Monthly Archives: January 2010

Ricciardo and Hartley are Red Bull reserves

Daniel Ricciardo

Daniel Ricciardo

Red Bull has announced that their 2010 reserve drivers to be Daniel Ricciardo and Brendon Hartley. Both of these drivers are already in the Red Bull junior team.

Brendon Hartley

Brendon Hartley

It is also understood that the two drivers will alternate reserve driver duties on a race-by-race basis.

Ricciardo impressed last year in the young driver test in December, while Hartley was reserve driver for both Red Bull and Toro Rosso last year.

When asked about this, Ricciardo said:

“It’s very exciting. It was an email I was hoping for since the test in December, but I wasn’t sure whether it would come at all. So, a big relief, but also very satisfying.”

“This will be a very good introduction to F1 – even though I won’t be driving the car, just to sit in on the briefings and do what the drivers do on a weekend is a good way to start learning. It’s all exciting and I’ll be busy, even though I’m not driving.”

At the moment, Australian Ricciardo is the reigning British Formula Three champion. In 200, he raced in the Italian Formula Renault series, and in 2008 won the Formula Renault West European cup, with 8 wins. Last year, he won the British F3 series with 2 races to spare. I’m expecting him to be in Formula 1 in the next few years, as his racing history shows he has a huge amount of talent.

Here’s a great overtake in the British F3 championship from Ricciardo:

And a burnout as well :)

Kiwi Brendon Hartley started in 2006 in Formula Renault 2.0. In 2007 he won the Eurocup title, and in 2008 raced in British F3 just like Ricciardo. Here, he finised 3rd, behind Jaime Alguersuari and Oliver Turvey. In 2009, he competed in the Formula 3 Euroseries. I don’t know as much about him, but he clearly deserves the opportunity to be in the Red Bull junior team.

Here’s a video I found about him when he competed in the famous F3 Macau Grand Prix:

As always, I love to see the new guys get a chance in Formula1. Both have lots of talent, and deserve this opportunity. Hopefully we can see them racing in F1 in a few years time.

Di Resta set for Friday practice role

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

Paul Di Resta testing for Force India last December

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh has revealed that Paul di Resta is close to getting a deal with Force India that would see him take part in Friday practice sessions on race weekends.

Speaking to Reuters, he said:

“Paul will be running I believe in the majority of the Friday sessions (at grand prix weekends) for Force India, so it’s a great opportunity for him.”

“I’m happy for him. He’s going to push like hell to make his case to have a race drive at Force India during the course of this year.”

Also, he revealed that several midfield team were looking at this option:

“If you are trying to win a championship, to not allow your principal drivers the Friday session is not something we would contemplate,” he explained. “But it’s something that some other teams are looking at and it’s a great opportunity for Paul.”

My first thought is this: Why the hell is this being reported by Whitmarsh? Surely someone from Force India would have said this, if they knew it was happening. And anyways, it’s not Whitmarsh’s business, so he has no reason to go off  telling everyone about it.

More to the point, this is a great opportunity for di Resta. Test drivers rarely get a chance to prove themselves these days, so he will have to do his very best in these sessions.

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.

Teams agree to new points system – again

The Formula 1 teams, working as FOTA, have agreed to change the current F1 points system again.

Last year, a new points system was agreed, gining 25 points to the winner, and extend the points down to 10th place. However, there were many complaints, such as not enough gap in points between 1st and 2nd.

Today, FOTA announced a new set of points, that will be submitted to the FIA World Motor Sport Council. However, this is really only routine, as this new system will almost definitely be introduced.

The new points system is as follows:

Winner 25
Second 18
Third 15
Fourth 12
Fifth 10
Sixth 8
Seventh 6
Eighth 4
Ninth 2
Tenth 1

The most notable change is the bigger difference in points between 1st and 2nd, which is now 7 points instead of 5. Also, there are more equal gaps between the other places.

Overall, this is a better idea than the previous version. Many of the people I have talked to also agree, so this is a step in the right direction.

The idea of points being introduced for fastest laps and pole positions were suggested, but no agreement was reached.

This idea should be accepted by the WMSC in the next few days.

A virtual goodbye from Toyota

It would be very easy for Toyota to simply walk away from F1 quietly, even after 9 years of squandered money. However, they have not done so, as they have made a website to say goodbye to the F1 world.

You can view the site here. It is a nice compilation of pictures and memories from the years of Toyota. Each picture includes a comment from Toyota supporters.

It’s simple but nice. The navigation is actually quite poor for a flash site, but I’m not bothered. It’s worth a visit, even if you never cared for Toyota.

Bahrain circuit to be longer and slower

The new section of Bahrain

The new section of Bahrain

The Bahrain F1 circuit has been changed, with a new section added after Turn 4.

There will be 0.8 km added to the track. This will make Bahrain the second longest track on the F1 calendar (6.299km), behind Spa (7.004km) and ahead of Suzuka (5.807km).

After Turn 4, the circuit usually goes into an S-shaped curve. Instead of this, there will be a left turn, followed by a series of 90 degree corners, followed by a long hairpin.

The chairman of the circuit, Zayed Alzayani, said:

“The loop was completed in 2006 as part of the built-in evolution of the venue for competitors and fans. We gave it its debut with the inaugural 24 Hour Race of Bahrain that same year where it proved extremely successful, and with the changes to the regulations, the teams and the driver line-ups in Formula One this year it is the perfect time to evolve the circuit with this new challenge and new overtaking opportunities.”

This makes very little sense. There is no overtaking opportunity in this new section, and seems to be to be less punishing on the cars’ brakes.

This track has been used before, at the 24 Hour Race of Bahrain. This has 120 cars in it, so we can be assured that 26 F1 cars will fit.

I’m not convinced by this move, but it doesn’t seem to be too bad. Let’s see how it fares as the season opener on the 14th March.

Schumacher sticks with red helmet

Micheal Schumacher's helmet for 2010

Micheal Schumacher's helmet for 2010

Michael Schumacher has said that he is to stick with his red helmet while driving for Mercedes this year.

A red helmet, very similar to the one he used back in 2006, was revealed alongside the new livery of the Mercedes WG01.

The only differences are the Mercedes logo on the top, and the Petronas sponsorship on the visor. Nico Rosberg has made the same changes to his helmet.

2010 Mercedes colour scheme revealed

Mercedes have revealed the colour scheme that they will be using on their 2010 car.

It must be noted, however, that the car in the pictures is just the Brawn BGP001, repainted. The new car, the WG01 (not the RB1 as I previously said), will be revealed on 1st February in Valencia.

The car was unveiled at the Mercedes museum in Stuttgart. Drivers Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher were also attending.

Mercedes say this about their colour design:

“The new silver and green livery creates a true marriage between the heritage of the Silver Arrows and the team’s title partner Petronas. The legacy of the Silver Arrows goes back to the 1934 Eifel Race when, on the evening before the event, the white paint was sanded off the Mercedes W25 race car to fulfil weight regulations (750kg formula) and the silver colour of the aluminium surface of the car appeared. This season, with the return of the Silver Arrows, the MGP W01 will shine in silver combined with a flow of iridescent silver and green shading. On the nose and other parts of the car, traces of black carbon fibre are visible – a reminder of the first Silver Arrow of 1934.”

However, this appears to be wrong. There is an article on F1 Fanatic explaining this.

There are quotes from Michael Schumacher:

“Finally the 2010 Formula One season is firing up! I have to say that I am totally committed to this new challenge. This season feels like a re-start for me and I am so motivated. We have a very exciting combination at Mercedes. We have a World Champion team in every sense of the word and I cannot wait to get into the car for the first time in Valencia. I am convinced that Mercedes will be in a very good position to fight for the championships this season and I will definitely give it a go. Driving for Mercedes-Benz again is like the closing of a circle for me as I started my racing driver career with the three-pointed star on my helmet. This is another reason why I cannot wait for the competition to get underway.”

Nico Rosberg:

“You can really feel the successful motorsport history of Mercedes-Benz here at the Museum in Stuttgart and to be part of the new Silver Arrows team and that racing heritage makes me feel extremely proud and motivated. Since joining the team in November, I have spent a lot of time at the factory in Brackley, at Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines in Brixworth and here in Stuttgart, which has given me the opportunity to settle in and get to know everyone. I have seen how hard the team is working on the new car and I really can’t wait for the opportunity to drive it for the first time in Valencia next week. I am looking forward to working with everyone at Mercedes and will give it my all to reward their fantastic efforts with good on-track results this season.”

Team principal Ross Brawn:

“It is a privilege to be here at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart today for the official presentation of the Mercedes Formula One Team. With your first look around the Museum, you realise the fantastic racing heritage of Mercedes-Benz and we hope to be able to contribute to those successes going forward. Our team have been working extremely hard throughout last year and over the winter on the development of the MGP W01 and everyone at the team is looking forward to the start of testing in Valencia next week. We have two excellent drivers in Nico and Michael, who will form one of the most exciting and one of the best partnerships on the grid, and with the support of Mercedes-Benz, Aabar, our new title partner Petronas and all of our team partners, everyone is looking forward to the 2010 Formula One season with anticipation.”

Pictures from the event:

Renault: Money not incentive for Petrov interest

Eric Boullier, team boss of Renault

Eric Boullier, team boss of Renault

Renault team boss Eric Boullier has denied that the team are looking into having Vitaly Petrov as a driver because of his sponsorship, saying that the first priority is talent.

The Frenchman, who relaced Flavio Briatore as team principal last year, says that he is considering many other drivers.

He told ESPN:

“I am not just talking to five drivers but actually to everyone who does not have an F1 contract. I have been speaking with Nick Heidfeld (now confirmed as Mercedes’ reserve driver) and also with Takuma Sato, Christian Klien and Romain Grosjean, amongst others.”

“I am looking for talent first and foremost, but then after that I do need to consider the sponsorship opportunities; people say we are only looking at Petrov because he is bringing a lot of money, but he is not the richest driver we are talking to.”

So I was right in saying that Renault were interested in Klien, Sato and Grosjean. But, none of these 4 have really proved themselves. Klien seems to be pushed aside a lot, and tends to go as test driver. Sato is a bit dangerous for a team that wants to distance itself from crashing (owned!!). And Grosjean does deserve another chance, but I doubt that anyone will offer it to him.

Petrov has shown form in the GP2 series, but possibly not enough of it. This may leave Renault in a tough spot. If they wanted proper talent, they should have gone for Heidfeld while he was still there. Fisichella is still in the market, however.

At the end of this, however, I still think Renault will sign Petrov. MegaFon (who sponsor Renault) are underdstood to have interest in the Russian, he has huge backing behind him, and the GP2 guys always deserve a chance.

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.

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