Friday, May 6, 2011

Classic F1 2011 - Sebastien Buemi

Sebastien Buemi, who has enjoyed a promising start to the new season with the Toro Rosso team, takes his turn in the hot seat in our new-look classic Formula 1 series.

For those unfamiliar with the format, BBC Sport has asked all the F1 drivers for their five favourite grands prix. Those choices will then be serialised before every race this season in order to whet your appetites for the action ahead. Highlights will be shown on this website and the red button on BBC television in the UK.

The first two drivers to reveal their top-five picks were world champion Sebastian Vettel and countryman Michael Schumacher.

Buemi - a 22-year-old Swiss - is next. He may not be as famous as Vettel or Schumacher but he has come up with some interesting choices.

Unlike Vettel and Schumacher before him, Buemi has, for the most part, picked races that he does not feature in - perhaps because he is in only his third season in F1.

Nor has he chosen the incident for which he is perhaps most famous for - the crash during practice for last year's Chinese GP when both wheels came off his car simultaneously.

What he has done is pick four iconic races from F1's recent history, plus an event that resonates particularly with him:

1) The 1989 Japanese Grand Prix, the first of two infamous collisions in title-deciding races at Suzuka between arch-rivals Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost.

This one was at the chicane - Prost turned in on McLaren team-mate Senna when the Brazilian tried to overtake him and the two collided. The Frenchman was out of the race, but Senna rejoined and went on to win, before being controversially disqualified, handing the title to Prost.

2) The 1990 Japanese Grand Prix, the second of two infamous collisions between Prost and Senna at Suzuka. This time, the two men only reached the first corner.

Senna, after being beaten away from pole position by Prost's Ferrari, was determined the Frenchman would not make the corner and barged into the back of his car at 160mph. The incident took both drivers out of the race and left Senna as champion.

3) The 1998 Belgian Grand Prix, a dramatic race from start-to finish, including what Buemi describes as "the biggest pile-up ever" on lap one.

The race is actually infamous for two incidents - the 13-car pile-up at the start that Buemi is referring to and Michael Schumacher's retirement after he had run his Ferrari into the back of David Coulthard's McLaren in appalling visibility.

The Scot was trying to let Schumacher lap him but the German, who could not see very well in the spray, did not realise his rival had slowed down and made contact. Given he was in a title fight with Coulthard's team-mate Mika Hakkinen, Schumacher sensed a conspiracy and charged down the pit lane to remonstrate with Coulthard. The two men had to be physically separated.

The incident left Damon Hill in the lead ahead of Jordan team-mate Ralf Schumacher. After team boss Eddie Jordan instructed Schumacher not to try to race Hill, the two finished one-two for Jordan's first F1 win.

4) The 2008 Brazilian Grand Prix - famous for the nail-biting climax to the world championship, which hung in the balance until the final corner of the final lap.

With Ferrari's Felipe Massa driving to a dominant victory, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton needed to finish fifth to win the title. But the race did not go well for the Briton, who started the last lap in sixth, having lost fifth place to Toro Rosso's Sebastian Vettel.

In the Ferrari pit, team personnel - including Massa's father - celebrated as their man crossed the line. But then came a dramatic late twist. With rain falling increasingly hard, Hamilton, who was on wet tyres, closed inexorably on the Toyota of Timo Glock, who was struggling on untreaded dry tyres. Hamilton eventually passed the German as they accelerated out of Juncao corner on to the start-finish straight for the final time, prompting delirium at McLaren and despair at Ferrari.

5) The 2009 Chinese Grand Prix, which Buemi has picked for two reasons. Firstly, it was Red Bull's first win, with Vettel leading home team-mate Mark Webber.

Secondly, Buemi, who had made his debut in Australia just two races previously, scored points for the second time in his short career. He had finished seventh on his debut in a race marked by very high attrition. In China, he drove superbly to finish eighth on merit, ahead of Fernando Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen, Robert Kubica and Giancarlo Fisichella.

We have chosen one race to highlight by embedding it in this blog - and we have opted for the 2009 Chinese race. Long highlights are below, with links to shorter highlights underneath. There are also links to long and short highlights of Jenson Button's brilliant victory in last year's Chinese Grand Prix. This year's Chinese race is Sunday, of course.

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We are also making available the full BBC 'Grand Prix' highlights programme from one of Buemi's other choices - the 1989 Japanese GP. The programme is being broadcast for the first time since the evening of the race 22 years ago - and you can watch it here.

The classic races will be shown on the red button on BBC digital television in the UK from 1400 BST on Wednesday, 13 April until 0830 BST on Saturday, 16 April.

On Freeview, they will be available from 0415-0545 BST and 1915-2315 BST on Thursday, 14 April and 0040-0255 BST and 0435-0655 BST on Friday, 15 April.


Johnny Dumfries Geoff Duke Len Duncan Piero Dusio George Eaton Bernie Ecclestone Don Edmunds

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