Monthly Archives: January 2012

Suspended jail sentence and fine for Sutil after Lux assault

Adrian Sutil has been given an 18-month suspended sentence in a German court today, after assaulting CEO of Genii Capital Eric Lux last year.

The incident occurred in a nightclub in Shanghai after the Chinese Grand Prix in 2011, and Sutil was alleged to have assaulted Lux with a champagne glass. Adrian’s counter-claim was that he only meant to spill his drink over the CEO.

Genii Capital are the owners of Lotus (Renault), and since the incident Lux has reportedly chased Sutil for an apology and financial reimbursement for the 9-inch cut to Eric’s neck. On the other hand, Adrian has claimed that Lux made “strange offers” involving “a lot of money” as long as he volumtarily left the sport. He also claimed:

"He [Eric Lux] threatened me with 'destroying' me and ensuring that I go to prison 
for a long time."

Today Adrian was handed a suspended sentence along with a €200,000 fine for causing grievous bodily harm to the Genii boss. Lewis Hamilton was due to testify as a witness for Sutil (as he was in the nightclub during the incident), but was unable to make it to the trial.

Sutil is currently out of a drive for this season, having been replaced by Nico Hulkenberg at Force India.

Pirelli unveil softer tyre compounds and new colour coding for 2012

Pirelli have introduced 4 new tyre compositions

Pirelli have introduced 4 new tyre compositions

Following the first look at the Caterham CT01, Pirelli have also revealed the rubber that all 12 F1 teams will be running on this season.

The Italian manufacturer has constructed brand-new soft, medium and hard compound tyres, with the super-soft formula being carried on from last year. There is also a new extreme wet tyre to be used.

The new tyres will be of a softer composition compared to last year.

The colour coding for the dry tyres remains roughly the same, except the hard tyre is now a much lighter silver colour, and it is expected to be almost invisible at high speed.

The intermediate tyre is now coloured green, while the new extreme wet compound is blue.

All 6 variants of tyre contain slightly wider contact patch than 2011, to counteract the loss of downforce from the banning of off-throttle diffusers. Pirelli explained that they have incorporated less of a rounded shoulder on the rubber to improve grip.

They also noted that they intend to reduce the performance gap between the options and primes on race weekends, from 1.2-1.8 seconds last year to around 0.6-0.8 in 2012.

Caterham show pictures of new CT01 early

The Caterham CT01 features a "distinct" nose cone

The Caterham CT01 features a "distinct" nose cone

Caterham are the first team of 2012 to release pictures of their race car for the year – the CT01.

The launch was planned for tomorrow, but pictures were released today by F1 Racing magazine. Caterham have since shown one of their official photos on their Twitter feed.

Caterham's official picture of the CT01

Caterham's official picture of the CT01

The rest of the launch and images will be on the Caterham site tomorrow.

The most striking part of the CT01 is undoubtedly the platypus-style nose cone, with much larger front suspension mounts, which are now raised above the nose. This is expected to become the norm this year, as the FIA seek to reduce the height of the nose cones, while teams seek to raise their suspension mounts as high as possible.

The sidepods are much slimmer than last year, and the all-carbon blade roll hoop has been replaced by a more conventional roll structure.

It is clear that these photos of the car include 2011-spec wings and vanes. The CT01 also seems to be more aerodynamically aggressive than its predecessor, which was deliberately conservative. The team are also running a KERS unit in the year’s model for the first time, which should help them challenge the midfield.

The car will make its track debut in Jerez next month when testing begins.

D’Ambrosio joins Lotus as third driver

Jerome D'Ambrosio will join Lotus from Virgin

Jerome D'Ambrosio will join Lotus from Virgin

Former Virgin driver Jerome D’Ambrosio is to join the Renault/Lotus team as a reserve driver.

He made his debut to the sport in 2011, but was dropped at the end of the season to make way for new rookie Charles Pic.

When the team was known as Renault, D’Ambrosio was part of their young driver program, and tested their cars in 2009 and 2010.

Jerome had this to say today:

"It’s a great feeling to be joining Lotus F1 Team. It’s an exciting next step in
my career.

I contested a complete season in F1 as a race driver for a smaller team where I
learned a lot about Formula 1. Now, I have the opportunity to work with one of
the top teams with great potential for my future development.

With my recent race experience, I know I can make a valuable contribution. Of
course, I would love to be racing, but racing with a top team.

Being associated with Lotus F1 Team should be more beneficial and this is the
choice I have made. This opportunity is one I couldn’t afford to miss. My desire
to get back in a race seat in the future is motivating me to do the best job
possible in my new position."

FIA bans reactive ride height systems

The reactive ride height innovation designed by Lotus and recently copied by Ferrari has been banned by the sport’s governing body.

The FIA’s decision was announced yesterday by Williams chief operations engineer Mark Gillan, who had received a letter from Charlie Whiting regarding the matter on Friday.

The FIA’s head of F1 communications, Matteo Bonciani, confirmed the news yesterday:

"We have been investigating that type of system for a while. It is obviously 
[creating] an impact on the aerodynamic platform of the car.

Anything that gets the ride-height lower, particularly the front ride-height 
lower, is beneficial from an aerodynamic perspective."

This ride height adjustment device would appear to break Article 10.2.2 of the 2012 Technical Regulations, which states that “any powered device which is capable of altering the configuration or affecting the performance of any part of the suspension system is forbidden.”

In addition to this, Article 10.2.3 bans any “adjustment … made to the suspension system while the car is in motion.”

Senna name to return to Williams

Bruno Senna will replace Rubens Barrichello at Williams

Bruno Senna will replace Rubens Barrichello at Williams

The Senna name has finally made a return to the historic Williams team, as Ayrton’s nephew Bruno Senna has been confirmed at the team for the 2012 season.

Bruno’s uncle was killed in his third race for the team, and his name has been carried on the FW series of cars ever since. Today’s confirmation is made all the more memorable seeing as the Williams team are making a return to Renault engines, the same supplier when Ayrton raced for them.

Bruno’s F1 career has been stunted to say the least, being shoved out of his HRT seat to make way for Sakon Yamamoto. He drove for Renault in the second half of 2011, but failed to retain his race seat for 2012.

With this news, it is almost certain that we will not see veteran Rubens Barrichello racing next year.

Senna was full of praise for his new team today:

"I feel very privileged that Williams has selected me as one of their race 
drivers. The team has a great heritage and I hope I can help write a good 
chapter in their history.

The evaluation process has been intense and methodical but the time I have 
spent in the factory has demonstrated that the team has great people and all 
the resources needed to achieve better things this season."

In his last race for the team in Brazil last year, Barrichello wore a tribute helmet to his late idol.

This means that the only race seat available for this upcoming season is alongside Pedro de la Rosa at HRT.

Ferrari latest to develop reactive ride height system

The reactive ride height system has already been developed by Ferrari

The reactive ride height system has already been developed by Ferrari

After details of Lotus’ reactive ride height system emerged in recent days, it has also been reported that Ferrari have developed their own interpretation of the technology.

The new innovation stabilises the front of the car – mechanically and aerodynamically – under braking, by lifting the front of the car by several millimetres.

Lotus’ version had already been approved by the FIA back in January 2010, and Ferrari have since written to the organisation to seek approval of their system. This was confirmed yesterday by team principal Stefano Domenicali:

"What you are talking about, is more related to having stability under braking. It 
is a system that I know there have been some documents in writing between the FIA 
and the teams.

We are waiting for the final confirmation if this kind of devices will be acceptable 
or not. But for sure we are looking around these sorts of devices to see if they 
contribute to a performance. But we need to wait and see what will be the reaction to 
the FIA on that."

If the device is approved by the FIA, then it is almost certain that Ferrari will be able to test the system at the first pre-season test in February.

Lotus Renault leading the way with “reactive ride height” system

A detailed look at Lotus' reative ride height innovation

A detailed look at Lotus' reative ride height innovation

The must-have innovation of 2012 has been leaked in recent days, with Lotus Renault reported to be running a “reactive ride height” device on their cars.

The system was spotted by seasoned technical journalist Giorgio Piola at the Abu Dhabi young driver test in November, and reports suggest that this device had been given the green light by the FIA as early as January 2011.

The objective of this innovation is to stabilise the front end of the car under braking, which generally dips by several centimetres. With a small hydraulic device in the brake cowling, the car can lift itself to counteract the dip under braking. This ensures a consistent generation of downforce from the front wing.

It is also possible that the reverse situation could apply under acceleration.

One of the smaller technical changes that was passed over by many – including myself – was that the maximum height of the nosecone was lowered from 62mm to 55mm. This has, in part, prompted this new design from Lotus.

Gazetta Dello Sport suggested that this device was to be operated by the driver via a pedal, similar to the F-duct. However, Article 3.15 of the F1 Technical Regulations seems to have covered that loophole:

"With the exception of the parts necessary for the adjustment described in
Article 3.18 [the DRS], any car system, device or procedure which uses driver
movement as a means of altering the aerodynamic characteristics of the car
is prohibited."

Seeing as the system has already been approved by the FIA, it would be assumed that the device is operated by the car automatically and not the driver.

Predictably, many of the top teams have already begun to research and design their own version of this ride height stabiliser.

Kubica suffers return setback after injuring leg

Kubica's return has been delayed again

Kubica's return has been delayed again

Robert Kubica’s already fraught return to the Formula 1 paddock, after the Polish driver broke his leg in a fall today.

Reuters claims that the 27-year-old slipped on a patch of ice in the town of Pietrasanta in Tuscany, Italy. He was taken to the local hospital for a scan on his right leg, which had suffered in his rally crash almost a year ago.

He then requested to be moved to the Pietra Ligure clinic, where he was rehabilitated after his horrific crash in 2010.

Although there has been no official statement from Robert’s manager Daniele Morelli, Autosport claims that the Pole has re-opened a fracture in his right tibia (bone below the knee).

After being ousted from his seat at Renault, and being left with no drive for the 2012 season, I fear that it is improbable that we will see Kubica back in F1 this year.

If he is to return any time soon, it has been rumoured that Ferrari are willing to test him in their 2010 or 2011 F1 car later this year.

Update: BBC reports that Kubica will need a metal screw inserted just above his ankle, and faces another month with his leg in plaster.

Valencia and Barcelona reconsidering F1 deals

Both the Circuit de Catalunya and the Valencia street circuit are seeking to reconsider their Formula 1 contracts, after doubts about both venues emerged in recent days.

The Valencia circuit has applied to Bernie Ecclestone to renegotiate their 5-year contract, signed in 2009. The Valencian government is said to have reviewed their hosting of large events, and are rumoured to be pushing for cost cuts.

Jose Ciscar, vice-president of the Generalitat Valenciana, has refused to rule out the possibility that the event is under threat:

"The big events are under full and absolute review. They are not viable as they 
have been until now. The big events have had an important value up until now but 
the circumstances force us to prioritise.

With contracts signed, we can't be imprudent because the penalty could cost us 
more. We have to find balanced solutions."

Meanwhile, the Catalunyan government has stated that they may reconsider the hosting of F1 and MotoGP events, due to the economic downturn, according to Andreu Mas-Colell:

"We could reconsider the hosting of Formula 1 or motorcycle grands prix. It is 
not clear to us that we can afford them in the current situation.

It is not the first thing we will reconsider, but in times like these we must 
look very closely at where we spend the money."

The Circuit de Catalunya currently holds a contract to host Formula 1 until 2016.