Jenson Button

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Posted by r2d2 04/17/2009 @ 09:11

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Bidding war for Button -
By Byron Young 31/05/2009 The bidding war over Jenson Button's services kicked off yesterday with one leading team boss saying: "We'd love to have him in our car next year." The 29-year-old's gamble to take a pay cut this year has paid off in spades....
F1: Brawn chief hints at new deal for Jenson Button -
By Sports Wire 29/05/2009 Jenson Button will be rewarded with a massive pay deal in 2010 after winning five of the first six races this season. Brawn chief Nick Fry says he is in no rush to open talks with Button despite his roaring start....
Jenson Button to join £10million club as Brawn fight off interest -
Jenson Button will reap a multi-million pound bonanza as his Brawn team fight off an avalanche of interest in their star turn. Brawn have offered their Monaco winner a job for life, but the 29year-old will have to weigh that against a string of big...
Lola confirm 2010 bid - SkySports
Pictures from the glamour and girls of the Monaco Grand Prix. Images from Sunday's Monaco Grand Prix, which was won by Jenson Button. Images from Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona's Circuit de Catalunya, which was won by Jenson Button....
Monaco Grand Prix: Jenson Button's playboy days behind him -
Jenson Button's best result in Monaco arguably came the year he parked his boat on a mooring adjacent to the paddock. He could roll out of bed straight into team meetings, and more importantly, roll back again into the lap of one stunner or another....
Jenson Button wins the Spanish Grand Prix - United Press International
BARCELONA, Spain, May 10 (UPI) -- Jensen Button continued his dominant start Sunday by winning the Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona ahead of runnerup and Braun teammate Rubens Barrichello. Button's team opted for a two-stop pit strategy instead of three...
Jenson Button Is a World Champion; Can We Move On To Another Season? - Bleacher Report
by Ann Gry [HUMOR] Jenson got out of the car and still in his helmet started to run, waving hands to the spectators. "So he needs to run the track now?" my father asked me. Yes—I replied with Kimi's poker face. Otherwise they won't classify him as a...
Motorsports Links: Jenson Button Wins Monaco - New York Times Blogs
By Richard S. Chang Luca Bruno/Associated Press The Brawn GP driver Jenson Button of Britain celebrated after winning the Monaco Grand Prix. Formula One: Jenson Button became the first British driver to win the prestigious Monaco Grand Prix from pole...
Button, Castroneves winners, Coke 600 Postponed - Cape May County Herald
Jenson Button (Left) and Helio Castroneves (Center) celebrate thier F1 and IRL victories, while the Sprint Cup Series race is postponed by rain (Right). CHARLOTTE, INDIANAPOLIS, MONTE CARLO – In the biggest racing day of the year, Formula 1 and the...
Formula one teams end budget cap row -
Jenson Button is set to be rewarded for an outstanding start to the season by Brawn with a lucrative new contract. Photograph: Paul Gilham/Getty Images The row that has threatened to rip formula one asunder is expected to be settled today when the nine...

Jenson Button

Jenson Button 2007.jpg

Jenson Alexander Lyons Button (born 19 January 1980) is a British Formula One racing driver from England. He currently drives for the Brawn GP team. He won his first Grand Prix in Hungary, on 6 August 2006 after 113 races. His next win did not come until 2009, when he won the first two races of the 2009 season.

Jenson Button was born in Frome, Somerset, and went to Selwood Middle School and then Frome community college. He is the son of Simone Lyons and former Rallycross ace John Button from London (during the 1970s well-known in the UK for his so-called Colorado beetle Volkswagen, whose best overall results was to become the runner-up in both the Embassy/RAC-MSA British Rallycross and TEAC/Lydden Rallycross championships of the year 1976. Jenson Button’s parents are divorced, and he has three older sisters, Tania Katrina (born 1967), Samantha Chantal (born 1970) and Natasha Michelle (born 1973) Button.

Button began karting at age eight after his father bought him his first kart, and he made an extraordinarily successful start. He won all 34 races of the 1991 British Cadet Kart Championship along with the title.

Further successes followed, including three triumphs in the British Open Kart Championship. In 1997 he became the youngest driver ever to win the European Super A Championship and won the Ayrton Senna Memorial Cup as well, precipitating a move into car racing.

Aged 18, he contested the British Formula Ford Championship with Haywood Racing and won the title with nine race wins. He also triumphed in the Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch, ahead of future Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon.

At the end of 1998 he won the annual McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award. His prize included a test in a McLaren Formula One car, which he received at the end of the following year.

Button entered Formula Three in 1999 with the Promatecme team. He won three times - at Thruxton, Pembrey and Silverstone - and finished the season as top rookie driver.

He was third overall in the championship, behind Marc Hynes and Luciano Burti, and finished fifth and second respectively in the Marlboro Masters and Macau Grand Prix (0.035s behind winner Darren Manning in the latter).

At the end of 1999 Button had his McLaren test prize at Silverstone, and also tested for the Prost team. A vacant race seat became available at the Williams team following the departure of Alessandro Zanardi, and team boss Frank Williams arranged a 'shoot-out' between Button and Formula 3000 racer Bruno Junqueira. Button won the seat.

He finished eighth in the 2000 Drivers' Championship. At the Spa Francorchamps circuit, he qualified 3rd and finished 4th. However, he made a number of rookie mistakes during the season, including crashing while under safety car conditions at Monza. He was outscored by his more experienced teammate, Ralf Schumacher.

In 2001, although still under contract with Williams, Button drove for Benetton which had just been purchased by Renault. He had a dismal season; the car, which was constantly under development that year, was never fast, nor was Button. He did, however, place fifth at the German Grand Prix, but finished a disappointing seventeenth in the drivers' championship.

In 2002 Renault renamed Benetton as Renault F1. Though his teammate Jarno Trulli routinely outpaced him in qualifying, Button occasionally had the superior race pace. He narrowly missed third place (and his first podium) at the Malaysian Grand Prix, being passed by Michael Schumacher in the last lap due to a suspension failure in his Renault, and ultimately finished the race in fourth. The Brazilian Grand Prix gave him another fourth place, and he finished seventh in that year's drivers championship.

After his replacement at Renault, in early 2003 Button joined the BAR team, alongside former World Champion Jacques Villeneuve. As the season progressed, Button gained the upper hand in qualifying and also enjoyed better luck in races. Button's best result of the season was fourth place in Austria. However, he crashed heavily during Saturday practice in Monaco, causing him to miss both the race and the following testing session at Monza. By the end of the season, though, things were looking up, and at the 2003 United States Grand Prix Button led a lap for the first time. He finished ninth in the Drivers' Championship that year with 17 points.

In 2004, Button and BAR-Honda made significant progress and BAR finished the season second in the Constructors' Championship. Button scored his first ever podium finish with a third place in the Malaysian Grand Prix, and added 9 more throughout that season.

Button and BAR's first pole position came in April at the 2004 San Marino Grand Prix, in which he finished second. He ended the season third overall, behind the two dominant Ferrari drivers, with 85 points.

Despite his success with BAR, on 5 August 2004 Button revealed he had signed for Williams for the next two years, sparking a controversial contract dispute. An apparent loophole in his BAR contract permitted him to leave if Honda's commitment to the team was in any doubt.

BAR boss David Richards fought to keep his driver, though Frank Williams maintained that the switch was entirely legal. The FIA Contract Recognition Board (CRB) held a hearing on 16 October in Milan, Italy, to determine Button's 2005 status, concluding that he was contracted to BAR-Honda for the 2005 season.

A poor start to the 2005 Formula One season included disqualification at the San Marino Grand Prix. Scrutineers found that the fuel system of the car 'hid' fuel, allowing the car to finish above minimum weight despite potentially being able to run lighter during the race. The adjudged contravention of the rules resulted in a two-race ban for the team, allowing him to make his television commentary debut, for ITV Sport in Monaco.

Button took the second pole position of his career at Montreal. However he started the race poorly, and crashed on lap 46 while in third place. Despite having to wait until the halfway point of the season to score his first World Championship point, things improved considerably towards the end of the year. After a fourth place finish at the 2005 French Grand Prix, Button placed himself second on the grid for his home grand prix at Silverstone. Unfortunately, another slow start saw him lose position, and poor race pace dropped him through the field to finish fifth.

Button has always gone well at the Hockenheim circuit, and 2005 was no exception. He qualified his BAR-Honda in second place for the 2005 German Grand Prix, and then went on to finish third, his first podium finish of the season.

In 2005 Button again found himself the subject of contractual controversy. Despite having signed a contract to drive for the Williams team for 2006 he judged the likely prospects for that team to have declined, as their engine suppliers BMW had purchased the Sauber team and were to stop supplying engines to Williams. Frank Williams was adamant that the contract must be honoured despite Button claiming that circumstances had changed and he had a right to remain at BAR.

On 21 September 2005, BAR confirmed that Button would once again drive for them in 2006 (having bought out his contract from Williams for a reported $30m), where he would partner ex-Ferrari driver Rubens Barrichello.

At the start of the 2006 Formula One season, BAR Honda were fully purchased by Honda and became a full works team, changing its name to the Honda Racing F1 Team.

The 2006 season had both highs and lows - Button had a dismal race at home but took his first ever Grand Prix win in Hungary.

At the first round he scored five points with 4th place and finished on the podium in Malaysia. But in Australia his engine blew while running third, having started from pole position. He purposefully stopped short of the finish line to avoid an engine penalty.

The early part of the season proved difficult. At Monaco he qualified 14th and finished 11th. At his home race at Silverstone he qualified 19th after he lost time being weighed and his team failed to get him on track quickly enough. He spun off on lap eight due to an engine failure.

At the 2006 Canadian Grand Prix, Button managed to out-qualify his teammate for the first time since Imola. However, after battling with David Coulthard in 8th, Button got passed by him and lost his chance for a point. Another retirement occurred at the 2006 United States Grand Prix when Button was one of several drivers eliminated in a first lap collision.

At the French Grand Prix, Button retired once more due to an engine failure. Qualifying for the German Grand Prix, however, brought a ray of sunshine into the bleak performance of qualifying this season. After a slightly shaky Q1, where he, once again, got pulled into the weighbridge - Button managed to get onto the second row of the grid with P4. After running for a while during the race in a strong P3, Button eventually finished back in P4.

Button took the first win of his career in 2006 at a chaotic Hungarian Grand Prix - the 113th Grand Prix start of his career. In doing so he overcame a 10-grid slot penalty for changing his engine (the second driver after Räikkönen to win a race despite this penalty), which meant he started 14th. The race was badly affected by heavy rain. Button passed a number of drivers in the early laps - including championship contender Michael Schumacher - and was up to fourth by lap 10. Following the retirement of leading drivers Kimi Räikkönen (accident) and Fernando Alonso (driveshaft failure) he went on to win the race by over 40 seconds from Pedro de la Rosa and Nick Heidfeld. Alonso was behind Button on the racetrack when he retired, although Button still had one pitstop to make. Button's win beats Nigel Mansell's 1989 win from 12th on the grid at the Hungaroring. Button was the first British driver to win since David Coulthard in March 2003 and the first English F1 driver to win since Johnny Herbert won the European Grand Prix in 1999. His victory came 13 years after Damon Hill won his first F1 race at the same circuit. At the British Academy Television Awards 2007 Button's first win at the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix earned ITV1 a BAFTA under the category of 'Best Sport'.

The Turkish Grand Prix held many expectations due to the previous race, and Button ended a strong 4th. The next three races, in Italy, China, and Japan all gave Button strong points positions with 4ths and 5ths. Over the last six races of the season, Button scored more points (35) than any other driver.

In 2007, Button again competed with the Honda Racing F1 team alongside Rubens Barrichello. He was unable to take part in winter testing, prior to the 2007 season because of two hairline fractures to his ribs, sustained in a karting incident in late 2006. Former British world champion Damon Hill aired doubts over Button's hopes to be a championship contender at Honda over the coming season, saying, "if he is serious... he has to get himself in a car that is a championship contender." Alan Henry writing in The Guardian 2007 F1 season guide, predicted: "Button will win a couple more races but is not a title contender." He was proved to be wrong as the Honda car proved to be aerodynamically poor.

At the first race of the season in Australia, Button only managed to qualify 14th after handling problems. The race was no better as he endured considerable understeer throughout, was given a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane and finished 15th. The next two races in Malaysia and Bahrain were just as unsuccessful, Button finishing 12th behind team-mate Rubens Barrichello in Malaysia, and not even completing a lap in Bahrain after colliding with Red Bull Racing driver David Coulthard at the first corner. At the French Grand Prix Button finished eighth, earning his and Honda's first point of 2007.

Following the British Grand Prix, it was announced that Button would remain with Honda for 2008.

Button made no secret of his frustration regarding his current situation. He described his 2007 season as "a total disaster", adding "I'm not going to hang around finishing 14th". He also described his car as "a complete dog". Button did, however, record several impressive outings towards the end of the season, especially when rain was prominent.

Jenson Button stayed with Honda for 2008 and continued to be partnered by Rubens Barrichello. He retired at the Australian Grand Prix on the first lap, and finished 10th at Malaysia. In Bahrain he retired after running over David Coulthard's wing. He scored his first and only points at the Spanish Grand Prix with 6th place. He then had three 11th place finishes in a row at Turkey, Monaco, and Canada. He was the only driver to retire at the French Grand Prix, and failed to finish the British Grand Prix as well.

On 5 December 2008 Honda announced that they were quitting F1, due to the global economic crisis. This left Button's chances of a drive in 2009 dependent on the team finding a buyer.

On 5 March 2009, it was announced that the former Honda team would become Brawn GP, following a buy-out by Ross Brawn, the Team Principal of Honda Racing. Button and Barrichello were confirmed as the team's drivers for the 2009 season. Button took pole position in the 2009 Australian Grand Prix, his first race for the team, with Barrichello in second place, and led the race from start to finish to win the race ahead of his team-mate—the first time a team scored a 1-2 finish on their debut since 1954. One week later, he made it two poles and two wins in a row at the Malaysian Grand Prix. The race was stopped due to heavy rain with less than 75% completed, and half points were awarded. In this race Button scored his first hat trick (pole, win and fastest lap).

Button was engaged to English pop singer and actress Louise Griffiths for two years. Their relationship ended in April 2005, and his socialising with friend David Coulthard became tabloid fodder. He is currently dating Jessica Michibata.

Like many Formula One drivers, Button resides in the principality of Monaco, and also has properties in the UK and Bahrain. His hobbies include mountain biking and body boarding; and his car collection includes a 1956 VW Campervan and a Honda S600.

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Honda Racing F1

Jenson Button driving the Honda RA108 at the 2008 Malaysian Grand Prix.

Honda Racing F1 Team was a Formula One (F1) team run by Japanese car manufacturer Honda, from 1964 to 1968 and from 2006 to 2008. Honda's involvement in F1 began with the 1964 season; their withdrawal in 1968 was precipitated by the death of Honda driver Jo Schlesser during the 1968 French Grand Prix. They returned in 1983 as an engine supplier, a role that ended in 1992. They returned again in 2000, providing engines for British American Racing (BAR), and by the end of 2005 BAR had been bought out and Honda Racing was re-established.

It was announced on December 5, 2008 that Honda would be exiting Formula One with immediate effect due to the current economic crisis and were looking to sell the team. On February 27 2009 it was announced that the team had been secured with a management buy-out led by team principal Ross Brawn.

Honda entered Formula One Grand Prix racing in 1964, just four years after producing their first road car. They began development of the RA271 in 1962 and startled the European-dominated Formula One garages with their all-Japanese factory team (except for American drivers Ronnie Bucknum and Richie Ginther). More startling was the fact that Honda built their own engine and chassis, something only Ferrari and BRM - of the other teams still running in 1962 - had previously done.

In only their second year of competition, Honda reached the coveted top step of the podium with Ginther's win in the RA272 at the 1965 Mexican Grand Prix. For the new 3.0L rules from 1966, Honda introduced the Honda RA273. Although the RA273's engine was a well-designed, ~360bhp V12, the car was let down by a relatively heavy and unwieldy in-house chassis. Honda returned to the winner's circle in 1967 with the new Honda RA300, driven by John Surtees. This won the 1967 Italian Grand Prix in only its first F1 race. The RA300 chassis was partly designed by Lola in the UK, and this resulted in the car being nicknamed the Hondola by the motoring press. This was the last competitive car that Honda produced for F1 in the 1960s.

The following year's Honda RA301 only reached the podium twice. The team's new Honda RA302 appeared in only a single race at Rouen-Les-Essarts, lasting only a few laps before its fiery crash resulted in the death of driver Jo Schlesser. The death prompted Honda to withdraw from F1 at the end of the 1968 Formula One season.

Honda returned to Formula One in 1983 as an engine supplier for Spirit and stayed in the sport for a decade, at various times teaming with Lotus, McLaren, Tyrrell and Williams. Honda engines were considered the ticket to Grand Prix glory due to their power, reliability, and winning track record. Honda supplied its engines to six constructor champions, as well as five driver championships (3 by Senna, 1 by Piquet, and another by Prost), before dropping out of the sport again. Honda-powered cars had won 71 Grands Prix, by the end of the 1992 season.

From 1993 to 1998, Honda's only presence in F1 was as an engine supplier through its associates Mugen Motorsports, who supplied engines to Footwork, Lotus, Ligier, Prost and Jordan. Mugen-powered cars had won 4 Grands Prix by the end of the 1999 season. In 1998, Honda was seriously considering entry in Formula One as a constructor, going as far as producing an engine and hiring Harvey Postlethwaite as technical director and designer. A test car, RA099, designed by Postlethwaite and built by Dallara, was made and tested during 1999, driven by Jos Verstappen. The team impressed at test sessions, beating some more experienced and better financed teams, even if they were mostly in the midfield. At a test of this car, Postlethwaite suffered a fatal heart attack, the project was later shelved and Honda decided to merely recommit as a full works engine supplier to BAR, starting in 2000.

Honda returned yet again in 2000, providing engines for BAR. They also supplied engines to Jordan Grand Prix for 2001 and 2002. This would lead to a battle for the right to use the Honda engines in the long term. In 2003, despite their better showing in the previous 2 seasons, Honda dropped Jordan Grand Prix. In mid-November 2004 Honda purchased 45% of the BAR team from British American Tobacco (BAT, the founder and owner of BAR) following BAR's best season, when they were able to achieve second place in the 2004 Formula One season, a year dominated by Michael Schumacher and Ferrari.

In September 2005 Honda purchased the remaining 55% share of BAR to become the sole owner. BAT continued as title sponsor with the Lucky Strike brand in 2006, but withdrew from Formula 1 for 2007. It was decided that the team would race under the name Honda Racing F1 Team from 2006.

Despite showing promise pre-season (with the RA806 being considered one of the most powerful of the new V8 engines), Honda demonstrated fairly mediocre performance at the start of the 2006 season despite a pole position at Australia. Prior to their win at Hungary, they had only accumulated a single podium finish, a third place from Jenson Button at Malaysia. The main reason for lack of form (the team was expecting to challenge for the championship) was down to reliability, with the team dropping out of contention for race victories many times. Pit-stop problems also hampered the team early on, in one case effectively ruining Jenson Button's chances for a good result and possible podium at Imola. Rubens Barrichello did not have a good season for the team, down to the fact that he had to get used to the new brakes and traction control, after moving from a very successful six year stint at Ferrari. Nevertheless Rubens had out-qualified his team-mate in the final four races.

Honda had a particularly poor showing at the British Grand Prix in 2006. In particular, Jenson Button was eliminated after the first portion of qualifying after the team failed to get him out for a second run. This resulted in his qualifying 19th. He then retired with an oil leak. In light of this poor form, it was announced that Geoff Willis would be adopting a factory-based role to concentrate on aerodynamics. Following the appointment of Senior Technical Director Shuhei Nakamoto over Willis' head and Mariano Alperin-Bruvera as Chief Aerodynamicist Willis' position appeared difficult, and reports indicated that he left the team.

At the Hungaroring, fortunes changed. Barrichello and Button qualified third and fourth, though Button had to drop ten places, following an engine change. In an incident-packed race, Jenson came from fourteenth on the grid to win his first race, with Barrichello finishing fourth. After this win, the team's performance went up noticeably, displaying consistency (if not overall performance) arguably better than championship leaders Ferrari and Renault. Button scored as many points as championship runner up Michael Schumacher in the last third of the season. Both drivers earned points finishes in almost all the remaining races (with the exception of Barrichello's 12th place finish in Japan), with the season ending high note with Button's 3rd place finish in the Brazil - less than a second behind 2nd place Fernando Alonso - after having to start from 14th on the grid.

On November 15, 2006, it was announced that long time BAR Honda and Honda test driver, Anthony Davidson would be heading to Super Aguri F1 to race alongside Takuma Sato. He was replaced by ex-Red Bull racer Christian Klien for the 2007 season.

With tobacco sponsorship in F1 in full decline, 2007 also saw the end of British American Tobacco's sponsorship of Honda, allowing the team to choose a livery that better suited their corporate image. Unveiled on 26 February 2007, the RA107 car featured the bare minimum of corporate advertising (advertising required by the FIA), instead focusing on Honda's environmental desires, with a livery depicting the planet Earth against the black background of space. On the rear wing was the web address of environmental awareness website This site was launched February 27, 2007, immediately after the official launch of the 2007 car. Reactions to the new Honda livery were mixed, with Greenpeace accusing the team of being hypocritical, given how polluting F1 is.

The team's form in pre-season testing was patchy, and Jenson Button urged the squad to improve. The RA-107's sheer lack of pace was evident at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on March 18, with Button and Barrichello qualifying 14th and 17th respectively (well behind the 'satellite' Super Aguri team, whose car is effectively an update of last year's Honda, the RA-106). Barrichello finished the race in 11th place, with Button in 15th after receiving a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane. The team also failed to score points in the four subsequent races, their best finish being 10th in Spain and Monaco, scored both times by Rubens Barrichello. Honda finally scored a point in the French Grand Prix, courtesy of Button's eighth place finish.

From July 2007, recognising the aerodynamic problems within the car, Honda began to recruit a new team from across the Formula 1 paddock. Chief aerodynamicist Loic Bigois and assistant Francois Martinet were signed from WilliamsF1; Jörg Zander and John Owen from BMW Sauber either later in 2007 or early in 2008.

On July 19, 2007, it was announced that Barrichello and Button would continue the factory effort as teammates into 2008. On November 12 2007, confirmed that former Ferrari technical director Ross Brawn was to join Honda as team principal. Nick Fry remained with the team as Chief Executive. On the 10th January 2008, it was announced that Alexander Wurz had signed as test driver for the 2008 Formula One Season. On 29 January 2008, Honda launched their 2008 race car. The "Earth Car" had a slightly different livery from its 2007 counterpart, with only part of the car containing the earth picture, and the rest with Honda's classic white paint. Button, Barrichello and Wurz were present at the launch.

Honda had another disappointing year, and by mid-season they had switched development to the 2009 season, where new regulations come into play. Despite this, Barichello managed a podium in the wet British Grand Prix with an inspired choice to full wet weather tyres at the right moment.

The team continued until the end of the 2008 season, when Honda again exited the sport, unwilling to continue the Brackley-based team's $300 million budget and staff of 700 during an extended period of global economic crisis. Nick Fry and other Honda F1 senior team management "intend to make every effort possible to secure the future of the team"; they have received assurances that "Honda will provide the necessary support to complete the Honda RA109, the team's 2009 F1 contender and believe they "can still have a very successful 2009 season if a new owner can be found." Many possible new owners had been linked to the team, including Prodrive boss David Richards and Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim . It is also rumoured that the team will enter the 2009 season with backing from driver Bruno Senna's personal sponsors and Honda itself. Senna would be joined by Jenson Button and the team would use Mercedes-Benz engines.

On the 18 February, it was confirmed that Virgin Group had made a bid to buy the team. However, the team was eventually saved by a management buy-out led by Honda Racing team principal Ross Brawn. On the 25 February, the team's attorney registered the domains '' and '', hinting at the possibility that the team might race under a new name. Rubens Barrichello was confirmed as Jenson Button's teammate for the 2009 season on March 2.

On the 6 March, Honda Motor Company announced that the Formula One team was sold to Ross Brawn and formed a new team, Brawn GP.

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Fernando Alonso

Fernando Alonso 2008.jpg

Fernando Alonso Díaz (born July 29, 1981 in Oviedo, Spain) is a Spanish Formula One racing driver and a two-time World Champion.

On September 25, 2005 he won the World Driver's Championship title at the age of 24 years and 58 days, thus breaking Emerson Fittipaldi's record of being the youngest World Drivers' Champion (this record was subsequently broken by Lewis Hamilton). After retaining the title the following year, Alonso also became the youngest double Champion. In 2007, he became the second F1 driver, after Michael Schumacher, to score at least 100 points for three consecutive seasons. Nicknamed El Nano, Alonso acts as a Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF and is one of the directors of the Grand Prix Drivers' Association.

Fernando Alonso was born in Oviedo, Asturias in northern Spain. His mother worked in a department store and his father was employed as a mechanic in an explosives factory near Oviedo. Alonso has an older sister, Lorena. Alonso's father José Luis, an amateur kart racer, wanted to pass on his passion to his children. He built a kart, originally meant for eight-year-old Lorena, but unlike her three-year-old brother, she showed no interest in the sport.

Alonso is rumoured to be married to Raquel del Rosario, lead singer of Spanish pop band El Sueño de Morfeo. The two were married on November 17, 2006.

He currently lives in Oxford, England, and owns a house in Mont-sur-Rolle, near Lake Geneva, Switzerland. He is an avid card tricks aficionado and usually plays cards when he's hanging out with Robert Kubica during the race weekend. He is also interested in other sports, like cycling, football and tennis.

As well as Spanish, he speaks Italian, French and English.

As a child, Alonso participated in karting competitions around Spain, supported by his father, who also doubled as his mechanic. His family lacked the financial resources needed to develop a career in motorsport, but his victories attracted sponsorship and the required funds. Alonso won four Spanish championships back-to-back in the junior category, between 1993 and 1996 and the Junior World Cup in 1996. He won the Spanish and Italian Inter-A titles in 1997 and in 1998 won the Spanish Inter-A title again as well as finishing second in the European Championship.

Former Minardi F1 driver Adrián Campos gave Alonso his first test in a race car in October 1998. After three days of testing at the Albacete circuit, Alonso had matched the lap times of Campos' previous driver Marc Gené. Campos signed Alonso to race for him in the 1999 Spanish Euro Open MoviStar by Nissan series. In his second race, again at Albacete, Alonso won for the first time. He took the championship by one point from championship rival Manuel Giao by winning and setting fastest lap at the last race of the season. Alonso also tested for the Minardi Formula One team, lapping 1.5 seconds faster than the other drivers at the test.

The following season Alonso moved up to Formula 3000, which was often the final step for drivers before ascending to Formula One. Alonso joined Team Astromega and was the youngest driver in the series that year by eleven months. Alonso didn't score a point until the seventh race of the year, but in the final two rounds he took a second place and a victory, enough for him to end the season fourth overall behind Bruno Junqueira, Nicolas Minassian and Mark Webber.

Alonso was the third-youngest driver ever to start a F1 race when he made his debut with Minardi at the 2001 Australian Grand Prix. The team was in its first season under the control of new owner Paul Stoddart and their new car, the PS01, was neither fast nor reliable. However Alonso's qualifying performance was good, at his first race he out-qualified team mate Tarso Marques by 2.6s. At the fourth round at Imola he outqualified both of the Benettons, a feat he repeated later in the season.

Notable performances over the 2001 season had earned him some attention from the faster teams. It was reported in September 2001 by some of the European press that Sauber were looking to replace outgoing Kimi Räikkönen with the Spaniard although he was facing competition for the seat from Felipe Massa and then Jaguar test driver Andre Lotterer. A month later it was confirmed that Massa was going to take the vacant Sauber seat for 2002.

In September, his manager Flavio Briatore had begun planning to place Alonso at Benetton. Briatore considered promoting Alonso for 2002, in place of his race driver Jenson Button, but instead chose to take Alonso on as a full-time test driver for 2002. At the final round of 2001 at Suzuka he finished eleventh — five places outside the points but ahead, on merit, of Heinz-Harald Frentzen’s Prost (with a Ferrari engine), the BAR-Honda of Olivier Panis, the two Arrows and Alex Yoong (his new team mate). Four years later, his team boss from the Minardi days, Paul Stoddart, described his race as "53 laps of qualifying". He scored no points in the season.

Alonso became test driver for Renault in 2002 (Renault having taken over the Benetton team) and did 1,642 laps of testing that year. In 2003 Briatore dropped Button and put Alonso in the second seat alongside Jarno Trulli.

The Spaniard became the youngest driver to achieve a Formula One pole position at the 2003 Malaysian Grand Prix. Alonso had a 180mph crash at the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix, the result of missing the double yellow flags and Safety Car boards brought out by Mark Webber's earlier crash and colliding with the debris. The race was red-flagged. He finished second at his home grand prix two races later, and at the time became the youngest driver to win a Formula One race at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix. He finished the year sixth in the championship, with 55 points and four podiums.

Alonso remained with Renault for the 2004 season, scoring podiums in Australia, France, Germany and Hungary. At Indianapolis he suffered a high-speed accident while running in third place after a tyre deflated. In France he took pole position and finished second, running Michael Schumacher close for victory. Towards the end of the year teammate Jarno Trulli's performances deteriorated and he dropped Renault boss Flavio Briatore as his manager. Trulli's relationship with the team deteriorated to the extent that he signed for Toyota from 2005 onwards. Alonso ended the year fourth in the championship standings with 59 points.

For the 2005 season, Alonso was joined at Renault by highly rated Italian driver Giancarlo Fisichella. At the first race in Australia Alonso started near the back due to rain in qualifying but fought his way to third. He won the next two races in Malaysia and Bahrain from pole position, and took a third win in the San Marino Grand Prix after a 13-lap battle with Michael Schumacher.

McLaren's improving form saw Räikkönen win in Spain and Monaco while Alonso finished second and fourth, respectively. Räikkönen was on course to win the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring when his car's front-right suspension failed (due to a flat spot on the tyre caused by Räikkönen locking his wheels under braking while passing Jacques Villeneuve) on the last lap, giving victory to Alonso.

Alonso failed to score in the Canadian and United States Grands Prix. He crashed out of the former, and in the latter all the Michelin runners withdrew due to safety concerns over their tyres.

Alonso took his third pole position and fifth win at the French Grand Prix. He followed this with pole position a week later at the British Grand Prix, where he finished a second behind Montoya. McLaren's poor reliability granted another win to Alonso at the German Grand Prix when Kimi Räikkönen's car suffered hydraulic failure.

He qualified 6th in the Hungarian Grand Prix but finished 11th after a collision with the Toyota of Ralf Schumacher.

As the season entered its final stages Alonso finished second in three consecutive races, collecting vital championship points. Räikkönen won in Turkey and Belgium, but was fourth at Monza after engine trouble in qualifying, meaning Alonso's lead had been reduced by only one point.

Alonso sealed the title by finishing third in Brazil while Montoya won from Räikkönen. The Spaniard became the youngest Drivers' Champion at the age of 24 years and 59 days old, breaking Emerson Fittipaldi's record. He also ended the 5-year dominance of Michael Schumacher.

The Japanese and Chinese Grands Prix saw Alonso and Renault abandon the conservative style evident in Brazil when he was still chasing the drivers' title. Starting from 16th on the grid, he eventually finished third behind Räikkönen and Fisichella. The Chinese Grand Prix saw Renault and Alonso win to claim the first Constructor’s Championship for the Renault F1 team.

In 2005, he was awarded with the Sports Prince of Asturias Award.

Alonso won the first race of the 2006 Formula One season at Bahrain, overtaking Michael Schumacher after coming out of the pit lane with 18 laps left, after starting fourth. He qualified seventh at the Malaysian Grand Prix due to a fuelling error but finished second to team mate Giancarlo Fisichella. He won the Australian Grand Prix after overtaking leader Jenson Button's Honda.

After poor qualifying at San Marino, Alonso was unable to pass Michael Schumacher in an encounter that echoed their battle the previous year. Schumacher beat Alonso again in the European Grand Prix after the Spaniard started on pole. But Alonso hit back, becoming the first Spaniard to win his home race on May 14, 2006 in the Spanish Grand Prix.

He took pole position for the Monaco Grand Prix after Schumacher was penalised by the stewards for "deliberately his car on the circuit in the last few minutes of qualifying", denying his rivals, Alonso included, the opportunity of recording fastest qualifying lap. Alonso won the race.

He extended his winning streak to four races with victories in Britain and Canada. Both wins came from pole position, and the British round was his first win, pole and fastest lap treble.

Schumacher's fight back began at Indianapolis where the German won and Alonso was fifth. Schumacher won the French Grand Prix, with Alonso in second, and the Spaniard was fifth in the German Grand Prix. That cut Alonso's championship lead to 11 points.

Alonso incurred a penalty for an infraction in practice at the Hungarian Grand Prix which left him 15th on the grid. Schumacher started 11th after receiving a similar penalty. Alonso looked set for an unlikely win as he overtook most of the field, including Schumacher around the outside of turn five, as he showed prowess in the wet conditions. But he crashed out of the race when a wheel nut fell off his car following a pit stop. Schumacher scored one point after Robert Kubica was disqualified.

Alonso finished second in Turkey, holding back third-placed Schumacher to claim two vital points. But he lost a lot of ground after a controversial Italian Grand Prix. He suffered a puncture during qualifying that damaged bodywork at the back of his car. He qualified fifth but was later punished by the stewards for impeding Felipe Massa's Ferrari, and he started the race from the 10th position. In the race he rose to third place before an engine failure forced him to withdraw. Schumacher won the Grand Prix and cut Alonso's Championship lead to two points.

At the following round in China, Alonso took pole position during a wet qualifying session but finished second to Schumacher in the race. The result tied Alonso and Schumacher on points in the drivers championship.

At the Japanese Grand Prix, the Ferraris of Schumacher and Massa qualified first and second, more than half a second faster than the Renaults in fifth and sixth. But during the race Alonso rose to second and took the win after Schumacher's engine failed. It gave him a ten point advantage over Schumacher, needing only one point from the final round to retain the title.

Second place in the Brazilian Grand Prix on October 22 gave Alonso the championship. With Schumacher finishing fourth, the final difference was 13 points. Alonso thus became the youngest double champion in the sport's history. Renault also clinched the Constructors' Championship with a 5-point gap over Ferrari.

On December 19, 2005, Fernando Alonso announced that he would be moving to McLaren for 2007. His contract with Renault was set to expire on December 31, 2006. However, on December 15, 2006, Alonso was allowed by Flavio Briatore and the Renault F1 Team to test for one day for McLaren in the Jerez circuit, as a result of his successes with Renault. Driving an unbranded MP4-21 and wearing a plain white helmet and overalls, Alonso completed 95 laps. Lewis Hamilton was chosen as his partner for the season. McLaren were reported to be paying Alonso £ 20 million (approx $ 39 million c. 2007) in 2007. Alonso debuted with the new McLaren car on January 15, 2007, in the streets of Valencia.

On 8 April 2007 in his second race for the team, Alonso secured his first win for McLaren, and the team's first since 2005, by leading the majority of the Malaysian Grand Prix. A difficult drive at Bahrain's Sakhir circuit on 15 April, saw him finishing 5th behind his rookie team mate who took a podium finish. In the fourth race of the year in Spain, his home grand prix, he qualified second. He had a first lap collision with Felipe Massa which caused some damage to his car and dropped him to fourth. He finished the race third. On May 27, Alonso secured his second victory for McLaren at Monaco, scoring pole position, fastest lap and the race win and in the process lapping the entire field up to 3rd position. At the Nürburgring he took his third win of the year in a dramatic race affected by intermittent rain showers, overtaking Ferrari's Felipe Massa for the lead with just four laps remaining. After the controversy at the 2007 Hungarian Grand Prix (see below), however, relations between Alonso and his team declined. It was reported in the media that he was no longer on speaking terms with Hamilton, and it was speculated that he may leave McLaren at the end of the season. On 7 August 2007 The Times reported that McLaren would let Alonso leave the team at the end of the season if he wished, two years earlier than his contract allowed..

As part of the espionage controversy between McLaren and Ferrari, the former were found guilty of breaching the Article 151c of the FIA's sporting regulations but went unpunished due to a lack of evidence. However, following the acquisition of new evidence by the FIA, a new hearing was held on September 13. The new evidence consisted largely of email traffic between Alonso and test driver Pedro de la Rosa. The FIA's World Motor Sport Council report following the hearing stated that Alonso and de la Rosa had obtained and used confidential Ferrari technical data and sporting strategy information from senior McLaren engineer Mike Coughlan via Ferrari employee Nigel Stepney, including during test sessions. Both drivers were spared sanctions in exchange for providing evidence.

On 2 November 2007, after a turbulent year with McLaren, it was announced that McLaren and Alonso had mutually agreed to terminate his contract and that he would be free to join any team for 2008 without paying McLaren any compensation.

Alonso was linked with several teams for the 2008 season after his split with McLaren. Renault, Red Bull, Toyota and Honda were all suggested in the media. Renault's Flavio Briatore stated that he would welcome Alonso's return to the French team. On 10 December 2007, Alonso signed a two-year contract to drive for Renault F1 alongside Brazilian driver Nelson Angelo Piquet for around £25 million.

In the first two rounds of the 2008 Season, Alonso was not as competitive as he was used to being. He came 4th and 8th in Australia and Malaysia respectively. After these two races, there were rumours that he could replace Felipe Massa at Ferrari in 2009, especially in light of the general belief that there is an "out clause" in Fernando Alonso's contract with Renault which would give him the freedom to move to another team for the next season should he be able to secure a deal. However Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo stated that Massa's seat in the team is secured and will stay that way until the end of his contract in 2010. Kimi Räikkönen has also been given a two-year contract extension to partner Massa until the end of 2010, essentially closing the door on Alonso for a possible move to Ferrari. Alonso too has denied this "out clause" rumour in 2008.

On 6 April 2008, in the 2008 Bahrain Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton ran into the back of Alonso's Renault, heavily damaging the rear wing of the Spaniard's car, as well as his own nosecone. Stewards did not seek to investigate the incident but critics alleged he braked (or didn't accelerate as expected) in front of Lewis Hamilton causing Hamilton to crash into him . Telemetric data from Alonso's car proved these accusations to be wrong . Hamilton himself stated "I was behind him, and I moved to the right, and he moved to the right and that was it - a racing incident I guess". It was later revealed by McLaren that Hamilton's front wing, which was damaged when he hit Alonso earlier in the race, had broken seconds before the impact and has been identified as the cause of the crash. Alonso started the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix with promising pace, qualifying on the front row in second place behind Kimi Räikkönen. Alonso was running in a solid fifth place when the Renault engine blew up with 31 laps to go in the 66 lap race.

Alonso qualified 7th for the 2008 Monaco Grand Prix. He ran fourth early in the race, but dropped to 10th at the finish after two incidents - puncturing a tyre against the barrier and a collision with Nick Heidfeld.

In the Canadian Grand Prix Alonso qualified a promising fourth and was keeping up with the pace of the BMWs, who would eventually go on to record their maiden win with Robert Kubica after pitlane dramas plagued both Ferrari and McLaren-Mercedes. However, with a heavy Heidfeld in front of him and the rest of the field having pitted for their final stops, Alonso was faced with having to pass Heidfeld or risk finishing outside the points entirely. On lap 45 Alonso put a wheel off-line, onto the marbles, which made him spin and crash into the wall at turn two.

In the European Grand Prix (Valencia, Spain), Alonso performed strongly in all three practice sessions and the first round of qualifying. However, he failed to make it through the second round of qualifying. During the opening lap of the race, Alonso was hit by Kazuki Nakajima in the rear wing of his R28 and sustained damage to his gearbox. His mechanics were unable to repair the problem and he was forced to retire from the race.

In the Belgian Grand Prix Alonso qualified sixth and ran in the top five for most of the race. When heavy rain fell towards the end of the race, he gambled on pitting for wet tyres with one lap to go. This dropped him from 4th to 8th, but a fast final lap saw him climb back to fourth - passing Kubica and Sebastien Vettel at the final corner.

In the Italian Grand Prix Alonso qualified eight but managed to climb four places and finished fourth in the race. This was the second consecutive fourth place after the Belgian Grand Prix. Fourth place was the best result for Alonso in 2008 until his victory at Singapore.

Alonso claimed his first victory and podium of the season by winning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix. After performing strongly in practice, a fuel pressure problem in the second part of qualifying forced him to park the car, causing him to qualify 15th. In the race he started with a light fuel load on soft tyres, and pitted early when he realised that this would not be successful. However, a safety car period (ironically caused by team-mate Piquet crashing) meant that he moved ahead of many drivers who had to pit, and allowed him to ultimately win the race. This was also his 50th podium and 20th win in his career.

Alonso carried over his good form from Singapore to the next race, the Japanese Grand Prix. Alonso was good in both practices and qualified 4th. Running on a two stop strategy Alonso won for the second time in 2008, finishing ahead of Robert Kubica and Kimi Räikkönen.

In the last 2 races Alonso scored a fourth and a second place. In the last eight races of the 2008 season Alonso scored 48 points, which was more than any other driver (over the same period Massa scored 43 points and Hamilton scored 40 points). He finished the season fifth overall with 61 points.

On the 5th of November, Flavio Briatore confirmed that Renault had agreed for a two year extension on Alonso's original contract, ending speculation about a supposed move to Ferrari, and a Renault contract "out-clause".

Alonsomania is the fan phenomenon about Alonso that reached its zenith in 2005. His success fuelled an increase in interest in Formula One in Spain. On September 25, 2005, a huge party began in Alonso's home town of Oviedo when he became the country's first Formula One World Champion and the youngest in the sport's history at the time. Alonso's fans are recognized by the light blue and yellow Asturias flags which are coincidentally the same colors used by the Mild Seven Renault team between 2002 and 2006. After his championship win, a widely-visited exhibition of Alonso's racing gear was held in Oviedo.

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2006 Formula One season

Michael Schumacher (in his final year of F1) and Ferrari lost both the driver's and constructor's championships in the final race.

The 2006 Formula One season was the 57th FIA Formula One World Championship season. It began on March 12, 2006 included 18 races, and ended on October 22. The Drivers' Championship was won by Fernando Alonso of Renault F1 for the second year in a row, with Alonso becoming the youngest ever double world champion. Retiring legend Michael Schumacher of Scuderia Ferrari finished runner-up, 13 points behind. Renault also retained the Constructor's Championship, beating Ferrari by only five points.

The season was highlighted by the rivalry between Alonso and Schumacher, who each won seven races. Renault and Ferrari drivers dominated the field, victorious in all but one race, and the four second-place finishes not achieved by these two teams were accomplished by McLaren Mercedes.

The calendar was initially announced as the same as for 2005, with the Belgian Grand Prix scheduled for September 17. However, on February 8, the FIA announced that the Belgian National Sporting Authority (RACB) were withdrawing Spa-Francorchamps from the 2006 Formula 1 calendar due to lack of time to complete improvements to the track. The mayor of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, offered his city's track as a possible replacement for the Belgian Grand Prix, but the FIA said that the Belgian race would not be replaced. The race has traditionally received strong support from drivers and FIA President Max Mosley and the Grand Prix was back on the Grand Prix calendar for the 2007 season.

2006 was the last season with two tyre manufacturers: The two manufacturers at the time were Japanese manufacturer Bridgestone and French company Michelin. In December 2005, the FIA announced that from the 2008 season, there would be only one tyre supplier. Five days later, Michelin announced it would quit Formula One at the end of the 2006 season as it did not want to be in Formula One as the sole tyre supplier.

At the end of 2005, three well-known teams were bought out: Minardi, Sauber and Jordan. The former were bought by Red Bull to be run as a junior team to house their growing list of young talent looking for an F1 drive. Despite campaigns by Minardi fans the team were renamed Scuderia Toro Rosso (Toro Rosso), Italian for Team Red Bull. The Sauber team was purchased by BMW. BMW opted to keep the Sauber name in F1 renaming the team BMW Sauber. Jordan, who had been bought by the Midland Group in 2004, changed their name to MF1 Racing after a transition year in 2005.

2006 also saw the introduction of a new Japanese team, Super Aguri F1, founded by former F1 driver Aguri Suzuki, who entered at the last moment. Super Aguri notified the FIA on November 1, 2005 (ahead of the governing body's November 15 deadline) of their intention to enter, but the FIA's initial entry list stated they had not approved Aguri's entry. However, the team received the consent of the ten existing teams to compete and paid the $48 million bond required as a deposit. The team was confirmed by the FIA on January 26, 2006.

Between the 2005 and 2006 season the ownership of Formula One changed significantly. Until November 2005 the Formula One group was owned by an Ecclestone family trust and Speed Investments, a grouping of Bayerische Landesbank; JP Morgan Chase and Lehman Brothers). On November 25, CVC Capital Partners announced it was to purchase both the Ecclestone shares (25% of SLEC) and Bayerische Landesbank's 48% share, held through Speed Investments. By March 30, CVC had acquired all remaining shares and later that month the European Commission announced approval of this deal, conditional upon CVC relinquishing control of Dorna Sports, promoter of MotoGP. On March 28 CVC announced the completion of the Formula One transaction. Ecclestone reinvested proceeds of his stake into the new Formula One parent company Alpha Prema.

Another Ecclestone victory involved the Grand Prix Manufacturers’ Association's proposal for an alternative World Championship. On March 27, the five car manufacturers involved lodged applications for the 2008 season, reducing the likelihood of a breakaway series. On May 14, Grand Prix Manufacturers’ Association (GPMA) members confirmed they had signed a Memorandum of Understanding, a move toward signing a new Concorde Agreement. Five days later, Bernie Ecclestone and CVC Capital Partners signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the GPMA which should see the five "rebels" continue racing in Formula One at least until the 2012 season.

Renault and Fernando Alonso established early leads in the Constructors' and Drivers' Championship respectively. The defending World Champion took wins (including four consecutive victories) in Bahrain, Australia, Spain, Monaco, Britain, and Canada in the first half of the season. Teammate Giancarlo Fisichella won his third career race in Malaysia. The Malaysian event also saw allegations that a number of teams were running illegal 'flexi wings' which allowed better straight line speed. Changes were made to both the wings and the rules for the next race.

After a disastrous 2005 season and slow start to the 2006 season Michael Schumacher won consecutive races at Imola and the Nürburgring. During the final lap of his qualifying session for the Monaco Grand Prix, Schumacher came to a stop at the La Rascasse hairpin, resulting in yellow flags, meaning that other drivers could not go at maximum speed. After the session there were immediate complaints from the other teams claiming that this was a deliberate move by Schumacher to ensure he started in pole position - Alonso's flying lap that was affected by the yellow flags had been likely to beat Schumacher's fastest time - at the end of the second sector, Alonso was more than two tenths of a second ahead of Schumacher's time, and his final time was just 0.064 seconds slower than Schumacher. Although Schumacher insisted that he had simply locked up his brakes at the corner, a stewards' inquiry stated, "We are left with no alternative but to conclude that the driver deliberately stopped his car on the circuit." The penalty was that Schumacher's qualifying times were all deleted, demoting him to 22nd position on the grid. He opted to start from the pitlane, and finished 5th, after an incident in the race that required the safety car to be deployed. The Safety Car failed to aid Schumacher however, but in fact hampered him; because he was the last car to be lapped by leader Alonso, and under 2006 FIA rules; he was not allowed to un-lap himself under Safety Car conditions. This meant he was almost a full lap down on 3rd placed Coulthard, and 4th placed Barrichello on the resumption of the race. But by the end, he was threatening to pass them for position; finishing less than 2-seconds off a podium spot.

At the British Grand Prix, Alonso became the first Spanish driver and the youngest driver (24 years and 317 days) to get the Hat Trick, missing the Grand Chelem by a single lap. Schumacher won the United States Grand Prix (his fourth consecutive victory at Indianapolis and fifth career victory there) and the French Grand Prix.

The FIA decided that the ‘Mass Damper’ system used by Renault up to this point of the season did not meet the technical regulations, and it was banned - a polemical decision, since the FIA itself was consulted about the system during its development, and authorized its use. The effect of the ban was clear at the next race where the Renaults struggled to even get points. Schumacher also won the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim, with Alonso finishing 5th.

Jenson Button achieved his first Formula One career victory in the Hungarian Grand Prix. Alonso had a mechanical failure whilst leading in the latter stages of the race whilst Michael Schumacher retired after a collision with Nick Heidfeld. However Schumacher was promoted to 8th place in the standings (having been classified 9th following a retirement three laps from the end) because Robert Kubica's debut ended in disqualification. The Polish driver had finished 7th in the BMW Sauber.

Felipe Massa won the next Grand Prix in Turkey, so for the second race in a row, Formula One had a maiden victor. Fernando Alonso extended his lead over Michael Schumacher by two points after he managed to finish a tenth of a second ahead of the German in second place.

At the Italian Grand Prix, Alonso was given a penalty for 'holding up' Massa during the final qualification session. Many in the Formula One 'paddock' were reported to disagree with the penalty and Max Moseley has since said that he would not have issued the same penalty as the race stewards. Schumacher reduced Alonso's lead to only two points after winning the race while Alonso suffered an engine failure in the late stages of the race. Despite a fourth-place finish for Alonso's teammate, Giancarlo Fisichella, and a flat-spotted tyre causing Felipe Massa to score no points, the race also saw Ferrari pull ahead of Renault for the first time in 2006. Polish driver Robert Kubica took his BMW Sauber to his first podium finish, in only his third race, but the race results were largely overshadowed by Schumacher announcing, during the post-race press conference, that he would retire at the end of the season. Afterwards he did say that he would hold a position in the Ferrari F1 team for 2007, though he did not disclose what.

Three weeks later, with his victory at Shanghai right ahead of Alonso, Schumacher drew level on points with him at the head of the championship. Schumacher led the World Championship for the first time in 2006 after the race, as he had won 7 races compared to Alonso's 6. Massa did not finish the race, and Renault gained again the lead in the constructors' championship thanks to Fisichella's third place.

A week later at the Japanese Grand Prix, Felipe Massa took pole ahead of Michael Schumacher in second and Fernando Alonso in fifth. Schumacher quickly took the lead and set about gaining a five second lead, which continued until after the second round of pit stops. However, Schumacher's engine failed with 17 laps to go, forcing him to retire and handing Alonso the win ahead of Massa.

At the final round, the Brazilian Grand Prix, Massa again took pole. Drama in qualifying saw Michael Schumacher have a mysterious failure, meaning that he started down in 10th, while Alonso began in 5th. In the race, Schumacher had yet more bad luck, suffering a puncture just a few laps in. He recovered to finish fourth, while teammate Massa became the first Brazilian to win his home Grand Prix since Ayrton Senna in 1993. Alonso finished second to secure his second successive championship, adding the record of the youngest man to secure back-to-back titles to his ever-increasing list of records. Fisichella finished 6th for Renault, meaning that the French outfit secured their second successive constructor's title. McLaren failed to secure a single win in the season for the first time since 1996 and it was the first season since 1956 that a British constructor failed to win a race.

The following teams and drivers competed in the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championship.

Four prominent names in the sport disappeared for this season, with Minardi, Sauber, BAR and Jordan withdrawing, and one new team, Super Aguri entered at the last moment. The Sauber name remained, although largely as a sentiment, as BMW owned 80% of the team to Peter Sauber's 20%. Jordan became MF1 Racing, as Midland started afresh after a disappointing first season under the Jordan name. Late in the season, the team was bought by Spyker. Honda, who already owned a 45% stake in the BAR team, completed their takeover of the team and changed its name to Honda Racing F1 Team at the start of the season. Super Aguri F1 also entered their first season after having problems entering. They received backing from Honda Racing F1 including technology and engines, due to them running Honda driver Takuma Sato.

Williams introduced numerous changes for 2006, particularly changing to Cosworth V8 engines after they and BMW split. Red Bull Racing (RBR) had Ferrari engines, replacing the Cosworth power which gained them seventh in the standings in 2005. Williams and Toyota changed tyre suppliers to Bridgestone, due to Michelin's desire to supply fewer teams in the championship. Despite this Toro Rosso who under the Minardi name ran Bridgestone tyres switched to Michelin in line with parent team RBR.

The Australian Grand Prix was held later than usual, to avoid a clash with the 2006 Commonwealth Games. For the first time, Bahrain hosted the first Grand Prix. Brazil hosted the last race, while Japan and China swapped their original dates.

Significant changes to the Formula One regulations were introduced for 2006. In an attempt to curb the increasing engine power levels of recent years, the maximum engine displacement was reduced from 3.0 to 2.4 litres and the number of cylinders from 10 to 8. At similar engine speeds, the change was expected to cut peak power by around 200 bhp, which would equate to around three to five seconds on lap times at most circuits. (Scuderia Toro Rosso continued to use 3.0 litre 10-cylinder engines with a rev limiter, to avoid the costs of re-engineering their cars in a short period). Initial testing indicated the new engines were six seconds slower than their V10 counterparts, but early in the season it became obvious that despite the decrease in power, lap times were not far from 2005 figures; on some circuits, the fastest laps set this year were actually faster than the ones recorded last year, with the V10 engines.

Some engine suppliers indicated early that their smaller V8s can rev higher than the 19,000 rpms normal for 2005-spec V10s. Northampton-based engine builder Cosworth had an enviable record of success with V8 engines. It made further history by becoming the first manufacturer to have broken the 20,000 rpm limit on track in December 2005.

In the long run, the FIA intends to introduce greater restrictions on testing and the introduction of standardized electronics, tyres and brakes to reduce costs and entice more new private teams into the sport. Proposed new rules for the year 2008 led to 22 teams applying to race that season, but since currently only 12 teams can race at one time, 10 of those applicants were turned down.

Tyre changes returned to Formula One in 2006. Each driver is limited to 14 sets of tyres per race weekend. This consists of seven sets of dry-weather tyres, four sets of wet-weather tyres and three sets of extreme-weather tyres. The thinking behind this is that the reduced engine size will offset any performance gain.

A new qualifying system consisting of three sessions of varying length has been introduced. A 15-minute session is held first, in which the six slowest cars from that session are eliminated and thus set in grid positions 17–22. After a five minute break, another 15-minute session is held with the remaining cars, and again the six slowest cars are eliminated and set in positions 11–16. These 12 eliminated drivers are placed in parc ferme, but may modify fuel loads as they see fit.

During a further five minute break, the remaining 10 cars declare their fuel loads to the FIA. A final 15 minute session then decides the top 10 grid positions. Teams are allowed to run their fuel load low by making as many laps as possible, and thus improve their times as the weight falls. This is an improvement for TV audiences because teams need to run as many laps as possible to lower their fuel loads. Following this session, the top 10 cars are placed in parc ferme and required to refill their fuel load to the level of that at the beginning of the final 20 minutes. Starting with the 2006 French Grand Prix, qualifying for final session was cut short to just 15 minutes, making all of the sessions the same length, and the ability for drivers to complete a flying lap after the chequered flag drop now applies in first two sessions as well.

A loophole was detected by the FIA, in that teams could declare a large fuel load but on the out lap "leak", or use a large quantity of fuel to lighten a car and permit a faster lap. The FIA decided to only count laps that are within 110% of the driver's fastest time, and allow teams to top up with the amount of fuel used for those laps.

Only one free practice session is held on Saturdays, for one hour, and it ends no less than two hours before qualifying begins, usually between 11.00 and 12.00, replacing the old system of two 45-minute sessions. Friday remains unchanged, with two one-hour sessions, starting three hours apart.

All entirely sprung parts of the car in contact with the external air stream, except cameras and the parts definitely associated with the mechanical functioning of the engine, transmission and running gear. Airboxes, radiators and engine exhausts are considered to be part of the bodywork.

Following the ruling by the Court of Appeal, the system was officially banned before the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix. Flavio Briatore has named McLaren as the team who complained to the FIA. McLaren however deny it.

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Brawn GP

The Brawn BGP 001 during testing.

Brawn GP Ltd. is a Formula One motor racing team and constructor. It was formed on 6 March 2009 after it was confirmed that Ross Brawn, the ex-technical director of the Honda Racing F1 Team, had bought the team from Honda in the wake of the withdrawal from the sport of the Japanese marque in December 2008, and on 17 March 2009 the FIA officially agreed to the name change from Honda Racing F1 Team to Brawn GP. Although the team can be seen as a continuation of the Honda team, Brawn GP was considered by the FIA to be an entirely new entry, but the FIA agreed to waive the standard entry fee in recognition of the team's circumstances. The new team made its racing debut at the 2009 season-opening Australian Grand Prix on 28 March 2009, where they took pole position and 2nd place in qualifying. The team went on to win the top two positions in their debut Grand Prix race on 29 March 2009, with Jenson Button winning the race and Rubens Barrichello coming in second.

The team use Mercedes-Benz engines and its cars are driven by the ex-Honda partnership of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, which has lasted for 3 years.

Although Honda were thought to be the first team to run a KERS in 2008, Ross Brawn stated in an interview that due to the circumstances of the change in ownership the team did not have the time to develop the system yet. On the 20th of March it was confirmed that Brawn GP will be allocated the final pitlane slot, with Force India moving up one slot. Bernie Ecclestone suggested that this is due to the takeover involving a name change, saying that ' it was called Honda...hatever was due to Honda, they would have got'. This also resulted in Brawn being changed to car numbers 22 and 23, because promotional material of Force India had already been printed with numbers 20 and 21. The team started off strongly on the Friday Practice of the Australian Grand Prix finishing in the top 5. In qualifying at Australia Jenson Button took pole with fellow teammate Rubens Barrichello coming 2nd followed by Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel. This was followed by a race win for Jenson Button, who led from start to finish, with Barrichello second giving Brawn a 1-2 finish on their debut, which had not happened since Mercedes did it in 1954. Button won the rain-shortened Malaysian Grand Prix from pole and picked up the fastest lap. With the win in Malaysia Brawn GP became only the second constructor to win their first two races since Alfa Romeo won the first ever two World Championship Grands Prix at the 1950 British Grand Prix and Monaco Grand Prix..

Following Honda's withdrawal, development of the BGP 001 never stopped and on the day of its debut, Jenson Button performed its shakedown – the car featuring white, fluorescent yellow and black colours. The team gave the BGP 001 its first test at Circuit de Catalunya on 9 March 2009, topping the timesheets many times. With the testing moving to Circuito de Jerez, Brawn GP continued to set the pace, finishing the test leading two of the three tests. During an interview Brawn said there was more speed to come after he explained that '...The BGP 001 car is the result of 15 months of intensive development work and the team have been nothing less than fantastic in their commitment to producing two cars in time for the first race'. At the first race an official complaint was launched by four teams against the rear diffusers of the Williams FW31, Toyota TF109 and the Brawn BGP 001 on the grounds that they did not fall within the dimensions set out in the regulations, but after analysing the cars the race stewards reported that the cars were legal. This ruling has been appealed, the appeal was heard after the second race of the season.. However motorsport's governing body ruled that car the was legal. There was another complaint at Malaysia after which BMW Sauber joined the appeal after they were deemed legal, again. After the appeal the diffuser was deemed legal by the FIA with uproar from the teams.

On 26 March 2009, Brawn GP announced a partnership with British clothing manufacturer Henri Lloyd. The company will supply the team with clothing and footwear and their brand will appear on the BGP 001. On 28 March 2009 Sir Richard Branson announced Virgin as a major sponsor for the team.

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2009 Formula One season

Jenson Button is the current Championship leader (pictured here in 2007, when driving for Honda).

The 2009 Formula One season is the 60th FIA Formula One World Championship season. There are ten teams signed up to compete in the championship.

The season is scheduled to take place over 17 rounds, starting with the Australian Grand Prix on 29 March 2009 and ending on 1 November 2009 with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, which is included on the race calendar for the first time and will be held at the new Yas Marina Circuit. The French and Canadian Grands Prix, which were both included in the 2008 championship, have been dropped.

Several rule changes will be implemented by the FIA, in a bid to cut costs due to the global financial crisis and to improve the on-track spectacle. New rules governing tyres, aerodynamics and Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems, among others, are some of the biggest changes in the Formula One regulations for several decades. FIA initially declared a change in deciding the World Driver's Championship, with the driver winning the most races to be declared as the champion. However, this decision was later reversed following protests from Formula One Teams Association.

The first multi-team testing session took place at Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona in November 2008, two weeks after the end of previous season. All teams, except Toyota, took part in the testing session where some teams tested their new aerodynamics package and slick tyres. BMW Sauber and Williams amongst the forerunners in this case, with the German manufacturer running both rear and front wings to 2009 specifications. The team's test driver, Christian Klien, labelled the car the ugliest car he'd ever seen. F1 newcomers Sébastien Buemi, Lucas di Grassi and Bruno Senna tested for Toro Rosso and Honda respectively. Takuma Sato returned for a test with Toro Rosso and WRC Champion Sébastien Loeb tested for Red Bull. McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa also tested for Force India, an exercise seen as a part of the teams' new technical partnership. Red Bull, Toro Rosso and Renault were the only teams to use solely their 2008 cars (albeit with slick tyres), whilst the other teams also tested 2009 interim cars during the 3-day test.

The next test took place at Jerez in December 2008, and was attended by six teams. Toro Rosso candidate Sébastien Buemi topped the time-sheets on all three days, defeating rival candidates Takuma Sato and Sébastien Bourdais. The test also saw the McLaren team debut a front wing and nosecone designed to 2009 specifications, as well as stripped bodywork. BMW Sauber and Williams continued running the interim cars which debuted at the previous test, while Renault and Toro Rosso continued running their 2008 cars with slicks and simulated downforce-levels.

Following the first launches, the teams returned to the track on the 19th of January for more testing. Toyota, McLaren, Williams and Renault tested at Algarve again together with Toro Rosso, which used their 2008 car. Sébastien Buemi, in his first outing as confirmed driver for the Toro Rosso team, topped the first three days in the interim car. Heavy rain hampered the teams in the first two days, and only on Wednesday could the drivers test the new cars on the slick tyres. On Thursday, however, the rain returned, and testing was stopped early in the morning as the medical helicopters couldn't take off in the torrential rain. Ferrari intended to test at Algarve as well, but moved the test to Mugello, where the rain continued to limit their testing amidst mounting concerns over the F60's legality. BMW Sauber, meanwhile, enjoyed warmer weather testing the F1.09 at Valencia.

On 9 March, testing started at Barcelona with the new team, Brawn GP, making an impact by leading the times early in the day. Toro Rosso also launched the STR4. This was the first test in which all teams used their 2009 cars. BMW Sauber led the times while Brawn GP finished fourth. On day three, Brawn GP's Jenson Button was fastest by just over one second to Ferrari's Felipe Massa completing 130 laps. On day four Rubens Barrichello became the first driver to get into the 1:18s.

On 15 March Renault, Brawn and Williams started the last teams public test at Jerez. Brawn, again, led the standings 0.6 seconds ahead of Renault's Fernando Alonso, completing 107 laps. On day two, Fernando Alonso completed 107 laps and finished 0.55 seconds ahead of Barrichello, who completed 61 laps, and ahead of his teammate, Jenson Button who completed 12 laps, by 0.5 seconds and over a second ahead of Lewis Hamilton who was still struggling in the MP4-24. Button led the final day 0.2 seconds clear, completing 114 laps ahead of Williams driver Nico Rosberg, Nelson Piquet, Jr. and Hamilton. The testing carried on at Jerez with McLaren and Williams staying. McLaren showed good progress after slicing a whole second off their pace with Williams driver Nakajima almost 2 seconds behind in the FW31. On day two Nakajima led by 0.4 seconds to McLaren. McLaren slashed some more time out of the MP4-24, while importing over some new parts from Woking. McLaren and Williams then returned to Britain to finish off preparations for Australia; leaving for the season opener on Monday to join the rest of the grid.

McLaren have been experiencing some problems with the car lacking rear downforce. At the penultimate test of the season in Barcelona, the McLaren car was rarely less than 1.5 seconds off the pace. Felipe Massa stated he had never seen McLaren so far behind.

A major source of controversy throughout the winter season were the rear diffusers. Three teams – Toyota, Williams and Brawn GP – launched their cars with a diffuser that uses the rear crash structure in order to generate additional downforce. These designs were quickly protested, and just days after the cars were unveiled, rival teams asked the FIA for a clarification on the matter. With only days to go before the start of the 2009 season, the rear diffuser designs once again attracted controversy with Red Bull's motor racing advisor Helmut Marko declaring that the other seven teams will unite to lodge an official protest should they be used in the race. On the Wednesday of the first race an official complaint was launched by other teams against the rear diffusers of the Williams FW31, Toyota TF109 and the Brawn BGP 001 saying that they were illegal, but after analysing the cars the FIA reported that the cars weren't illegal. The other six teams filed an appeal which was heard on April 14, 2009 – the week prior to round three of the championship, the Chinese Grand Prix and a result was decided on Wednesday 15th April. The FIA deemed the cars' diffusers legal after much deliberation.

On 22 December 2006, the FIA released technical regulations for the 2009 season. These have been revised several times to accommodate the findings of the Overtaking Working Group (formed in response to concerns that wheel-to-wheel racing was becoming increasingly rare) and the increasing need for cost-cutting in the sport in the wake of the economic crisis. Some changes have been added later.

Korean electronics firm LG set a partnership with FOM to show their logo during live timing system and timing graphics.

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Source : Wikipedia