Tag Archives: Valencia

Barcelona and Valencia to alternate from 2013

The Circuit de Catalunya will soon alternate with Valencia

The Circuit de Catalunya will soon alternate with Valencia

The Circuit de Catalunya and the Valencia Street Circuit are to alternate hosting the Spanish Grand Prix from 2013 onwards.

Both venues have run into financial trouble in recent months. The Spanish government’s financial woes completely rules out any government interference, so an alternating track system was decided to be the best approach.

Bernie Ecclestone broke the news to Spanish radio station Cadana Ser today. He also clarified that both races would continue in 2012 as planned.

Barcelona hosted the Spanish Grand Prix from 1991 onwards, while Valencia is a relatively new addition to the Formula 1 calendar, joining in 2008. Neither circuit has proven popular with fans in recent years, due to frequently dull races and no scope for overtaking. It is not clear which track will be ditched for 2013.

The Spa circuit is also looking at a similar deal, with the Circuit Paul Ricard in France. The birthplace of motorsport, France has not hosted a Grand Prix since Magny Cours was dropped after 2008.

Valencia 2009 flashback: Barrichello breaks 5-year victory drought

After the Hungarian Grand Prix, Jenson Button was starting to realise that his lead was not as strong as it used to be. While he was still considerably in the lead, by 18.5 points to Mark Webber, with Sebastian Vettel only 4.5 points behind him. Red Bull were also catching up to Brawn in the constructors’ championship. The Brawn car was turning against Button, as he was constantly struggling for control. So, when Valencia cam around, there could well be a change of fortunes for his title rivals.

Before any of the sessins began though, Rubens Barrichello showed off his new helmet, paying tribute to Felipe Massa, who was sidelined for the rest of the season after his heavy crash in Hungary. His race seat would be filled by Ferrari test driver Luca Badoer, who had spent an incredible 10 years straight testing for Ferrari. He had said that it was a dream come true for him, to finally get a drive for Ferrari.

It was completely the opposite for Nelson Piquet Jr. After yet another dissapointing performance in Hungary 4 weeks ago, Flavio Briatore snubbed his own (managed) driver, and decided to replace him for the rest of the season. He would be replaced by GP2 driver Romain Grosjean. The 1-race ban on Renault, which was given after Fernando Alonso was unsafely released with a damaged wheel in Hungary, was overturned before Hungary, which allowed Grosjean to make his debut there.

In the practice sessions, it became clear that Force India were starting to make improvements, with Adrian Sutil finishing 6th in both Friday Practice sessions. Romain Grosjean was making a decent debut so far, but Badoer was miles behind anyone else, and was last in FP1 and FP2. In qualifying, it seemed as if Heikki Kovalainen would take pole position, but he locked up and slid into the final corner, and only took 2nd place. This left Lewis Hamilton free to take his first pole position of the year, with the Brawn of Barrichello in 3rd, and Button languishing in 5th. It was the first time that a KERS equipped car had taken pole position in Formula 1.

The McLarens of Hamilton and Kovalainen lead the field at the start

The McLarens of Hamilton and Kovalainen lead the field at the start

With their KERS systems to defend them, the McLarens were unstoppable at the start. Further back, Jenson Button made a terrible start, getting stuck behind Jarno Trulli at the first corner, and falling to 8th. Even worse, he slipped and cut a corner, meaning he was instructed to give 8th place to Mark Webber. To make matters even more complicated for him, he soon started to suffer tyre graining issues. Meanwhile, the new drivers clashed, as Romain Grosjean ran into the back of Luca Badoer, causing him to fall to the back of the grid, after he had made good progress on the first lap.

Sebastian Vettel, at his first pit stop, suffered a fuel rig failure, and was forced to pit again next lap. The extra time spent stationary strained the engine, and it blew a few laps later, leaving Vettel on the sidelines. He had extended his contract with Red Bull on Friday, but he had since lost his chance to take vital points off Button.

At the front, Kovalainen lost 2nd place to Barrichello at the first set of stops, and the Brazilian soon started to challenge Hamilton for the lead. At the very back, Badoer pitted alongside Grosjean. While Luca was released alongside Romain, he made a mistake and allowed him past, and then ruined his afternoon by crossing the white line at pit lane exit, and earning himself a drive-through penalty.

Sebastian Vettel retires with an engine failure

Sebastian Vettel retires with an engine failure

Problems were starting to develop for Hamilton, as his team instructed him to try and cool the rear brakes, as the temperatures were going out of control. This allowed Barrichelllo to break through the 10 second gap to the McLaren between the first and second pit stops. Things got even worse at the second stop, when a miscommunication mean that Lewis pitted before the McLaren mechanics were ready for him. The 14-second pit stop threw the advantage to Barrichello, who had 5 more laps to push before his second stop.

Mark Webber lost out during the second stops, falling behind Button and Robert Kubica. Meanwhile, when Barrichello pitted, he emeged in the lead, well ahead of Hamilton, and was well on course to take the victory. Also, Heikki Kovalainen lost 3rd place to Kimi Raikkonen at his second stop. Behind the top 4, Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso were 5th and 6th, and Button and Kubica taking the final points positions.

While Hamilton made a late charge, it wasn’t enough to stop Rubens taking his first Grand Prix win in 5 years, the first since the 2004 Chinese Grand Prix. It was also the 100th win for a Brazilian driver in Formula 1. He also slammed himself back into contention for the championship, as he was now lying 2nd, 18 points behind Button. He dedicated his win to fellow countryman Felipe Massa, which was shown with his helmet after the race.

Rubens shows us his helmet - the writing says "Felipe, see you on track soon!"

Rubens shows us his helmet - the writing says "Felipe, see you on track soon!"

Romain Grosjean spun later in the race, although he still finished 15th, ahead of Jaime Alguersuari, who was at only his 2nd race. His team-mate, Sebastien Buemi, suffered a brake failure late in the race, while Kazuki Nakajima retired with a few laps to go, thanks to a puncture. Luca Badoer was unable to recover after being hit at the start, and finised last, which meant that it was his 49th Grand Prix without a point, an extension on his record.

With Red Bull not scoring a single point all weekend, Brawn moved away in both tables. With Rubens back in contention, it was clear that it would be a 4-way fight for the title from now in 2009.

A photo and video review of the testing season

So, as the Barcelona test concluded today, we have learned much about the upcoming season in 2 weeks time. For now, let’s have a look at some of the photos and videos that summarised this year’s testing season.

The Videos

Mclaren owned by Ferrari:

For the last few weeks, many of us have been worrying about the fact that most of the teams have been trying to hide their diffuser from the others. It’s been a hot topic: Will we see another diffuser battle? Mostly, cover sheets and boxes are used to stop other team mechanics stealing designs of the diffusers. But, in Barcelona, Ferrari went one step further (to the delight of the audience) to get the message through to McLaren.

For my childish side… PWNED!

Felipe Massa onboard head-cam:

Remember last year, when the Ferarri F60 was released, and we were treated to the great onboard footage of Massa’s first lap in the car? This year it’s even better, he’s driving in heavy rain conditions this time. Unfortunately the camera is pointing slightly downwards, so visibility isn’t great, but this video is still well worth a watch. Oh, and it’s also available in HD, which is nice :)

Life’s a Beach- Virgin Racing

I’ll get this out of the way, I’m not quite sure why they made this video! Still though, it’s got some nice shots of the Virgin car, as well as Lucas di Grassi’s attempts to sound badass, this time without the glasses.

The Photos

Putting on a brave face!

Putting on a brave face!

Like I’ve said before,there’s plenty of worry around the paddock of another diffuser battle this year. So, while most of the teams covered up the back of their cars and hid them away, Sauber put a smile on our face by making their diffuser more pleasant to look at! This is why I love privateers compared to manufacturers :D

The reconquest begins, apparently...

The reconquest begins, apparently...

Note the flags of Oviedo on the left and right. This picture was taken on one of the first days of testing, when Fernando Alonso made his first appearances for Ferrari. Also, the eagle-eyed F1 fans may notce the two aces of clubs and diamonds, the same that Fernando has printed on the back of his helmet, to symbolise his two championship victories in 2005 and 2006(note ’05 and ’06 written in place of numbers on the cards). Obviously, the Spaniards were out in force to greet their hero, and made their presence known. They seem to be very confident of an Alonso comeback this season, and I’m with them!

Brought back down to earth

Brought back down to earth

Like the last picture, this was taken on one of the first days of Alonso’s test with Ferrari. This time, the Spaniard was forced to stop out on track with a mechanical problem. Fernando seemed very dissapointed to let down his fans afterwards, but this is F1.

Drying out

Drying out

It seems so long ago to me, but the two Jerez tests were blighted by heavy rain.  Teams struggled across the 8 days to find time to do full-length race testing. Here, a Bridgestone technician checks the track to see are conditions improving. In fact, they were.

Spun out

Spun out

Back to the 18th February. It was another disastrous day for the Virgin team, as yesterday Timo Glock only got 10 laps in the wet conditions. This day, it got no better, with the German spinning out ar Turn 2. A mechanical problem was believed to have caused the spin, and the wet track didn’t help. After the front wing incident, it became apparent that CFD didn’t make the Virgin car bulletproof.

The news did get better for the team, but it took some time.

Subtle observation

Subtle observation

More McLaren eagle eyes this time (they never get bored of it do they?). Here, the Red Bull of Mark Webber is being brought back to the pits after a mechanical problem.  The McLaren engineers had been closer, but you can see a Red Bull engineer getting them well back. Damn straight :D

Set sail to Bahrain...

Set sail to Bahrain...

And, quick as a flash, it’s all over. Less than an hour after the chequered flag fell on the last day of testing, the teams were packing up to leave to Bahrain. Without a hint of delay, as I write this (the eve of the final day), most of the teams have already sent their trucks of equipment on their way to Bahrain. It’s kind of strange to see that the F1 world never sleeps.

February 2nd: Testing results

Felipe Massa has finished top of the timesheets again in Valencia, as the second day of F1 testing concluded.

His best lap of 1m11.722 was faster than Kamui Kobayashi (1m12.056) and Lewis Hamilton (1m12.256). Kubica was much faster today than yesterday, his fastest lap being 2.5 seconds quicker than yesterday’s best. Nico Rosberg was 5th, followed by Rubens Barrichello and Sebastien Buemi. There is no news yet as to if Toro Rosso are still having downforce problems.

Robert Kubica stopped out on track, after just setting his two fastest laps. The red flag was out, and the session did not restart after that. This happened at around 16:00.

Robert Kubica after stopping out on track

Robert Kubica after stopping out on track

Another interesting thing to note is that both Kubica and Buemi put on different helmets today, to test aerodynamic efficiency.

We also saw McLaren’s secret new diffuser, without the use of spy cameras. This picture is included in the photo section.

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1. F. Massa Ferrari F10 1.11.722
2. K. Kobayashi BMW Sauber C29 1.12.056 +0.334
3. L. Hamilton McLaren MP4-25 1.12.256 +0.534
4. R. Kubica Renault R30 1.12.426 +0.704
5. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1.12.899 +1.177
6. R. Barrichello Williams FW32 1.13.377 +1.655
7. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1.13.823 +2.101

Photos from today’s test:

February 1st: Testing results

The first day of testing concluded in Valencia today.

We saw the launches of the Williams, Mercedes and Toro Rosso cars. Then, 7 of the teams headed out for testing at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit. Temperatures were around 12 degrees Celcius.

Felipe Massa finished top of the timesheets today, ahead of Pedro de la Rosa and Michael Schumacher. Massa completed the most laps (102) and set the fastest lap at 1:12.574. Mercedes were the onlt team to run both of its drivers, with Schumacher 3rd (1:12.947) while Rosberg was 4th (1:13.543). Robet Kubica was last, driving for Renault, lapping in a 1:15.000 as a fastest lap, 2.5 seconds slower than Massa.

The only red flag was for Rubens Barrichello, who spun while out on track at around 4.45 pm. Toro Rosso only got 18 laps in with Sebastien Buemi, because of a gearbox problem.

Full testing results:

Driver Team Car Fastest lap Difference # of laps
1. F. Massa Ferrari F10 1:12.574 102
2. P. de la Rosa BMW Sauber C25 1:12.784 +0.210 74
3. M.Schumacher Mercedes GP W01 1:12.947 +0.373 40
4. N. Rosberg Mercedes GP W01 1:13.543 +0.969 39
5. G. Paffett McLaren MP4-25 1:13.846 +1.272 86
6. R.Barrichello Williams FW32 1:14.449 +1.875 75
7. S. Buemi Toro Rosso STR5 1:14.762 +2.188 18
8. R. Kubica Renault R30 1:15.000 +2.426 69

More photos of testing today (more photos in the individual car launches):

Toro Rosso STR5 launched

The Toro Rosso STR5 was released today in Valencia.

For me, this was the best moment of the day, because this year’s car was built by Toro Rosso on their own, and not with assistance from Red Bull, as has been the case in the last few years. Giorgio Ascanelli explains this:

“At the end of March 2009 we got the green light as to what actually constituted being an F1 Constructor; that was the starting point for building up our operation in such a way that we could actually design a car which was achievable in engineering terms, working in a different way to the methods we had adopted in the past.”

“Being recognised as a Constructor involves owning the intellectual property rights to what are defined as the listed parts: these are effectively the monocoque, the safety structures that are subject to homologation and crash testing, which means the rear and front structures, primary and secondary roll-over structures and the complete aerodynamic package, the suspension, fuel and cooling systems.”

The livery has also been done over, albeit not too much. The back and middle are pretty much the same, but the nose has been done over, and is now flaunting much more red than blue and gold. It looks much better, even if it was a subtle change.

The car itself has a few modifications. Toro Rosso have fully intergrated the Red Bull style nose, and front wing additions. The wing mirror/turning vane has been heightened, so it now nearly reaches the floor of the car. The bargeboards have also been lowered.

However, it wasn’t all good news. First of all Sebastien Buemi said that htere was a noticable lack of grip compared to last year’s car. At first most people put this down to the narrower front tyres, but then Toro Rosso admitted that they have difficulties with a lack of downforce. I know it’s only the first day of testing, but things could be much better than they are.

Pictures from the launch:

Williams FW32 released

The Williams FW32 was released in Valencia today.

There was much less hype about this car, because practically everyone had seen the “spy shot” video released a few days ago.

Most of the livery has now been filled in with sponsors. There is still areas of black on the front wing, so I’m assuming that there will be more sponsors there later.

Now that we can see the car properly, I can definitely see changes from last year’s car. The nose is higher than last year, the front wing has been revised, and there are new sidepods. There aren’t much photos out yet, so I can’t confirm if they have covered up their diffuser like everyone else has.

The most interesting new feature seems to be a new type of engine air intake, one smaller one behind the other. I’ll upload pictures of this soon.

Pictures from the launch:

Mercedes W01 launched

The new Mercedes W01 car has been launched in Valencia.

The livery was revealed a week ago, in the Mercedes museum in Stuttgart. It’s good, but not great, I feel.

The car itself appears to look quite similar to last year’s Brawn. The main change is the revised nose cone, which is quite lower than other teams. The engine air intake has a very different shape. Also, the car sports last year’s Red Bull raised nose, as copied by Ferrari with their F10.

Otherwise, I’m actually struggling to find differences to last year’s Brawn. Hopefully underneath there are many changes, because at the moment I’m not convinced.

Nico Rosberg drove the car in the morning, before handing it over to Michael Schumacher for the afternoon.

Photos from the launch:

BMW Sauber C29 released

The new BMW Sauber C29

The new BMW Sauber C29

The BMW Sauber C29 was released today in Valencia.

The car, at the moment, has no sponsors. However, it is known that Scalp-D, a Japanese shampoo (ooh, exclusive!), and watch brand Certina have been confirmed as main sponsors. The logos were not ready to be put on the car in time, it is believed.

The livery itself just looks stupid. The white is not even slightly changed, the black is just boring, and the blue stripe on the nose is just a free ad for BMW.  Then, the front and rear wings are just plain black, with absolutely no imagination. Even the small red stripe, which featured on last year’s BMW Sauber, hasn’t changed.

To make matters even worse, there is absolutely no colour whatsoever in the driver overalls. Just look at it, it’s plain white. How bloody mind-numbing are these designers? I’m just hoping that this is just a temporary livery design.

The car has been significantly changed, however. The front and rear wings have been completely redesigned (note the 2009 McLaren-style rear wing endplate lift). The nose cone is 2009 Ferrari style – very long and slightly narrow.  Also, the car features a McLaren style engine intake support. The shark fin engine cover has also been retained.

Comparison photos are available here.

Just to add to current woes, the diffuser has yet again been covered over. I can’t help but feel another huge argument brewing because of this. I’ll write more about this later.

Specifications of the car have also been released:

Chassis: Carbon-fibre monocoque
Suspension: Upper and lower wishbones (front and rear), inboard springs and dampers, actuated by pushrods (Sachs Race Engineering)
Brakes: Six-piston brake callipers (Brembo), carbon pads and discs (Brembo, Carbon Industries)
Transmission: Ferrari Seven-speed quick shift gearbox, carbon, longitudinally mounted, carbon-fibre clutch
Chassis electronics: MES
Steering wheel: BMW Sauber F1 Team
Tyres: Bridgestone Potenza
Wheels: OZ
Length: 4,940 mm
Width: 1,800 mm
Height: 1,000 mm
Track width, front: 1,495 mm
Track width, rear: 1,410 mm
Weight: 620 kg (including driver, tank empty)

Willy Rampf said this about the C29:

“The increased length of the fuel tank means the car has grown longer overall. And because they are slimmer, the front tyres will be more heavily worked, requiring weight to be shifted further towards the rear of the car.”

“An eye-catching feature of the C29 is its highly intricate raised nose. Also very distinctive is an extremely long undercut at the transition from chassis into underbody. These and other aerodynamic measures also help to ensure optimum airflow to the double diffuser. Further changes were required to integrate the Ferrari engine and, in particular, the Ferrari gearbox.”

Ther are no videos available yet, but if there is I will upload it in due course.

Pictures from the launch:

Renault R30 launched, Kubica’s new helmet, Petrov, Tung and D’Ambrosio confirmed

The new Renault R30

The new Renault R30

The Renault R30 has been released in Valencia today.

Since ING and Mutua Madrilena pulled out after the crash-gate scandal in Singapore, Renault were free to go back to their old 1980’s livery, just as many anticipated. Personally, I think it looks great. Reminds me of the Jordan “Buzzing Hornets” design of 1999/2000! The only problem is the red endplates on the car are still red.

Comparison pictures of this and last year’s cars are available here.

Now, on to the car. The nose cone is a bit different to the other cars, lower and thinner. The “coke bottle” rear end design has been only partially implemented, and the front wing has been remodelled. The rear wing looks similar to the last one.

Also, Vitaly Petrov, Ho-Pin Tung and Jerome D’Ambrosio have been confirmed as Renault’s second and reserve drivers respectively.Petrov has raced in GP2 for the last 3 and a half years (read more about him here). Ho-Pin Tung and Jerome D’Ambrosio are only drivers because they are part of Eric Boullier’s driver managment agency.

In more Renault news, Robert Kubica has revealed his new helmet that he will be using with Renault this year. Also, Petrov has revealed his new design.

Only one bad piece of news. My fears about another diffuser row have been heightened, because now Renault’s diffuser has been blocked away as well.

Also, the Renault team’s new website has been published. You can view it here.

You can view the team’s studio video here:

Kubica and Petrov’s team photos:

Vitaly Petrov and his new helmet

Vitaly Petrov and his new helmet

Robert Kubica and his new helmet

Robert Kubica and his new helmet

Pictures from the launch:

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