IN A NEW regular series, I will be profiling the careers of those drivers who won races and championships and those who either didn’t get the luck, or just failed at the top level of motorsport. All drivers featured will have competed between the years 1991-2011.
The next driver on the list is JJ Lehto, who had some natural speed but lacked luck, consistency and has fallen on hard times especially since his F1 career ended.
NAME: JJ Lehto
TEAMS: Onyx (1989-1990), Dallara (1991-1992), Sauber (1993-1994), Benetton (1994)
GP STARTS: 62
BEST FINISH: 3rd (1991 San Marino GP)
THE Finns have produced three Formula One world champions in Keke Rosberg, Mika Hakkinen and Kimi Raikkonen. JJ Lehto was another Scandinavian who seemed to have been born with natural speed but luck and injury seemed to be against him.
Lehto won junior formula titles in Britain and Scandinavia but struggled in the international Formula 3000 series in 1989 racing for Pacific. Fourth place at the event in Pau was the only highlight. However Lehto was in Formula One by the end of the season, competing for the Onyx team. He took over from Bertrand Gachot but failed to pre-qualify for his first event in Portugal and didn’t make much of an impression in the other events. He stayed on for 1990 but by now, the team were in dire financial difficulties. He recorded only one finish, 12th at the San Marino Grand Prix as both he and Gregor Foitek always struggled to get out of pre-qualifying. The team folded shortly after the Hungarian race and it left JJ out of a drive and at this time, a danger he might be quickly forgotten about.
A test for Ferrari though before his Onyx days came back to him when he signed up to drive for the Scuderia Italia or Dallara team as they better known. The close links between the two at the time helping with Lehto being signed up alongside Emanuele Pirro. Once again, finishes were at a premium thanks to poor reliability but out of the five times he got to the chequered flag, there was a memorable result at Imola. In mixed conditions, he kept his cool to record a shock podium finish where others fell off the road.
He stayed on with Dallara for 1992, with Pirro replaced by Pierluigi Martini. Sadly, there were no points but more a more reliable car and some creditable qualifying performances. Seventh at Spa was his best result. Dallara went bust and Lehto was a free agent again. The new Sauber team snapped him up for 1993 and this was his most consistent and best season. He qualified sixth on the team’s debut in Kyalami and finished fifth in wet conditions. Another fourth place followed at Imola although he didn’t get along well with Karl Wendlinger, his team-mate. Crashing into him on the first lap in Monte Carlo didn’t help relations. As the season drifted towards its end, he got involved in more incidents with other drivers and Sauber decided not to renew his contract.
Flavio Briatore noticed something and put him into the Benetton team alongside Michael Schumacher for 1994. Luck deserted him when he sustained a serious neck injury thanks to a testing crash at Silverstone. He was forced to sit out for the first two races and returned at Imola. Still struggling with his neck injury, JJ’s qualifying effort of fifth was excellent. However he was seriously affected by the deaths of Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger and he had his own lucky escape on raceday when he stalled his car and was ploughed into by Pedro Lamy in the Lotus.
He lost a certain third place in Barcelona thanks to a late engine failure and raced well to a point in Canada but injury and a loss of confidence saw him rested by Briatore in favour of test driver Jos Verstappen. He returned to Benetton for two races when Schumacher was banned by the FIA for the black flag infringement but struggled still and a final shot at Sauber in the final two races didn’t work out. Looking tired and confused after a traumatic campaign, Lehto was finished in F1.
He moved into sportscars afterwards and actually won the Le Mans 24 Hours twice, for McLaren in 1995 and Audi in 2005. He was an expert commentator on Formula One for Finnish Television and there was an unsuccessful season in CART in 1998 and he has fallen on tough times in recent years.
In June 2010, Lehto was involved in a boating accident in Finland, killing a passenger and leaving the Finn with injuries. He faced charges of reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol at the time of the accident. Last December, JJ Lehto was sentenced to two years in jail, found guilty on two charges of homicide and drunk driving of a boat. He denied all the charges and has served intention to appeal.
NEXT TIME ON THE DRIVER FILES: One of the most experienced drivers on the Grand Prix grid, Riccardo Patrese.
FA CUP finalists Chelsea and the Sauber Formula One team have announced a surprising link-up between the two parties. The result of Monday’s news will see both organisations carry each other’s logos around their places of sporting events. Chelsea showed off the partnership with advertising hoardings backing the Sauber team during their 2-0 Premiership loss to Newcastle United last night.
Sauber have carried some messages on their car at the Bahrain Grand Prix saying “True Blue” which might have given away an indication of the potential deal. It will be big for the Swiss team, that is now in its 20th season of competing in Grand Prix racing as their car has been missing sponsors on a regular basis since BMW’s withdrawal from the sport at the end of 2009. Sergio Perez’s stunning second place finish in Malaysia will surely have played a part in the West London club agreeing this deal with Sauber.
Sauber’s CEO Monisha Kaltenborn said on the Sauber website; “A partnership like this between Formula One and Football has never existed before in this form, yet there are numerous commonalities and possible synergies. The Sauber F1 Team and Chelsea FC are dealing with many of the same sporting and commercial topics and we want to strengthen each other in these areas. We are looking forward to exploiting these opportunities, and we congratulate Chelsea on making it to the final of the Champions League.”
The relationship is believed to promote sporting and business ventures together and the two will work on merchandising, sports science and sponsorship opportunities. Either way, the deal works very well for Sauber and continues their impressive start to 2012, especially if as it turns out, to have a link-up with the potential new Champions of Europe.
REMEMBERING Imola continues with this special look at all the drivers who took part at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix and what has happened to them since. We sadly know what happened to both Ayrton Senna and Roland Ratzenberger, but what happened in the race weekend to the other 26 competitors and where are they now.
1994 Gran Premio di San Marino Grand Prix – The drivers
Drove for: Benetton Ford, Qualified: 2nd, Race: 1st
Schumacher was chasing Senna hard before the Brazilian’s inexplicable accident which caused the race to be stopped. In the second race, he was beaten off the line by Gerhard Berger’s Ferrari but stayed on the Austrian’s tail and passed on lap 10 exiting the Aqua Minerali chicane. Schumacher cruised to victory afterwards by some 50 seconds.
Today: Michael Schumacher still competes in Formula One, driving for the Petronas Mercedes F1 team.
Drove for: Ferrari, Qualified: 6th, Race: 2nd
Larini was standing in at Ferrari for Jean Alesi, who had been injured at Mugello in a testing accident a month earlier. The Italian qualified a solid sixth, but slipped to seventh off the start. On the second start, he quickly moved into fourth and jumped Mika Hakkinen on the road and aggregate timing after the first round of pitstops. He then drove calmly to finish an excellent second, easily his best ever finish in Formula One
Today: Larini forged a stronger career in touring cars, often a frontrunner in the European and World series. He retired from professional racing at the end of 2009.
Drove for: McLaren Peugeot, Qualified: 8th, Race: 3rd
The McLaren Peugeot alliance was a disastrous combination but went well at Imola. Reliability problems and some overdriving in qualifying left Hakkinen back in eighth place on the grid, jumping Nicola Larini at the start. Following the restart, the Finn ran third for the majority of the distance and held off a late attack from Karl Wendlinger to take McLaren’s first podium of the season.
Today: After two Formula One titles in 1998 and 1999, Hakkinen retired from Formula One in 2001. He did some driving in DTM before stopping racing completely in 2007. He now has a career in driving management.
Drove for: Sauber Mercedes, Qualified: 10th, Race: 4th
The under-rated Austrian took tenth spot on the grid as Sauber didn’t run in qualifying on Saturday following Ratzenberger’s fatal accident. Wendlinger leapfrogged Ukyo Katayama at the start and was eighth before the red flag was thrown for Senna’s accident. On the restart, he ran fifth and moved into fourth when Berger retired. He was catching Hakkinen and just fell short of a maiden visit to the podium.
Today: Wendlinger’s F1 career effectively ended after a serious accident in practice for the next race at Monte Carlo. He forged a career in sportscars afterwards and was still racing in GT1 with Lamborghini in 2011.
Drove for: Tyrrell Yamaha, Qualified: 9th, Race: 5th
A radically improved Tyrrell had Katayama flying all weekend. He started in the top ten and spent most of the race fighting for points with Damon Hill and Christian Fittipaldi. Fittipaldi’s late retirement helped Katayama into fifth place, equalling his best ever F1 result.
Today: Katayama has focused on his other hobby, which is climbing mountains. By 2010, he had successfully climbed Mont Blanc and Kilimanjaro amongst others. He also is a commentator for Fuji TV on Formula One.
Drove for: Williams Renault, Qualified: 4th, Race: 6th
Damon had a difficult first day of qualifying but improved to fourth on the grid from seventh just moments before Ratzenberger crashed. Holding position from the start, he clashed with Schumacher at the Tosa hairpin on the restart and limped back to the pits with a damaged front wing. Hill set fastest lap on his fightback to sixth and the final championship point.
Today: After retiring from Formula One at the end of the 1999, Damon had a successful time as president of the British Racing Drivers Club, securing the future of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone in the process. He is now a pundit on the new UK F1 channel, Sky Sports F1.
Drove for: Sauber Mercedes, Qualified: 7th, Race: 7th
This was only Heinz-Harald Frentzen’s third race in F1 and it was a dramatic weekend. He did well to qualify seventh and was devastated by the death of his close friend Ratzenberger on Saturday afternoon. He missed Lehto’s stalled Benetton by millimetres on the green light and was due to line up in fourth for the restart. Unfortunately he stalled on the dummy grid and had to start from the pitlane. A collision with Mark Blundell damaged his front wing and meant despite setting the fourth fastest lap of the day, Frentzen missed out on points in seventh at the chequered flag.
Today: Frentzen has plans to race in the Indian Racing League next season. For now, he competes in some sportscar and GT events and is often a driver steward at Formula One race meetings for the FIA.
Drove for: McLaren Peugeot, Qualified: 13th, Race: 8th
Brundle went fourth quickest in Saturday’s practice session, but an engine failure on Saturday and crash in qualifying on Friday left him well out of position in 13th on the grid. Tenth at the red flag, Brundle’s race was compromised by a dreadful second start that him scrapping with Johnny Herbert and Pierluigi Martini for most of the distance. He finished a frustrated eighth, but it was his first race finish of 1994.
Today: Martin Brundle has crafted out a successful career in the media and his technical analysis has made him a wanted man for all UK TV broadcasters. He has commentated for ITV, BBC and from the start of 2012, joined the Sky Sports F1 team.
Drove for: Tyrrell Yamaha, Qualified: 12th, Race: 9th
Mark Blundell struggled to match the pace of his team-mate Katayama and had a weekend of total obsecurity, qualifying 12th and finishing two laps down in ninth place.
Today: Blundell was a CART driver until 1999 and a pundit on the ITV F1 team until they lost broadcasting rights to the BBC at the end of 2008. Now, Blundell runs his own management company, 2MB Sports Management, handling the career of McLaren tester Gary Paffett amongst others.
Drove for: Lotus Mugen Honda, Qualified: 20th, Race: 10th
With an old spec Mugen Honda engine and a difficult Lotus chassis to handle, Herbert’s frustration was starting to creep in with the dwindling outfit. He got the maximum out of the car at Imola to finish tenth, little reward for his determination.
Today: Herbert has done various roles in motorsport, from British Touring Cars with Honda to racing at Le Mans for Audi. Like Brundle and Hill, he is a regular contributor to the newly formed Sky Sports F1 team as a pundit.
Drove for: Ligier Renault, Qualified: 19th, Race: 11th
As with Lotus, 1994 was a very tough season for Ligier due to ownership issues with both engine and management. F3000 champion graduate Panis struggled around to 11th in the race, gaining important race mileage for his future career.
Today: Panis has a new love now, competing in Ice Racing.
Drove for: Ligier Renault, Qualified: 17th, Race: 12th
Eric Bernard was often outpaced by Olivier Panis in 1994, but got the better of his team-mate in qualifying at Imola, lining up 17th. He was behind David Brabham at the time of the red flag and trailed home 12th and the last runner, three laps down.
Today: Bernard has gone onto a successful career in GT and sportscar racing
Drove for: Footwork Ford, Qualified: 16th, Race: Retired on lap 56, brake failure led to him spinning
Fittipaldi drove superbly under adversity after seeing what happened to his compatriot and close friend Senna. He looked set to finish fifth until a brake failure sent him into the gravel and out of the race with six laps remaining.
Today: Fittipaldi quit F1 at the end of 1994 and has moved to America where he still lives today. He has raced in CART, NASCAR and American sportscars ever since.
ANDREA DE CESARIS
Drove for: Jordan Hart, Qualified: 21, Race: Retired on lap 49, accident
de Cesaris returned to Jordan where he had raced in 1991, subsituting for the banned Eddie Irvine. Lacking race fitness and sharpness, he had many predictable spins and accidents all weekend and on lap 49, retired from near the back from you guessed it, another crash!
Today: de Cesaris has carved out a successful career in Monte Carlo as a currency broker and spends a lot of his free time windsurfing around the world.
Drove for: Minardi Ford, Qualified: 15th, Race: Retired on lap 44, wheel flew off on pitlane exit
The veteran Italian Michele Alboreto had a tough weekend full of mechanical gremlins. He was forced to start from the pitlane in the spare car and on lap 44, retired after a loose wheel fell off his car and bounced down the pitlane injuring mechanics from Ferrari and Lotus.
Today: Alboreto won the Le Mans 24 Hours for Porsche in 1997, but tragically was killed in April 2001 when a tyre exploded while doing some testing in Germany for Audi in the build-up to the 2001 sportscar classic.
Drove for: Footwork Ford, Qualified: 11th, Race: Retired on lap 40, broken engine
Morbidelli qualified a strong 11th and was running in a closely fought midfield pack along with Martin Brundle and Heinz-Harald Frentzen when the unreliable Ford engine broke down on lap 40. Points were possible as he was running ahead of eventual sixth placed finisher Damon Hill on aggregate timing at the time.
Today: Morbidelli raced in BTCC for Volvo in 1998 and had time in European Touring Cars too. He now is racing in the V8 Supercar Series in Australia.
Drove for: Minardi Ford, Qualified: 14th, Race: Retired on lap 37, spun off trying to overtake Brundle
Martini had a quiet weekend and was closely matched with Michele Alboreto. On lap 37, he spun off at Tosa and ended up in the gravel after a failed overtaking attempt on Martin Brundle whilst running tenth.
Today: Pierluigi won the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1997 and 1999 and he was last seen competing in public during a one-off Grand Prix Masters series event at Kyalami in 2005.
Drove for: Simtek Ford, Qualified: 24th, Race: Retired on lap 27, spun following handling imbalance
David Brabham showed his brave committment to continue in such tragic circumstances after the fatal accident of his team-mate, Roland Ratzenberger. He raced Eric Bernard and was ahead of him before the red flag came out. From the second start, he carried on until suspension failure caused by handling imbalance saw the Australian spin out.
Today: David is still competing in GT racing and in V8 Supercars in Australia last year. He is a keen charity campaigner and won the 2009 Le Mans 24 Hours alongside Marc Gene and Alexander Wurz.
Drove for: Pacific Ilmor, Qualified: 25th, Race: Retired on lap 23, engine failure
Gachot managed to drag his incompetent Pacific Ilmor package onto the grid and did well to miss Pedro Lamy’s out of control Lotus on the first lap. He toured around at the back before retiring with a blown engine on lap 23.
Drove for: Larrousse Ford, Qualified: 23rd, Race: Retired on lap 17, engine failure
The unknown Beretta never matched Erik Comas at Larrousse and was the team’s only entry in the second race following Comas’s decision to withdraw in the wake of witnessing the medics attending to Senna. An engine problem saw him retire on lap 17 with only Brabham and Gachot for company at the back of the field.
Today: Born in Monte Carlo, Beretta is still racing today, competing in a GRE-pro class Ferrari in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Drove for: Ferrari, Qualified: 3rd, Race: Retired on lap 16, Suspension issue after running over debris
Drove for: Larrousse Ford, Qualified: 18th, Race: Withdrew on lap 5, distressed by Senna’s crash
Qualifying in 18th, a miscommunication from his pit sent Comas screaming out of the pitlane exit when the red flag came out and he only narrowly missed the medical helicopter on the circuit attending to Ayrton Senna. Eurosport commentator John Watson called it the most ridiculous thing he had ever seen in his life. Distressed by what he witnessed, Erik elected to withdraw from the restart.
Today: Comas spent several years competing in GT racing in Japan, as well as focusing on driver management, promoting further French talent. He suffered from ill health in 2006 and effectively retired from all forms of racing. Now he runs Comas Historic Racing, which is a service that provides customers to pay and drive historic rally driving cars.
Drove for: Benetton Ford, Qualified: 5th, Race: Retired on lap one, stalled and hit by unsighted Lamy
JJ Lehto was making his first appearance of the season after recovering from neck injuries he sustained in a pre-season testing crash at Silverstone. He flew to fifth on the grid in qualifying but stalled on the grid and was collected by Lamy leaving his car stranded in the middle of the track. He walked away with a minor arm injury.
Today: Lehto commentated for Finnish TV for nine years at the start of the millennium. In December 2011, he was sentenced to two years in jail, found guilty of reckless driving and driving under the influence of alcohol after a boating accident in Finland that killed his passenger. Lehto has served intention to appeal against his conviction.
Drove for: Lotus Mugen Honda, Qualified: 22nd, Race: Retired on lap one, careered into back of Lehto
Young Pedro Lamy made a spectacular exit in this race, when unsighted by Andrea de Cesaris, the Portuguese driver smashed into JJ Lehto’s stranded Benetton on the grid. Lamy walked away from his shattered car unhurt.
Today: A serious crash in private testing at Silverstone in 1994 left Lamy with serious leg injuries. He left Formula One in 1996 and is a regular Le Mans competitor. In 2012, he is competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
Drove for: Pacific Ilmor, DID NOT QUALIFY
Pacific’s woeful chassis/suspension combination meant Belmondo had little chance of ever qualifying for a race other than by default. He ended up 0.3secs behind Ratzenberger after his crash, meaning he spent Sunday afternoon as a spectactor.
Today: Paul Belmondo became a motorsport team owner in 1998 and dovetailed that with a career in GT racing. His whereabouts are unknown since the Le Mans Endurance series folded in 2007.
Drove for: Jordan Hart, DID NOT QUALIFY FOLLOWING ACCIDENT ON FRIDAY
Barrichello’s weekend ended almost as soon as it started. Ten minutes into first qualifying, the Brazilian lost control of his Jordan Hart in the tricky Variante Bassa chicane near the pits. His car hit the top of the tyre barrier and almost somersaulted the catch fencing. Only quick action from paramedics stopped Rubens from swallowing his tongue. He was very lucky to suffer only a cut lip, broken nose and light damage to his right arm. However his participation in the San Marino Grand Prix was over.
Today: After failing to find a drive in Formula One for 2012, Rubens Barrichello has begun a new chapter in his career, competing for KV Racing Technology in the 2012 IndyCar series, finishing in the top ten twice in his first three events.
NICO Rosberg is on cloud nine following his maiden success in Shanghai last weekend and momentum is a key word in Formula One. So the German picked up where he left off in Sakhir to end up quickest driver today in the opening two practice sessions for Sunday’s Bahrain Grand Prix.
As the sport is forced to deal with a very unstable environment, Rosberg and Mercedes GP did their talking on the track. His fastest time of 1.32.816 was nearly half a second quicker than Mark Webber in the afternoon session. Consistent pace on a long race simulation towards the end of FP2 suggests that the team’s tyre wear issues don’t seem to be such a nightmare issue as it was in the first two races.
Red Bull have gone for a standard exahust configuration setup after different variations for both Webber and Sebastian Vettel. The Australian was marginally faster today, although the 0.3secs difference at the end of the session flattered the closeness between the pair. Vettel was second quickest this morning and third fastest in the afternoon. Championship leaders McLaren have never won the Bahrain Grand Prix, but will still probably be marginal favourites going into tomorrow’s important qualifying session. Lewis Hamilton was the pacesetter this morning and content to work on race setup this afternoon, ending fourth fastest. Team-mate Jenson Button didn’t seem as settled with the balance of his car today, but was still amongst the top six in both sessions.
Once again, Ferrari lacked the ultimate pace as Fernando Alonso managed eighth and Felipe Massa twelfth in the afternoon session. Sauber ran excellent race simulations and both Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi ended up in the top ten.
However off-track politics continued to be the dominant landscape today. In midweek, clashes between Bahrani police and protesters over the running of the country almost led to a tragic incident involving the Force India team. Four of their team mechanics had petrol bombs thrown at them and two of them have flown back to the UK. With other team members expressing concern over their safety of leaving the circuit at dusk, the team elected to pull out of the second practice session on safety grounds. Personnel from the Sauber team also were caught up in flare ups in the Manama region last night and it is reported that Mercedes GP have requested moving to a hotel closer to the circuit to be further away from the protest.
With Amnesty International and Labour leader Ed Miliband among those today who added their voices to the demand in calling the Grand Prix off, the king of F1 Bernie Ecclestone and the Crown Prince of Bahrain had to face some akward questions from a hungry worldwide media circus. Both have said that the race will go ahead as scheduled on Sunday, although you get the sense that the racing will disappear into obsecurity all weekend.
Mercedes GP and McLaren look set to lead the way in qualifying tomorrow again, but the region’s issues might have more severe implications as the weekend progresses.
2012 GULF AIR BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 1
|1||LEWIS HAMILTON||MCLAREN MERCEDES||11||1.33.572|
|2||SEBASTIAN VETTEL||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||21||1.33.877|
|3||PAUL DI RESTA||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||26||1.34.150|
|4||NICO ROSBERG||MERCEDES GP||23||1.34.249|
|5||JENSON BUTTON||MCLAREN MERCEDES||14||1.34.277|
|6||NICO HULKENBERG||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||26||1.34.344|
|7||MICHAEL SCHUMACHER||MERCEDES GP||17||1.34.483|
|8||MARK WEBBER||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||22||1.34.552|
|9||KIMI RAIKKONEN||LOTUS RENAULT||18||1.34.609|
|10||ROMAIN GROSJEAN||LOTUS RENAULT||20||1.34.817|
|11||SERGIO PEREZ||SAUBER FERRARI||22||1.35.024|
|12||PASTOR MALDONADO||WILLIAMS RENAULT||25||1.35.268|
|14||VALTERI BOTTAS||WILLIAMS RENAULT||24||1.35.497|
|16||KAMUI KOBAYASHI||SAUBER FERRARI||24||1.35.929|
|17||JEAN-ERIC VERGNE||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||20||1.36.195|
|18||HEIKKI KOVALAINEN||CATERHAM RENAULT||11||1.36.330|
|19||VITALY PETROV||CATERHAM RENAULT||18||1.36.484|
|20||DANIEL RICCIARDO||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||20||1.36.591|
|21||CHARLES PIC||MARUSSIA COSWORTH||18||1.37.467|
|22||TIMO GLOCK||MARUSSIA COSWORTH||18||1.38.006|
|23||PEDRO DE LA ROSA||HRT COSWORTH||19||1.38.877|
|24||NARAIN KARTHIKEYAN||HRT COSWORTH||23||1.39.996|
2012 GULF AIR BAHRAIN GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 2
|1||NICO ROSBERG||MERCEDES GP||35||1.32.816|
|2||MARK WEBBER||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||26||1.33.262|
|3||SEBASTIAN VETTEL||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||28||1.33.525|
|4||LEWIS HAMILTON||MCLAREN MERCEDES||26||1.33.747|
|5||MICHAEL SCHUMACHER||MERCEDES GP||32||1.33.862|
|6||JENSON BUTTON||MCLAREN MERCEDES||28||1.34.246|
|7||KAMUI KOBAYASHI||SAUBER FERRARI||34||1.34.411|
|9||ROMAIN GROSJEAN||LOTUS RENAULT||32||1.34.615|
|10||SERGIO PEREZ||SAUBER FERRARI||34||1.34.893|
|11||DANIEL RICCIARDO||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||29||1.34.895|
|13||KIMI RAIKKONEN||LOTUS RENAULT||33||1.35.183|
|14||JEAN-ERIC VERGNE||TORO ROSSO FERRARI||26||1.35.229|
|15||PASTOR MALDONADO||WILLIAMS RENAULT||38||1.35.459|
|16||VITALY PETROV||CATERHAM RENAULT||33||1.35.913|
|17||HEIKKI KOVALAINEN||CATERHAM RENAULT||35||1.35.968|
|18||BRUNO SENNA||WILLIAMS RENAULT||30||1.36.169|
|19||TIMO GLOCK||MARUSSIA COSWORTH||33||1.36.587|
|20||CHARLES PIC||MARUSSIA COSWORTH||33||1.37.803|
|21||PEDRO DE LA ROSA||HRT COSWORTH||28||1.37.812|
|22||NARAIN KARTHIKEYAN||HRT COSWORTH||27||1.39.649|
|23||PAUL DI RESTA||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||0||NO TIME|
|24||NICO HULKENBERG||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||0||NO TIME|
MICHAEL Schumacher went quickest in the second practice session on a quiet opening day for track action in China. The German followed up a second fastest slot in the first session which was led by Lewis Hamilton. It was a day where racing on the Shanghai International Circuit was at a premium, as matters off the track dominated the headlines. This was because the FIA released a statement in the early hours of the morning to confirm the Bahrain Grand Prix will go ahead as scheduled next week (see later story tonight for further details).
The first session was punctuated by mixed conditions, with smog and drizzle meaning there was a lack of clear indication in who looks the fastest pacesetters in China. Only in the last ten minutes did meaningful times get set; Hamilton leading the way ahead of Nico Rosberg, Schumacher and the star of Malaysia, Sergio Perez. Hamilton’s fastest lap was a full second quicker than anyone else but he does carry a grid penalty for changing a gearbox between Malaysia and this weekend. McLaren managing director Martin Whitmarsh confirmed to BBC Radio 5 Live this morning that Lewis was using the cracked gearbox today and the change will happen overnight. Test drivers Jules Bianchi, Valeri Bottas and Giedo Van der Garde got minor running in for their teams as Paul di Resta, Bruno Senna and Heikki Kovalainen sat out FP1 respectively.
A dry second session promoted more decisive running. The cooler track conditions mean that it will be a gamble to guess how the Pirelli tyres will handle in what is likely to be a warmer race circuit come Sunday afternoon. There was more action in FP2, as drivers attempted to make up for the lack of running in FP1. di Resta spun on the pit straight and Timo Glock had a late off into the barriers at the first corner, minus his Marussia Cosworth’s nosecone. A late effort from Schumacher was enough to deny Hamilton a clean sweep of the fastest times. World champion Sebastian Vettel was an encouraging third and Mark Webber backed up a radical Red Bull improvement with fourth. Championship leader Fernando Alonso had a quiet day and was a meagre tenth fastest in FP2, as Ferrari were brought back to reality after their shock Sepang success. Lotus also had a bad day, Kimi Raikkonen propped up the timesheets in FP1 after technical problems intervened.
On a day when politics ruled the sport again, Mercedes and McLaren again looked fast out of the blocks but little has been given away ahead of qualifying tomorrow morning at 7am UK time.
CHINESE GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 1 TIMES
|1||LEWIS HAMILTON||MCLAREN MERCEDES||7||1.37.106|
|2||NICO ROSBERG||MERCEDES GP||14||1.38.116|
|3||MICHAEL SCHUMACHER||MERCEDES GP||14||1.38.316|
|4||SERGIO PEREZ||SAUBER FERRARI||13||1.38.584|
|5||KAMUI KOBAYASHI||SAUBER FERRARI||12||1.38.911|
|6||MARK WEBBER||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||15||1.38.977|
|7||SEBASTIAN VETTEL||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||12||1.39.198|
|8||JENSON BUTTON||MCLAREN MERCEDES||6||1.39.199|
|9||DANIEL RICCIARDO||STR FERRARI||16||1.39.748|
|10||JEAN-ERIC VERGNE||STR FERRARI||14||1.39.768|
|13||VALTERI BOTTAS||WILLIAMS RENAULT||8||1.40.298|
|14||NICO HULKENBERG||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||13||1.40.328|
|15||PASTOR MALDONADO||WILLIAMS RENAULT||12||1.40.540|
|16||HEIKKI KOVALAINEN||CATERHAM RENAULT||14||1.41.071|
|17||ROMAIN GROSJEAN||LOTUS RENAULT||14||1.41.204|
|18||TIMO GLOCK||MARUSSIA COSWORTH||14||1.42.330|
|19||GIEDO VAN DER GARDE||CATERHAM RENAULT||11||1.42.521|
|20||JULES BIANCHI||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||8||1.44.118|
|21||PEDRO DE LA ROSA||HRT COSWORTH||10||1.44.227|
|22||CHARLES PIC||MARUSSIA COSWORTH||15||1.44.500|
|23||NARAIN KARTHIKEYAN||HRT COSWORTH||12||1.47.264|
|24||KIMI RAIKKONEN||LOTUS RENAULT||11||1.50.465|
CHINESE GRAND PRIX FREE PRACTICE 2 TIMES
|1||MICHAEL SCHUMACHER||MERCEDES GP||32||1.35.973|
|2||LEWIS HAMILTON||MCLAREN MERCEDES||29||1.36.145|
|3||SEBASTIAN VETTEL||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||27||1.36.160|
|4||MARK WEBBER||RED BULL RACING RENAULT||24||1.36.433|
|5||NICO ROSBERG||MERCEDES GP||31||1.36.617|
|6||JENSON BUTTON||MCLAREN MERCEDES||28||1.36.711|
|7||KAMUI KOBAYASHI||SAUBER FERRARI||28||1.36.956|
|8||PAUL DI RESTA||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||31||1.36.966|
|9||NICO HULKENBERG||FORCE INDIA MERCEDES||31||1.37.191|
|11||SERGIO PEREZ||SAUBER FERRARI||22||1.37.417|
|12||DANIEL RICCIARDO||STR FERRARI||33||1.37.616|
|13||KIMI RAIKKONEN||LOTUS RENAULT||30||1.37.836|
|14||JEAN-ERIC VERGNE||STR FERRARI||32||1.37.930|
|15||ROMAIN GROSJEAN||LOTUS RENAULT||26||1.37.972|
|16||PASTOR MALDONADO||WILLIAMS RENAULT||35||1.38.176|
|18||BRUNO SENNA||WILLIAMS RENAULT||37||1.38.783|
|19||HEIKKI KOVALAINEN||CATERHAM RENAULT||36||1.38.990|
|20||VITALY PETROV||CATERHAM RENAULT||20||1.39.346|
|21||TIMO GLOCK||MARUSSIA COSWORTH||15||1.39.651|
|22||PEDRO DE LA ROSA||HRT COSWORTH||25||1.40.343|
|23||CHARLES PIC||MARUSSIA COSWORTH||30||1.40.753|
|24||NARAIN KARTHIKEYAN||HRT COSWORTH||26||1.41.125|