Posted on February 28, 2011


Mercedes has announced today that parent company Daimler and its partner Aabar has bought the final 24.9% stake in the team, which had remained in the hands of Ross Brawn, Nick Fry and the management team. That management team, which saved the Brackley outfit from closure in 2009, operated as Brawn GP that year and then sold a controlling interest in the team to Mercedes, will remain on board but without holding equity. This is a very logical step for all parties. For team principal Ross Brawn this is the completion of a process which has made him a very More…

Posted on February 27, 2011


This week, I had the chance after the last test in Barcelona to interview Mark Webber about testing so far and his thoughts on the season ahead, particularly his ongoing battle with Sebastian Vettel. He makes some very interesting observations about the Pirelli tyres and how they have made F1 like a ‘different category’. He also talks about the things he has taken from last season’s campaign, which will make him a stronger competitor this year. When asked about whether it will be ‘happy families’ with team mate Sebastian Vettel – given the aggro that existed between them last year More…

Posted on February 26, 2011


I saw a story on the Italian website 422.com about the Ferrari Driver Academy actively looking to recruit a female trainee, to work alongside Jules Bianchi and the others. “According to our sources, the head of the programme, engineer Luca Baldisserri, wants to put a woman in FDA before 2012,” said the 422.com story. I asked Ferrari if the story was true and they replied that they don’t discriminate on gender, which is all very PC. But it got me thinking, when at the Williams event on Thursday the chat over lunch with Sam Michael turned to the multi-tasking now More…

Posted on February 25, 2011


There has been a lot in the media about Bernie Ecclestone lately. The 80 year old godfather of Formula 1 has had quite a month – in the spotlight during the Bahrain crisis, under pressure over the Gribkowsky case in Germany and now the subject of some painful revelations in a new biography by investigative journalist Tom Bower, which was launched last night after a sensational serialisation in the newspapers. Unlike Max Mosley, Bernie has never employed a skilled spin doctor, always trusting his own judgement when it comes to when to intervene in the media, put out a message More…

Posted on February 24, 2011


Today Williams had a formal launch of its new FW33 car at its base in Grove, Oxford, incorporating a technical walk through of the car with Sam Michael and the launch of the new livery. The livery is quite striking and in comparison to last year’s car it catches the eye much more. The blue is darker than last year, more akin to the blue of the BMW Williams era and the accent colour is red, thanks to new sponsor PDVSA, the Venezuelan oil giant. There is a degree more confidence about the team at the moment than we have More…

Posted on February 22, 2011


We’ve heard a lot recently about the Pirelli tyres not lasting long and how this will affect race strategy this season, with three and even four stops a possibility at some races, based on current wear rates. I’m grateful to my old friend and colleague Kaz Kawai from Japanese Fuji TV, who has patrolled the pit lane with me for over 20 years, for sending me some graphs illustrating the difference in the way the Bridgestone and Pirelli tyres function. We had all got used to the dependability of the Bridgestones and in fact they had gone too far to More…

Posted on February 21, 2011


Today was the final day of the test at Barcelona, a momentous day with the announcement that the first race of the season in Bahrain has been cancelled. This means that the F1 teams will be back here for a further test on 8th March, which replaces the one scheduled for Bahrain. Felipe Massa set the fastest time today on a qualifying simulation, the Brazilian showing that these new Pirelli tyres suit his style more than last year’s Bridgestones. I think he will be more competitive in qualifying this year than he was last year. The Ferrari is a good More…

Posted on February 21, 2011


The Bahrain Grand Prix due to take place on March 13th has been called off, according to race organisers. The Crown Prince of Bahrain telephoned F1 promoter Bernie Ecclestone this morning to tell him of the decision. The reason given was that the country needs to focus on its own internal issues at this time. “At the present time the country’s entire attention is focused on building a new national dialogue for Bahrain,” said the Crown Prince.After the events of the past week, our nation’s priority is on overcoming tragedy, healing divisions and rediscovering the fabric that draws this country More…

Posted on February 20, 2011


Nico Rosberg set the fastest time today in Barcelona, in a dry afternoon session after a wet morning, which gave the teams a chance to evaluate the Pirelli intermediate tyre. The Mercedes driver did a lap of 1m23.168s on a qualifying simuation run towards the end of the day. As always not too much can be read into the headline lap times as many other drivers did not do a qualifying simulation run, preferring to focus their dry running time on a race simulation. Vitaly Petrov set the second fastest time ahead of Lewis Hamilton, whose McLaren again suffered some More…

Posted on February 20, 2011


This week Nick Heidfeld is taking part in his second official test as a Renault driver having been drafted in to replace the injured Robert Kubica, his former team mate, who was injured in a recreational rally accident. The Renault chance is his best opportunity to make his mark in F1 for several years, since he was at BMW Sauber in 2008 with Kubica in fact. The 33 year old was the most competitive driver with the right combination of technical ability and recent experience available. Here he speaks exclusively to my colleague Lawrence Barretto at the Barcelona test who More…

Posted on February 19, 2011


On an interesting day’s running in the third official test at Barcelona, Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull again came out on top and main rival Fernando Alonso was forced to admit that the world champion team look like they will start the season with an advantage. Vettel did a series of short runs culminating in a lap of 1m23.315s, which is 2.7s slower than the pace set in similar circumstances last February on day two of the Barcelona test – a combination of downforce lost from the double diffuser and the relative pace of Pirelli tyres compared to Bridgestones. Red More…

Posted on February 18, 2011


World Champion Sebastian Vettel set the pace on day one of what could turn out to be a defining test in the build up to the new season. Unlike the permanent Valencia track and Jerez, Barcelona is an F1 race venue and is still considered one of the best circuits for showing up a good car. It’s combination of corners and short and long straights is a great test for a car’s aerodynamic efficiency and a quick car around Barcelona is always a contender. With the political situation in Bahrain still volatile, the F1 teams met to discuss the final More…

Posted on February 18, 2011


As if there wasn’t enough going on already in Italy, the Corriere dello Sport is reporting today that Ferrari boss Luca Di Montezemolo is being petitioned by the authorities in Rome to take on the role as head of it’s bid for the 2020 Olympic games. According to the paper, Rome’s mayor and the Italian Olympic federation have already tried once before to get Montezemolo to take the role, but this time he has let it be known that he will decide in the coming days. Montezemolo was head of the organizing committee for the 1990 football World Cup in More…

Posted on February 16, 2011


The Renault F1 team has been extensively restyled this season already with the arrival of Lotus and today it announced a forced change with Nick Heidfeld replacing his former team mate Robert Kubica. Although there had been speculation about the team looking at other options, it always looked likely that they would go for Heidfeld. Heidfeld, a veteran of 172 Grands Prix without a victory, was out of work after opting to give up his secure testing contracts with Mercedes and Pirelli for a five races deal with Sauber at the end of last season. But the injuries incurred by More…

Posted on February 16, 2011


Pirelli has announced that it will supply the hard and soft tyres from its range for the opening four rounds of the 2011 season. It has made the announcement now, with two official tests still to come, in order for the teams to work on dialling their cars in to the selected tyres. However what they did not mention in their statement today is that the soft tyre for the next test in Barcelona and the opening races, will be different from the one that the teams have tested with so far. This keeps the teams guessing a bit as More…

Posted on February 15, 2011


Like many people working in F1 I have a rather uneasy feeling about the opening Grand Prix at Bahrain, having witnessed the scenes in Tunisia and Egypt in recent weeks and hearing what some are saying about making the race a target for protest. It’s not the event itself that we need to worry about, as that will be extremely well protected, it’s the comings and goings of the people who work in the sport, which is more tricky to protect. And of course, the drivers. Remember the coverage Jenson Button got when he and his entourage were held up More…

Posted on February 13, 2011


The second official F1 pre season test ended at Jerez today with Williams’ Rubens Barrichello setting the fastest time and covering 103 laps after a week of niggling problems and frustrations for the team. It has been a week when the importance of having experienced drivers setting up and developing the new cars has been a hot topic as Renault seek to not lose too much ground on that front due to the accident of Robert Kubica. Barrichello, the most experienced driver in F1 history with over 300 GP starts, set the fastest lap of the week in 1m 19.832s More…

Posted on February 12, 2011


Today was the third of four days of testing at Jerez in Spain and the main talking point was the appearance of Nick Heidfeld in the Renault. The German has been called in following the accident of lead driver Robert Kubica. Heidfeld, who was out of work over the winter having given up testing roles for Mercedes and Pirelli to take up a brief race seat at Sauber at the end of last season, is hoping that the team will give him the seat left vacant by his former BMW team mate. He set the fastest time today, a 1m More…

Posted on February 11, 2011


The second day of the Jerez test saw Michael Schumacher set the fastest time but also there were key indicators of the sheer performance of the Red Bull, the reigning world champions. Schumacher set the 1m 20.352 on the second lap of a ten lap run, but suffered significant drop off in performance on the rest of the run. His final three laps were in the 1m 24s. In contrast Red Bull’s Mark Webber never went for a fast lap, but his sequences of laps showed less differential between times. The same was true of Felipe Massa in the Ferrari More…

Posted on February 11, 2011


Yesterday at the F1 test in Jerez the drivers sent their get well messages to Robert Kubica and his team carried a message to him on the car. Today the Pole has said that “I have to return this year” in his first interview since the accident. So many JA on F1 readers have been in touch since his accident on Sunday to say that they want to do the same, I’ve been in touch with the Renault team to set up an email address to handle the messages. You can write to Robert at fans@lotusrenaultgp.com The team assures me More…

Posted on February 10, 2011


Eleven of the twelve Formula 1 teams were out on track today at Jerez for the start of the second official F1 test ahead of the F1 season. Only HRT was absent. The team has opted to take part in a Pirelli filming event in Italy rather that test alongside the other teams this week in Spain. Felipe Massa set the pace in the new Ferrari on the first of his two days in the car. He did not get as much mileage in the car as team mate Fernando Alonso in Valencia after an oil leak. The afternoon session More…

Posted on February 10, 2011


The signs continue to be very positive from the doctors looking after Robert Kubica in Italy. The Polish driver, whose right forearm was partially severed in a rally accident on Sunday, has moved the fingers of his right hand and the doctors say the indications are that the blood flow is stabilised and therefore that the hand has been saved. The injury was described by the surgeon Igor Rossello as complex and occurring at 2 levels (segmental). This involved damaged to the bone, muscles, tendons, blood vessels and nerves. The forearm has been reconstructed (ie put back together) by fixing More…

Posted on February 10, 2011


The FIA Institute Young Driver Academy has selected the 12 drivers it wants to work with for its inaugural programme during the 2011 season. The 12 were selected from a shortlist of 18 race and rally drivers after a three day evaluation session in Austria under the supervision of ex F1 star Alex Wurz, who is the programme’s director. They will now follow a programme alongside their racing commitments lasting nine months, consisting of six separate workshops of between three and five days. Alongside Wurz, rally co-driver Robert Reid’s Elite Sports Performance group will work on the physical and mental More…

Posted on February 9, 2011


Renault has issued a statement tonight saying that both Bruno Senna and Nick Heidfeld will be given a chance to test the new car at this weekend’s Jerez test with a view to replacing team leader Robert Kubica, badly injured in a rally accident on Sunday. “Vitaly (Petrov) will drive the R31 on Thursday and Friday, as originally scheduled. For Saturday and Sunday, the team will give mileage to Bruno Senna and will also evaluate Nick Heidfeld, who is a potential replacement for Robert Kubica as a race driver. The exact running order for the weekend will be confirmed on More…

Posted on February 9, 2011


Today in London Williams will launch its share scheme to the media and the City. The bulk of the shares on sale belong to Patrick Head, who is obviously looking to release the equity he has held in the team since the late 1970s and will semi-retire. He will remain a director of Williams and of Williams Hybrid. Reuters reports that merchant bankers expect the stake to raise in the region of $50 million (£35 million). Frank Williams and Toto Wolff are holding their shares and are in for the long haul. Williams hopes to sell up to 27.39% or More…

Posted on February 9, 2011


Tomorrow (Thursday 10 February) sees the start of the second official F1 test at Jerez in Spain, a faster circuit than Valencia which hosted the first outing. Everyone except Hispania will have new cars on test. Already we have seen some interesting solutions on some of the cars as well as some high degradation on the new Pirelli tyres. Valencia was mainly about bedding in new technology, in Jerez we will start to see some performance. In this exclusive video, which I shot on Monday at Williams, technical director Sam Michael talks about the tyre degradation, the other cars and More…

Posted on February 8, 2011


The second official test starts on Thursday at Jerez in Spain and in the last couple of days we have had the launch of the new Virgin and Force India cars. Hispania has yet to launch, but it released some images of the car today, just in front of Force India. It also announced that it will not take part in the Jerez test but will instead test in Italy on a Pirelli filming day. Virgin held a showbiz event at the BBC TV Centre on Monday. The car is the second F1 product from the digital nerve centre at More…

Posted on February 7, 2011


‘Did you never think of stopping Robert (Kubica) from taking part in rallies?’ asked L’Equipe newspaper to Renault team boss Eric Boullier today. “Not for one second,” replied Boullier, “He could just as easily have been knocked over by a bus. Robert is a racer, he loves cars and he lives for nothing but racing. Competing is his essence. At 14 he slept in a kart factory because he loved racing. From the outset it was agreed among us that Robert would do rallies as well as F1. It was vital for him. His strength comes from that passion. I More…

Posted on February 6, 2011


Following seven hours of surgery this evening the doctor treating Robert Kubica has said that he believes the Polish driver will not know for one whole year whether his hand will regain functionality. I’ve shown it to medics here in London tonight and it is clear from Dr Igor Rossello’s words that the extent of the reconstruction is massive, forearm, tendons, blood vessels, nerves. Kubica’s hand was obviously severely damaged and there are ongoing risks.

Posted on February 6, 2011


Hand reconstruction specialists in Italy have been working hard for seven hours to save the functionality of Robert Kubica’s right hand tonight after a high speed accident in a rally car this morning. After the operation finished, Dr Igor Rossello explained that an amputation was a possibility but that following surgery “the hand is alive,” although he added that ” we will have to wait a week before we will know if it will survive. ” More surgery might well be needed. He added that a recovery period of a year was to be expected. Tonight I called a friend More…

Posted on February 6, 2011


Renault F1 driver Robert Kubica has been injured in a high speed accident while competing for fun in a rally in Italy. The Polish driver, who set the fastest time in last week’s F1 test in Valencia, has suffered a very serious hand injury, according to La Stampa in Italy, his right hand was crushed and surgeons are working to restore functionality. He has fractures to his right arm and leg, according to the BBC and is likely to be out for some time. According to the BBC he is unlikely to be ready to start the F1 season which More…

Posted on February 4, 2011


Today in Berlin the McLaren team launched their 2011 challenger and it certainly lived up to the pre-event hype with some very eye catching features. Historically when an F1 car looks this different from the rest it is either really good or the opposite. Rumours in the German media that McLaren had suggested that the McLaren would have the same radical exhausts as the Renault but this proved not to be the case…yet. It seems that other teams have known about what Renault was working on and are likely to have been trying it themselves to assess the gains. Engineering More…

Posted on February 4, 2011


This week’s test in Valencia threw up some interesting talking points, some of which give us pointers to the season ahead. It’s early days to be making predictions on who is fastest, but we learned quite a lot about the new Pirelli tyres, how they will affect the racing and what some of the key talking points will be from a technical point of view. It certainly looks like Renault has moved forward, that Mercedes has some work to do and that Red Bull and Ferrari are more or less where they were last season. But the devil is in More…

Posted on February 3, 2011


The first F1 test of the new season in Valencia test drew to a close today after three days with Robert Kubica setting the fastest time in the radical new Renault car. The Pole set a fastest lap of 1m 13.144s on the second lap of a six lap run, the fastest time of the week’s test. Interestingly the tyre drop off on the following lap was 1.4 seconds. Adrian Sutil was second fastest in the 2010 Force India car, setting his time on the second lap of a four lap run, ahead of Jenson Button in the 2010 McLaren. More…

Posted on February 3, 2011


When the Renault team launched their new F1 car earlier this week, one of the sponsors on the car, alongside Lotus, was Genii Business exchange. Genii Capital is the company which owns 100% of the Renault team and was set up by tech investor Gerard Lopez. Today it’s been announced that Sir Jackie Stewart has become a partner of Genii Business Exchange and will represent them in building new links with manufacturers and automotive companies. Lopez’ vision for the F1 team is to use it as a platform to develop his business activities particularly in the automotive and technology sectors. More…

Posted on February 2, 2011


Fernando Alonso set the benchmark time on his second and final day of this test in the new Ferrari F150 car at Valencia today, ahead of Sebastian Vettel, with Force India’s Paul di Resta third quickest. The Ferrari has covered an impressive 108 laps, over 200 laps in total (800 kilometres) in its first two days of testing. Alonso told Italian colleagues that he was astonished by the reliability and had never seen anything like it before, “Zero problems here, zero problems in Fiorano, zero problems on the dyno,” he said. “That’s not normal for a brand new car. I’m More…

Posted on February 1, 2011


The winter break ended today with the first day of Formula 1 testing on the permanent circuit in Valencia ahead of the 2011 season and the top of the time sheets looked much as they did in November with Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel on top. In total eleven teams were running today, all except Lotus, whose planned programme in the new car starts tomorrow. Although world champion Sebastian Vettel set the pace today in the new Red Bull RB7, not all teams were using 2011 specification cars. Force India, McLaren, HRT and Virgin were using last year’s models, aiming More…

Posted on February 1, 2011


Today four more teams revealed their new cars for the 2011 season and formal testing began in Valencia. It is a three day test, the first of four such tests before the start of the season on March 13 in Bahrain. All of the tests are important to evaluate the car, get it reliable by ironing out any glitches and start to push the development path. Another major part of the workload will be understanding how to get the Pirelli tyres working and mastering the new technology on the cars like the KERS and the adjustable rear wing. But the More…



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