Tag Archives: USF1

FIA states new teams can’t miss races

The FIA has clarified the rules regarding some new teams not being able to attend the first few races. Jean Todt recently stated that Campos and USF1 could skip the first 3 races, if they were not ready, and would avoid punishment.

This statement has been overturned by the FIA, however, who have released a short statement:

“From a sporting and regulatory point of view, each Team that has registered for the Championship is obliged to take part in every event of the season. Any failure to take part, even for just one Championship event, would constitute an infringement both of the Concorde Agreement and the FIA Regulations.”

The Concorde Agreement is, of course, the agreement of all the teams competing in Formula 1. If this contract is broken, the FIA have the power to disallow that team from competing in the sport.

This is good news for Stefan GP, who have already announced that they are sending equipment to Bahrain, in hope that either Campos or USF1 cannot make it. However, it seems that the team have overlooked the completely obvious. If a team drops out, the FIA don’t instantly hand another team their spot. Still, we might as well wait and see can Campos and USF1 get to the grid in time.

Stefan GP to launch on 25th, and test 2 drivers

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

Zoran Stefanovich with Mike Coughlan

Despite still having no entry for the 2010 world championship, Stefan GP have now announced that they are to test their new car at Portimao, Portugal, on the 25th February.

The car will be launched a few days before this test. I talked earlier today about them sending equipment to Bahrain, now they have moved forward with the news that they will spend 3 days testing in Portimao.

Stefan GP have also said that they are to test two drivers at this 3-day test. If they get a place on the 2010 grid, these two will probably become the team’s drivers. It is understood that Kazuki Nakajima will be one of the drivers.

The car, called the Stefan S01, has been developed by the team, but with technical support from Toyota, ever since Stefan GP bought their data, parts, and chassis. The engine, to be called the Stefan RG-01, has also been serviced by Toyota.

Clearly, the team are very confident, but will it pay off? It is understood that Zoran Stefanovich, the team owner, believes that two teams (probably Campos and USF1) are in trouble financially. He and the team believe that at least one of these teams will not make it to Bahrain, so Stefan will be ready to take their place. That is, if the FIA give them the place.

After all this effort, Stefan should be given a chance, but not while there’s 13 other teams on the grid. I’m getting a bit tired of all the rumours of the new teams struggling, so a stable new team would be a welcome sight.

Jose Maria Lopez confirmed at USF1

Jose Maria Lopez, when he was part of the Renault squad

Jose Maria Lopez, when he was part of the Renault squad

Argetinian Jose Maria Lopez has been confirmed as a driver for USF1 for this season.

However, the fact that the deal was announced by the president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, shows the politics behind the move. His political connections, such as Carlos Reutemann, show that it was more his influence than his driving prowess.

When asked about the move, Lopez said:

“This is a truly memorable day for me, my family and the people of Argentina.”

“I have been working towards this day for much of my life and I can’t thank Peter and Ken [Anderson] enough for this opportunity. Of course a new F1 team faces many challenges but our goal is to improve with each race and build a foundation that will eventually see this team competing for wins and championships.”

Peter Windsor explained why they signed him:

“We’ve been following his career since he dominated the Renault V6 Championship in 2003 and we’re thrilled to have him on board as we return America to Formula One.”

“Lopez is a consummate professional and born leader. The most revealing thing about his character was how he handled the disappointment of not racing for Renault after three years of testing with them in F1. Instead of moping around and feeling sorry for himself, he returned to Argentina and totally dominated the local scene, winning 38 races and three championships. He became a major star as a result and, in turn, the Argentine nation – a country where F1 is second only to soccer – has got behind him.”

I’ve already said that I’m doubtful of Lopez’s driving ability, but I’d say he’s better than the last bunch of Argentinian drivers. Gaston Mazzacane was aeons off the pace in 2000 for Minardi and 2001 for Prost, and is well known for taking out his pit crew in Indianapolis 2000.

Then before that we had Esteban Tuero, in 1998 for Minardi. The only thing I can remember about him is his pit stop in, erm, Argentina.

Then we had Norberto Fontana, who is famous for holding up Jacques Villeneuve to try to help Michael Schumacher win the 1997 championship.

Hopefully Lopez is better than those lot, but I’m still doubtful whether he deserves the drive or not.

Petrov moving in on deal with Renault

Vitaly Petrov

Vitaly Petrov

There are reports that Russian Vitaly Petrov is closing in on a deal that will see him race at Renault this season alongside Robert Kubica.

The 25-year-old, who finished 2nd in the GP2 Series last year, has many reports from Enstone that he is in consideration for the job. He has a huge amount of backing from the Russian government (another example of politics in these situations) and current Renault sponsor MegaFon, who are also Russian.

It is understood that Petrov is being considered alongside an F1 driver with recent experience. This may be Romain Grosjean, but I doubt it. Jacques Villeneuve hasn’t got recent experience, so he is out of the picture also. It seems that USF1 is the only option left for JV. The other driver may also be Christian Klien or Takuma Sato.

If Petrov fails to get the seat at Renault, he may also get a role in Campos. This is because he used to race for them in the GP2 Series (2007-2008) and Gp2 Seies Asia (2008-2009). Also, Campos seem to be in difficulty financially, so Petrov’s huge backing will be a large incentive.

Petrov also seems to have a good amount of talent along with his backing. In the complete GP2 series, he finished 13th and 7th in 2007 and 2008 with Campos. He then moved to the GP2 Asia series, another popular series for upcoming F1 drivers, and finished 3rd and 5th in 2008 and 2009.

Whichever team he may join, it is my opinion that we will almost definately see the first Russian Formula 1 driver in 2010.

Lopez reportedly signed for USF1

Jose Maria Lopez, when he was part of the Renault squad

Jose Maria Lopez, when he was part of the Renault squad

Reuters is reporting that Jose Maria Lopez has been signed for USF1, with an announcement due on Monday.

His manager, Miguel Mattos, confirmed the announcement, saying to Reuters that the 26-year-old Argentinian would be with USF1 for 2010. He stated:

“Everything has been agreed (with the US F1 team) and the official announcement will be made on Monday.”

In 2006, Lopez was a GP2 driver for Super Nova, and also the Renault F1 test driver. However, he was dropped from the renault young driver programme. In 2007, due to a lack of funding, he raced in TC2000, the Argentine Touring Car Championship. He claimed the titles for this championship in 2008 and 2009.

The USF1 team are also hinting towards this, saying, on their Facebook page, a big announcement is due next week.

It is understood that this deal was assisted largely by Carlos Reutemann, a former F1 driver from 1972 to 1982. He is now a politician in Argentina and a close friencd of Peter Windsor. A certain amount of governement backing (because of Carlos’ influence as a politician) and some sponsors brought on board meant that Lopez now had the money to sign a deal.

Lopez was saying months ago that he had an offer, but had to get some money and sponsors first. Now, thanks to Reutemann, he has his chance.

Personlly, I don’t think that politics like this should play a part in F1, but money talks big around here. Let’s see how he does in USF1 first, before we make any rash decisions. If he’s good, then it’s well worth this political influence. If he isn’t, it’s just money down the drain.

USF1 promises innovative car design

USF1

USF1

The USF1 team has promised an innovative car design for 2010, as it comes closer to the testing schedule in February.

On the team’s website, they said:

“When we started this car, we started with nothing but fundamentals,” explained one of the team’s senior designers, Scott Bennett, in his official blog. “The majority of a modern F1 car is tightly defined by the rules, so there isn’t scope these days to come out with a Lotus 88 or Tyrrell P34. But there is still a daunting set of basic parameters that you have to define before you can even start designing anything – things like wheelbase, drive-train configuration, suspension layout, weight distribution.”

“And when you’re doing it for the first time, you don’t have an in-built knowledge of what’s worked in the past. Throw in some major rules changes in each of the last two off-seasons, and there are even more unknowns. On the other hand, knowing that you’re facing a lot of unknowns also means you don’t think you already know everything.”

“We’ll know whether they were the right or wrong answers soon enough, but our car certainly won’t be a clone of anything else out there. And did you know that we’re the only one of the four new teams designing our own gearbox?”

Bennett is also delighted by the privilage of getting to work on USF1’s car. He said:

“In less than a year we’ve built a very capable shop, put together the smartest and most talented group of people I’ve ever had the privilege of working with, and designed what should be a fast, reliable, safe, drivable, and yes, beautiful car.”

“This team means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but for me it’s literally a dream come true. When those lights go out at the start of our first race, it will be both the end of a long road, and the start of a new one. I can’t wait.”

Inside the USF1 factory:

De la Rosa joins BMW Sauber

Pedro de la Rosa testing for McLaren in 2009

Pedro de la Rosa testing for McLaren in 2009

BMW Sauber have announced that Pedro de la Rosa will race for the team this year, alongside Kamui Kobayashi.

The 38-year-old has been the McLaren test driver since 2003. He has competed in 71 Grands Prix since 1999.  He started his F1 career with a point in Melbourne with Arrows. He spent 2 years with them, until he moved to Jaguar in 2001. After 2 years there, he became the McLaren test driver. His last Grand Prix was at Interlagos 2006, when he was substituting for Juan Pablo Montoya.

It is believed that De la Rosa was signed so as to bring experience to the team and his team-mate, Kamui Kobayashi, who has only raced in 2 Grands Prix so far.

Also, it appears that he has backing from Universia, which is a network of 11,000 universities in 15 countries. This orginisation is itself heavily supported by the bank Santander, who have a sponsorship deal regarding fellow Spaniard Fernando Alonso.

“Pedro has spent many years working for a top team at the highest technical level,” said team principal Peter Sauber. “We as a team stand to gain from his experience, and the same goes for young Kamui. The combination of a seasoned racer and an up-and-coming young driver has repeatedly proved a very fruitful one.”

“I don’t expect either of them to disappoint in 2010. Of course it is also crucial that we provide them with a decent car; I feel positive about our in-house progress on that front too. We were able to continue work on our 2010 car as scheduled throughout the recent period of uncertainty.”

De la Rosa said: “I always firmly believed I would be given another chance as a team driver. Since the number of test drives were radically reduced, this was what I was working towards. I’m really excited about the season with Peter Sauber’s team, which has been a solid fixture in Formula One ever since 1993.”

I’m looking forward to seeing Pedro back, as he certainly deserves a good drive after many faithful years of testing. The fact that he got the fastest lap in Brazil 2006 (only raced 8 races that season, and not since) proves that he has lost little of his expertise.

However, I am now much more concerned about Nick Heidfeld. The German is now left with very few drives available: Renault, Campos or USF1. I would be very surprised if he didn’t get a seat for 2010, as his experience and dependability are surely valuable for many teams.

No equalising of F1 engines for 2010

The Cosworth CA2010 engines, being used for 5 teams this year

The Cosworth CA2010 engines, being used for 5 teams this year

The FIA has decided that engine equalisation will not take place for 2010.

Engine equalisation is the process where all the different types of engines (4 of them next year) are balanced out in terms of performance, fuel consumption and reliabilty, by adding, removing, retuning and adjusting certain engine mechanics.

Engines in Formula 1 have been frozen (no development allowed) since 2008. However, teams  were allowed to change parts of the engine for reliabilty reasons. But, some engines had a definitive power advantage, and Renault were left behind. The Mercedes engine, for example, is believed to produce 18bhp more than the Renault engine, which is worth around to 3 tenths of a second per lap.

However, this season there will be an even bigger problem with the engines – fuel consumption. The Renault engine, if filled with the same amount of fuel as the Mercedes engine, can do 3 more laps. Because refuelling is banned for next year, it means that Renault can save around 7kg in fuel, which is a massive advantage to have. The Ferrari engines are the most thirsty engines on track, and they will be hugely disadvantaged by this.

Cosworth, as we know, will be returning to supplying F1 engines for the first time since 2006. The FIA has allowed them to develop their engine, as long as it balances out against the other teams. It is apparent that the most important factor for the engines next year will be the fuel consumption. If Cosworth fail to get their engines up to scratch, it will severely damage the Williams, Lotus, Virgin, USF1 and Campos teams.

So, if engines remain around the same as they did last year, Red Bull will be at the biggest advantage here. Their Renault engine means they have 7kg extra in ballast to move around, meaning more flexibility in their chassis design. Provided that Adrian Newey can deliver the goods, they may well be the team to beat next year.

Wurz not interested in F1 return

Alex Wurz, racing for Williams in 2007

Alex Wurz, racing for Williams in 2007

Despite being linked with a drive with USF1 this year, Alex Wurz has said that he has no intention of returning to Formula 1.

He last raced in F1 in 2007, with Williams. Since then, he has been a factory sportscar driver with Peugeot, and scored his second Le Mans win last year.

In 2009, he was involved in the Superfund F1 project, but was not given an entry by the FIA. Ever since then, rumours of his return have been circulating. However, he has said that he is not making a comeback:

“No. I’ve changed from the show business to the real business,” he said at the Autosport International.

“Just look at the Peugeot or the Bentley [on display] here. Since my childhood I always loved sportscars. After 13 years of F1, I’m very happy to be with Peugeot, going to Sebring and hopefully some other races as well as Le Mans.”

Barber Motorsports Park F1 test to be closed to public

The bottom hairpin of the Barber Motorsport Park

The bottom hairpin of the Barber Motorsport Park

Barber Motorsport Park have confirmed that the USF1 test, which is scheduled for some time middle to late February, will be closed off to the public.

A statement read as follows:

“In regards to the USF1 test, we are still in negotiations at this point. If the test does come to Barber Motorsports Park, it will be closed to the public.”

This must be a disappointment to F1 fans in America, who were planning to go see the testing event. It will not help the team’s image either, despite pledging to get closer to the fans than other teams.

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