualify for the Canadian Grand Prix.  In his teammate Gilles Villeneuve, Ferrari had the generation’s outstanding driver, but even he was unable to wring anything out of the dire 312T5, a best of two fifths and two sixths.  He faired a little better in 1981, now alongside Didier Pironi in place of the retired Scheckter.  The season started even more woefully, though.  In 1980, the team at least managed a 16th place finish in the first 3 rounds.  In 1981 the first 6 starts yielded not a single finish. 

What happened next: Thanks in the most part to the brilliance of Villeneuve, Ferrari won two races in 1981, both of them masterpieces of the art.  Villeneuve won the Monaco Grand Prix in the worst handling car in the field when his exceptional teammate Pironi struggled to even qualify the car.  He followed this up with his famous Spanish Grand Prix win at Jarama, where he successfully used his car’s one major façet – it’s straighline speed – to defend against attack from a queue of four faster cars.  Ferrari went on to win the Constructors’ Cup in 1982 and 1983, but it was not without a cost.  Villeneuve died in a qualifying crash early in the 1982 season, whilst Pironi’s season was ended prematurely – with the Frenchman leading the championship – after a terrifying leg-breaking shunt in practice for the German Grand Prix.  1980’s tally was 8 points and 10th place, with an improvement to 34 and 5th in 1981.

1970 After 3 rounds: 0 points

Ferrari were all out of sorts at the beginning of the 1970s, as the new Cosworth DFV engine was adopted by the majority of their rivals, leaving Ferrari’s V12 hopelessly heavy and antiquated.  Behind also in chassis development, the team cut their losses and only entered a single car for Jacky Ickx in the early rounds, but it failed to finish a single one. 

What happened next: Ferrari’s fortunes picked up hugely from mid-season, the team eventually finishing second with 52 points.  Drivers Jacky Ickx and Clay Regazzoni racked up 4 wins, 5 pole positions and 8 fastest laps.  Their form was not sustained, however, as the introduction of Tyrrell’s first self-made car took all the honours for 1971.  By 1973 the team were in turmoil, leading to wholesale management changes and the appointment of Niki Lauda as lead driver.

1969 After 3 rounds: 0 points

Similarly to their 1970 season, Ferrari’s main problem in 1969 was the new DFV engine.  Their sole entrant, Chris Amon, failed to finish in any of the first 3 races.  What happened next: Ferrari scored just 7 points in1969, finishing equal bottom of the standings.  The highlight of their year was Amon’s 3rd place in the Dutch Grand Prix.

1964 After 3 rounds: 6 points

A slow start to the season, their sole points score coming from John Surtees’ 2nd place in round two. 

What happened next: After a slow first 4 rounds, Ferrari burst into life in the final 6 races of the season.  Finishing with at least one car on the podium of each of them, John Surtees 5 such finishes were enough to give him the drivers’ crown after the final race decider in Mexico.  Teammate Lorenzo Bandini also won a Grand Prix, at Austria, to go alongside Surtees’ two victories.  With a further 3 third places from Bandini, Ferrari also won their first Constructors’ Cup since 1961.

Since Red Bull Racing’s bold strut into the winners’ circle last Sunday morning, I have seen literally nobody ask the question: how many teams have now won a World Championship Grand Prix race?  Luckily, I’m always on hand to answer any such non-questions.  The answer is 30.

This is not completely straightforward, however.  The thirty ‘teams’ in question are in fact manufacturers or constructors.  It must be remembered of course that numbers 6 and 8 in the list – Cooper and Lotus – had their first Grand Prix successes courtesy of Rob Walker Racing’s privateer team, whilst 14 (Matra) scored all of their success thanks to Ken Tyrrell’s team’s stewardship at the track.  Tyrrell also won the first victory for March (number 15) in the year before he went solo and became number 16.  More recently, of course, it’s arguable that Toro Rosso’s maiden victory in Italy last autumn was in fact a success for Red Bull Racing, whose chassis the Italian team use.

Also complicating matters are issues such as family trees – the Red Bull Team bought the assets of Jaguar, who did the same to Stewart Grand Prix, race winners in their own right.  Brawn GP, too, have a complex past, with former race winning efforts from Honda and Tyrrell in their direct lineage.  Meanwhile, Lancia do not make the list, although their superb D50 car won several races after the outfit was forced to sell their stock to Ferrari, Juan Manuel Fangio winning the 1956 championship in a car badged as a Lancia-Ferrari.

With all this in mind, though, I have tried to present a balanced and considered list of the squads and cars that have won a Grand Prix in their own right.  Here it is, along with the race in which they first took the flag and the driver at the wheel.

1. Alfa Romeo (1950 British Grand Prix, Guiseppe Farina)
2. Ferrari (1951 British Grand Prix, José Frolian Gonzalez)
3. Maserati (1953 Italian Grand Prix, Juan Manuel Fangio)
4. Mercedes-Benz (1954 French Grand Prix, Juan Manuel Fangio)
5. Vanwall (1957 British Grand Prix, Tony Brooks/Stirling Moss)
6. Cooper (1958 Argentinian Grand Prix, Stirling Moss)
7. BRM (1959 Dutch Grand Prix, Jo Bonnier)
8. Lotus (1960 Monaco Grand Prix, Stirling Moss)
9. Porsche (1962 French Grand Prix, Dan Gurney)
10. Brabham (1964 French Grand Prix, Dan Gurney)
11. Honda (1965 Mexican Grand Prix, Richie Ginther)
12. Eagle (1967 Belgian Grand Prix, Dan Gurney)
13. McLaren (1968 Belgian Grand Prix, Bruce McLaren)
14. Matra (1968 Dutch Grand Prix, Jackie Stewart)
15. March (1970 Spanish Grand Prix, Jackie Stewart)
16. Tyrrell (1971 Spanish Grand Prix, Jackie Stewart)
17. Hesketh (1975 Dutch Grand Prix, James Hunt)
18. Penske (1976 Austrian Grand Prix, John Watson)
19. Wolf (1977 Argentinian Grand Prix, Jody Scheckter)
20. Ligier (1977 Swedish Grand Prix, Jacques Laffite)
21. Shadow (1977 Austrian Grand Prix, Alan Jones)
22. Renault (1979 French Grand Prix, Jean-Pierre Jabouille)
23. Williams (1979 British Grand Prix, Clay Regazzoni)
24. Benetton (1986 Mexican Grand Prix, Gerhard Berger)
25. Jordan (1998 Belgian Grand Prix, Damon Hill)
26. Stewart (1999 European Grand Prix, Johnny Herbert)
27. BMW Sauber (2008 Canadian Grand Prix, Robert Kubica)
28. Scuderia Toro Rosso (2008 Italian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel)
29. Brawn (2009 Australian Grand Prix, Jenson Button)
30. Red Bull Racing (2009 Chinese Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel)

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