• Apr 28, 2008

Click above for high-res gallery of the 2008 Spanish Grand Prix

Formula One is fast, and fast is dangerous. That's the assumption formed on the basis of decades of fatal crashes in the sport when the slow advancement of safety measures couldn't keep up with the ever-increasing speeds of grand prix racing. But those assumptions and those safety measures were again put to the test this weekend in Spain, where McLaren's Heikki Kovalainen crashed at 220 km/h (137mph) into a wall of tires, resulting in an estimated impact force of 26 Gs. The crash, which occurred on the 22nd lap of the race, was attributed to a wheel/tire malfunction, and Kovalainen is expected to return in two weeks to race in Turkey.

As jarring as it was, Heikki's crash was only one of the many times the safety car was deployed in a race that was dominated by the color yellow of the caution flag. The next most dominant color at Catalunya, however, was surely red, as Ferrari dominated the race virtually from start to finish, with Kimi Raikkonen sailing to an easy checkered flag with his team mate Felipe Massa close behind. Towards the end of the race, Kovalainen's teammate Lewis Hamilton was closing in on Massa, but ended up taking the third step on the podium, giving defending champion Raikkonen a commanding nine point lead over Hamilton. The perfect finish for Ferrari likewise gave the team a commanding lead in the constructors' championship, leading 47 to BMW Sauber's 35 and McLaren's 34. BMW, which entered the race with the lead for the constructors' title, didn't fair as well as hoped, with Kubica finishing an admirable fourth while his teammate Heidfeld came in outside the points in 9th after suffering a drive-through penalty. However, that wasn't nearly as bad as second-tier rival Renault did under the Spanish sun, with neither local hero Fernando Alonso nor his teammate Nelsinho Piquet completing the race. All in all, a shocking nine drivers retired before the last lap, including Nico Rosberg (Williams), Rubens Barrichello (Honda), Adrian Sutil (Force India), Anthony Davidson (Super Aguri), both the Toro Rosso drivers (Bourdais and Vettel) in addition to the Renaults and the aforementioned Kovalainen.

Follow the jump for the full results, current standings after four rounds of the 2008 FIA Formula One World Championship and a video of Kovalainen's crash.

[Source: Autosport]

2008 Spanish Grand Prix

1. Raikkonen Ferrari
2. Massa Ferrari
3. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
4. Kubica BMW Sauber
5. Webber Red Bull-Renault
6. Button Honda
7. Nakajima Williams-Toyota
8. Trulli Toyota
9. Heidfeld BMW Sauber
10. Fisichella Force India-Ferrari
11. Glock Toyota
12. Coulthard Red Bull-Renault
13. Sato Super Aguri-Honda

Fastest lap: Raikkonen, 1:21.670

Not classified/retirements:
Rosberg Williams-Toyota
Alonso Renault
Barrichello Honda
Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes
Davidson Super Aguri-Honda
Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari
Piquet Renault
Vettel Toro Rosso-Ferrari
Sutil Force India-Ferrari

World Championship standings
(after four rounds)

1. Raikkonen 29
2. Hamilton 20
3. Kubica 19
4. Massa 18
5. Heidfeld 16
6. Kovalainen 14
7. Trulli 9
8. Webber 8
9. Rosberg 7
10. Alonso 6
11. Nakajima 5
12. Button 3
13. Bourdais 2

1. Ferrari 47
2. BMW Sauber 35
3. McLaren-Mercedes 34
4. Williams-Toyota 12
5. Toyota 9
6. Red Bull-Renault 8
7. Renault 6
8. Honda 3
9. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 2

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 6 Years Ago
      This race was yesterday wasn't it? Not sure what the "Spoiler Alert is for. Perhaps new aerodynamic devices?
        • 6 Years Ago
        I think they do the spoiler alert as a warning for people who use DVRs/TiVO and haven't actually watched it yet...
        • 6 Years Ago
        Some people record the race and watch it later.
      • 6 Years Ago
      The Heidfeld penatly also shows the lack of creative thinking by the FIA. They guy was going to run out of fuel on the track so had no option but to go into the "closed" pit lane for fuel.
      This issue could be resolved very easilly by copying what happens over in the Indycar series. If a FCY comes out in that series, any driver is in desperate need of fuel, is allowed to enter the pit lane for a quick "splash and go" (no change of tires nor anything else on the car may be touched). The car then returns to the track and blends back into the pack i.e. losing positions. When the Pits are then re-opened all the cars can then pit for fuel and tires etc. if they wish.

      If this rule had been applied in F1 then Heidfeld would have been pushed back in the order slightly, but NOT have lost the enormous amount of time his "stop and go" penaly gave him in Spain. The penalty he receives for simply ruined his race for no good reason.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I don't know how "shocking" it is that 9 drivers retired. At the 2007 Spanish Grand Prix, 8 retired. So far this year, 13 retired in Australia, and 1 was DQ'd, 5 retired in Malaysia, and 3 in Bahrain. Overall the average number of retirements is up for 2008, which may be due to the removal of TC. Regardless, Kudo's to AB for posting on Formula One. Even if you don't enjoy this style of racing, you have to appreciate the technology. If you don't enjoy the sound of a 2.4L V8 spinning at 19k rpm's and pumping out around 750HP, then you are not a car guy...
      • 6 Years Ago
      Why is this on here? Yet again the morons who run this site are catering to the .0001% of their main audience with a sport that is dead in the US. There is no automotive news here, just more fan boys having a circle jerk. Sadly AB hasn't been good in months.

        • 6 Years Ago
        Ugh, are you seriously posting in ANOTHER F1 thread? Seriously? Lol.

        Regular people, don't feed the troll. If you argue with him, no matter how retarded he is, he wins. Just low rank him :).
        • 6 Years Ago
        More to the point would be the question "Why are YOU here? I'm sure there will be a story to cater to your taste soon...
        • 6 Years Ago
        Typical stupid post... wasting time posting a blog bitching about something you don't like. I can never understand you morons: what's hard about scrolling past a story you're not interested in? I do it every day.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Thanks Autoblog for F1 info!
      It must be disheartening to the other teams when Raikkonen said he could have pushed his Ferrari a lot harder than he did. I wonder if that new nose vent gives Ferrari more power down the straits by forcing air into the engine intake.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The new vent has nothing to do with the engine's intake, that's the big scoop behind the driver's head. What that vent does is allow air to flow through from underneath the front of the car, creating a low pressure area and increasing downforce on the front of the car without increasing aerodynamic drag. Just another example of how far ahead Ferrari is this season. This gives them more cornering downforce without slowing the car down on the straights. Notice how the Ferraris don't have all the "rabbit ears", etc., on the front of the car. I expect other teams to come up with similar set-ups very soon.
      • 6 Years Ago
      From the onboard camera did anyone else notice Heikki's hands when he knew nothing he could do was going to change that straight in shot at the tire barrier. It appeared he took his hands off the wheel placing them in his lap thereby preventing hand/arm injuries? Not saying that was his intent, but if so, well, what a great presence of mind.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I noticed that too and was amazed...I probably would've been flailing my arms above my head screaming like a little girl!
        • 6 Years Ago
        You are instructed to do that if you are about to get into a wreck and are concious enough to do it. Thats a sign of a very very aware driver, not everyone does that mostly because they dont think to. Heikki is a badass from hell.

        So happy for Heikki though. I was terrified about him possibly snapping his neck with the tires in his face. Was also so relieved to see he still had legs and his white suit wasnt red when they were stretchering him out.

        I dont understand why the pits are closed when the s/c comes out at all...Who cares if strategies completely change because of an s/c.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I have noticed that in all the 2008 races the run off areas are either a flat concrete design, or an extremely smooth kitty litter. Thus spinning cars are NOT retarded b4 making contact with the barriers. I think that the FIA safety people have lost the plot and seem oblivious to this problem.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The "kitty litter" slows the car down upon entry...and the flat surfaces are so the cars don't go flying into the air.
        • 6 Years Ago
        There's always gonna be an issue... a lot of circuits weren't designed with a lot of space to make for wider runoff areas and gravel traps, so they have to make due with the space they have and depend on Safe barriers and bigger tire walls. A lot of these circuits were built when the safety requirements weren't as stringent as they are today.
        And there are always odd instances and variations: gravel traps, though a brilliant and proven method of slowing cars down, don't always work: I've seen cars hit the traps at a slightly odd angle and just get airborne. Runoff areas are of little use when a car suffers a suspension failure or severe tire blowout: steering doesn't respond... it's never cut and dry when it comes to making circuits safer. That's why the engineers make the cars as safe as possible.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Quite to the contrary ... the FIA has done a lot for the safety of its drivers.

        There have been incredible crashes over the past few years and no fatalities or serious injuries.
        • 6 Years Ago

        I didn't say that the FIA hasn't done anything for safety in F1.

        What I said was that the FIA seems oblivious to the specific issue that their run off areas, supposedly designed to slow down errant cars b4 the barriers, are simply NOT doing the job they are supposed to do.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I was scared when I saw that crash, 140 mph to a dead stop. They had to dig him out. If that had been a few years ago, there's no doubt we would have lost a great driver. The fact that he was able to give a thumbs up as we has taken away was a great testament to the HANS device the driver wears. 26Gs is more than enough to snap a neck, you feel like your head is going to pull off around 5. Simply amazing. Let's all hope for a speedy recovery.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I've got an equipment question myself, what's the deal with the wheels/ covers? Is it spec for that track? I'm sure it reduces brake cooling. I'd appreciate a tech link.
        • 6 Years Ago
        They're just for smoother air flow around the wheels. The brakes are already encased, fed with a duct from the inside, so it doesn't really affect cooling much. F1 brakes need to stay pretty hot to work properly.

        i find f1technical.net is a good place to start for tech things.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I wish they'd just outlaw em cause they are ugly...If no one has them then big deal, slight efficiency lost: the cars look more neato.
      • 6 Years Ago
      I was watching the race and when Heikki speared into that tire wall, I knew there was a possibility that he was hurt bad. The way the corner workers were frantically waving their hands also was an indicator. Thank goodness he is ok for the most part. This was similar to Lewis Hamilton's accident in Germany last year where his front wheel failed also.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I can't believe he is unhurt, happy but surprised. It was a crash that looked very similar to this one which killed Senna. When I saw that accident I thought for sure I had witnessed disaster, he's a lucky man.
        • 6 Years Ago
        I held my breath when I saw the crash. Kovalainen had all the time in the world to ponder the meaning of life between the wheel/tire malfunction and hitting the wall.
        • 6 Years Ago
        Well said, Brad. I was pretty nervous until they finally showed him giving the thumb's up as he was hauled off on the stretcher.
        • 6 Years Ago
        For sure guys. I thought he'd at least have some broken bones... especially after watching them remove the car, and you could see daylight through the footwell. He's very lucky, but also it's a testament to the strength and safety of a modern F1 car. I hope he'll be fit enough to race in Turkey.
      • 6 Years Ago
      Actually, they do affect cooling. They are hinged on a pivot so that the vent always points toward the brakes, creating air flow.
      • 6 Years Ago
      For better-looking F1 cars we may have to wait for 2009 when the new rules limiting downforce come into play. Then, maybe, all the "Viking" wings and fins and stuff go away.

      SS Oberfuhrer Max Mosley either retires or gets his ass fired by then, so maybe stupid rules like 2-races-per-engine go away and then teams are actually allowed to deliver an improved car every weekend.
        • 6 Years Ago
        The "Viking" horns are bad enough but those Rabitt ears that the Honda now has are just awful.
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