Posted on January 31, 2011


I got a message last night from a reader, looking forward to the new season, who asked the following question: “Is there a way you could create one post on different interactive tools that will be available in the new season on-line? “I am talking about apps, McLaren telemetry on-line, etc. It would be cool to know what is available out there – sometimes races are boring, but when you have live timing, telemetry and other apps it is much more interesting.” This was quite a hot topic at the Fans Forum in London last summer, so with the new More…

Posted on January 31, 2011


Today was a busy day of launches in Valencia, with three teams pulling the wraps off their cars. Lotus was the first, launching the car via an online web magazine called Lotus Pages. Mid morning it was the turn of the now heavily Mexican influenced Sauber team and soon after that of Renault, with a car the team themselves are describing as super aggressive. Tomorrow Red Bull, Toro Rosso, Williams and Mercedes will launch, taking the total of new cars in circulation up to eight. We will then see McLaren on Friday, Virgin next Monday and Force India at the More…

Posted on January 30, 2011


A graphic image of the new Mercedes F1 car, designated MGP W02, has been released to the media this afternoon, after it had been leaked to a German newspaper. The car is due to be launched in Valencia on Tuesday and carries the hopes of Mercedes and of drivers Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher that it will be more competitive than last year’s car. Like the Ferrari launched on Friday, the trend for the high nose is in evidence. There has also been some work on the sidepods and and air intake, from the looks of things. It’s hard to More…

Posted on January 30, 2011


The first test of the 2011 season is only two days away and soon we will all learn a lot more about how the biggest rule change for this year, the adjustable rear wing, is going to affect the racing. The purpose is to create more overtaking, clearly, but what could prove controversial is that it may make overtaking itself rather predictable. The simple concept of this change is a pivot in the rear wing which allows it to open up a gap from 10mm to 50mm, thereby shedding downforce and increasing straight line speed – rather like the F More…

Posted on January 30, 2011


Senna, the movie about the great Brazilian champion Ayrton Senna, won a prestigious award at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah last night. Director Asif Kapadia collected the World Cinema Audience documentary award for documentary film on behalf of the production team from Working Title films. The movie is composed entirely of existing footage, much of it from FOM archives, with voice over inserts from many of the key characters in the story like Alain Prost, Ron Dennis and Frank Williams. It tells the story of Senna’s life, his principles, his way of going racing (good and bad) his rivalry More…

Posted on January 29, 2011


The Mexican connection is starting to come up trumps for the Sauber team, with the announcement that legendary tequila brand Jose Cuervo has come on board as a partner. Last year Sauber did a life-saving deal with Carlos Slim, whose America Movil company is one of the world’s largest telecoms giants. Along with that deal came two young Mexican drivers, Sergio Perez and reserve driver Esteban Guttierez. The sheer power of America Movil and the two telecoms brands it is using in F1, Claro and Telmex, as well as Slim’s influence in the Latin American market is turning Sauber into More…

Posted on January 28, 2011


Ferrari launched its challenger for the 2011 F1 season at Maranello today, the first team to reveal its car, with much talk of optimism and fresh beginnings. The 57th new Ferrari F1 car to roll off the line, the car looks quite similar to last year’s, apart from the areas affected by rule changes such as rear wing and diffuser, but it doesn’t mean a great deal at this stage. The stopwatch in Valencia, Jerez, Barcelona and Bahrain will decide if it is any good or not and the car will evolve significantly during those four official test sessions and More…

Posted on January 26, 2011


There is an interesting little item in Speedweek, the Red Bull owned magazine, in which certain details of the contract arrangement with world champion Sebastian Vettel are explained, most notably that if he finishes in the top three in the 2011 world championship and scores a certain amount of victories, he is tied to Red Bull Racing for the 2012 season. This is confirmed in the article by RBR special adviser Dr Helmut Marko, “We will not let any top driver go,” he says. Vettel signed a contract renewal in August 2009 until the end of 2011 with an option More…

Posted on January 26, 2011


With five days to go until the start of the new testing season, the worst kept secret of the winter was confirmed today when the Force India team announced that its two race drivers this season will be Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta. Williams refugee Nico Hulkenberg becomes the reserve driver. It’s a great step for Di Resta, 24, who impressed last season in his role as Friday driver and as champion of the DTM with Mercedes. The support of the Stuttgart manufacturer has been instrumental in him getting the role. Di Resta beat reigning F1 champion Sebastian Vettel More…

Posted on January 26, 2011


There’s a very interesting little note on the Ferrari website this evening saying that the new Ferrari F1 car will be designated the F150, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy. The Italian flag, the “Tricolore” will be more prominent than before. The 2009 Ferrari was designated the F60, to commemorate Ferrari’s 60 years in the sport, underlining that the team is the only ever present in the 60 year history of the sport. That was a political statement in F1 terms, reminding the FIA, FOM and the new teams who want to have an equal say More…

Posted on January 25, 2011


As we are counting down to the launches of the new cars, with Ferrari at the end of this week and most of the other teams at the start of next week, I thought it would be good to investigate an area that is central to the “look” of a new car, but is often overlooked – the livery. When we see a new car we see the livery – and quickly get used to it as an identifier on TV – but don’t necessarily take in how it was designed, what it aims to achieve and so on. And More…

Posted on January 24, 2011


The application for summary judgement in the London High Court today in the dispute between Group Lotus and Team Lotus failed, but it has brought forward the actual hearing, so both sides have won and lost something today. Wanting to get the confusion over Lotus in F1 sorted before the start of the season, Group Lotus brought about the application for summary judgement, something that can be achieved in a week or so and which, if successful, means that the judge dismisses the case because the evidence is so open and shut. That did not happen today, which is a More…

Posted on January 24, 2011


The movie about Ayrton Senna, which we have chronicled extensively on this site, has had a very positive reception at the celebrated Sundance Film Festival in America. The film is shortlisted for best world documentary and is in a very competitive field, but it has been glowingly reviewed by the LA Times critic, who attended the Sundance screening. “Sometimes a documentary will unexpectedly reach out and grab you by the throat, not giving you a second to breathe,” wrote Kenneth Turan of the LA Times. “That’s that way it was with “Senna,” which had its North American premiere Friday night More…

Posted on January 21, 2011


Williams plans to make a significant change to the structure of the team to secure it for the future, by announcing that he and his partners plan to float the F1 team on the stock market. Williams objective is to “secure the long term ownership of Williams” in a way that remains true to the ideals with which Frank Williams and Patrick Head started the team in 1977. This involves remaining independent for the long term, beyond the time when Williams and Head are no longer around. Consideration has no doubt been given to selling equity in the team to More…

Posted on January 21, 2011


The new FIA Institute Young Driver Academy is taking shape as today 19 youngsters were named, from which 10 will be selected to take part in the 2011 Academy programme. The most experienced of them is Alexander Rossi, an American who has been racing in GP3 and GP2 Asia and is known in the F1 paddock. The selection process to narrow the shortlist down to 10 finalists will take place in Austria on 6/7/8 February under the watchful eye of Academy principal Alex Wurz and his partner Robert Reid, who was a leading rally co-driver and now runs a physical More…

Posted on January 19, 2011


The development of the new generation F1 tyres from Pirelli continues apace, but the company has now concluded the private part of its testing programme following a wet/dry test at Abu Dhabi. Pedro de la Rosa has been driving the Pirelli test car, based on the 2009 Toyota. On February 1 the F1 teams will be in Valencia, mostly with new specification 2011 cars, to test for real on Pirelli tyres and the choice of compounds for the first race in Bahrain will be made soon afterwards. Unlike tests on Bridgestones in recent years, Pirelli will bring a number of More…

Posted on January 18, 2011


There’s an intriguing interview on Auto Motor und Sport website today with Willi Weber, done by Michael Schmidt, Germany’s leading F1 journalist. Weber reveals that his driver Nico Hulkenberg was offered and turned down the second seat at Virgin Racing alongside Timo Glock. This is no great surprise, when a driver of his calibre is on the market a team like Virgin should aspire to hiring him. Arrows frequently made offers to Nigel Mansell throughout his career, for example. You can only ask.. But Weber does give away a fairly clear indication that Hulkenberg is going to take a test More…

Posted on January 17, 2011


Following on from Friday’s activity in the Lotus saga – where the Renault team together with its sponsor and shareholder Group Lotus took a big presence at the Autosport Show and launched the F1 livery, while rival Team Lotus rebranded its factory – today there have been more developments. Group Lotus CEO Danny Bahar has said this weekend that he does not believe that the dispute between the two will end up in court, but when I put that to Team Lotus CEO Riad Asmat this afternoon he said that it was now certain that the F1 season will start More…

Posted on January 17, 2011


Last week’s news that FOM boss Bernie Ecclestone has turned down Rome’s application to host a Grand Prix seems to have put and end to that story. However looking through the Gazetta dello Sport at the weekend, I notice that they published in full Ecclestone’s letter to Gianni Alemanno, the mayor of Rome in which he says, “However if Monza were taken away from the calendar or we could alternate Monza with Rome, this would be acceptable and this is something I will try to achieve.” The last line is interesting. I asked around in Italy this morning about how More…

Posted on January 15, 2011


The Williams team is in Venezuela at the moment and today the team announced the long-awaited tie up with PDVSA, the state owned oil company. It is a massive boost to the team, which said goodbye to important sponsors RBS and Philips at the end of last season. Venezuela has the world’s sixth largest oil reserves and is in the top ten oil exporters. It has by far the largest oil business of any Central or South American country. “They are a substantial partner and can make a meaningful difference to our fighting ability,” said the team’s figurehead, Frank Williams. More…

Posted on January 14, 2011


In the last 24 hours a new initiative has been launched called the EV Cup, which is the world’s first electric vehicle championship. It will take place this year and is the start of something we are all going to have to get used to. I’m interested in this because I’m always interested in future trends. In its statutes the FIA now has an “Electric and New Energy Championships Commission” and many of the world’s leading car manufacturers are investing heavily in EVs for the road. It’s not surprising therefore that a group has got together to see if they More…

Posted on January 13, 2011


Today we had the official unveiling of the new black and gold livery by the Renault team, now sponsored by Group Lotus. And with amazing timing, this evening the other Lotus, now known as Team Lotus, has put out a provocative video on You Tube of the rebranding of its HQ at Hingham with the classic Team Lotus logo and colour scheme. Just before Christmas Hazel and Clive Chapman, the widow and son of Lotus founder Colin Chapman, issued a statement saying that they no longer support the efforts of Tony Fernandes’ team and do not wish him to call More…

Posted on January 13, 2011


Fernando Alonso always looks determined, that’s part of his make up. Now with his Zorro moustache and beard and the intense look in his eye, he looks like he should have a cutlass in his hand, rather than a steering wheel. But you can see he is focussed on winning this year’s world championship with Ferrari and expunging the awful memories of last November. To say that last year’s campaign ended badly would be an understatement; the bad pit call in Abu Dhabi turned an eight point championship lead into a heavy defeat, probably the heaviest he has suffered in More…

Posted on January 12, 2011


Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali spoke today at the Wroom event in Madonna di Campiglio about the season ahead; his expectations of his drivers, his new engineering structure and other wider topics. Against the backdrop of the snow covered Dolomite mountains, the 45 year old looked relaxed and positive after a very difficult end to the 2010 season. He said that after a lot of soul searching after the Abu Dhabi strategy disaster, he and the team had picked themselves up and were now 100% focussed on 2011. He made a great deal of the idea that the team needs More…

Posted on January 11, 2011


Not surprisingly many readers and Twitter followers want to know my thoughts on the changes in the BBC F1 commentary line up with Martin Brundle taking the lead role and David Couthard joining him in the commentary box. I worked alongside Martin in the ITV commentary box from 2001 until the end of 2008. We did well over 120 races together and I know he will have thought about this very carefully. He knows what is involved in taking the lead role; a lot of preparation and getting the bases covered. That is something he always relied on me to More…

Posted on January 9, 2011


The start of F1 testing is just 23 days away and most of the teams are flat out getting their first chassis built. It’s an exciting time but also a nervous one. From talking to a number of teams this last week they all share an anxiety that one of their rivals might have come up with a silver bullet, this year’s equivalent of the F Duct – a must-have aero device which gives a good few tenths of a second advantage and all must copy. The ones they really fear are those built into the chassis, like McLaren’s F More…

Posted on January 7, 2011


The Force India team has yet to decide who will drive its cars, but behind the scenes the team has made some changes to the engineering management. Dominic Harlow becomes Head of Circuit Engineering, a role which is similar in scope to that of Pat Fry in the new Ferrari set-up. In addition to his role in charge of engineering operations at the races, he takes an overview role on the design and development side. Meanwhile Andy Green moves into the technical director’s chair, replacing Mark Smith, who will soon leave the team to join his mentor Mike Gascoyne at More…

Posted on January 7, 2011


Narain Karthikeyan, the self dubbed “World’s fastest Indian” is back in F1 as a race driver with Hispania Racing Team for 2011, it was announced today. Karthikeyan announced the news himself yesterday via Twitter and the Times of India and today the team caught up and confirmed it. It is a great comeback for the driver, who became India’s first F1 driver with Jordan in 2005. He was one of the six drivers who took part in the US Grand Prix that year, finishing fourth behind the Ferraris of Schumacher and Barrichello and his Jordan team mate Tiago Monteiro. He More…

Posted on January 6, 2011


Ferrari, 5 wins, 2 poles, 3rd in Constructors’ Championship There are so many ways to look at the story of Ferrari’s 2010 season, but let’s start with the helicopter view, the overview in other words. Ferrari hires Alonso (finally) gives him a winning car and despite a few mistakes he establishes himself as clear number one, takes the chances, wins races and then loses the title at the last round due to a bad mistake on strategy by his team. The inescapable conclusion from this is that Alonso owed Ferrari one after his early season mistakes, but he made good. More…

Posted on January 6, 2011


F1 in Schools, the engineering challenge for school age children, has gained an important new patron in the form of McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh. He joins Ross Brawn, Mike Gascoyne, Sam Michael, Adrian Newey, Pat Symonds and other figures from the sport who have agreed to be patrons. F1 in Schools is a not-for profit organisation, which runs an annual challenge in over 30 countries with a world final every year. Last year it was in Singapore, the year before that in the UK. I have been a patron since the challenge started almost a decade ago and also More…

Posted on January 5, 2011


Formula 1 finds itself on the financial pages again tonight, but not for the right reasons. Gerhard Gribkowsky, the 52 year old former chairman of SLEC, the holding company of F1′s commercial rights, which was sold to CVC, has been arrested in a probe on bribery, breach of trust and tax evasion allegations. German prosecutors wanted him over $50 million of payments relating to the sale of the stake held by his bank, Bayern LLB’s, in F1. According to the prosecutor in Munich, Bayern LLB, of which Gribkowsky was a senior executive, sold its stake without it being properly evaluated More…

Posted on January 5, 2011


BMW Sauber F1 team, 0 wins, 0 podiums, 8th in Constructors’ Championship It was a season of two halves for the team, with a lamentable first half and a fairly positive second half. Kamui Kobayashi turned out to be a real star and he’s the first Japanese driver I’ve encountered who has a big appeal to European fans. I thought Sato would be popular in Europe but it didn’t work out that way, whereas Kobayashi has a real fighting spirit and an air of cool about him which makes him a fan favourite. His bold pass on Alonso in the More…

Posted on January 5, 2011


Still no word from Force India on its driver line up for the coming season. There are three jobs available; the two race drivers and the Friday/test driver. There has been speculation that the race drivers will be Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta with Williams refugee Nico Hulkenberg taking the test slot, but no confirmation. It truly is a buyer’s market for Force India at the moment. But one person for whom this does not work is Tonio Liuzzi, who has broken his silence today with an interview on Italian website 422.com. Liuzzi would not be doing this if More…

Posted on January 5, 2011


Hispania Racing Team, 0 wins, 0 poles, 11th in Constructors’ Championship Mmmm. Where to start when thinking about Hispania Racing? What was their 2010 season about? An exercise in survival, certainly. But to what end? Is there a future for the team? Who will design and build their car next year? These are all intangible questions. In practical terms Hispania was a struggle from start to finish in 2010. The team was still building the cars as the season got underway in Bahrain, with Karun Chandhok’s first run in the car being in qualifying. The team was born at the More…

Posted on January 4, 2011


Since I posted this morning Ferrari has announced the major changes that team boss Stefano Domenicali hinted at. According to the team’s website, “Neil Martin takes on the role of heading up the new Operations Research department. A 38 year old Englishman, Martin previously worked for Red Bull and prior to that McLaren and he will now report directly to Technical Director, Aldo Costa. “At the same time, Costa’s deputy, Pat Fry will, in addition to his current role, take on the job of head of race track engineering. Up until yesterday, this position was held by Chris Dyer and More…

Posted on January 4, 2011


Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali has done an interesting interview in the Italian newspaper La Repubblica today in which he puts out some important messages about the year ahead and states his position in terms of his role as team principal. He points out quite clearly that there has been massive change behind the scenes at Maranello and that the new structure and the fruits of that reorganisation will become clear soon. Domenicali reminds everyone that Ferrari is a “business” and that unlike great soccer managers such as Sir Alex Ferguson, he is in charge of everything, including the money, More…

Posted on January 3, 2011


Toro Rosso, 0 wins, 0 poles, 9th in Constructors’ Championship Probably the least talked about team in F1, I have to admit I’ve always found Toro Rosso a bit of an enigma. Why does Red Bull persist with owning a second team now that the rules prohibit the kind of chassis data exchange which used to make it a low overhead business and now that the main Red Bull team is competing at the highest level? Is there any scope for the team to grow and if so in what ways? It has been for sale at various stages along More…

Posted on January 2, 2011


Renault F1 team, 0 wins, 3 podiums, 0 poles, 5th in Constructors’ championship I found the Renault team very interesting to study this year on several levels. Organisationally, the team had new ownership in the shape of tech investor Gerard Lopez and his Genii company. It retained some participation from the Renault car company, but that ended after the season finished as Genii bought out Renault’s 25% stake. The intention is to sell between 25% and 40% of the company to Group Lotus, which also becomes title sponsor for the next three years. Lopez has all sorts of innovative ideas More…

Posted on January 1, 2011


Williams F1 team, 0 wins, 1 pole, 6th in Constructors’ championship Williams is considered the weather vane of F1 – if it is in reasonable shape, then F1 is in good shape. The team struggled during the manufacturer era, whereas this moment should be good for the team, with the Resource Restriction Agreement pulling the staff numbers and resources of the leading teams down. The team is definitely in transition from the late Frank Williams/Patrick Head days to the Adam Parr/Sam Michael days. This means everything from finding sponsors and drivers to technical direction. In practice it has been this More…



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