Monthly Archives: February 2010

A photo and video review of the testing season

So, as the Barcelona test concluded today, we have learned much about the upcoming season in 2 weeks time. For now, let’s have a look at some of the photos and videos that summarised this year’s testing season.

The Videos

Mclaren owned by Ferrari:

For the last few weeks, many of us have been worrying about the fact that most of the teams have been trying to hide their diffuser from the others. It’s been a hot topic: Will we see another diffuser battle? Mostly, cover sheets and boxes are used to stop other team mechanics stealing designs of the diffusers. But, in Barcelona, Ferrari went one step further (to the delight of the audience) to get the message through to McLaren.

For my childish side… PWNED!

Felipe Massa onboard head-cam:

Remember last year, when the Ferarri F60 was released, and we were treated to the great onboard footage of Massa’s first lap in the car? This year it’s even better, he’s driving in heavy rain conditions this time. Unfortunately the camera is pointing slightly downwards, so visibility isn’t great, but this video is still well worth a watch. Oh, and it’s also available in HD, which is nice :)

Life’s a Beach- Virgin Racing

I’ll get this out of the way, I’m not quite sure why they made this video! Still though, it’s got some nice shots of the Virgin car, as well as Lucas di Grassi’s attempts to sound badass, this time without the glasses.

The Photos

Putting on a brave face!

Putting on a brave face!

Like I’ve said before,there’s plenty of worry around the paddock of another diffuser battle this year. So, while most of the teams covered up the back of their cars and hid them away, Sauber put a smile on our face by making their diffuser more pleasant to look at! This is why I love privateers compared to manufacturers :D

The reconquest begins, apparently...

The reconquest begins, apparently...

Note the flags of Oviedo on the left and right. This picture was taken on one of the first days of testing, when Fernando Alonso made his first appearances for Ferrari. Also, the eagle-eyed F1 fans may notce the two aces of clubs and diamonds, the same that Fernando has printed on the back of his helmet, to symbolise his two championship victories in 2005 and 2006(note ’05 and ’06 written in place of numbers on the cards). Obviously, the Spaniards were out in force to greet their hero, and made their presence known. They seem to be very confident of an Alonso comeback this season, and I’m with them!

Brought back down to earth

Brought back down to earth

Like the last picture, this was taken on one of the first days of Alonso’s test with Ferrari. This time, the Spaniard was forced to stop out on track with a mechanical problem. Fernando seemed very dissapointed to let down his fans afterwards, but this is F1.

Drying out

Drying out

It seems so long ago to me, but the two Jerez tests were blighted by heavy rain.  Teams struggled across the 8 days to find time to do full-length race testing. Here, a Bridgestone technician checks the track to see are conditions improving. In fact, they were.

Spun out

Spun out

Back to the 18th February. It was another disastrous day for the Virgin team, as yesterday Timo Glock only got 10 laps in the wet conditions. This day, it got no better, with the German spinning out ar Turn 2. A mechanical problem was believed to have caused the spin, and the wet track didn’t help. After the front wing incident, it became apparent that CFD didn’t make the Virgin car bulletproof.

The news did get better for the team, but it took some time.

Subtle observation

Subtle observation

More McLaren eagle eyes this time (they never get bored of it do they?). Here, the Red Bull of Mark Webber is being brought back to the pits after a mechanical problem.  The McLaren engineers had been closer, but you can see a Red Bull engineer getting them well back. Damn straight :D

Set sail to Bahrain...

Set sail to Bahrain...

And, quick as a flash, it’s all over. Less than an hour after the chequered flag fell on the last day of testing, the teams were packing up to leave to Bahrain. Without a hint of delay, as I write this (the eve of the final day), most of the teams have already sent their trucks of equipment on their way to Bahrain. It’s kind of strange to see that the F1 world never sleeps.

Final plea from Stefan GP

Stefan GP might be struggling to get into F1, but at least they have a car

Stefan GP might be struggling to get into F1, but at least they have a car

The final statement has been released from Stefan GP headquarters, asking the FIA to allow them into the 2010 F1 championship in place of USF1.

The team has a car ready, which it plans to unveil next week. They have already sent their equipment to Bahrain, two weeks before any other team did. However, they need a current team to drop out, which will probably be USF1.

Their statement is as follows:

"SGP would like to re-confirm its desire and, importantly, its
ability to compete in the whole of the FIA 2010 Formula One World
Championship,' reads a statement on the team's website, stressing
that it is able to take part without missing Grands Prix, unlike its
American counterpart.

It recognises that this can only happen with the consent of the FIA
(governing body) and FOM (commercial rights holder), but has faith
that the Formula One 'family' will make the correct decision in the
end.

There will be no more press releases on this subject and we look
forward to being allowed to show everyone our team in Bahrain."

So it seems this is the final attempt by Zoran Stefanovich to enter F1. After all I’ve said about them, I have to admit that the FIA might as well let them in. USF1 are dead, end of story. Stefan GP will be well off the pace if they enter the Bahrain GP, but is it better than having nothing?

And more to the point, why are we even having this discussion? This would never have happened if the FIA had picked plausible teams for 2010. Manor would have gone the same way as USF1 if Virgin hadn’t bought them out. Campos would have been similarly dead if Kolles and Carabante hadn’t taken over. This new teams thing is turning ridiculous.

28th February-Testing results: Hamilton concludes testing season

Lewis Hamilton at the final Barcelona test today

Lewis Hamilton at the final Barcelona test today

The final day of testing for 2010 ended today. For the next 2 weeks, the teams will now pack up and ship their equpiment to Bahrain for the season opener. So, for the last day in Barcelona, Lewis Hamiton topped the timesheets today.

The Briton set a massive 134 laps to get a best lap time of 1.20.472. The McLaren MP4-25 today received a new set of aerodynamic updates, which shows that the pace is very good for the team. In the morning, he focused on qualifying simulation, and then moved to race simulation (complete with 2 ultra-fast pit stops) in the afternoon. He was consistently fast throughout this simulation, which is great news for him and the team.

Behind Lewis was Mark Webber, who was only 0.024 seconds behind. As opposed to other days, Sebastian Vettel drove the RB6 in the morning, then handed it over to Webber for the afternoon. Vettel dissapointed, setting only the fifth fastest time in a low-fuel run. But, it must be noted that there were faster wind speeds and dust on thr track in the morning, so there was much less grip on a track which requires perfect aero setup. Webber, on the other hand, did a mixture of short and long fuel runs, to round off the teams’ preparations for the season.

Another very close effort here, as Felipe Massa was just 0.067 off Hamilton’s best time today. Again, like the McLaren, he did short-fuel runs in the morning and race simulation in the afternoon.  His race simulation was actually split up into 4 parts, which may have hampered his efforts. However, it still doesn’t quell the belief that Ferrari appears to be the strongest team after testing. Massa was very happy with testing in general, saying:

"I'm satisfied with the whole of testing, not just Barcelona.
Valencia and Jerez too - we did what we wanted to do, but it looks
like it will be a very tough and competitive championship.

We never expected to have an advantage and to go to the first race
and win in an easy way, definitely not. We expect to have a
competitive car, and this I think we have done. The car is reliable,
but also consistent, and that is what we want to start the season.
We are not here to be the champions of the pre-season.

We are here to work on the car, to try to have a good championship
and fighting for the championship."

Behind the top 3, Adrian Sutil was fourth in the Force India. His day was similar to Hamilton and Massa, so this shows significant improvement with the VJM03.

Sebastian Vettel was fifth, followed by Michael Schumacher. However, sixth wasn’t bad, seeing as he was only 0.273 seconds off Hamilton’s fastest lap. Again, his race simulation was the same as most of the other drivers.

Rubens Barrichello had an eventful day, after finishing seventh. In the morning, he spun out into the gravel, and in the afternoon stopped out on track with an unspecified problem. His best lap was only 0.398 slower than Hamilton’s.

Eighth and ninth went to Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi respectively. Both of theses drivers focused on short-fuel runs across the day, and Buemi got a few mechanical tweaks across the day. Kobayashi was close, only 0.439 off the best time, but Buemi was 1.2 seconds behind Kobayashi.

Robert Kubica got some updates for his Renault, but was unimpressive, finishing tenth overall. The new teams completed the back again, with Heikki Kovalainen leading Lucas di Grassi this time. Kovalainen got a 1.25.251, while Di Grassi got a 1.26.160.

Lotus technical director Mike Gascoyne wasn’t too downbeat over the Lotus’ lack of pace today, saying:

"It was a game of two halves as they say; we had a good morning where
we were able to complete all our plans but a problem with the
programme change on the gearbox delayed us in the afternoon, which
meant we weren't able to do as much running as we wanted.

Overall, however, the test has been extremely productive - in
general we've had very good reliability, and the team is in very
good shape going to the first race.

Considering the length of time we've had to work on the project it's
a fantastic effort from the whole team. Everyone has worked
exceptionally hard over the two tests and we now have to work on the
pace of the car and improve that, but it's been a tremendous effort
from the whole team and I'm very proud of them."

Over the next few days, I will do statistics of all of the tests, as well as the best photos and videos from the paddock, which I should have up by tonight.

Today’s times:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. L. Hamilton McLaren MP4-25 1.20.472 134
2. M. Webber Red Bull RB6 1.20.496 +0.024 61
3. F. Massa Ferrari F10 1.20.539 +0.067 114
4. A. Sutil F. India VJM03 1.20.667 +0.195 100
5. S. Vettel Red Bull RB6 1.20.667 +0.195 76
6. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.20.745 +0.273 123
7. R. Barrichello Williams FW32 1.20.870 +0.398 84
8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

K. Kobayashi

S. Buemi

R. Kubica

H. Kovalainen

L. di Grassi

Sauber

T. Rosso

Renault

Lotus

Virgin

C29

STR5

R30

T127

VR-01

1.20.911

1.22.135

1.23.175

1.25.251

1.26.160

+0.439

+1.663

+2.703

+4.779

+5.668

67

88

107

64

49

Pictures from the final test:

27th February- Testing results: Rosberg leads the penultimate test

Nico Rosberg in Barcelona today

Nico Rosberg in Barcelona today

Nico Rosberg finished the third day of testing in Barcelona as the fastest man on track for Mercedes GP.

For the first time of this test, rain did hamper the team’s runnings for a few hours in the afternoon, so his early time of 1.20.686 was enough to keep him ahead of Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi and Jenson Button of McLaren.

Nico was very happy with his car, saying:

"I think in general there's no absolute weakness with the car at the
moment.We just need to nail the set-up a little bit better to really
extract the maximum potential from the car, which I think we're not
quite doing yet. We're close and maybe tomorrow we can make another
step in the right direction."

Even better for the German, Mercedes have promised him and Michael Schumacher a host of new aerodynamic upgrades before the season opener in Bahrain in 2 weeks time.

"We have some upgrades here, but the big package is coming for
Bahrain - and it's going to be a big package. But I'm sure everybody
else has similar big steps, and then we just have to see where we
are."

Again, like yesterday, most drivers switched from short to long runs in the afternoon, as teams focused on race fuel loads.
There were many red flags out again today for stoppages out on track. Rosberg and Barrichello both stopped because of mechanical problems, while Buemi ran out of fuel after finishing a long-fuel simulation.
Behind the top three, it was Barrichello, Massa, Petrov, Sutil, Vettel, Trulli, Kobayashi and Glock. The Red Bull of Vettel fared poorly today, getting no running in the morning, and only completing 51 laps of 9 or 10-lap runs in the afternoon.
It was a better day for Trulli and Lotus, who completed 102 laps in total. His best lap was 9th quickest out of 11, and 4.3 seconds slower than Rosberg. On the other hand, Glock and Virgin had a very poor day. They only got in 31 laps, and the only properly fast lap was set very late in the afternoon.

Button was happy with his car, but believed more was to come, saying:

"There’s definitely more to come with this car. We went from having
high fuel in the car to going out and doing lower-fuel runs and it’s
very difficult because you haven’t done any set-up work. The day was
too short for me today, really.

Given another day of testing I know what I’d do to the car to
improve it. Hopefully Lewis will be testing a few things that are
useful tomorrow. Because to be out of the box with a package that’s
this consistent and with the pace that we’ve got, I’m very happy.

I don’t think we are at our maximum yet but we will do our best
tomorrow to get the maximum out of the car. The set-up changes the
team are thinking about for tomorrow could help us quite a lot and
improve the balance. It’s a good update but we’re not getting the
best out of it yet because we haven’t done enough laps."

Times from today:

Pos  Driver              Team         Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Nico Rosberg        Mercedes     1m20.686s            128
 2.  Sebastien Buemi     Toro Rosso   1m21.413s  + 0.727s  106
 3.  Jenson Button       McLaren      1m21.450s  + 0.764s  105
 4.  Rubens Barrichello  Williams     1m21.975s  + 1.289s  101
 5.  Felipe Massa        Ferrari      1m22.344s  + 1.658s  115
 6.  Vitaly Petrov       Renault      1m22.523s  + 1.837s  68
 7.  Adrian Sutil        Force India  1m22.606s  + 1.920s  61
 8.  Sebastian Vettel    Red Bull     1m23.123s  + 2.437s  51
 9.  Jarno Trulli        Lotus        1m25.059s  + 4.373s  102
10.  Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber       1m26.216s  + 5.530s  105
11.  Timo Glock          Virgin       1m26.305s  + 5.619s  31

Pictures from today:

26th February- Testing results: Hulkenberg puts Williams on top

The second day of the final test in Barcelona concluded with Williams’ Nico Hilkenberg on top of the timesheets.

It is believed that the German was running qualifying simulation work when he knocked Fernando Alonso off the top, in the early afternoon. Earlier in the morning, he had been doing 19 and 27 lap runs, before going on a race-type simulation.

Later in the afternoon, while all of the other teams switched to race simulation, the Hulk (a Williams nickname, not mine!) did qualifying runs, which explains his 1.20.614 lap time. Nico later spoke about his day:

"P1 today is nice but means nothing, to be honest. We're not in
Bahrain yet! It's positive for the team, and for me, to know what
the  car can do, though. "We did a lot of set-up work today and
have found some interesting  things so I feel ready and confident
to go to Bahrain now."

Williams technical director Sam Michael was similar in analysing the day:

“Nico finished his last day of winter testing today with a good run
of laps. Our programme included the evaluation of a new sidepod,
starts practice and some additional work on the set-up of the FW32.
We’re making progress, but there’s still plenty to do.”

Also, Fernando Alonso did all of today’s running with a new shark fin engine cover, as well as other aerodynamic updates. Now, only Williams, Lotus and Virgin are the only teams to have not run the shark fin engine cover technique. The Spaniard eventually reached 1.20.637 with a short-fuel run near the end of the day.

Behind him, Pedro de la Rosa was third. It was another very solid day for him and the team, with short-fuel runs in the morning giving him a time of 1.20.973. He then went to race simulation in the afternoon, and his best times were in the 1.22 zone. Every day the Sauber looks better and better, and de la Rosa agrees, saying:

<pre>“Today was a very good preparation for the season’s start in Bahrain. The reliability of the car was perfect and I think the performance was also good, especially in the race simulation. It was a very good exercise and I feel we have now done everything possible to get ready for the first Grand Prix. It was also a big day for me because it has been a while since I last completed a race distance. I feel very well and also really confident now.”
</pre>

Vitantonio Liuzzi was 4th for Force India. Then the order was Vettel, Alguersuari, Schumacher, Hamilton, Kubica, Trulli and Glock. The Lotus of Trulli was still very slow today, as he reported the car as being 4 seconds off the pace of the leaders. His fastest lap was 1.25.524 after 70 laps. Timo Glock was similarly slow, with a 1.25.942 after 52 laps.

Two drivers who seemed off the pace today were Schuamcher and Hamilton. However, neither of these drivers went for low-fuel runs, and solely did race simulations, which explains their lack of fast laps. Schumacher had a raft of aerodynamic updates, and also worked on pit-stops and practice starts.

Robert Kubica also had his fair share of problems. His Renault R30 suffered suspension problems in the afternoon. Alan Permane explained this problem:

“Robert was in the car today for his first laps at Barcelona in the
R30. We spent the morning doing some set-up work, but in the
afternoon we had a problem with the suspension, which limited our
running. We’re still looking into the issue and will have the car
fixed and ready for tomorrow morning.”

Times from today:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.20.614 99
2. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.20.637 +0.023 134
3. P. de la Rosa Sauber C29 1.20.973 +0.359 114
4. V. Liuzzi F. India VJM03 1.21.056 +0.442 90
5. S. Vettel Red Bull RB6 1.21.258 +0.644 125
6. J.Alguersuari T. Rosso STR5 1.21.571 +0.957 104
7. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.21.689 +1.075 85
8.

9.

10.

11.

L. Hamilton

R. Kubica

J. Trulli

T. Glock

McLaren

Renault

Lotus

Virgin

MP4-25

R30

T127

VR-01

1.22.152

1.24.912

1.25.524

1.25.942

+1.538

+4.298

+4.910

+5.328

93

53

70

52

Pictures from today’s test:

25th February-Testing results- Webber fastest on day 1

Mark Webber gave his Barcelona test a flying start by ending the first day top of the timesheets. The Red Bull driver finished ahead of Nico Hulkenberg and Nico Rosberg.

This 4-day test in the Circuit de Catalunya will be the final test before the teams all travel to Bahrain, for the start of the season. So, the teams are now all concentrating on race set-ups and practicing pit stops.

Unlike most of the time in Jerez, conditions were almost perfect. Temperatures were good, and the very small threat of rain in the afternoon quickly faded.

Webber was on the pace all day long, and his fastest lap was an entire second quicker than the others. His time of 1.21.487 was the best of the day, followed by Hulkenberg (1.22.407) and Rosberg (1.22.514).

Pedro de la Rosa was 4th (1.23.144), ahead of Jenson Button in 5th. The McLaren team said that they were working an mechanical and aerodynamic set-up instead of race fuel loads, so his time of 1.23.452 isn’t to be taken as an indicator of performance. The Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi was 6th with a 1.24.064.

Fernando Alonso was 7th with a 1.24.170, and even Ferrari themselves called the day “difficult”. Vitaly Petrov was behind him, setting a 1.24.173. Jaime Alguersuari set the most laps (111) and his best lap was 1.24.869. Lucas di Grassi and Fairuz Fauzy filled out the back with 1.27.057 and 1.28.002 respectively.

Red flags were out all day long, with 6 in total. Most of these were because of stoppages out on track for Alonso, Fauzy, Webber, Rosberg and Button. However, Lucas di Grassi crashed backwards into the barrier at Campsa corner, the same corner where Heikki Kovalainen crashed in Spain 2008. The crash ruined his entire day, but the Virgin team say the car will be ready for tomorrow.

Times from today:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. M. Webber Red Bull RB6 1.21.487 109
2. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.22.407 +0.920 81
3. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.22.514 +1.027 107
4. P. de la Rosa Sauber C29 1.23.144 +1.657 73
5. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.23.452 +1.965 100
6. V. Liuzzi F. India VJM03 1.24.064 +2.577 64
7. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.24.170 +2.683 74
8.

9.

10.

11.

V. Petrov

J. Alguersuari

L. di Grassi

F. Fauzy

Renault

T. Rosso

Virgin

Lotus

R30

STR5

VR-01

T127

1.24.173

1.24.869

1.27.057

1.28.002

+2.686

+3.382

+5.570

+6.515

73

111

31

76

Pictures from the test:

New safety car for 2010- and it’s the fastest ever

The new Safety car, the Mercedes SLS AMG

The new Safety car, the Mercedes SLS AMG

As the Formula 1 2010 season edges closer and closer, we have been treated to the news that the new safety car will be even better.

This year it will be a Mercedes SLS AMG, which will be launched on sale on the 27th March. It is the most powerful safety car ever, producing 420KW (57 hp) and 650nm. This means that it accelerates from 0-100km in 3.8 seconds.

“Together with the entire AMG Team, I am very proud that the new SLS AMG is the official F1 safety car. I’m sure all Mercedes and AMG fans will be excited to see the gullwing model together with the new Mercedes GP Petronas Team at the F1 circuits,” says Volker Mornhinweg, Chief Executive Officer of Mercedes-AMG GmbH.

The new safety car will continue to be driven by Bernd Maylander, the 38-year old former DTM driver from Germany. He will still be assisted by 44-year old FIA worker Peter Tibbetts, who is from the UK.

The medical car will stay the same, as a C63 AMG estate.

The point of the safety car is to guide all of the F1 cars around the circuit in hazardous conditions, like debris on the track or extreme weather conditions. The fact that the safety cars are getting faster and faster is more than just showing off. Formula 1 cars need to be going quickly enough to keep their engines cool and brakes and tyres warm, so Maylander needs to be on the pace all of the time.

Insider: Hurley can save USF1

An insider from the USF1 factory, who will remain anonymous, has said that a backer of USF1, Chad Hurley, has the best chance of saving the troubled team.

At the moment, the Charlotte squad are behind on their car development, lacking the funds to pay the bills, and have only one driver signed. This all points to bankruptcy and collapse.

Many people are looking to Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson to save the company. However, the insider, who can only be identified as a senior staff member, believes that Hurley is USF1’s best chance for survival:

"We feel Hurley and Parris Mullins [adviser to Hurley] have our best
interest [at heart] and also feel Hurley has no intention of
abandoning us even though the media has said he's gone with Campos.

"With all this talk about where US F1 is at, it's been missed that
there are 60+ people who have had to suffer through this for the
last two months. All of us left jobs and many of us travelled cross-
country for this opportunity.

"But having said that, throughout the turmoil, the team has really
come together and we're all committed to the project; precious few
have left in spite of the uncertainty of whether we'll be paid this
Friday. I've never seen such dedication. The US can field a F1 team,
in fact easily so after what I've seen."

However, it’s not as simple as that. The insider went on to explain, very strongly, about what went wrong at the base. He also blames Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor for certain failures of the team:

"All engineering decisions were having to be funneled through [Ken]
Anderson before anything could be signed off. And that's where the
hold up was."

"Tooling for the tub was completed in early December, but then it
sat for nearly a month before the laminate schedules for the outer
skin were approved."

"Now Anderson himself wasn't designing the laminate schedule, but
he was in the wings... as early as last October the production
manager was collared about the lack of resources, but the managers
were put off by saying: 'Well, Ken has a plan'."

"The irony of all this is that there has been precious little in the
way of formal planning and documentation. No production schedules,
simply very little in the way of planning."

"Our January 15 pay cheque was late. It was paid by the 20th or so,
but it certainly caused commotion and people started asking questions."

"That's when all the company's issues came to a head, and the
conclusion was... yes, we had been lied to about the long-term
budget, and indeed the company had a cash flow issue. But as
mentioned, that really was a secondary issue."

"Think of it this way, ignoring the fact that we were lied to about
the budget, if you don't have a car or can't show serious progress
in that direction, potential sponsors aren't going to have a tendency
to give you money."

"At the moment there are still 60 people working in Charlotte, but
10 have already left."

Then, he went on to talk about how the staff members felt about the project:

"In a meeting between the employees, Windsor and Anderson, Windsor
put the question up to the employees: 'Who here doesn't think we'll
make Bahrain?' I think Windsor might have meant it somewhat
rhetorically, but he was answered nonetheless, and 100 per cent of
the staff raised their hands. He was visibly shocked."

Ken Anderson was challenged about this employee’s interview. Very quickly, he described it as “twisted and one-sided”. Judging by his response, I’d say Anderson has dealt with disgruntled employees like this before.

Peter Windsor can say what he likes, but if 100% of his employees think they will fail to get to Bahrain, the writing is on the wall for the team. It’s been a disaster year for them, and we’re still 3 weeks away from Bahrain.

Ferrari rant attacks new teams

On their official website, Ferrari has attacked Max Mosley, the former FIA president, and the new teams entering Formula 1 this year.

Their statement is as follows:

Only less than three weeks to go until the ultimate form of motor
sport, the Formula 1 World Championship, gets underway, while
celebrating its sixtieth birthday this year. For many of the teams,
this coming week is a crucial one, as the bell rings to signal the
final lap, with the last test session getting underway in Barcelona.
It is one last chance to run the cars on track, to push reliability
to the limit and to try and find some performance. That’s the
situation for many teams but not for all of them. Of the thirteen
teams who signed up, or were induced to sign up, for this year’s
Championship, to date only eleven of them have heeded the call,
turning up on track, some later than others, and while some have
managed just a few hundred kilometres, others have done more, but
at a much reduced pace. As for the twelfth team, Campos Meta, its
shareholder and management structure has been transformed, according
to rumours which have reached the Horse Whisperer through the
paddock telegraph, with a sudden cash injection from a munificent
white knight, well used to this sort of last minute rescue deal.
However, the beneficiaries of this generosity might find the knight
in question expects them to fulfil the role of loyal vassal. All
this means, it is hard to imagine the Dallara designed car showing
its face at the Catalunya Circuit, with Sakhir a more likely venue
to witness the return of the Senna name to a Formula 1 session.

The thirteenth team, USF1, appears to have gone into hiding in
Charlotte, North Carolina, to the dismay of those like the
Argentinian, Lopez, who thought he had found his way into the
Formula 1 paddock, (albeit with help from chairwoman Kirchner,
according to the rumours) and now has to start all over again.
Amazingly, they still have the impudence to claim that everything
is hunky-dory under the starry stripy sky.

Next, we have the Serbian vultures. Firstly, they launched themselves
into a quixotic legal battle with the FIA, then they picked the
bones of Toyota on its death bed. Having got some people on board,
around whom there was still a whiff of past scandals, they are now
hovering around waiting to replace whoever is first to drop out of
the game, possibly with backing from that very same knight in shining
armour whom we mentioned earlier.

This is the legacy of the holy war waged by the former FIA president.
The cause in question was to allow smaller teams to get into Formula
1. This is the outcome: two teams will limp into the start of the
championship, a third is being pushed into the ring by an invisible
hand – you can be sure it is not the hand of Adam Smith – and, as
for the fourth, well, you would do better to call on Missing Persons
to locate it. In the meantime, we have lost two constructors along
the way, in the shape of BMW and Toyota, while at Renault, there’s
not much left other than the name. Was it all worth it?

Another Ferrari rant, and it gets more vicious every single time. Ferrari are in no position to criticise every single team, person and organisation that isn’t an exact replica of them. When Max Mosley left the FIA, we all expected relations between the teams and the FIA to get better. But, the team that makes themselves appear like the “good guys” now come out lashing at Mosley. While the other teams are looking forward to the future, Ferrari just seem to be wallowing in the past, just to take cheap shots at their enemies.

Then, they take their anger out at Campos, calling their cash injection supplier a “munificent white knight”. It’s called a buyout. After this, they take a little shot at Jose Maria Lopez, initaially referring to him just as “the Argentinian”. Ferrari can’t slag off other drivers, only 6 months after they start throwing around their own just to get a few points which they didn’t get anyway.

And, as for calling Stefan GP “vultures”, they aren’t in a position to talk. We are talking about a team which sat behind the FIA for years, poking them into making moves to benefit themselves, and they now seem to think that Stefan GP waiting for a team to drop out (when everyone knows at least one will) is worse. Having said that, they are right about the employees hired “with a whiff of past scandals”. We are of course referring to Mike Coughlan, the McLaren engineer who stole Ferrari data from Rob Smedley, and (supposedly, never proved) tried to sell it on to Renault. The thing is though, why would Ferrari drop criminal proceedings against him, and then whinge years afterwards? But Coughlan did pay Ferrari €180,000 in settlements to drop the case, so it’s all right. Pathetic.

Virgin replace Parente with Soucek

Andy Soucek

Andy Soucek

Virgin Racing have announced that Formula 2 champion Andy Soucek has been signed as their reserve and test driver for the season.

Initially, this role was handed to Alvaro Parente, who is currently racing in the GP2 Series. He was the former 2007 World Series by Renault and 2005 British F3 champion. However, his sponsors, the Portugese tourism institute, pulled out, leaving him with no sponsorship.

This means that Soucek will join Luiz Razia in the reserve squad in Virgin Racing. Soucek said today:

“I am thrilled to be joining Virgin Racing. This role offers me a great opportunity to prepare myself for the Formula 1 environment, which is naturally where my longer-term ambitions lie.”

“I look forward to learning from Timo and Lucas as well as soaking up as much information as possible from engineering meetings and time on the simulator. I would like to thank John Booth (Team Principal) and Nick Wirth (Technical Director) in particular for the faith they have shown in me at this stage in my career.”

Team Principal John Booth added:

“We are delighted to welcome Andy Soucek to Virgin Racing. He had a very good season in Formula 2 last year and a positive F1 test with Williams. He is certainly someone we have been keeping a close eye on, as we believe he has a great deal of potential. We expect him to be a real asset to our development programme with the VR-01 and at the same time he provides the experience we need, should he be required to deputise for one of the race drivers at short notice.”

It has always been my belief that after winning the F2 title last year, Soucek would find a way into F1. The problem is, how is he going to get any track time? Testing concludes after the next 4-day session in Barcelona, so he won’t get any running all year. Hopefully we can watch him develop in this year’s F2 championship.

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