Changes at Interlagos after driver’s death

F1 Fanatic round-up

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In today’s round-up: officials have announced they will add a new run-off area at Interlagos ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, in an attempt to improve safety at the track following the death of Gustavo Sondermann in a truck series race a week ago.


Top F1 links from the past 24 hours:

Officials change Interlagos after driver’s death (USA Today)

"An escape area will be added on the corner where a Brazilian driver died in a truck series race a week ago at Interlagos, in an attempt to improve safety at the track hosting this year’s Formula One season finale.

"Officials will remove a section of the stands and add an slowdown area outside the high-speed corner where 29-year-old Gustavo Sondermann was killed after a crash April 3. The work should be completed by the Brazilian GP on Nov. 27."

Hamilton backed to bounce back (Autosport)

"McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says Lewis Hamilton will waste little time dwelling on the disappointment of his Malaysian Grand Prix result."

Lewis Hamilton offered “drive for us for life” offer (The Mirror)

"Lewis Hamilton’s boss yesterday made him a remarkable “drive for us for life” offer.

"Martin Whitmarsh wants Hamilton to stay with McLaren until the end of his career, which could last for more than a decade. And over that period he would rake in an estimated 350million from his salary alone."

High excitement at Malaysian Grand Prix as Pirelli tyres prove decisive (Pirelli)

"For the second race in succession, Red Bull’s reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel has converted pole position to a win on Pirelli tyres. Tyre strategy proved crucial to the race, with the drivers who best looked after their tyres in the punishing conditions of Malaysia being rewarded with the top positions."

Malaysian Grand Prix from the pit lane (BBC F1)

"BBC F1 reporter Ted Kravitz reflects on an eventful Malaysian GP and bumps into third placed Nick Heidfeld who cannot resist showing off his trophy."

FOTA in new cost-cutting push (Autosport)

"Formula 1 teams are hoping to close in on a fresh cost-cutting deal to help secure the future of the sport during a meeting ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix."

Read more: Whitmarsh to continue as FOTA chairman

Follow F1 news as it breaks using the F1 Fanatic live Twitter app.

Comment of the day

Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso have both received 20-second penalties following their collision during the Malaysian Grand Prix. Tom D11 had this to say:

Silly stewards, April Fools’ Day is the first of April, not the tenth. I mean, seriously, who are they kidding?

What next? 20s penalty for looking at another driver aggressively?


From the forum

The 2011 Malaysia Grand Prix Awards.

Happy birthday!

No F1 Fanatic birthdays today. If you want a birthday shout-out tell us when yours is by emailing me, using Twitter or adding to the list here.

On this day in F1

James Hunt won the BRDC International Trophy race at Silverstone 35 years ago today.

Hunt’s McLaren led home Vittorio Brambilla (March) and Jody Scheckter (Tyrrell) in a 40-lap race.

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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74 comments on “Changes at Interlagos after driver’s death”

  1. I think signing up for McLaren on that sort of basis would be foolish, a 2 or 3 year contract would do. Although I can’t really see him anywhere else.

    1. What do you want Lewis, £350,000,000.00 or another, say 2 titles? Keep you’re options open son.

      1. I don’t think he has to worry about money in his life anymore either way, so I guess he’d take the two titles.

        1. Plus the F1-LM Ron promised.

          1. I’ll bet he stays at McLaren at least for the years it will take him to get that car.
            Might as well sign a life-long contract then.

      2. Payout £350,000,000.00
        Deduct taxes – ?
        Lawsuits – ?
        An ex wife or two – ?
        Child support – ?

        Well, it not really looking like so much after all.

        1. Deduct taxes – ?

          He lives in Switzerland

          Lawsuits – ?

          What lawsuits?

          An ex wife or two – ?

          What wife?

          Child support – ?

          What children?!

          What was your point exactly?

          1. I think Scherzinger would probably get a pre-nup too ;)

      3. Lewis will be a foolish person if he agrees to such a contract. I’d really want to see how Hamilton would perform in another team. Would it reveal the chinks in his armour?

    2. I don’t see a problem with it. I’m pretty sure it would have a release clause if they don’t provide him with a competitive car etc.

    3. he hasnt signed it yet, has he? it’s just offered to him

    4. OTOH, what if Red Bull offered him a 1 year, incentives-based contract to drive an Adrian Newey designed car? Who would turn that down these days?

      Shorter contracts force drivers to drivers be fast or leave.

      1. That story has only come about because of talk linking him with Red Bull recently. I can see why McLaren might want to offer Lewis that kind of contract, but it’s also quite possible that the story’s not even true.

        1. I’d say you’re spot on there.

        2. The source is the Daily Mirror – a highly credible Formula 1 dedicated newspaper, which has a very high reader intellect, that has never sensationalised anything in the past.

          1. Ha! :D

      2. Schumacher won seven titles racing AGAINST Adrian Newey’s cars… In 12 years from 1994-2006, Newey’s cars delivered two Drivers’ titles, one of which was more down to Schumacher breaking his leg than anything else.

        Let’s not go thinking Newey is unbeatable.

        1. Okay, my maths is failing me, it was 13 years, and Newey won four titles. But still, Schumacher won seven.

        2. Lets not forget that some of his Mclaren’s were absolute dogs, i.e. 2002-2004. I would say that that Kimi and Montoya flattered the cars performance.

          Newey is a genious, but sometimes his inginuity is the undoing on some of his cars, I would suggest that his inability to compromise on KERS might be the undoing on his 2011 challenger.

    5. Well, Simon Fueller surely created some pallade, helped by Horner’s comments.

      So now there comes Withmarsh laying the horses head in Lewis’ bed, by making that offer he can’t refuse.

      Probably there are competitiveness clauses for both sides in such a contract, so I think it would be wise for Lewis to take it.

      Although it would also be nice if he went to -say- Team Lotus in 5 years, to do what Schumacher once did with Ferrari.

      1. It would be a closer parallel to suggest Hamilton might go to Williams like Schumacher went to Ferrari.

        Can’t see it happening though.

    6. Lewis Hamilton offered “drive for us for life” offer

      I’d love it.
      1 – he’d make an incredible record of longest career with a single team (which he already has);
      2 – he’d become an icon of McLaren, he would be remembered as the most faithful driver of the sport.

      1. And I’m not being bad – I don’t think in his whole career McLaren will be uncompetitive if not for a single season.

  2. both penalties were totally unnecessary. I can see a few conspiracy theories now arising around Vettel. Everyone knows he is Bernie’s “Golden Boy”, and now two races in a row he’s managed to avoid penalties, and yesterday his crime was far worse than Lewis’.

    1. Although Bernie has no sway over the stewards, he’d have to be Jean’s Golden Boy for that theory to have any merit. It is odd though that the stewards penalized Hamilton but not Vettel. Personally I think that rule should be exempt at the start of the race, just like DRS. The dash to the first corner is usually madness, and rightfully so. It’s usually the most exciting part of the race, and Heidfeld made sure it was in Malaysia.

      1. what did vettel do yesterday that deserved a penalty i must have missed that? what ever it is though he’d have to have made a big mess to get his qualifying position changed they don’t often do that. But yes the ham/alonso penalty was pretty ridiculose they had already both suffered

        1. Vettel didn’t really do anything that “deserved” a penalty, but he weaved as much from the start just as much as Hamilton did when defending from Alonso. The main problem with the ruling is that while there may have been 2 moves, you’ll see almost every driver do that over the course of a season and not get penalised for it.

          Vettel and Buemi overtaking around the outside of a corner a fortnight ago was probably a more egregious offence, but one that wasn’t even investigated by the stewards.

          Neither Alonso nor Hamilton should have been penalised there, it was a racing incident and nothing more.

          1. Different stewards at every race will result in different levels of tolerance. It almost seems like the FIA needs to set up a steward academy over the winter and get all their stewards worldwide on the same page. Or bring a standard set of stewards to all races. Or maybe have one constant steward. It definitely seems that their decisions have gotten better since they’ve had an ex driver at every race.

          2. To be honest, (and I’ve already said this somewhere) the rule that says drivers are only permitted one move on the straight needs revising. Hamilton didn’t come across the track so much that Alonso couldn’t make a move up the inside, so what difference did it make? His weaving was the same at this very race in 2010, yet he wasn’t penalised – and rightly so. It was simply an effort to break the slipstream, and it in no way affected Alonso’s ability to make a pass. In fact, it gave him more options; he could take to the inside or the outside.

            As for Alonso hitting Lewis, I think that penalty is completely unnecessary – not just because it didn’t cost him any points, but the contact left him damaged and affected his chances of gaining what he believes to be a podium. If an unscheduled pit stop isn’t punishment enough for a mistake, I don’t know what is.

      2. Personally I think that rule should be exempt at the start of the race, just like DRS.

        The rule doesn’t exist because prevent weaving would “damage the show”, it exists because of safety.

        Imagine if Vettel had blocked Hamilton and he went over his wheel, like Webber did in Valencia? With the cars accelerating towards them, there would have been a high chance of Hamilton landing upside down onto somebody else. The consequences don’t bear thinking about.

        If Vettel had been weaving to try and get past someone else, that would have been fine and up to Hamilton to be aware of what and stay out of his way. But Vettel had clean air and was simply blocking Hamilton to preserve his lead. The Crash Kid might have claimed a third scalp but with mush worse consequences.

        1. Thanks you. That should clear things up in the minds of most rational people.

  3. With regards to Interlagos, are they simply changing the grass section to the right at 1:03 to a tarmac runoff?

    1. It would make if it is the case. The accident involved the car bouncing back to the road which wouldn’t happen if there was a run off area actually slowing it down.

    2. no I believe it’s the area to the right @ 1:10

      1. From what I heard, they are extending the distance to the barrier on the right of the track in order to prevent cars from bouncing back onto the racing line. They need to move or remove parts of the grandstand.

        It is going to be an extremely expensive operation.

    3. i saw the video of the crash. to be honest i think it was more of an issue with the safety of the cars rather than the track imho :\

    4. I believe it’s the one from 1:03 to 1:10.

  4. Changes made after a drivers death? I believe that’s called closing the door after the horse has bolted. At least they’re finally doing something about it, even if they’re about 20 years late.

    On a more light hearted note… is it just me or is “Hamilton backed to bounce back” a really rubbish sounding headline?!

    1. Changes made after a drivers death?

      Welcome to the world of motorsport Ned. ;)

      I agree with regards to the quoted headline, in fact the article itself is pointless waffle. I mean is Whitmarsh going to say otherwise?

    2. But we know alread Withmarsh is the king of endless ramble and unsolicited explanations. Well I expected nothing less.
      Regarding the driver’s death, unfortunate as it is, you can never rule out freak accidents.

      1. The sad thing is, it was not a freak accident. That wall has caused a few motorsport deaths over the last years, which considering the safety measures in most cars these days is quite terrible. Freak accidents (think massa 2009) cannot be ruled out. But when a pattern emerges, changes have to happen.

        Did anyone watch the F1 program on BBC last week, called “Formula One – The killer years” – it was very sad, very interesting. Makes you realise how important the safety measure of these years are.

        1. I did, it was an excellent programme. Don’t think it’s on iPlayer any more but if anyone hasn’t seen it and spots it in the schedule again, make sure you watch it.

        2. Yes, I thought it was very enlightening, and puts Mosley’s belittling of Jackie Stewart look even more crass to me than it did at the time.

          I had never seen the footage from Zolder before that was shown at the end of the programme. It was quite shocking to see everyone carrying on racing, even if in the context of the sport at the time you could understand why they did.

        3. I saw that. Really great quality documantary, it was on the Internet for a while afterwards, but its gone now.

    3. Pretty awful English that headline.

      1. Pretty and awful in the same sentence ain’t much better :P

        1. What’s wrong in a nice oxymoron? Huh?

    4. I believe this is the circuit’s second attempt at sorting out that corner. No prizes for guessing what prompted attempt #1.

  5. i doubt cost cutting is ever going to work in f1. money saved here is just added to there.

  6. Re: COTD
    Well Schumacher got that famous penalty when he pushed Barichello close to the wall.
    Well the stewards made the decision because Schumacher was looking at Barichello’s tyres “agressively”.

  7. It is interesting how FOTA is trying to cut costs. One of the reasons given is “we don’t want to end up racing with ourselves”. But we know that Ferrari are the ones against the smaller teams and are prepared to race with just themselves as they did in the 2005 US GP.

    1. They didnt race alone. Afaik all the bridgestone teams took part.

      1. They may as well have raced by themselves! iirc they were ‘racing’ with minardi and one of the lower midfied teams, possibly toyota/midland so they were hardly challenged. There were only 6 cars in the race.

        1. Jordan. And the Ferraris nearly collided after the second pitstop. We were *that* close to Tiago Monteiro winning a race…

          1. What a pooch screw. Never saw a sport shoot itself in the foot like that before. F1 is endlessly fascinating in both a good and bad way. A moneymaker when they forget about the money and just use some common sense.

  8. Lewis will stay with Mclaren for a very long time as they have build him to come & race in F1 just for them. If not wrong he was helped by Mclaren & Mercedes in many of the junior categories.Even I can’t imagine him leaving the team until & unless something horrible happens within the team.

    Why penalties? They did nothing wrong,that was a pure racing incident.If those type of things deserve penalties then we won’t see any forms of racing no matter you have DRS & KERS. That was just unjustified,if that’s the right word to use.
    Shame on the FIA, they just could’t have a drama free F1 season.

  9. What Mclaren giveth with technical innovation, they taketh away with strategic blunders.
    10 years is a very long time, for all you know HRT may have won their fifth consecitive constructors championship.

    1. Good one! :-)

    2. Oli, Oli,
      wake up Oli, its time for school ;-)

  10. Keith,

    I’ve been having problems loading the site in Chrome. It took me 20 minutes of refreshing to get it to work just now. I got really frustrated and went back to Firefox 3.6. The site is loading fantastically in Firefox, but Chrome is still trying to load ads!

    1. I’m also having troubles with loading the page on Chrome.

      It’s one of the many reasons I switched to Opera, everything works fine!

    2. I just use firefox for this site now – actually, since I don<t use Firefox for anything else, I<ve just set the homepage to F1F and voilà easy : )

  11. Also I have been having problems to load it in the Chrome.

    1. Me too I gave up yesterday afternoon

      1. I’ve noticed an even worse problem: it loads everything, but carries on with the infinite ad loop and seriously lags the computer.

  12. This “Drive for us for life” deal reminds me of an article in a dutch F1 magazine. they thought Hamilton lived in the McLaren technology centre since his karting days. When he was living there they collected every piece of data from him so that they could make a tailor fit car for him.

    This might be true after all?

    1. Not working THAT well yet, is it? ;)

  13. I really can’t see Hamilton going for a contract like that. Sure, the money is attractive but people remember you for your WDC’s, not you salary.

  14. I think Lewis has to look at his time in McLaren as limited not the other way around, if he wants to be World Champion again. He needs to push himself and the team to win another title now, not in one year or ten or he will waste his time. Unless of course he is settled with the idea of being a McLaren ambassador for life.

  15. Well, if he wants to go to another team, he’d better stop it off with the derisive ‘soft drinks company’ type comments. Certain people at Red Bull may be wishing that Hamilton hadn’t said that because it can make them and him look stupid come negotiations time. ‘Hamilton signs for soft drinks company’ headlines aren’t going to sit well with some members of the board.

    And, as we all know, swapping teams does not guarantee you a faster car for the season after. And, as we can all see, Hamilton is having a few issues of his own at the moment.

    1. That was proven to be a journalist’s remark, not his. I’m sure we’ve had this conversation before.

  16. James Hunt won the BRDC International Trophy race at Silverstone 35 years ago today.

    I love these historical bits right up to the point where it says… “35 years ago today”.

    Sometimes, something in me wishes I’d rather be reading the history, rather than having been around when it happened.

    It’s still good stuff!

  17. Lewis Hamilton’s boss yesterday made him a remarkable “drive for us for life” offer.

    Wow. Never heard anything like this before especially in motor racing.

    Best deserves the Best.

    BTW i also agree with most Hamilton should not agree to such a deal. Hamilton could very well stay at Mclaren for the rest of his carrier but in 3-4 years contracts. Anything can happen.

    1. Best deserves the best? Hamilton’s driving isn’t the best. He may be one of the fastest, but he’s terrible on his tyres, and is prone to silly mistakes still. Also, McLaren are not the best either, they have less history overall than Ferrari, and Red Bull are the current champions. Good, but not the best

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