Tag Archives: F1 2011

How the teams are shaping up after testing – Part 2

This is part 2 of a 3-post series, looking at each individual team with less than 2 weeks to go until Melbourne. So without further delay here are the next 4 teams:

Mercedes

Mercedes may well leap to the front in 2011

Mercedes may well leap to the front in 2011

After the fairytale double championship success of 2009, last year was a huge shock to the Brackley outfit. With only a handful of podiums courtesy of Rosberg, and Schumacher’s performances lacklustre at times, 2011 is a crucial year for the silver arrows.

Despite struggling in the first few test sessions, a large upgrade package has launched Mercedes back to the top of the testing timesheets. Although we aren’t exactly sure how the W02 is shaping up just yet, it seems as if the team has minimized the damage from the loss of the double diffuser and F-duct.

With Schumacher happier than last year with the slick tyres, things are looking up. Nico Rosberg appears to be very happy with the performance of the car, so race wins can’t be ruled out for either driver in 2011.

Renault

There's a lot more to the R31 than a shiny new livery

There's a lot more to the R31 than a shiny new livery

Despite the ongoing battle with Lotus over naming rights stealing the headlines (for all the wrong reasons), Renault may have made huge progress over the winter behind the scenes.

The front exhaust-blown diffuser looks like a stroke of genius, and rumours hint that there are more technical secrets hidden inside the R31. However, the temporary loss of Robert Kubica has shot down some of the high expectations they may have had. Despite Nick Heidfeld taking his seat, there are very few drivers in the world who could replace Kubica.

Vitaly Petrov is still learning, and podium finishes may be too much to ask. Heidfeld is fantastically consistent, but this means that the team will lose out in terms of raw performance.

Despite a radically designed car, Renault may still lose out, though by no fault of their own.

Williams

A radical rear end design may help or hinder Williams

A radical rear end design may help or hinder Williams

At first glances, Williams’ Fw33 doesn’t seem to be particularly exciting, having shied away in the midfield for most of testing. However, a closer look at the car will hint that the team have quietly produced a very interesting car.

With some difficulty, they have created their smallest-ever gearbox, which is crucial to having a tight rear end layout on the car, which benefits both aerodynamically and mechanically.

A low differential, combined with high-angle rear axles, have manipulated the rear wing to squeeze more downforce out of the car. Unfortunately, their coveted flywheel KERS will still not be run yet, the team opting to run a conventional battery system – for the moment.

The loss of several important sponsors has hurt the team financially, and perhaps this is what prompted them to drop Hulkenberg for sponsor-laden Maldonado. The PDVSA logos (Pastor’s sponsor) all over the FW33 demonstrates this.

Reliability appears to be a huge problem at the moment, but their raw pace has yet to be discovered.

Force India

Force India may struggle to improve

Force India may struggle to improve

The end of 2010 was very disappointing for Force India, considering the way they started the year battling near the frontrunners. 2011 has seen the field raise their game, and after losing two senior team personnel, the team may find this year just as difficult.

Both James Key and Mark Smith have left to join rival teams, leaving the technical department under-resourced. The blade roll-hoop design is risky, but apart from this there doesn’t seem to be huge leaps in design compared to the VJM03.

On the other hand, the arrival of Paul di Resta (who has beaten Sebastian Vettel in lower racing categories) should bring some extra pace. A Mercedes KERS system, by far the best of the pack in 2009, is also a huge boost.

However, I feel that this is not enough for Force India to even retain their ground. Their car has failed to impress many in testing, and the midfield will probably be the only battleground for the team in 2011.

The final post, part 3, will be up tomorrow.

How the teams are shaping up after testing – Part 1

After the conclusion of testing in Barcelona, we now have only 12 days until the start of the 2011 F1 season in Melbourne. The cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix has given us more time to examine the new fleet of cars, and the season outlook varies drastically for some compared to others.

This is part 1 of a 3-part preview for the 2011 season.

Red Bull

Red Bull go into 2011 as firm favourites

Red Bull go into 2011 as firm favourites

Despite clashes between their drivers, reliability issues, and the odd spot of bad luck, Red Bull still deserved to take the title last year.

They move into the 2011 season with improvements to make, but with aerodynamics guru Adrian Newey on board, the RB7 looks as revolutionary as ever. Without the double diffuser, the Red Bull has lost a certain amount of rear grip, but most believe that it is a smaller loss compared to other teams.

In testing they have shown good pace throughout, and with less relaibility worries than expected. Most personnel are confident, with Mark Webber stating a week ago that the team were “ready to go” to Australia.

Tactical expertise shown last year should also help, with the new 2, 3 or even 4-stop races shaking up the formbook for the leading teams.

With world champion Vettel looking to continue his form, and Webber looking to put one over his team-mate, Red Bull are without a doubt the team to beat.

McLaren

Just like with their 2009 car, McLaren may well struggle this year

Just like with their 2009 car, McLaren may well struggle this year

All is not well in McLaren, and a brief look at the testing timesheets tells the story.

Having completed the least miles out of all the 2011 cars (excluding HRT), McLaren were already on the back foot. That, combined with reliability woes, and much less knowledge about their car compared to their rivals, the MP4-26 may well be another disaster for the team.

It’s happening unusually often for such a professional team. 2009, 2006 and 2004 saw the team enter the season with disastrously off-the-pace cars. A substansial re-design saved face in 2004 and 2009, but their radical designs do not seem to work as often as many would have hoped.

Having said that, several aspects may work to their advantage, particularly KERS. The McLaren unit was by far the most efficient of the 2009 season, and it should be the same in 2011.

Despite this, 2011 may well be another year of playing catch-up.

Ferrari

Ferrari look likely to rival Red Bull

Ferrari look likely to rival Red Bull

Just like in 2008, Ferrari suffered a last-gasp loss at the season finale, with Fernando Alonso losing out to Vettel and Red Bull in Abu Dhabi. This year, testing form indicates that the Scuderia are on course to be battling with Vettel and Webber at the front once again.

A technical reshuffle over the winter has revitalised the team, as well as the additions of Pat Fry and Neil Marting, both from rival teams.

Fernando Alonso is clearly the team’s lead driver at the moment, commanding the team with a presence not seen since the glory days of Michael Schumacher. Stunning victories such as his one in Singapore prove he is on top form. Felipe Massa suffered a torrid 2010, being shunted out of a win by his own team, and losing momentum after that. This year, he hopes that the Pirelli tyres suit his driving style better.

A huge asset to the team has been the ridiculous amount of mileage they have completed so far this year. With over 6,000km in testing, Ferrari have already completed more than an entire season’s worth of laps. This, as well as bulletproof reliability, will bolster the team as they look to win their first championship trophy in 3 years.

Part 2 will be up soon.

Liuzzi confirmed at Hispania for 2011

Liuzzi is the last of the 24 drivers to be announced for 2011

Liuzzi is the last of the 24 drivers to be announced for 2011

Vitantonio Liuzzi has been announced as Hispania Racing’s second driver for the 2011 season.

He is the final driver to take his place on the grid, and he will race alongside Narain Karthikeyan this year.

Christian Klien was also in the running for the final slot, but Liuzzi was confirmed by the team today. Team principal Colin Kolles stated:

"Tonio is a very professional driver who will bring a lot of benefits to the team.

I have known Tonio for many years as he raced with me in lower categories.

I am convinced about his skills to develop a car and his speed. He has shown this in 
the past having contributed to a large extend developing and moving a back grid car 
to the front. I had the pleasure of working with him and I am very happy and proud 
to have him racing with Hispania Racing.”

Vitantonio lost his race seat at Force India early this year, despite having a contract to race with them this year. He has said that he had “never lost hope” fighting to stay in F1:

“I am really happy to have signed this agreement with Hispania Racing.

I never lost hope to be in Formula One as I knew I have the experience and the 
right attributes for a young and ambitious team. I face a new challenge now and 
this excites me.

I also face a lot of hard work in guiding Hispania Racing through the development 
of our new car. I am extremely grateful to José Ramon Carabante and to Colin 
Kolles for giving me such an opportunity.”

In a separate announcement, HRT have stated that they will present their 2011 car and drivers on Friday afternoon in Barcelona.

Klien still in talks with Hispania

Christian Klien is still hopeful of a 2011 drive

Christian Klien is still hopeful of a 2011 drive

As it has been for some time, there is only one seat left to be filled for the 2011 season – the second driver role at Hispania. Christian Klien has revealed that he is still in talks to take the final race seat.

Klien, who drove for 5 races for HRT last year, impressed the team by out-qualifying Bruno Senna on multiple occasions. However, he has recently been on the back foot, as both Vitantonio Liuzzi and Giorgio Mondini have been testing in last year’s F110.

Despite this, Christian remains confident of racing in F1 this year. In an interview published on his own site, he stated:

"My manager Roman Rummenigge is in permanent contact with the team's management. 
Needless to say I would love to drive for HRT. I am convinced the team will make 
good progress and surprise a few people. In Geoff Willis and chief designer Paul 
White they have engineers who know very well how to build competitive racing cars. 
I would love to develop it further. And they are masters of efficiency like no 
other team on the grid."

Even if Klien gets the drive, he and the team will be faced with the huge challenge of developing a car, three weeks before the start of the F1 season, that hasn’t turned a wheel yet. Despite this, he remains hopeful that Hispania can become more competitive than last year:

"Each day matters. But if you look back how this team rose from the ashes of another 
operation at the beginning of 2010, you will have no doubt HRT will make the most of 
its limited resources in 2011. They have a solid and analytical way of facing 
challenges."

The rest of the interview is available on Christian’s website.

Bahrain Grand Prix called off

The 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix has been postponed

The 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix has been postponed

After a week of violence in Bahrain, the country’s prince has decided that the 2011 F1 season opener will not take place.

Instead the season will commence in Melbourne, Australia, on the 25th-27th March.

The announcement was made earlier today by the Crown Prince of Bahrain Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa:

“We felt it was important for the country to focus on immediate issues of 
national interest.

Bahrain’s priority is on overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering 
the fabric that draws this country together to remind the world of the very best 
that Bahrain is capable of as a nation once again united.”

It is currently unknown whether the race will take place at a later date, or be cancelled entirely. However, an FIA statement has referred to the race as being “postponed”:

“The Federation Internationale de l’Automobile supports the decision of the 
Bahrain Motor Federation and the Bahrain International Circuit to postpone the 
scheduled first Grand Prix of the 2011 season due to be held in the Kingdom of 
Bahrain on March 11-13.

This decision is the outcome of the close co-operation between the FIA, Formula 
One Management, the Bahrain Motor Federation and the Bahrain International Circuit.”

Similarly, the pre-season test in Bahrain, on the 3rd of March, has also been cancelled. Barcelona will organise another test on the 8th-11th March to take its place. Also, the two-week gap where the Grand Prix should have been may also play host to another test elsewhere.

After the horrific violence seen in recent days, there is no doubt that this was the right decision. Even if clashes quell soon enough, the time taken for the country to repair will take weeks or months, and it would be of no service to the people to host a Grand Prix during that time.

In F1 terms, focus will eventually switch to when the race will (probably) be rescheduled. While the event may be moved to the final round slot, I feel it should take place on the 6th November, a week after the Indian Grand Prix, and a week before the Abu Dhabi GP. The thinking behind this is that the close proximity to Abu Dhabi will eliminate the problem of 3 Grands Prix in 3 weeks.

Heidfeld confirmed as Kubica’s replacement

Nick Heidfeld has been chosen as Renault's driver for 2011

Nick Heidfeld has been chosen as Renault's driver for 2011

The Renault team have confirmed that Nick Heidfeld will replace the injured Robert Kubica for the 2011 season.

Nick was always the favourite for the drive, after leading the third day of testing in Jerez after a 1-day trial with the team.

Nick said:

“I would have liked to come back to Formula 1 in different circumstances, but I’m 
proud to have been given this chance.

Everything has happened so quickly, but I’ve been very impressed by what I have 
seen so far in terms of the facilities and the dedication of the people at Enstone.

I really enjoyed the test last week in Jerez and I’ve already settled in well with 
the guys at the track. I have a good feeling for the car, which is quite innovative. 
I’m extremely motivated and can’t wait for the season to begin.”

Interestingly, when Robert Kubica was asked who he would prefer to be his replacement, he stated that he would have picked Vitantonio Liuzzi, Force India’s driver last year. The 26-year-old is friends with both drivers.

Ferrari F150 launched

The new Ferrari F150

The new Ferrari F150

The first of the 2011 Formula 1 cars have been revealed, with Ferrari showing off their newest challenger: the F150.

The 150 in the name is in recognition of 150 years since Italy’s unification. It was launched today at the team’s base in Maranello.

The new Ferrari F150

A front-angle view of the Ferrari F150

In technical terms, it’s certainly a case of evolution over revolution. The shark-fin engine cover has been dropped, in favour of the conventional engine cover. The nose cone is much higher than the F10, and becomes wider near the front. The entire rear wing is now mounted to the central pylon.

Several new sections on the rear wing of the Ferrari F150

Several new sections on the rear wing of the Ferrari F150

Eagle-eyed viewers may notice that the front wing is exactly the same as the one used at the end of last year, seeing as it has the adjustable section (which is banned for 2011). This probably means that we will see an interim 2011 front wing in testing.

The top rear wing flap is new, presumably to be used as the adjustable rear wing section. The bottom section of the rear wing has also been rounded off.

Other aerodynamic pieces, such as the turning vanes and bargeboards, remain the same.

The livery is generally the same, apart from the new Ferrari logo on the engine cover, replacing the barcode design of last year. The Italian flag colours new feature on the back of the rear wing.

In an interview, Stefano Domenicali said that there are “too many very good teams” and that their team “would not underestimate anyone”:

Here is a video walk-around of the F150:

 

Di Resta joins Sutil, Hulkenberg test driver for Force India

Di Resta and Sutil are Force India's race drivers, while Hulkenberg is test driver

Di Resta and Sutil are Force India's race drivers, while Hulkenberg is test driver

After weeks of speculation, Paul di Resta has finally been announced as the second driver for Force India.

He will join Adrian Sutil, while Nico Hulkenberg has been appointed as the team’s test driver. There is no news yet as to what will happen with Vitantonio Liuzzi.

Di Resta was unveiled today in Glasgow, at a press conference for sponsor Whyte & Mackay. He said:

"Naturally I am thrilled to be making my race debut this season. Becoming an 
F1 driver has been a long-held ambition of mine, something I’ve wanted to do 
since I first stepped into a kart, and to finally realise it feels amazing. 
I’ve worked really hard for this opportunity throughout my career and to get 
it with Force India, a young team that’s got ambitions as big as mine, is 
genuinely exciting. I can’t wait to be on the grid in Bahrain, it can’t come 
soon enough."

Test driver Hulkenberg sounded slightly less happy with his role:

"I am happy I can stay in F1 in 2011. I am looking forward to working with 
Force India and I am sure the team will continue improving in the future. I 
appreciate the team trusting me by signing a long-term contract. I will do 
my very best to live up to expectations."

The team have also published an interview with Di Resta:

Q&A with Paul di Resta

Paul, you are now a full-time, fully-fledged Formula 1 driver. What are your thoughts on making your F1 debut this year?
Naturally I am thrilled to be making my race debut this season. Becoming an F1 driver has been a long-held ambition of mine, something I’ve wanted to do since I first stepped into a kart, and to finally realise it feels amazing. I’ve worked really hard for this opportunity throughout my career and to get it with Force India, a young team that’s got ambitions as big as mine, is genuinely exciting. I can’t wait to be on the grid in Bahrain, it can’t come soon enough!

How have you been preparing for your first season?
I’ve been working on fitness to be completely ‘race fit’ and I’ll have some simulator sessions before the start of the testing programme. We will decide the days I will do very shortly, but I should be in the car at each of the tests to make sure the team and I have as much information as possible about the new car and its behaviour. I’ve been spending as much time as I can in the factory as well – even though I know the team very well from last season, I am strengthening those relationships so we function at our best level as a team.

You have stepped up from the test driver role, what do you think you’ll gain from that experience?
Obviously I know the team very well, and understanding how people work and the systems and procedures in place gives a real advantage as everything you do is improving, rather than learning from scratch. I will also know some of the circuits from my Friday experience so getting up to speed on those weekends will be quicker and easier. It’s an ideal position to be in when you make your race debut.

Which circuits are you looking forward to this year? How much experience do you have on some of them?
Silverstone will obviously be very special as it’s my home Grand Prix. Last year I was lucky enough to drive in the Friday practice session and was the first out on track so I could hear the crowd. The atmosphere was amazing so I’ll be geared up for that race. Equally all the circuits are special in some respects – Monza has the history, Belgium that incredible track and Singapore the lights. Really it will be about optimising every opportunity I have on and off track.

You’ll be the third British driver on the grid this year, but also joining some of the greatest names in British and Scottish motorsport. How does it feel to be stepping up to this level?
Britain has produced some great drivers over the years and Lewis and Jenson have really stood out in recent seasons as two back to back world champions. To be on the grid with them is pretty special. To then follow in the footsteps of some other great names – Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark for example – is a real honour and I hope that I will do justice to their achievements.

What will your aims be for the coming season?
Initially it will be to learn from the bottom up and create a solid foundation. Learn the tracks, understand the car and get the information everyone needs to achieve the ambitious goals we have set ourselves. To do this, we need to finish as many races as possible and to make sure that when we finish we’re in the points.

Have your family or anyone given you any advice?
They are all so pleased that I’ve been given this opportunity, but no one has told me what to do or what not to do, but I know that if I need some help or advice, all I need to do is ask. My father in particular has worked just as hard as I have to make this happen and to see his smile when we get to the grid in Bahrain will make me really proud.

Will you be competing in any other series this year, as you did last year, or will your attention be focussed on F1?
No, F1 will be my only series this year. With 20 races on the calendar, that doesn’t leave a lot of time to compete in anything else! I’ve waited a long time to get this chance and now all my efforts are going into this to be as successful as I can.

You’ve got two very quick team-mates, both of whom have F1 race experience. How do you think your respective talents will benefit each other?
Having two team-mates that have competed in F1 is an advantage as you have people who know the tracks, the business and how to deal with certain situations you only get when you are racing. Equally I hope that I can bring some experience from my outings last year, what I know about the team and a different perspective on things. I think we’ll complement each

Force India poised to unveil Di Resta

Paul di Resta is about to be confirmed at Force India on Wednesday

Paul di Resta is about to be confirmed at Force India on Wednesday

After a lengthy contract tussle involving Vitantonio Liuzzi, Paul di Resta is finally set to be revealed as Force India’s second driver. He will be unveiled at a press conference in Glasgow on Wednesday, to race alongside Adrian Sutil for 2011.

Over the last few weeks, 2009 and 2010 driver Liuzzi has been struggling to retain his drive for this year. It is presumed that he and Force India have come to an agreement to end his contract prematurely.

Meanwhile, the Scot has had a contract with the Silverstone-based team, but these contract difficulties have meant that he could not be confirmed. However, it appears that the debate is finally over, and he will gain a race seat with the team in 2011.

In 2010, Di Resta operated with the team as a test driver, driving the car during several Friday Practice sessions. He also won the DTM championship with Mercedes, in which he had finished 2nd and 3rd in previous years.

With this, the supply of race seats for 2011 has nearly dried up, with only one position left: the seat alongside Narain Karthikeyan at HRT.

Pirelli aiming for two-stop races

Pedro de la Rosa testing Pirelli wet tyres in Abu Dhabi

Pedro de la Rosa testing Pirelli wet tyres in Abu Dhabi

Pirelli have stated that they are still hoping to have every Grand Prix next year to incorporate two-stop strategies. The plan is to use much softer and quicker-wearing tyre compounds than those used in recent years.

The extremely durable Bridgestones last year were certainly effective at lasting the distance – too well, many would say. Strategies last year were often the same, and on several occasions, drivers could use the softer tyres until the second last lap with no difficulties.

Occasionally, races last year such as Montreal produced fantastic racing because of heavily degrading tyres on both compounds, and Pirelli aim to emulate this for the 2011 season.

Paul Hembery, motorsport director at Pirelli, said that the company would try their best, but could not guarantee results at every race:

"We hope to have at least two tyre changes in every race. We want to try to 
create more of a show.

We will try to play our part to create as much interest in the sport as 
possible. But we have to be realistic. This is our first year and some of 
the tracks we can't possibly test at - like the street circuits, or the new 
circuits.

We have asked the sport to consider testing new compounds during the season 
and they have suggested, verbally at least, that it could be possible in 
Friday first practices to try different compounds."

Up to this point, Pirelli have completed nearly 13,000 kilometres in testing. Currently, they are testing their wet weather tyres at the artificially wet Abu Dhabi track. According to reports, they will be supplying 50,000 tyres to Formula 1 per season.

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