Tag Archives: Heikki Kovalainen

18th February- Testing results- Barrichello storms through the rain

Today in Jerez, we again saw the weather hamper runnings, but not without some good news. For example, Barrichello proved he has pace in the Williams, and the Virgin finally got up to speed.

Once again, as the session started at 8, the track was damp and required intermidiates. Unlike the other days, all the teams are pessimistic about the forecast. Inside Ferrari simply says on Twitter: “Nothing new at Jerez: just rain, rain and more rain to come…”

The good news is that Timo Glock was straight out of the pits today in the Virgin, and within half an hour had set 15 laps. But, he speared off at the Michelin corner (turn 2), and the red flags were out while his car was being recovered. When the session resumed, Felipe Massa led the way with a 1.30 time. At 9:00, Heikki Kovalainen made his first laps for Lotus, made 3 installation laps, but failed to set a time, and returned to the pits soon after. Yesterday’s power steering issue had been resolved, so the team were confident. Worryingly enough, Glock’s off was more serious than anticipated, as the doors to the Virgin garage were locked off as the car was taken apart for repairs. He didn’t actually hit anything when he spun, but it is believed thata mechanical problem of some sort caused the spin.

Timo Glock after spinning off

Timo Glock after spinning off

By 9:20, Ferrari were reporting a problem with Massa’s car, saying: “We have a technical issue: the stop will not be short… Nothing serious but it will take time to sort it out.” The rain soon got heavier, and more was forecast for later today. The rain got so heavy that all of the electricity sockets in the media centre lost power, because of electrical problems. Lewis Hamilton made the call for extreme wets at 9:40, and his fastest lap in his 5-lap run was a 1.36, showing how bad the conditions had become. By 10:00, the red flag was shown, not for an incident, but because there was so much standing water on the track. While the teams regrouped, it turned out that there was a problem with Kovalainen’s Lotus. It is unclear what happened, but a picture was taken, so you can see for yourself.

A problem in the Lotus pits

A problem in the Lotus pits

In fact, by 10:30, the weather was so bad the teams couldn’t even practice pit stops. The media centre apparently didn’t even have lighting, the journalist’s laptop lights were the only brightness in the room. Let’s make it clear, though, that this is nowhere near the monsoon we saw at Malaysia last year. Vettel, Kovalainen, Glock and Buemi all went out soon, but didn’t manage much, although Glock and Vettel did get good mileage in the conditions. By 11:30, Glock had finished a 13-lap stint, leaving him with 40 laps already under his belt. Plenty of cars braved the conditions, but few set good lap time, mostly in the 1.35 range. At 11:50, Kovalainen ran off at Turn 3, after an 8-lap run, and got stuck in the gravel. His front wing was badly damaged, so Lotus were forced to evaluate the damage to the car.

Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus being towed after his crash

Heikki Kovalainen's Lotus being towed after his crash

By 12:30, conditions were slightly improving, with no rain falling, but the track still wet and windy. Vitaly Petrov managed a 1.30.6, a good lap in those conditions. Everyone was still on extreme wets at this point. Rubens Barrichello was alternating betwen very fast and very slow laps, getting a 1.27 and a 1.35 in the same 17-lap stint. His best and worst times were 9 seconds apart, showing you how varying the conditions were. It wasn’t the rain that was hampering the team’s efforts, it was the wind. Inside Ferrari reported: “The wind is making the day even more troubled…” The good news was, the track was improving, as Petrov got into the 1.27.8 by 13:00.

By 1, everyone knew that the Lotus would be out of action for the day. Kovalainen was apologetic on his Twitter account, while Mike Gascoyne said: “Slight off for Heikki. Knocked off the front wing. Spare on its way but will not be here until 2am in the morning so no more running today” . “Conditions drying up so a shame not to get any dry running today”. Up to about 14:00, there was little change at Jerez, at the track still wasn’t drying out enough. Paul di Resta handed over his car to Vitantonio Liuzzi at 2, and he got stuck in immidiately, setting a 1.30.6 after 9 laps. Many teams had given up on conditions, such as Ferrari, who decided to practice pitstops, as the Williams crew watched them sometimes.

Pit stop practice for the Williams crew

Pit stop practice for the Williams crew

At 14:30, Timo Glock went out, and was the only man on track for 15 minutes, before Petrov joined him. Glock finished an 8-lap run, his fastest lap being 1.31, and getting up to 46 laps. He pitted, went straight back out, and instantly set a 1.30.4, only 3 seconds behind Barrichello. This pushed them up to 8th in today’s standings. Unfortunately, by 15:00, most of the teams were either practicing pit stops or testing race preparations. While many cars went out at the end for a final run, they were nowhere near the pace they needed, so it was a frustrating end to the day for everyone. Barrcihello’s earlier lap of 1.27.145 was the fastest of the day, followed by Petrov, Vettel, Rosberg, Massa, De la Rosa, di Resta, Glock, Liuzzi, Hamilton, Buemi and Kovalainen. Barrichello set the most laps, with 98, while de la Rosa only got in 8 in the morning. Barrichello’s fastest lap meant that 6 different teams have topped the timesheets in as many testing days. This is very good news for this season, even if most of it was in the wet.

The predicted floods never arrived, but it was close to it in the morning. The good news is, better conditions are forecast for tomorrow.

Update: Virgin have released a video of their day in Jerez. Clearly they had nothing better to do while it was wet :P (extreme Virgin joke reference possibility!)

Today’s times:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. R. Barrichello Williams FW32 1.27.145 98
2. V. Petrov Renault R30 1.27.828 +0.683 56
3. S. Vettel Red Bull RB6 1.28.162 +1.017 70
4. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.28.515 +1.370 71
5. F. Massa Ferrari F10 1.28.879 +1.734 92
6. P. de la Rosa Sauber C29 1.29.691 +2.546 8
7. P. di Resta Force India VJM03 1.30.344 +3.199 33
8.

9.

10.

11.

12.

T. Glock

V. Liuzzi

L. Hamilton

S. Buemi

H. Kovalainen

Virgin

F. India

McLaren

T.Rosso

Lotus

VR-01

VJM03

MP4-25

STR5

T127

1.30.476

1.30.666

1.31.633

1.32.678

1.33.554

+3.331

+3.521

+4.488

+5.533

+6.409

72

24

57

57

30

Pictures from today’s test:

New Lotus T127 launched

The new Lotus T127

The new Lotus T127

The Lotus T127 has been launched in London today.

As I reported a few days ago, the team are to use the same livery that they used in the 1950′s and 1960′s. This is green, with yellow stripes.

The last time Lotus raced in Formula 1 was in 1994. The team is now owned by Air Asia chief executive officer Tony Fernandes.

At the launch, Fernandes said:

“Words cannot express how I feel today. It is an amazing job to get an F1 licence, have five people in Hingham and turn up today with this car.”

“I was thrilled when Clive [Chapman] said that this was just like te beginning of Lotus back in the early days.”

Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen are to be the team’s drivers for 2010. They will join the other teams in Jerez testing next week. The car has already been shaken down, in Silverstone last week. The engne firing-up was completed a few days beforehand.

Clearly, the Lotus name puts a lot of pressure on Fernandes. Speaking at the launch, he said:

“We know we have a huge burden on our shoulers, standing on the shoulder of giants – Clark, Moss, Hill, and Mansell. We know we have a tremendous journey in front of us, we are honoured and cherished to be a part of history – we will leave no stone unturned in our efforts and we will do our best to return Lotus to its glory days.”

The livery looks great, as it really suits the car design. There are parts of the car that appear very well designed, like the hugely complicated front wing and endplate sections. The mid-section of the car looks good also. However, I’m slightly concerned at the simplicity of the rear wing and nose cone. The rear wing is incredibly plain and boxy, with no endplate add-on at the sides. The nose cone, while slightly similar to others in places, does not incorporate Red Bull’s horned nose design.

Having said that, the design doesn’t look bad, so I’m looking forward to their efforts in 2010.

Pictures from the launch:

Briatore to sue FIA for “loss of income”

Flavio Briatore, when managing Renault

Flavio Briatore, when managing Renault

Former Renault team boss Flavio Briatore announced today that he is to pursue legal proceedings against the FIA, for the loss of income to his driver managment business.

The FIA had previously banned Briatore from all motorsport, after he was found to have conspired with Nelson Piquet Jr and Pat Symonds to cause a crash at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix.

Last month, a Parisian court overturned this ruling, saying that the FIA did not have the authority to remove Briatore from the sport. However, the ban had meant that many of Briatore’s drivers had left his agency. This included Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen and Lucas di Grassi. Briatore told The Telegraph that the FIA would be sued for the money lost because of this.

“We lost Alonso, we lost [Heikki] Kovalainen, we lost several drivers,” he said. “We will sue the FIA for the money we lost.”

The FIA has already announced that it is to appeal the French court’s decision.

In my opinion, this can only end in disaster. Alonso, Kovalainen and Di Grassi left of their own accord, not because of the threat of having their superlicenses removed. This court battle is only giving negative publicity to a scandal which should have been closed up months ago.

Schumacher impressed by Mercedes

Michael Schumacher visiting the Mercedes GP factory in Brackley

Michael Schumacher visiting the Mercedes GP factory in Brackley

Michael Schumacher has said that he is impressed by the work of the people in Mercedes. He visited the Brackley factory for 2 days this week, as part of getting to know the team before the season starts.

He had visited the team factory in December also, as part of finalising his deal to drive with them next year.

On his personal website, he wrote:

“I have been in the factory in Brackley now for two days and spent the time to get to know the engineers and the structures a bit better, and I am extremely positive surprised about how motivated everbody was. This a world champion team but it does not seem to be spoilt by success at all; it seems to be hungry for more instead!”

The trip marked the start of his serious work with the team, as they prepare for the 2010 season.

“It is important for me to be informed about everything and it was very interesting to get to understand the engineers and their structures and the way they work. I was there already around the time of the signature of the contract and learned a lot, now I have seen much more about the team.”

Schumacher was also impressed by the many German-speaking people who worked at the factory. This will surely help him adapt to his new team.

Mercedes are set to launch their car on the 1st February, in Valencia, with Nico Rosberg driving the car first. It is unclear when Schumacher will get to drive, but it will probably be the 2nd or 3rd February.

Lotus drivers are a “statement of intent”

Heikki Kovalainen, with Tony Fernandes and Jarno Trulli

Heikki Kovalainen, with Tony Fernandes and Jarno Trulli

The chief technical officer at Lotus, Mike Gascoyne, has said that signing Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, instead of rookies, shows that the team are serious about succeeding in Formula 1.

Rumours were going around that Lotus were going to hire two well-funded rookies instead, which would financially sustain the team.  However, Gascoyne is relieved that Tony Fernandes chose experienced drivers instead. In an interview with Autosport, he said:

“I said all along that I wanted two experienced drivers, and actually we discussed it at a very early stage and Jarno was always our number one choice. I probably expected in the other seat we would have someone with a couple of years’ experience, that was my hope.

“From very early on, Tony said: why not Jarno and Heikki? I sort of went… ‘yeah, yeah, yeah. Forget it!”

“Where Tony is exceptionally brave is that you have to generate the finance to make the team sustainable and he has not taken the short term route – ‘let’s take a guy who is bringing me in three or five million Euros’ – he has taken the downstream route: ‘let’s bring in a guy who is really going to take the whole team up, who is going to deliver results, and downstream I may be signing sponsors for 10 or 20 million Euros.”

Gascoyne also said that Lotus was an attractive option for drivers, because of all the uncertainty will many other teams and drivers. He said:  “Lotus quite quickly came to be looked at as one of the best seats to get into. Okay it was a new team, but with Tony on board, with myself running the technical side, people seemed pretty confident in it.”

Kovalainen “a better driver” after McLaren

Heikki Kovalainen, with Tony Fernandes and Jarno Trulli

Heikki Kovalainen, with Tony Fernandes and Jarno Trulli

Heikki Kovalainen says that, even after 2 difficult seasons at McLaren, he has still come out of it a better driver.

In an interview with Autosport, he said: “I am a better race driver. I can drive the car quicker than when I drove the Renault (2007). I have learned many things – how to work with a team, how to set-up a car, how to go racing. I think I am better in every area.”

Kovalainen was released from McLaren after the 2009 season ended. After negotiations with many teams, he has moved to the new Lotus team, alongside Jarno Trulli. He also said that he believes it was a better option than moving to an established team.

“I just felt that this was the most stable option available to me,” he said. “The other teams were still wondering who was going to own the team, who was going to sponsor the team and who was going to pay the bills.”

“Funnily enough, for a new team I was convinced after I met Tony [Fernandes] and Mike [Gascoyne]. First of all, they have the budget in place. They have the people coming to the team eventually – they will be current people and not people who have been out of the paddock for one or two years.”

When asked about his prospects for 2010, he said: “”I think it will be very tough. Sometimes when I talk to Tony he is very excited and it seems like we are going to win the first race. But, I am being more realistic and I don’t want to build too big expectations.”

When he was with McLaren in 2008, he was outscored on points by Lewis Hamilton with 98 points to 53, although Heikki took his first win. In 2009, he was outscored again, by 49 points to 22, and not even getting on the podium once.

Briatore continuing legal cases

Flavio Briatore, when managing Renault

Flavio Briatore, when managing Renault

Flavio Briatore has said that he plans to continue his legal pursuit of the Piquet family, and any drivers who terminated their contract with him.

Back in last September, Flavio announced that he was to take legal action against the Piquets, when the Crash-gate scandal broke out. He claimed that the family were blackmailing him to keep his contract.

In an interview with Gazzetta dello Sport, he said: “That’s very likely(continuing legal action). The bad that has been done to me won’t be forgotten in one day.”

Also, he stated that his previous lifetime ban was influenced by disputes between him and former FIA president Max Mosley. He said that: “First Mosley tried to make me lose titles, first with Schumi then with Alonso, and then to destroy me with this story.” He expects to have a better relationship with Jean Todt.

Regarding his role of driver manager, he said that he may also pursue legal cases against Heikki Kovalainen and Lucas di Grassi, who he claims have breached the terms of their driver-manager contract.

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