Monthly Archives: August 2010

Possible merger of Hispania and Epsilon Euskadi?

Recent reports in Spain have suggested that there may be merger talks between the Hispania team, and Epsilon Euskadi, who are aiming to be the 13th team in Formula 1 next year. With doubts over the current Spanish outfit’s outlook for next season, a merger would ensure a Spanish team stays in the sport.

Epsilon Euskadi principal Joan Villadelprat is reportedly in merger talks with Hispania

Epsilon Euskadi principal Joan Villadelprat is reportedly in merger talks with Hispania

The Spanish news site EFE is claiming that Epsilon Euskadi chief Joan Villadelprat is considering two options. One is to simply enter as the 13th team, provided the FIA select them as the optimum candidate. The other is to merge with Hispania. It is unknown at this time whether Epsilon Euskadi would prefer to merge or enter on their own.

According to EFE, Villadelprat asked Hispania team owner, Jose Ramon Carabante, “what Hispania needs, what Epsilon can offer and if there is the possibility of collaboration”. Carabante has reportedly responded by saying that Epsilon Euskadi’s infrastructure would rank in the top 5 of the F1 teams, but they lack €17m in investment to enter F1 alone.

The idea of a merger makes very good sense actually, as Euskadi have amazing technological facilities, seeing as they construct Le Mans Prototype machines, but I had already noted that financial investment was lacking, as well as a shortage of sponsors. On the other hand, Hispania have no technical facilities or experience, after their split with chassis constructor Dallara, but they have a handful of sponsors, mostly brought on board by Sakon Yamamoto.

Personally, I think a merger would work well, but if Yamamoto keeps his seat next year to secure sponsor investment, then it’s a completely different story. Also, if Euskadi were to enter F1 this way, then the battle for the 13th slot would lack any convincing entries.

On the other hand, if Epsilon Euskadi were to enter alone, and Hispania collapsed, then F1 would be back to 12 teams again after all their efforts. Although having said that, the idea of losing Hispania isn’t exactly worrying.


More concerns over Korean Grand Prix

The Korean Grand Prix, scheduled to take place on the 22nd to the 24th October, appears to be well behind schedule, with latest photos showing the track looking more like a rally circuit than an F1 venue. Despite this, the circuit organisers still insist that the Jeonman circuit wil open on September 5th, in only 2 week’s time.

The Korean Grand Prix track appears to be well behind schedule

The Korean Grand Prix track appears to be well behind schedule

The picture, vie 5Live F1’s Twitter account, will demonstrate just how far the track is from completion. While the paddock is understood to be more developed than this, it still worries me, as there is only 2 months left until the Korean Grand Prix is to start.

The only real description of the finished track we have is that of the upcoming game F1 2010. At Gamescom, their visualisation of the Jeonman track was shown, and I have to say it doesn’t look too bad (the track and the game). There seems to be at least 2 spots for overtaking, but may lack challenging corners. Here is the video (note the harsh penalty system for causing collisions, I approve):

What do you think? Will the track be completed in time for before the F1 paddock comes steaming in to Korea? If not, will you miss the track as it appears in the game?

Driver salary rates revealed, Alonso leads by millions

Today, Yahoo Sports revealed the earning salaries for the entire F1 grid, and unsurprisingly Fernando Alonso was miles ahead of anyone else, earning £24.6m (€30m), nearly twice as much as second-placed man Lewis Hamilton. Kimi Raikkonen is still third, as his enormous pay-off to leave Ferrari, combined with his contract, puts him well above all of the other drivers.

Here is the list, and although it can’t be 100% accurate, it seems to be a trustable report:

1. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) £24.6m
2. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) £13.1m
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) £13.1m
4. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) £11.5m
5. Jenson Button (McLaren) £7.4m
6. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes GP) £6.6m
7. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes GP) £6.6m
8. Robert Kubica (Renault) £6.2m
9. Rubens Barrichello (Williams) £4.5m
10. Mark Webber (Red Bull) £3.4m
11. Jarno Trulli (Lotus) £2.5m
12. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) £1.6m
13. Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus) £1.6m
14. Timo Glock (Virgin) £820,000
15. Nico Hülkenberg (Williams) £573,000
16. Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber) £410,000
17. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) £410,000
18. Vitaly Petrov (Renault) £328,000
19. Jaime Alguersuari (Toro Rosso) £328,000
20. Sébastien Buemi (Toro Rosso) £328,000
21. Adrian Sutil (Force India) £164,000
22. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Force India) £164,000
23. Lucas Di Grassi (Virgin) £164,000
24. Bruno Senna (Hispania) £164,000
25. Karun Chandhok (Hispania) Nil
26. Sakon Yamamoto (Hispania) Nil (good)

1. Ferrari £49.1m
2. McLaren £20.5m
3. Mercedes GP £13.1m
4. Renault £6.5m
5. Red Bull £5.1m
6. Williams £5.1m
7. Lotus £4.1m
8. Virgin £983,000
9. Sauber £819,000
10. Toro Rosso £655,000
11. Force India £328,000
12. Hispania £123,000

You may well have noticed that the Red Bull drivers are earning fractions of the other top drivers. While their initial payment is small, it is understood that they earn massive bonuses from race wins.

Another odd note is that Adrian Sutil earns practically nothing, only £164,000, and yet his direly underperforming team-mate Vitantonio Liuzzi still gets the same as him. Speaking of underperforming, Sakon Yamamoto isn’t getting a single cent, and good riddance. I’m sure his sponsors keep him afloat, as well as the team. Karun Chandhok isn’t earning anything either, and I can’t help but feel that this is completely unfair, as he has no sponsors, and can actually keep up with the rest of the grid.

It doesn’t take a genius to realise that McLaren are getting the best deal on the grid, with a set of highly-rated drivers, and at only half of the cost of Ferrari’s trio. Don’t take Raikkonen out of this equation, as Ferrari were quite keen to pay him out of the way, so sponsor-surrounded Alonso could get into the team.

Force India fined €1m in Aerolab dispute

The Queen’s Bench Division in the High Court of Justice in London have fined Force India €1m, and damages and interest at 8%, to the Aerolab company, who are currently in dispute with the team over unpaid fees, and the wind tunnel model that Aerolab made for Lotus.

Force India have been forced to pay €1m to Aerolab in their ongoing dispute

Force India have been forced to pay €1m to Aerolab in their ongoing dispute

This is the first result of the Aerolab-Force India dispute, although there is more to come, as Jean Claude Migeot, director of Aerolab, will be charged in Bologna regarding a criminal complaint there. Also, it is unclear whether Lotus will come back into the equation, as their wind tunnel model still is regarded to have been designed questionably by Aerolab, as it may have included Force India intellectual data.

Although there is little more information on this battle, it is believed that the Italian Grand Prix weekend may result in more exchanges of action, as Force India’s assets will be under Italian jurisdiction.

Yamamoto remains in Chandhok’s seat for Belgium

Sakon Yamamoto will continue to replace Karun Chandhok at Spa

Sakon Yamamoto will continue to replace Karun Chandhok at Spa

It has emerged today that Sakon Yamamoto will continue to take Karun Chandhok’s seat at the Hispania team for the Belgium Grand Prix, as the team tries to stay afloat on the Japanese driver’s sponsors. While there was initial hope that Karun could return after the summer break, today’s statement by the team has quashed those rumours.

Since Silverstone, Yamamoto has been occupying the race seats of Chandhok and once Senna. With this news, it is clear that Yamamoto will probably be racing at the very back for most of the rest of this season.

While I’m on about Yamamoto, I found an interesting stat on him: He has never scored a pole position in his entire motorsport career. Also, the last time he won a race was back in 2005, in the Super GT (Japanese Touring Car) championship, and he has only won one other race in his life.

First pictures of Heidfeld’s test with Pirelli tyres

Yesterday Nick Heidfeld began a 4-day test at the Mugello circuit to test out the Pirelli tyres that they will be using for the 2011 Formula 1 season. He was driving a Toyota TF109, which had been painted all-white, seeing as Toyota don’t seem to own the car any more.

If it wasn’t for a fault with the blog, I would have been the first blog or website to have it up. Here are the first pictures of the test at Mugello:

Nick Heidfeld testing Pirelli F1 tyres in a Toyota TF109

Nick Heidfeld testing Pirelli F1 tyres in a Toyota TF109

Nick Heidfeld testing Pirelli F1 tyres in a Toyota TF109

Nick Heidfeld testing Pirelli F1 tyres in a Toyota TF109

Nick Heidfeld testing Pirelli F1 tyres in a Toyota TF109

Nick Heidfeld testing Pirelli F1 tyres in a Toyota TF109

Nick Heidfeld testing Pirelli F1 tyres in a Toyota TF109

Nick Heidfeld testing Pirelli F1 tyres in a Toyota TF109

Nick Heidfeld testing Pirelli F1 tyres in a Toyota TF109

Nick Heidfeld testing Pirelli F1 tyres in a Toyota TF109

Heidfeld released from Mercedes to test for Pirelli

Nick Heidfeld is leaving Mercedes to join the Pirelli tyre suppliers

Nick Heidfeld is leaving Mercedes to join the Pirelli tyre suppliers

Mercedes GP have confirmed that they have released their test and reserve driver Nick Heidfeld, to allow him to test for the Pirelli tyre company, in preparations for the 2011 season. It is unclear whether this means Heidfeld can get a drive with a team next year or not, as it depends on how long the tests last.

The first tyre test will start today at the Mugello circuit, behind the wheel of a Toyota TF109, which has now been confirmed by Pirelli. As well as these tests during this season, all of the teams will be allowed to try the tyres out, in a 4-day test in Abu Dhabi after the season concludes.

Paul Hembery has explained why Nick was the ideal choice for their test driver:

“We’re delighted to welcome Nick into the Pirelli family, and
we’re confident that he’ll do a great job for us. The role of
test driver is a crucial one, so we were looking for a driver
who had plenty of recent Formula One experience, the speed to
push our new tyres as hard as possible, and the consistency to
provide reliable simulations, as well as the analytical skills
to relay information accurately to our engineers.

Nick fits the bill in every respect and we’re very pleased to
have secured his services and obviously thankful to Mercedes GP
Petronas for agreeing to release Nick from his contract. As for
the car, we have a policy of complete impartiality, so we did
not want to favour any existing team. The Toyota was the perfect
solution, as it is a contemporary racing machine with proven
speed and reliability but without links to any of the
manufacturers currently competing in Formula One. I’m confident
that we have an extremely good package that will give us every
opportunity to maximise the potential of our tyres prior to
the start of next season.”

Meanwhile, Nick Heidfeld has said:

"First of all I would like to thank Ross Brawn, Norbert Haug 
and Nick Fry for allowing me the opportunity to become Pirelli’s 
official test driver.

The team has always said that they would not stand in my way 
if such a chance arose and they have kindly allowed me to take 
up this exciting new role. I would like to thank everyone at 
Mercedes GP for the great cooperation that we have had this 

I have greatly enjoyed supporting the team in my position as 
Reserve Driver and have felt welcome right from the outset. 
It was impressive to have the opportunity to work with the 
current World Champions and I wish the team all the best for 
the remainder of the season and beyond.

It’s a great privilege for me to join Pirelli in order to 
carry out this vital work and I am very grateful to Mercedes 
GP Petronas for releasing me from my contract to take on this 
role. Through the experience I have built up over the years, 
I’m confident that I will be able to provide Pirelli with 
some important feedback regarding the development of next 
year’s tyres.

I’ve got a lot to give but I haven’t been driving so much 
this year, so it is good to get started! Together, I’m sure 
that we can create a dynamic range of tyres that will make 
Formula One an even more exciting sport in the future.”

One interesting thing to note about this, though, is the fact that Nick will soon gain extensive knowledge of next year’s tyres, which obviously will play a huge part in the performance of the cars. With this information on board, he may well be in huge demand for a drive next year, as the teams strive to gain as much detail on the tyres as they can.

Bahrain GP to switch to old layout for 2011

The Bahrain Grand Prix venue will revert to its old layout for the 2011 races onwards, the organisers announced today. This came after the 2010 race was raced on the new “endurance” layout, which included a new section, but was considered a complete failure by many.

The Bahrain International Circuit, which will revert to its original layout for 2011

The Bahrain International Circuit, which will revert to its original layout for 2011

The endurance section was initially touted as a chance for overtaking opportunities, according to the circuit organisers, which was clearly going to fail as it as twisty and narrower than the rest of the track. Now that the orignal layout has been revived, the length of the track will fall from 6.299km to 5.412km.

Shaikh Salman Bin Isa Al Khalifa of the Bahrain International Circuit explained the decicion:

"One of the major tasks we undertook to mark this milestone 
(60th anniversary of F1, start of 2010) was implementing 
changes to our FIA approved track layout, giving the 
participating teams of the Bahrain Grand Prix a completely 
new challenge.

It was an enormous task given the time frame we had to 
implement it, but one that demonstrated Bahrain's 
characteristics as a race promoter prepared to continually
 ake changes designed to heighten the awareness and 
increase the levels of presentation associated with the 
sport of Formula 1."

What he means, I think, is that the new endurance circuit was designed as a new challenge, as well as changing the characteristics of the track to benefit overtaking. Since that clearly didn’t work this year, as overtaking was as rare as rain in Bahrain, there really wasn’t much point in retaining the lengthened track.

Piquet: Massa still blames me for lost championship

Nelson Piquet Jr has revealed that, because of his actions at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, Felipe Massa still blames him to this day for losing the 2008 Driver’s Championship. Felipe lost the title by a single point to Lewis Hamilton, and lost 10 points in the Singapore Grand Prix, after a mistake in the pit lane, which was caused by a safety car deployment, which in turn had been caused by Piquet Jr.

If it was a mistake by Piquet that had brought out the safety car, then nothing would have been said of it. But as we all know, Nelson deliberately crashed his Renault, specifically to bring out the safety car to help his team-mate Fernando Alonso win the race.

The problem with Massa’s pit stop had been caused by the Ferrari traffic lights operator releasing Massa too early, causing the fuel rig to be ripped out and was still attached to the car as Felipe left the pits. It has been well acknowledged that this mistake by the light operator was caused by the chaotic nature of the pit lane, which of course was triggered by the safety car.

In my mind, despite other losses of points in other races that year, Massa deserves to blame Piquet for what he did. Nelson, however, seems surprised, in an interview with Portugese magazine Istoe (translation has been verified):

“Massa was very upset with me because he thinks, to this day,
that he lost the 2008 championship because of me.

It is no use arguing that he had a DNF in Hungary, that he and
Ferrari made mistakes. Not to mention his lack of luck. For the
love of God, that last lap in Interlagos was pure luck for
(Lewis) Hamilton (who was the champion) and bad luck to him.

But he is still very upset. I have never talked to him again.
We stumble upon each other every now and then, but we don’t
keep on touch.”

He did not remain on the defense, however, as he soon went on the attack, as he criticised Massa for his actions at the German Grand Prix this year:

"Generally you’d want to make such arrangements in a subtle 
manner. At the end of the straight, a driver breaks a little 
early into a corner, let the team mate close the gap and 
overtake. Alright, with the fight for the first place it is 
harder to make it subtle, but it didn’t have to be so blatant. 
There is where Massa surprised me.

He wanted to expose Ferrari’s team game to cause a bit of a 
mess. Because the situation itself is normal. The most common 
code is the one Ferrari uses, that your team mate is faster 
than you. Massa understood, but wanted to make sure that, if 
it was for him, there would be no overtaking.

Ferrari will never miss the opportunity to let one of its 
drivers close the gap to the championship leaders. If Massa 
does not want that to happen, he needs to accept he is slower 
and race faster. He needs to work to get faster than Alonso. 
There’s no other way."

I’m particularly interested at the part where he says: “Generally you’d want to make such arrangements in a subtle manner.” Well he would certainly know about it wouldn’t he? I can understand his comments on the German Grand Prix debacle, but when it comes to the Crash-gate saga again, I don’t even want him to open his mouth.

For those of you who are interested, Piquet has been racing this year in the, erm, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (a world series held entirely in America, I should note). He has competed in 4 races out of 15, and finished in the top 10 3 times. Before you think that’s impressive, it’s only pickup trucks he’s been racing.

Heidfeld to test Pirelli F1 tyres

Nick Heidfeld has been reportedly hired to test out Pirelli’s F1 tyres for next year, starting with a 3-day test on Monday. The Mercedes GP test and reserve driver will be the first driver to try out and improve the tyres that will be supplied to the entire F1 grid starting next year.

It is believed that he will be driving the Toyota TF109, which is the car that Toyota used in the 2009 season, and also the one that will be soon taken apart and sold to a new team. While the test has not yet been conformed by Pirelli, it is believed that it will take place at Ferrari’s Mugello circuit.

Newspapers AS and Bild have previously reported this story, but now it is almost certain to be announced soon. Also, there are unconfirmed rumours that there will be 5 more tests this year with Heidfeld, not including the upcoming one at Mugello.