Posted on March 31, 2011


At last weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, Hispania Racing’s Narain Kartikeyan and Tonio Liuzzi became the first drivers to not qualify for a Formula 1 Grand Prix for almost a decade. There’s no shame in that; Niki Lauda and Nelson Piquet once failed to qualify for a race, in the days when there were far more teams than places on the grid. Having failed in its attempt to buy the Toyota cars, the team decided to build its own car very late. It failed to turn a wheel in pre season testing and was still being built when practice began on More…

Posted on March 29, 2011

The Strategy Report

Making the right decisions at the right time is crucial to success in F1. The race unfolds in a blur and it is very easy to make a bad decision. As we saw in Abu Dhabi last year a bad strategy call can cost a world championship and with so many new variables this season, the opening round of the 2011 World Championship, the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne was something of an experiment for all the teams in terms of race strategy, with the tyres being the dominant factor. We had no safety car this year in Melbourne, another More…

Posted on March 28, 2011


Over the winter we were told by teams and drivers that it was very hard to guess what the pecking order was simply from looking at testing. With so many variables like the DRS wing, KERS and fuel loads, establishing a clear picture was difficult during the four official tests. On top of that the McLaren car which turned up in Melbourne at the weekend was so utterly transformed, performance wise, from the one which stuttered through testing that it was unrecognisable. This shows that the scope for rapid development with these new rules is significant, at least in the More…

Posted on March 27, 2011


Sebastian Vettel won the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne from pole position, leading home Lewis Hamilton and Vitaly Petrov, who became the first Russian to stand on the podium in only his 20th Grand Prix start. It was an eventful, if not spectacular race. There was plenty of overtaking, not much of it due to the new adjustable rear wing, but rather to good driving and different levels of grip from the tyres from car to car. The weather was the best of the weekend, sunny with track temperatures of 27 degrees at the start of the race. At the More…

Posted on March 26, 2011


After qualifying today it became apparent that Red Bull’s drivers did not use KERS during qualifying. Asked why not, Mark Webber said that the team had internal reasons why not. But tonight it has emerged that the team may have a lightweight KERS system, which is designed for use off the startline only. This is necessary because KERS confers about 7 metres advantage on a car using it over one that isn’t on the start straight. Without any kind of KERS, the Red Bull would be vulnerable off the startline. Lewis Hamilton in the McLaren starting alongside Sebastian Vettel on More…

Posted on March 26, 2011


World champion Sebastian Vettel took pole position for the Australian Grand Prix today, the first race of the 2011 season. Lewis Hamilton, despite a KERS problem, was a surprise second ahead of Mark Webber. Meanwhile Hispania Racing, who hardly did any laps all weekend, missed the cut for qualifying and are out of the Grand Prix. It was a totally dominant performance from Vettel, who didn’t even use the KERS system, so left 4/10ths of a second in his pocket. Hamilton was 17km/h slower through Turn 11 than the Red Bull – that is pure downforce. He was 8/10ths off More…

Posted on March 25, 2011


I’ve managed to get my hands on the new trailer for the Senna movie due to go on general release in the UK on June 3rd. It captures the spirit and feel of the film and its haunting soundtrack by Antonio Pinto, which is one of the elements that lifts it to the status of a “classic” in my view. Last night, at the official Grand Prix Party downtown, I saw Bianca Senna, Ayrton’s niece and she spoke about the family’s happiness with the finished film and the effect it seems to be having on its audiences. It’s destined to More…

Posted on March 25, 2011


The first day of Free Practice in Melbourne was interesting, if not spectacular and two organisations who appeared to be struggling in testing look in better shape than anticipated. As well as showing good reliability all day, McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton set the top two times in the second practice session, prompting team principal Martin Whitmarsh to assert that the one second a lap gain the simulators indicated the team had found on the car was indeed real. He said that in his opinion this puts them in the group behind Red Bull, which was very fast More…

Posted on March 25, 2011


The FIA has announced the introduction of a registration system for team principals and key engineers and all the F1 teams have agreed to abide by it. This puts them on the same footing as the drivers. The scheme is a direct result of the Singapore crashgate scandal of 2008, where the Federation had no lever over then Renault team principal Flavio Briatore and senior engineer Pat Symonds over the deliberate accident in the Singapore Grand Prix. At the time only the team itself and the drivers were subject to FIA licences. Now if there were a repeat or an More…

Posted on March 24, 2011


The F1 paddock in Melbourne was a lively place this afternoon, despite the grey, overcast and at times rainy conditions. Among even the most battle hardened racers there is a real sense of excitement about this weekend and the season ahead. I think it’s because there are so many unknowns in terms of the racing and in particular the way the tyres will behave. It’s a lottery to some extent and the teams and drivers expect the unexpected. I spoke to one leading engineer who said that drivers need to understand that it’s okay to stay out on degrading tyres More…

Posted on March 23, 2011

The Strategy Report

There has been a lot of interest in the F1 Strategy Content I mentioned yesterday, which we will be producing this season, supported by F1 sponsor UBS. The Strategy Brief and Report will be cutting edge and incisive content which brings fans and anyone interested in Formula 1, closer to the sport. Anyone who saw last season’s final Grand Prix in Abu Dhabi will know the importance of strategy in F1; one bad strategy call cost Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso the world championship. This year, with new tyres from Pirelli set to change the way the races unfold, understanding the split-second More…

Posted on March 23, 2011


Yesterday I posted about Mark Webber relaunching the Tasmania Challenge, an extreme adventure race and today we have news of two other F1 drivers taking part in “extreme” activities ahead of the season opener in Melbourne on Sunday. First the world champion Sebastian Vettel has boldly gone into Webber’s back yard and visited a sheep station, even having a go at shearing a sheep in the process. This is a real statement – the sheep shearer is a symbol of Aussie manhood and Vettel (and Red Bull) are certainly having a laugh here with this stunt, perhaps defusing the tension More…

Posted on March 23, 2011


Mark Webber has relaunched his gruelling end of season adventure race the Tasmania Challenge, despite it almost costing him his career in 2008 when a serious bike accident broke his leg and shoulder. And he’s not ruling out taking part in it again. The event will take place on December 7-11. Webber has secured sponsorship from Swisse Multivitamins, an Australian brand and backing from the Tasmania Tourist Office and other sponsors like LG and Red Bull, which means the event will take place for the next three years. The five day event challenges competitors to kayak, trail, trek, mountain bike More…

Posted on March 22, 2011


It’s a grey, chilly morning in London. The traffic has been intense, the news programmes are full of the Libya intervention, Japanese earthquake, problems in Yemen and the prospect of the British chancellor bringing in a tax on private jets. And Karun Chandhok has just been given the reserve driver role at Lotus this morning. Formula 1 seems trivial in comparison to the seismic events going on in the world, however sport and politics have already overlapped this season with the cancellation of Bahrain Grand Prix and I’m sure it will overlap again as F1 forges paths into new markets More…

Posted on March 21, 2011


McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh says that some tough decisions have been taken following the team’s poor performance in winter testing and the result, he believes, is a one second per lap improvement in the car. Two of the key areas are the floor and the exhausts, where a simpler solution has been employed. Speaking in a Vodafone phone-in with leading F1 websites, he said, “I was not satisfied with where the car was from a reliability or performance point of view. We have made some dramatic changes to the car. There is some risk, but we hope that it pays More…

Posted on March 20, 2011


As a keen recreational cyclist, I love the story of McLaren working with British cycling champion Mark Cavendish and the Specialized cycle brand to produce a killer road bike on which he can compete this season in the great cycling classic events. It had a winning debut with Cavendish’s team mate Matthew Goss this weekend. Road bikes are all about being light and stiff at the same time. The S Works McLaren Venge, as it is called, is made using state of the art carbon fibre layering techniques and the frame weighs just 930 grammes! Cavendish who has been 15 More…

Posted on March 18, 2011


This season the performance of the Pirelli tyres is going to be a real talking point and absolutely central to the outcome of races. In order to help the fans, journalists and TV commentators identify which tyre is which they have colour coded the tyres for quick and easy identification. This will be useful in qualifying, to see whether anyone feels they can get through Q1 on a set of hard tyres (the difference is said to be as much as 1.5 secs on a lap between soft and hard) and in the race to see what tyres a driver More…

Posted on March 18, 2011


Tickets for the JA on F1 screening of the documentary film “Senna” in London on May 3rd, went on sale today and sold out in 40 minutes. Many thanks to all the readers who bought tickets and to those who missed out there will be another chance to get your hands on a pair of tickets in a competition nearer the time. This will be a rare opportunity for fans in the UK to see the film before the premiere. The film opened in Japan and Brazil last Autumn to rave reviews and recently won the Audience award for world More…

Posted on March 17, 2011


Following on from the FIA take on the Drag Reduction System, ahead of its racing introduction next week and the point of view of the fans, FOTA have been looking with interest at the debate here on the site over the last 24 hours. One source within FOTA made the following point to me this morning, which I wanted to post as part of the ongoing discussion, “The introduction of the moveable rear wing (Drag Reduction System – DRS) should be at least given a chance. Using an extreme logic, everything on a car could be considered to be “artificial”. More…

Posted on March 16, 2011


We’ve had a strong reaction from readers to the story I posted yesterday about the Drag Reduction System (DRS) or adjustable rear wing. Up until now the DRS has been a concept and more recently an item on the cars during test sessions. But as the racing season comes into view Charlie Whiting’s comments on the way the system will work have drawn many fans to feel negative about the idea. But there are also some who feel that the system should be given a chance. Here are two posts from readers, which I feel articulate the debate and deserve More…

Posted on March 15, 2011


FIA President Jean Todt and race director Charlie Whiting have written to F1 pass holders with some thoughts ahead of the new season, Whiting in particular going into some detail about how the FIA’s Race Control, which is under his direction, will manage the new adjustable rear wing, which he refers to as the DRS. This is an interesting step for the FIA, who have not previously made a communication of this kind in this way and particularly with Whiting and Todt presented together as there have been some whispers during the second half of last season that factions within More…

Posted on March 14, 2011


The long awaited JA on F1 screening of the award winning F1 documentary film Senna will take place on Tuesday 3rd May at 6pm, at the Curzon Mayfair in London. It will be a special preview screening for fans of this outstanding film, which has won over audiences in Japan, Brazil, USA and Italy. It’s very rare for fans to be given an opportunity to see the film in advance of the premiere. Keep an eye on this site over the next few days as the tickets will go on sale shortly. Proceeds from ticket sales will go to the More…

Posted on March 14, 2011


World champion Sebastian Vettel today committed himself to stay with the Red Bull team until the end of 2014 at least. Vettel is just 23 years old now and will still be only 27 at the end of this contract extension, traditionally seen as the age when a driver enters the peak period of his career. Fernando Alonso is in that period now; he turns 30 this year and will be 33 when Vettel’s contract runs out. By that time Alonso will have been in F1 for 14 years. The move will certainly put an end to stories about Vettel More…

Posted on March 14, 2011


I am very sad this evening to learn of the death of former Daily Mail F1 correspondent Ray Matts at the age of 70. Ray was one of the funniest people I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet; he loved F1 for the people, not particularly for the sport and certainly not for the politics. He came to the sport quite late, having been a football man for most of his career, but he did a good job of bringing out the drama in the goings on at the circuits. He didn’t know or care much about the technical side More…

Posted on March 13, 2011


Many thanks to the over 200 of you who entered predictions as to what the fastest lap time of the week in Barcelona would be from the McLaren and Mercedes cars, both of which needed to improve after disappointing early tests. As we’ve come to expect with our readers, there were many, many people who were within a few tenths, even hundredths of a second from the right answer. However most of you thought that McLaren would be faster than Mercedes, which is interesting. In fact Mercedes’ new update did the trick and Michael Schumacher set the fastest time of More…

Posted on March 12, 2011


The final day of pre season testing was very wet, as predicted, giving teams the chance to sample Pirelli’s wet weather tyres, but gaining little other useful data. That’s it now for testing until after December- following the final race in Brazil. The feeling is that Red Bull has the edge going into the first race, with Ferrari close behind and Mercedes came through the ranks to close up quite a bit of the second deficit they had to the front runners at the final test. Nico Rosberg ends the week with a positive frame of mind after the improvement More…

Posted on March 11, 2011


The penultimate day of F1 testing before the start of the new season, saw a number of teams trying to give both drivers a run in their cars, with heavy rain forecast for tomorrow. Michael Schumacher at the wheel of the updated Mercedes set the fastest time of the test so far with 1m21.268s. The team has been bringing the new update parts to the car in stages this week with exhausts and various aerodynamic parts, including a new front wing, being added until today it ran in final spec for the first time. The results looked pretty good, not More…

Posted on March 10, 2011


Today was the third day of the test at Barcelona; with just two more days of running before the new season starts and the testing ban kicks in the pressure is mounting for teams to find set-ups, incorporate new updates and get their cars sorted. Track temperatures of over 30 were welcomed by Pirelli and the teams today. Meanwhile rain forecast for Saturday will not help the teams much, although it will be useful to Pirelli in learning more about the intermediate and wet tyres. Sergio Perez set a very quick time of 1m 21.761 on a qualifying simulation, the More…

Posted on March 9, 2011


On the second day of the final F1 test at Barcelona Sebastian Vettel went for a time, setting the benchmark in the high 1m 21s, some way clear of his opposition. Up to this point Red Bull have played their cards pretty close to their chest in terms of outright pace. Now the others have something to aim for. I said at the last Barcelona test that engineers had told me they felt the RBR car was capable of a high 1m 21 and today it happened. There is clearly a tenth or two more to come as the lap More…

Posted on March 9, 2011


The final piece in the driving jigsaw for the 2011 season fell into place today as Hispania announced Tonio Liuzzi as its second driver alongside Narain Karthikeyan. It’s good that the team has gone for someone with speed and experience, rather than opt for a pay driver as they were forced to do last season, with Sakon Yamamoto. Liuzzi has raced for team principal Colin Kolles before and although his record in F1 is rather mixed, he undoubtedly has speed and an ability to get results. It’s just stringing results together consistently that he’s not managed to do in F1. More…

Posted on March 9, 2011


The final test session of the 2011 pre-season continues this morning in Barcelona. The test lasts five days, of which the teams are allowed to do four days running with a single car. It’s a crucial test for both Mercedes and McLaren, who would normally expect to be competing against Red Bull and Ferrari, but who appear to be behind after the tests so far. With extensive updates to their cars, this has to be the week when they close the gap to the pace setters. McLaren was on track yesterday and will have a break tomorrow, while Mercedes hit More…

Posted on March 8, 2011


The final test session before the start of the new F1 season kicked off today in Barcelona with most, but not all of the teams running today. Ferrari, Williams and Mercedes did not run and we have yet to see the new HRT car on track. Saturday will be the final day of F1 testing until after the end of the season in November. McLaren ran with a load sensing device on the nose of the car, with robust struts out to the outer parts of the front wing. This was a device to measure front wing flex and, given More…

Posted on March 8, 2011


Further to my post the other day about the action on track being more limited this season due to the wear rates on the Pirelli tyres and the limited tyre allocations, the FIA World Motor Sport Council has today adapted the Sporting Regulations to generate more track action and to give Pirelli a chance to evaluate new tyres. They have also said that a decision on whether the Bahrain GP can be rescheduled will not be made before May 1, on which date the Bahrainis need to let the FIA know whether a race can be run in 2011. With More…

Posted on March 7, 2011


It has just been announced that Force India’s case against 1 Malaysia, the owner of Team Lotus, for infringement of intellectual property, will be heard in the High Court in London on January 16 2012. Force India is also pursuing Lotus Technical director Mike Gascoyne personally as well as Aerolab, the wind tunnel where the two teams were working on cars when the alleged IP leakage is said to have occured. This may prove to be Lotus’ third appearance in the High Court in 12 months, following the one starting two weeks today between Group Lotus and 1 Malaysia Group More…

Posted on March 4, 2011


When I was at the Barcelona test recently I had a few discussions with engineers about some of the ramifications of the behaviour of the new Pirelli tyres. The Italian firm has said that its brief is to create more short-lived tyres, prompting more pit stops, but one of the interesting possible side effects of that is that drivers will spend less time on track during practice and qualifying, despite needing time to perfect adjustable wing and KERS usage. There is always a trade off in practice between saving tyres and getting enough set up time. Also with testing being More…

Posted on March 2, 2011


Today a little piece of F1 history was made as the Williams F1 team floated on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. The listing, of 2.4 million shares, was fully subscribed at €25 per share, which means that €60 million has been raised, principally for engineering guru Patrick Head, whose stake in the team has reduced to just 5%. This values the team at €250 million. The shares started trading on the Frankfurt Borse this morning and were slightly down after the first hour of trading, according to Reuters. Williams chairman Adam Parr was there to see it. He said, “This listing More…

Posted on March 1, 2011


We had an interesting, if not entirely intentional, debate here on JA on F1 over the weekend about women drivers in F1 and today F1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has given an interview to the official F1 website in which he says that he envisages that Formula 1 could have a female CEO, “probably in three to five years” from now. He builds up to this by saying that, “I am sure that not so long from now 50 percent of the decision makers in the economy and politics will be women. Women have always had a strong influence, and have More…

Posted on March 1, 2011


Red Bull Racing has announced today that it has signed an interesting new partnership deal with Infiniti, the luxury Nissan brand, which is part of the Renault family. Reuters has valued the deal at around £8 million. The deal is principally a branding play at this stage; Red Bull is very high profile, its cars are winning races and championships, its drivers are always in the news for a multitude of reasons and Infiniti will have branding on the cars and drivers during the season. If performance in testing is anything to go by, rival drivers will spend plenty of More…



COUNTDOWN TO NEXT RACE
Strategy Report
Innovation and Technology brought to you by TATA Communications
Senna DVD
Download the Chequered Flag Podcast here
MTS
Darren Heath
Sport Right Now