Kovalainen Finishes Season in Style

d11bra1881 

Brazilian Grand Prix

Pre-Race

So one last race of the seemingly never-ending sleep-inducing Formula 1 season, and really, nothing was up for grabs anywhere in the pitlane. The only interesting battle was for 7th in the Constructors between Sauber and Toro Rosso, and if I can be unbiased for a moment, isn’t anything to rush to the blogs and write about.

New Teams Championship wise, the only thing to look out for was who would round out the top three, Timo Glock (who finished 3rd in 2010) or rookie Jerome D’Ambrosio.

In 2012 news, HRT surprised a few people by signing Pedro de la Rosa, who just won’t go away, for two whole years. It seems being old is quite ‘in’ at the moment.

Qualifying

Like with most races, Heikki Kovalainen outqualified Jarno Trulli for the 18th time this season. But the big shock of the weekend came at the expense of Marussia Virgin, who locked out the back row while facing the rear wings of Hispania. Vitantonio Liuzzi was ahead of Daniel Ricciardo, while Jerome D’Ambrosio started ahead of Glock.

Race

As is norm these days, Kovalainen flew off the line and shot up to 16th by the end of the first lap, however he struggled to stay their, and the slower starters in Alguersuari and Barrichello soon passed. It had been a bad start for Ricciardo, who had fell to last, while his team mate, for once, was having a half decent race.

Truth be told, apart from the retirements, very little happened for the six cars. On lap 24, Timo Glock was too quick coming out of the pits, and his rear left tyre was quick to dismantle itself from the car. This was crucial in the outcome of who would finish third.

A few laps towards the end, Vitantonio Liuzzi suffered from an alternator failure, forcing him to retire into turn one, even though he was ahead of Ricciardo at the time.

So, for the umpteenth time in a row, Heikki Kovalainen finished in first, in 16th which was also ahead of Bruno Senna, who had horrible luck at his home race. Trulli was 18th, and in second, ahead of D’Ambrosio and Ricciardo.

  Driver Team Pos. Points
1 Heikki Kovalainen Team Lotus 16th 10
2 Jarno Trulli Team Lotus 18th 6
3 Jerome D’Ambrosio Marussia Virgin 19th 4
4 Daniel Ricciardo Hispania 20th 3
R Vitantonio Liuzzi Hispania Ret 0
R Timo Glock Marussia Virgin Ret 0

Post-Race Thoughts

Heikki Kovalainen (Team Lotus – 16th): “All year we’ve kept on progressing and we’ve finished on a real high with that tenth place so we’re set us up perfectly for next year where we can take another step forward in the development of this team.”

Jarno Trulli (Team Lotus – 18th): “It was really just about getting the car home in one piece so we could seal our place in the championship. I want to thank the whole team for the work they’ve done this weekend and all year. We keep on progressing and it’s great to be part of something that shows real signs of where it can go.”

Timo Glock (Marussia Virgin – Retired): “A very disappointing way to end the season. It’s a real shame to have had to retire after losing the left-rear tyre after my first pit-stop but unfortunately these things happen. So it wasn’t the way I would have liked to end the season but, anyway, I want to thank the team for all the effort they have put in during the whole year. It has been great to work together.”

Jerome D’Ambrosio (Marussia Virgin – 19th): “We did a good job in qualifying yesterday and today was one of my best races so far. I’m happy this has happened here in Brazil, as I love this track. I’m also glad to finish ahead of HRT- definitely a very positive way to end the season. I want to thank the team for all their hard work. I have really enjoyed working together with them this year.”

Vitantonio Liuzzi (Hispania – Retired): “We wanted to finish the season with a strong result. It’s a shame because we could have achieved it. Now we have to work hard for next year and try to recover from this problem and make up for it in the future because we need to be strong and competitive in every race”

Daniel Ricciardo (Hispania – 20th): “It’s been a really good six months and I’m happy with how the season has gone, you always want a bit more but realistically it has been really good and I have learned a lot. I want to thank HRT and Red Bull for giving me the opportunity to come and do it.”

Standings

Drivers Championship

So that’s a wrap on 2011. Heikki Kovalainen finishes a whole 31 points in front of his team mate Jarno Trulli, who was agonisingly close to reaching triple figures. Kovalainen’s 128 points is a record, ten up on last year. He’s also finished the year with seven back to back wins, yes, seven. Vettel-esque.

For the second year in a row, Timo Glock has been beaten by a rookie team mate. Third goes to Belgian Jerome D’Ambrosio, who’s four points in Brazil provided to be crucial.

The trio of Hispania cars are ordered as expected, Liuzzi ahead of Ricciardo ahead of Karthikeyan, although arguably Ricciardo has looked the most impressive driver. Hardly surprising considering of all the drivers, he is tipped for bigger and better things in 2012.

And dead last is Karun Chandhok, with two solitary points from his pretty poor race in Germany.

  Driver Team Points
C Heikki Kovalainen Team Lotus 128
2 Jarno Trulli Team Lotus 97
3 Jerome D’Ambrosio Marussia Virgin 70
4 Timo Glock Marussia Virgin 68
5 Vitantonio Liuzzi Hispania 36
6 Daniel Ricciardo Hispania 27
7 Narain Karthikeyan Hispania 16
8 Karun Chandhok Team Lotus 2

Teams Championship

As expected really. Team Lotus and Virgin both improve on their points from last year, but Hispania have fewer, no doubt because of better reliability from the arguably two quicker teams.

  Team Points
C Team Lotus 227
2 Marussia Virgin 138
3 Hispania 79

2012

All but one seat for 2012 has been confirmed. At the former Lotus Racing/Team Lotus and now Caterham team, two time New Team Champion Kovalainen continues alongside two time New Team not quite as good as his team mate, Jarno Trulli.

Former Virgin Racing/Marussia Virgin and now Marussia keep Timo Glock (presuming no bigger team don’t come in and buy him out of his contract (one can hope)), but drop D’Ambrosio, who beat him this year, for Charles Pic. You could say though their line up for 2012 looks pretty as a Pic-ture. Ahem.

Hispania, as previously mentioned, have brought in Pedro de la Rosa, and their second race seat could, frankly, go to anyone who has ever touched a car before. Logic would suggest someone with a bit of cash could get it, or the could keep Liuzzi, or they could bring in a Formula 1 driver who is desperate to stay in the sport at all costs, like Nick Heidfeld, or even Chandhok, just so he can claim to have driven for all three new teams. A unique achievement.

What about the performances, well, I expect Marussia and Hispania to fight with themselves at the back, while Caterham (this will need some getting used to) should be at worst, amongst the weaker midfield cars. Next year is their big test, an improvement is needed, they’ve talked the talk, and a bit more, now the walking of the walk needs to occur.

Final Thoughts

Another year over and I’m rather glad for it. While the first two thirds of the season were something spectacular, the end of the year was an immense disappointment. Once again though, the new teams, or whatever they should be called now, provided some entertainment. Whether its upsetting the odds (Liuzzi’s 13th in Canada), or some insane, crazy decisions (Chandhok in Germany), they do tend to provide most things.

I do think Kovalainen should be racing at a team better than Team Lotus, but with they way they are progressing, soon he might be where he deserves. If Renault fancy forgetting Grosjean and Petrov, they could do a lot worse than bringing the Finn back in. Sadly, it will never happen.

So, once again, a massive thank you to everyone who has commented and read my New Teams updates each race weekend. I’m unsure of its future, part of me is tempted to wait until Australia and see how close Caterham are and if its worth continuing for a third year.

I would like to continue doing something that I can update at the end of each race next year, I’ve had a few ideas for a BBC/Sky Championship, and one or two thoughts that aren’t quite there. If anyone has got an idea, please do leave it in the comments. Or, you could keep it to yourself, do it yourself, and gain international recognition while I struggle on here. Whatever is good for you.

Thank you once again, and I promise, a lot, that I will do more ‘proper’ blog posts soon. I’ve had a little less enthusiasm of late to do any.

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Posted on November 27, 2011, in New Teams Championship and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. awww, have loved the new teams posts r.g.

    am a bit confused though how chandhok going back to HRT helps him drive for all three new teams?

  2. Good stuff Ryan, but thinking “when do they stop being new teams?” Do you think there’s a time frame or is when/if they start scoring actual points, leave the sport, etc..?

    • Its something I’ve thought about a bit to be honest, and I don’t really know. I think for the first year they are ‘new’, but now they are probably just the ‘newest’. I dislike the term backmarkers, and to be honest, can’t really think of another term to describe them I really like yet.

  3. Thank you, Ryan. I have enjoyed these posts this year as last.

    Kovalainen has made himself look good, but I can not help but remember how he struggled at McLaren against Hamilton. On one hand, maybe he has learnt and improved from that experience, with Lotus able to give him a culture that enables him to deliver much more of his latent potential, or on the other hand, his team-mate is well and Trulli past it (did you see what I did there?) and with the right driver Lotus could have been a lot closer to the mid-field teams.

    Pedro de la Rosa and HRT will be a driver that looked past his best at Sauber two years before and a team that barely has more than cars. I imagine he will get the occasional Sunday off to watch the race.

    • I don’t think Kovalainen is that bad a driver, obviously not anywhere near the same standard as Hamilton, but in fairness very few drivers could match him in a McLaren. Certainly I thought he was good at Renault in 2007, and maybe that is his standard. Being at Lotus will, as well, have helped him mature a lot more yet, building up the team and working in what I imagine to be a fun environment. Saying that, Trulli is making him look a lot better, although if you consider how poorly Chandhok did when he stepped into the Lotus (for various reasons, arguably), maybe Trulli is still doing OK (maybe not good enough to keep the seat), but Kovalainen is blowing him out of the water.

      I remember de la Rosa at Sauber, and apart from one race, he might as well not showed up. I understand Hispania are going for an all Spanish team, but there must be better than de la Rosa… surely?

      • I don’t really see better than de la Rosa apart from Alguersuari… Dani Clos is not bad but perhaps not good enough to deserve a seat in F1, same for Javier Villa, and I can’t see anyone else from Spain.

      • I saw Alguersuari linked to HRT for next year in Ted Kravitz’s video thing he does on the BBC website… and I’m not sure Alonso is ready for a step down just yet… so maybe… maybe. Whatever did happen to Javier Villa? Ricciardo got in before him I think.

  4. I have really enjoyed following this championship over the past two years and I hope you can find a unique angle like this next season. It would have been really interesting to have had a midfield championship this season but how you define the acceptable teams pre-season I don’t know.

    You could do an over 40s championship but Schumacher would probably win that and we don’t want to encourage that kind of thing. Or you could compare the teams who manufacture their own engines against their customers.

    I am sure you will think of something to keep us entertained.

    • I’m sure the four months till Australia will make me come up with something. Part of me wants to keep something at least with the new teams, because I do sometimes feel like the only one who takes this much notice of them.

  5. About Kovalainen, interestingly he said that he would definitely be part of Caterham next year, and that in 2013 he would only leave the team for a top team.

    • I know its very (so very) early to talk about 2013, but I don’t really know a top team who will be after him. Presuming Ferrari go for a safer option to replace Massa (basically Perez), McLaren stay the same and Red Bull stick with their driver programme, Mercedes probably promote di Resta to replace Schumacher and leaving really Lotus, especially since Petrov is only really contracted for next year.

      • I wouldn’t consider Perez a shoe-in at Ferrari just yet. Remember they already have a young driver – Jules Bianchi – on their books.
        Whether they promote him or let him rot is a different story. Personally I see Bianchi possibly at Group Lotus in 2013 – a long shot.

      • For Kovalainen I thought of Ferrari or Mercedes. Ricciardo and Vergne are already going to fight for Webber’s seat at Red Bull and there’s no room at McLaren.

        I know Bianchi and Perez might replace Massa but if Kovalainen proves to be good enough why not? Same for Mercedes even though Hülkenberg and di Resta really aren’t bad drivers.

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