Monthly Archives: December 2010

Renault bought by Group Lotus, to become Lotus-Renault for 2011

The following article is the first post from a new contributor, Murai Kadam:

The Lotus livery on this year's Renault R30

The Lotus livery on this year's Renault R30

The Malaysian owned car maker Group Lotus has taken a 50 per cent
stake in Lotus Renault worth $100 million and has become its title
sponsor, the remaining 50 per cent will under control of the current
owners, pending rumours of a full takeover.

The news are coming about Group Lotus will be taking full control of the outfit in the next few years. Though nothing has been decided yet about future plans, the Lotus CEO Dany Bahar has hinted about a full takeover:

"Our way of doing things means that at the end of the project we would
like to control it ourselves."

Though there has been some court disputes over the Lotus name, as Tony
Fernandes’ Team Lotus raced in 2009 but their plan has been spoiled with Group
Lotus’ F1 entry, so there might be two teams on the grid branded as
Lotus. Also, both of the teams want to keep the iconic Gold and Black
colour.

‘Lotus Renault GP’ plans were unveiled on Wednesday, also the releasing photos of a re-livered R30 car said its cars will also be black and gold next year. Reverting to this Team Lotus owner Tony Fernandes accused Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar of “hijacking” Team Lotus’ livery plans, but Renault team owner Gerard Lopez said the opposite is in fact true. Bahar said that he would look at this as extra promotion for his brand, rather than a potential confusion or competition. And he feels that four are better than two.

The reason to link with Renault rather than Lotus racing is for cost reduction, as to build a winning team in Formula One from scratch is not affordable. And that’s why Group Lotus has decided to go with one of the top five teams because there is the potential to go back to where they were when they were winning world championship titles.

2010 final driver rankings: 5 – 1

This is the final post in a 3-part series, ranking the Formula 1 drivers of 2010 according to their seasonal performance. Here are the final 5 drivers:

5: Lewis Hamilton

Several retirements shot down Lewis' title hopes

Several retirements shot down Lewis' title hopes

4 months ago:

“In 2010 (he) has matured incredibly, with a hint of caution to his speed and aggression, which has turned him into a more complete racing driver, and one of the favourites for the title.”

Now:

Despite the dominance of the Red Bulls, and the resurgence of Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton was still able to push for the title in the last race, a considerable achievement when you notice how much their car has struggled at times this year.

A shaky few races, where he didn’t look at all like winning, was not the best start, and not helped by his erratic driving in Malaysia. On the other hand though, he was ready to capitalise in Turkey when the Red Bulls failed, and was the outright best driver in Canada. Two second places in Valencia and Britain, and Hamilton looked to be back in the hunt.

However, his over-exuberant driving got in the way of him again. Needless retirements occured in Italy and Singapore, when Hamilton was too close to the other car when fighting for position. One mechanical DNF in Hungary didn’t help matters either.

Two more second places in Korea and Abu Dhabi pushed him closer to the top, but in neither of these races did he look like winning. While Lewis showed good pace this year, he let himself down when he needed results most.

4: Robert Kubica

Once again, Kubica excelled in an unimpressive car

Once again, Kubica excelled in an unimpressive car

4 months ago:

“Has proven multiple times that he is one of the best drivers on the grid, just without the best car.

Now:

With Renault struggling in the midfield for most of the season, an average driver would similarly stay in the middle of the pack, occasionally getting points. But as we all know, Robert Kubica is no ordinary driver.

His talent is difficult to see when his car lags behind others, but in a situation like Monaco, where car performance is equalled to an extent, Robert is easily spotted as one of the best drivers around. He nearly took pole position, then tried to cling onto the Red Bulls in the race, finishing 3rd.

Spa-Francorchamps, a real driver’s track, will also provide evidence to this. Throughout the race, Kubica was dicing it with the McLarens, Ferraris and Red Bulls, and was rewarded with another podium. These 2 races were the best of the year for him, but in other situations he could not reach to the top, mostly down to the car.

On the positive side, though, is the fact that he was also bulletproof in reliability. All three of his retirements were out of his control, and only one of these was related to car reliability.

In fact, the only bad thing I can find about Kubica is his questionable move on Adrian Sutil in Canada, where he swerved around the Force India entering the pits. This is only a small matter though, and 2010 was still another impressive year for Kubica.

3: Fernando Alonso

Despite the controversies, Alonso is still a driver to be feared

Despite the controversies, Alonso is still a driver to be feared

4 months ago:

“The controversies just seem to follow him around.”

“Fernando is well on course to challenge for the championship, but needs to do so without using Massa.”

Now:

Even his biggest detractors will still admit that Fernando Alonso is a force to be reckoned with. It takes a daring and brilliant driver to claim they will win the world title, at a point where they are nearly 50 points behind the leader.

But of course, that is not all there is to Alonso. His ascension to the top in 2010 was not without huge controversy in Germany, where Felipe Massa was shoved aside to allow Fernando win. In my opinion, without that order by Ferrari (and the subsequent win), Alonso wouldn’t have gotten the psychological motivation to challenge for the championship. If Massa had held his ground, then Fernando would have struggled much more in the second half of the season.

3 out of his 5 victories came in situations where his rivals missed their opportunities to win, be that reliability or team orders, once again awakening the argument of the lack of overtaking executed by Alonso. He could well have passed Massa, easily so if he was “much faster”, but played it safe and used the team instead.

Don’t take all of this the wrong way though. Fernando is still unbeatable on his day. Just look at Singapore, where he became the first driver out of all the championship contenders to take a Grand Slam (led every lap of the race from pole position, then take the win with fastest lap) result. Michael Schumacher is the only F1 driver still racing who has done this achievement.

At the end of the day though, his lack of overtaking was is downfall, spending 40 laps stuck behind a rookie in Abu Dhabi. Instead of making a move, he waited for a mistake from Petrov, which never happened, and then proceeded to complain aggressively to Vitaly after the race. Was he supposed to just jump out of the way? Not every driver is Felipe Massa, and this ultimately caused Alonso’s title loss this year.

2: Mark Webber

Dominant at times, disappointing at others, but still a wonderful campaign

Dominant at times, disappointing at others, but still a wonderful campaign

4 months ago:

“While he deservedly leads the championship at the moment, improvements must be made to secure the title.”

Now:

Recent revelations have shown us that Mark was racing with a fractured shoulder over the last 4 races of the season. The improvements that I spoke of could well have happened, but unfortunately bad luck never seems to leave Mark Webber.

The first 4 races were not very impressive for the Red Bull driver. With Sebastian Vettel taking (then sometimes losing) the lead at almost every race, Webber was being outperformed massively, and only a few races in, and I was wondering would he be replaced for 2011.

How he proved me wrong. Spain and Monaco were two of the best drives I’ve seen in recent times, completely dominant without a hint of over-aggression. Watching his post-race celebrations in Monaco, a new world champion was becoming apparent in many people’s views. Then, he was suddenly brought crashing back down to earth, as a badly-orchestrated move by his team-mate ruined a 1-2 finish in Turkey, and the team rounded around Sebastian, leaving Webber in the cold.

Silverstone saw Webber’s fightback, and “Not bad for a number 2 driver” was his way at getting back for Turkey, and the front wing controversy which overshadowed his British GP win to an extent. While Vettel was more heavily supported by the team, Webber seemed to have the overall strength to pull through.

Hungary demonstrated this well. While Vettel fell asleep at the race restart, and suffered a drive-through penalty, losing him the race win, Webber carved himself a 25 second lead to Alonso, and even with another pit stop, took a magnificent win.

Then came the shoulder injury, which surely hampered his performances from Japan onwards. While he was 2nd in Suzuka, Vettel was 1st, and this only got worse. He crashed out on his own in Korea, handing 43 points effectively to Sebastian, who subsequently lost those advantage points to Alonso. It seemed as if the Red Bulls were about to have the title ripped out of their hands, if Brazil hadn’t saved them all.

Another 1-2 finish was excellent, but there were hints that the team were going to get Vettel to allow Webber through, seeing as Sebastian was so far behind in the title race. This never came to fruition, and a possible lifeline to Mark was cut. Despite that though, he made his own fate in Abu Dhabi, being horribly off the pace all weekend. This disastrous race handed the title on a plate to Vettel, and Webber had nobody but himself to blame.

Maybe it’s over-analysis, but I think that Webber had plenty of opportunities to take the title, and the shoulder injury can only account for so many of these.

1: Sebastian Vettel

Despite slip-ups, Vettel is deservedly the world champion

Despite slip-ups, Vettel is deservedly the world champion

4 months ago:

“4 races were lost because of driver failure, and that is unacceptable from a potential world champion.”

Now:

What an incredibly topsy-turvy season it has been for Sebastian Vettel. From being public enemy no. 1 in Turkey and Belgium, to the stunning race wins which sealed him the title. Despite everything that has happened, there is no denying that Vettel was invincible at his best.

The amount of obstacles in Sebastian’s way was certainly a huge challenge, reliability being one of them. Bahrain, Australia, Spain and Korea all saw him lose the lead (or 2nd in Barcelona’s case) thanks to problems with the car. And yet, he fought his way back countless times from these.

In fact, the main obstacle was himself. A badly-placed move on Webber in Turkey showed he needed to mature, and the same story is clear in Spa, where he managed to T-bone Button in a straight line. He then followed this up with a poor move on Vitantonio Liuzzi, giving him a puncture, and killing all chances of points that day.

From that, I count 6 races ruined by either of those problems. And yet, he managed 5 victories in the other 13 races, every single one of those being the same, as when Sebastian is on form, he is an unstoppable force. If car troubles hadn’t got in the way, he could have taken 8 wins this year.

But that wouldn’t have made the championship very fun, would it? These troubles were simply challenges to be overcome, and so he did in spectacular fashion. As he did in 2009, he finished the 2010 season in stunning form, taking 3 out of 4 wins, and so very nearly 4 out of 5, if Alonso hasn’t held him off in Singapore.

With such dominant driving at his disposal, the world championship was the least he deserved. True, he  nearly bottled it on so many occasions, if he can fight back to clinch the title like that, then I believe he truly is the best driver of 2010.

Was Webber held back with a broken shoulder?

Webber was suffering from a fractured shoulder

Webber was suffering from a fractured shoulder

Over the last few days, it has emerged that Mark Webber’s slip in form near the end of the 2010 season was caused by a broken shoulder, putting him at a huge disadvantage during the last 4 races. It has also been said that he hid this fact from the Red Bull crew and bosses, apart from his trainer, Roger Cleary, and the FIA doctor Gary Hartstein.

Just before the Japanese Grand Prix, Webber was involved in another cycling accident, similar to the one he suffered before the 2009 season. He was riding a mountain bike when he crashed, and suffered a “skier’s fracture”, which is a very small but deep fracture in the joint of the shoulder. This sort of injury is untreatable.

Mark recently spoke of this latest accident:

“I was riding with a great friend of mine. Suddenly, he 
crashed right in front of me and I had nowhere to go but 
straight through the ears of the horse!"

At the time of the crash, he was 21 points ahead of Fernando Alonso. In Japan and Brazil after this, he did well to take 2nd in both races, but he crashed out of his own accord in Korea, and was well of the pace at the season finale in Abu Dhabi. With this in mind, and considering how held back he was the last time, it could well be assumed that Webber’s title loss was directly caused by this injury.

Interestingly, he failed to tell Christian Horner, or any other of the Red Bull crew, apart from Cleary and Hartstein, as previously mentioned. Horner has since claimed himself “disappointed” at these revelations.

This discovery was revealed in Webber’s new book: “Up Front: A season to remember”. Despite this huge setback, Mark still says that 2010 was “a season to remember”, having taken stunning victories in Spain, Monaco, Britain and Hungary.

F1 2013 engine specs set to be revealed

Current F1 engines are set for an overhaul

Current F1 engines are set for an overhaul

During the World Motor Sport Council meeting this Friday, speculation is mounting over the possible announcement of the 2013 engine specifications for the F1 grid.

The general belief is that 1.6 Litre, 4 cylinder, turbocharged, direct injection engines will be the ones to be used. Compare this to the current spec of 2.4 Litre, 8 cylinder engines, non-turbocharged engines the grid are currently using.

Scarbs F1 is  reporting that further details include: “88mm bores, 100kg\h fuel flow rate.”

Power output is expected to remain around the same (if not slightly lower), and fuel efficiency should drastically improve by up to 50%. These changes are not to reduce the actual CO2 output of the grid, rather to encourage environmentally friendly engines to be used on road cars.

600 bhp is expected to come from the actual engines, while 150 bhp may be supplied from energy recovery systems such as KERS, and the possible introduction of an engine gases recovery system.

The one disappointing stat from this expected announcement is that engine revs will be reduced (naturally, not limited) to about 10,000 rpm. Further details should arrive in the next few days.

2010 final driver rankings: 15 – 6

Here, in the second post out of three, I will look at the midfield drivers of 2010, and review their performances accordingly. Part 3 will be up by next week.

15: Heikki Kovalainen

Heikki was the best driver of the 3 new teams

Heikki was the best driver of the 3 new teams

4 months ago:

“Without a doubt, I would put my money on Kovalainen to out-qualify some of the drivers in the midfield this year, and maybe get a point.”

Now:

Heikki has performed excellently in his first year at the back of the grid with Lotus, and has been the best driver of the 3 new teams without a doubt. Constantly quick race pace shot him well ahead of Jarno Trulli, and was crucial in securing Lotus’ 10th place in the championship.

While he never got the points finish, Kovalainen certainly did what was expected. He never finished lower than 18th, and his highest race was 12th, which gave Lotus the spot of best new team of 2010. He is as reliable as ever, not retiring since Germany, and has vastly out-classed team-mate Trulli in the races. In qualifying, Jarno still holds the edge, but this is only a very small dent on Heikki’s year.

If Lotus deliver on their long-developed 2011 car, then Heikki will be the one to challenge the midfield with it.

14: Felipe Massa

Felipe had a torrid year, completely overshadowed by Alonso`

Felipe had a torrid year, being completely overshadowed by Alonso

4 months ago:

“Significant improvement is needed to justify his new 2012 contract.”

Now:

Felipe Massa was, to me, the biggest disappointment of 2010. After recovering from his horrific head injury last year, many had hoped that he would return fighting fit and raring to go, but he wasn’t. From the get-go in Bahrain, Massa was left behind while Fernando Alonso sailed away into the distance. He held his team-mate up badly in Australia, and was punished by a clever overtaking move by Fernando in China.

Much blame can be placed on the team, who showed their hand by ordering him to move over in Germany for Alonso. While it was certainly wrong, Felipe was still much slower than Fernando at that race, and showed no backbone by allowing him through. Since then, I have seen no inspiring drives, nor glimmer of hope from the Brazilian.

At the end of the day, his season can be summed up when you look at the fact that his points total was more than 100 less than the other Ferrari. Only 4 podiums, no race wins, no pole positions, no fastest laps, and no hope for 2012 if he doesn’t improve fast.

13: Adrian Sutil

Adrian impressed initially, but then dropped sharply near the end

Adrian impressed initially, but then dropped sharply in form near the end

4 months ago:

“There is a great chance of his first ever Formula 1 podium finish.”

Now:

A huge string of successive points finishes raised the bar for Adrian Sutil in 2010, but a very disappointing end to the season has dampened his hopes to ascend to the the top teams – for now at least.

From Spain to Britain, Sutil was always in the points, with two 5th places his best result. While the Force India car was not enough to trouble the frontrunners most of the time, Adrian was still making good work out of his machinery.

But, from Italy onwards, a huge slump in form dropped him well down in the championship, with a 9th in Singapore his only top 10 finish. A disastrous performance in Korea nearly threw away all the maturity he had gained in 2010, and his reputation has not been helped by it.

I doubt that he can move up to the big teams for 2011, even if there was a space. 2011 will be crucial if Sutil is to prove himself.

12: Michael Schumacher

Schumacher has struggled badly against Rosberg this year

Schumacher has struggled badly against Rosberg this year

4 months ago:

“His lethal move on Rubens Barrichello in Hungary was the icing on the cake of his retirement party.”

Now:

As I was writing this piece, I was looking at a Wikipedia page of Schumacher’s F1 results. On the 2004 column, his results from Round 1 to Round 13 read: 1st,1st,1st,1st,1st, Ret, 1st,1st,1st,1st,1st,1st,1st. Move forward six years, and he hasn’t even got himself a podium. How times change…

2010 has arguably been the worst season of Michael Schumacher’s career. From lacklustre performances, from being beaten by a team-mate who hasn’t ever won a race, to a new list of controversies to add to his legendary tally. A good ending to the season spells hope for 2011, but there is no denying that 2010 was a disaster.

His fall from grace was evident in the wet conditions in China. Normally the type of weather he excels in, a simple 10th, after holding up many, was all he could manage. Monaco, though, showed us that he still has that sixth sense for overtaking, when no other driver even dared to try a move on the last corner of the last lap. It was an illegal move, but still an excellent demonstration of the daring that made him champion.

But of course, the incident in Hungary with Rubens Barrichello overshadows most of this. Immaturity at its finest, many believed, myself included, that Michael’s comeback was over as quickly as it started. Mercedes clearly failed to deliver on its W01 car, so Schumacher’s 2011 campaign entirely hinges on whether the W02 can solve the terminal understeer that has supposedly held him back.

11: Nico Hulkenberg

Despite his pole position, Hulkenberg has failed to impress Williams

Despite his pole position, Hulkenberg has failed to impress Williams

4 months ago:

“It seems as if he will be retained for one more year by Williams, but improvement is needed.”

Now:

I feel it’s odd that a rookie driver taking his pole position in only his 18th race would be dropped by his team that year. However, Nico Hulkenberg still impressed me over the year, and hopefully can get a drive with another team next year.

True, his pace in the first half of the season was very poor, with only one points finish in 9 races. However, in the second half, Nico has shown excellent form, taking a shock pole position in Brazil by an entire second, and getting a career best 6th in Hungary.

Several poor showings, such as repeatedly running wide at Monza, may not have helped him, but nevertheless I would have thought that Nico should have stayed on.

10: Vitaly Petrov

Petrov has been one of the best rookies of the year

Petrov has been one of the best rookies of the year

4 months ago:

“A few more points finishes will seal his seat for next year.”

Now:

A disappointing start to 2010 was worrying for Petrov, but with several points finishes in the last few races, Vitaly has hugely impressed me with his driving this year.

His defensive driving, particularly against Fernando Alonso in Turkey and Abu Dhabi, was excellent for a rookie, and he was not slouch in the pace department either. 5th place in Hungary was his well-earned best result of the season, leaving him with 27 points in his first year.

More points would have been attained, if it wasn’t for an unnecessary crash in Korea, and for colliding with Alonso in Turkey. He was nowhere near the pace of Robert Kubica, but I don’t think anybody expected him to be. 2011 should see Petrov improve even more.

9: Kamui Kobayashi

Kobayashi showed even more incredible passing skills

Kobayashi showed even more incredible passing skills

4 months ago:

“As the car has improved, has shown us dazzling performances that makes him one of my favourite drivers.”

Now:

Though it was no fault of him, the start of 2010 was an absolute disaster, with retirements and a terrible car at Kamui’s disposal. However, with James Key guiding the way for Sauber, Kobayashi has been the driving force of another amazing year for the Japanese driver.

Once again from 2009, stunning overtaking moves were the way to go. In Valencia, even Alonso learned this the hard way, and Buemi was beaten by Kobayashi on the last corner of the last lap, even though Kamui had no idea the race was ending. Silverstone saw another inspired drive, with a 6th place being a good reward.

Similarly, a charge up the field in Suzuka, all though dives at the hairpin, shot the Sauber up to 7th place. The end of the season was slightly disappointing, being overtaken several times in Interlagos, and having no pace whatsoever in Abu Dhabi. Despite this, Kobayashi has breathed fresh life into Formula 1 with his “unique” style, to say the least.

8: Rubens Barrichello

Barrichello led his team well in another tough year for Williams

Barrichello led his team well in another tough year for Williams

4 months ago:

“Barrichello has impressed me this year, comfortably beating his team-mate to be the driving force of the Williams team.”

Now:

While Hulkenberg grabbed the headlines, taking a shock pole position in Brazil, Barrichello was the one constantly getting points, and seems to be doing very well in his role of team leader at Williams.

Consistency was the key for Rubinho this year, with only 2 retirements, and 10 points-placed finishes. 10th place in the championship seems low, but is all that the FW32 could manage.

4th place in Valencia, in particular for me, was Rubens’ best result of the year. 5th in Britain and 6th in Singapore were also admirable drives from the 38-year-old. Hopefully, Barrichello has a few more years left on the clock, and can lead Williams to their first win in years.

7: Jenson Button

Button was quick at the start, but raw pace soon lacked

Button was quick at the start, but raw pace soon lacked

4 months ago:

“Button has proved his critics completely wrong, and has made the best possible move to defend his title.”

Now:

I’ve always thought this year that Button moving to McLaren was the setting up of a Prost vs Senna rematch, this time between two Britons: Button and Hamilton. Jenson’s characteristics seem to match some of Prost’s as well: Calm and tactical, and super-smooth driving style. Unlike Prost though, Button has dropped off the pace rapidly in the last few races, with qualifying showing his raw weaknesses.

Tactics won him races in Australia and China, but it doesn’t win you the title. Damp and tricky conditions only come up a certain amount of times, and the rest of the time Jenson was generally lacking in speed compared to Hamilton and his other rivals. Being knocked out of Q2 was occurring shockingly often, and this left Button at a huge disadvantage in the races, which eventually caused him to lose out in the title battle.

Podiums in Italy and Abu Dhabi were impressive, but nowhere near enough to justify his driving in the second half of the year. The McLaren car was far better than what Button delivered, and this must be improved on for 2011.

6: Nico Rosberg

Rosberg has soundly beaten his team-mate

Rosberg has soundly beaten his team-mate

4 months ago:

“Competition from Renault and Force India may well dampen Rosberg’s second half of 2010, as the car appears to go backwards.”

Now:

Fantastically consistent, almost always on the pace, and a good thrashing of a 7-time world champion team-mate in the other car: 2010 hasn’t gone too badly for Nico Rosberg.

It could have been much better though. Three podiums is far less than what Rosberg would have wanted, but the terminal understeer, as well as weight balance issues with the Mercedes W01, held the team back all year, and they stated development on their 2011 successor abnormally early, leaving them no chance of a fightback in the second half of the season.

Despite this, Nico has done the best job he could have. He never crashed on his own (Webber in Korea doesn’t count, it wasn’t his fault), only finished out of the points twice, and a brilliant qualifying in soaking conditions in Malaysia proved he has the talent when it counts most.

The final part in this series will be up next week.

Maldonado confirmed at Williams for 2011

Maldonado has been confirmed at Williams for next year

Maldonado has been confirmed at Williams for next year

After Nico Hulkenberg made way a few weeks ago, Pastor Maldonado has been unveiled as the new Williams second driver, alongside Rubens Barrichello, today.

He is the 5th out of 6 GP2 champions to progress to F1 after winning the GP2 title. The last time a Venezuelan driver was in Formula 1 was Ernesto Viso, who drove in Friday Practice for Midland in Brazil in 2006. Before that, Johnny Cecotto raced back in 1984 for Theodore and Toleman.

Pastor previously tested an F1 car with Minardi in 2004, where Giancarlo Minardi complimented his driving, even though he was only 19 at the time.

Williams have also released a Q&A with Maldonado:

What started your career in motor sport?
PM: Having competed themselves, my father and my uncle are very passionate about motor sport, so I inherited it from them. In my city of Maracay, there is a go kart circuit about five minutes from my home. When I was about three or four years old I said I wanted to race but I was too young, then when I reached the age of seven my father gave me a kart and we started from there. From that moment until now we have never stopped.

After karting in Venezuela, I came to Europe in 1998 to compete in international kart races, which was great for me to get experience racing outside my country. After consistently being at the top, I decided to move to Italian Formula Renault. I won the championship in my second year. We made the jump to GP2 in 2007 but I only did half a season as I had an injury. We came back in 2008 and finished fifth in the championship, just six points adrift of the leader in a very close championship.

You were crowned GP2 champion this year. What does that feel like?
PM: It was an incredible season. We were competitive from the beginning and went on to win six races. The team worked well together to achieve victory and by the middle of the season I already had a good gap and took the title at Monza.

Do you think you are ready for F1?
PM: GP2 is a very good championship; it really prepares drivers well for F1. I have worked very hard to get to this position and yes, I definitely feel ready.

How does it feel knowing you will be driving for AT&T Williams next year?
PM: Williams do an amazing job. It is unbelievable to be here and to be part of the team. It is a dream.

What do you make of your new team mate Rubens Barrichello?
PM: For sure Rubens is a pleasure to have as a team mate as he is a very experienced driver. I can learn so much from him. It will be fun as he is South American too! I think it is going to be a very interesting team.

How will you prepare for your first F1 season over the winter?
PM: I will keep pushing in my training and working in the simulator. We don’t have a long time, just one or two months before the first test, and I am going to be fit and ready.

You had a day in the FW32 at the Abu Dhabi Young Driver test. How did that go?
PM: It was amazing. It was a big moment for me because only days before I had been driving a GP2 car and there are some big differences. I improved lap after lap and completed the programme so it was a very good experience for me.

What are the differences between a GP2 car and an F1 car?
PM: There are three big differences. The first is the difference in engine power; the F1 car has amazing power and a higher top speed. Secondly, the braking point; the brakes are a lot harder in F1. Finally there is much more downforce and general grip.

You will be only the fourth Venezuelan to have ever driven a Formula One car. What does that mean to you?
PM: It has been nearly 30 years since Venezuela has had a driver in Formula One so the country has been pushing young drivers in the hope of having someone represent them. I am happy to now be that driver.

To summarise, what will be your objectives for the 2011 season?
PM: I just want to do my best, to be as close to the top as I can and to get the maximum out of the car. The team are working very hard and I need to push to be at the top as soon as possible. I am a rookie but that isn’t going to be a problem. I need to keep focussed and to do my job.

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