Daily Archives: February 19, 2010

Carabante and Kolles take over Campos

Campos Grand Prix

Campos Grand Prix

Jose Ramon Carabante (left) and Adrian Campos

Jose Ramon Carabante (left) and Adrian Campos

It has been announced that Jose Ramon Carabante, a previous shareholder in the Campos team, has taken over from Adrian Campos. Colin Kolles takes over from Campos as team principal and managing director.

There are many rumours-probably true- that Jose Maria Lopez is now set to join Bruno Senna at Campos, as the USF1 bid in F1 appears to be on the verge of collapsing. Then, if USF1 fall, Stefan GP would have the way cleared for them to become the 13th team. It seems that everything is falling into place.

Colin Kolles is the former boss of Midland and Spyker, two F1 teams that completely failed after a year. He has also run operations in Jordan and Force India.  However, any F1 experience is good in a team that needs good structure in order to survive.

Carabante said: “I would like to thank Bernie Ecclestone, who worked tremendously to support our efforts to keep the team viable. The whole rescue operation has been a race against time, with the goal having always been to run two competitive cars at the first Grand Prix of the F1 season in Bahrain.”

Kolles said: “I could not resist this tremendous challenge and am very excited to join forces in this new team. Over the next ten days we will review the entire operation, find the extra funding to ensure the team will make the first race in Bahrain, announce the line-up for 2010 in due time and make the operation viable under José Ramon Carabante’s new ownership.”

So it appears to be looking good for Campos. If Lopez (or someone else, there’s pleanty of other good pay drivers around) is announced soon, the team may well make the grid in Bahrain. Now if only they could make it to testing in time…

Kovalainen: We are lacking downforce

Heikki Kovalainen in the Lotus T127

Heikki Kovalainen in the Lotus T127

Lotus F1 driver Heikki Kovalainen has admitted that this year’s T127, Lotus’ first in 16 years, has a fundamental downforce problem. Today, in Jerez testing, he finished 3.2 seconds behind leader Mark Webber.

“I think the main issue is the downforce,” the former Renault and McLaren driver explained to reporters. “We have not been able to develop the aero package as we should have; we had five months to build the car and everything’s been a bit conservative. Before they started to design the car, they had no information about the engine, so cooling and everything is quite conservative.

“For sure, we can improve – just by looking at the car I could probably improve a few things; I’m sure we will be able to do this but it’ll just take a little time.”

“Once everybody in the UK – the design and manufacturing teams – begin working, we’ll be able to make big improvements.”

“I think it’s quite clear that we’re lacking downforce compared to the quickest cars. It’s not surprising, we expected it – but just looking at the numbers we knew where we were going to be.”

When the T127 was launched a few weeks ago, I actually noted the too simple rear wing design that the car had. It looks like this problem may haunt Lotus for some time.

19th February- Testing results: Webber leads in the dry conditions

Mark Webber topped the timesheets today in a sunny Jerez

Mark Webber topped the timesheets today in a sunny Jerez

At last, the sun breaks through in Jerez, as Mark Webber makes full use of the glorius sunshine to top the timesheets today.

In fact, there were torrential downpours last night in the area, as many personnel struggled to even get out of the track. In the morning, although the track was slightly damp, the sun was out, so it would clear very quickly. Nearly everyone was confident of good weather today. In the first half hour, there were only a few installation laps to check the conditions, but not much else. But, at 08:30, Heikki Kovalainen stopped out on track with a clutch sensor problem. The team brushed it off as a small problem, but the Finn was forced to wait on the sidelines until 12:00 to get out again. Meanwhile, by 09:00, the sun was out in full force, track temperatures had risen, and the track had completely dried out.

Many drivers were lapping either cautiously or very heavy with fuel. The fastest times were in the 1.23 and 1.24 zone. At 09:40, there were reports that Lucas di Grassi had crashed at Turn 12. It soon  turned out that he didn’t hit the barriers, but only just avoided them. This was to be the second red flag of the day, after Kovalainen. However, once the session restarted, Kobayashi instantly brought the session to a halt again, but it is unclear what happened. It seems as though he simple stopped on track. Once the session restarted, it was time for slick tyres, with Alonso, Kubica, Sutil and Webber out to take the most from it. Webber’s 5-lap run left him in the 1.24’s, while Alonso, and then Alguersuaria and Schumacher, all got into the 1.23’s. Jenson Button headed out at 10:30, had the track to himself for a while, and immidiately got a 1.22.6 as his reward.

Lucas di Grassi after crashing at Turn 12

Lucas di Grassi after crashing at Turn 12

Kamui Kobayashi after stopping on track

Kamui Kobayashi after stopping on track

Track temperature was now 22 degrees, and there was less wind than yesterday, so fastest laps were estimated to be nearly as quick as the ones last week. Lucas di Grassi did one installation lap, to inspect for any damage to his car, and pitted quickly, and many believed the car was fine. At 10:30, Fernando Alonso got a 1.21.969, after a 7-lap run. Button got back out again, and by 11:00 got a 1.21.435. Webber and Alonso soon got 1.21.7 and 1.21.8 repsectively, which meant the track had rubbered in well. After 6 laps, all of Button’s laps were in the 1.21’s, which shows he was really on the pace. Webber was 5 laps into his stint, all in the 1.22’s, when he stopped out on the straight, with a suspected mechanical problem.

At 11:30, it seemed that Nico Hulkenberg was mixing lap times with pit stop practice, but only getting into the 1.25 mark with his laps. This, however, was believed to have been a full race simulation, which means he would have been full up on fuel.  Soon though, Button broke into the 1.20 zone, as part of a 7-lap run. By 12:30, Adrian Sutil was the next to improve his times, getting a 1.22.5. Schumacher, after a 10-lap run, got a 1.21.9, with most in the 1.22 or 1.23 range. At 13:00, Alonso went back out, and was suddenly firing on all cylinders, getting straight down to 1.20.115, then 1.20.1, 1.20.6, 1.20.5, 1.20.6, and 1.20.7. This great consistency shows the Ferrari has true pace this year. Kovalainen was out at 13:00, to test two different types of tyre compound rather than fuel,but his fastest lap was only 1.26. He soon had to pit though, because of a cracked exhaust.

At 14:00, Webber got a 1.19.3, putting him 7 tenths clear of the rest of the field. He soon managed a 1.19.6 before pitting. At 14:20, Lucas di Grassi caused another stoppage, this time at the Dry Sack hairpin. When the session resumed 20 minutes later, Webber immidiately got a 1.19.299. Kovalinen got back on track at 15:00 after his exhaust problem, and got a 1.24.924 on one of his first laps out. From then until the end, it was just race simulations, so no new fast times were set. The session was ended 3 minutes early, after Hulkenberg stopped at the Dry Sack corner, but we’re not sure what the problem was this time. Despite this, he managed the most laps today, with 138, ahead of Alonso on 132, Alguersuari on 120, Webber on 115, Button on 101 and Kubica on 100. Di Grassi only got 34, while Kobayashi got 28.

All of today’s times:

Today’s times:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. M. Webber Red Bull RB6 1.19.299 115
2. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.20.115 +0.816 132
3. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.20.394 +1.095 101
4. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.21.432 +2.133 138
5. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.21.437 +2.138 79
6. R. Kubica Renault R30 1.21.916 +2.617 100
7. A. Sutil F. India VJM03 1.21.939 +2.640 69
8.

Red9.

10.

11.

K. Kobayashi

J. Alguersuari

L. di Grassi

H. Kovalainen

Sauber

T. Rosso

Virgin

Lotus

C29

STR5

VR-01

T127

1.22.228

1.22.564

1.23.504

1.23.521

+2.929

+3.265

+4.205

+4.222

28

120

34

68

Pictures from the test:

Stefan GP fires up car for first time

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

The Stefan GP team, who have yet to be placed on the entry list for this year’s world championship, have fired up their SF01 car for the first time.

The SF01 was actuallt designed by Toyota, which Stefan took over when Toyota dropped out of F1 last year.The engine start-up happened in Toyota’s old Cologne factory, which Stefan GP now uses, apart from two small exclusive areas.

Speaking to Autosport, Zoran Stefanovich says that everything is going according to plan, and the car will be ready for its initial test in Portimao later this month. However, they are still working on a tyre supply deal for this test. In a radio interview, he said:

“This morning, 19 February 2010, was another stepping stone for Stefan Grand Prix. This morning at 8:00, the first car – Stefan 01 – was fired up for the first time.”

“The car ran faultlessly, there was no problem whatsoever, and we could race or test on a racetrack, but we’re just waiting for tyres.”

At the moment, the Stefan GP team is compiled of 60 people, plus the former workers of Toyota, because of the two teams’ collaboration deal.

However, even if the test runs smoothly, Stefan GP still do not have a place on the entry list for 2010. It is believed that the team will only get a place if Campos or USF1 drops out, which seems likely. Stefanovich stated that he is expexting news from the FIA soon:

“We are expecting it to be clarified relatively shortly because all of us know what the situation is. In the meantime we are working very heavily on sorting out the drivers’ contracts.”

I mentioned last month that one of the drivers would be Kazuki Nakajima, and I was right, with Stefanovich confirming this today. Also, he revealed that the team are in negotiations with former F1 champion Jacques Villeneuve.

“At the moment we have to say that we are very near. We are very near to a contract with Jacques Villeneuve, and probably also with another driver as our reserve driver. But the first one which will be with us is Kazuki Nakajima.”

I’ll be honest, I really don’t trust this team. First of all, Bernie Ecclestone has been in talks with the Serbian Prime Minister regarding Stefan GP, and when Bernie gets involved, the results rarely go well. Then, of all the engineers Zoran could have got, he went for Mike Coughlan. I hope you remember him as the McLaren engineer who stole information from Ferrari in 2007, and then went straight to Honda (with Nigel Stepney) for a job application. He allegedly attempted to sell the technical information on to other teams as well. I’ve never trusted him since, and I won’t trust any team around him.

Even if Campos or USF1 do drop out, the FIA don’t hand out places on the grid that quickly. Hopefully we can wait until 2011 and see more about this team.

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