FIA Confirm Qualy Change, Heikki Fit To Race
The FIA has confirmed that five cars will be excluded from the first
two sessions of qualifying in the wake of Super Aguri’s withdrawal from
The sporting regulations for 2008 were originally written based
around an entry of 24 cars, where seven cars were to be excluded from
Q1 and Q2 to leave 10 cars in the final session.
Although there was a proviso written should the entry drop to 22
cars, with six cars being dropped from each session, there was nothing
official for a scenario where there were only 20 cars.
But following discussions by the race stewards at the Turkish Grand
Prix, it was decided that five cars will be excluded from the first two
A statement issued by the FIA on Thursday evening said: "The
Stewards, having received a report from the Technical Delegate note
that 20 cars will participate in the 2008 Turkish Grand Prix.
"Therefore under article 33.1 of the 2008 Sporting Regulations, the
Stewards have decided that only five cars will be excluded after Q1 and
Q2 of the Qualifying Practice."
Although less cars are to be excluded in the first session, the
absence of Super Aguri will actually make it harder for those teams who
have to work hard to make it through to Q2.
The pace of Super Aguri so far this season effectively meant the
rest of the grid were fighting over four slots in Q1, whereas now there
will be an extra risk of not making it through to second qualifying.
A McLaren spokeswoman confirmed that the Finn, who escaped uninjured
from a 145mph crash at the Spanish Grand Prix, will race alongside
"Following a medical examination this morning by the FIA Medical
Delegate, Professor Jean-Charles Piette, and the Chief Medical Officer
of the event, Dr. Cem Boneval, Heikki Kovalainen was cleared to race in
the 2008 Turkish Grand Prix," said the FIA in a statement.
Kovalainen was taken to hospital with suspected concussion following
his crash at the Spanish Grand Prix, and he remained under observation
for one night before spending time recuperating in Barcelona.
He returned home to Finland where he resumed full fitness training
late last week, stating he would have no qualms about getting back into
the cockpit after the accident.
"None whatsoever, I want to get back racing as soon as possible,
since the accident at Barcelona it has been my only focus," he said.
"Everyone involved in the sport, the FIA in particular, is always
working on improving safety for the drivers, but Formula One is a risky
business. You know that as a driver, but you don’t think about it.
"If you worry about things like that, you lose focus; I guess it is just not in my psyche."
"It was a serious accident and I managed to walk away. I was a bit
lucky, but the safety standards the FIA has been pushing worked very
well," Kovalainen told a news conference.
"The chassis, the impact, all the barriers took the impact well, the
FIA medical team plus the marshals and the team took the job very well
and did a fantastic job to get me out of there quickly in a short
period of time.
"I was able to make a recovery without any injuries. I think it is
something that we must still keep working on, but the work paid off
He added: "All the parts of the accident, the car, the barrier and
then the lift up from the car to the medical centre, and then further
to the medical centre in the city that all worked very well. It is not
only luck that I was safe after the crash, it is the work that paid off
and I cannot be more than thankful for that.
"To say we should carry on, improving as much as we can, if there
are any areas we think we can improve then I think we should go for it."
Despite his delight at how all the systems worked, Kovalainen says there is still more work to do to improve safety even more.
"I think we probably should look more individually at the most
dangerous corners," he said. "We can see ourselves what are the places
and probably do decisions accordingly. It is not just a question of
adding a wall here or there.
"For myself to turn around in Barcelona, it worked well this time. We have to see if we can do anything better."
The qualifying system was speculated to need immediate change now that Super Aguri leave F1. I suppose it’s not a great deal of change for us viewers but it does mean it’s much more difficult for the other teams to get into the next sessions – let’s see if that’s going to show some super lap times from the back runners!
And of course, we are all delighted for Heikki that he is as good as gold and really positive to get back racing at Istanbul. It’s going to be a tough season for him as he needs to keep in touch with Lewis Hamilton in the championship. Kimi on the other hand is looking very strong but Felipe Massa might give him a bit of a battle at Turkey, being the winner of the last two races there. Looking forward to another weekend’s racing – or shall I say we’re looking forward to get back to racing after that awfully lacklustre Spanish Grand Prix?