Monthly Archives: April 2010

Grosjean targeting 2011 F1 return

Romain Grosjean is looking at a return to F1 next year

Romain Grosjean is looking at a return to F1 next year

Former Renault F1 driver Romain Grosjean has said that he is aiming for a return to Formula 1 in 2011, despite a poor start to his career last year.

Grosjean was dropped by Renault for this year, after failing to impress after driving for 7 races last year. He replaced Nelson Piquet Jr from Valencia onwards, but only recorded a best finish of 13th at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Even though he started decently, by qualifying 14th in his first race, he never really improved from there. He is best remembered for being involved in Jenson Button’s and Lewis Hamilton’s crash in Belgium, and for crashing in the exact same spot in Singapore that Piquet did last year.

Because of this, he was dropped for this year, and he is now racing in the inugural FIA GT1 World Championship, for the Matech team. However, he plans to return to F1 next year:

"I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. With all the problems 
around the team, it wasn't easy; they wanted to make a clean sweep 
of the past.

I'm not losing hope. When I see (former team-mate) Fernando 
Alonso's results with Ferrari this year, I think I deserve a place 
on the grid; my pace was far from being ridiculous - I was never 
more than two or three tenths off him in qualifying."

He is trying, as he is keeping in contact with Renault and contacts in other teams. But, I’m not sure would any team give him a chance again. I would, because someone who has won 4 races across 2 GP2 seasons is worth having a look at. Maybe if a small team gave him a chance to drive the car for a day alongside other new drivers, it would give him a better chance.

The problem is, there are many other former F1 drivers that teams would take other than Grosjean. Takuma Sato, for example, has been looking for a return to F1 in the last few months, as has Anthony Davidson. Jacques Villeneuve and Giancarlo Fisichella would also be drivers who would be given the opportunity before Grosjean. It’s unfair towards Romain, but I feel that’s whats going to happen.

I’m not saying that all of these drivers will return to F1, just noting that they too have been looking at a return, and they would probably be favoured compared to Grosjean.

McLaren’s Friday Practice pace is genuine

Normally, it would be impossible for us to find out what fuel weights drivers are running during Friday Practice. However, a well-placed photograph has shown us that both McLaren drivers were running 140kgs of fuel in Friday Practice in China.

140kg is around the amount of fuel used for an entire race distance. We can therefore conclude that McLaren were running race simulations in practice. Not only this, but the fact that Hamilton and Button led both Friday Practice sessions shows the MP4-25 has serious pace this year.

If you have a look at the photo above, there are two sentences at the top. Each one refers to telemetry when running used or new prime tyres. However, to the right of these, you can notice 140kg as the amount of fuel in both runs, although you’ll need good eyesight to see it.

From this, Red Bull should be worried. If McLaren can win practice sessions with a race fuel load on board, then they should be the biggest contender to them this year.

Chinese Grand Prix analysis

After the statistics and photo slideshow, here is my analysis of the Chinese GP.

Straight line speeds

Driver Speed (kph)
1 Lewis Hamilton 318
2 Rubens Barrichello 313.2
3 Sebastian Vettel 310.9
4 Felipe Massa 310.3
5 Jaime Alguersuari 308.9
6 Fernando Alonso 307
7 Mark Webber 306.9
8 Karun Chandhok 306.6
9 Bruno Senna 306.2
10 Michael Schumacher 305.5
11 Adrian Sutil 305.4
12 Nico Hulkenberg 304.3
13 Vitaly Petrov 303.4
14 Jenson Button 303.3
15 Robert Kubica 300.9
16 Nico Rosberg 299.5
17 Heikki Kovalainen 298.5
18 Jarno Trulli 294.1
19 Lucas di Grassi 293.6
20 Pedro de la Rosa 287

The first obvious thing to note is that Lewis Hamilton is leading this list, while Jenson Button is a whole 15km/h behind. Clearly, Jenson had more of a grip-based setup than Lewis, which would explain his lack of speed. This would also explain why his last set of tyres desintigrated in the final few laps, when he usually has perfect tyre managment as his top skill.

It was interesting enough to see the Force India of Adrian Sutil be beaten by both of the HRT cars. Also, drivers like Barrichello, Vettel, Massa and Alguersuri were the fastest apart from Hamilton. These were some of the drivers who opted to use a dry weather setup for the race. This backfired for them all, mostly Alguersuari, who we saw sliding back down the field later in the race, and miss out on possible points.

The fact that Pedro de la Rosa was miles slower than anyone else can probably be attributed to the engine failure that took him out of the race soon after the start.

Button vs Hamilton

Button vs Hamilton in Shanghai

Button vs Hamilton in Shanghai

Yes, I know I do this chart far too much, but it really is too interesting to miss. Note that the two massive increases in lap times were caused by the safety car and their second pit stops respectively.

Again, this chart shows why Lewis Hamilton has the advantage of more raw speed than Button. The question is, why is Jenson beating Lewis? This is mainly because of Button’s superior strategy decicions and tyre managment. While Hamilton opted for intermidiate tyres on Lap 2, Button stayed out, and Lewis was forced to pit again on Lap 5 for dries.

Because of this, Lewis had a 40 second deficit to Button within a few laps. However, the second safety car completely ruined Button’s advantage, and gave Lewis a chance to fight back. While he did, he was unable to catch up to and overtake Button in time. So, from this, we can learn that while Lewis was faster for most of the race, he failed to be faster when it mattered most – at the end. This goes back to Button’s excellent tyre managment.

For most of Laps 45-50, Lewis was unable to catch up, as he was stuck behind Rosberg, and then his tyres desintigrated. While Button’s were completely gone as well, he was able to maintain a lead, despite a mistake on Lap 51, and win the race.

Since then, Hamilton has conceded that he may have to take “the easier route” as he calls it, and make the right decicions at the right time, rather than hard racing.

Fastest lap per driver

Driver Team Time Set on Lap #
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1.42.061 13
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1.42.358 14
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1.42.609 14
4 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1.42.886 14
5 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1.43.245 14
6 Robert Kubica Renault 1.43.630 14
7 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.43.755 14
8 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1.43.801 14
9 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1.44.134 14
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1.44.298 14
11 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1.44.364 14
12 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1.44.549 13
13 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1.44.594 14
14 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1.45.559 17
15 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1.47.141 14
16 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1.47.739 6
17 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1.48.216 16
18 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1.48.788 15
19 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1.49.675 14
20 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1.53.185 7

Again, this shows how Lewis has more raw pace than Jenson. Otherwise, we can see how the Red Bulls did have good pace this weekend, but their disastrous first pit stop for intermidiate tyres, when one of the wheel guns failed on Mark Webber, ruined their races.

Also, this chart proves how Pedro de la Rosa was in serious trouble from the start, as his best lap, set on Lap 7 when the track had dried out, was 11 seconds slower than Hamilton’s.

Air travel disruption puts teams in doubt

The volcanic ash that has brought European air travel to a complete halt this week is now putting doubt into the minds of the Formula 1 paddock, as they prepare to fly to their bases across Europe before the Spanish Grand Prix.

At the moment, most airports are closed across Europe, because the volcanic ash poses a danger to jet engines. At the moment, there is not a chance of the teams getting their cars and equipment to their team factories within the next day or so. The engines are the most important component to be flown back, as they need to be worked on before the next race.

With this in mind, the Formula 1 entourage is currently worried about getting back and prepared in time for the Spanish Grand Prix, which begins on Friday 7th May. However, Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone is not worried, as he explains:

"The main concern is getting the engines back because they have
to be worked on.

I am sure everything will be all right. There is no question
of cancelling the Spanish Grand Prix. Of course it is causing
everybody problems but we will find a way to get everyone home."

While I’m not too worried either, there is a cause for concern at the same time. Presuming the teams will get their engines back to base within a week or so, it will then take a few days to work on the car at the factory. Then, the cars will have to be sent off to the Circuit de Catalunya a few days before Friday Practice. It should be done in time, as long as the airways are opened within the next week or so.

Update: One of the European airlines ran a successful test flight to Shanghai, so this is good news for the teams. There should be little worry after this.

Chinese Grand Prix in pictures

As I have already done the stats and facts, here are some photos of the Chinese GP. Analysis of the race should be up by tonight or possibly tomorrow, and a personal review in 2 days time.

I’m trying out a new feature, a slideshow of photos rather than uploading separate ones. It was incredibly hard to get working, but I blame WordPress. Anyways, leave a comment if you like it, thanks :)

Chinese Grand Prix facts and stats

McLaren recorded their first 1-2 finish since Italy 2007

McLaren recorded their first 1-2 finish since Italy 2007

The Chinese Grand Prix saw the seventh different winner of the Chinese GP in a row. Here are some of the other stats and facts from the weekend:

  • McLaren’s 1-2 finish was their first since the Italian Grand Prix in 2007. This was McLaren’s 45th 1-2 finish in their history. It was also the first British 1-2 finish since the 1999 Austrian GP, with Eddie Irvine leading David Coulthard.
  • Vitaly Petrov scored his first ever points in F1, and Russia’s first ever as well. It is now the 33rd country to produce a points-scoring driver.
  • The Chinese Grand Prix has not yet been won twice by the same driver. So far, it has been won by Rubens Barrichello, Fernando Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, and Jenson Button.
  • There has only been one race so far this year where a constructor has not recorded a 1-2 finish, in Australia.
  • Sebastian Vettel recorded his 8th pole position of his career. This puts him in 31st place overall, alongside Ricardo Patrese and John Surtees.
  • Jenson Button has now won 9 races in his Formula 1 career. This puts him in 31st position overall, ahead of Denny Hulme and behind James Hunt and Gerhard Berger.
  • Lewis Hamilton set only his fourth fastest lap of his career. He lies 51st overall, tied with Patrick Depallier, Jean Alesi, Jean-Pierre Beltoise and Jo Siffert. It was the 137th fastest lap for a McLaren driver.
  • So far this year, no driver has won a race from pole position. The last person to do so was Sebastian Vettel in Suzuka 2009.
  • Mercedes power locked out the entire podium, the first time that this has happened since 1955 at Aintree, when Stirling Moss lead Juan Manuel Fangio and Karl Kling to the chequered flag at the British Grand Prix.
  • Both Virgin and Sauber only have one classified finish each. Neither Kamui Kobayashi or Timo Glock have finished a race yet.

If you have any more to contribute, let me know.

Button leads McLaren 1-2 in rainy China

Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on the Chinese GP podium

Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg on the Chinese GP podium

Jenson Button led a McLaren 1-2 finish in Shanghai today, his second win of the season so far. Lewis Hamilton was second, followed by Nico Rosberg.

Even before the start, there were surprises. Before the formation lap, the Virgin crew didn’t decide in time whether to put dry or intermidiate tyres on, and he was pushed to the pit lane, but he didn’t start the race. His team-mate, Lucas di Grassi, started from the pit lane, but only lasted one lap. So, it was a completely disastrous race for the Virgin team.

Fernando Alonso jumps the start at the first corner

Fernando Alonso jumps the start at the first corner

The start was chaotic, as rain began to fall on the first lap. Fernando Alonso jumped into first place by the first corner, but replays showed that he jump-started, and he was given a drive-through penalty later on. At Turn 3, Adrian Sutil lost control, and slammed into Sebastien Buemi and Kamui Kobayashi. Rubens Barrichello nearly lost control as he tried to avoid the incident, ran wide, and lost many positions. This brought out the safety car, but the action wasn’t over yet.

Vitantonio Liuzzi crashes into Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi at the start

Vitantonio Liuzzi crashes into Kamui Kobayashi and Sebastien Buemi at the start

By the end of the first lap, the decicion had been made by the Red Bulls, Ferraris, Hanilton and Schumacher to switch to intermidiate tyres. At the Red Bull pit stops, faulty air guns ruined both Vettel’s and Webber’s stops, and left them with lots of work to do. This left Nico Rosberg leading the race, ahead of Jenson Button, Robert Kubica and Pedro de la Rosa, until his Ferrari broke yet again. All of these drivers had made the choice to stay on slick tyres in the difficult conditions, a move which paid off quickly.

Lewis Hamilton waited until Lap 3 to change to wets, which put him at a disadvantage. But, by Lap 6, the track was drring out, and the intermidiates were ripping themselves apart. On Lap 5, still under the safety car, Michael Schumacher made the call to switch back to dry tyres. This move was copied by Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton the lap after. However, an incident in the pit lane raised many eyebrows. Hamilton appeared to be released into the path of Vettel, which resulted in both of them travelling side by side down the pit lane. Vettel then appeared to push Lewis to the side, an extremely dangerous move. After the race, the stewards gave both drivers a reprimand and a warning.

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel battle in the pit lane

Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel battle in the pit lane

The safety car peeled away on Lap 6, and the racing commenced. It became quickly obvious that dry tyres were the way to go, so the final drivers on intermidiates had to change. On Lap 12, Hamilton got his revenge on Vettel by passing both Red Bulls in on move. The two of them began to fight their way back up the order, but the weather soon stopped them. The rain began to pour down again on Lap 19, triggering  a mad dash for intermidiate tyres again. This prompted a spin by Nico Rosberg, which handed the lead to Jenson Button, just before the duo pitted.

By Lap 21, everyone had switched to intermidiate tyres, and it seemed as if the race might calm down a bit. It didn’t. Jaime Alguersuari had gone off, damaged his front wing, swhich threw debris all over the track and the pit lane. The safety car was called out for the second time. This was a huge worry for Jenson Button and the frontrunners who hadn’t pitted at the start, who saw their massive advantage reduced to nothing, while Hamilton’s 40 second deficit was cut to nothing.

By Lap 25, the safety car was on it’s final lap before pitting, and more drama ensued. Jenson Button bunched up the pack far too much at the final two corners, meaning drivers had to swerve off the track (not at high speeds, mind you) to avoid other drivers. Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel all came very close at the final corner, and Webber came out unluckiest, being forced to run wide, and lose several positions in the process.

Within a few laps, the order was as follows: Button was leading, followed by Rosberg a second behind, while Kubica was being chased by Hamilton for third. The Renault drivers were both doing very well, with Kubica in third and Petrov getting as high as 7th in the race. Hamilton got past Kubica on Lap 29, and was soon pressurising Rosberg for second.

On Lap 34, he attempted a move on Rosberg that he had done on Schumacher earlier. But, the German fought back well, and kept his position. This meant that Button was able to extend his lead from these two to about 6 seconds. Hamilton pitted for a fresh set of intermidiates on Lap 37, which was also done by Button, Rosberg and Alonso a lap later. Nico’s one lap later stop meant Lewis was able to pass him, and set his sights on Jenson. To begin with, Button extended his lead to 9.9 seconds, but a major mistake at the hairpin on Lap 51 reduced this lead to 1.5 seconds with 5 laps to go.

Despite this, he hung on until the end to take his second victory of the season in only 4 races. Hamilton stuck to the back of his gearbox until the end, but was unable to make a move. Nico Rosberg had another very good race to get a second third place finish this year. Behind the top three, Fernando Alonso recovered very well to take fourth place, ahead of Kubica and Vettel. In seventh, Vitaly Petrov drove a great race to take his (and Russia’s) first ever points in Formula 1. While Michael Schumacher’s good tyre choice had got him ahead of Petrov, Vitaly soon reeled him in at the end to take seventh back off him. Mark Webber never really recovered from his disastrous pit stop, and finished 8th. Felipe Massa passed Schumacher as well near the end, so the two of them finished 9th and 10th respectively.

Button celebrates his second win of 2010 in China

Button celebrates his second win of 2010 in China

From 11th to 17th positions, it was: Adrian Sutil, Rubens Barrichello, Jaime Alguersuari, Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Hulkenberg, Bruno Senna and Karun Chandhok. Kovalainen’s finish was interesting, as he was the first ever of the new teams to finish ahead of an established team, in this case Nico Hulkenberg of Williams. However, it may have helped that Nico had 6 stops and Heikki had 2!

Overall, it was a fantastic race, with the weather again shaking things up. However, I had my own troubles watching the race, as I slept too late to watch the live race, and then was forced to wait for hours for a replay! But it was well worth it, with all the action, as shown by the size of this blog post.

In the driver standings, Button now leads the championhip with 60 points, 10 ahead of Nico Rosberg, who is 1 ahead of Alonso and Hamilton. You can view the updated standings here.

Hers is the full result:

Driver Team Gap # of laps
1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 56
2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1.53 56
3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 9.484 56
4 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 11.869 56
5 Robert Kubica Renault 22.213 56
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 33.31 56
7 Vitaly Petrov Renault 47.6 56
8 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 52.172 56
9 Felipe Massa Ferrari 57.796 56
10 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 61.749 56
11 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 62.874 56
12 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 63.665 56
13 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 71.416 56
14 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1 Lap 55
15 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1 Lap 55
16 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 2 Laps 54
17 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 4 Laps 52
Not Classified
18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 30 Laps 26
19 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 48 Laps 8
20 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 49 Laps 7
21 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 56 Laps 0
22 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 56 Laps 0
23 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 56 Laps 0
24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 56 Laps 0

Cooper Avon in negotiations for tyre supply in 2011

It has emerged that Cooper Avon is in negotiation with FOTA about supplying tyres for next season, despite the fact that a provisional deal appears to already have been agreed with Michelin in principle.

For a tyre supplier to be allowed into F1, they need the unanimous support of the teams (FOTA), Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA. Michelin are currently looking for a chance to supply tyres in F1 again, but with certain conditions. They want at least one other manufacturer to battle with, and it is believed that they want 18-inch wheels on the cars instead of 13-inch wheels at the moment.

It has been reported that Bernie Ecclestone is not in favour of a deal with Michelin, possibly because of the conditions attached, and that he wants a different manufacturer instead. It is possibele that Cooper Avon would be able to use former Bridgestone employees to service the tyres, and ensure they are up to F1 standard.

It is currently unknown what FOTA’s stance on the situation is, as they are currently in negotiation with Cooper Avon, and they have provisionally agreed a deal with Michelin, so they may want both manufacturers in the sport next year.

A meeting with Bernie Ecclestone has been orgainised with FOTA representatives at the Chinese Grand Prix on Sunday, as he has not yet told the teams what he wants to do for 2011. FOTA appear to want to know what tyres they will be using next year by the Spanish Grand Prix.

I’m not yet sure who I would prefer to see supply tyres next year. As we have already seen, tyres are critical this year, and that would tip toward Michelin, as they have plenty of recent Formula 1 experience, up to 2006. While Cooper Avon can get former Bridgestone employees to work with them, I still think Michelin would be easier.

But, the French company has brought their own conditions, something which has not impressed Bernie Ecclestone. At first, wanting another manufacturer looked like it could be possible, but asking for 18-inch wheels as well is asking for quite a bit. Having said that, I still think they will get a supply contract next year, possibly with Cooper Avon competing against them.

Vettel takes pole for second time in China

Sebastian Vettel took pole position for tomorrow’s race for the Chinese Grand Prix, by pulling out a stunning lap out of the bag at the end of Q3. He will be joined on the front row by Mark Webber, meaning it will be the second front-row lockout by Red Bull so far this year in 4 races.

Here is the breakdown of what happened:

Q1

As expected, the new teams were the first to be knocked out in qualifying. Both Karun Chandhok and Heikki Kovalainen has spins while out on flying laps. However, Timo Glock was the fastest of the new teams, followed by Jarno Trulli.

Vitaly Petrov took until the final few minutes to set his lap time, as his mechanics were fixing his car after his crash in Saturday morning practice. By his first lap time, he was 1.4 seconds behind the fastest lap set by Lewis Hamilton.

Vitantonio Liuzzi was the unlucky driver who was knocked out alongside the new teams, and he will start 18th on the grid. Because Karun Chandhok qualified last, his 5-place grid penalty for having his gearbox opened will not be applied.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Vitantonio Liuzzi

19) Timo Glock

20) Jarno Trulli

21) Heikko Kovalainen

22) Lucas di Grassi

23) Bruno Senna

24) Karun Chandhok

Q2

Vitaly Petrov was the first to go out on track in this session. Despite this, he was unable to match his team-mate, and he ended up in 14th place.

Michael Schumacher was complaining of a lack of rear grid throughout the session. He struggled and therefore only got 10th place in Q2, by 3 hundreths of a second. The Williams of Nico Hulkenberg suffered the same problem, as he was forced to short-shift in order to keep rear traction. He therefore only qualified 16th.

The Saubers struggled again, with Kamui Kobayashi and Pedro de la Rosa getting 15th and 17th respectively.

Alguersuari and Buemi for Toro Rosso both got 12th and 13th respectively.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Rubens Barrichello

12) Jaime Alguersuari

13) Sebastien Buemi

14) Vitaly Petrov

15) Kamui Kobayashi

16) Nico Hulkenberg

17) Pedro de la Rosa

Q3

Fernando Alonso was the first to go out on track, and immidiately set a lap of 1.35.065. Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg instantly got within 7 hundreths of a second, before Sebastian Vettel beat Alonso’s lap time by 1 tenth.

Michael Schumacher messed up his first lap, and never had the pace to keep up with the frontrunners, qualifying 9th. Robert Kubica never really shined either, and got 8th.

Adrian Sutil, as he usually does in Q3, took on the harder tyres, so he got 10th place, although he will have a different strategy for the race tomorrow.

Lewis Hamilton was carrying slightly more fuel than required, so his first run only got him 5th. His second run, on fresh soft tyres, got him 2nd place, 6 hundreths behind Vettel’s time. Jenson Button got within 9 thousands of the Red Bull, and replaced Hamilton in P2. Fernando Alonso instantly took that second place off Hamilton with his final lap.

Mark Webber then took P1 with a 1.34.806, before a last-gasp run by Sebastian Vettel got him a 1.34.558, to give him pole position. That was the final lap of Q3, so it was another Red Bull front-row lockout this season.

Full times from qualifying:

Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1.36.317 1.35.280 1.34.558
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1.35.978 1.35.100 1.34.806
3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1.35.987 1.35.235 1.34.913
4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1.35.952 1.35.134 1.34.923
5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1.36.122 1.35.443 1.34.979
6 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1.35.641 1.34.928 1.35.034
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1.36.076 1.35.290 1.35.180
8 Robert Kubica Renault 1.36.348 1.35.550 1.35.364
9 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1.36.348 1.35.715 1.35.646
10 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1.36.671 1.35.665 1.35.963
11 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1.36.664 1.35.748
12 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.36.618 1.36.047
13 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1.36.793 1.36.149
14 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1.37.031 1.36.311
15 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1.37.044 1.36.422
16 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1.37.049 1.36.647
17 Pedro de la Rosa Sauber-Ferrari 1.37.050 1.37.020
18 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1.37.161
19 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1.39.278
20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1.39.399
21 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1.39.520
22 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1.39.783
23 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1.40.469
24 Karun Chandhok HRT-Cosworth 1.40.578

Chinese GP Friday press conference

Peter Sauber, Colin Kolles, Eric Boullier and Adam Parr at the Friday Chinese GP press conference

Peter Sauber, Colin Kolles, Eric Boullier and Adam Parr at the Friday Chinese GP press conference

Today we had team principals Colin Kolles, Adam Parr, Eric Boullier, and Peter Sauber. Here is the full transcript:

Q: Colin, tell us about your driver pairing, completely inexperienced when it comes to this race here in Shanghai?
Colin Kolles:
Well, we are a new team, new cars and rookie drivers, so it’s not easy, for sure, but I think they’ve done quite a good job in the first three races, not making too many mistakes. Today also went quite well, at a different level to the top teams, of course, but I think that we are improving steadily, so we are making step after step.

Q: How easy or difficult has it been to build up a team, especially one that was really starting on the back foot?
CK:
Not easy, it was a lot of work, I can tell you, in a very short period of time. I think people are underestimating what has been done or how difficult it is.

Q: In terms of getting your personnel, for instance, you’re not really based in the middle of Oxfordshire in England, in among existing racing teams.
CK:
Yes, for sure, Murcia is not really the centre but obviously I was able to put it together. I think I have quite a good network and it was possible with the help of people who were loyal to me over a long period of time.

Q: Can you just clarify the rumours of the relationship between the team and Dallara?
CK:
I can clarify this. Obviously I have spoken with the people involved and I think they have been misquoted and misunderstood, so actually there is nothing more to say about this.

Q: Peter, a very difficult start to the season for you. I’m sure you didn’t come back into Formula One for a start to the season like the one you’ve experienced. Tell us what has happened?
Peter Sauber:
It’s not so easy to explain, maybe you have to ask the technicians. We expected more, especially after the good winter tests.

Q: What were the basic problems, at the last race, for instance? Are those engines finished for the year or was the sensor the problem?
PS:
It was a pressure sensor and we can’t use the engines again.

Q: And then at the first race you had problems as well.
PS:
In Bahrain, there were two hydraulic problems. One was a mistake – I think both failures were not necessary.

Q: And again, your drivers, an interesting mix of the experienced and the newcomer. Tell us how you feel about those two?
PS:
It’s very difficult to talk a lot about the drivers because during the last three races we have had a lot of problems, and it has been impossible for Kamui (Kobayashi) and Pedro (de la Rosa) to show their talents.

Q: So you’re really waiting for the season to settle down.
PS:
Yes, it’s necessary.

Q: Have you had a good trouble-free weekend this weekend?
PS:
I hope so.

Q: Tell us also about the transition of Willy Rampf, who has been with the team for such a long time as such a faithful servant, to James Key, your new technical director?
PS:
I think Willy’s plan to leave the team was for more than one year.

Q: What have been his great strengths?
PS:
Oh, he has a lot, a lot of strengths. He started with us 14 years ago as a track engineer and then has grown up slowly and we had a lot of success with Willy, especially in the 2001 season with Nick (Heidfeld) and with Kimi (Raikkonen), when we finished fourth in the World Championship.

Q: How easy is it going to be for James to take over?
PS:
I think it’s too early to speak about that, especially in this difficult period. For sure it’s not easy for him to take over the team now and to make progress very soon.

Q: Will Willy keep coming to races? When does he actually clear his desk and leave?
PS:
The last race under Willy’s control was in Malaysia, in Sepang, and this one is the first race for James. Willy leaves at the end of the month.

Q: Eric, again, a question for you about your drivers: the experienced Robert Kubica and the newcomer Vitaly Petrov.
Eric Bouiller:
I think we have a good pair of drivers, one experienced one and one rookie but both very, very motivated.

Q: How do you see them working together over the last three races?
EB:
Both of them are very eager to do well and they are working well together. They have to learn about each other, but Robert is very keen to give any advice to Vitaly. They’re working very well.

Q: What about your own experience as a new team principal; is it a very steep learning curve?
EB:
Yes, very, very, very with a big slope. It’s very exciting and I’m very, very pleased to be here. It’s definitely a challenge, because F1 is huge, a lot of requests, a lot of people, but I’m starting to fit in well.

Q: Any big surprises?
EB:
Everything is a surprise, because it’s new. You have so many people, so many responsibilities, it’s just seven days work (a week). But I’m definitely ready for it.

Q: You have Peter Sauber behind you, Adam Parr alongside you, both their teams would like to be fifth in the championship this year. What are your aims, because I think you would also like to be fifth, if not fourth?
EB:
No, my aim is to be better than fifth. Obviously we would like to be as high as possible in the hierarchy. We have to be reasonable, so fifth would be the minimum.

Q: Do you see Williams and Sauber as being your major rivals?
EB:
Some of them are our main rivals.

Q: Adam, your feelings about fifth in the championship?
Adam Parr:
Well, I think we’ve got a bit of work to do to even claim that but we have ambitions, like Eric, beyond fifth as well.

Q: What about the Cosworth partnership; do they feel like a new engine supplier? How does it feel like to work with them?
AP:
They are a new engine supplier and the relationship feels very good, I think, in the sense that we have a very similar philosophy about life and what we’re trying to achieve. Unfortunately, it’s always the case that when you change engine (supplier), it’s a challenge. We’ve definitely got challenges on all aspects of the car that we need to overcome and that includes the engines, so we’re working with them very closely on that, and I’m very pleased to say that from Kevin Kalkhoven (Cosworth owner) down we’ve got the complete support of Cosworth and they are passionate about what they do and they are very good engineers, so we’re expecting to make good progress on that front.

Q: In terms of what they’ve supplied, you would say that they are not a new engine supplier at all. It seems to have been very reliable.
AP:
Well, it’s been reliable in some respects but we do have some underlying issues that we have to address. We’re not there yet. As Patrick (Head) likes to remind me on an hourly basis, anybody who thinks that they’ve got the engine or any other aspect of a Formula One car sorted out is just kidding themselves. We’re very early in this programme and there’s a lot of work to be done.

Q: Similarly you have an interesting mix of drivers, the most experienced driver in Formula One and Nico Hulkenberg as well. You’ve also been nurturing Nico for many years.
AP:
Yes, well, one of the great highlights of this season for us has been our two drivers. It’s a real pleasure to work with both of them for very different reasons. Rubens (Barrichello) is a fantastic driver; one hoped and expected that his technical input would be phenomenal but not only his understanding of what’s going on is amazing, but also his ability to identify potential solutions. So having him is wonderful. Also you can just see the way that he can dig deep and find that extra few tenths in qualifying. He’s leading the way, as one would have hoped. Nico is a very pleasant surprise, particularly in Malaysia where he showed what he could do and in the rain which is not always the case. Nico’s a very special guy, not only is he a great young racing driver, but as you may know, he volunteered to work in the factory, he’s worked in almost every area of our factory alongside the guys on the shop floor. He’s got their complete respect and that shows through in everything he does, so we’re very happy and very proud to have both of those drivers.

Q: And when did your relationship start with him?
AP:
With Nico? It’s been about three years now. Of course, the best thing about working with Nico Hulkenberg is that he brings with him (his manager) Willy Weber who is just fantastically amusing at all times.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Jie Wu – Autonews China) I have a question for Mr Sauber. The Sauber team became a private team again when you took it over. What’s the difference in atmosphere and Formula One environment between when BMW took over the team and now? What has changed?
PS:
I think the atmosphere was good as a works team as well as a private team. I think the atmosphere was also very good with BMW, there is no difference. For sure, the team is now much smaller, it’s about a third smaller than before with 260 employees. For sure it’s more a family than a big company.

Q: (Jie Wu – Autonews China)There have been lots of manufacturer teams in F1; what’s the difficulty for private teams to survive and fight for their dreams in F1?
PS:
Some of those factory teams have left Formula One. I think about three of the big ones and I think that today we have a good combination between big teams and private teams. It’s the same question (of survival) for Williams and Hispania. It was a big question for Williams over the last forty years. It’s very difficult. When we look back to the last 20 years, more than 25 teams have left Formula One. It’s difficult, yes.
CK: I think Adam knows that it’s an even bigger amount.
AP: Well, the number is over 50 teams since 1970, I think, have failed to survive in Formula One. There are two things: one is yes, it’s difficult, and it’s always difficult because you’re raising… the discretionary part of your income is from sponsorship, and sponsorship is something that people can chose to do or chose not to do, and I think that even though Formula One offers incredible value for sponsors, it’s always a big decision for a company to come into Formula One. Having said that, I think that things are better and I think they are going to get better because having only two manufacturers left in Formula One means that the majority of the teams are very realistic about having to raise a budget and they don’t want to burn money, and even the manufacturer teams who are left don’t want to burn money either. So I think that within this so-called resource restriction agreement, we have a structure to continue to reduce costs for everybody and I think there’s a real will to do that. Although it’s tough, I think it’s promising and it’s certainly better… when I started, you could argue that ten out of eleven teams were effectively factory-funded teams or shareholder-funded teams. So it’s a lot better now.

Q: (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special) Regarding the tyre supply next year, it seems like there’s a choice between having a big brand or cheap tyres. Which would you like to have?
CK:
Tyres for free.
PS: Yeah, for sure, tyres for free, it’s possible but I think more importantly is that we have only one tyre supplier.
EB: First we need to have tyres, if possible for free and it doesn’t matter if it’s a big brand or not, there’s obviously a safety issue as well, to have proper tyres. Then, as part of the show, we need to decide if it’s only one tyre spec or not. But we need tyres.
AP: I think there are at least half a dozen companies in the world who could provide us with good quality tyres, that would give a good show and be perfectly safe. I think they are all good companies with good brand names and I think it’s absolutely essential that we do a good deal, which means free tyre supply for the teams. Secondly, it must be the same for everybody in all aspects because if it’s a standard tyre, it’s simply not on to have a two tier or a different approach for one team rather than another. So I think we’ve got a bit of work to do there. Fortunately, we have Bernie (Ecclestone) who has been asked by the F1 Commission to negotiate and find that supply and nobody’s better equipped to do it than him, so I’m sure we will get what we need.

Q: (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special) Can I follow up with a question about engines? We’re talking about having two manufacturers. In fact we have two manufacturers who have just gone into a very large industrial alliance together, which, logically speaking, when it comes to creating new engines for 2013, are not going to both spend the same kind of money to compete against one another. Do you see a situation whereby we only have Ferrari and small, specialist manufacturers, the Cosworths of this world, in the future?
PS:
Yes, we will drive with Ferrari engines. It’s not a problem for us.
CK: And we drive Cosworth.
PS: But I think the manufacturers that we have now will stay in Formula One. Maybe we will have some new manufacturers like Volkswagen.
CK: Maybe we will have some new manufacturers, yes, that’s possible, but at the moment we are an independent with Cosworth, so we hope that Cosworth will still be on the market and for the moment we are happy with Cosworth and we look forward to having a good relationship. What will happen after 2013? I think it’s very important to maybe have the world engine, this is very important for certain manufacturers, to get them the entry, so from my point of view we will support the world engine, if we were asked, and I think that Mr Sauber would support this and I think that a few others would support the same. For sure, on the other hand, there are certain people who are against the world engine and they have their own ideas, but as it looks at the moment, the world engine might be a solution, to attract new manufacturers.
AP: I agree with both those comments. We’ve got four engines in Formula One at the moment and I don’t think that’s going to change before 2013 and I think it’s very likely that from 2013 there are going to be more suppliers rather than fewer and that’s because we’re going to have an engine in 2013 that’s going to have better energy consumption, a greener engine and I’m sure it will also be cheaper to manufacture and I think that will attract other companies into the sport. I think that’s another positive thing on the horizon, because we need to change the structure a little bit. We have too few suppliers and the engines cost too much, just too much to make. The technology is getting a bit out of date now as well.
EB: I agree with all the comments, obviously. I would add that engine technology needs to be back for an engine manufacturer like Renault as we are definitely interested in using Formula One as well as a technology platform to be used for road cars. I think cost needs to be controlled as there is a new technical package to be brought in after 2013. I don’t think we will see just one new engine maker. I think there will be, as Colin said, more engine manufacturers interested in maybe coming into Formula One, and that’s good.

Q: (Joe Saward – Grand Prix Special) And just to follow up on the point that Adam made, do you think that KERS and/or any other energy recovery system is essential for the future?
EB:
Formula One needs to be a little bit greener, and as Adam said, with a greener engine, KERS or any hybrid system needs to be back in, because it’s the future on our roads. So Formula One needs to stick to this philosophy as well. We have already developed something in the past which I think we’re all discussing to maybe put it back next year under certain conditions, but it definitely needs to be part of the package.
AP: Absolutely, we think a big KERS is going to be a very important part of the 2013 engine.
CK: Well, I don’t fully agree with this point. I was always against KERS and I am still against KERS. I agree that we have to be a greener Formula One, that’s fine but if you look at KERS – if it’s really green – and you look into the details, then KERS is not really green. So I think that we should look into reality and be realistic and not dreamers. This is my simple point of view. There are certain interests here, obviously from car manufacturers. I agree with this, I have no problem with this, but we, as a small team, are not going to afford to invest such amounts of money into technology, so we are definitely happy to find solutions and I fully agree that Formula One has to become greener to attract sponsorship, to make it more viable for everybody, basically, to make the business more viable, but I don’t think that KERS in the common sense is the best solution. I would agree with the Williams solution which is obviously a different solution than the battery solution. This is a more reasonable solution, but as we are discussing at the moment, to use a KERS based on batteries, people would be surprised which is more environmentally friendly or not if you look at the detail.
PS: Green or not green, I think Formula One has to follow this direction, especially the manufacturers. Maybe we can wait until the engine changes in 2013, together with maybe a world engine, I think it will be easier for everybody.

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