Monthly Archives: December 2009

Silverstone secures British GP

Sebastian Vettel wins the 2009 British Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel wins the 2009 British Grand Prix

The British Grand Prix will stay at Silverstone, as part of a 17-year contract that was agreed this weekend.

This agreement came after Donnington Park failed to raise the funds for a development project on the circuit. Therefore, Silverstone will continue to host the British Grand Prix, with a Moto GP event joining it next year.

Work on a new paddock and pit will begin after Christmas, and should be completed for the 2011 race. Also, the owners are looking at using the “Arena” circuit for next year. This design has already been submitted for homologation to the FIA. Details of the “Arena” circuit can be found here:

The statement from the BDRC can be found here:


Renault considering various bids for team

Renault F1 Team

Renault F1 Team

Renault has 2 main bidders to take control of  its Formula 1 team. David Richards’ Prodrive faces competition from Luxembourg investment fund Genii Capital.

Renault’s executive committee met in Paris yeaterday to discuss the future of the team, before a decisive board meeting next week. It is understood that no formal decisions were made in the meeting, but the executives are edging towards which bid they wish to go for.

This was first reported by the French newspaper Le Parisien this morning, and has been confirmed by sources close to the deal.

Genii Capital’s plan is being run by businessman Gerard Lopez. Their plan is to run the team as Renault for the next two seasons. 75 to 100% of the team will be bought under this plan.

There are a few reasons why Genii Capital’s plan is being favoured – but mostly because it has the backing of Bernie Ecclestone. The executives seem to prefer Genii Capital, but management are more inclined towards Prodrive.

When asked about this, Bernie Ecclestone answered: “We’ve got to get the whole Renault thing sorted out. We are in the middle of doing it now. I feel confident that we’ll see Renault next year in Formula 1 under the name Renault and the year after and the year after that.”

Kimi Raikkonen joins Citroen WRC team

Kimi Raikkonen- driving Fiat Grande Punto in the Rally of Finland

Kimi Raikkonen- driving Fiat Grande Punto in the Rally of Finland

Citroen has announced that Kimi Raikkonen will join their junior Red-Bull backed WRC team for 2010. He will be partnered by former Junior WRC champion Sebastien Ogier, who joined the team last year. Next year, they will take part in 12 of the 13 rounds, missing the New Zealand rally.

Raikkonen has signed a one-year deal with Citroen, and has not ruled out a return to Formula 1 in the future, but only with a team with the potential to win championships.

Kimi said: “I always wanted to compete in rally, especially in the World Rally Championship at some point in my career. Thanks to Red Bull, I have the opportunity to drive the best car of the series with the Citroen C4. This is a new but very exciting challenge. For the moment we have a one-year contract and we will see how it goes for the future. I am really looking forward to testing the car and taking the start of the first rally.”

Citroen team boss Oliver Quesnel said:  “Red Bull’s commitment and energy are a perfect fit for Citroen’s ongoing thirst for victory,” Quesnel said. “We will continue to count on Sébastien and Dani to defend our world titles in 2010, and we will also be prolonging our association with Sebastien Ogier who showed outstanding potential this year. Last but not least, it is with immense joy that we welcome Kimi Raikkonen to our ranks. We are very proud that he has chosen Citroen.”

“In addition to the confirmation of these four crews, we will hopefully be able to announce other programmes over the coming weeks.”

Opinion- Why Qadbak Failed

BMW Sauber F1 Team

BMW Sauber F1 Team

Qadbak’s attempted takeover of BMW Sauber failed this week, as Sauber took over the team, and then received a spot on the 2010 grid. However, there is still a lot to analyse regarding this investor group.

Qadbak Investments Ltd is known to be a Swiss-based company registered in the British Virgin Islands. It claims to have a total portfolio value of £97bn, invested in natural resources, heavy industry, logistics and infrastructure. It  served as the vehicle for the purchase of the football club Notts County. This was in the news recently, when one of Qadbak’s senior representatives, Russell King, had £1.9 million of his assets frozen due to unpaid debt and fraud. The unpaid debt referred to a different company (Belgravia) with whom he tried to found a Dubai-based Formula 1 team.

The Notts County takeover is important here, as holes started to appear in their story. Notts County released a statement, naming two of the families in the Qadbak group as the Shafi and Hyat families. However, Anwar Shafi, a member of the Shafi family, denied any connection with Notts County or Qadbak. No statement was made by the Hyat family. Here, the structure of Qadbak is still unknown, which must have worried the FIA when Qadbak went to buy out BMW Sauber.

With no public news on the consortium, it is unclear whether the FIA were any more knowledgable on the matter than we were. It is more than likely they were, but this is inconclusive. The FIA wanted to increase the size of the grid to 13 (at one point 14) teams, so allowing Qadbak in seemed like a good idea. However, the secrecy that Qadbak had started to put doubts into people’s minds. Meyrick Cox, the managing director of Rothschild Bank, described Qadbak as a “wholly reputable orginisation”. This did not quell doubts, as the FIA were understood to have been pessimistic towards Qadbak’s entry. This showed when the FIA stalled on granting them a spot on the 2010 grid.

Eventually, due to doubts about their spot on the 2010 grid and investor funding issues, Qadbak pulled out of the buying of BMW, instead allowing Sauber to take over. Only a few days later, the FIA granted a place to the Sauber team. Their secrecy, which surely must have helped them hugely in the past, backfired on them, as an apparent lack of transparency cost them their grid spot.

There is no doubt that Qadbak will simply shift attention to Notts County, but their attempted foray into F1 has raised many difficult questions. In my opinion, their departure is a relief to many.

2010 testing- December 3rd

Daniel RicciardoDaniel Ricciardo ended the three-day test session in Jerez in scintillating form, as the Red Bull driver set the fastest time of the week to finish top of the timesheets. He completed 77 laps, and had a fastest lap of 1.17.418.

Conditions improved gradually across the day, so drivers who went out earlier were caught out.

Today, Ferrari gave the car to three drivers across the day: Pablo Sanchez, Daniel Zampieri and Zipoli. These were the top three finishers in this year’s Italian Formula 3 championship.

Toro Rosso allowed Mirko Bortolotti to drive 34 laps in the morning, before handding the seat over to Brendon Hartley.

There were many incidents over the day. Daniel Ricciardo’s car emitted a huge plume of smoke at the exit of the chicane, while JR Hildebrand had his runs spoiled with electronic problems. Paul di Resta and Daniel Zampieri both spun on track. All of these incidents (excluding Hildebrand) brought out the red flag for a while.

The unofficial times are as follows:

Pos Driver       Team            Time               Laps
 1. Ricciardo    Red Bull        1m17.418s            77
 2. Di Resta     Force India     1m18.736s  + 1.318s  53
 3. Paffett      McLaren         1m18.746s  + 1.328s  59
 4. Conway       Brawn           1m19.096s  + 1.678s  77
 5. Hulkenberg   Williams        1m19.226s  + 1.808s 106
 6. Baguette     Sauber          1m19.356s  + 1.938s  70
 7. Turvey       McLaren         1m19.358s  + 1.940s  32
 8. Ericsson     Brawn           1m19.382s  + 1.964s  49
 9. Di Grassi    Renault         1m19.602s  + 2.184s 123
10. Hildebrand   Force India     1m19.873s  + 2.455s  41
11. Sanchez      Ferrari         1m21.147s  + 3.650s  39
12. Zampieri     Ferrari         1m21.279s  + 3.861s  42
12. Zipoli       Ferrari         1m21.725s  + 4.307s  41
13. Hartley      Toro Rosso      1m22.493s  + 5.075s  50
15. Bortolotti   Toro Rosso      1m23.271s  + 5.853s  34
16. Tung         Renault         1m32.477s  + 15.059s  4

Sauber secures 13th 2010 F1 slot

Peter SauberThe FIA has announced that Sauber has been granted an entry into the 2010 F1 season, which ends months of speculation about the team.

The original plan, to sell the BMW team to Qadbak, proved problematic, when doubts began to spread regarding the investors behind Qadbak. However, Toyota’s departure meant that there was a grid spot available for Sauber.

The statement from the FIA is as follows:

“The FIA has written to inform BMW Sauber AG that their application for an entry in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship has been successful.  Subject to their signing the Concorde Agreement, BMW Sauber will be awarded the 13th entry in the Championship, taking the place of the departing Toyota team.

The FIA has worked closely with the Commercial Rights Holder and the teams involved over recent weeks and is grateful for their support in achieving the best outcome for the sport.

An updated Formula One entry list will be published in due course.”

Bianchi signs long-term deal with Ferrari

Jules-BianchiFormula 3 Euroseries champion Jules Bianchi has been signed onto a long-term deal with Ferrari. It is currently unclear what role he will have within the team.

It is understood that he has signed a “multi-year contract” to form “part of the group of Ferrari drivers”. Besides Bianchi, Ferrari already have Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Giancarlo Fisichella, Luca Badoer and Marc Gene as part of their roster.

Bianchi said: “This is the first step on a journey that could turn out very nicely, but I’m equally aware that there is still a long way to go to get to Formula One”. His manager, Nicolas Todt, said: “We are very happy to do this long-term deal, which was completed a short time ago”. His role is undefined for the moment, but from now on, he will be at Ferrari’s disposal. His first Ferrari drive is obviously at this young driver test.”

It has also been reported that Bianchi will partner Sam Bird, at the ART GP2 team for 2010.

Interview with JR Hildebrand

JR HildebrandJR Hildebrand was pleased with the second day of testing at Jerez, despite only finishing tenth. Here is an interview with, about how he got on:
Q: JR, you’ve had your first taste of a Formula One car. What were your first impressions the VJM02?
JR Hildebrand: I was really impressed with the ability of the car. It is different in every way to what I’m used to, both in terms of the outright speed, but also in terms of the characteristics of the car and how it behaves, brakes and drives through corners. Having raced on ovals I’m used to a high top speed, so that wasn’t too much of a shock, but the amount of load it runs and how much speed you can carry through the corner took some getting used to. I felt I was getting there and was starting to get the most out of the car, particularly towards the end of the morning.

Q: Did the work you have done in the simulator help you?
JH: I’ve been in the ‘sim’ two times and it definitely helped to understand the basics of what to expect and at least know the track layout. Having never driven the circuit before and also having no prior experience of a car like this, it still took a couple of runs to get used to everything, but as the track improved over the morning we were right there, so I felt as prepared as I could have been. We’ll look at the data now and see what I can do to get better.

Q: What did your programme involve on Tuesday?
JH: It was a little bit tough initially. The track was clearly improving throughout the morning, so based on the program we were running, in terms of relative pace we were doing pretty well. I think we still had some free time in the car. We ran through the different tyre compounds and I felt I could still get quite a bit of time from the car. I lost my best lap by using a bit too much of the road and on my last run I just flat spotted the tyres straight out of the pits, which made a drastic difference in how good the car was and I really couldn’t get the ultimate lap time from it.

Q: Were you pleased with how it went though?
JH: It was a little bit frustrating from the standpoint of losing the last two runs, but we were fifth quickest when my day was effectively done so I was pretty happy with my first outing. I was able to improve throughout the morning and up at the top of the charts at points so it gives me a lot to work to be getting on with in the next couple of days.

Q: And physically how was it? A lot of new drivers often take some time to get up to full fitness, particularly in the neck.
JH: Driving definitely gives a bit of pain in the neck, but I didn’t have any major issues. My neck was a little bit sore but I’m not sure that anyone else here is going to be able to say much different! It’s just something that I will look to work on in the future but I am not sure I could have done anything else to help with the fitness. I felt quite prepared.

Q: And what are the goals for Wednesday and the rest of the test?
JH: We have a pretty structured test programme. Everyone is on different run programmes throughout the week, with different tyres and weights and also some 2010 preparation so it is hard to tell where we are relative to other teams. I will just try to focus on what we are doing and not worry too much about anyone else. I’ll also try to give the engineers as much feedback as I can as this is what they are looking for in the long term, while trying to wrap my head around what I need to do to get the most out of the car.

Q: Have you approached the test any differently to an IndyCar or Indy Lights test?
JH: It is roughly the same process but, just because of the nature of the car, we are talking about different things and about making different changes. I’ve had to learn what’s more critical to report back and what the team needs to know from me. I’ve found that transition to be fairly seamless.

Q: What’s been the most challenging aspect?
JH: The high speed cornering of the car is just phenomenal so getting used to the speed and how much I can carry into the corner, specifically into the high speed corners, is probably where I can improve the most. I looked at the data throughout the day and I’ve picked up some time so far and have just started to be in a pretty good range. I feel in terms of braking and low speed, technical parts of the circuit, I will also find some speed now, especially with the track improving. I’m looking forward to getting back into the car.

2010 testing- December 2nd

Gary Paffett- McLaren MP4-24Gary Paffett put his McLaren on top of the timesheets, during the second day of testing at the Jerez circiut. He was the only driver to go below the 1.19 minute mark, with a fastest time of 1.18.718, and was almost half a second faster than Nico Hulkenberg.
There was only one stoppage during the day, when Mirko Bortolotti, in the Toro Rosso, accidentally pressed a button which prevented his gearbox from working. Then, the car spent a long part of the morning in the pits, due to an unspecified technical problem, which was unrelated.

Unofficial times are as follows:

Pos Driver Car Time Gap Laps
1. Paffett McLaren 1m18.718s 80
2. Hulkenberg Williams 1m19.184s + 0.466s 94
3. Ricciardo Red Bull 1m19.243s + 0.526s 93
4. Di Resta Force India 1m19.411s + 0.693s 58
5. Gutierrez Sauber 1m20.190s + 1.472s 68
6. Conway Brawn 1m20.222s + 1.504s 83
7. Ericsson Brawn 1m20.440s + 1.722s 37
8. Hildebrand Force India 1m20.517s + 1.799s 50
9. Bianchi Ferrari 1m20.585s + 1.868s 113
10. Di Grassi Renault 1m20.898s + 2.180s 55
11. Tung Renault 1m21.492s + 2.774s 67
12. Bortolotti Toro Rosso 1m21.761s + 3.043s 69

2010 testing- December 1st

Andy Soucek- Williams FW31Today was the first day of testing for the 2010 season. The cars were all 2009 spec, as testing 2010 parts or models is still banned until February. Over the next three days, 19 young drivers for 9 teams will take part. Today, the following drivers were present:

BMW – Alexander Rossi (USA)
Brawn GP (Mercedes) – Mike Conway (GBR) and Marcus Ericsson (SWE)
Ferrari – Jules Bianchi (FER)
Force India – Paul di Resta (GBR) and JR Hildebrand (USA)
McLaren – Oliver Turvey (GBR)
Red Bull – Daniel Ricciardo (AUS)
Renault – Bertrand Baguette (BEL)
Toro Rosso – Brendon Hartley (NZ)
Williams – Andy Soucek (ESP)

For McLaren, Gary Paffett took most of the testing day, but 90 minutes were given at the end to Oliver Turvey, as part of winning the 2006 McLaren Autosport BRDC Award. He only completed 27 laps, but improved his times more than anyone else in this time.

Andy Soucek set the pace today in the Williams, despite a spin and stall at the Michelin hairpin, which brought out the red flags. Also, Brendon Hartley spun his Toro Rosso into the barriers between the chicane and the Ferrari curve, which knocked off the front-right wheel and nose of the car.

The unofficial times are as follows: