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The 2008 News Review, Part Three - July to September 08 Jan 2009

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren (Left) and Jenson Button (GBR) Honda (Right) bid farewell to the retiring David Coulthard (GBR) Red Bull Racing (Centre) in the FIA Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 9, British Grand Prix, Preparations, Silverstone, England, Thursday, 3 July 2008 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Toyota TF107 Goodwood Festival Of Speed, Goodwood, England, Saturday 12 July 2008. (L to R): Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso with his new boss for 2009 Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal, Formula One World Championship, Rd 10, German Grand Prix, Preparations, Hockenheim, Germany, Thursday 17 July 2008. World © Sutton A BMW Sauber mechanic is injured when Christian Klien (AUT) BMW Sauber Test Driver comes to a halt in the pits.
Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, 22 July 2008. © Sutton Former Formula One driver Riccardo Patrese, Jerez, Spain, 9 September, 2008. © Honda

As we welcome in the New Year, we take time to reflect on the past 12 months and the year that was 2008. The period of July to September saw some major headlines breaking, both on and off the track. Sebastian Vettel’s maiden win for Toro Rosso, Lewis Hamilton’s controversial pass on Kimi Raikkonen at Spa and Formula One’s first night race were just a few of them…

Red Bull driver David Coulthard steps back in time and takes a tour of the UK headquarters of his former team McLaren. Coulthard won his exclusive visit after outbidding rivals at a charity auction and invited along Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, technical chief Adrian Newey and his manager Martin Brundle.

The Scot is back in the headlines a day later ahead of the British Grand Prix, announcing his retirement. Coulthard, who started his Formula One career back in 1994, pledges he will continue to work for Red Bull in a new testing and development role. The team, meanwhile, extend Mark Webber’s contract to the end of 2009, but do not confirm Coulthard’s replacement.

FIA President Max Mosley asks the Formula One teams to submit proposals to cut the costs of competing by 50 percent. The proposals, which must have the support of the majority of teams, will help form revised regulations for the 2011 season. Melbourne secures a new contract with Formula One Management to host the Australian Grand Prix until at least 2015.

There’s a surprise in store for British race goers with the announcement that the Grand Prix will move from Silverstone to its new home of Donington Park from 2010.
Lewis Hamilton, Christian Klien, Jenson Button, Alex Wurz, Marc Gene and Kamui Kobayashi all make appearances at the annual Goodwood Festival of Speed, while Williams and Red Bull attend the inaugural Moscow City Racing event.

Red Bull subsequently announce that Toro Rosso star Sebastian Vettel will join their line-up for the ’09 season, alongside Webber. After 30 years, the BMW M1 Procar Series makes a comeback as part of the German Grand Prix support programme. First across the line in the near 500 hp mid-engined racers is three-time world champion Niki Lauda.

As testing gets underway at Jerez, a BMW Sauber mechanic is injured after suffering an electric shock as the German-Swiss team try out their Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). The new Valencia Street Circuit hosts a number of Formula Three and GT races in preparation for the venue’s debut Formula One event in August.

McLaren reveal that Heikki Kovalainen will continue with the British squad in 2009, despite the Finn having only scored one podium to date, a third place at March’s Malaysian Grand Prix. Kovalainen subsequently celebrates his maiden Formula One victory at the Hungarian Grand Prix.

BMW Sauber boss Mario Theissen insists that the team have not abandoned their 2008 development work, despite a recent dip in form. Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Bourdais reveals he has finally adapted his driving style to his new car and warns younger team mate Sebastian Vettel he could finally challenge for more points.

Renault’s former director of aerodynamics, Dino Toso, loses his battle with illness and passes away peacefully at home. And despite his comparatively slow start to the 2008 season, reigning world champion Kimi Raikkonen learns he is to be honoured by his home country, Finland, with a special set of stamps.

Toyota, Force India and Renault all demonstrate cars as part of the Bavaria City Racing event in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, ahead of Valencia’s maiden Grand Prix. Frank Williams is awarded the Tom Wheatcroft trophy in recognition of his contribution to world motorsport.

Toyota confirm Formula One team manager Richard Cregan will leave at the end of November to take on a new role elsewhere in motorsport. His replacement will be Jens Marquardt from Toyota’s engine engineering department. There is change afoot at Toro Rosso too, with the Italian team announcing that GP2 driver Sebastien Buemi and former Super Aguri racer Takuma Sato are to test at a forthcoming session, as the team ponders their 2009 line-up.

Official tyre supplier Bridgestone reveal they are developing a single wet tyre for Formula One cars, inspired by similar rubber used in the GP2 Series. Toyota drivers Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock unveil the manufacturer’s new small road car, the iQ, ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix.

McLaren confirm they will lodge an appeal against the punishment handed to driver Lewis Hamilton at the Belgian Grand Prix. Stewards gave Hamilton a 25-second time penalty after deciding he had gained an advantage by cutting a chicane during a late battle with Kimi Raikkonen. As a result, Ferrari’s Felipe Massa was declared the winner of the Spa race, while Hamilton dropped to third.

Former F1 driver Riccardo Patrese, who raced in 256 Grands Prix between 1977 and 1993, gets behind the wheel of a modern car, testing Honda’s RA107. Ferrari’s engine technical director, Gilles Simon admits that the development of the team’s Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) is proving to be a major challenge.

Red Bull host a party at Monza to celebrate David Coulthard’s career. The event features an exhibition of 39 images taken throughout the Scot’s 14-year Formula One adventure. The paddock is united in praise for 21 year-old Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Vettel, who takes a historic pole and maiden race win at the Italian Grand Prix.

Bridgestone announce they will use special reflective paint to mark their super-soft and extreme-wet compounds at the Singapore Grand Prix, the first Formula One race to be staged after dark. With the season finale in sight, the teams begin their final tests for the 2008 season.

The FIA’s International Court of Appeal throws out McLaren’s case against Hamilton’s Belgian penalty on the grounds that their appeal was inadmissible. The ruling means Hamilton’s championship lead remains at just a single point over Massa.

Night owls Red Bull host a nocturnal beach party ahead of the Singapore race. But Ferrari are left with little to celebrate in the race itself after a disastrous pit stop sees Massa exit with the fuel hose still attached. Following Fernando Alonso’s subsequent victory for Renault, Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali sets a one-two target for the final three races of the year.

Part Four coming soon.