Tag Archives: Nico Hulkenberg

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

Nico Hulkenberg to leave Williams

Nico Hulkenberg has said today that he will be leaving the Williams team for the 2011 season onwards. This comes only two weeks after he obtained his first ever pole position at the Brazilian GP.

On his official website, he said:

 I heavily regret that, because I would have been happy to 
stay with Williams. I want to thank the team for a great 
time and I wish Williams all the best for the future.

However, his manager Willi Weber, who used to manage Michael Schumacher, has said that Nico will definitely be driving for another team for the 2011 season. It is heavily suspected that the man to replace him at Williams will be Pastor Maldonado, the current GP2 champion.

While Hulkenberg has already said he doesn’t want to drive for Hispania, he will take part in testing with them this Wednesday.

Nico Hulkenberg will be leaving Williams this year

Nico Hulkenberg will be leaving Williams this year

Although Nico scored 22 points this season, compared to seasoned veteran team-mate Rubens Barrichello, who took 47, I’m surprised at this decision. His pole position in Brazil was hugely impressive, and he has been improving steadily over the second half of this season.

But, as it seems to do too much these days, money talks, and Maldonado brings a huge sponsorship package from Venezuelan oil giant PDVSA.

Hulkenberg takes shock pole position at Interlagos

Nico Hulkenberg took pole position ahead of Vettel and Webber

Nico Hulkenberg took pole position ahead of Vettel and Webber

In an incredible twist that only Formula 1 could play host to, rookie driver Nico Hulkenberg has taken pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix, throwing the championship battle focus straight out of the window. He took top spot an entire second ahead of Sebastian Vettel, who led Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso. Jenson Button struggled, and will start 11th, with his championship aspirations now doomed. Here is today’s report:

Q1

The Force Indias battled to survive Q1

The Force Indias battled to survive Q1

Conditions were not optimal for the start of qualifying. Saturday Practice had been wet enough, then more rain fell between then and qualifying, meaning intermediate tyres were the way to go – for the time being.

The track wasn’t particularly wet though, so many cars stayed out for the entire session, hoping that the racing line would dry out, but it didn’t. The surprise of the session came from Force India, as both cars were struggling horribly in the damp conditions. Vitantonio Liuzzi spent some time in the knockout zone, before improving to 16th, while sending Adrian Sutil down to 18th. However, Adrian may have had a faster lap, ha he not been held up by Liuzzi during the session. Because of his 5-place penalty after his dangerous driving in Korea, he will start 23rd.

Timo Glock was easily the fastest of the new teams, setting a 1.22.130. He was followed by Trulli, Kovalainen, and Di Grassi. Christian Klien continued to beat Bruno Senna with apparent ease, this time by 0.7 seconds.

Drivers knocked out in Q1:

18) Adrian Sutil (Will start 23rd)

19) Timo Glock

20) Jarno Trulli

21) Heikki Kovalainen

22) Lucas di Grassi

23) Christian Klien

24) Bruno Senna

Q2

Jenson Button was knocked out of Q2

Jenson Button was knocked out of Q2

After being matched by Fernando Alonso in Q1, the Red Bulls led the way in Q2. The track continued to dry, but not quickly enough, as the fastest laps were still in the 1.19 range, well away from slick conditions.

The fun of the session came from the battle between Felipe Massa and Jenson Button to continue to Q3. Button could only manage 10th on his final lap, and Massa’s last effort knocked the McLaren back into 11th.

A surprise also came from Kamui Kobayashi and Nico Rosberg failing to get through, and they will start from 12th and 13th respectively. The Toro Rossos were 14th and 15th, Nick Heidfeld was annoyed to be back in 16th, while Vitantonio Liuzzi was well off the pace in 17th.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Jenson Button

12) Kamui Kobayashi

13) Nico Rosberg

14) Jaime Alguersuari

15) Sebastien Buemi

16) Nick Heidfeld

17) Vitantonio Liuzzi

Q3

Hulkenberg is delighted, while the Red Bulls are downbeat

Hulkenberg is delighted, while the Red Bulls are downbeat

For the leaders’ first runs in Q3, they continued to stay on intermediates, although dry patches were becoming visible on the tarmac. When the inters began to wear far too much to be used effectively, Rubens Barrichello was the first driver to make the switch to dry tyres.

Lewis Hamilton initially took top spot on super-soft tyres, but then came the first of a series of shocks – Nico Hulkenberg knocked the McLaren off top spot with apparent ease. Fernando Alonso then went faster, but Hulkenberg simply came around a minute later even faster again.

Sebastian Vettel, Mark Webber, Hamilton and Alonso all took another lash at the Williams, but they all fell short by one tenth, as the paddock suddenly realised that a rookie was on pole position. But more was to come, as Hulkenberg had one more lap under his belt, and set a simply incredible lap: 1.14.470, an entire second faster than the rest of the field.

His team-mate Rubens Barrichello was 6th, ahead of Robert Kubica, Michael Schumacher, Felipe Massa and Vitaly Petrov. However, these drivers were significantly overlooked, because of the simple fact that they were up to 2 or 3 seconds slower than Hulkenberg.

So, Nico takes his first ever pole position, the first for Williams since Nick Heidfeld in Germany in 2005, and the first for Cosworth since France in 1999 (Considering that that engine was actually marked as a Ford, you would have to go back to the 80′s to find the last time a Cosworth took pole).

Times from qualifying:

Pos  Driver         Team                   Q1        Q2        Q3
 1.  Hulkenberg     Williams-Cosworth      1:20.050  1:19.144  1:14.470
 2.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault       1:19.160  1:18.691  1:15.519
 3.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault       1:19.025  1:18.516  1:15.637
 4.  Hamilton       McLaren-Mercedes       1:19.931  1:18.921  1:15.747
 5.  Alonso         Ferrari                1:18.987  1:19.010  1:15.989
 6.  Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1:19.799  1:18.925  1:16.203
 7.  Kubica         Renault                1:19.249  1:18.877  1:16.552
 8.  Schumacher     Mercedes               1:19.879  1:18.923  1:16.925
 9.  Massa          Ferrari                1:19.778  1:19.200  1:17.101
10.  Petrov         Renault                1:20.189  1:19.153  1:17.656
11.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:19.905  1:19.288
12.  Kobayashi      Sauber-Ferrari         1:19.741  1:19.385
13.  Rosberg        Mercedes               1:20.153  1:19.486
14.  Alguersuari    Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:20.158  1:19.581
15.  Buemi          Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:20.096  1:19.847
16.  Heidfeld       Sauber-Ferrari         1:20.174  1:19.899
17.  Liuzzi         Force India-Mercedes   1:20.592  1:20.357
18.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1:20.830
19.  Glock          Virgin-Cosworth        1:22.130
20.  Trulli         Lotus-Cosworth         1:22.250
21.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Cosworth         1:22.378
22.  di Grassi      Virgin-Cosworth        1:22.810
23.  Klien          HRT-Cosworth           1:23.083
24.  Senna          HRT-Cosworth           1:23.796

Bahrain GP Friday press conference

Today it was a case of old to new, as today’s press conference replaced world champions with up-and-coming youngsters. Today we had Lucas di Grassi, Sebastian Vettel, Nico Hulkenberg, Heikki Kovalainen and Robert Kubica. Here is the full transcript:

Q: Gentlemen, how is it to be in F1? Lucas, would you like to start?
Lucas Di Grassi:
For me it is a great honour to be here in F1. It is my first races as official driver, so there has been a lot of work, a lot of effort to arrive in this position, so I am just enjoying every minute I am in the car, trying to learn as much as I can and trying to evolve as a driver. It is a great feeling.

Q: Nico?
Nico Hulkenberg:
I mean it is nice and great to finally be here but I am sure every driver who has come here worked very hard and long for it, same for me. Just happy to be here and looking forward hopefully to a long career.

Q: It is the same thing for Robert and Heikki in a way; a new team for you, Robert. What are your feelings about that?
Robert Kubica:
Quite happy, actually. It is not easy to change after four years being with one team. It is quite a different mentality team, so we have done quite good work in winter to prepare for the new season, new challenge. It is okay.

Q: And for Heikki?
Heikki Kovalainen:
For me also. Obviously I had a very different winter. We started from zero with the team and have seen the team growing and building all the time. We managed to do a little bit of testing but arrived here a little bit on the back foot. But today has been fantastic. Both cars have been running without any problems so far. It is very good and the atmosphere is very good. I am enjoying it. I think F1 is good as always.

Q: Lucas, tell us about your day today and how things have been going?
LG:
I had pretty much a difficult start to the day in P1. I had some small issue in the car which did not allow me to do many laps and I need more mileage. Everything got back to a good position in P2 as I did quite a good run with both sets of tyres and we were able to do a different set-up change, so it helped a lot.

Q: How do you see the weekend developing for you and the team?
LG:
Everybody in the team is pushing really hard. As everybody knows the car came together months ago and we had a lot of problems in testing, so our main reason to be here and our main way of development is to get everything done properly and with it on time. We are not rushing anything. We are making sure the car is having the best performance. The team is working very, very hard and the team worked all night last night, so everyone is giving 100 per cent and I am trying to do the same when I am driving.

Q: Nico, a remarkable day for you ending up sixth. How has it gone?
NH:
It was okay. We were able to go through our programme and be able to get comfortable in the car on the track. It ran smoothly without any technical or other problems.

Q: In testing, you held the record for red flags, so you must be happy with the reliability today?
NH:
Yeah, I mean again also Williams has pushed very hard and still everyday there is a new guy coming from the UK bringing new parts, not only performance parts but reliability parts, to get our car better. A big thank you to the guys in the factory. Without them we would not be where we are.

Q: How good a teacher is Rubens Barrichello? The most experienced guy on the grid.
NH:
He is not really teaching me. I am just looking at what he is doing. As a team-mate he is always transparent. I can see how he drives, how he works, how he approaches the weekend, so in that aspect I can see and learn from him.

Q: You have got a new engine. Is it quite a surprise where you are?
NH:
With a new engine? I think Cosworth have also done a good and remarkable job. We did not have any problems during winter testing and again here the engine is running fine and performance wise it is not too bad at all.

Q: Heikki, you had the Mercedes engine last year and you can compare the Cosworth to the Mercedes. How does it come out?
HK:
I think to give a direct comparison is probably not fair as the performance of the car at this stage is very different. But I think so far they have done a very good job. Like Nico says, the reliability has been fantastic. I have not had a single problem. I don’t think if anyone had a problem with the engine and just the initial feeling is that the power is competitive. I don’t think that will not be an issue. I think it is good.

Q: What is lacking within the car? Is it your confidence?
HK:
It is not confidence. What is lacking is another 10 to 20 months of time and give the team a bit of a chance to put some performance into the car. We built the car and the team in just under six months time and you cannot ask for more than this. We put the car on the track in testing and today we looked like a professional race team. We were running the car first on the track this morning. I mean you cannot expect performance to be better than this yet. I am sure it will be. We have already shown many things that not many teams could do, so I have all the confidence that given a bit of time, give us a year or two, even less than that, we can put a lot of performance in the car and move up the grid. You have got to start somewhere and we are still growing, we are still building the team so it is not my confidence. I am very confident in fact. I have had a good winter and I feel 100 per cent shape and I feel today I had a very good today and we went forward but we need a bit of time.

Q: How do you see the weekend developing? Do you feel you will be able to close that gap to the established teams?
HK:
If we could find three or four seconds it would be pretty good, wouldn’t it. I am sure we will be working hard but we just do not know yet what everybody else has done. We have just focussed on our own preparation today like a professional race team does. We will prepare for the race, we have compared the tyres, we have done various checks with the set-up and tried to tune the car for the circuit and also for myself getting adapted to the circuit. That is what we are really worried about. I am sure eventually we can close the gap to the leaders and that is what we are here for but it will not happen overnight. The teams ahead of us are all good teams. Formula One is incredibly competitive but we have been quite brave. We have entered the competition and from what we have shown today I think we can go with chin up, full steam ahead.

Q: Sebastian, how do you feel about today?
Sebastian Vettel:
I would have loved to run more. I think this morning the circuit was not in very good shape with not a lot of rubber down, especially on the new part of the circuit. But in the afternoon I think we had quite a lot of rubber, but I did not run very much. I had a problem with the brakes, brake failure, and Mark had a problem as well, so I would have loved to do more laps.

Q: Is it a worry to have that failure? Brakes is a big thing this year.
SV:
It is not a nice feeling, but it depends where it happens. I think it happens if you go up in Monaco up to the casino it is the worst place. Here there is quite a lot of run-off, so it was no problem, but it is not something you like to happen.

Q: Fifth fastest with that brake failure. Do you feel that is where you are or do you think it should be better?
SV:
I think today is still very difficult to read. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is a bit more difficult, but if you really want to say precisely where everyone is I think at this stage it is still a bit too early. From what I have seen in the session it is no secret that this afternoon Ferrari seemed to run a bit heavier whereas Mercedes tried with a little bit less fuel in the beginning and then put some fuel back into the car for the rest of it. I think at this stage we are in decent shape. I would have loved to run a lot more and get more laps and more data, but at this stage I think Ferrari and McLaren look extremely competitive.

Q: Last year the team did a fantastic job with the development. It is almost certainly going to be a development battle this year. Are you confident in the programme that Red Bull have?
SV:
Yeah, as you said it will be the same kind of battle as last year. Obviously that is not very cheap. But for everyone it is the same thing, so where we are now and I am sure the cars will improve a lot as they are still quite young. I think this year there is a lot to discover with the new regulations, no refuelling, the tyres are different, so I think everyone is in a steep learning curve and we will see. The cars we will have at the end of the year they might be better but you get 25 points for a win here as you do at the last race, so we will see.

Q: Robert, your feelings about today? You ended up 15th.
RK:
It was quite a good day. It was different running with this temperature compared to winter testing, so we have quite a nice run, smooth without major problems. We have to work a bit on the car to improve it and try to do our best tomorrow which will finally be the day of truth.

Q: You’re a former pole-winner here. What are your feelings about the circuit, particularly the new part?
RK:
The new part doesn’t look really interesting, at least for myself it’s a kind of a street circuit, it reminds me of a Monte Carlo a bit, the Monaco race track. It’s very slow, a lot of bumps, quite tough for the tyres and very appropriate compared to the old section of track. Yes, it was quite dirty as Sebastian mentioned. This morning it was quite slippery there. Afterwards it improved but there is still quite a big delta shift between the grip of the new section and the old section.

Q: And you’ve been quoted as saying that Renault could create a surprise?
RK:
When did I say this, a long time ago? Well, it depends how it goes but I think we were in pretty good shape in winter testing, maybe not in the last tests but before we were surprisingly good. But we have to keep working. Actually, we are doing it very hard. The guys didn’t go to bed last night, preparing the car because new bits arrived quite late, so it was quite a tough two days for them. But let’s hope we will pay them back on the performance side.

QUESTIONS FROM THE FLOOR

Q: (Mikolaj Sokol – Rzeczpospolita) Sebastian and Robert, with 23 cars on the track, some of them significantly slower than you, how can you deal with traffic? Is it a big issue?
SV:
Yes, I think it is a big issue, especially practice and at least the first qualifying session. Of course, speaking to Lucas or Timo or the other guys, Heikki, it’s not the easiest time that they have to face. Obviously they are just about to start, so I think it’s fair to give them time. For sure, if you arrive and you have that big delta between the cars and at least six cars are quite a bit slower than the rest and for sure it could be a problem and one or the other will suffer. It will happen in qualifying that you probably don’t get your lap time. These guys are trying their best as well, so you have to respect that, but if you’re five seconds quicker then it’s very difficult to estimate at the start of the lap if you will be fine or not. Here, I think it’s quite OK because you can see quite a lot, but if you go to Singapore or Monaco where half of the circuit is blind anyway then it’s very difficult. We’ve had problems in the past with traffic, it will be quite a mess but that’s life, I guess.
RK: Yeah, I’ve had similar problems to Sebastian. They are there, for sure they are not having an easy time to keep the car on the track, so that’s how it is. They are there and from our side we can only try and get some more space when they are in front of us, but it’s hard for them, it’s hard for us. That’s how it is.

Q: (Tomasz Richter – TV Nova) To you all, do you enjoy the new section of the track or would you prefer to go straight after turn three?
RK:
Old one, probably, old section, so old track.
SV: I think that the biggest difficulty is that you have a different level of grip as well, which makes the delta quite high. If you look at the asphalt of the new circuit compared to the new track it’s quite different. That doesn’t make life easy, it’s actually very slow, very bumpy, so I also prefer the old track.
HK: I don’t know the reasons for the change – I don’t know if there is a good reason. I thought the old one was good but for me, if we drove to the centre and back, I don’t really have a preference.
LG: I preferred the old one. I raced here in GP2 and it’s quite a fast part of the track which is now a very slow section and very bumpy, so I preferred the old one.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat ) Sebastian, how difficult is it to decide which compound to use for Q3 at this circuit?
SV:
Well, I think the biggest unknown is how the racing will look on Sunday. Obviously the temperature should help all of us but I think it will nevertheless be something new. Either it will be total excitement for the spectators, a mess for us in the car, because some drivers will struggle more with tyres, some less, or it will be boring and the cars will just follow each other because they’re stuck behind each other and they can’t do much, so I think we have to see. In qualifying, first of all we need to see what we have done today compared to the others. Then tomorrow morning – the latest at lunchtime, more or less, you have to decide what you want to do in qualifying. I think first of all you have to manage to get into Q3. It looks tight, so it won’t be easy. There is a strong midfield as well, so if you are talking of the top teams, you have a very, very strong midfield and they could easily ruin your day. I don’t know yet. If you ask me now, I have no clue. I also think it makes it more difficult, as I said, because we don’t know how the race will unfold. We will see.

Q: Nico, your ex-partner Nico Rosberg set fastest lap in his first race for Williams, so do you expect the same this year?
NH:
No, I don’t expect the same. I hope for a good points’ finish but as Sebastian mentioned, we are still a bit left in the dark as to who is where, even today. There are big differences in lap times, and obviously big differences in fuel loads, so we will have to wait and see where we end up but I hope for a good points result.

Q: (Cezary Gutowski – Przeglad Sportowy) For the Renault-engined guys: there is some noise about getting engines up to parity. Do you think your engines are that under-performing? Do you think you really need more horsepower?
SV:
I think an engine here, an engine there. Obviously engine regulations are frozen and yes, last year we didn’t have the easiest time, especially myself. We had some engine failures. Nevertheless, I think we did a very good job recovering. Reliability was fine after we fixed the problem and we did not have to change an engine, so we did not have to take a penalty. I think, last year, everyone had more or less the same opinion that the Mercedes engine was probably a bit ahead of the rest and as I said, the regulations are frozen, so what can you do? I think we don’t have anything to fear, no weakness from that side, so for sure, as I said, a little bit maybe, but it’s very difficult to measure as well. The cars are different. If you look at our top speed compared to the Renault top speed, it’s totally different because the car is a different car, different concept, different amount of drag on the straight, so you can’t really compare just from the speeds.
RK: If the regulations were the same I might have some sort of feeling because I switched from another engine supplier to Renault but we are running much heavier this year, so it’s difficult to compare. I think we just need to wait. Actually, in the past Renault has always been very good with their consumption. I think a lot of people improved that so we maybe still have a bit of an advantage but not as big as it was in the past, for sure. Horsepower is always welcome, more power is always welcome.

Q: (Oliver Knaack – Berliner Zeitung) Sebastian, you missed more than 30 minutes of this last practice, can you describe the exact failure of the brakes, what happened at the front or rear and what was the problem?
SV:
Maybe some of you, between the practice and the press conference were able to have a coffee. I was not. I just got out of my suit and had a short de-brief and came here so I don’t know the reason yet for the failure we had, so we need to see. It’s always difficult. You don’t really analyse within the session because you just make sure you change (the damaged part) as quickly as possible and use the amount of time you have left. It was on the front, the front left. I think you could see that from the TV.

Q: (Tomasz Richter – TV Nova) Nico, we could see some black smoke from the front tyres; do you expect some brake issues regarding the heavier cars and are they the same brake specification as last year?
NH:
It shouldn’t be a problem but Bahrain is always quite heavy on brakes. I’m sure every team is aware of that. We take that into consideration but it’s just brake dust. If you have big braking from 300kph down to 60 kph, there’s just a lot of smoke but right now I’m not too worried about that.

20th February- Testing results: Button on top in final day at Jerez

Jenson Button in the McLaren in Jerez today

Jenson Button in the McLaren in Jerez today

The Jerez testing fortnight finally ended today. Note the “finally”, because the teams must have been completely exasperated by the horrible weather conditons we have had over the last 2 weeks. Nevertheless, Jenson Button finished the test on a high, as he topped the timesheets today.

The Briton’s time of 1.18.871 was the fastest of the entire testing fortnight,  ahead of Robert Kubica (1.19.114) and Kamui Kobayashi (1.19.188). The weather was excellent today, as shown by the fact that the 3 fastest times of the last 2 weeks were set today. Most of these fast laps were set in the morning, as everyone switched to heavy fuel running in the afternoon.

Unlike the other days, we didn’t have scrambling of strategies to suit the conditionsm as the teams focused mostly on long fuel runs. Therefore, we didn’t see as much action as we have over the last few days. However, one of the main causes of concern was for Mark Webber, who suffered a serious mechanical problem. This has not been explained yet by Red Bull, but his engine was changed as a precautionary measure. Also, the only other red flag today was for Timo Glock, who stopped after another hydraulic problem for the Virgin car.

In fact, before the problem, he was really on the pace, lapping the same as the rest of the midfield, before the hydraulic gremlins showed up again after only 28 laps. Jarno Trulli and the Lotus team fared much better. Although their best lap was 1 second slower than Glock, they managed 141 laps in total, the highest of any driver today.

The rest of the paddock all were as solid as Lotus. Jaime Alguersuari got in 139 laps, followed closely by Nico Hulkenberg and Fernando Alonso (137). Nico Rosberg got 130 laps, while Kubica and Kobayashi managed 117. Otherwise, Button got 108, Webber got 87 and Liuzzi got 80. Over the last 4 days, Nico Hulkenberg has got the most mileage in, with a mammoth 275 laps.

Statistics from the entire test will be up soon.

Today’s times:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.18.871 108
2. R. Kubica Renault R30 1.19.114 +0.243 117
3. K. Kobayashi Sauber C29 1.19.188 +0.317 117
4. A. Liuzzi F. India VJM03 1.19.650 +0.799 80
5. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.20.061 +1.190 130
6. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.20.436 +1.565 137
7. J. Alguersuari T. Rosso STR5 1.21.053 +2.182 139
8.9.

10.

11.

M. Webber

N. Hulkenberg

T. Glock

J. Trulli

Red Bull

Williams

Virgin

Lotus

RB6

FW32

VR-01

T127

1.21.194

1.21.919

1.22.433

1.23.470

+2.323

+3.048

+3.562

+4.599

87

137

28

141

Pictures from the test:

19th February- Testing results: Webber leads in the dry conditions

Mark Webber topped the timesheets today in a sunny Jerez

Mark Webber topped the timesheets today in a sunny Jerez

At last, the sun breaks through in Jerez, as Mark Webber makes full use of the glorius sunshine to top the timesheets today.

In fact, there were torrential downpours last night in the area, as many personnel struggled to even get out of the track. In the morning, although the track was slightly damp, the sun was out, so it would clear very quickly. Nearly everyone was confident of good weather today. In the first half hour, there were only a few installation laps to check the conditions, but not much else. But, at 08:30, Heikki Kovalainen stopped out on track with a clutch sensor problem. The team brushed it off as a small problem, but the Finn was forced to wait on the sidelines until 12:00 to get out again. Meanwhile, by 09:00, the sun was out in full force, track temperatures had risen, and the track had completely dried out.

Many drivers were lapping either cautiously or very heavy with fuel. The fastest times were in the 1.23 and 1.24 zone. At 09:40, there were reports that Lucas di Grassi had crashed at Turn 12. It soon  turned out that he didn’t hit the barriers, but only just avoided them. This was to be the second red flag of the day, after Kovalainen. However, once the session restarted, Kobayashi instantly brought the session to a halt again, but it is unclear what happened. It seems as though he simple stopped on track. Once the session restarted, it was time for slick tyres, with Alonso, Kubica, Sutil and Webber out to take the most from it. Webber’s 5-lap run left him in the 1.24′s, while Alonso, and then Alguersuaria and Schumacher, all got into the 1.23′s. Jenson Button headed out at 10:30, had the track to himself for a while, and immidiately got a 1.22.6 as his reward.

Lucas di Grassi after crashing at Turn 12

Lucas di Grassi after crashing at Turn 12

Kamui Kobayashi after stopping on track

Kamui Kobayashi after stopping on track

Track temperature was now 22 degrees, and there was less wind than yesterday, so fastest laps were estimated to be nearly as quick as the ones last week. Lucas di Grassi did one installation lap, to inspect for any damage to his car, and pitted quickly, and many believed the car was fine. At 10:30, Fernando Alonso got a 1.21.969, after a 7-lap run. Button got back out again, and by 11:00 got a 1.21.435. Webber and Alonso soon got 1.21.7 and 1.21.8 repsectively, which meant the track had rubbered in well. After 6 laps, all of Button’s laps were in the 1.21′s, which shows he was really on the pace. Webber was 5 laps into his stint, all in the 1.22′s, when he stopped out on the straight, with a suspected mechanical problem.

At 11:30, it seemed that Nico Hulkenberg was mixing lap times with pit stop practice, but only getting into the 1.25 mark with his laps. This, however, was believed to have been a full race simulation, which means he would have been full up on fuel.  Soon though, Button broke into the 1.20 zone, as part of a 7-lap run. By 12:30, Adrian Sutil was the next to improve his times, getting a 1.22.5. Schumacher, after a 10-lap run, got a 1.21.9, with most in the 1.22 or 1.23 range. At 13:00, Alonso went back out, and was suddenly firing on all cylinders, getting straight down to 1.20.115, then 1.20.1, 1.20.6, 1.20.5, 1.20.6, and 1.20.7. This great consistency shows the Ferrari has true pace this year. Kovalainen was out at 13:00, to test two different types of tyre compound rather than fuel,but his fastest lap was only 1.26. He soon had to pit though, because of a cracked exhaust.

At 14:00, Webber got a 1.19.3, putting him 7 tenths clear of the rest of the field. He soon managed a 1.19.6 before pitting. At 14:20, Lucas di Grassi caused another stoppage, this time at the Dry Sack hairpin. When the session resumed 20 minutes later, Webber immidiately got a 1.19.299. Kovalinen got back on track at 15:00 after his exhaust problem, and got a 1.24.924 on one of his first laps out. From then until the end, it was just race simulations, so no new fast times were set. The session was ended 3 minutes early, after Hulkenberg stopped at the Dry Sack corner, but we’re not sure what the problem was this time. Despite this, he managed the most laps today, with 138, ahead of Alonso on 132, Alguersuari on 120, Webber on 115, Button on 101 and Kubica on 100. Di Grassi only got 34, while Kobayashi got 28.

All of today’s times:

Today’s times:


Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. M. Webber Red Bull RB6 1.19.299 115
2. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.20.115 +0.816 132
3. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.20.394 +1.095 101
4. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.21.432 +2.133 138
5. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.21.437 +2.138 79
6. R. Kubica Renault R30 1.21.916 +2.617 100
7. A. Sutil F. India VJM03 1.21.939 +2.640 69
8.

Red9.

10.

11.

K. Kobayashi

J. Alguersuari

L. di Grassi

H. Kovalainen

Sauber

T. Rosso

Virgin

Lotus

C29

STR5

VR-01

T127

1.22.228

1.22.564

1.23.504

1.23.521

+2.929

+3.265

+4.205

+4.222

28

120

34

68

Pictures from the test:

11th February: Testing results

Kamui Kobayashi put in a low-fuel run near the end of today’s testing, to take the fastest lap of today’s running in Jerez.

Sebastien Buemi had led for most of the day, with a 1.20.026, but Kobayashi’s lap of 1.19.950 was enough to see him on top. However, there was concern at Virgin, where Timo Glock had a “front wing mounting problem”, which basically ment the front wing fell off. This was only after 11 laps, and even worse, there was a shortage of components, which meant that the team will have to wait until tomorrow to continue testing. Glock has managed a miserable 16 laps in 2 days, and has finished last on both occasions.

Back at the top, Jenson Button was behind Kobayashi and Buemi in third (1.20.618), and was followed by Hulkenberg, Liuzzi, Schumacher, Alonso, Kubica, Webber and then Glock.

There was another problem, however, in the form of yesterday’s intermediate tyres wearing too quickly. Many of the drivers were today complaining about excessive wear on the tyres, even when the track was saturated with water. Nico Hulkenberg said:

“Even though we were picking up a lot of water on the track they still seemed too soft. They were wearing a lot quite quickly.”

Jenson Button, however, believes the problem is with the Jerez circuit itself:

“It’s quite an abrasive surface here. The wet tyre felt like it would last forever but the intermediate had a much shorter lifespan. I think that was the same for everyone. It’s about keeping a balance so you’re not destroying one end. It is an abrasive surface and layout here and we saw the same thing last year.”

On another subject, Hulkenberg has said that there is definitely a power increase with this year’s Cosworth engine, compared to last year’s Toyota one. He said:

“It’s good, I’m very positively surprised about it. There’s been no issues with reliability and drive-ability’s very good. It feels better, it feels stronger [than the Toyota].”

Times from today’s test:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1. K. Kobayashi Sauber C25 1.19.950 103
2. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1.20.026 +0.076 121
3. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.20.618 +0.668 83
4. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.20.629 +0.679 67
5. V. Liuzzi Force India VJM03 1.20.754 +0.804 80
6. M. Schumacher Mercedes W01 1.21.003 +1.133 124
7. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.21.424 +1.474 129
8.

9.

10.

R. Kubica

M. Webber

T. Glock

Renault

Red Bull

Virgin

R30

RB6

VR-01

1.22.003

1.22.043

1.29.964

+2.053

+2.093

+10.014

103

99

11

Pictures from today’s testing:

10th February: Testing results

Nico Rosberg topped the timesheets today, in a rain-soaked session.

The Mercedes driver clocked in a fastest lap of 1:20.927, which was set in the morning, before the rain came out. Timo Glock was the only driver who was completely caught out by this, and could only set 5 laps, at a point where the track was at its wettest. His time was a 1:38.734.

Sebastien Buemi was second fastest (1:21.031), followed by Nico Hulkenberg for Williams (1:22.243). The other drivers, in order, were Fernando Alonso, Kamui Kobayashi, Jenson Button, Vitantonio Liuzzi, Vitaly Petrov, Mark Webber, and Glock.

Mark Webber was the first to bring out the red flags, when he stopped out on track half an hour after the session had started at 9 in the morning. It was described as a “simple component failure”, which later turned out to be an oil leak. However, the fault meant that the engine had to be changed, which stopped him running until 4.45 pm. Then, he only got 3 laps after that, when Rosberg stopped out on track, bringing out the red falgs and ending the session.

Nico Rosberg attributed his fastest lap to a better seating position in the car:

“The car felt very good today,” he said. “Compared to Valencia where I was sitting too low which affected my visibility and the set-up wasn’t perfect, today I felt really comfortable and I could push so it was an enjoyable day and a good start to the test for me.”

The times are as follows:

Driver Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference
# of laps
1. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.20.927 57
2. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1.21.031 +0.104 84
3. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1.22.243 +1.136 118
4. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1.22.895 +1.968 88
5. K. Kobayashi BMW Sauber C25 1.23.287 +2.360 55
6. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1.24.947 +4.020 68
7. V. Liuzzi Force India VJM03 1.24.968 +4.041 71
8.

9.

10.

V. Petrov

M. Webber

T. Glock

Renault

Red Bull

Virgin

R30

RB6

VR-01

1.25.440

1.26.502

1.38.734

+4.513

+5.575

+17.807

27

50

5

Pictures from the test:

3rd February: Testing results

Yet another day with Ferrari on top of the timesheets today in Valencia, but this time it was Fernando Alonso who led the way.

A massive crowd of over 35,000 (compared to 7,000 for the last 2 days) greeted Alonso at the track. His fastest lap was a 1m11.470s. This was not only a great lap, but it was at the start of a long stint, so it wasn’t just a loght fuel load that was pushing him on. However, Alonso has remained cautious, saying:

“I think maybe if we topped the times the three days is related to fuel load or whatever, or maybe because it’s true we are competitive. But before being competitive we need to make sure we do a lot of laps and that the car is strong and can finish all the grands prix. We are at that period of winter testing.”

“We need to make the car very, very strong and until Barcelona or the last test at Jerez I think we will not look for the performance.”

He added: “The first impression is always good. It was very good last year, and I was not in Q3 very often. For that I’m very, very cautious.”

Pedro de la Rosa continued to set fast laps, coming in 2nd with a best lap of 1m12.094s. It is understood that the Mercedes car does not have its full diffuser integrated yet, but Michael Schumacher still came third with 1m12.438s.

Behind them, Jaime Alguersuari was fourth, followed by Jenson Button, Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg. Nico was involved in an incident with de la Rosa earlier in the day, where the two clashed. Hulkenberg’s car was believed to be marginally damaged. He still managed to get 126 laps out of the car across the day.

Times from the day:

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time     Laps
 1.  Alonso        Ferrari              (B)   1:11.470  127
 2.  de la Rosa    BMW Sauber-Ferrari   (B)   1:12.094   80
 3.  M.Schumacher  Mercedes GP          (B)   1:12.438   82
 4.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)   1:12.576   97
 5.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes     (B)   1:12.951   82
 6.  Petrov        Renault              (B)   1:13.097   75
 7.  Hulkenberg    Williams-Cosworth    (B)   1:13.669  126

Pictures from today's testing:

Renault set to unveil Petrov

Vitaly Petrov

Vitaly Petrov

Renault are ready to reveal Russian Vitaly Petrov as their second driver, alongside Robert Kubica, for the 2010 season.

He apparently had his seat fitting in Enstone yesterday, and signed his contract today.

The Russian is known to have around €10m in backing from sponsors such as Gazprom and the Russian government, who are keen to have their first Russian in Formula 1.

It seems, however, that there was more than sponsor backing that may have helped this deal. Gazprom, his main sponsor, is owned (50%) by the Russian government. It is understood that there was a deal between Gazprom, the Russian government, and Petrov, regarding the Renault seat. To give you an idea of how powerful Gazprom is when it comes to these negotiations, their little-known chairman from 2000 to 2008 was Dmitry Medvedev, who then became president of Russia. Why Gazprom is so interested in Petrov, I don’t know. However, it is rumoured that the Russian government and Bernie Ecclestone were (supposedly) looking for a Russian Grand Prix in the future.

But back to Petrov. He finished 2nd in the GP2 championship last year, behind Nico Hulkenberg. He may be good, but he certainly is nowhere near as good as Hulkenberg, in my opinion. Having said this, it’s good to see him given a chance. Kubica will almost certainly beat him, but that’s not the point, as it will be his first year, and it’s only an indicator of how good he will be in the future.

Also, I hear that he will be a great addition to the paddock. Unlike so many other PR robots in F1, Petrov speaks his mind and has a wicked sense of humour.

Petrov will probably be unveiled tomorrow, at Renault’s launch of their 2010 R30 car in Valencia.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 55 other followers