Tag Archives: F1 2012

Perez and Kobayashi to remain at Sauber for 2012

Both Perez and Kobayashi have impressed this year

Both Perez and Kobayashi have impressed this year

Sauber have retained both rookie Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi for the 2012 season.

Perez has had a difficult season so far, missing out on several races after his crash in Hungary. However, he has performed very well in the races, with the best tyre conservation record on the grid.

Kobayashi will start his 3rd season with Sauber next year, the team that rescued his career after the collapse of Toyota. Kamui is well known for his spectacular offensive overtaking moves.

Team principal Peter Sauber has stated:

"We are very pleased with our drivers.

Kamui has grown into his role extremely well this year. Though it is only his second 
full Formula One season, he is already taking on the responsibilities that naturally 
fall to the more experienced driver in the team.

We are delighted with him at both a sporting and a personal level. We had an option 
of working with him in 2012 and there was never any doubt that we would take it.

Sergio has achieved more than one could expect from a rookie. From the very first 
race he proved that he is capable of driving not only fast but consistently as well.

And after the accident in Monaco he demonstrated that he can handle difficult 
situations too. From the outset we had already signed a contract with Sergio that 
went beyond 2011. With a rookie that always entails a certain risk, of course, but 
clearly it has paid off."

Red Bull eyeing up Webber replacement?

Less than 3 days after Mark Webber sensationally ignored team orders at the British Grand Prix, rumours are abound that Red Bull is looking for a replacement for the Aussie.

Lagging 80 points behind world champion Sebastian Vettel, and clearly not gelling with the team’s bias towards Seb, Webber has made his feelings clear in the last few days:

"I am not fine with it [team orders]. No. That's the answer to that. If Fernando 
retires on the last lap we are battling for the victory so I was fine until the 
end. Of course I ignored the team as I want to try and get another place."

However, the Red Bull team appear to disagree with Webber’s view. Helmut Marko, well known as giving little attention to anyone but Vettel, has hinted at replacing Mark:

"We have other options but I don’t want to talk about them now."

In recent days, it has emerged that the team are in secret talks with Kimi Raikkonen, 2007 F1 world champion and current WRC driver. These reports were first made by German newspaper Bild, and they claim this leak comes from a source “at the highest level”.

Raikkonen himself has recently said to a journalist: “I have never said that my Formula 1 career is over.”

Williams to use Renault engines from 2012

The coveted Renault RS27-2011 engine which Williams will use next year

The coveted Renault RS27-2011 engine which Williams will use next year

Williams F1 have announced that they will switch to using Renault engines from the start of the 2012 season.

This will cause quite the case of nostalgia for the sport’s more experienced fans, as the last time Williams and Renault teamed up were the glory days of 1989-1997. In this time, the team won 5 constructor’s titles and 4 driver’s championships.

This new deal will cover 2012 and 2013. With the engine regulation change set for 2014, talks are already underway to extend the contract past this time.

Frank Williams has stated:

We are delighted and excited by our new partnership with Renault. This reunites the 
F1 team with a leading car manufacturer and complements our new relationship with 
Jaguar.

At the same time, we are grateful to Cosworth: they have been a fair and reliable 
partner both on and off the track for the past two years and we look forward to 
working with them across our business in the future.

Our previous relationship with Renault was one of the most successful in Williams’ 
history but we will not allow ourselves to dwell too much on the past.

We must look to the future and continue to re-build our on-track reputation, which 
I am hopeful that today’s announcement will help us to do.

Apart from Williams themselves, who will now use the same power plant as world champions Red Bull, the biggest winner here is Renault. The French manufacturer will now supply engines to 4 teams next year, a third of the entire grid.

On the other hand, Cosworth have now been dealt a huge blow, with Virgin and HRT now their only customers, which will do them no good for their image.

Over the last few years, it has been believed that Renault have been allowed to make minor modifications to their engine package, despite the engine freeze since 2008. These changes were to balance the power output between their engines and those of Mercedes.

However, since the refuelling ban last year, it has emerged that the Renault engine is much more conservative in terms of fuel efficiency. It is claimed that teams with Renault engines can run with 10kg less fuel than their rivals (excluding modifications which increase fuel consumption, such as hot blown diffusers).

Korean GP now 6 months earlier in 2012 F1 calendar

The official calendar for the 2012 F1 season has been released by the FIA today.

After today’s announcement, the Bahrain Grand Prix will of course show, as it is back as the season opener. One week later is Australia, which is already causing teams to be worried about logistical difficulties.

The Korean GP is now the 5th race of the year, on the 22nd April. The Turkish GP is in 6th, but is “subject to confirmation”, as it currently does not have a contract for the 2012 season.

The highly-anticipated US Grand Prix, at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, is 10th on the 17th June. It also goes back-to-back with the Canadian GP a week earlier as expected.

This pushes the European season into July. The Indian, Abu Dhabi and Brazilian Grands Prix conclude the season.

The addition of the US makes the 2012 season the longest ever (again), featuring 21 races.

Here is the full list:

2012 FIA Formula One World Championship calendar:
11/03 Bahrain
18/03 Australia
01/04 Malaysia
08/04 China
22/04 Korea
06/05 Turkey *
20/05 Spain
27/05 Monaco
10/06 Canada
17/06 United States
01/07 Valencia, Spain
15/07 Great Britain
29/07 Germany
05/08 Hungary
02/09 Belgium
09/09 Italy
30/09 Singapore
14/10 Japan
28/10 India
11/11 Abu Dhabi
25/11 Brazil
* Subject to confirmation

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.

 

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.

Webber hinting at 2011 exit

While earlier in the year he silenced the critics who speculated that he would soon retire, Mark Webber appears to be slowly backtracking, as he talked about the possibility of leaving Formula 1 after the 2011 season.

Mark Webber has said that he cannot guarantee him racing in F1 in 2012

Mark Webber has said that he cannot guarantee him racing in F1 in 2012

The 33-year-old (34 on Friday), who first entered the sport with Minardi in 2002, has been improving all the time, and is now leading the driver’s championship for the first time as well. However, while talking to Globo, he said that he could not guarantee him driving in Formula 1 from 2012 onwards.

He said:

“I can not guarantee that my head will be in the same place in 
2012. Sure, I want to try and win the world title, I know that 
it changes people's lives; it changes the person and I want to 
see how it feels. 

I also want you to realise that athletes can get over their 
dreams, though. Maybe I'll end up doing a little hiking, I 
don’t know, but surely some more sporting challenges before 
I get too old and return to Australia to drink red wine.”

To be honest, it wouldn’t be too surprising to see Webber leave after 2011. While he is driving better than ever before, it must be noted that he will be 36 at the end of 2011, and if his heart isn’t in it then, there is little point staying. To lead the world championship, and be in contention to win it, must be propelling him through this season, but maybe the team’s favouritism of Sebastian Vettel has had an impact on him.

Only time will tell, but before he leaves, whenever that is, I would like for him to win a championship, and he certainly deserves it this year.

Kubica commits to Renault until 2012

Robert Kubica has announced that he is committing to the Renault team, after signing a new contract that will see him remain at the French outfit until the end of 2012. The Polish driver has, in his limited time with the team so far, made a huge impression and has scored massive points for the team.

Robert Kubica will continue to race at Renault until 2012

Robert Kubica will continue to race at Renault until 2012

Kubica said this about the new deal:

"It was a straightforward decision for me to continue with a team 
where I feel at home.

What’s important for me is to be in the right atmosphere, with a 
good group of people, where everybody is pulling in the same 
direction. This is what we have tried to build from the beginning 
of my time with Renault."

Team boss Eric Boullier outlined his plans for Kubica until 2012:

"There have been many rumours surrounding his future in recent 
weeks, which were a tribute to how well he has driven this year, 
and we are very happy to have agreed a multi-year deal.

Our clear goal is to become title contenders over the next two 
years. To do so, we need a driver of Robert’s calibre: somebody 
who is fast, totally committed and doesn’t make mistakes. His 
performances during the first half of the 2010 season were flawless,
and we hope to achieve great things together in the future."

This really was a no-brainer for Kubica, as there was no spaces available at any of the top teams, with Felipe Massa and Mark Webber both recently extending their contracts at Ferrari and Red Bull respectively. As Boullier said, the aim for Renault now should be to be in contention for championships by 2012, which should be no problem with Kubica at the wheel, provided the car is up to scratch.

Ecclestone snubs HD until 2012: “More interest needed”

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone

Bernie Ecclestone has dismissed the idea of HD broadcasting in Formula 1 in the near future, saying that more interest is needed and more broadcasters must be available for it first. This is despite the recent FOTA survey saying that increasing amounts of F1 fans want the sport available in HD.

At the moment, Bernie believes that the cameras and equipment are up to the job of filming Formula 1 in HD, which was shown by the announcement that F1 was to be filmed in HD this year. However, he also argues that not enough broadcasters are currently available to show it, and many F1 fans wouldn’t be able to watch it in HD at the moment. He said:

"We don't want to broadcast unless people want it. I asked in 
England, the BBC, about it - how many people can receive it? They 
said about 20 per cent of the viewers who watch F1.

Then I want to make sure that what we produce is top quality. Before 
we start seeing the top-top quality that we want, I would say it will 
probably be 2012 before we can guarantee it.

I said to the broadcasters, are you going to get more viewers, will 
more people watch F1 because it is HD or will less people watch it 
because it isn't? They really need to have a check and see who has 
got the right televisions.

I don't think the average public realise that it is not the 
television, they have to have something to receive it as well. It 
is like producing a colour signal when people only have 
black-and-white sets."

You know what? Bernie is making quite a bit of sense here. First of all, I feel that only the BBC would take up the opportunity to broadcast Formula 1 in HD at this time, as the other channels wouldn’t have the capabilities for it. This wouldn’t be viable for the cost of bringing in HD in the first place.

Secondly, many people who watch the BBC coverage don’t have HD televisions, as Bernie said. If only 20% of viewers would watch F1 in HD, then there is little to no point in broadcasting in HD – not for the moment anyway. Personally, I wouldn’t be able to watch F1 in HD, even if it was made available.

The advantages for HD, at the moment, aren’t enough to convince Ecclestone to switch, and the notion of 3D is well off as well. When questioned about this future technlogy, Bernie stated: “So many people are saying the future is 3D. It is not 3D at all. It is one-and-a-half D.”

Jersey City bins Grand Prix plan

Well that was quick – the mayor of Jersey City has refused to give support to the planned F1 race in the area, which was announced only yesterday.

Mayor Jerramiah T. Healy said that the F1 race would be completely unsuited to Liberty State Park, and it would have a negative effect on the community:

"After a review of the draft proposal prepared by the City's
Tourism Office, I have come to the same conclusion...that this
type of event is not suited for Liberty State Park.

While we work to attract national and international events to
our city, we must ensure that they are appropriate and will have
the least impact upon the quality of life of our residents and
our community."

A plan had been made to host the New York Grand Prix in Liberty State Park, but simply appeared terrible in every single way. The track was a complete mess, and it was right in the middle of a national park. I’m delighted, and I hope you are too, and so are Friends of Liberty State Park, who were opposing the project:

"Mayor Healy did reach out to me yesterday and we had a very 
constructive conversation.

Instead of a negative wasteful controversy, we can all focus on working together on 
positive efforts to benefit Jersey City and Liberty State Park."

So, where now for plans for a race in New York? I’m delighted about this news, but at the same time would love a race in New York.

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