July 07, 2007

F1 Quals: Silverstone (and StepneyGate)

Rule Brittania! Britannia, rule the track: Hamilton never will be slow, that's the fact!

Even though he was overdriving his McLaren, pushing too hard and actually going too wide on the last turn, Lewis Hamilton managed to turn in a lap fast enough to bring him pole at his home Grand Prix. And the crowd goes wild. The lads in the McLaren paddock were going crazy, and even the generally staid 'Voice of McLaren' was sounding somewhat excited. Quite the moment for the lad.

And quite the letdown for Kimi Raikkonen, who had pole for about 30 seconds, pulling out a fantastic lap, despite looking like he was destined for row 2 at the beginning of it. Fernando Alonso ended up third, having been aced by Raikkonen at the last instant. Felipe Massa was 4th, completing the 2nd row.

McLaren, Ferrari, McLaren, Ferrari. Hm. Have we seen this before? Maybe this isn't surprising; with the espionage scandal floating around, I wonder if Ferrari had anything to do with the design of the McLaren? (see the extended entry below for an overview)

The rest of the grid:
5. Robert Kubica Poland BMW 1:20.401
6. Ralf Schumacher Germany Toyota 1:20.516
7. Heikki Kovalainen Finland Renault 1:20.721
8. Giancarlo Fisichella Italy Renault 1:20.775
9. Nick Heidfeld Germany BMW 1:20.894
10. Jarno Trulli Italy Toyota 1:21.240
11. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault 1:20.235
12. David Coulthard Britain Red Bull-Renault 1:20.329
13. Alexander Wurz Austria Williams-Toyota 1:20.350
14. Rubens Barrichello Brazil Honda 1:20.364
15. Scott Speed United States Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:20.515
16. Vitantonio Liuzzi Italy Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:20.823
17. Nico Rosberg Germany Williams-Toyota 1:21.219
18. Jenson Button Britain Honda 1:21.335
19. Anthony Davidson Britain Super Aguri-Honda 1:21.448
20. Adrian Sutil Germany Spyker-Ferrari 1:22.019
21. Takuma Sato Japan Super Aguri-Honda 1:22.045
22. Christijan Albers Netherlands Spyker-Ferrari 1:22.589

One interesting note on the factory Honda team is that they've gone back to their 2006-spec chassis: the same car SuperAguri has been driving all year. It's amazing that, despite all the money sunk into the 2007, they had to go back to last season's... and that it took them this long to make the call.

Click below for information on the ongoing Espionage Scandal, Stepneygate. Okay, the long and short of it is that Ferrari's design documents made their way into McLaren's hands. Nigel Stepney, Ferrari's head of performance development, has been accused of passing the documents to McLaren's designer, Mike Coughlin.

Further, Stepney is also being accused of attempted sabotage of the Ferrari cars at Monaco, after a "mysterious white powder" was found on them... and with tolerances being what they are in F1 machinery, that could break something if they got into the wrong place inside of the car.

McLaren claims that nothing from the Ferrari designs wound up in the McLaren MP4-22 design, and they are completely cooperating with the ongoing criminal investigation.

Within the past couple of days, it's been said that Honda is involved as well, though Nick Fry, Honda's team principal, denies that.

Bernie Ecclestone, grand poobah of F1, has already stated that this incident will not affect the driver's championship. Points will not be deducted from the McLaren drivers, though he specifically did not say anything about constructor's points. "It is nothing to do with the driver - he's got a car, he gets into the car; he has no idea," said Ecclestone.

Worst case for McLaren would be removal of all points by the FIA, not to mention the legal proceedings. To get it all figured out, Ron Dennis (team principal of McLaren) has pledged complete transparancy and cooperation.

New information is coming out every day, so nobody knows what and where this will end up. Of course, The Pond will keep you updated... reluctantly; like the Chris Benoit tragedy in wrestling, this is potentially a disaster for the 2007 F1 season.

Ferrari might be given the constructor's championship in the courts, as opposed to the track... which would be miserable.

Posted by: Wonderduck at 05:01 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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1 WHEW! Hamilton got the pole. I should have known better, but the last few seconds were kind of iffy.

Posted by: Mallory at July 07, 2007 06:11 AM (Bc7do)

2 That was a stunning lap from Hamilton, almost out of nowhere. I'm off upstairs in half an hour to watch every last second of coverage, and to let mrsfb avoid having to.

Posted by: flotsky at July 07, 2007 10:36 PM (/n2FK)

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