Monthly Archives: September 2012

Sergio Perez confirmed to replace Lewis Hamilton at McLaren

On the same day that Lewis Hamilton has announced his move to Mercedes, it has been confirmed that Sergio Perez will replace his role at the McLaren team.

Perez leaped into the sport in 2011, instantly taking it by storm. Three podium finishes this year has confirmed him as a “giant killer”, according to McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh:

"On behalf of everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, I’m delighted to welcome 
Sergio on board. His performances throughout 2012 have convinced us that he’s an 
extremely exciting prospect for the future.

It was a string of giant-killing performances, a trio of podiums and a brilliant 
fastest lap in this year’s Monaco Grand Prix that showed us that Sergio lacks 
nothing in terms of speed and commitment.

We’ve been monitoring his progress carefully for some months – and, now that he’s 
become part of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team, our task will be to refine and 
develop his abilities as his career progresses over the coming years.

Uniting Sergio alongside Jenson will give us a very broad base of driver ability. 
Jenson is one of motorsport’s greatest ambassadors, and his unique blend of 
prodigious speed and canny race-craft makes him formidably well-armed to fight for 
victory on any Grand Prix circuit in the world. While Sergio is still developing his 
palette of skills, we’re convinced that he’s not only talented and quick, but also 
that he’s willing and eager to learn.”

He’s perfectly poised to develop into a world championship challenger. His addition 
to the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team provides us with the perfect two-pronged driver 
line-up for the new season."

Whitmarsh also praised Lewis Hamilton for his services to the team:

"Finally, it’s entirely appropriate that I should take this opportunity to pass on our 
thanks to Lewis. He wrote a huge chapter of his life and career with us, and was, and 
always will be, a fine member of an exclusive club: the McLaren world champions’ club.

It goes without saying that we all wish him well for the future, just as it also goes 
without saying that we hope and believe that Sergio, too, will become a member of that 
exclusive club before too long."

Unsurprisingly, Perez was delighted to be joining a frontrunning team:

"I’m thrilled and delighted to have become a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver.

The McLaren name is one of the greatest in the history of Formula 1. For more than 40 
years McLaren has been a team that every racing driver has aspired to drive for – I was 
brought up on the great stories of Ayrton Senna’s many world championship triumphs for 
McLaren – and I’m truly honoured that they’ve chosen me to partner Jenson from 2013 
onwards.”

I’d like to thank Carlos Slim Jr, who has helped me since I was 14 years old, without 
whom I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Our journey together over the past eight years has been an incredible one, and I’ll do 
everything in my power to deliver with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes the results that he 
and I have been working so hard and so long to achieve together.

As I say, I’ve worked very hard to get to this stage in my career, and I’m now massively 
looking forward to this next even more exciting stage. It’s fantastic that all the 
sacrifices I’ve made are now paying off.

For example, I remember very clearly the first day I left my family, when I was 15, to 
live in Germany to race in Formula BMW. It was tough for me – I was sleeping in a 
restaurant at that time – but the dream of one day becoming a Formula 1 driver kept me 
going through those difficult days.

Finally, I’d like to thank my beloved family, who’ve encouraged me at every turn, and 
last but far from least the people of Mexico, my home country, whose magnificent support 
I’ll do my very best to reward with future successes with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes."

 

Lewis Hamilton to replace Michael Schumacher at Mercedes for 2013

In a move which has taken place amongst immense speculation in the past few weeks, Mercedes have finally confirmed that Lewis Hamilton will be joining the squad in 2013.

Hamilton, being the key to the 2013 driver market, has been under huge pressure to announce his future for some time now. It is believed that his move to Mercedes will allow him and his management team to enhance and market the Hamilton brand around the world.

This new 3-year deal will partner Lewis with his former karting teammate Nico Rosberg. The two shared a podium at the 2008 Australian Grand Prix for the first time since their childhood racing days.

Hamilton today said:

"It is now time for me to take on a fresh challenge and I am very excited to begin 
a new chapter racing for the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Mercedes-Benz 
has such an incredible heritage in motorsport, along with a passion for winning which 
I share.

Together, we can grow and rise to this new challenge. I believe that I can help steer 
the Silver Arrows to the top and achieve our joint ambitions of winning the world 
championships."

Team principal Ross Brawn was extremely cagey when he talked about Michael Schumacher's future:

"On behalf of Mercedes AMG Petronas, I would first of all like to thank Michael 
Schumacher for the important contribution he has made to the growth of our team 
over the past three seasons.

His energy and commitment have never wavered, even when results have not matched 
our own expectations, and we are determined to finish the 2012 season together on 
a high. As always, it has been a pleasure to work with Michael."

Mercedes have also announced that former world champion Niki Lauda will join the team as a non-executive chairman on the board of directors.

“Modesty panel” to be introduced, and double DRS banned in 2013 Technical Regulations

2012′s unloved “stepped noses”, featuring in the design of the majority of the cars in the field, may be on the way out, as the FIA has approved the use of a “modesty panel” to hide the controversial feature.

As the 2013 Technical Regulations were posted online by the FIA, readers noted a new Article had been created for the new panel:

"With the exception of an optional, single piece, non-structural fairing of 
prescribed laminate (whose precise lay-up may be found in the Appendix to the 
regulations) which may not be more than 625mm above the reference plane at any 
point, no bodywork situated more than 1950mm forward of rear face of the 
cockpit entry template may be more than 550mm above the reference plane."

As stated, the panel cannot be a structural part of the car, but must be able to fit onto and over the stepped nose of the car. Seeing as the article was added to improve the look of the cars, the panel may also cover the side of the stepped section as well.

McLaren technical director Paddy Lowe confirmed that the panel would be restricted in size to avoid teams from gaining an aerodynamic advantage.

Also mentioned in the 2013 regulations is the banning of the "Double DRS" system pioneered by the Mercedes team. Their car layout allowed the DRS flap to activate a second duct to direct air to the front wing, which has now been banned:

[The movable rear wing] "cannot be used to change the geometry of any duct, 
either directly or indirectly, other than the change to the distance between 
adjacent sections permitted by Article 3.10.2."

 

Points standings after Singapore Grand Prix

Driver Standings

Driver Points
1 Fernando Alonso 194
2 Sebastian Vettel 165
3 Kimi Raikkonen 149
4 Lewis Hamilton 142
5 Mark Webber 132
6 Jenson Button 119
7 Nico Rosberg 93
8 Romain Grosjean 82
9 Sergio Perez 66
10 Felipe Massa 51
11 Paul di Resta 44
12 Michael Schumacher 43
13 Kamui Kobayashi 35
14 Nico Hulkenberg 31
15 Pastor Maldonado 29
16 Bruno Senna 25
17 Jean-Eric Vergne 8
18 Daniel Ricciardo 6
19 Timo Glock  0
20 Charles Pic  0
21 Vitaly Petrov  0
22 Heikki Kovalainen 0
23 Pedro de la Rosa 0
24 Narain Karthikeyan 0

Constructor Standings

Team Points
1 Red Bull-Renault 297
2 McLaren-Mercedes 261
3 Ferrari 245
4 Lotus-Renault 231
5 Mercedes AMG 136
6 Sauber-Ferrari 101
7 Force India-Mercedes 75
8 Williams-Renault 54
9 Toro Rosso-Ferrari 14
10 Caterham-Renault 0
11 Marussia-Cosworth 0
12 HRT-Cosworth 0

Webber demoted to 11th after illegaly overtaking Kobayashi

Mark Webber is the second driver to fall prey to the stewards today, after being handed a drive-through penalty after the Singapore Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver was deemed to have overtaken Kamui Kobayashi off the track, which became a 20-second time penalty after the race had ended.

The stewards noted a “minimal” use of the run-off area, but it was still enough to earn a penalty:

"Notwithstanding that the distance by which car two left the circuit was minimal, 
advantage was gained hence a breach did in fact occur. Such a breach has 
consistently attracted a drive-through penalty."

Webber has dropped to 11th place, which promotes Sergio Perez to 10th position.

Schumacher handed 10-place grid penalty for Suzuka

Michael Schumacher has been given a 10-place penalty for the Japanese Grand Prix in two weeks time.

Schumacher caused the second safety car period of the Singapore GP, after locking up and slamming into Jean-Eric Vergne, taking both drivers on the spot.

This is the second time Schumacher has made such a blunder this year. The first was in Barcelona, where the Mercedes driver took out Bruno Senna during braking at turn 1.

The stewards noted that Schumacher had misjudged his braking, due to his brakes being cooler after the previous safety car stint:

"The driver admitted the collision was his error due to the failure to anticipate 
the braking performance
of the car with lower tyre grip following a safety car period.

The penalty takes into account that this is the second similar offence by the 
driver this season."

Hamilton disaster hands Vettel Singapore win

Sebastian Vettel has claimed a comfortable Singapore Grand Prix win, ahead of Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso.

Lewis Hamilton was set to take the win, but a gearbox failure left him out of the running. Two safety cars in close succession bunched up the field halfway through the race, which led to some excellent racing after a dull first half. Here is what happened:

At the start, Hamilton retained his lead, while Vettel and Button demoted Maldonado to 4th. Further back, there was embarassment for Caterham, as Heikki Kovalainen clashed with teammate Vitaly Petrov, forcing Petrov to pit for a new front wing. Felipe Massa suffered a puncture before the end of the lap.

A huge amount of drivers cut the first two corners, causing a mass investigation by the stewards. Replays showed that Webber, Rosberg, Senna and Ricciardo all may have gained an advantage.

The Mercedes drivers, starting 9th and 10th, were instructed to cool their tyres, causing a train of cars to form behind them. Despite the advantage of DRS, Kimi Raikkonen in 11th was unable to pass them before the pit stops.

Mark Webber surprised many, by pitting prematurely on lap 9, despite having no drop-off in lap times. The rest of the field ignored this move, and the Red Bull was relegated to 19th place.

By lap 10, tyre degradation became the main issue, as Sebastian Vettel began losing a second to Hamilton in front, and 2 seconds to Button behind. Unsurprisingly, he swiftly pitted, taking on the prime tyres like his teammate. He emerged in 12th, and wasted no time in getting past Sergio Perez.

Up front, Hamilton reported something felt wrong with his right-rear tyre, and pitted on lap 12. Now only two places behind, Vettel made another pass, this time on Kimi Raikkonen. After staying out a few laps more, Button eventually pitted, and came out well behind the battling duo.

Nico Hulkenberg was one of the few who decided to start on the prime tyre. He had made his way up to 6th, but was ordered to allow teammate Paul di Resta past, who was on a fresher set of tyres. Nico, along with Sergio Perez, both pitted on lap 19.

The race was soon turned on its head, after Lewis Hamilton suddenly suffered a gearbox failure on lap 24. Vettel eased into the lead, noticing a plume of smoke coming out of the McLaren. Lewis was forced to retire, delivering a crushing blow to his championship hopes.

With Vettel now leading, teammate Webber was struggling in 6th, failing to make an impression on the race. Again, he was the first to take on a new set of tyres.

Both Maldonado and Alonso pitted on lap 30, with Pastor just keeping a slender lead over the Ferrari. Interestingly, the Williams took on the super-soft tyres, while Alonso was on the softs.

The two began to battle it out, running side-by-side through some corners, but their fun was cut short after a crash by Narain Karthikeyan. The safety car was deployed, causing all the frontrunners to pit, and cutting the gap between Vettel and Button. The Force Indias ended up 4th and 5th, with Hulkenberg having only stopped once.

While still under safety car conditions, a disaster loomed for Williams, as Maldonado suffered a hydraulics problem, and was forced to retire.

On the restart, the frontrunners all held their positions, while Sergio Perez lost two positions. Mark Webber pulled an impressive move on Nico Hulkenberg, but his fun was cut short, as the safety car was called out again. Similarly to last year, Michael Schumacher had a complete brain fade, slamming into the back of Jean-Eric Vergne, taking both cars out on the spot.

Webber, Perez and Hulkenberg all took the opportunity to stop again. Vitaly Petrov’s race was completely ruined at his pit stop, stopping at the end of the pit lane and being pushed back to his pit box.

At the second restart, Grosjean shut the door on his own teammate at turn 1, nearly causing an embarassing crash. Felipe Massa put an incredibly brave move on Bruno Senna, nearly spinning, but just about taking the position. Only a few laps later, he was easily past Daniel Ricciardo for 8th place.

After their close call, the Lotus team intervened in the Grosjean-Raikkonen battle, instructing Romain not to hold his teammate up. Sergio Perez attempted a move on Hulkenberg for 13th, but clipped his front wing off the Force India. Mark Webber put a move on Kamui Kobayashi, who then immediately clashed with Hulkenberg like his teammate, giving Nico a puncture and taking off a second Sauber front wing.

As the race hit the two-hour limit, Mark Webber made a late dash to take 10th from Bruno Senna, but was unable to take 9th from Daniel Ricciardo.

Up front, Button was unable to match Vettel’s pace, so the Red Bull cruised to only his second win of the season. Fernando Alonso took a comfortable 3rd, while Paul di Resta took an excellent 4th place. Nico Rosberg was quiet in 5th, while Felipe Massa climbed all the way up the grid to take 8th.

Vettel now leaps up to second in the championship, but Alonso’s lead continues to grow over his rivals.

Hamilton comfortably takes Singapore GP pole position

Lewis Hamilton has taken his fifth pole position of the year at the Singapore Grand Prix.

Hamilton comfortably led both Q2 and Q3, while Sebastian Vettel was unable to maintain his pace from the practice session. Pastor Maldonado impressed hugely with second, while championship leader Fernando Alonso is down in 5th.

Q1

As expected, the huge gap between the softs and super-softs caught out a few drivers. The Lotuses were both forced to expend a set of options in order to secure their place in Q2.

After hitting the wall in Friday practice, Bruno Senna again clipped the barriers, but got away with it, taking 17th.

Fastest laps were exchanged between Vettel and Hamilton, before Grosjean topped the timesheets on the super-softs.

Further back, Kamui Kobayashi was knocked out of Q1 for the first time this year.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:49.933

19) Vitaly Petrov – 1:50.846

20) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:51.137

21) Timo Glock – 1:51.370

22) Charles Pic – 1:51.762

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:52.372

24) Narain Karthikeyan – 1:53.355

Q2

Again, Senna was involved in an incident with the walls – and didn’t get away with it this time. The Williams driver smashed his rear suspension at turn 21, and was out of Q2.

Romain Grosjean also spun and hit the barriers, but was able to continue after checks.

Again, the battle up front was between Vettel and Hamilton, with Lewis winning out by a tenth of a second.

The last-gasp scramble saw Nico Hulkenberg, Kimi Raikkonen and Sergio Perez all eliminated, while Michael Schumacher just pipped his way into the final qualifying session.

Drivers knocked out of Q2:

11) Nico Hulkenberg – 1:47.975

12) Kimi Raikkonen – 1:48.261

13) Felipe Massa – 1:48.344

14) Sergio Perez – 1:48.505

15) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:48.774

16) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:48.849

17) Bruno Senna – N/A

Q3

Most cars exited the pits at the start of Q3, but only Hamilton, Vettel and Button actually set laps.

The Mercedes drivers made a brief appearance, but soon dived into the pits, indicating that they would be starting on the prime tyre.

Vettel’s next attempt was able to put him past one McLaren, but a 1:46.362 from Hamilton put him well ahead of the Red Bull. Sebastian was further surprised, when Pastor Maldonado put in an excellent lap to put him second on the grid.

Fernando Alonso was never on the frontrunners’ pace, and lined up 5th. The same went for Mark Webber, who starts a disappointing 7th, behind Paul di Resta.

With only a slight improvement from Vettel in the dying seconds, it was an easy pole position for Lewis Hamilton – even if he clipped the wall on his final attempt.

Singapore GP practice: Vettel leads in varying conditions

Sebastian Vettel has emerged as the early favourite for this weekends’ Singapore Grand Prix, topping both practice sessions.

The first session began on a damp track, but quickly dried out, and the drivers soon took on slick tyres. Here is today’s report:

First practice

Water off the racing line, as well as leaves scattered across the track, signalled a difficult start to FP1 for the drivers. Intermediate tyres were the way to go in the opening few minutes.

However, once Kamui Kobayashi blitzed the timesheets on slicks, others scrambled to put on the dry compound.

The times tumbled throughout the session, with Vettel eventually winning out, by 0.049 seconds to Lewis Hamilton. Jenson Button was over 8 tenths off his teammate.

Pastor Maldonado took to the run-off area several times, but still impressed with 5th. Ma Qing Hua made another appearance in the HRT, finishing 1.4 seconds off Pedro de la Rosa.

Times from FP1:

Pos  Driver                Team                  Time              Laps
 1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:50.566          24
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:50.615  +0.049  15
 3.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:51.459  +0.893  17
 4.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:51.525  +0.959  20
 5.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1:51.576  +1.010  20
 6.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:51.655  +1.089  19
 7.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1:51.658  +1.092  24
 8.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:51.943  +1.377  21
 9.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:52.275  +1.709  24
10.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:52.296  +1.730  19
11.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1:52.629  +2.063  25
12.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1:52.716  +2.150  16
13.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:52.839  +2.273  23
14.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:53.028  +2.462  20
16.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:53.080  +2.514  17
17.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:53.189  +2.623  25
18.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:53.227  +2.661  25
19.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1:54.908  +4.342  20
20.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1:55.091  +4.525  16
21.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1:55.335  +4.769  22
22.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1:55.760  +5.194  22
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1:56.656  +6.090  21
24.  Ma Qing  Hua          HRT-Cosworth          1:58.053  +7.487  20

Second practice

Bruno Senna disrupted many teams' plans, after crashing out at turn 19. He clipped the barrier exiting the corner, skidded and damaged his suspension, and stalled on the racing line at turn 20. The red flag was deployed for several minutes, and Senna took no further part in proceedings.

Kimi Raikkonen - who was unhappy with his car's pace all day - was forced to abandon his high-fuel run, after a hydraulic issue. Like in FP1, he finished 12th.

Further down the grid, Timo Glock produced a stellar lap to finish only 2 tenths off Jean-Eric Vergne.

Again, Vettel was fastest on the super-soft tyres, this time by 0.3 seconds to Button.

Times from FP2:

Pos  Driver                Team                  Time               Laps
 1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault      1:48.340           27
 2.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes      1:48.651  +0.311   24
 3.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari               1:48.896  +0.556   26
 4.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault      1:48.964  +0.624   26
 5.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes      1:49.086  +0.746   28
 6.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes  1:49.300  +0.960   30
 7.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes  1:49.339  +0.999   31
 8.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes              1:49.790  +1.450   32
 9.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari               1:50.039  +1.699   28
10.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault         1:50.161  +1.821   23
11.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes              1:50.263  +1.923   23
12.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault         1:50.345  +2.005   24
13.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault      1:50.636  +2.296   32
14.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:50.791  +2.451   26
15.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari        1:51.122  +2.782   28
16.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari        1:51.450  +3.110   21
17.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault      1:51.452  +3.112   11
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari    1:52.004  +3.669   31
19.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth     1:52.218  +3.878   29
20.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault      1:52.576  +4.236   27
21.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth     1:52.863  +4.523   27
22.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault      1:52.936  +4.596   25
23.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth          1:54.448  +6.108   25
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth          1:54.514  +6.174   30

Valencia dropped, New Jersey confirmed for 2013 provisional calendar

The provisional calendar for the 2013 F1 season has been published by Autosport, confirming that the European Grand Prix at Valencia will not go ahead.

Instead, the race is expected to alternate with the Spanish Grand Prix in Catalunya from 2014 onwards.

The Grand Prix of America, taking place in New Jersey, has been slotted as the 8th race of the season, taking place a week after the Canadian Grand Prix.

The Hockenheim circuit has been named as the host for the German Grand Prix, despite the fact that it usually alternates with the Nurburgring. This has increased fears that the historic circuit is in financial trouble.

The race in New Jersey, as well as the Singapore and Korean Grands Prix are still provisional, pending the payment of FOM’s contractual fees.

Provisional 2013 F1 calendar:

1) Australia – March 17

2) Malaysia – March 24

3) China – April 14

4) Bahrain – April 21

5) Spain – May 12

6) Monaco – May 26

7) Canada – June 9

8) New Jersey – June 16

9) Britain – June 30

10) Nurburgring – July 21

11) Hungary – July 28

12) Belgium – September 1

13) Italy – September 8

14) Singapore – September 22

15) Japan – October 6

16) Korea – October 13

17) India  - October 27

18) Abu Dhabi – November 3

19) Austin – November 17

20) Brazil – November 24

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