Monthly Archives: December 2010

Stewart: 2010 drivers are the best ever

Stewart highly rates the 2010 F1 grid

Stewart highly rates the 2010 F1 grid

Jackie Stewart, three-times world champion in the 1960′s and 1970′s, has claimed that the current batch of F1 drivers are “the best ever”. He even went as far as saying that current title holder Sebastian Vettel could be compared to former legends such as Jim Clark, Jack Brabham and Graham Hill.

The 2010 title battle included 5 drivers and 3 teams, and went all the way to the wire in Abu Dhabi. Stewart was very impressed with the racing he saw across the year:

 "I think it's the best field ever. Red Bull had a good car this year 
but right down to the last race there were four drivers battling for 
the championship, and there were five for most of the season really 
in contention."

"Up there was a Red Bull, a Ferrari and a McLaren, and a Renault 
pushing and shoving, so you cannot ask for much better than that. 
It was a long season and it came down to the very last race. It was 
close racing too."

Despite enormous changes in Formula 1 over the years, to both the cars and the drivers, Jackie claims that the raw driver instinct remains the same:

"I think the animal is exactly the same. I don't think Sebastian Vettel is 
any different from what Jim Clark was, or Graham Hill was, or Jack Brabham 
was, or people who have won the world championship more than once."

"These drivers are the same - all the same desire, want, focus, commitment 
and God-given talent that has been developed to the highest level."

"So they are not different as individuals, but we have a crop of them just 
now and we have got a little closer unification of the quality of the 
performance of the cars, so it is going to give us better racing - and I 
see 2010 was as good as the late 1960s/early 1970s."

Despite giving particular praise to Vettel, saying that there is “a lot more to come”, he still says that all of this year’s title contenders are hugely talented. He also touted Robert Kubica as a future champion, and noted each driver’s different driving talent:

"Webber is still in there, and Kubica could one day be world champion. You 
also have Jenson driving in the smoothest and cleanest way of any driver, 
and Lewis is probably the best racer of the whole lot - and the best 
equipped is still Alonso. You have such a group of extraordinarily 
skilled people."

 

Petrov extends contract with Renault

Petrov will stay with Renault until 2012

Petrov will stay with Renault until 2012

Vitaly Petrov will remain with the Lotus-Renault team for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. This removes any speculation that Vitaly was under pressure to keep the second race seat next year.

This was announced by Petrov at a press conference he organised in Moscow today. While he struggled at times in 2010, he impressed on several occasions, and with his impressive financial backing, was the favourite to retain his race seat for next year. With Kubica also on a long-term contract, this means that Renault will retain both drivers until at least the end of the 2012 season.

Vitaly said today:

"I learned a lot about the sport, the circuits and the car this 
year. That will help me improve even more in the future. I am 
very excited about working with this great team once more, and 
I’m confident that I will deliver."

"In many ways, 2010 was about learning. 2011 will be about 
performing. Today, I feel I am ready to rise to this challenge."

Gerard Lopez, chairman of Renault, added:

"We’re delighted to have Vitaly on board for another two years. 
Last season, he showed on several occasions that he clearly has 
the potential to deliver. It was just a matter of putting 
everything together during the same weekend, race after race, 
and this will be his target for 2011."

"Also, thanks to Vitaly and the team, Russia is opening up to 
Formula 1. Over the past few months, we’ve established close 
links with this country and with some of its strongest companies.
We’re looking forward to building on this special relationship
and turning it into a very successful adventure over the next 
two seasons."

Despite the fact that money certainly was a factor in this move, I’m still happy with this decision. Petrov struggled at times, but also showed great potential, particularly when holding back Fernando Alonso in Turkey and Abu Dhabi. Kubica completely out-performed him, but hopefully he can improve for next year.

Renault have also issued the following Q&A with Petrov:

Vitaly, how does it feel to be confirmed at Lotus Renault GP?
It feels great. I learned so much this year and I know that I can come back stronger in 2011. I’m extremely proud to be part of this team and I’m determined to repay the faith they have shown in me.

Looking back on your rookie season, what did you enjoy the most?
There were a lot of special moments. The race in Shanghai is something that I will always remember when I overtook Schumacher and Webber to score my first points. Then, the first time I made Q3 in Turkey was an important step for me. And, of course, the race in Hungary was probably my best weekend when everything came together for me.

How has your life change since you became an F1 driver?
There’s a lot more travelling and not a lot of time for myself, but I will never complain because I love what I’m doing. I still feel like a boy at Christmas every time I get in the car. Life is not as easy as people think, of course, and there’s a lot more to F1 than driving the car, but it’s an amazing experience and I know I’m lucky to be one of just 24 drivers on the grid.

Do you feel at home at Lotus Renault GP?
Yes, definitely. Previous drivers have always said that there is a special atmosphere here and I have to say I agree with them. The team is very warm, friendly and open, and I get on really well with the guys.

Can you feel the growing support for F1 from Russia?
Definitely. I get more support from my country every week. In fact, recently one of the major lifestyle magazines included me in their top ten most attractive single men of Russia! You can feel that the sport is becoming more popular and soon we will have our own Grand Prix, which will create ore interest. Even our prime minister, Mr Putin, got a taste of F1 when he tried a Renault F1 car earlier this year.

What will be the main challenges of 2011?
There are quite a few changes that we have to adapt to as a team: new tyres, moveable rear wings and KERS, which I’ve never used before. There’s even a new race in India. So there are some things to adapt to, but they should improve the show and make for better racing. I’ve already seen the new car in the wind tunnel and it looks very promising. I also love our new colours and can’t wait to get back in the car and go racing.

What do you hope to achieve in your second season?
My objective is to continue improving as a driver and to become more consistent. There were times this year when I made mistakes and lost points, and I know this is where I can improve. I think I showed that I have the speed, but I need to be consistent over the whole weekend and get the maximum from every session.

What is your plan over the next couple of months before testing begins in February?
I was thinking about spending a few days in Maranello this winter, but I have been told it probably wasn’t the best idea… Seriously, after a busy year I’m taking the time to go back home and see my family and friends. It’s also the time to recharge my batteries so that I can come back fresh next year. I’m already working hard on my fitness and doing lots of training to be ready for the start of the season. Then, in January, I will be at the factory to see my engineers and for my seat-fit in the new car.

 

Jerome d’Ambrosio lands Virgin drive for 2011

Jerome d'Ambrosio will drive for Virgin in 2011

Jerome d'Ambrosio will drive for Virgin in 2011

Virgin Racing have signed Jerome d’Ambrosio to take the second race seat, alongside Timo Glock for the 2011 season. This means that 2010 driver Lucas di Grassi has been ousted from the team, after a disappointing first year with the squad.

D’Ambrosio drove in several Friday Practice sessions for Virgin near the end of the season. He impressed the team with his pace, and now replaces Lucas di Grassi, who constantly fell behind his rivals this year.

This year, Jerome has been racing in the GP2 Asia Series, and finished 12th. Oddly enough, Virgin test driver Luiz Razia finished ahead of him, in 11th, but has been passed over for the second race seat. D’Ambrosio took  his first race win this year since 2007. He previously won the 2007 International Formula Master Championship, and the 2003 Belgian Formula 3 1.6 Series.

Team Principal John Booth explained their decision:

"Jerome had been on our radar for quite some time as a driver 
we should seriously consider for a 2011 race seat. We had 
followed his progress in GP2 closely and it was clear he was 
‘one to watch’, but when we put him in the car for the four 
race weekends and the Abu Dhabi test he surpassed even our 
own expectations.

He slotted into the team perfectly and everyone took a shine 
to him, including our partners and the media. Apart from his 
obvious skill at the wheel of a Formula One car, he is an 
immensely personable young guy who is a pleasure to have around. 
He has secured this seat absolutely on merit and I think coupled 
with Timo we have the perfect blend of youth, experience, speed 
and potential and we can’t wait to see what they can achieve 
together next season."

From what I’ve heard, this move is certainly not made with financial backing in mind. D’Ambrosio does not appear to have much of a sponsorship package behind him, so Virgin must be signing him based on talent alone, which is great to see. While his results do not appear good on paper, you must remember that the last driver who went from poor results with DAMS (GP2 team) to an F1 team was Kamui Kobayashi.

Former F1 Champions Critical Of Vettel

Jacques Villeneuve critisised Vettel's behaviour this season

Jacques Villeneuve critisised Vettel's behaviour this season

Two former F1 world champions are critical of F1′s reigning title winner, Sebastian Vettel.

Sebastian won the 2010 world championship, despite many incidents tarnishing his reputation, such as crashing into Button in Spa, or his behaviour at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
The 1997 world champion Jacques Villeneuve said he recognises the young German’s talent but was less impressed with his overall behaviour this season:

"He's very fast but I feel he has trouble controlling his emotions."

"I saw him raising a finger to the stewards in the pitlane and 
I find it hard to comprehend doing that at this level, that's 
more like a little kid."
"He's been treated the same for his whole career. At 14, he 
knew already that he would be brought into F1.
"When he makes a mistake, he is told 'no, you did nothing 
wrong, everything is fine'. We'll see how he reacts now as 
a champion."
"Hamilton was a bit like that at first, but after his title, 
he had a bad season and this year he was finally a man.
"This year, Vettel stupidly took out Webber but the team said 
it was Webber's fault. Let's see what happens is it going to 
get worse, or will he get more mature now? If he goes in the 
direction of Hamilton then he will win more championships. 
Otherwise he will never learn from his mistakes."

The four-time world champion Alain Prost, however, admits he is now a fan of Vettel after spending some time with the Red Bull driver at the recent Race of Champions event:

"He is very young but already very mature, I also see a 
freshness, an enthusiasm that I really like. This is not 
the case with all young F1 drivers. That's one thing that 
surprises me, you don't feel the passion in some drivers, 
it's like they're there just for the business. But in 
Vettel, I feel the freshness and passion and I hope he 
keeps it as long as possible."

Prost also hailed Vettel’s finish to the 2010 championship:

"Like everyone else, I was a bit critical when I saw 
the mess he created on some occasions. But in a driver 
with such panache and character, it is difficult to 
contain. After August, I saw a radical change. Then, 
without the incident in Korea, he would have won all 
of the last four races. He is a great champion, there 
is no doubt, You might have judged differently in the 
middle of the season, but at the end, we can say 'bravo'."

Di Resta To Force India?

Paul di Resta has been linked to a race seat at Force India

Paul di Resta has been linked to a race seat at Force India

Paul di Resta is expected to have a meeting with Force India this week to discuss his role with the team for 2011.

The new DTM champion worked with the Silverstone based outfit’s reserve and Friday driver in 2010, and is a contender for a race seat next year. But also the ousted Williams rookie Nico Hulkenberg is in running for the seat, with team owner’s fellow countryman Karun Chandhok getting the rumors limelight fr the same seat, while Adrian Sutil is expected to be retained, and Vitantonio Liuzzi also has a firm contract for 2011.

Di Resta’s manager, Anthony Hamilton, father of Lewis Hamilton, is confident:

"There hasn't been one bit of negative information from the 
team about Paul. He has done a great job, the team love him."

"He's a champion and a leader. "

"Nothing has changed; he is still a contender for a race 
seat. We are very positive."

It is believed Sutil will have one seat in 2011, while the other will be occupied by either di Resta or German Hulkenberg. Otherwise, it may be Karun Chandhok, after Liuzzi’s contract is bought out.

Lotus-Renault sticking with Boullier as team boss

This is the third article from Murai Kadam:

Eric Boullier will remain team principal of Lotus-Renault

Eric Boullier will remain team principal of Lotus-Renault

While Group Lotus entered Formula 1 with major partnership, Eric Boullier will remain as the team principal.

 

Appointed by new owners Genii Capital for 2010, Boullier has led the team this year, but Group Lotus’ high profile CEO Dany Bahar has been conspicuous since the takeover announcement this week.

Bahar is well experienced in F1, having been in roles within the Red Bull and Ferrari teams, but he has told F1′s official website:

 Given their (Renault's) performance this year, the structure 
really works, so we have no plans whatsoever to change this."

With the French carmaker Renault now completely bought out, Bahar refused to comment upon which percentage of the team is owned by Genii and Group Lotus:

 "Whether it is 40, 50 or 60 per cent is something that does 
not really matter."
"What matters is that it is a real partnership with clearly 
defined roles and responsibilities."

Group Lotus owner Proton’s chariman, Datuk Seri Mohd Nadzmi Mohd Salleh, revealed on Friday:

 "Lotus' spending in F1 will come from a portion of its 
marketing budget of between 15 and 20 million per annum."

1.6 litre 4-cylinder engines confirmed for 2013

The FIA has confirmed the new specification of Formula 1 engines to be used from the 2013 season onwards.

The current 2.4 litre V8s will be replaced with 1.6 litre 4-cylinder power plants. They will be assisted by high-powered injection, up to 500 bar. The engine rev limit has been reduced to 12,000 rpm.

The number of engines each driver can use will be brought down to 5. From 2014 onwards, this will be reduced to 4 per year.

The FIA claim that these new engines will deliver up to 35% reduction in fuel consumption, while providing the same amount of power (currently around 800 hp).Energy recovery systems and energy management will also be introduced, hinting that the FIA is looking at exhaust gases recovery systems to team up with the KERS unit used at the moment.

Team orders ban lifted for 2011

Ferrari's team orders in Germany are now considered legal

Ferrari's team orders in Germany are now considered legal

The ban on team orders, listed under Article 39.1 on the FIA regulations, has been scrapped from 2011 onwards. This means that team orders, such as the one Ferrari employed at the German Grand Prix this year, can now be legally made without punishment by the stewards or FIA.

The FIA’s statement for this move reads as follows:

The article forbidding team orders (39.1) is deleted.

Teams will be reminded that any actions liable to bring the 
sport into disrepute are dealt with under Article 151c of 
the International Sporting Code and any other relevant 
provisions.

While the stewards handed Ferrari a $100,000 fine after the German GP, they failed to dock or switch the points gained by Fernando Alonso, who was allowed past by Felipe Massa.

In my opinion, this isn’t actually as bad a move as it could be. While I’m completely against team orders that deliberately disadvantage one driver, team orders are used all the time these days, just in different wording.

Now that the ban has been lifted, we can see more clearly how each team operates its strategies. While I’m sure that a driver would let their team-mate past to assist the team’s race strategy for both cars, very few of them would move aside simply for the other driver to directly gain from the order.

Team orders to assist race strategies have been used plenty of times with little controversy, such as Kovalainen and Hamilton in Germany 2008, or Heidfeld and Kubica in Canada. In the situation where one car needs to be released to make the most out of their strategies, I’d say that team orders are fine.

5-race gearboxes introduced as part of new rules

A raft of changes have been announced for 2011 and 2012

A raft of changes have been announced for 2011 and 2012

The FIA has announced a new series of rules for the 2011 season, and some to be introduced in 2012, the most important of which being that gearboxes now have to last 5 races.

This improves upon last year’s restrictions of 4 races on the same gearbox. As the 2011 F1 calendar contains 20 races, this means that most teams will be looking to use only 4 gearboxes for the entire season.

2011

Steward penalties have been revised relating for the rules on “driving and driver conduct”. Race Director Charlie Whiting also has the option to close the pit lane during the race, for safety reasons, if he deems necessary.

The rules will be clarified as to when cars can overtake the safety car, following the controversy at the Valencian GP. Shallow wet tyres (behind the full wets), are now reclassified as intermediates, but that’s what most of us have been saying anyways.

A penalty can be awarded to any driver who fails to use both specifications of tyres during the race. The cars will be modified to allow “anti-intrusion panels” to protect the driver’s legs in case of an accident. On the technical side, the definitions of the “reference plane, and reinforcement of bodywork deflection tests, especially at the front of the reference plane” have all been changed.

2012

For the 2012 season, all team radio communications will be available to F1 broadcasters. The intention of this is to allow more transmissions to be displayed to the audience.

Fuel compounds will be produced from biomass, but no further detail is available at the moment. The number of suspension uprights will also be limited.

The long-awaited 2013 engine rules have been announced, as well as a statement on team orders, and these will be dealt with in separate articles.

Petrov likely to stay with Lotus-Renault

This is the second article from new writer Murai Kadam:

Vitaly Petrov is well set to secure his seat next year

Vitaly Petrov is well set to secure his seat next year

The 26-year-old Russian rookie Vitaly Petrov is likely to stay with Lotus-Renault for next year. Petrov has been financed by his personal backers, including Vyborg Shipyard, Flagman vodka, and the carmaker Lada.

The Malaysian news agancy Bernama said that Proton will also benefit by gaining access to Russia’s automotive market, and automotive technologies owned by Genii.

With Renault having previously been sponsored by Petrov’s backers, Vitaly seems all set to be secured his F1 seat for next year. Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar admitted that Petrov is well placed to keep his seat in 2011:

.

.

 "Our preferred choice is Vitaly Petrov, but I hope that the 
team will be able to announce by the end of the year our 
final lineup."
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