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Senin, 28 September 2009

Whitmarsh: Title is now Button's


By Jonathan Noble

Jenson Button has now done enough to assure himself of the world championship after taking a decent haul of points in the Singapore Grand Prix.

That is the view of McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who thinks that the 15-point advantage that Button holds as he heads into Japan is big enough to ensure he is the man who will succeed Lewis Hamilton as title winner.

"It is not the most exciting way to win the championship, but I think you have got to score the points," said Whitmarsh about the impact on Button's fifth placed finish in Singapore.

"Jenson is under a lot of pressure and when you have not won a world championship there is enormous pressure there, especially if it is your team-mate who is challenging you.

"I think he did a solid job here and one has to say, I don't think it is mathematically done yet, but it looks like he has got the championship, which is a fantastic achievement."

He added: "It is not easy to win a championship, whatever advantage you start with by way of a car. He obviously had a decent flying start to the season, but he did a real solid job to make sure he was in a position to take that championship."

Button's season has experienced greats highs and lows during the season - with a dominant start to the season that saw him win six of the first seven races followed by a poor spell where he has struggled to finish on the podium.

Although that form has not been helped by his Brawn GP car struggling to get heat into its tyres, Button has also had to keep his nerve as his title rivals started cutting away at his lead.

Whitmarsh has acknowledged that things have not been totally straightforward for Button, but says that does not detract from the job he has done in 2009.

"I think he has wavered a little bit in truth, but I think he has been around some time, he is a very smooth driver, an intelligent driver and all he had to do was keep his head and he was going to win the championship given the start he had," explained Whitmarsh.

"I am sure he will go away from this event feeling more relaxed. He will still have some tension, as it is very easy to crash out at the next event with Rubens winning, which will be a 10-point swing - and we've been there, the last two seasons have been like that for us. He just has to stay calm, and if he does not make any mistakes he will win, but that in itself brings tension to you."

Whitmarsh has also said that he is not surprised Button has found it hard at times to keep up the form he showed at the start of the year.

"With a championship, particularly for someone like Jenson who has been around a long time and may feel that this is his one opportunity ever in his life to fulfil his childhood ambition, that is enormous, enormous pressure," he explained. "I am pleased for him, it will be great for him to relax and I am sure he can cruise to the championship win."

Button, the medal system champion


By Jonathan Noble

Jenson Button says he has no regrets about Formula 1 having abandoned the proposed 'winner takes all' medal system on the eve of this season - even though if it had remained he would now be world champion.

Lewis Hamilton's victory in the Singapore Grand Prix has left Button's rivals unable to match the Brawn GP's tally of six wins before the end of the campaign - something that would have given him the crown under Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA's original plan to award the title to the man with the most triumphs.

Although F1 teams overturned that plan because the new rule was not introduced properly, Button says he is happy to be fighting for a world title still based on points.

"The 'winner takes all' system was an unusual idea but F1 is always the way it has been now with points," he told AUTOSPORT about the situation. "So that is the world championship, and that is what I want to win."

Brawn GP's CEO Nick Fry also said he was happy that the title fight was still ongoing, and felt it correct teams had put pressure on the FIA to abandon the rule change.

"I think it will be much more fun going to the last race," he told AUTOSPORT. "I think it is the still the right decision to continue as we were. Personally I am not convinced that copying from something else, like the Olympics, is necessarily the right thing to do. So I am not unhappy."

The points under the 'winner takes all' system would now be:

Jenson Button 6
Sebastian Vettel 2
Lewis Hamilton 2
Rubens Barrichello 2
Mark Webber 1
Kimi Raikkonen 1

Singapore GP - Sunday - Team Quotes
Jenson Button (5th):
"It was a good race for me and I'm happy with fifth position and four more points today. Getting ahead of Kazuki off the line was key and that really made my race. The first stint was quite frustrating as I could see Rubens getting away from me whilst I was stuck behind Heikki with a heavier fuel load. The safety car then made it very difficult as I still had fuel for a few more laps and should have been able to make up two places at my first stop. I had to put in some quick laps before my second stop to close up to Rubens and then we were pushing to catch Sebastian before deciding to save the brakes and settle for the fifth position. The weekend hasn't been quite what we expected but it's good to come through from 11th on the grid to score points today. I'll go to Japan tomorrow feeling very positive and looking forward to the next race."


By Edd Straw

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher has backed Jean Todt's FIA presidential election campaign, citing his achievements in revitalising Ferrari as proof of his abilities.

Todt joined Ferrari during the 1993 season at a time when it had not won a race for almost three years, and laid the foundations for the five drivers' and six constructors' titles won during his time with the team.

"Jean's abilities are beyond question," said Schumacher, who was Todt's star driver during the Ferrari years. "When he joined Ferrari in 1993 he recreated a team which at that time was not fulfilling its true potential.

"Typically, not only could Jean see that potential, but he made it a reality through leadership, loyalty, commitment and teamwork. These have been his defining characteristics whether at Peugeot or at Ferrari and I am sure when he successfully begins a new role as the next president of the FIA he will apply them in the same way, this time for the benefit of the whole sport.

"I can think of no one more capable and more committed to improving our sport than Jean Todt."

Four-time world champion Alain Prost also backed Todt for victory in the election campaign against Ari Vatanen ahead of next month's voting.

"I have known Jean for 30 years and I've always admired him. He has a remarkable interest and knowledge of every aspect of our sport," said Prost.

"He has a rare ability to create teams of people with great talent and he leads them by example. He works hard and expects the same from his team, he focuses on results and not politics and he always looks beyond the horizon and prepares for the future."

Another world champion, 1978 title-winner Mario Andretti, believes that, for all Todt's successes running Ferrari and Peugeot Sport, his greatest achievements could come with the FIA.

"I recognise that Jean now wants to give something back and I genuinely respect him for doing so," said Andretti. "Although he has already achieved so much, I predict that his most celebrated accomplishments are yet to come.

"If, as I hope, Jean is elected as the next President of the FIA, along with Nick Craw as President of the Senate, the real winner will be our sport."

Fellow American racing legends Dan Gurney and Roger Penske also backed Todt, as did Felipe Massa, who is managed by Nicolas Todt, and former Ferrari grand prix winner Gerhard Berger.

Sabtu, 26 September 2009

Button taking it 'race by race'

Source :

Jenson Button is refusing to entertain thoughts of an overdue victory on Sunday just yet despite enjoying a productive night of practice ahead of the Singapore GP.

The Brawn GP driver was second fastest behind team-mate and title rival Rubens Barrichello in the first session on Friday before setting the fifth fastest time in the second under the lights at the Marina Bay street circuit.

Button is without a win since June and has managed just one appearance on the podium since then.

The 29-year-old knows he needs to improve if he is to remain on course for a maiden World Championship title and, though he is confident about his chances this weekend, he will continue to take each race as it comes.

He said: "I don't go to bed thinking 'can I win the Championship?' or 'when am I going to win the Championship?'

"I take it race by race.

"Every race I go to I want to perform as well as I can and I want to win so that is the way I think.

"I am excited about this weekend, it's a circuit I enjoy and already our pace looks good.

"We had a pretty full-on evening with a busy programme of set-up evaluations and tyre testing.

"This venue is a tough one with the heat and humidity to contend with and the nature of the circuit and the closeness of the barriers demand your total concentration.

"The key is achieving consistently quick laps and that's what we've been working on today. The car feels reasonable and with some more work, we should be ready for a good weekend."

Button leads Barrichello by 14 points with four races of the season remaining but the Brazilian has ambitions of his own of winning the Championship.

After topping the timesheets in the first session the 37-year-old dropped to 11th in the second, but he admitted he is feeling confident heading into the weekend.

"The car is feeling pretty good here after the first practice sessions and we're pleased with the work that we achieved," he said.

"We've been focusing on our pace for Sunday and that's the most important consideration as we need the car well balanced to be quick in the race.

"I'm feeling positive and we should be able to achieve the right set-up ready for the weekend."

Sebastian Vettel harbours a slim hope of usurping the two Brawn drivers to win the Championship, with the Red Bull driver third in the standings but 26 points behind Button.

Vettel was fastest in the second session of practice but the German was cautiously optimistic of his chances this weekend.

"It is a challenging track - quite 'stop and go' - you don't experience as much G-force here as other circuits," he said.

"There are a lot of bumps which don't make your life easy but I like the circuit a lot.

"Overall it was a good day for us and we look better than we did in Monza."

Reigning World Champion Lewis Hamilton was disappointed with his performance as he finished seventh and ninth in the two sessions.

"I'm still lacking some speed in certain areas, so I need to work on that," he said.

"The sessions were a little up and down for me today - I didn't have any major problems, but I wasn't as fast as I'd hoped to be."

There was some encouragement for Renault, though, as they looked to rebuild following the race-fixing scandal as Fernando Alonso was second fastest in the second session of practice.

However, team-mate Romain Grosjean endured a frustrating evening as he crashed out of the first session - ironically in the same place Nelson Piquet Jr did in the race last year - and could only manage 19th fastest in the second session.

Button: Pressure is on those chasing

Source :

Jenson Button insists the pressure is on those behind him in the title race rather than himself as the race for the world title continues at the Singapore GP.

The Brawn GP driver holds a 14-point lead over team-mate Rubens Barrichello and the pair showed good pace in the first session of free practice on Friday to sit at the top of the timesheet.

Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, who are third and fourth in the Drivers' Championship respectively, suggested they too could be on form come with promising displays in the second session of practice.

But Button believes the onus is on the Red Bulls, and particularly Vettel, to produce a good performance this weekend.

"He (Vettel) is 26 points behind and he obviously has to beat me and by quite a bit this weekend," said the 29-year-old.

"Their car looks pretty quick around here, I'm not sure if it is as quick as ours but we will have to wait and see for qualifying and see the race pace.

"It is a very important weekend for them but, for us, we want to do as well as we can and we are not under pressure."

Manor interested in 'smashing' Piquet Jr

Source :

New Formula One outfit Manor GP have hinted that they may be prepared hand Nelson Piquet Jr a drive for the 2010 season.

It had been suggested that the former Renault driver may never compete in another grand prix after deliberately crashing his car to help then team-mate Fernando Alonso at Singapore last year.

Although Piquet Jr was granted immunity in return for his full confession, some observers feel his reputation has been tarnished by the 'Crashgate' scandal.

But John Booth, boss of the Yorkshire-based team, sees no moral dilemma in negotiating with the Brazilian.

"I've not spoken to him at the moment, but he's a smashing little driver," Booth told the Yorkshire Post, somewhat ironically.

"I've no personal problems with him, but it is unclear what his current position is with regards sponsorship."

The sport's commercial rights owner, Bernie Ecclestone, also thinks that Piquet's attitude means he will find a way back into Formula One.

"Piquet will get another drive. He's a driver who does as he's told. That's what any team boss would want. And they don't all do that," he told the Daily Express.

Manor have traditionally competed in junior formulae, with Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton both driving for the team as they progressed through the motorsport ranks.

Now Booth has revealed that former grand prix drivers Christian Klien and Anthony Davidson, as well former GP2 prospect and last year's A1GP Champion Adam Carroll are all in contention to represent the team in its maiden in the premier class.

He added: "Adam is a driver we rate very highly and we have held talks with him. We have spoken to Christian but nothing more.

"I've had a chat with Anthony Davidson and he's a very quick driver. It's amazing the amount of quality drivers that are out there."

Briatore: I've been betrayed but I will win

Source :

Flavio Briatore has vowed to come out swinging after being "betrayed by my own world" in the Renault race-fixing scandal.

The disgraced former team boss was hit the hardest when the FIA declared that himself, Pat Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jr conspired to cause a deliberate crash in last year's Singapore GP.

While Piquet Jr had immunity and Symonds was handed a five-year ban, Briatore was banned for life from any FIA-sanctioned event as well as from managing drivers.

The Italian, though, is not taking his punishment lying down, saying that in the end he will be the one popping the victory champagne.

"I've been betrayed by my own world," Briatore told the Repubblica newspaper.

"In the end I will win and, you'll see, we'll have a great party. It will be organized well and we'll invite all those people who have stayed close to me during these tough times.

"(This response) is just a matter of good manners, because I don't want to say absolutely anything. I'm not giving any quotes. I will talk only at the right time, assuming that they still allow me to talk.

"Look at the verdict the FIA has put online on Tuesday: it is not about me."

Jumat, 25 September 2009

Q & A with Jenson Button


By Jonathan Noble

Q. You've been in Japan?
JB: Yeah, for a week actually.

Q. European or Japanese time?
JB: Well, the first couple of days I was on Japanese. And then on Saturday I moved to English time, which meant going to bed at three or four in the morning, which is quite easy in Japan. It's quite fun there. So I've been on European time. Then on Saturday I went to Motegi, checked out IRL which was quite fun and different, and a good experience.

Q. The Red Bull guys now think it is very hard for them to win the championship - they think it's all but done. On the flipside, do you think the title is coming towards you now?
JB: Yeah. For sure. The Red Bulls – Sebastian is 26 points behind, which is a lot. But, as Lewis Hamilton pointed out a few races ago – he had 17 points with two races to go and didn't win it in 2007. There is so much that can happen. But we have to stay positive and take each race as it comes. I am really excited about the challenge of the next four races. The next three are all circuits I enjoy, and then there is Abu Dhabi which is a new challenge and I am looking forward to because I like driving new circuits.

Q. Do you feel the mid-season blip is now behind you?
JB: Yeah. The car has been working well for a few races. Valencia with Rubens winning wasn't a great race for me for whatever reason, but the car was working well there. Spa, the car was working okay but not great – even if we were in the race we would have finished fifth or sixth which would not have been that special. Then at Monza, the car was working well – so it is good the car works well on low downforce circuits and works on high downforce circuits. We have our new update here, which should give us a bit more. Our pace should be good. I don't think it will move us forward, because there is a lot of team with upgrades – McLaren, Force India, BMW and Renault – but hopefully it will keep us in the game and near the front.

Q. You and Rubens have got on famously well when you've been team-mates. Now it is knuckling down to a title fight, can you see that relationship changing?
JB: It hasn't changed yet, but you never know what is going to happen. We both obviously want the same goal at the end of the year, but I think the only way of going about it is fairly. We both understand that, and we both have the same tools – and it is whoever does the best over the season comes out on top. We both respect each other, as far as I know, and it is exciting. But it is within the team. We still, in the briefings, discuss the ideas for the weekend. But we don't hold anything back – as far as I know. So the atmosphere is pretty good at the moment.

Q. Do you prefer having a title fight with a team-mate, or up against someone from another team?
JB: I understand Rubens a lot more than Sebastian and Mark, and also he has the same equipment as me. So, basically I need to finish as close to Rubens in every race if I am thinking about the championship. As long as I qualify well and finish close to him, then it is fine and I have a good chance of winning the championship. But as any driver will say, they don't want to do that, they want to go out and win – and I come to Singapore hoping to challenge for the win.

Q. Will that be at the back of your mind then about what Rubens is up to?
JB: Well, I am not purposefully going to drive slower this weekend. I will do my own thing and get a good result. I like this place, I had fun here last year. We were never anywhere near quick enough to get a good result but I enjoyed Singapore. It was a lot of fun to drive. It is a very unusual circuit and being at night, most of the corners are quite well lit but some of them are quite dark. So it does play tricks on your eyes a little bit. But it is a good circuit and I think we can have a good race here. I just watched the replays from last year and I know people say there is no overtaking around street circuits, but there seemed to be quite a lot last season. It looked like quite good fun.

Q. Do you allow yourself to dream that you could be world champion by next weekend?
JB: No. Because that is a dream. It is not reality. It could happen, but I have to take every race as it comes.

Q. What was your reaction to Flavio Briatore no longer being involved in the sport, because you knew him as your former team boss?
JB: It is a difficult one because I don't know every single detail of what went on, so it is a little bit unfair of me to comment. But, there have been a lot of controversial things happening off the circuit this year in F1, and it is a pity that it has been so negative. The best thing for me is that it is over and done with hopefully, and that we can now get on with it. The racing has been good this season, even over the last couple of seasons, and that is what we need to think about. That is what I am here for. It is not all of the crap that goes on off the circuit – it is not for me to be worrying about.

Q. But what about Flavio?
JB: We all know Flav personally. I don't know the full details of what happened, but it doesn't make any difference to me if he is here or not.

Rabu, 23 September 2009

Gone With The Wind

pic taken from :

Semula aku tak tahu akan menulis apa dan sepertinya minat menulisku tengah terkubur dalam kebosanan selama libur ini. Namun semangat ingin menulisku muncul kembali ketika kulihat sebaris kalimat pendek di running text TV One, yang mengungkapkan prediksi juara dunia F1 tujuh kali, Michael Schumacher terhadap Button yang diyakininya akan menjadi juara dunia F1 tahun ini. Segera saja aku ngibrit ke warnet dan langsung membuka, ternyata memang benar kalimat yang kubaca di tv tadi.

Memang musim ini masih menyisakan lima GP lagi dan dengan penampilan Jenson yang buruk setelah kemenangan luar biasanya di GP Turki ditambah nasib apesnya di GP Belgia dimana ia bahkan harus mengakhiri balapannya lebih awal setelah mengalami kecelakaan di awal lomba, rasanya jalan Jenson menuju mahkota juara dunia tak semudah dan semanis ucapan sang juara dunia yang tujuh kali yang telah banyak mengalami pahit manis masa-masa di F1 itu tapi bila melihat penampilan Jenson yang membaik pada GP Italia kemarin di mana ia sempat menjadi yang tercepat di Q2 tapi pada Q3 catatan waktunya kalah dibanding peraih pole, Lewis Hamilton yang membawa bahan bakar jauh lebih sedikit dibanding Jenson. Somerset boy ini pun harus puas start di belakang rekan setimnya, Rubens Barrichello yang membawa bahan bakar hampir setara dengannya.

Namun hasil GP Italia dua minggu lalu bisa dibilang oase bagi Jenson yang mengalami duka beruntun sejak GP Inggris hingga GP Belgia. Walaupun Jenson tidak meraih nilai penuh di Monza, sirkuit yang dipenuhi roh-roh para pembalap hebat F1 seperti Ascari, namun podium kedua bisa jadi merupakan titik balik Jenson yang menemukan kembali break point-nya setelah melewati masa euforia kemenangan beruntunya di awal musim kemudian sedikit kehilangan fokus atau mungkin merasa sedikit tertekan dengan beban yang mulai terasa memberati pundaknya, apapun itu, Jenson sepertinya telah dapat menata dirinya, menyadari apa yang benar-benar diinginkannya, hal yang telah lama didambakannya. Be The Next World Champion!

Aku pribadi takkan pernah berhenti meyakini bakat luar biasa the English man ini. Meski Jenson mudah sekali teralihkan pikirannya tapi Jenson selalu tahu apa yang diinginkannya dan ia tak pernah menyerah sebelum mendapatkan apa yang diinginkannya itu.

Jenson juga bukanlah seorang yang gampang menyerah bahkan ucapan skeptik ayahnya sekalipun yang pernah meragukan bakatnya, seperti yang dikisahkan Alan Henry untuk F1 Racing, di mana sekali waktu dulu ketika Jenson masih berumur sepuluh tahun dan ia beserta kedua orang tuanya tengah dalam perjalanan pulang dari karting, ayahnya, John Button, yang mengira Jenson telah tertidur di kursi belakang, berkata pada istrinya bahwa ia merasa sepertinya Jenson tidak berbakat (di bidang balapan, tentunya). Jenson yang ternyata tidak tidur seperti yang dikira orang tuanya mendengar apa yang dikatakan ayahnya. Ia menyimpan ucapan ayahnya itu di dalam hatinya yang ternyata menjadi cambuk baginya untuk memperlihatkan pada ayahnya bahwa ia salah menilai bakatnya. Beberapa tahun kemudian Jenson ternyata benar-benar membuktikan kekeliruan ayahnya dalam menilai bakatnya itu. Dan setelah ia berhasil membuktikan pada ayahnya, ia mengatakan pada ayahnya bahwa ia mendengar apa yang ayahnya ucapkan pada ibunya di mobil waktu itu dan ayahnya pun akhirnya mengakui bakat besar Jenson Button, putra kebanggaanya itu.

Dalam meraih gelar dunia selain bakat tentu saja diperlukan kematangan sang pembalap dan Jenson bahkan telah menunjukkan kematangan itu dalam usia yang masih sangat belia. Seorang bocah berumur sepuluh tahun yang memendam ucapan miring ayahnya mengenai dirinya dan terus berusaha keras meraih pengakuan yang akhirnya bukan hanya diamini oleh ayahnya saja tapi juga seluruh dunia yang mudah sekali melupakan Mr. Smooth yang memiliki tingkat sensitivitas yang sangat tinggi dalam mengendalikan tunggangannya ini.

Mungkin Jenson Button tak kelihatan istimewa seperti Kimi Raikkonen dan Fernando Alonso yang meski Jenson lebih dulu masuk ke F1 dibanding keduanya tapi karena bertahun-tahun Jenson terbenam dalam tim yang tak mampu mengeluarkan bakat istimewanya itu dan nyaris saja bakatnya terkubur tanpa dunia mengetahui bakat luar biasa pria yang satu ini. Namun sebenarnya Jenson memiliki kelebihan yang hampir tak dimiliki kedua pembalap tersebut bahkan tak semua pembalap memiliki kemampuan seperti Jenson dalam hal sensitivitasnya terhadap mesin bahkan angin -yang mungkin terasah berkat hobi triathlon-nya- kerap dapat menjadi faktor penentu seperti di GP Turki di mana Vettel harus mengakui kemampuan unik dan luar biasa Jenson itu ketika menyalipnya berkat angin samping yang membuat Vettel melakukan sedikit kesalahan dan langsung saja kesempatan itu tak disia-siakan Jenson untuk meraih kemenangan keenamnya di musim ini (yang kuharap bukan kemenangan terakhirnya).

Semoga saja sang angin kembali berbaik hati pada Mr. Sensitive ini dan kembali membawa sang bintang baru ini melesat bersama angin menuju podium pertama yang telah lama tak disinggahinya itu. Dan biarlah bersama angin yang berhembus, Jenson Button bersama Brawn Mercedes yang dikemudikannya melesat kencang menuju puncak tertinggi karirnya. Juara dunia Formula One. I hope it. Good luck for you, Jens! Keep fight and let the world knows you're the best!
pic taken from :

Schumacher: Button will not be beaten

Source :
By Edd Straw

Michael Schumacher has backed Jenson Button to convert his 14-point lead into a first world championship title.

The German, who retired from Formula 1 at the end of the 2006 season, believes that with Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel now over 25 points behind and Button having a cushion over team-mate Rubens Barrichello, the 29-year-old is clear favourite.

"Looking at the situation, I would pretty much expect Jenson to fix this title," Schumacher told the Race of Champions podcast.

"It's very hard to take it away, particularly knowing the problems and the reliability issues they have had at Red Bull.

"The mileage Sebastian has left in his hands as well [is a problem], so it's going to be tough to challenge and the points difference is too much."

Despite Vettel's title challenge fading, Schumacher believes that his 22-year-old compatriot can become a multiple world champion - although he added that comparisons with his own career are worthless.

"He has all the ingredients to do so," said Schumacher of Vettel's chances of winning multiple titles.

"I myself never wanted to be compared with anybody else because I wanted to be myself and so he wants to. I think everybody should respect that."

Schumacher would not comment on whether the abandonment of his comeback with Ferrari earlier this year means that any chance of a return to F1 has now gone.

"I don't need to say yes and I don't need to say no," said Schumacher.

Symonds will 'always regret' his actions

Source :
By Jonathan Noble

Renault's former director of engineering Pat Symonds has said it will be to his 'eternal regret' that he ever took part in the race-fix plans at last year's Singapore Grand Prix.

Symonds resigned from Renault last week when it became clear that he was involved in the conspiracy for a crash by Nelson Piquet to bring out a safety car in last year's race to help Fernando Alonso win.

Although Symonds was not present at Monday's FIA World Motor Sport Council hearing into the matter, which resulted in him being banned from international motorsport for five years, he did provide a written statement where he expressed his regret at going ahead with the scheme after it had been suggested by Piquet on Saturday night.

"The idea for this incident was entirely conceived by Nelson Piquet Jr. It was he who first approached me with the idea. At the time I naively believed that it was something he wanted to do for the good of the team," stated Symonds.

"I was not aware of the position of his contract negotiations although with the benefit of hindsight I now consider that he believed that his actions would have a favourable effect on these negotiations."

Symonds denied that Alonso's starting strategy to stop after 14 laps was based on the race fix plans - and claimed that it was not that unusual because of the problems with the soft tyres.

He cited as evidence that fact that in Australia this year, Lewis Hamilton started from the back row of the grid with the softest tyre and stopped after only 11 laps.

However, he expressed deep remorse at pushing ahead with Piquet's plans - which started off a chain of events that brought an end to his distinguished and successful career with Renault.

"In mitigation I would like to acknowledge my role in this incident. I was the one who, when the idea was first suggested to me by Nelson Piquet Jr., should have dismissed it immediately. It is to my eternal regret and shame that I did not do so.

"I can only say that I did it out of a misguided devotion to my team and not for any personal gain whatsoever. I consider the role I have played in bringing the team to where it is today to be my life's work. I started the nucleus of the team 28 years ago with only 19 other people. Today it has grown to an organisation that directly employs over 500 people and supports innumerable local and international businesses.

"The last thing that I ever wanted to do was to jeopardise that team and the many people to whom I had an overwhelming responsibility.

"In a single action I have destroyed the high reputation I have built up during a 33 year career in motor sport. I am a competitive person who worked in a high pressure environment. This can, at times, cloud one's judgement. I have always tried to be an honest person, a fact I hope you will give me credit for by witness of my statements to the stewards in Belgium.

"On that night in Singapore last year I made a mistake the consequences of which I could never have imagined at the time. For that mistake I can only offer all of you, and all those touched by the action I was involved in, my profound apology."

Pat Symonds' full statement to the WMSC

Briatore F1 fate was sealed by mysterious 'Witness X'

Source :

It has emerged that whilst it had previously been thought that only Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and Nelsinho Piquet had been in on the explosive 'Singapore-gate' cheating scandal that has rocked Formula 1 in recent weeks, a fourth Renault F1 team member also knew of the conspiracy – and it was Witness X's damning testimony, it is understood, that sealed Briatore's fate and indefinite ban from the sport.

Witness X has been described as a 'whistleblower' who, 'although not a conspirator himself, knew of the conspiracy at the time of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix'. It has been revealed by the FIA that 'Witness X' gave evidence to the governing body against disgraced former Renault F1 managing director Briatore – who has been banned from having any future involvement in motorsport for an unlimited period, including driver management – and erstwhile executive director of engineering Pat Symonds, who has been banned for five years.

Renault F1 was found guilty by the FIA World Motor Sport Council on Monday (21 September) of having manipulated the result of the top flight's inaugural night race after Briatore and Symonds had instructed Piquet to deliberately crash out in order to prompt a safety car period that enabled team-mate Fernando Alonso – who the FIA has confirmed was unaware of the plot – to triumph from a disadvantaged grid position following an engine failure in qualifying.

The French manufacturer received a two-year suspended ban from F1 for the crime of race-fixing, whilst the eleventh-hour evidence convinced the FIA that Briatore was 'personally and directly involved in the planning of the conspiracy'.

The flamboyant Italian has disclosed that he is 'distraught' at the outcome of the latest controversy to afflict F1, and is threatening legal action against the governing body for loss of reputation as he continues to protest his innocence – as it has been revealed that he could also be removed from his post as co-owner, chairman and board director at London football club Queens Park Rangers (QPR).

'Renault F1 stated in its submissions of 17 September 2009 that Witness X had confirmed that Mr. Briatore had known of the deliberate crash plan before it had been put into effect,' read an official FIA statement. 'With Renault's cooperation, Witness X was subjected to detailed interview and examination.

'Renault F1 has concluded that the following had knowledge of the conspiracy to cause a safety car: Nelson Piquet Junior, Pat Symonds, Flavio Briatore and [Witness X]. [Witness X] was told of the idea suggested by Nelson Piquet Junior by Mr. Symonds, whilst in the presence of Mr. Briatore.

'[Witness X] objected to the idea and sought to distance himself from it. He did not know the plan was to be carried into effect until the crash happened. As a result of the evidence, including Mr. Piquet's admission, Mr. Symonds' responses and [Witness X's] evidence, Renault F1 concluded that they and Mr. Briatore must have known about the conspiracy.'

'When the FIA's advisers interviewed Witness X, he expressly confirmed that Mr. Briatore was involved in the conspiracy because Witness X had been personally present at a meeting shortly after qualifying on Saturday 27 September 2008 when Mr Symonds had mentioned the possibility of a crash plan to Mr. Briatore.'

Witness X's identity – unveiled by Renault shortly before the WMSC hearing – is known only to FIA President Max Mosley and a handful of legal advisors. The FIA added that it was confident nobody else at the Enstone-based outfit had been privy to the 'secret conspiracy' – quite possibly safeguarding Renault's ongoing participation at the highest level and outwardly lenient penalty.

“Renault made it easy for the FIA,” mused former team owner Eddie Jordan, speaking to the BBC. “They came clean and got rid of the people involved. We don't know the full evidence that has been brought before the hearing, but it's somehow proved that only certain people were involved.”

Damon Hill: Renault penalty 'a crying shame' for F1

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Damon Hill has described the two-year suspended ban handed down to Renault over the 'Singapore-gate' race-fixing scandal as 'a crying shame for the sport' – arguing that 'there is a whole book on what's wrong with Formula 1'.

Whilst FIA President Max Mosley contends that the World Motor Sport Council's punishment was 'the harshest one we can impose', many paddock observers disagree – suggesting that the governing body went purposely easy upon the French manufacturer to prevent it from following in the wheel tracks of rivals Honda and BMW in leaving the top flight come season's end, a scenario that some surmise is still more than plausible.

It has been commented that the ruling sends out a message that the FIA cares more about retaining its teams than about the safety of its competitors, marshals and spectators – given the threat to injury or even worse when Nelsinho Piquet deliberately crashed out of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix on the instruction of disgraced former Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore and executive director of engineering Pat Symonds, both of whom have been handed lengthy bans from working within motorsport.

What's more, the lack of a fine for what has been described as arguably the most explosive cheating controversy in the sport's history sits ill-at-ease with those who deem that the FIA was disproportionately heavy-handed with McLaren-Mercedes over 2007's espionage row. Then, the multiple world championship-winning Woking-based concern was meted out an unprecedented $100 million fine for a crime whose severity Mosley has admitted paled into insignificance when compared to that of Renault.

Former world champion Hill – who lifted the laurels for Williams back in 1996 – told British newspaper The Times that the leniency of the Renault sentence was 'a crying shame for the sport', and characteristic of the arbitrary nature of the powers-that-be inside F1 in recent times.

“You have to put this in the context of inconsistencies in the way in which the FIA has treated breaches of the regulations over the years and, knowing what we know, we cannot dissociate this from the power play going on behind-the-scenes for control of Formula 1,” underlined the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) President.

“Formula 1 has to ask itself, is it just a very expensive form of entertainment or a proper sport? There is a whole book on what's wrong with Formula 1. It's called Bernie's Game, and the history of this episode is typical.”

Jumat, 18 September 2009

Piquet Sr: Of course Alonso knew

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In another spate of leaked transcripts from the FIA's investigation into Renault, Nelson Piquet Sr told private investigators that there is no way Fernando Alonso didn't know about the alleged order to crash.

With the Monza paddock abuzz last weekend with speculation about Renault's race-fixing scandal, Alonso denied any knowledge, saying he "cannot imagine this situation."

Asked point black if he was aware of the team's alleged actions, the double World Champion said: "No."

However, according to transcripts published by the Daily Mirror, one man, Piquet Sr, doubts Alonso's story.

In his interview with Martin Smith of Quest, the private investigators employed by the FIA, Piquet Sr said: "Look, if, if you wanna ask me if Alonso knew what was gonna happen, of course he knew. Of course he knew."

Smith responded: "That wasn't what I asked you but..."

To which Piquet Sr continued: "Of course he knew. You know it's no way... and if you are very light on fuel maybe you will pass two cars in 12 laps. Maybe three cars, but after that you refuel and go right to the back then and that's it."


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Sejujurnya aku seorang yang ambigu bila membahas masalah karma. Aku percaya bahwa setiap orang akan menuai apa yang ditaburkannya. Jika itu disebut karma maka ya, aku percaya hukum karma memang berlaku atas hidup. Mungkin hidup memang kadang tak adil. Kadang hidup malah mendukung si jahat dan membuat si baik merana. Tapi seperti dua sisi mata uang, kita tak pernah dapat mendefinisikan dengan pasti apa itu si jahat dan si baik. Mungkin bagi kita seseorang itu baik tapi tidak bagi orang lain begitu pun sebaliknya menurut kita seseorang jahat tapi bagi orang lain justru ia adalah seoang penolong berhati mulia yang welas asih.

Tapi pada akhirnya Yang Maha Adil lah yang memiliki ketetapan hukum absolut tak terbantahkan. Mungkin kita takkan pernah melihat orang yang telah menyakiti atau membuat hidup kita menderita mengalami penderitaan persis yang kita rasakan yang disebabkan oleh orang tersebut tapi pada akhirnya si pelaku itu takkan dapat mengingkari hatinya ketika ia dihadapkan pada hukumannya itu sendiri.

Benar kiranya apa yang dikatakan dalam kitab suci, pembalasan sejatinya adalah milik Tuhan. Sebagai manusia yang tak luput dari dosa pula kita sesungguhnya tak memiliki hak untuk membalas. Tuhanlah yang menguji hati dan kiranya Tuhan pulalah yang akan menunjukkan keadilan dan kerahiman-Nya.

Bukan maksudku untuk menghakimi atau apapun istilahnya tapi sepertinya Briatore dan Renault mengalami apa yang dialami McLaren dua tahun yang lalu. Kasus mereka mungkin sedikit berbeda tapi apa yang mereka lakukan terbukti telah mencoreng nilai fairplay dalam sebuah event olahraga meski pun dalam dunia F1 fairplay tak pernah dapat sepenuhnya tercipta seperti dalam dunia olahraga lainnya.

Walaupun nasib Renault tak senahas McLaren yang poin konstruktornya harus dihapus FIA setelah terbukti melakukan tindakan spionase, mencuri data-data milik Ferrari. Waktu itu Fernando Alonso yang sakit hati oleh bosnya, Ron Dennis yang melaporkan kecurangan timnya pada FIA. Akhirnya Alonso kembali ke pelukan bos dan tim lamanya, Briatore dan Renault.

Bila di McLaren, Alonso yang telah meraih dua gelar dunia merasa dianaktirikan dan walapun team mate-nya masih baru di F1 dan belum meraih gelar apapun tapi justru si anak baru yang juga merupakan "anak angkat" sang bos yang justru mendapat perlakuan yang seharusnya untuknya mengingat ia adalah seorang juara dunia dua kali. Tak heran bila akhirnya ia meledak dan membeberkan semua borok di timnya itu dan mungkin ia menyesal karena telah "berselingkuh" dan meninggalkan tim lamanya yang telah begitu memuja dan menyayanginya. Untungnya bos lamanya yang juga pernah menjadi managernya masih memiliki cinta untuknya dan bersedia memaafkan "perselingkuhan"nya dengan McLaren apalagi penggantinya tak memiliki kualitas seperti sang juara dunia dua kali ini.

Kali ini, dua tahun berselang, justru team mate Alonso, putra tercinta juara dunia, Nelson Piquet, jr yang kembali memperlihatkan borok tim papan atas ini dan lagi-lagi dunia tersenyum sinis melihat betapa sesungguhnya nilai sportivitas dan fair play tak pernah ada dalam kamus Formula One.

Lucunya, Piquet Jr membeberkan tindakan tak sportif timnya yang menganak emaskan The Spaniard yang selama setahun merana di McLaren. Ia diperintahkan menabrakkan mobilnya demi memberikan kemenangan bagi sang juara dunia yang melempem selama setahun itu. Aneh juga, biasanya bos tim marah-marah bila pembalapnya menabrakkan mobilnya apalagi bila mobilnya dipasangi berlian seperti yang terjadi dengan Christian Klein sewaktu membalap bersama tim Jaguar di Monaco yang membuat tim kelimpungan mencari berlian di mobil Klein yang hilang setelah mobilnya menabrak tembok pembatas (kalau tak salah) padahal berlian itu merupakan pinjaman sponsor untuk promosi di GP Monaco.

Formula one memang tak seperti dulu lagi. Dulu meskipun team order merupakan bagian dari tim dan tak ada penonton yang mempermasalahkan bila ada pembalap yang melakukan team order tak seperti yang terjadi di GP Austria 2002 ketika Rubens Barrichello harus "mengalah" demi memberikan kemenangan bagi Michael Schumacher dan publik malah mencerca sang juara dunia dari Jerman itu. Berbeda sekali dengan penonton F1 jaman dulu yang tak pernah terusik dengan team order yang sebenarnya bukan hal baru di F1 karena F1 tak sepenuhnya dunia olahraga yang memuja nilai-nilai sportivitas.

Banyak hal di F1 yang perlu diperhatikan selain nilai-nilai fair play itu sendiri. Sebuah kebesaran jiwa seorang pembalap yang rela melakukan yang terbaik untuk tim meski itu harus mengorbankan kepentingannya, dulu merupakan nilai paling utama di dunia F1. Seorang Fangio bahkan sangat membutuhkan pengorbanan dari rekan setimnya, Peter Colins yang merelakan mobilnya untuk Fangio setelah mobil sang juara ini mogok. Hasilnya Fangio berhasil finish dan meraih gelar dunia sampai lima kali, namanya pun harum, masyhur ke seluruh pelosok dunia sementara Colins yang tak pernah meraih sekali pun gelar dunia, hanya sesekali saja namanya disinggung tapi namanya tetap saja tak sebeken rekan setimnya yang berhutang budi padanya itu. Namun saat itu, begitulah artinya nilai sportivitas di F1. Dalam dunia olahraga otomotif yang satu ini, di mana kaum perempuan tak bisa terlalu banyak bicara meskipun telah ada beberapa pembalap wanita yang mencoba menembus dominasi pria di ajang jet darat paling bergengsi ini tapi tetap saja kaum pria yang ada tak pernah ingin terusik oleh nilai-nilai feminisme itu sehingga kaum perempuan harus minggir dan membiarkan para pria memperlihatkan kemaskulinan mereka dan memberikan tempat bagi ego mereka.

Namun di masa itu, justru tindakan Colins bisa dibilang merupakan contoh kebesaran jiwa seorang pembalap sejati. Sikap rela berkorban demi kepentingan yang lebih besar dibanding membiarkan egonya sendiri bertakhta di tempat tertinggi. Fangio mendapatkan gelar juara dunia lima kali sementara Collins hanya mendapatkan "gelar" seorang gentleman sejati.

Formula one telah berubah. Seperti dunia yang semakin bergerak begitupun F1 yang merupakan bagian dari dunia. Meskipun spionase merupakan hal yang umum di dunia F1, meskipun tak separah McLaren tapi masalah contek mencontek di F1 bukanlah sebuah dosa. Begitu pun dengan masalah team order. Tapi dunia ternyata telah jenuh dengan nilai-nilai lama F1 itu dan para penonton yang merupakan faktor terpenting dari dunia otomotif termutakhir di jagad raya ini tak bisa lagi mentolerir falsafah-falsafah kuno F1 itu. Meski F1 tak sepenuhnya bisa dibilang sebuah ajang olahraga tapi F1 sesungguhnya ajang untuk mengukur kekuatan mesin-mesin mobil pabrikan yang bila tim yang disokong pabrikan itu menang maka mesin mobil pabrikan itupun mendapat keuntungan dari promosi luar biasa itu.

Mungkin memang sudah saatnya bagi Briatore untuk mundur dari F1. Sepertinya memang sudah saatnya F1 dipimpin oleh orang-orang baru dengan pemikiran-pemikiran baru yang mampu membawa F1 ke arah yang lebih baik tanpa perlu menggeser beberapa nilai lama yang telah membuat F1 bertahan hingga sekarang ini tapi juga bukan berarti mesti mengadopsi semua nilai-nilai lama F1 yang bisa menggerus nilai-nilai F1 sebagai sebuah event olahraga terakbar (jauh lebih luar biasa dibanding ajang olimpiade dan mungkin setara dengan perhelatan piala dunia) dan pada akhirnya membuat dunia (dalam hal ini penonton) muak dan terus mencibir ajang ini.

Aku pribadi tak terlalu menyukai profil Briatore yang meski kuakui bahwa ia lah yang pertama kali memberikan semua hal yang diperlukan Michael Schumacher untuk meraih dua gelar dunia pertamanya. Ia sebenarnya seorang yang cerdik dan pandai memanfaatkan situasi untuk memberikan keuntungan baginya dan bagi tim tempatnya mengabdi. Mungkin di tempat lain Briatore dapat mengamalkan keahliannya itu. Tapi F1 sepertinya sudah bukan tempat yang tepat lagi untuk seorang Flavio Briatore.

Aku sendiri tak menyalahkan Nelson Piquet. Menurutku ia berhak mendapatkan keadilan. Seperti Alonso yang mengalami masa-masa sulit ketika di F1, sepertinya Piquet pun mengalami masa ini. Pastinya sulit bagi seorang pembalap berada dalam satu tim di mana rekan setimnya yang lain yang lebih diistimewakan. Walaupun Michael Schumacher bersama Ferrari selalu diistimewakan tapi sebenarnya rekan setim Schumi selalu bisa meraih keuntungan juga berkat sumbangsih pikiran sang juara dunia tujuh kali ini di tim yang kemudian diaplikasikan pada tunggangan kedua pembalap, milik sang juara dunia juga rekan setimnya jadi menurutku konyol bila rekan setimnya mengeluh tak mendapatkan tempat yang sama dengan sang juara dunia dari Jerman ini, karena mereka memiliki mesin yang sama walaupun perhatian seluruh tim terarah pada sang maestro tapi bukankah beberapa kemenangan selalu berhasil dipetik rekan setimnya yang sesungguhnya pula beruntung karena dapat memiliki akses paling utama untuk mempelajari teknik membalap sang maestro, siapa tahu justru ia yang berhasil meraih gelar dunia kala sang raja turun takhta. Berbeda juga masalah Schumi dengan Alonso. Di Ferrari meski Schumi selalu diistimewakan tapi tak pernah Jean Todt ataupun Ross Brawn memerintahkan rekan setim Schumi menabrakan mobilnya demi memberi kemenangan bagi pembalap kesayangan mereka ini.

Mungkin apa yang dialami Alonso saat ini tak bisa disebut karma. Tapi pengaduan rekan setimnya atas kecurangan timnya itu sama persis dengan yang dilakukannya dua tahun silam.

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Briatore and Symonds to face criminal charges?

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As the dust begins to settle from yesterday's bombshell that Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have left their posts as respectively managing director and executive director of engineering at Renault F1 over the 'Singapore-gate' scandal, it is being debated whether the pair could now face criminal charges for endangering lives.

The French outfit is due to appear before the FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in Paris on 21 September charged with bringing the sport into disrepute by having committed 'a breach of Article 151c of the International Sporting Code, that the team conspired with its driver, Nelson Piquet Jr, to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix with the aim of causing the deployment of the safety car to the advantage of its other driver, Fernando Alonso'.

At the same time as it confirmed that its two key members had parted company with the team [see separate story – click here], Renault admitted that it 'will not dispute the recent allegations' of race-fixing, which some have interpreted as being tantamount to a confession of guilt. It is being surmised that the departure of Briatore and Symonds – who Piquet asserts instructed him to deliberately crash during Formula 1's inaugural night race just under twelve months ago, thereby necessitating a safety car period that allowed then team-mate Fernando Alonso to triumph from a disadvantaged grid position – was an offer of 'heads on the block' to the governing body in a bid to mitigate any punishment that might be meted out on Monday.

The sanctions open to the WMSC extend as far as full-scale expulsion from the sport, and FIA President Max Mosley – who will chair the reunion – has revealed that the evidence in this case is even more damning and serious than that against McLaren-Mercedes during the 2007 espionage controversy, that saw the Woking-based operation fined a sporting record £100 million and disqualified from that year's constructors' championship. As many as 700 employees stand to lose their jobs should Renault F1 be thrown out of competition.

Despite their split with the team, things look likely to be far from straightforward for Briatore and Symonds either. The former has himself initiated legal proceedings against Piquet and his father Nelson Piquet for what he claims were 'false allegations' against him and attempted blackmail to ensure that the young Brazilian kept his seat at the Enstone-based concern for the remainder of the 2009 campaign. The 24-year-old was unceremoniously sacked by Briatore in late July, prompting a bitterly vitriolic war of words between the two in the media spotlight.

Now, though, there are suggestions that both Briatore and Symonds may find themselves having to fend off a three-pronged legal attack. According to British newspaper The Daily Telegraph, Singapore could request extradition from a Commonwealth country should it consider the plot to have been an 'extradition crime', a category that includes 'acts done with the intention of endangering vehicles, vessels or aircraft' or 'malicious or wilful damage to property'. Though Piquet emerged thankfully unscathed from his hefty impact with the Marina Bay street circuit's concrete wall, the potential for injury or even worse – to driver or spectators – has not gone un-noted.

There are also possible litigious cases from Renault – for dragging the company's global name and image so publicly through the mud – and Ferrari. Felipe Massa had been leading the race when his compatriot Piquet crashed, but following the safety car intervention and a botched pit-stop, the São Paulista went on to take the chequered flag outside the points in 13th, before ultimately missing out on the drivers' world championship crown to McLaren rival Lewis Hamilton by just a single marker in the final reckoning.

“There is a clear causal link between the alleged cheating and the financial loss to Massa and his team,” reasoned specialist sports lawyer Stephen Hornsby. “As for Renault suing Briatore, that is possible too – but Renault are unlikely to want to keep the matter going for little reward.”

Meanwhile, F1's leading figures have been offering their views on the saga, with an overwhelming sentiment of shock that events have taken the turn that they have.

“I feel sorry for him actually,” Formula One Management (FOM) commercial rights chief executive Bernie Ecclestone told the BBC of his Queens Park Rangers co-director Briatore. “Obviously, I am surprised at what has happened, and I am taken by surprise that they've decided to walk away.”

“There is something fundamentally rotten at the heart of Formula 1,” three-time world champion Sir Jackie Stewart told the Daily Mirror. “Millions of fans are amazed, if not disgusted, at a sport which now goes from crisis to crisis with everyone blaming everyone else.”

“Suggesting they are not going to contest the allegations is in itself an admission,” opined BBC F1 pundit and former team owner Eddie Jordan. “I don't know what goes on in teams, and certainly in the Jordan team you would contemplate all sorts of things, but you certainly couldn't contemplate that.”

“The fact that Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have left the team was the only solution to Renault,” added five-time grand prix-winner John Watson, speaking to the Daily Mail. “A company on the scale of Renault – a world-scale motor company – could not afford to have a scandal of this magnitude rattling around in the boardroom.

“There's no question about 'did they jump?' They were clearly pushed out – but had they not dropped Piquet, we would not know about this story. The integrity of that family is called into dispute.”

Piquet: Briatore 'believed he could walk on water'

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Nelsinho Piquet's father and manager Nelson Piquet has insisted that the pair have nothing to fear from the legal action being taken against them by ousted former Renault F1 managing director Flavio Briatore, suggesting the Italian got so powerful that he 'believed he could walk on water' and was beyond reproach.

It was announced yesterday (Wednesday) that Briatore had parted company with Renault, the team with which he has been largely synonymous throughout his 20-year career in the top flight, originally coming in with the Enstone-based outfit's predecessor Benetton back in 1989.

Whilst it is being reported that the 59-year-old could well face criminal charges of his own for endangering lives and deliberately manipulating the result of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, he has also initiated court proceedings against the Piquets for 'the making of false allegations' and 'blackmail'.

'Nelsinho' was unceremoniously fired by Briatore at the end of July off the back of a string of lacklustre performances in the second Renault throughout 2008 and the opening half of 2009, with his dismissal proving to be the catalyst for a vitriolic war of words between the two in the media. Piquet described Briatore as his 'executioner' and a man who 'doesn't know sh*t' about the sport, with the latter hitting back by accusing the Brazilian of constantly making excuses for his lacklustre performances, and vehemently denying that there had ever been any disparity in equipment between his two drivers, as the 24-year-old had alleged.

Piquet Snr – who similarly drove under Briatore's leadership at Benetton at the turn of the 1990s – is confident that the Queens Park Rangers co-director has no case against him and his son.

“I have the money in order to get the best lawyers,” the three-time Formula 1 World Champion told German magazine Auto Motor und Sport. “And about what does he (Briatore) actually want to complain? About the truth?

“After a certain point people like Flavio get so much power that they believe they can walk on water. Despite the clear evidence, he actually assumed nothing could happen to him.”

The 57-year-old also sought to distance himself from claims attributed to him that two-time F1 title-winner Fernando Alonso – who benefitted from Piquet's 'staged' crash around the Marina Bay street circuit twelve months ago by going on to win the sport's inaugural floodlit grand prix – had been in on the conspiracy.

“All I said was that an intelligent driver like Alonso would ask questions if his team told him to come in to pit after 12 laps from 15th on the grid,” stressed Piquet Snr. “As a driver I would have suspected something, so I can imagine only with difficulty that Fernando didn't know anything.”

Briatore out over Renault fix row

Source :

Flavio Briatore has left his position as boss of the Renault team after they decided not to contest charges of fixing the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

Executive director of engineering Pat Symonds has also left the team.

Renault were summoned by governing body, the FIA, after Nelson Piquet Jr claimed he had been asked to crash to help team-mate Fernando Alonso's race.

An FIA spokesperson confirmed a World Motor Sport Council hearing in Paris on Monday would go ahead.

Renault have been called to answer charges that they "conspired with Nelson Piquet Jr to cause a deliberate crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix with the aim of causing the deployment of the safety car to the advantage of its other driver, Fernando Alonso".

The hearing will attempt to attribute responsibility for the Singapore "crash-gate" despite the departure of Briatore and Symonds.

The FIA could still impose sanctions if Renault are found guilty, including excluding the team from the championship, although that must be considered unlikely given the two people Piquet said were responsible have now left the team.

When asked for his thoughts on Briatore's demise, Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone said: "Well, I feel sorry for him actually.

"Obviously, I am surprised at what has happened, and I am taken by surprise today that they've decided to walk away."

Piquet crashed in Singapore two laps after Alonso had come in for a routine pit stop.

That meant that when race officials sent out the safety car to clear up the debris from Piquet's car, Alonso was alone among the front-runners in not having to stop for fuel and tyres.

Renault's double world champion went on to take the chequered flag at Formula 1's inaugural night race and claim his first victory in two years.

At the time, Piquet attributed the crash to a simple error, but after being dropped by the team after July's Hungary GP the race-fixing allegations emerged.

The Brazilian has since testified to the FIA that he was instructed by Briatore and Symonds when and where to crash.

Renault's response was to accuse the 24-year-old and his father Nelson Piquet of false allegations and blackmail, going as far as saying they would begin legal action against them.

But on Wednesday the team said in a statement they would "not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix".

The statement added: "The team also wishes to state that its managing director, Flavio Briatore and its executive director of engineering, Pat Symonds, have left the team."

BBC pundit and former team boss Eddie Jordan said he was surprised by Renault's announcement but believes it was effectively an admission of guilt.

"Suggesting they are not going to contest the allegations is in itself an admission," Jordan told the BBC.

"I don't know what goes on in teams, and certainly in the Jordan team you would contemplate all sorts of things, but you certainly couldn't contemplate that."

It remains to be seen whether this latest controversy, and the exit of Briatore and Symonds, will affect Renault's decision to stay in Formula 1.

Briatore had denied speculation that the French team's future was under threat and the team have signed a new Concorde Agreement to stay in F1 until 2012.

But this latest controversy, coupled with a decline in cars sales, could yet have repercussions for the staff of around 700, who are are employed at the team's headquarters in Enstone, in Oxfordshire, and Viry-Chatillon in Paris.

Former grand prix winner John Watson told the BBC: "The fact that Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have left the team was the only solution to Renault.

"A company on the scale of Renault, a world-scale motor company could not afford to have a scandal of this magnitude rattling around in the boardroom."

As it is, Renault's statement appears to end the F1 career of two of the sport's best-known protagonists.

Briatore became Benetton team principal in 1988 and when Renault bought Benetton in 2000 to run under its own moniker, the 59-year-old Italian was chosen to lead the team.

Symonds started his F1 career in 1981 at the Toleman team, which morphed into Benetton and Renault, and worked his way though the ranks to become executive director of engineering in 2001.

Briatore was also heavily involved in the teams' association Fota, as it sought to reach an agreement on the future of the sport with the FIA this season.

Selasa, 15 September 2009

Q & A with Jenson Button


By Jonathan Noble

Jenson Button has had a fairly miserable run of races since his winning streak ended at the Turkish Grand Prix three months ago, but things are looking up in Italy, with the Briton and his Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello qualifying on row three with a hefty one stop fuel load.

Most encouragingly for Button, his team seems to have the edge on title rival Red Bull this weekend, although he is not getting over-confident yet, as he told the assembled press at Monza.

Q. Is this the end of the bad times for you?

Jenson Button: Well qualifying went well - that is all I can say really .Today I have been happy with the car and qualifying on low fuel the times were good. Qualifying with a heavy fuel load, the car was working well also. It was a positive day – up in P6, with the Red Bulls behind and Rubens alongside me, so it should be a fun race.

Q. From the perspective of five races not going the way you wanted, can we look at this as a watershed for you?

JB: We haven't had the race yet, but qualifying has gone well. And all weekend the car has worked reasonably well. We have been improving in certain areas, so so far it has been a good weekend, but Sunday is the important day. And I don't just want to score some points, I want to have a good race and finish as high up as I can.

Q. There has been a period of downtime for the people who are fighting for the championship. Do you feel that, and how do you cope with the situation?

JB: For the four people who have been very quick for most of the season, the Red Bulls and the Brawns, there have been some circuits that haven't suited our cars, and other people have improved their cars a lot. There are a lot of competitive cars out there and the times from the front of the grid to the back of the grid, there is a very, very small margin, so there are going to be some races that are going to be more difficult for both teams, Brawn and Red Bull, and we've seen in the last couple of races some very unusual outcomes – especially in qualifying and the race. The finishing positions in Spa were very unusual.

There are a lot of teams fighting at the front, and it is great for F1 – it makes it a lot more complicated and difficult for Red Bull and ourselves. But it is an exciting season, every season is different, and there are two teams that are fighting for the championship – and the other teams not so much. That is the same as it has been in previous years, and every single race and every single point is going to count until the end of the year.

Q. But aren't you getting nervous?

JB: It is an exciting situation to be in. I've never been in this situation before in F1. It is exciting and good to have three people challenging me, not just one. I am happy for today. It is a good position for us to be in for this weekend. We will then think about the next race after this weekend. Sixth is good, we have a lot of fuel on board and most of the KERS cars in front, so they will not jump us, and hopefully we will have a nice clean start and make up some places.

Q. Has your approach to this weekend been different, or is it simply that the car works?

JB: Yeah, the car is working here and we've got a different set-up to normal. We've gone through the weekend a little bit different with the fuel loads, and also with set-up, and I am happy with the way the car is. I was happy in Valencia, with the car very happy, and most of the weekend in Spa, but it just didn't go the right way in qualifying. You don't want to change too much. I've had an unlucky period, and hopefully that is going to change, qualifying has gone well and the big day is Sunday – so let's not get too excited.

Q. But if you nick some points off the Red Bulls here, does that not all but kill off their championship hopes?

JB: Well, I don't think it does. I have a 20 point lead and there are 50 points still to play for. It is still very easy for them to challenge us, and they might be running more fuel than us here. And if they are, then we have to watch out for them.

Q. On a one-stopper, it should be a grandstand finish shouldn't it?

JB: Most likely. There are possibilities in doing something different, but it is exciting when the cars in front are doing a two-stop. I think it should be a fun race – difficult, and tyre management is going to be important, and we need to see what the weather does.

Q. Are you worried about Fernando Alonso having KERS behind you?

JB: Their KERS has not been as competitive as Mercedes, and the Ferrari KERS system. But it is still close enough to challenge, but really I have to forget about what is behind and focus on moving forward.

Q. Was qualifying one in the eye for those who have doubted you?

JB: No, it was just a good day and a good sixth position. It put me in a reasonably good position for the race. That is what it was.

Q. And with Rubens alongside you, it is going to be quite a tricky start isn't it?

JB: Yeah, but we are not stupid as well. We both know that we want to score points here – and both want to score more than the other. That is the way it is, and starting fifth or sixth on the grid here, I don't know which position is better. We have to wait and see. But we are in a good position to fight for a result here.

Italian GP - Sunday - Press Conference



2. Jenson BUTTON (Brawn GP), 1h16m24.572s


Q: Jenson, leading the championship by 14 points. But a hectic first lap as it always is. Talk us through that.

Jenson BUTTON: It was a messy lap but I made up a position which was fantastic. You are always wary at the start here because of the KERS cars. (Fernando) Alonso didn't get the jump which was quite good. Rubens and myself were pretty good down into turn one and Kovalainen was struggling a little bit. He braked late. Then I was sat behind Kovalainen through the second chicane and then through Lesmo One I just put a nose up the inside and he ran a touch wide. I was able to get him through Lesmo Two. It was a much needed move. If I hadn't made that move I probably would have finished third or fourth. I had to make it stick and I did and it is nice to be back up here back in second position. Obviously I would rather be where Rubens is sat but he did a better job this weekend, so congratulations to you, man. But second is good. I lost two points to Rubens, but gained seven points on (Sebastian) Vettel. This guy here is my closest rival. And it is good. I think we have got a good relationship. But we are very competitive people, so I am sure we are going to take down to the wire.

Q: It was a close race with Lewis Hamilton towards the end as well. He started to put some pressure on you. What was going through your mind?

Button: My lap times were reasonably good. I was doing 25's and I was happy with the pace. Towards the end of the stint I had better pace compared to Rubens but Lewis started pushing on the last three laps. My team was getting a bit excited, saying 'you have got to use mix two, you need the extra boost.' But I think I had him pretty much covered anyway. I think it is difficult to pass here even with KERS. I don't know what happened, if he made a mistake or ran a bit wide or if he had a failure or something, but obviously a big shunt for him. But for me a great result.

Q: Jenson, is it a bit of a relief to be on the podium again?

Button: All weekend the car has been working well for me. It is a competitive car around here with this downforce level. It is good to know that the car works on all sorts of different downforce levels which bodes well for the next four races. But as Rubens said, you get asked lots of questions on a Friday, where is the performance. I was 19th on Friday because we were doing work. We did race work. As you can see from our race performance we did it very well. Every stage of the weekend we have planned very well. I am happy with my performance. I am happy with the team's performance and this guy just went one better, so well done to Rubens. But all weekend, as I said, we have been very close together and it is great to get eight points on the board. Rubens has closed me down by two, but I have pulled my lead on the Red Bulls which is positive.

Q: You were on soft tyres in the first stint; was there much difference between the two types of tyre?

Button: Well, I didn't have any new primes, so I basically had to go for the option, because off the startline I was worried that I would get jumped by Alonso if I was on a four- or five- lap old prime. So we went for the option and on Friday the balance felt pretty good on the option. So for me, it was neither here nor there. It's difficult to know which was the better tyre, but the balance of the car was good throughout the race, a little bit snappy towards the end when I had Lewis behind me, but around here, it sounds silly but it is very difficult to overtake, even though they've got KERS. If I didn't make a mistake, I don't think he was going to get past me, but my engineer was getting quite excited on the radio, but I was pretty much in control. He obviously ended his race half a lap early.

Q: Well, the gap came down to about 1.6s and then it went up again and then down again right at the end.

Button: Well, 1.2s/1.5s is the gap. You get to that point and it's very difficult to get any closer and I don't think their KERS is that good, and we've obviously got the same motor in the back. As a team, we've done a great job this weekend and the strategy that we chose for the race was a perfect strategy for us. If we had KERS maybe we would go for another strategy, but knowing that the KERS runners were going to go light, or thinking they were going to go light for a two-stop, a one-stop was the best option for us. Our main competitor, we felt, was Kovalainen but he had a very tough first lap and we both got past him which was very, very important.

Q: (Bob McKenzie - The Daily Express) Jenson and Rubens, it looks like it's between you two now, the Red Bulls are so far back. Is it possible to continue to be friends and close team-mates, exchanging information when you've got four races to go and you need every point possible?

Button: I don't know. I've put on a brave face lately but I absolutely hate this guy! He doesn't know his a*** from his elbow when it comes to racing cars! Is this more fun or...? No, we've got a good relationship and we've been team-mates for many years now. We're working together, we've had to pull our car to the front, we will see how it goes from here, but I think we're still going to be sharing information because there's always the possibility that the Red Bulls will be strong, you never know, and we might have some bad luck. But when we go on the circuit we're obviously fierce rivals. We're not going to give up until the end. I've obviously got the advantage of 14 points; it's got smaller at the last couple of races but Rubens is going to be a very tough rival for sure. He's skilled behind the wheel, as we've seen for many years and he's been able to show his talent. Yeah, it's going to be a tough few races, but it's an exciting challenge and as I said, it's nice to get this result today. I think we've shown that the Brawn car is good. A few people were questioning us a couple of races ago, but we've put a lot of effort into improving this car and it works at this downforce level which is great and I think when we go to Singapore we should have a strong car there as well. I would say that it's more than likely between us two but you can never count the Red Bulls out.

Q: (Ian Parkes - The Press Association) Jenson, Rubens, you've both been on the one-stop strategy today; can we put that down to the tactical genius that is Ross Brawn?

Button: You can't put a race win down to one individual, I don't think. It's down to a group of individuals. We've got a lot of very talented people within our team that come up with the strategies. Ross Brawn is not the strategist in our team. We have certain people within the team that go through all the different scenarios throughout a race. They came up with the idea. A two-stop was still a possibility but we went for a one-stop because we just thought we had to get off the line first and lead into turn one otherwise it wouldn't have worked. The strategists talk to the engineers and talk to Ross and talk to the drivers and we decide whatever strategy to go for. Some of us disagree sometimes but we normally come up with the right option. Ross is a great individual, but he would say it's not down to one person, any race victory and one-two.

Q: (Paulo Ianieri - La Gazzetta dello Sport) And you Jenson, looking at the results from today, is it a big relief for you, just that you have to concentrate more on Rubens?

Button: For sure - I don't know if easier is the right word, but concentrating on one person is... it has to be a little bit easier than three. You never know where the Red Bulls are going to be quick and where they are going to be uncompetitive. I thought they would be a lot more competitive here. But with Rubens we're driving the same car and today he was a little bit quicker, he won the race by about three seconds. I've got to stay as close to Rubens as possible, that's the way you should look at it but also I want to win races. I don't want to come here and just try and finish behind Rubens. So I will go to the next race hoping for a great result. I think that we have got some more improvements with the car and it should help us in Singapore. It's a circuit that I really enjoy driving. I had a good race there last year and I look for the same result as Rubens had this race.

Q: (Tom Cary - The Daily Telegraph) Jenson, you came into the weekend bombarded with questions about your mental strength and under a lot of pressure. Do you feel that your performance here shows that you can cope with it and you've put those stories to bed now?

Button: That's between you guys. The talk of pressure never came out of my mouth. I know I'm in a very good situation, I've driving the best car on the grid at the moment, and I've probably got one of the most competitive team-mates on the grid at the moment. So there are lots of positives and a couple of negatives there but why shouldn't I be positive? I've got a fourteen-point lead with four races to go. That's it really. I'm sure you're right that I have controlled the pressure that I've had for the last two or three races but those are your words, not mine.

Q: (Adam Hay-Nicholls - Metro) Rubens, when you were up on the podium, it looked like you were firing arrows into the crowd. What was that about?

Barrichello: I invent all the time.

Button: He's got two kids and watches a lot of weird films.

Barrichello: That's very much like it. Fernando was four yesterday, so that was for him.

Italian GP - Sunday - Team Quotes
Jenson Button (2nd): "I had a really good race today and it's a fantastic feeling to be up on the podium again. The team and Rubens did a great job this weekend and congratulations to Rubens for his second win of the season. The car worked very well all weekend and the balance was good throughout the race which meant I could set consistently quick lap times when it really mattered. The strategy that we chose on Saturday for qualifying was the perfect one for us and I was able to get ahead of Heikki on the first lap which was absolutely crucial for my race. Lewis was pushing hard behind me for the final part of the race but I was confident that I had him covered and it's a very difficult circuit to overtake here even with KERS. We have shown that the Brawn-Mercedes is a very good car and credit to the team for the efforts that have gone into improving it over the past couple of months. It's going to be a very exciting end of the season and a challenge that we are all looking forward to."

Jumat, 11 September 2009

Italian Grand Prix - team and driver preview quotes


Jenson Button, Brawn GP
2008 Qualifying - 19th, 2008 Race - 15th

"Monza is a fantastic track and I love the passion that the Italian fans bring to the race weekend. The circuit is very different to most of the circuits that we race on as the car will be set up with the lowest levels of drag and downforce possible to take advantage of the long straights. It always takes a few laps to get used to and as we haven't tested at Monza this season, the practice sessions will be very important. Ascari is probably my favourite part of the track but also Parabolica where the challenge is to brake as late as possible, particularly in qualifying when you're on a quick lap. It's a circuit that should be reasonably good for our car if we get the handling right over the kerbs so we're feeling positive and excited about the challenge."

Italian GP - Friday - Practice Session 1 Results
7. Jenson Button Britain Brawn-Mercedes 1:24.706

Button 'looking forward' as title fight builds


Jenson Button has insisted that he is not dwelling on what might have been after dominating the first half of the 2009 Formula One season, instead focusing on the final five races as he struggles to get his Brawn entry on the pace to add to his victory tally.

The Belgian Grand Prix two weeks ago saw the Briton fail to score for the first time all season, after being caught up in an accident inspired by Renault rookie Romain Grosjean, but knows that, had he not recorded his worst qualifying performance in twelve races, he would not have been in position to be tagged by the Frenchman.

Lining up 14th on the grid at Spa-Francorchamps was symptomatic of Button's - and Brawn's - gradual slide away from the forefront of F1 in recent weeks. Having won six of the opening seven races, he has added just eleven points in the last five as McLaren, Ferrari and, most significantly, Red Bull Racing all took advantage of successful updates to their cars to win races.

Ironically, however, the gap between the championship leader and his pursuers remains exactly the same as it was after the Monaco Grand Prix as no-one appears able to mount a concerted attack on Button's position.

Brawn team-mate Rubens Barrichello finally returned to the top step of the podium in Valencia - a race that should have suited both Brawns with temperatures high enough for them to generate the required grip from their tyres - but saw another potential top three slip through his fingers in Belgium after a return of his starting problems. Red Bull, meanwhile, continues to allow its drivers to fight amongst themselves for a shot at the title, with neither recording a string of good results as Button struggles. Sebastian Vettel posted two DNFs before clawing back some ground with third place at Spa, while Mark Webber has failed to score in each of the last two races, despite making the finish in both.

As a result, Button heads to Monza - where Brawn is not necessarily expecting to return to race-winning form as the KERS cars should have an advantage - with a 16-point cushion, and insists that he is focusing more on getting the most out of his car rather than worrying about those on his tail.

"It is not about me controlling them, it's about me doing the best job I can," Button told the official F1 website, "Instead of looking back, I'm looking forward. I have a 16-point lead, which is a good position to be in as the championship is coming to a close. There are five races still left and it is more about looking forward to every single race."

The Briton is naturally encouraged by his rivals fighting amongst themselves in what has fast become one of the most-closely matched F1 fields for some time.

"It seems to be someone different [on form] every weekend, which is a good thing," Button said, aware now that the likes of Force India could be thrown into the mix, "All kinds of people are taking points from each other.

"Rubens has been doing a good job, but he's been doing a good job all season - the last two races, he's done better than I did. Within Red Bull, they've both been quick at different circuits. I suppose that's always going to be the way when you've got two very competitive drivers. Vettel, you'd say, has had the upper hand in qualifying at most races but, in the races, you'd say that Mark is always strong. If he stays out of trouble, which obviously he didn't do at Spa, he's going to be very strong in the races. It's difficult to know between them.

"Rubens is a hard competitor [but] I know exactly what his equipment is - it's the same as mine. The Red Bull is a car that works on different types of circuits. It should work okay here [at Monza], but the circuit where they should be strongest is in Japan, at Suzuka. But I'm sure they will be working on improving the car for slow speed corners. I'm sure we'll see them competitive."

Denying that his chances could be enhanced by 'strategic decisions' taken within the Brawn team, Button also played down suggestions - both in the paddock and the media - that the stress of not being able to close out the title was affecting him mentally.

"I'm in good shape," he insisted, "I was [thinking about the situation a lot], but I'm not so much thinking of it any more. I've been thinking about this race and to get in the car is the best possible decision I can make, [as well as to] spend a lot of time with my engineers to talk about how to set-up the car. It's just experience of being in such a situation, [and] I've been in this position for months now."

Schumacher extends deal with Ferrari


By Edd Straw

Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher has agreed a three-year contract extension with Ferrari.

Schumacher, who has remained involved with Ferrari as a consultant since retiring from Formula 1 at the end of the 2006 season, has been with the legendary manufacturer since joining it for the 1996 season as a driver.

"Yesterday, Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo and me agreed to extend our co-operation for another three years," Schumacher told his website.

"I am very happy about this as I always liked to be part of the Ferrari family and as the name Ferrari also for me symbolises passion, quality and sport."

Schumacher added that he is going to concentrate further on the development of Ferrari's road cars after playing a major role in several of the marque's recent models.

"We agreed that I will give my input more and more into the GT department, the area of road cars," said Schumacher.

"I enjoyed participating in the development of the Ferrari California, the 430 Scuderia and the new 458 Italia which we will present next Tuesday at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

"I very much look forward to participating in future projects."

Selasa, 08 September 2009

Friend or Foe...?

Persaingan di dunia Formula One bisa dibilang tak ubahnya pertarungan hidup mati seperti di medan perang terlebih di jaman ketika masalah safety bukanlah hal yang utama, kadang kematian dan maut merupakan teman sekaligus musuh dalam selimut bagi pembalap F1 dan para penonton di sirkuit. Meski sekarang ini F1 tak lagi sebringas dulu tapi toh kecelakaan yang menimpa Massa pada qualifying Hungaria beberapa minggu yang lalu bisa dibilang bukti bahwa masalah safety selamanya menjadi polemik bagi F1, di satu sisi F1 memang olahraga yang berhubungan dengan maut tapi di sisi lain keselamatan pembalap dan penonton tetap merupakan poin utama bagi penyelenggara.

Namun seperti sebuah roman epik, justru kepahlawanan di dunia F1 tercipta dari momen-momen heroik yang terkadang berujung pada berakhirnya hidup sang tokoh yang dalam hal ini sang pembalap walau kisah heroik itu tak melulu merenggut nyawa sang pembalap seperti kisah heroik Massa di balapan penghujung musim tahun lalu di mana ia nyaris meraih gelar dunia pertamanya di depan publiknya sendiri tapi ia justru dihempaskan hanya sepersekian detik dan siapa sangka pula seorang Glock berperan serta dalam pertarungan sengit antara Massa dan Hamilton dalam meraih gelar dunia itu. Dan ketika Massa berharap tahun ini ia berhasil meraih mimpinya yang tertunda di musim lalu itu, ia justru harus berkutat dengan buruknya performa timnya malahan kini karirnya sepertinya tak terlalu jelas setelah kecelakaan di sesi kualifikasi GP Hungaria di mana ia hampir saja kehilangan nyawanya setelah serpihan dari mobil Rubens Barrichello dari tim Brawn GP mengenai wajahnya.

Sejatinya manusia itu adalah makhluk sosial. Begitupun dengan para pembalap F1 yang terdiri dari darah dan daging. Bagaimanapun kerasnya persaingan di antara mereka dalam merebut kemenangan tapi sisi humanis dari diri mereka masing-masing tak mungkin teringkari. Dan selama kehidupan masih tercipta di bumi ini, nilai-nilai humanis selalu saja membuat hidup manusia menjadi lebih berarti.

Bila di dunia politik terkenal istilah tak ada kawan atau lawan abadi selain kepentingan pribadi namun di dunia F1 sepertinya lawan abadi adalah juga kawan abadi. persaingan di antara mereka sedikit banyak justru malah membuat mereka saling terikat satu sama lain. Tak percaya, berikut ini kucoba merangkum lima pasang pembalap yang saling bersaing tapi juga bersahabat atau setidaknya memiliki ikatan yang lebih kuat dari ikatan manapun di dunia ini seperti yang terjadi pada hubungan Senna-Prost.

1. Ayrton Senna - Alain Prost
pic taken from:

Tak ada yang menyangkal kehebatan Ayrton Senna maupun Alain Prost di dalam kokpit F1. Keduanya adalah mega bintang dan menyatukan mega bintang mungkin saja dapat mengakibatkan konstilasi dalam jagad raya dan membahayakan bumi ketika serpihan meteor dari tabrakan mega bintang itu terjun bebas menghujam planet bumi.

Tapi Ron Dennis berpikir penyatuan mega bintang mungkin malah dapat membuat galaxy makin bercahaya. Sulit memang tapi ia selalu merasa yakin ia dapat menyatukan ego besar kedua mega bintang itu dan memetik keuntungan bagi tim dari persaingan kedua duo mega bintang itu.

Prost yang lebih dulu di McLaren telah memetik dua gelar bersama tim Silver Arrow itu pada tahun 1985 dan 1986 tapi rupanya sang bos, Ron Dennis tak cukup puas dengan hanya memiliki seorang Prost. Ia pun merekrut Ayrton Senna pada tahun 1988 dan pertempuran antara Senna dan Prost pun dimulai. Dengan mesin yang sama dan sumber daya manusia yang sama namun Prost yang lebih lama di tim mestinya diuntungkan karena ia memiliki ikatan yang lebih kuat daripada sang bintang Brazil yang baru masuk itu. Tapi nyatanya Prost harus menelan kekecewaan demi kekecewaan ketika ia merasa tim lebih condong kepada The Brazilian itu. Senna berhasil meraih gelar dunia pertamanya bersama timnya Ron Dennis itu pada tahun 1988 tapi Prost langsung membalasnya dan merebut gelar dunia dari Senna pada tahun 1989. Darah Brazil Senna langsung menggelegak, dua tahun berturut-turut ia menghempaskan Prost. Ia merebut gelar dunianya kembali dari tangan Prost pada tahun 1990 dan berhasil mempertahankannya pada tahun 1991.

Tak tahan harus menelan kekalahan terus menerus dari rekan setimnya, Prost pun hengkang dari McLaren dan bergabung bersama Williams sambil terus melanjutkan persaingannya dengan Senna tapi di tim yang berbeda dengan mesin yang berbeda dan sumber daya yang berbeda pula tentunya. Perubahan suasana ternyata memberikan dampak yang baik bagi Prost. Ia segera saja berhasil meraih gelar dunia keempatnya bersama Williams-Renault pada tahun 1993 tapi di penghujung musim ia segera mengumumkan pengunduran dirinya setelah mantan rekan setimnya sekaligus seterunya, Senna dikabarkan akan bergabung dengan Williams pada tahun 1994 dan kenangan masa-masa sulit bersanding bersama Senna di McLaren sepanjang tahun 1985 hingga 1992 segera membuat Prost segera mengambil keputusan. Mengakhiri karirnya di F1. Perginya Prost dari dunia F1 bersama gelar dunia terakhirnya itu ternyata mengecewakan Senna yang merasa kehilangan dan merindukan saat-saat pertempuran sengit mereka yang harus bertarung sendirian di Williams pada tahun 1994 tanpa ditemani seterunya. Ternyata tahun 1994 justru menjadi tahun terakhir Senna di F1 sekaligus di dunia fana ini. Tikungan Tamburello di sirkuit San Marino merenggut salah satu pembalap terbaik F1. Dunia berduka atas kematian Senna begitu pula dengan seteru abadi Senna, Alain Prost yang pada upacara pemakaman Senna mengungkapkan isi hatinya bahwa ia merasa seolah separuh jiwanya ikut mati bersama Senna, kata-kata yang hampir mirip dikatakan Senna ketika Prost mengumumkan pengunduran dirinya di akhir musim 1993. Kala itu Senna mengatakan bahwa ia akan merindukan Prost tapi justru Prost yang selamanya kehilangan seteru abadinya sekaligus sahabat terbaiknya.

Ternyata persaingan tak selamanya menciptakan jurang pemisah tapi malah merekatkan hubungan antara kedua pesaing itu.

2. Michael Schumacher dan Mika Hakkinen
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Persaingan keduanya mungkin tak seekstrim Senna dan Prost yang harus bertarung merebut kemenangan dan gelar dunia di tim yang sama tapi tetap saja aura persaingan kedua pembalap hebat ini pun sangat sengit dan selalu menarik ditonton. Bahkan persaingan keduanya dalam merebut gelar pun telah menciptakan kelompok pendukung di antara rekan sesama pembalap. Para pendukung Mika menjuluki Mika adalah telur baik sementara Schumi telur busuk. Tapi apapun bentuk pertikaian mereka di sirkuit ternyata tak berpengaruh pada hubungan mereka di luar trek.

Bahkan Mika yang pernah sampai kelelahan dan hampir mati karena dehidrasi setelah dipaksa meladeni kepiawaian Schumi sebagai pembalap kedua terbaik di dunia pada GP Malaysia 1999. Mika memang berhasil meraih gelar dunia keduanya tahun itu setelah Schumi mengalami kecelakaan hebat di Silverstone yang hampir saja membuatnya harus mengakhiri karir balapnya lebih cepat. Setelah Schumi harus absen hampir separuh musim di tahun 1999, pertarungan gelar terjadi antara Mika dan rekan setim Michael di Ferrari, Eddie Irvine. GP Malaysia bisa dibilang merupakan GP yang krusial bagi Eddie dalam meraih gelar dunia pertamanya dari Mika tapi dengan team matenya yang ada, ia tak yakin dapat meraih gelar itu, ia pun meminta bantuan Luca di Montezemolo agar dapat membujuk Schumi untuk turun balapan dan membantunya meraih gelar dunia. Irvine memang tak salah, pembalap sehebat Mika tentu saja harus dikalahkan oleh pembalap hebat yang setara dengannya dan tak ada yang dapat mengalahkan Mika selain Michael Schumacher. Terbukti, di GP Malaysia, Mika harus menahan emosi di dalam kokpit silver arrownya meladeni Schumi yang memperlihatkan skill membalapnya yang luar biasa. Irvine melenggang menjadi juara berkat bantuan Schumi yang berhasil menahan Mika untuk tetap berada di tempat ketiga. Ekspresi wajah Mika yang kelelahan memperlihatkan bagaimana beratnya GP yang harus dijalaninya hari itu dan sangat kontras dengan wajah gembira Schumi yang meski harus puas di tempat kedua di belakang rekan setimnya tapi ia bisa memperlihatkan pada Mika bahwa ia siap bertarung untuk merebut gelar darinya pada musim berikut.

Meski begitu baik Mika maupun Michael saling menghormati satu sama lain. Tak jarang keduanya terlihat di luar trek membahas aksi mereka ketika di lintasan. Mika memang lebih dulu pensiun dari F1. Meski perasaan kehilangan Schumi terhadap Mika tak sedalam perasaan Senna ketika Prost pensiun tapi pastinya Schumi pun merasa kehilangan seorang lawan yang luar biasa seperti Mika.

Dekatnya hubungan Michael dan Mika pun terlihat dengan kehadiran Mika pada balapan pamungkas Michael di GP Brazil 2006.

3. James Hunt - Niki Lauda
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Persahabatan kedua pembalap ini memang bukan berita baru di F1. Meski keduanya membela tim yang berbeda dan saling bersaing secara jujur dan adil tapi semua persaingan itu toh tetap tak mengaburkan nilai persahabatan yang terjalin di antara mereka.

Kalau saja kecelakaan yang menimpa Lauda di Nurburgring 1976 tak terjadi mungkin catatan sejarah akan tercetak sedikit berbeda. Tapi apapun yang terjadi pada tahun itu, Lauda sadar bahwa ia mungkin akan kehilangan gelarnya tahun itu tapi siapa sangka bahwa yang merebut gelarnya itu justru sahabatnya sendiri, James Hunt.

Sebelum GP Fuji 1976 sebenarnya Hunt hanya perlu finish keempat untuk meraih gelar dunia dari Lauda tapi di tengah cuaca yang buruk dan problema ban yang menyertai justru Hunt berhasil finish di podium ketiga.

Lauda yang harus mengakhiri balapan lebih awal dan membawa Ferrarinya masuk kandang sebelum balapan berakhir. Ia tengah dalam perjalanan menuju bandara ketika berita gelar dunianya berhasil direbut sahabatnya lewat radio di dalam taxi yang ditumpanginya. Mungkin ada sedikit perasaan kecewa dalam hati Lauda tapi ia dengan tulus mengungkapkan rasa bahagianya atas keberhasilan sahabatnya. Aku jadi teringat salah satu bait dalam puisi teman baikku yang ditulisnya sewaktu kami masih mengenakan seragam putih biru. Dalam puisinya itu, ia mengatakan bahwa persahabatan adalah kehidupan yang membawa kita untuk jadi diri sendiri. Persahabatan adalah mengasihi tanpa memiliki tapi merasa dimiliki dan dikasihi. Persahabatan seharusnya mengajarkan padamu bagaimana membahagiakan orang lain dan bukannya memenangkan keinginan-keinginanmu....

4. Patrick Tambay dan Gilles Villeneuve

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Momen di GP Eropa beberapa minggu lalu di mana Rubens Barrichello berhasil menjadi juara dan kemenangannya itu didedikasikannya bagi Felipe Massa, teman baiknya sekaligus rekan senegaranya yang mengalami kecelakaan usai salah satu serpihan mobilnya mengenai mata kiri Massa di kualifikasi GP Hungaria tiga minggu sebelum GP Eropa berlangsung. Bahkan untuk menunjukkan dukungannya pada Massa yang masih dalam tahap penyembuhan dan pemulihan diri, Rubens mencetak kalimat dukungan agar Massa cepat pulih di bagian atas helmnya. (Rubens malah meniru gaya Massa mencium lensa televisi saat berhasil menjuarai GP Eropa, yang pertama kalinya sejak ia terakhir kali menginjak podium utama bersama Ferrari di tahun 2004).

Kemenangan Rubens yang didedikasikan bagi Massa di GP Eropa itu mengingatkanku pada kejadian yang hampir persis sama pada GP Jerman 1982.

Setelah kematian Gilles di GP Zandvoort tiga bulan sebelum GP Jerman, Ferrari merasa tak ada yang pantas menggantikan tempat Gilles selain sahabatnya sendiri, Patrick Tambay.

Perjalanan karir keduanya di F1 tak ubahnya seperti dua sisi mata uang yang meski saling melekat erat tapi takdir membuat mereka menjalani kehidupan mereka secara berbeda.

Keduanya memulai balapan di GP Silverstone 1977. Gilles bersama McLaren sementara Tambay membela Theodore. Saat Gilles pindah ke Ferrari, Tambay yang menggantikan posisinya yang lowong di McLaren. Seharusnya saat itu dunia dapat melihat pertarungan sengit dua sahabat ini tapi ternyata takdir berkata lain. Cahaya McLaren malah meredup sementara bintang Gilles bersama Ferrari malah bersinar terang. Tambay pun akhirnya kembali ke dalam pelukan tim lamanya, Theodore yang tengah sekarat. Tak lama kemudian Tambay bergabung bersama Ligier yang keadaannya idem dito dengan tim lamanya. Tambay sudah berniat pensiun tapi kemudian Ferrari memintanya mengisi posisi sahabatnya yang tewas secara tragis di tim kuda jingkrak itu.

Pastinya berat bagi Tambay menggantikan tempat sahabatnya di Ferrari terlebih bersama rekan setim yang sedikit banyak memberikan kontribusi atas kecelakaan yang menewaskan sahabatnya itu. Tapi Tambay tak menyia-nyiakan kesempatan untuk bergabung dengan tim besar dan melanjutkan impian sang sahabat.

Tambay mungkin tak terlalu berharap banyak ketika menggeber Ferrarinya di GP Jerman meski hatinya bergejolak ingin merebut kemenangan sekaligus memberikan kenangan terindah untuk sahabatnya yang mungkin tengah menatapnya dan mendukungnya agar meraih mimpinya itu.

Entah apakah yang terjadi di GP Jerman itu bisa disebut takdir atau hanya secuil kisah dari perjalanan manusia yang tak lepas dari suratan hidup yang disebut takdir. Rekan setim Tambay yang telah membuat Gilles membawa kebenciannya ke alam kubur mengalami kecelakaan yang hampir mirip dengan Gilles meski nyawa Pironi selamat tapi karir balapnya di F1 tamat. Sementara Tambay melesat menuju finish dan berhasil meraih kemenangannya. Dan ia mempersembahkan kemenangannya itu untuk sahabatnya yang telah tenang di alam sana dan mungkin tengah tersenyum menatapnya, berbagi kememangan mereka di podium.

Perjalanan persahabatan antara Tambay dan Gilles menurutku sangat manis. Mereka selalu saling mengisi. Bakat balap Gilles memang lebih cemerlang dibanding Tambay tapi setiap kali Gilles pergi justru Tambay lah yang mengisi posisi Gilles.

Ketika Gilles keluar dari Kanada dan memasuki dunia F1, Tambay lah yang memberi tumpangan bagi Gilles dan istrinya serta kedua anak mereka, Jacques dan Melanie yang masih kecil-kecil. Perbedaan nasib di antara mereka ternyata tak serta merta merenggut jalinan persahabatan di antara mereka. Bahkan meski Gilles telah pergi pun, Tambay senantiasa berbagi kenangan manis dengan sahabatnya itu.

5. Fernando Alonso dan Jarno Trulli
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Sama seperti GV dan Tambay, persahabatan antara Alonso dan Trulli juga bukan berita baru di F1. Mereka pernah bernaung di bawah tim yang sama dengan manajer yang sama pula. Namun, walaupun mereka pernah berada di tim yang sama tapi persaingan mereka tak sesengit seperti Prost dan Senna.

Di Renault, mungkin Alonso yang lebih diistimewakan tapi justru Trulli lah yang berhasil meraih kemenangan bagi tim biru dari Perancis itu di GP Monaco 2004 setelah F2004 Michael Schumacher ditabrak Montoya dan penonton tercengang melihat mobil merah yang selalu mencatat nilai sempurna pada balapan-balapan sebelumnya itu terlihat kacau balau saat keluar dari terowongan.

Sayangnya, meski Trulli berhasil meraih kemenangan tunggal bagi Renault tapi Flavio Briatore malah mendepak Trulli yang langsung lari ke Toyota bahkan sebelum musim 2004 berakhir. Namun meski akhir hubungan Trulli dengan Renault dan Flavio harus berakhir menyakitkan tapi sepertinya hubungan mereka berdua tetap baik hingga sekarang ini.

Mungkin hubungan persahabatan mereka tak sespektakuler pasangan yang lainnya tapi berada di tim yang sama dengan ambisi yang sama pastinya sulit bagi dua orang manusia yang sebenarnya bersahabat. Kemungkinan salah satunya akan melukai bisa saja terjadi yang mungkin akan mengoyakkan ikatan persahabatan itu. Tapi kedua pembalap ini dan empat pasang pembalap lainnya memperlihatkan bahwa persaingan tak selalu memutuskan jalinan sebuah persahabatan malah tak menutup kemungkinan juga persaingan justru menjadi benang merah yang mengikatkan dua orang manusia ke dalam sebuah ikatan yang lebih kuat dibanding ikatan manapun di dunia seperti yang terjadi antara Senna-Prost dan Schumi-Mika.

Sepeti yang kuungkapkan di atas, sebenarnya aku ingin mencari sebanyak mungkin pasangan pembalap yang saling bersahabat tapi aku hanya berhasil merangkum kelima pasang pembalap ini yang memiliki jalinan persahabatan yang membuat F1 tak sekering sirkuit Bahrain atau sesempit trek di Monaco. Sisi humanis ini membuat F1 jadi terlihat lebih manusiawi dan beradab di tengah persaingan sengit demi sebuah gelar dan mimpi.

Tapi jika pembaca mengetahui pasangan sahabat lainnya dari pembalap F1, tolong bagi-bagi infonya ya supaya F1 tak melulu berkutat seputar intrik dalam perebutan juara. Toh, pembalap juga manusia....

Karena tulisan ini ingin kupersembahkan untuk teman baikku Selvia Lusman yang telah sabar meladeniku sebagai seorang sahabat yang degil sejak kami di SMP jadi kututup tulisanku ini dengan puisi yang dibuatnya ketika perjalanan hidup kami masih dihiasi oleh kenaifan dan keluguan masa remaja kami ....
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karya : Selvia Lusman

Persahabatan, adalah sebuah kata yang teramat indah
di sana kita temukan tawa riang dan senyum ceria
Sesekali pertengkaran yang ternyata melelahkan
karena kita kehilangan sosok yang demikian berarti
untuk kita

Di sana keegoisan bukan lagi satu kelemahan tapi satu sifat
yang perlahan sirna oleh kasih sayang
Di sana memberi adalah kebahagiaan
dan menerima jadi satu keharusan

Persahabatan adalah kehidupan yang membawa kita
untuk jadi diri sendiri
Persahabatan adalah mengasihi tanpa memiliki tapi
merasa dimiliki dan dikasihi
Persahabatan seharusnya mengajarkan padamu bagaimana
membahagiakan orang lain dan bukannya memenangkan

Persahabatan lemah lembut dan manis,
polos dan apa adanya,
naif dan lugu,
namun menyentuh dan indah.

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