Posted on February 20, 2013


McLaren have signed 2012 EuroCup Formula Renault 2.0 champion Stoffel Vandoorne to their Young Driver Programme. The 20-year-old, who scored four race wins and 11 podiums last season, has graduated to the Formula Renault 3.5 series this year and will compete for Fortec Motorsports. The Belgian joins fellow Formula Renault 3.5 driver Kevin Magnussen, son of former McLaren race driver Jan Magnussen, and EuroCup driver Nyck de Vries on the programme. The initiative is designed to build on the young drivers’ racing performances as they climb the motorsport ladder as well as providing guidance in the off-track skills demanded of More…

Posted on March 2, 2012


Mark Webber is in many people’s eyes facing a pivotal year in his career in 2012 but the man himself says he prepares to enter his 11th Formula 1 season “the best I’ve felt for a while” and with the aim of showing people he can rediscover the form that took him so close to the title two years ago. With Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel having very much not looked back since emerging on top against the odds in the three-way Abu Dhabi final race shootout of 2010, Webber, who led the now two-time champion German for much of More…

Posted on February 17, 2012


On Friday afternoon, fresh from the announcement that he had would be replacing Jarno Trulli in Caterham’s line-up for the new season, Vitaly Petrov took time out to speak to JA on F1 about his new deal and his aims for 2012. The Russian explains why he thinks he’s joined a team that’s going places and why it’s about time that people stopped labelling him as purely a pay driver.   First of all, congratulations on the Caterham drive. It must be a relief to finally have your future sorted and be definitely on the grid for 2012? “Thank you More…

Posted on February 8, 2012


Former Force India driver Adrian Sutil is set to appeal against his conviction for GBH handed down by courts in his native Germany last week. At the end of a two-day trial in Munich, the 29-year-old was found guilty of assaulting the co-owner of the Lotus F1 team, Eric Lux, in a Shanghai nightclub last April following the Chinese Grand Prix and given an 18-month suspended sentence and a fine of £166,139. But on Wednesday Sutil’s manager, Manfred Zimmermann, confirmed that his client was lodging an appeal against the decision. “We are convinced that this judgment is not appropriate,” Zimmermann More…

Posted on February 4, 2012


More than three years on from his last appearance behind the wheel of a Formula 1 car, and Dutchman Giedo van der Garde has been handed his biggest chance at motorsport’s top level yet after Caterham announced him as its reserve driver for 2012. The Tony Fernandes-owned team says the 26-year-old, who last year finished fifth in the GP2 Series, will make his debut for the squad in the forthcoming pre-season tests and then, like his predecessors in the role Fairuz Fauzy and Karun Chandhok, will “take part in a number” of Friday morning practice sessions during the course of More…

Posted on January 31, 2012


The forthcoming season is unquestionably an important one for Ferrari, and with just a few days to go until the launch of their 2012 car, the team’s race drivers have been completing their winter training programme in Lanzarote. The specialist pre-season training camp, in sunnier climes to the traditional northern European winter, has long been a staple of many teams’ preparations ahead of a new season, giving them the chance to put their drivers through some rigorous exercises as well as providing an opportunity for team building. Ferrari have chosen the Canary island for their training camp in recent days, More…

Posted on July 29, 2011


I don’t normally make much of driver milestones in F1; usually occasions when some kind of cake gets presented because no-one can think of anything better to symbolise a numerically important moment. But I’ll make an exception for Jenson Button’s 200th GP, about which we will hear a lot this weekend. It’s a lot of races and the narrative of his career, which started at Williams in 2000 is a real journey. From boy, to playboy, to frustrated racer, to world champion. Britain’s highest ever points scorer in F1, eight more points will take him to Number 4 in the More…

Posted on November 14, 2010


We had a fantastic entry of over 400 in two days for the competition to win a signed copy of my 2010 season review book JA on F1 2010: Five Rivals, One Champion. What was most impressive, as I’ve come to expect from the readers of this site, was the amount of guesses which were very close to the final figure. By our reckoning we had at least 12 entries which were within 2/100ths of a second, so it was far more competitive than the F1 qualifying session itself! But the winner is Brian M, entry number 336, who correctly More…

Posted on November 12, 2010


Lewis Hamilton was fastest in today’s second free practice session in the McLaren to add an interesting twist to the championship finale. Last season’s pole sitter at this Yas Marina Circuit, Hamilton set a time of 1m 40.888 to finish 3/10ths ahead of Sebastian Vettel, with Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber following on. Webber was just 1/000th of a second slower than the Ferrari. Hamilton looked quick all day in the McLaren, which has an updated F Duct rear wing this weekend. However he also courted controversy and was called to the stewards for cutting across the front of Bruno More…

Posted on September 9, 2010


As Ferrari arrives in Monza for its home Grand Prix, there is an interview with Fernando Alonso in the Gazzetta dello Sport, which makes for interesting reading. It’s a wide ranging discussion with Ferrari’s lead driver and in it he admits that he’s made mistakes this season, but that driving for Ferrari you are more under scrutiny. He says that he isn’t giving up on the championship, explains the key to being fast at Monza and touches on other interesting topics. Asked whether he agrees that he’s “made many mistakes” this year he says, “Yes. In the past I made More…

Posted on May 16, 2009


You will have seen some of the interviews Lewis Hamilton did this week, on Reuters, in the Times and on the BBC. The Times one caught my eye because it was an open expression of regret that Formula 1 has become a job and that he does not enjoy the political environment around him. Hamilton has slotted into the space left vacant by Michael Schumacher in Formula 1, clearly massively talented, unloved by his fellow drivers and always seeming to find himself tangled up in controversies. Senna occupied that space before Schumacher. The Times interview reveals the state of mind More…

Posted on May 9, 2009


Fernando Alonso is not enjoying his home Grand Prix and yesterday evening he had a major blow up with some of the Spanish journalists. It all relates to an autograph signing session on Thursday in the pit lane, where he was surrounded by photographers, so couldn’t get to the fans. He lost his temper and left the pits, then came back when the photographers had gone and signed the autographs. This was reported in El Mundo in particular as Alonso being rude to fans and showing arrogance towards poor people who’ve saved up to see their hero. Alonso was very More…

Posted on May 7, 2009


One of the striking images from the Bahrain GP was Fernando Alonso being carried from his car, having fought his way to the finish in seventh place depsite having no drinks bottle. That in itself is not unusual, but what made Alonso’s situation really severe was a further problem inside the car. “I had very specific problems with not having enough water in the car because I lost five and a half kilos in the race, this is not normal, ” said Fernando. “There was a problem with the radiator, we had some hot gas going into the cockpit. It More…

Posted on April 16, 2009


Williams driver Nico Rosberg is one of the main people to benefit from the appeal court decision into the legality of the diffusers. He believes that it will mean that the status quo in F1 will be maintained for a few more races, with Brawn, Toyota, Red Bull and Williams the top four teams. He has a car which appears to be consistently strong at all tracks, something you couldn’t say about last year’s car. Rosberg has his tail up at the moment because he has been the pace-setter in practice, strong in qualifying and the races. His performance in More…

Posted on March 28, 2009


There are some great characters among the journalists in the press office. Frank Schneider of Bild newspaper, the German equivalent of the Sun, is one of them. He’s got spiky hair and wacky glasses, is pure tabloid and always in trouble with one of the teams. Today the paper is likely to be in the dog house with McLaren Mercedes for this piece of Photoshop madness, “Hamilton and the silver snail” (as opposed to Silver Arrow) reflecting the fact that Lewis Hamilton is unlikely to feature in the top ten on the grid….

Posted on March 26, 2009


Here’s some video I shot of the Ferrari event this morning. After reflecting on his recent misfortunes in the early races of the season, Massa talks about his feelings on the proposed winner takes all points system. Before you ask, the lady on the right is Dr Lisa Lilley, Shell’s fuel doctor. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FnTEoi3kCDo]

Posted on March 18, 2009


Some fun responses from the drivers in the paddock at Jerez, where Brawn and Renault signed off their testing yesterday, responding to the news that the FIA has changed the system now rewarding the driver with the most wins as world champion. Nico Rosberg said, “What nonsense is this?”, Jenson Button, who could well end up benefitting from it said, “I understand the logic behind it and it’s interesting. It’s an incentive to try to win but it also looks risky to me. After 9 races you could get a driver who’s already won the title and can take the More…

Posted on March 9, 2009


One of the high points of the day was seeing Rubens Barrichello back in the F1 paddock wearing Brawn team gear. Or at least what passes for it at the moment, it’s Henry Lloyd grey sailing wear from the looks of things. No sponsors, it’s all very 1960s really having these unbranded people and an unbranded car. Anyway, Rubens looks great, pretty thin, like most of the drivers with the new KERS diet a must in 2009. It’s been a tough few months for him, not knowing if the team was going to survive and if it did, whether he’d More…

Posted on March 9, 2009


One of the most striking things about the way the testing has been going has been the performance of Toyota. In the hands of both drivers the car has proved reliable as well as fast over long runs, the ideal triple crown, really. You sense that this could be the year of the breakthrough for Toyota which is still looking for its first win in F1. Jarno Trulli certainly seemed to think that is the case, when I caught up with him this evening. “We hope so, we are optimistic,” he said. “Only the race results will tell us the More…

Posted on February 18, 2009


Kimi Raikkonen wound up his Bahrain test yesterday with a mixed day in which he set a competitive time, stopped for four hours with a KERS problem and then talked about the new Ferrari. This is an important car in Kimi’s career story because he really has to get on well with it if he is to stay with Ferrari in future. It’s no secret that he didn’t get on well with last year’s car and at times it left him scratching his head about whether he had lost his ‘gift’. Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali stressed at the end More…

Posted on February 17, 2009


Several F1 drivers took part in a televised poker tournament, broadcast here in Italy the other day, with Nico Rosberg emerging as the guy who knows when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em. He won the tournament ahead of Robert Kubica and Giancarlo Fisichella. Poker has become a craze for F1 drivers in the last couple of seasons, started by Fisi and Kubica, with a regular game going on the table in the Force India motorhome, featuring Fernando Alonso, Bernie Ecclestone, Vijay Mallya and Rubens Barrichello as regulars. The TV tournament was also contested by Eddie Irvine (who More…

Posted on February 13, 2009


I put a post out yesterday comparing the salaries of F1 drivers and footballers and it got a really good response and some very interesting comments. Several of the comments made the point that the investment required to get to F1 for an individual and his family is far greater than for a footballer. Valid point and this gives rise to a little theory about drivers I picked up through conversations with some senior engineers in the sport recently. So to move the discussion on a little I thought I would share it with you. When interviewing Ross Brawn for More…

Posted on February 12, 2009


This is a question I have noticed that lot of my readers have been asking on search engines which have led them here, so I thought I’d do a quick post with the answer. I had a word with a mate of mine who is an agent representing premiership footballers and I looked through my files on drivers and through the estimated figures in Formula Money, which has some good research into the financial side of the sport. The answer is that the top drivers earn far more than the top premiership stars, but of course there are far more More…

Posted on February 7, 2009


Red Bull launches the new car on Monday in Jerez and they seem to be getting quite excited about it in the build up to the event. We’ve had Mark Webber saying that it’s the best looking of the 2009 cars so far and their website is pretty gushing about it. It talks about the car being a creation from the drawing board (literally because he still uses one) of Adrian Newey. He’s overdue a real winner of a car and this year is a pretty vital one for the team as they have to take a serious step closer More…

Posted on February 6, 2009


Sebastien Bourdais has been given the nod by Toro Rosso for next season, alongside Sebastien Buemi. That’s three Sebastien’s in two seasons for that team, they seem to have a production line. I liked the look of Bourdais at the start and end of last season, but he fell away in the middle when Toro Rosso got the new car in Monaco and once it got the power boost of the latest spec engines from Ferrari around Silverstone time, Vettel was able to do far more with it. Towards the end of the year, however, Bourdais got his act together More…

Posted on February 5, 2009


Despite Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali’s suggestion last month that Michael Schumacher’s experience with slick tyres could be very useful to the team as they prepare their challenge for 2009, I see that Michael Schumacher said recently that he will not be driving the new F60. Schumacher, who turned 40 last month, has been a consultant to Ferrari ever since his retirement as a driver in 2006. He has driven as a super-tester on several occasions since then, but with restrictions on testing so severe now, he has decided that the work should be left to the race drivers. Schuey, More…

Posted on January 26, 2009


Nick Heidfeld, ever the pragmatist, is quoted today saying that if drivers are to be asked to take a pay cut, so be it, ” We have to adjust ourselves just like everyone else.” Actually Nick is pretty good value at approximately £2.8 million per season. It’s the £30 odd million Raikkonen gets or the £20 million Alonso scoops up, which give the eye catching numbers. The average, according to Formula Money, is £5.5 million. So what are the drivers worth in the current economic climate? I wrote a post here on Friday about the cost of superlicences and the More…

Posted on January 22, 2009


How can our sport identify and nurture the best driving talents and bring them to F1? What is the best way to evaluate a young driver? One of the eye catching lines Bernie Ecclestone came out with recently in an interview with my Financial Times colleague Christian Sylt was a dismissal of the revived Formula 2 series as merely something Max Mosley came up with when he was going through “a problem with his private life “ last summer. It was “all done for the wrong reasons,” he said. While it is true that F2 was announced in the midst More…

Posted on January 20, 2009


It’s been a busy couple of days in the F1 world, with three car launches and some more rhetoric in the escalating war of words between Bernie Ecclestone and the F1 teams association, FOTA. Let’s start with Renault. Fernando Alonso says he can win the championship with this car, he’s ecstatic about the wind tunnel figures, which say that the car should be very fast once they get it running against the opposition on a dry track. Alonso is once again in the strange position of starting a season at Renault, with a contract in his pocket to drive for More…

Posted on January 15, 2009


A brief note to add to the comments Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali made about the new rules for penalties handed out for changing an engine during a Grand Prix weekend. The rule now is that each driver has eight engines he can use during a season, but it’s up to him when he uses them. This means, certainly until the closing stages of the season, that if a driver sees a potential problem after qualifying and needs to change engine, he will be able to do so in parc ferme without taking a ten place penalty. The ten place More…

Posted on January 14, 2009


It’s great that F1 and its fans can once again focus on cars and racing, rather than chew through a diet of bad news about F1′s economic crisis. The crisis hasn’t gone away of course, but we are now in the season of hope; new cars, new dreams and new expectations. The Ferrari media-fest continues, now the protagonists have moved up to the Madonna di Campiglio ski resort for the annual press event known as “Wrooom!” Over the next couple of days Massa and Raikkonen will elaborate on the brief comments they made at Monday’s launch, but today was the More…

Posted on December 29, 2008


Formula 1 is setting itself up for a great on-track rivalry to match the classic Senna-Prost duel of the early 1990s. My good friend and colleague Pino Allievi is writing in La Gazetta dello Sport in Italy that Fernando Alonso has a four year contract with Ferrari starting 2011, but with clauses which allow that contract to be brought forward one year to 2010. This will bring Alonso into a head-to-head duel with his nemesis, Lewis Hamilton, with blood red Ferraris and Silver Arrows the weapons of choice. I have known Pino for almost 20 years and in that time More…

Posted on December 24, 2008


Apologies for the radio silence in the last week, a combination of a short holiday and a few technical problems while I was away. I’ve enjoyed this season of racing as much as any I can recall. There were many fantastic races and some strong performances. As always there are more drivers disappointed with their season than delighted but we had some breakthrough performances and a new elite has been established. Here is my choice for the Top ten of the year 1. Fernando Alonso – never gave up even when the Renault wasn’t working well. Always wrung the maximum More…

Posted on December 22, 2008


One of the enigmas of 2008 was the performance of Heikki Kovalainen. Hired by McLaren as a diplomatic team mate for Lewis Hamilton, he fitted in quickly and struck up an excellent rapport with the team, especially the boss Martin Whitmarsh. His contribution and team ethic surprised many people at McLaren and made them ask for more from Lewis. Heikki thinks of things many other drivers don’t think about, not for selfish reasons, like a Schumacher or a Senna, but trying to be helpful to the team. They love him. But in being unselfish he didn’t get the balance right More…

Posted on December 9, 2008


Jenson Button was out on Sunday night at the Autosport Awards. He tried to look relaxed about his predicament, but it was not easy and there was a fair bit of sympathy around the room for him. He renewed his contract with the Honda team in October and must now wait anxiously to see whether the team will be sold in time to take its place on the grid for the Australian Grand Prix on March 29th 2009, whether the new owner will want him in the car or whether another team offers him a ride. It is another setback More…

Posted on November 30, 2008


I read a fascinating article this weekend by a writer called Malcolm Gladwell, whose new book “The story of success” looks at what creates success in many walks of life. He describes some studies by psychologists into music students and concludes that however much talent someone has at something, what makes the difference between them becoming a stand out or an also ran is practice and opportunity. Amazingly the studies couldn’t find any “naturals” – people whose natural ability allowed them to be better than the rest on a fraction of the practice. It’s talent and practice which make a More…

Posted on November 28, 2008


With all the fuss about medals, you might not have paid much attention to the story of the three young Italian drivers, who got to test a Ferrari F1 car at Fiorano this week. But digging into what happened, it seems the test was a minor revelation. The top three finishers in the Italian F3 championship were invited to drive Kimi Raikkonen’s 2008 car on Wednesday and the guy who won the F3 championship, 18 year old Mirko Bortolotti, went two tenths under the lap record for that car at Fiorano, setting a 59.111s lap. Now this needs qualifying; the More…

Posted on November 26, 2008


One of the most dramatic moments in my F1 broadcasting career was the end of the Austrian Grand Prix in 2002, when Rubens Barrichello, having dominated qualifying and the race on Michael Schumacher’s bogey track, was ordered to move over on the final lap to let Schumacher win the race. This was the event which brought in the rule we have today; no team orders allowed. I called that race with Mark Blundell and we had discussed throughout the closing stages whether Ferrari would switch the cars. He said they would, I said they couldn’t. But they could and they More…

Posted on November 22, 2008


I was shocked to hear about Mark Webber’s savage accident today. On a fast descent on his bicycle, he collided head on with a 4WD vehicle while competing in his Tasmania Challenge. It sounds like a really nasty shunt and it left his right leg badly broken. He has had surgery to repair it, a metal pin inserted and it will be a lengthy rehabilitation. It’s probably along the lines of the surgery Barry Sheene had and although there is no bright side to an accident like this, it’s probably just very fortunate that it was not his left leg, More…

Posted on November 9, 2008


I note that at the recent Mercedes Stars and Cars bash in Stuttgart Lewis Hamilton alluded to a visit he received from his former team mate Fernando Alonso shortly after the race in Sao Paulo last week. The Spaniard came to offer him his congratulations on winning the world title and Hamilton says that Alonso even went so far as to hug him. By chance I was walking down the paddock ten yards behind Alonso as he left the Renault garage area in the open part of the paddock, heading down towards the tight, narrow warren which houses the ‘midfield’ More…

Posted on November 5, 2008


I talked a lot about luck during the broadcast on Sunday. Luck always has a role to play in big sporting events; the rub of the green, the ball hitting the crossbar, the engine failing three laps from the end. When the hard work has been done and the results are what they are to that point, a final race will often come down to a question of luck and so it proved on Sunday, with the rain showers, Glock’s gamble on dry tyres, which almost paid off and almost handed the title to Massa. Then the crucial piece of More…

Posted on November 3, 2008


Spare a thought for Felipe Massa. The Brazilian did everything he needed to at Interlagos, he won the race from pole position and as he crossed the line, Lewis Hamilton was in 6th place, needing fifth to take the title. Massa had 38 seconds lead over Hamilton. He was world champion elect. But on that final lap, Timo Glock was struggling on dry tyres and the rain began falling harder, just as McLaren expected it to. Their weatherman was under real pressure from the pit wall as he had predicted a heavy downpour and McLaren had instructed Hamilton to let More…

Posted on November 3, 2008


This year’s world championship has featured some extraordinary races and great drama. The endings of the races at Spa and Interlagos were among the most dramatic ever and the standard of the driving from Massa and Hamilton has been very high. But both have had error strewn campaigns. If you imagine what would have happened this year had Michael Schumacher been driving the Ferrari or Fernando Alonso the McLaren, you realise that the title would have been wrapped up comfortably by either man against the two title contenders we actually had. Of course Schumacher would not have been able to More…

Posted on October 31, 2008


It’s not often you can say this, but there are a couple of great drives available for next year, but no outstanding young talent to fill them There’s a seat going at Honda and one at Toro Rosso, but a glance across the ranks of the GP2 field , at the US scene and across the other ranks below F1 yields little. It’s intensely frustrating for the team bosses. They’d love to give a talented 22 year old a try next year, especially Honda, but it’s slim pickings. I suppose we shouldn’t be too surprised; we’ve seen the arrival of More…

Posted on October 31, 2008


David Coulthard bows out this weekend after 246 Grands Prix, slightly less than Rubens Barrichello, who doesn’t know yet whether this will be his last Grand Prix.  Rubens wants to stay at Honda and some of his performances lately have been strong as he drives home his candidacy. Jenson Button wants him to stay and says that Ross Brawn believes Rubens is driving better now than when he was at Ferrari.  Knowing when the game is up is the classic dilemma of the ageing racing driver. DC, like Alain Prost, Mika Hakkinen, Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher has acknowledged that More…

Posted on October 21, 2008


Felipe Massa’s task in Brazil is clear; do what he has done the last two seasons and dominate the race. He looks like he has his head down a bit now, after being outpaced not only by Hamilton but also by Raikkonen in China. However he’s amazing at Interlagos and will no doubt be inspired by his home crowd, but there will be a bitterness about the experience too and this could really undermine his weekend. It’s a psychological issue and I’ll be watching very closely to see how he deals with it. Massa knows that there is a very More…

Posted on October 14, 2008


You’ve probably never heard of him, but Will Stevens is the next Lewis Hamilton. At least that is the way his backers see it and they are supporting their decision with heavy investment. The 17 year old from Essex has a contract in his pocket with Honda, which lays out in intricate detail his path from karts to Formula 1. It has been put together for him by his management team of ex F1 drivers Mark Blundell and Martin Brundle, who took him on when he was just 14 years old. It’s only been done once before, but with spectacular More…

Posted on October 14, 2008


There is so much to talk about from the Japanese Grand Prix it’s hard to know where to start. We had Lewis Hamilton losing his head when all that was required was some pragmatism, Felipe Massa showing his ruthless side, Fernando Alonso and Renault again excelling and then a highly contentious penalty for Sebastian Bourdais, which gifted Massa and Ferrari an extra point reducing Hamilton’s lead to five points. Let’s start with Hamilton. Starting from pole, he knew that Raikkonen was a threat off the start line, but he also knew that Raikkonen was no threat to his championship position. 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