Posted on December 31, 2009


It’s New Year and the end of a decade. The “noughties” were pretty good in F1 terms with some very talented drivers battling it out for glory. I spent most of it very close to the action as the commentator on British TV network ITV and I observed and worked with all the drivers very close up. I would argue that the decade ends with a stronger cast of drivers than we had at the start. I’m really excited about the array of talent in F1 now, with three out and out aces, one potential ace and some very strong More…

Posted on December 30, 2009


We are coming to the end of this Christmas series. I hope you have found it interesting and thought provoking. Thanks for all your comments. The sport is fully engaged at the moment in thinking about its short term future; how to spice up the racing, how to balance sport with entertainment and how best to harness the power of the online media to boost the following. I thought it would be interesting to look a little further ahead and that is what this series has been all about. The final post is on simulation tools, commonly used today by More…

Posted on December 29, 2009


So far we have looked at one area which has got to change for society’s sake, namely engines and one which has to change for the sake of the show, which is aerodynamics. But both are likely to be refinements of what we have today, evolutions rather than any revolution. The materials from which F1 cars are made is probably the area where the biggest changes will occur to the sport in the future. Again it will be set by the rules, with some extremely expensive materials likely to be banned in the interests of cost control, but there is More…

Posted on December 28, 2009


When you contemplate the F1 cars of the future you imagine their shape and that is all about aerodynamics. F1 cars haven’t changed much in looks over the past 30 years and there is no reason why they should – you cannot uninvent aerodynamics. Lotus F1 technical director Mike Gascoyne pointed out that aeroplanes have changed little in looks and fundamental layout since the monoplanes of the World War I and so projecting forwards, there is no real reason why F1 cars should change much in looks over the next 20 years. Not everyone in F1 shares that view, however. More…

Posted on December 27, 2009


Thanks for all the feedback and ideas so far. Given widespread concerns about global warming and the environment, the conspicuous consumption of fossil fuels for entertainment is a concept that has a limited shelf life and it present risks for the sport. This is the key area where innovation is essential for survival – it’s as simple as that. Perhaps given the seriousness of the situation, many of your ideas concern the engines, fuel economy and alternatives for the future. F1 cars will always be light and will need a lot of power from the engine. Most engineers agree that More…

Posted on December 27, 2009


Schumacher has put out a carefully worded message over Christmas to the Ferrari fans, the tifosi, clearly concerned that they should not regard him as a traitor for leaving Ferrari to race for Mercedes, alongside the engineer who led Ferrari to greatness in the early 2000s. The pressure is now significantly increased on Ferrari, partly because F1 now has a new powerhouse team, backed by a manufacturer, but also because if Ferrari cannot match them on the track, critics will inevitably say that it was Brawn and Schumacher who made the Scuderia great and that the team has been in More…

Posted on December 27, 2009


There have been several reactions to the news that Michael Schumacher will race again in 2010; Bernie Ecclestone is relieved and the signs are that every team will benefit financially from Schumacher’s return. But perhaps the most interesting reaction came on Christmas Eve from Corinna Schumacher, long suffering wife of the seven times world champion. It is well known that she was relieved to see Michael get out of F1 in one piece back in 2006 and so for her his decision to come back promotes, predictably, mixed feelings, “My husband’s choice turns our family upside down, but he needs More…

Posted on December 26, 2009


F1 cars have been essentially the same shape for sixty years – petrol engined single seaters with uncovered wheels – apart from the Mercedes cars of 1954. But does it have to stay that way? If technology allows cars to race very close together – or cluster racing – but safely, then the wheels would need to be covered up and the shape would change completely. An engineer will say that to answer the question of what the cars will look like in the future you need to know what the rules will say in 2050. It’s an obvious point, More…

Posted on December 25, 2009


Over this Christmas holiday period I thought it would be good to have an interactive daily series looking at what F1 might be like in the future. I’ve prepared some content I hope you will find thought provoking. Each day I will do a specific post relating to this futuristic theme. Tomorrow we will look at what F1 cars might look like in the future, there will be posts on the engines of the future, aerodynamics, simulation tools and how the racing might be. Why is it interactive? Because I will post some thought starters and I would love it More…

Posted on December 24, 2009


Thanks to all the people who sent in their Top Five moments of the season. There were some really good ones, well expressed. It was a crazy year, with some great moments on the track and some totally insane goings on off the track. Hopefully there will be no return to the hyper politics of this year, but I do fear that the next negotiation over the Concorde Agreement post 2012 is going to get bloody. Behind the scenes it is the topic on the minds and lips of all team principals at the moment. I read all your entries More…

Posted on December 23, 2009


Michael Schumacher has today confirmed his return to F1 and explained that the motivation was a human one; his old friend and colleague Ross Brawn needed him and he wanted to drive again after three years out of Formula 1. His motivation in the summer was that Felipe Massa had been injured and Ferrari needed him. He said that it was hard to split with Ferrari after a relationship lasting since 1996, but Ross Brawn’s call was a powerful one. Getting close to that comeback made him realise how much he wanted to race in F1 again, “The motivation I More…

Posted on December 23, 2009


Tonight Bild newspaper in Germany is reporting that Michael Schumacher has cleared the final hurdle in his quest to return to Formula 1 after three seasons of retirement and has signed a one year deal with Mercedes. Bild is a favourite place for both Schumacher’s manager Willi Weber and for Mercedes to leak stories. Although the Mercedes GP team is run by Ross Brawn, the pairing of Schumacher and Nico Rosberg in their Silver Arrows will make it Team Deutschland, as Mercedes boss Dieter Zetsche alluded to the other day. Schumacher’s doctor gave the all clear for him to race More…

Posted on December 21, 2009


The Mercedes GP team has won the hotly contested battle to secure the sponsorship of Malaysian oil company Petronas, in what it describes as a “long term deal”. The deal is a significant one, worth €30 million per season. Combined with the prize money the team won this season as Brawn GP, which is of the order of €50 million, this gives Mercedes an €80 million budget for 2010 before they themselves have injected anything, or any other sponsors have contributed. Alongside Ferrari and McLaren, this team is starting to look like a new powerhouse team for Formula 1, something More…

Posted on December 20, 2009


Over the Christmas and New Year period here on JA on F1, as well as monitoring the ongoing news sagas, like Michael Schumacher’s comeback, we will have plenty of easy-going festive content; we’ll be looking back at the 2009 season, running a short season of forward-looking pieces and a couple of public votes. So keep checking in, especially if you are snowed-in and bored! The first vote is for the top five moments of the year. We had some great racing in 2009, some stunning passing moves and some dramatic moments both on and off the circuit. I want you More…

Posted on December 18, 2009


Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has again put the spotlight on Fernando Alonso and Ferrari’s expectation of him that he will work for the team and not for himself. The driver of whom Ron Dennis once said, “Competitive animals know no limits” and Martin Whitmarsh said, “As long as they can keep him winning I’m sure he will be happy,” comes to Maranello with a bit of baggage and Montezemolo has chosen to confront this head on. He said today that he had spoken with Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali “1,000s of times” about this subject while assessing the risks More…

Posted on December 18, 2009


Dr Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of Daimler AG, which owns Mercedes has said that the team will not know who will partner Nico Rosberg until the New Year. With speculation raging about Michael Schumacher making a comeback at the wheel of a Silver Arrow and suggestions that he may do an extended test in a GP2 car at either Abu Dhabi or Bahrain shortly to evaluate his recovery from neck injury, Zetsche said that, “We are struggling to announce a second driver. Who the second driver is, we will probably not know until next year.” Zetsche was speaking to German More…

Posted on December 17, 2009


Peter Sauber has always been a big supporter of talented young drivers. And in his latest guise as a reluctant team owner – having taken back his team from BMW – he is backing his instincts and giving Kamui Kobayashi a drive for 2010. It was announced today that Kobayashi will drive for BMW Sauber, as the team has not yet had its name changed. Kobayashi made a big impression in his two Grands Prix at the end of the season, not having driven an F1 car for seven months when he got the call up from Toyota to replace More…

Posted on December 16, 2009


The FIA has made another quiet but sensible decision, putting right something which was clearly wrong this season by allowing young drivers to test a car should they be called upon to move up to a race seat. This season Jaime Alguersuari and Romain Grosjean were obliged to jump into a race car with no testing when they were called up to replace race drivers who had been sacked. Luca Badoer also had a torrid time in the Ferrari with no opportunity to familiarise himself with the car. The testing ban was introduced as a cost saving measure, allowing teams More…

Posted on December 16, 2009


Renault announced today, as expected, that it is to stay in F1 for the moment, but having sold an interest in its Enstone chassis operation to Genii Capital, run by tech investor Gerard Lopez. Lopez was not present at the announcement in Paris and Renault’s long term strategy in F1 is not clear from today’s announcement. Of primary importance as far as Bernie Ecclestone is concerned is that the name Renault remains in the sport and that they continue as a supplier of engines, to maintain the balance with Mercedes and Cosworth and it was also confirmed today that Red More…

Posted on December 15, 2009


Renault has called a press conference in Paris tomorrow to announce its decision on Formula 1. It seems that they may announce that the company has decided to sell a 75% shareholding in its Enstone operation to Gerard Lopez, the 37 year old internet entrepreneur who was the first investor in Skype. The deal entails Lopez and his company Gravity, getting the factory for nothing and a guaranteed free supply of engines for two years. The sponsorship of the French Total oil company is also included. In return the team remains under the Renault name for at least the 2010 More…

Posted on December 15, 2009


Virgin Racing launched today in West London with Sir Richard Branson promising “to be a winner in the end” in Formula 1. It was a confident launch; the business package around the team seems strong and the team structure is interesting. To succeed it will require the various components to work together despite cultural and geographical differences. The design side is under Nick Wirth in Oxford and the race team management under Manor’s John Booth in Sheffield. The chairman is the vastly experienced Etienne de Villiers, formerly of Disney and ITV. He has been put in place by the venture More…

Posted on December 14, 2009


The latest twist in the story of Michael Schumacher’s move towards a comeback is Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo saying that Ferrari’s consultancy agreement with Schumacher is not binding and they cannot hold him if he wants to race for “a competitor”. Sources in Germany suggest that Schumacher was not prepared to move forward with the comeback unless Montezemolo gave it his blessing and perhaps this was the purpose of today’s interview with Reuters. Schumacher is due to meet the Ferrari president later this week, apparently. My sources in Italy and Germany are now adamant that this deal is going More…

Posted on December 14, 2009


Jenson Button collected a trophy yesterday at the BBC’s Sport Personality of the Year award, but not the one he was expecting. He was the favourite going into the event, but like Lewis Hamilton last year, the F1 world champion found himself demoted to second place, in this case by the Manchester United footballer Ryan Giggs. The award is based on a public vote during the programme and this year’s Sports Personality event was totally overshadowed by the X Factor talent show which was on at the same time on ITV and which drew an audience of 20 million people. More…

Posted on December 14, 2009


The new Lotus F1 team has revealed the scale of its ambition by announcing that Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen, both race winners in F1, will drive for the team in its debut season next year. From the point of view of the drivers this is a big vote of confidence in technical director Mike Gascoyne, who worked with Trulli at Renault and Toyota. Lotus boss Tony Fernandes has empowered Gascoyne, given him the resources he asked for to get the job done and to have two highly experienced drivers, both of whom are capable of extracting the maximum performance More…

Posted on December 13, 2009


Michael Schumacher – back in Formula 1? That is the word this weekend, thanks to an article in Bild, the German equivalent of the Sun. There are two possible sources of this story – for as long as I can remember Bild has been Willi Weber’s favourite method of leaking stories. Weber is Schumacher’s manager. But Mercedes’ boss Norbert Haug has also been known to let things out through that route. “The contract is ready to be signed,” said Bild, referring to the one year deal, supposedly agreed between the two sides. Bild says that the announcement will come next More…

Posted on December 11, 2009


The calendar for the first F1 season of the new decade has been confirmed today by the FIA’s World Motor Sport Council. It features 19 events and runs for exactly eight months from 14 March to 14 November, the latest finish to a season for a long time. The major change from the previous version of the calendar is that Abu Dhabi has got back its slot as the final race, swapping places with Brazil, which had the last event on the provisional calendar. This is an important victory for the Abu Dhabi organisers as it gives the event a More…

Posted on December 11, 2009


The FIA World Motor Sport Council met today in Monaco and voted through some measures which will change F1 in important ways. There was confirmation of the change to the points system proposed by the F1 commission yesterday, with 25 points for the winner and, as expected, the Sporting Working Group has been tasked with coming up with compelling ideas in January for improving the show which can be implemented before next season. Refereeing is always a source of needless controversy in any sport and after a lot of rows over stewarding decisions in recent years, new FIA president Jean More…

Posted on December 10, 2009


Formula 1 is set to introduce a major change to its points system to reflect the fact that the grid has expanded from 10 to 13 teams. A proposal was agreed by the members of the F1 commission, which met today for the first time in five years and, if approved by the FIA World Council tomorrow in Monaco, it will mean that a race winner will score 25 points, with 20 for second place, 15 for third, 10 for fourth, then 8-6-5-3-2-1 down to 10th position. This was approved because it was felt that it was important that the More…

Posted on December 10, 2009


Nick Fry perpetuated the rumours about Michael Schumacher making a comeback with his team as he spoke to the press today after his appearance at the Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco. He declined to comment on whether the team was talking to the 41 year old and said that they had a shortlist of “3 or 4 drivers”. He said that nationality wasn’t important because Mercedes already has a German driver but he said that experience was vitally important. They may announce the identity of Nico Rosberg’s team mate this year but it would more likely be next year. More…

Posted on December 10, 2009


Formula 1 is in robust shape but needs to attend to the demands of new media, that was the strong message from Monaco this week. And Mercedes team boss Nick Fry indicated that the sport was now ready to take that step. The Motor Sport Forum has just wrapped up and delegates are leaving with plenty of new ideas and insights. Over the two days we have heard a lot about the impact of the credit crunch on motorsport, how the Copenhagen climate change talks will impact the sport in future and heard a great deal about the next turn More…

Posted on December 9, 2009


The Motor Sport Business Forum kicked off today with Tony Fernandes the new team principal of Lotus F1 talking about the opportunity he sees in F1 and continued with a fascinating discussion on the changing model of team ownership, involving Gerard Lopez, one of the men bidding to buy Renault F1 team. The discussion moved from how the sport had fared through the credit crunch and the ‘bumps in the road’ like the Singapore crash scandal and the breakaway threat, to whether the end of the manufacturer era in F1 is permanent, but the most interesting aspects focussed on the More…

Posted on December 8, 2009


The world of motorsport is gathering this week in Monaco for a series of meetings culminating in the World Motor Sport Council on Friday and the gala World Championship presentations on Friday night. There are a number of items on the agenda at key meetings for F1 teams and stakeholders this week, the first with Jean Todt as president of the FIA. The F1 commission is meeting for the first time in four years and although it is unlikely to agree any significant new measures for next year, because teams would have to agree unanimously, it looks like there could More…

Posted on December 7, 2009


Silverstone is hosting a press conference in London this morning, with BRDC president Damon Hill due to announce that a deal has been struck with Bernie Ecclestone for the race to stay at the Northamptonshire track until 2026. The deal has a break clause after 10 years. The olive branch offered by Ecclestone, which swung the deal as far as Silverstone was concerned, was a reduction in the compound interest due on the deal each year, which will save Silverstone a significant amount of money. The starting fee to host the race is £12 million for 2010, rising to £16.8 More…

Posted on December 6, 2009


Bernie Ecclestone has heated up the debate about Michael Schumacher making a comeback at the wheel of one of Ross Brawn’s Mercedes F1 cars next season with some enigmatic comments in the Times tonight. The 79 year old said it would be “magic”, if Schumacher returned and suggested that this was beginning to gather some momentum. “I would personally doubt that he’s going to make a comeback but, having said that, it’s maybe getting a bit stronger than a rumour,” he said. Of the possible contenders for the seat, which may well include Robert Kubica when Renault disposes of its More…

Posted on December 6, 2009


BMW announced its motor sport plans for for first year after its withdrawal from Formula 1 this weekend. It is based around its ongoing challenge in World Touring Cars and its GT programme in the 24 hours classics, Le Mans and Spa. There is also a strong commitment to the young driver programme. The motorsport department will be led by former BMW Sauber F1 team principal Dr Mario Theissen. This type of racing is very much core business for BMW, which has what you would call patchy history in F1. As an engine supplier it won with Brabham in the More…

Posted on December 5, 2009


Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has shed a little more light on the decision to drop Kimi Raikkonen and hire Fernando Alonso, saying that Alonso is a better development driver, more in the mould of Michael Schumacher and that is what the team needs. Domenicali’s comments will dismay Raikkonen, who has just signed a contract to compete in the World Rally Championship. I have checked with Ferrari and the quotes are genuine. They are downplaying the Raikkonen comments as ‘superficial’, however they say that the sentiments about Alonso are what the team feels at this time. Domenicali was quoted yesterday More…

Posted on December 4, 2009


Always a driver to do things his own way, 2007 F1 champion Kimi Raikkonen has announced that he will drive for the Red Bull Citroen team in the World Rally Championship next season. He is the first world F1 champion to make that move. The 30 year old Finn has always had a soft spot for the sport and has competed in several rallies during his F1 career, including Rally Finland. When he failed to find a deal with McLaren for next season in F1 he announced that he would take a sabbatical from F1. That appears to be the More…

Posted on December 4, 2009


Tony Fernandes, the team Principal of the new Lotus F1 team will deliver the keynote address on the first day of the 2009 Motor Sport Business Forum in Monaco. All eyes will be on the Grimaldi Forum next Wednesday morning as Fernandes, talks about his new team, his innovative ideas for sponsorship and monetisation of the team and his ambitions within Formula One. I will be putting the questions to him. Send me a suggestion for a question and if I like it and think it’s appropriate, I’ll add it to the list. Fernandes has been a sponsor in F1 More…

Posted on December 3, 2009


Australian Daniel Ricciardo did his reputation in F1 circles no harm at all with a stunning lap time in the final day of the Jerez test for young drivers. At the wheel of the Red Bull, the 20 year old Australian, who won the British F3 championship, clocked a time of 1m 17.418s, the fastest time of the week. It was set on low fuel and new tyres, but it is still a quick time to add to the impressive runs he had put in during high fuel running. Engineers from other teams had their eye on him from day More…

Posted on December 3, 2009


Toyota’s adventure in F1 is now well and truly over as the FIA today granted Peter Sauber the 13th slot on the grid – unlucky for some. A statement issued by the FIA this evening said, “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 More…

Posted on December 3, 2009


The McLaren Technology Centre hosted a celebration last night of TAG Heuer’s 25th anniversary as a sponsor of the McLaren team. And today they announced an extension to one of sport’s longest sponsorship deals. From McLaren’s side Lewis Hamilton Martin Whitmarsh and Ron Dennis were there, from TAG Heuer’s side, CEO Jean-Christophe Babin and Honorary Chairman Jack Heuer. This year is also TAG Heuer’s 150th anniversary as a watch maker. Hamilton drove a 1986 F1 McLaren race car, once driven by world champion Alain Prost, down the long driveway alongside the lake. TAG Heuer has worked closely with the team More…

Posted on December 3, 2009


Renault is working out a plan to leave Formula 1 before the start of next season, according to L’Equipe newspaper in France. If it goes through, the sport will have lost four major manufacturers in the space of twelve months, including Honda, BMW and Toyota. A team has been charged by Renault president Carlos Ghosn with making a study into the possibility of striking a deal with Prodrive’s David Richards to take the team on. Ghosn made some uncomplimentary remarks about F1 recently, claiming that it was drifting out of relevance, with the challenge for car makers in the 21st More…

Posted on December 2, 2009


Jules Bianchi has signed up to Ferrari on a contract believed to be for three years. This is the beginning of the young driver programme which team principal Stefano Domenicali spoke about last summer. “Jules is tied to the Maranello squad with a multi-year contract, confirming Ferrari’s commitment to young talent, a policy of which Felipe Massa is a prime example. Further and more far reaching initiatives will be established in the near future,” said a statement on the Ferrari website. Bianchi, 20, is from a racing background. His grandfather Mauro was a successful GT driver and his uncle Lucien More…

Posted on December 1, 2009


Today saw the start of the first and only F1 test of the winter – the three day young drivers’ test at Jerez. Under new rules, this is the only time F1 cars will run before February. Rather patronisingly described by Toro Rosso as “Kindergarten week” in its press statement this evening the test is a chance for the next generation of F1 stars to showcase their talents. And with nine empty spaces on the grid for next year, according to yesterday’s FIA entry list, there is a chance for someone to catch the eye, as Kamui Kobayashi did in More…

Posted on December 1, 2009


A fantastic year for Jenson Button could be rounded out with a win in the most prestigious sporting award the UK has to offer. The short list for the 56th BBC Sports Personality of the Year award were announced last night and he is the odds on favourite to win. Looking at his competition, he should ease through to take the title. It is based on a vote by the British public and F1 drivers have always been well supported because F1 fans are passionate and actively get out to vote. Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill and Sir Jackie Stewart have More…

Posted on November 30, 2009


This has been the season of the “win-win” – deals which leave both sides feeling really good about themselves. There is a lot of restructuring going on at the moment; the inevitable result of a season which has seen savage recession hit the sport, manufacturer withdrawals and the arrival of new teams. We have had a spate of deals the principals have described as “win-win” lately; first Ron Dennis described the deal whereby Mercedes bought Brawn as a “win-win”, then Toto Wolff used the same term to describe his acquisition of a shareholding in Williams and at the weekend the More…

Posted on November 30, 2009


The FIA has this evening published the entry list for next season’s F1 championship. There are some interesting points of note. First, as expected, Richard Branson’s Virgin is “doing a Benetton” and pushing its brand to the forefront, calling the team Virgin Racing and the cars Virgin Cosworths. Manor is not entering F1 under its own name. The model here was set out by Benetton in the 1980s and 1990s, whereby it got the maximum brand exposure while getting the sponsors to pay the bills. Virgin Racing has yet to announce its commercial package for F1, but one would expect More…

Posted on November 29, 2009


Flavio Briatore was not present in court this week in Paris to hear the case from his lawyer as to why his lifetime ban from F1 should be overturned. The former Renault F1 team boss is also seeking damages of €1 million and his former executive director of engineering Pat Symonds is seeking €500,000 and a reversal of his five year ban over the Singapore race fixing case. So will they get their way? Briatore’s case was heard by the Tribunal de Grand Instance. His lawyer argued that the FIA World Motor Sport Council was both the investigating and judging More…

Posted on November 27, 2009


My review of the 2009 F1 season, entitled “F1 2009 – A Revolutionary Year” went on sale today. The book tells the story of the 2009 season, from the McLaren launch in January to the last race in Abu Dhabi. I called it “A Revolutionary Year” because this was a year in which the backmarkers of 2008 won the championship and the champion teams of recent times lost their dominance. Off track it was the year when the teams revolted against the governing body and almost started a breakaway series. It covers all 17 Grands Prix and tells the behind More…

Posted on November 27, 2009


Peter Sauber has bought back his team from BMW and it will race next season as Sauber with Ferrari engines. The deal under which Qadbak, the mysterious Swiss Arab investment vehicle was to acquire the team, is off. The contract is subject to the team being granted a place on the F1 grid, but as Toyota has withdrawn and Sauber has an unblemished record in F1 and the support of the other teams, particularly Ferrari, the team is hoping that the F1 commission and the World Council should give them the nod at a series of meetings in early December More…

Posted on November 26, 2009


There is a great piece of work on Auto Motor und Sport’s website with an analysis of the engines in this year’s world championship. The analysis is based on collating the information each engine builder has about each other. I’ve checked it out with some of the F1 engineers and it seems that the data is a pretty accurate reflection of the numbers they are working with. The result is that Mercedes comes out top, with Toyota at the bottom. Throughout the year one kept hearing stories about how much the Renault in the back of the Red Bull car More…

Posted on November 25, 2009


The rumours around the possible return of Michael Schumacher to Formula 1 with Mercedes continue to swirl, but Ferrari remain calm and expect the seven times world champion to stay with them for the next three years as a consultant. The latest twist is that Schumacher has not yet physically signed his new three year consultancy agreement with Ferrari. Schumacher’s manager Willi Weber said on Tuesday in Germany that he could not say whether the deal had been signed, even though it was all agreed and this is my understanding from the Ferrari side too. However, what many commentators are More…

Posted on November 24, 2009


Thank you very much to the 1,100 readers who took part in the Top Five drivers of the year competition. I’m delighted that we got more than 1,000 entries! There were plenty of interesting entries, Luca Badoer popped up a couple of times, while several Kimi Raikkonen fans put their man in all five positions! I put a lot of time and research into my selection, going back through my race weekend data, looking at fuel corrected figures for qualifying and so on. I’ve also sounded out some of the F1 engineers for their data analysis of the drivers’ performances More…

Posted on November 23, 2009


I’ve been thinking about Williams selling a minority shareholding in the team to Austrian motorsport investor Toto Wolff. The deal was announced at the end of last week. It is yet another example, in this early part of the off season, of a structural change in the fabric of F1 teams. We have had Mercedes ending its arrangement with McLaren and buying 75% of Brawn and McLaren setting itself up as a “British Ferrari”. Williams was set up very much like Brawn; an independent team with a private shareholder structure. Teams of this size are very well placed for the More…

Posted on November 23, 2009


Nico Rosberg will lead Mercedes’ attack on F1 next season. The 24 year old is a great choice for the iconic Mercedes brand as he is their own three pointed star; he’s fast, he’s marketable and he’s hungry. The 24 year old German driver was announced today during a conference call n with Mercedes Benz motorsport vice president Norbert Haug and Mercedes F1 CEO Nick Fry. He is the first driver to be announced by Mercedes since it took over the Brawn GP team and the first German to drive for them since Karl Kling piloted one of the Silver More…

Posted on November 23, 2009


Mercedes are on the conference call trail again this morning. This time it is to announce what Mercedes describes as the “first new driver” for its team, which is expected to be Nico Rosberg, as he has been signed to the team for some time. Rosberg will be in the conference call as will Norbert Haug, the vice president of Mercedes Benz motorsport and Nick Fry, who is now billed as the CEO of the Mercedes F1 team. Haug continues to maintain that the Mercedes driver line up will ‘surprise’ and will be appealing. Over the weekend Ross Brawn told More…

Posted on November 21, 2009


The JA on F1 reader competition to name your top five drivers of the season has been a big success so far and we have had 870 entries in the last few days. The competition runs until next week and the winners will be announced on Tuesday 24th. For those who missed it first time around – anyone who names the same top five drivers of the season, in the same order as me will get a free signed copy of my review of the 2009 season, ” F1 2009: A revolutionary year”. There’s a limited print run of these More…

Posted on November 20, 2009


Today has seen a groundswell of stories about Michael Schumacher talking to Mercedes about making a return to F1 next season. I’ve had dozens of readers asking whether this is the case or not, meanwhile Eddie Jordan has stuck his neck out and said on the BBC website that the deal is on and Schumacher will be racing in silver next season. The Telegraph’s Kevin Garside, who no longer covers F1 on a regular basis, has gone overboard on the story today too, albeit with no quotes or attributions. The authoritative end of the German media is strangely silent on More…

Posted on November 19, 2009


It’s amazing how little time there ever is in F1 to enjoy the moment, to celebrate something special, before something comes along and makes it all turn nasty. The bitterness is starting to come out now in the aftermath of Jenson Button’s shock move to McLaren on a three year contract. According to Ross Brawn, who has actually been trying to have a holiday this week while all of this has been going on, Button breached the terms of his contract when he visited the McLaren factory last Friday mid-way through the negotiations over a new deal. At the time More…

Posted on November 19, 2009


In a couple of weeks from now I will be in Monaco, for the annual Motor Sports Business Forum. Last year I was a speaker, this year I’m going one better and I’m chairing the conference. It’s a busy week for international motorsport and there are many events going on; the World Motor Sport Council meets on Friday morning for the first time with Jean Todt as president. There is a circuit holders’ meetings and other meetings, all culminating in the FIA Presentation Gala on Friday night, at which Jenson Button will collect his World Champion’s trophy and Ross Brawn More…

Posted on November 19, 2009


Kimi Raikkonen has a blank space in his diary – it’s called 2010. He has not totally ruled out F1, as his manager Steve Robertson left the door open this morning in an interview with Autosport’s Jon Noble over in Macau, that he could re-examine the possibility of racing with the new Mercedes team, if they were interested in having him. “This is Formula 1,” said Robertson. “If they can offer, or convince us, that they can provide Kimi an opportunity that Kimi is happy with, and that we are happy with, and he feels he can win races and More…

Posted on November 18, 2009


Jenson Button has done what he threatened to do; quit the team he won the championship with and launched a new adventure with McLaren. Button has a three year contract to race alongside Lewis Hamilton in an all British “World Champions” superteam. Everyone at the Brawn team in Brackley will be disappointed by this and there will be lots of question marks about loyalty and “feeling valued” swimming around on both sides. But at the end of the day Button has gone because Brawn and Mercedes were prepared to let him – and that says quite a lot. The timing More…

Posted on November 18, 2009


Kimi Raikkonen will not be racing in F1 next season, his manager Steve Robertson has confirmed. He is calling it a year off and time will tell if he ever races an F1 car again. “The options in F1 were with McLaren next season or not at all,” Robertson said, “Kimi and McLaren were unable to reach an agreement, so he will not drive at the F1 level – at least not next year. “A gap year means nothing for Kimi. He is more interested in fighting for wins and the world championship. F1 will miss Kimi. He worked hard More…

Posted on November 17, 2009


With all the talk of how well Jenson Button might match up to Lewis Hamilton in equal cars and whether Kimi Raikkonen is too talented to drop out of F1, I thought this would be a good moment to invite you to vote for your top five drivers of 2009. Choose the five drivers who you think did the best job in 2009. Do Vettel’s mistakes put him below Button? Did Alonso punch above his weight in a poor car? Does Raikkonen’s second half of the season make up for the first? How do you rate Webber’s and Barrichello’s performances? More…

Posted on November 17, 2009


Manor GP has pulled off a great coup by signing up Timo Glock, as we foreshadowed here last week. He becomes the second driver to be named by one of the four new teams. Lotus has signed a driver but has yet to announce his identity or whether he is a race or reserve driver. Glock has had some impressive drives in the last couple of seasons, with podium finishes in Bahrain and Singapore this year and at Hungary last year. He ended the season on a bit of downbeat note with injuries and illnesses and a monstrous accident at More…

Posted on November 17, 2009


There are a number of drivers in play in the current unfolding situation between McLaren and Brawn. There are three seats as yet unconfirmed and four drivers to fill them. Attention for the moment is focussed on Jenson Button, with some commentators predicting that he will imminently sign a three year £6 million contract with McLaren, leaving the team he has been with in various guises for seven years. Nico Rosberg is involved, but his position is clear; he has already signed a contract with Brawn, which was taken over yesterday by Mercedes and will become its works team next More…

Posted on November 16, 2009


Tomorrow’s papers in the UK will be full of stories about how Mercedes’ takeover of Brawn means that the team will have an all German driver line-up, while Jenson Button is being pushed towards an all-English line up of Button and Lewis Hamilton. Indeed the Guardian is reporting this evening that Button is on the point of signing a £6m a year contract for three years. As the piece is written by Alan Henry, who knows what colour the toilet paper is in Woking from one day to the next, this news needs to be taken seriously. So is that More…

Posted on November 16, 2009


The legendary Silver Arrows works Mercedes Benz F1 team will return to Formula 1 racing next year for the first time in 55 years. Mercedes Benz is buying 75.1% of the Brawn team. Mercedes CEO Dr Dieter Zetsche and Mercedes motorsport chief Norbert Haug announced this morning that the team will be rebranded as the Mercedes team from next season onwards and the colour scheme will change to the Silver Arrows livery. The move allows Mercedes to have its own brand to the fore, rather than subservient to the McLaren brand, for a fraction of the cost of what they More…

Posted on November 16, 2009


I’ve just been invited to take part in a conference call later this morning with Dr Dieter Zetsche, the CEO of Daimler which owns Mercedes Benz and Norbert Haug the head of Mercedes Benz motor sport. The subject of the call is to discuss the future of Mercedes’ engagement in Formula 1. Discussions have been ongoing for Mercedes to buy a controlling interest in Brawn GP and to leave McLaren at the end of the existing contract at the end of 2011. McLaren has been seeking to extend its engine supply arrangement to the end of 2012, the final year More…

Posted on November 15, 2009


Fernando Alonso today took his first bow as a Ferrari driver, appearing at the Ferrari finals day in Valencia. A crowd in excess of 17,000 turned up at the Riccardo Tormo circuit to see Alonso and his 2010 team mate Felipe Massa and to watch the final rounds of some of the key Ferrari championships featuring 129 drivers from around the world. When it was announced earlier in the year that this important day in the Ferrari calendar would take place in Spain, it was yet more proof that a deal to take Alonso to Ferrari was in the pipeline, More…

Posted on November 14, 2009


The latest turn of the wheel in the saga over where Jenson Button and Kimi Raikkonen will race next year is that Button and his manager, Richard Goddard visited McLaren’s Woking HQ yesterday. In itself that is no great surprise, it sends out a message to Brawn that Button has options and McLaren are known to be good payers. For McLaren it sends out a signal to Raikkonen, whose manager also toured McLaren this week, to act now if he wants to stay in F1 in a competitive car and to be more realistic about his salary demands. But what More…

Posted on November 13, 2009


Further to my post yesterday about the new teams, it appears that Timo Glock might have got cold feet about a move to Renault and is considering a drive with the new Manor team. During the Abu Dhabi weekend the German media was reporting that Glock had signed for Renault, but with no announcement forthcoming and uncertainty still clouding Renault’s long term plans in F1 after their board meeting last week, Glock’s manager, Hans-Bernard Kamps has said that Manor is a real possibility. The other driver in the frame is Lucas di Grassi. Glock has had a rollercoaster career. He More…

Posted on November 12, 2009


As the old season fades from view attention is now on the new teams. Campos Meta team yesterday unveiled Bruno Senna at a ceremony in its native Murcia region of Spain. He is the first driver to be officially confirmed by one of the four new teams entering F1 next season. Campos is backed by the Murcia region, but is dependent on sponsorship from drivers to secure its place on the grid. Senna has some money from Embratel, but according to Adrian Campos, it is looking less likely that Pedro de la Rosa will get a seat as Spanish sponsors More…

Posted on November 11, 2009


Shell, in its capacity as a partner of Ferrari stretching back some 450 races, has issued an interesting Q & A with Michael Schumacher in which he talks about comebacks and says that if he had his time again he would do a few things differently; not least avoiding the collision with Jacques Villeneuve in Jerez 1997 which severely damaged his reputation. This week Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has reiterated his desire to see Schumacher race a Ferrari again, should all the new teams, so derided by Ferrari, fail to make it onto the grid and teams be required More…

Posted on November 10, 2009


The World Champion’s number one plate could once again appear on a Silver Arrow next season. Reports in Germany suggest that a deal is being discussed whereby the Brawn GP name could disappear after just one all conquering season in Formula 1 and the champions would be rebranded as Mercedes from next season onwards. According to Auto Motor und Sport, the deal for Mercedes to acquire 75% of Brawn, via its main shareholder Aabar, is in the closings stages and now it is a question of negotiation with McLaren as to whether Mercedes is able to rebrand the team starting More…

Posted on November 9, 2009


If, like me, you are suffering withdrawal symptoms from the sound of racing engines and rather disconsolate about the thought that you won’t hear them again for over three months, then take a look at this. Anyone who saw the BBC’s coverage of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix might well have seen this item, my old sparring partner Martin Brundle and David Coulthard racing each other in two seater F1 cars. It was shot a few weeks before the event and one of the BBC producers, Richard Gort, knocked it into shape. He’s done a great job and it’s an More…

Posted on November 8, 2009


The era of manufacturers dominating F1 is over, according to Williams chief executive Adam Parr. Following a week in which Toyota announced its withdrawal and Renault held an emergency board meeting to discuss its ongoing participation, Parr said that the tide is turning away from the manufacturer teams towards independents like Williams and Brawn. In an article I co-wrote in this weekend’s Financial Times, Parr said, “This week marked the end of manufacturer dominance in F1, something that had been growing for a decade, ” It’s not that manufacturers are not welcome in F1, it’s just that the maths don’t More…

Posted on November 6, 2009


Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari adventure is underway. The two time world champion has begun the programme of seat fitting and preliminary work with the Scuderia. Alonso has been quite vague recently when asked about when he would be free to join his new team. I asked him about it on the Friday of the Abu Dhabi weekend and he said he did not know. He has some links with Renault sponsors and negotiations are ongoing to put an end date to engagements. Ferrari’s official website confirms that the Spaniard arrived at Maranello around 8am, met with team principal Stefano Domenicali, saw More…

Posted on November 5, 2009


So what happens next in this dramatic final act of the 2009 season? As Toyota F1′s tearful president Tadashi Yamashina made his sorry way off the podium after announcing the company’s withdrawal from F1, it seemed that Formula 1 was in trouble again. Renault’s board meeting to discuss it’s F1 involvement added to the tension, Bridgestone’s decision to end its involvement was still ringing in the ears. So is F1 in a crisis, or are these the inevitable aftershocks of a credit crunch? F1 is always the last into a recession and the last out of it. The noises I More…

Posted on November 4, 2009


The double whammy of Bridgestone and Toyota’s withdrawal from F1 is sending shivers down the spine of F1. Today Renault held a scheduled meeting to discuss its future participation in F1. It appears that there will be no communication about the outcome of that meeting until later in the week. French colleagues tell me that they do not expect Renault to pull out, but there is a panicky feeling in the air, as there was after Honda withdrew last Christmas. The BBC is reporting that acting team principal Bob Bell and managing director Jean Francois Caubet attended the meeting but More…

Posted on November 4, 2009


It has been a tough week for Japanese involvement in F1. Following on from Bridgestone’s announcement that they will withdraw at the end of 2010, Toyota have confirmed the news that many people have been expecting throughout the season; they are pulling out of F1 with immediate effect. This opens up a place on the Formula 1 grid for the Sauber team, which BMW sold to Qadbak. As things stand there will be 13 teams next season, only three of whom are manufacturer backed. F1 has lost half its manufacturers within the last 12 months. The balance within F1 will More…

Posted on November 3, 2009


Michael Schumacher has admitted that his decision to announce that he would try to make a Formula 1 comeback this summer was ‘emotional, not rational’. It was driven by a desire to do the right thing for Felipe Massa, to cover for him and protect his future. That much was fairly evident at the time, but it’s interesting nevertheless to hear him say it now, mainly because Schumacher was always such a mentally driven driver, rather than an emotional one. It was rare in his racing days for him to do anything that was not utterly pragmatic, partly because beneath More…

Posted on November 2, 2009


Williams has announced the expected 2010 line up of Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg. It is a team they have had in mind for some time. Hulkenberg represents raw youthful pace, but crucially he has shown this season that he is also capable of shaping that into an all-round racing ability. He looks like a driver who will improve himself into the real thing and he is well managed by Willi Weber, Michael Schumacher’s manager. Hulkenberg has been on Williams’ books for two seasons and this year delivered his target of winning the GP2 championship, while Barrichello brings a blend More…

Posted on November 1, 2009


For the second race in a row, Kamui Kobayashi has set the place alight with some bold driving and given the lie to the theory that F1 is too tough for rookie drivers. He finished sixth today, ahead of team mate Jarno Trulli. Starting his second Grand Prix in 12th place, he was the second best placed of the cars on a one-stop strategy today, after Kimi Raikkonen, but he finished well ahead of the Ferrari driver. His strategy brought him into contact with Jenson Button again. The pair had had a battle in Brazil, after which Button said Kobayashi More…

Posted on November 1, 2009


Sebastian Vettel won the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix today, his 4th win of the season and the 6th for his team. Team mate Mark Webber finished second, fighting off a late challenge from Jenson Button in the Brawn-Mercedes. It was Vettel’s fourth win of the season, also the fourth 1-2 finish for Red Bull Racing and, encouragingly for them they have won the final three races of the season, which bodes well for 2010. Red Bull became a top team this season and believe that they can stay there for the future. Lewis Hamilton started from pole position and More…

Posted on November 1, 2009


It’s race day at Yas Marina Circuit, the last day of the 2009 Formula 1 season and everyone is preparing to race for the final time before a long lay off over the winter. The next time F1 cars will be driven in anger is late November, when the young driver test takes place in Jerez. After that no-one will turn a wheel until February. Formula 1 will drop into a deep sleep as far as the public are concerned, although behind the scenes a lot will still be going on, much of it being discussed and planned right now. More…

Posted on October 31, 2009


Lewis Hamilton has been in a class of one this weekend and today he looks set to end the season on a real high with a victory at the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. If that happens, it will be his third victory in the second half of the season, to go with three podiums; an outcome few would have predicted when the McLaren was two seconds off the pace in the Barcelona test. Hamilton was asked this evening whether he feels that with the car he now has, he could have competed for the world championship and his answer More…

Posted on October 31, 2009


No-one here in on Yas Island this weekend is left in any doubt about the relationship between Ferrari and Abu Dhabi. The team has Mubadala, the Abu Dhabi investment vehicle, as one of its significant partners and the gigantic Ferrari World theme park dominates the skyline next to the circuit. The TV pictures tell a story of a track virtually owned by Ferrari. All of Ferrari’s top brass are here too; president Luca di Montezemolo is here along with Piero Ferrari, Enzo’s son and John Elkann, the nephew of FIAT patriarch Gianni Agnelli. But on track it has been a More…

Posted on October 31, 2009


Lewis Hamilton took a dominant pole position for the first Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in the McLaren, beating the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel by an enormous 7/10ths of a second. It is Hamilton’s third pole position in the final five races of the season. Mark Webber was third, ahead of Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button. Hamilton has been the man to beat this weekend, topping most of the session times. It is in the middle sector with its two long straights that the McLaren was untouchable, setting a sector time some 7/10ths of a second faster than his opponents. More…

Posted on October 31, 2009


I sat down with a few others last night to talk to Fernando Alonso, for the last time as a Renault driver. Fernando has his detractors among the public, especially in Britain, but he is always interesting to talk to and has strong things to say. Last night he was on great form, talking about the season past, the disappointment of not being able to fight for the championship, and his prospects of getting to work with Ferrari towards the end of next month, possibly into December. As he came to the Renault hospitality area in the paddock, four women More…

Posted on October 30, 2009


Today the F1 drivers turned their first laps on the new Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. The general feeling seems to be positive, although most drivers feel that there are too many second gear corners in the final part of the lap. It’s a quick lap here, the average speed is 125 mph and half of the track is straights where the cars are doing 190mph. My impression is that the win will be fought out between Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button. They finished second third and fourth today in practice behind Heikki Kovalainen. The general feeling More…

Posted on October 30, 2009


Sir Frank Williams has confirmed that his team will use the Cosworth engine next season and is set to announce his driver line up of Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg on Monday. All three decisions show that Williams is pointing forwards with confidence. This weekend they have announced a strategic tie up here in the Middle East with the Qatar Science and Technology Park, where Williams will establish a Williams Technology Centre. Two F1 related R&D programmes will be carried out there; one into the flywheel energy regeneration system they have been working on for a couple of years now, More…

Posted on October 30, 2009


USF1, one of four new teams coming into the sport next season, has today confirmed what it has been saying privately for some time, that it will have its European base in Motorland, Aragon, in Spain. “MotorLand Aragon is the ideal motorsports complex for US F1’s European operation,” said Peter Windsor, executive vice president and sporting director of US F1. “From the excellent location and weather, to the rich racing heritage and diverse track configurations, MotorLand provides America’s first Formula One team in more than 40 years with the perfect facility to manage the 2010 season and train for 2011 More…

Posted on October 29, 2009


Nico Rosberg sat down with a few of us this afternoon and promptly came out with the statement that this would be his last race with Williams. It comes as no great surprise to anyone, as he has been strongly linked with a seat at Brawn-Mercedes for months and less strongly linked with McLaren Mercedes. Rosberg’s seat at Williams will be taken by Rubens Barrichello and the received wisdom is that the pair are doing a swap. But Rosberg would not be drawn on where he was going next. “It is my last race for Williams,” he said. “It is More…

Posted on October 29, 2009


The last time Jarno Trulli saw Adrian Sutil before today was when he was screaming at him over their first lap collision in Brazil. Trulli felt that the fault was entirely Sutil’s and today in the press conference at Yas Marina Circuit, the war of words spilled out again – that may well have been the reason why they were placed next to each other… There were quite a few incidents between drivers in Brazil and it looks like it will be a lively drivers’ briefing on Friday. Several drivers have indicated that they want to discuss the Kobayashi/Nakajima collision More…

Posted on October 28, 2009


I’m delighted to announce that on November 27th we will be publishing a book looking back on the 2009 season. It is a review of the goings-on both on and off the circuit in what has certainly been the most action packed season I’ve ever covered. The book is the story of the 2009 season told through the eyes of the James Allen on F1 blog, with updates and extra editorial from me. It has the behind the scenes insights into all the big stories of the year from the F1 breakaway threat and the Renault crash scandal to Ferrari’s More…

Posted on October 28, 2009


Claudio Berro, the former press officer from Ferrari has joined the new Lotus F1 team as sporting director. Berro is one of new FIA president Jean Todt’s closest allies in motorsport, having worked with the Frenchman at Peugeot and Ferrari. More recently he ran the Maserati programme and the Speedcar programme. He is a very well organised and genial individual. Todt has a lot of respect for his abilities. Although primarily an organiser, Todt gave him the vitally important role of head of communications early in his tenure at Ferrari and Berro managed to stop the leaks and get control More…

Posted on October 28, 2009


This weekend spells the end of one of the most extraordinary F1 seasons in living memory. The season was so packed with dramas, scandals, great sporting moments and unexpected outcomes, it feels like we have had five years packed into one. With the final race inevitably come some departures from the sport; a few people know already that this will be their final weekend in F1, others will have it decided for them over the winter. Each team will be shedding a lot of jobs over the coming months as the teams downsize from their bloated pre-credit crunch staffing levels. More…

Posted on October 26, 2009


There has been a lot of talk this week about Jenson Button’s contract talks with the Brawn team. Proving what an unsentimental business this is, the champagne soaked clothes are barely back from the dry cleaners and both sides are publicly playing hardball. It’s a question of who needs who the most. The team have come through a lot together. It was really noticeable on the day the titles were clinched in Brazil that Ross Brawn’s first thoughts were for the employees he had been forced to let go when the team downsized from 700 to 450 in April. Equally, More…

Posted on October 24, 2009


Last week I showed video of the first on-board laps of the new Yas Marina Island circuit in Abu Dhabi. Here’s some footage from the same two seater F1 event, which I have edited up to give an idea of what the spectacle will look like on TV next weekend. The event is set to be the first F1 race to start in daylight and go into the night. I’ve also got some data on the track, from one of the teams. This gives you a bit of an idea what kind of track it is in terms of fuel More…



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