Posted on February 27, 2012


Marussia has become the latest team to run into problems with its 2012 car, the Russian-backed team tonight announcing that its new MR01 has failed the final FIA crash test and as a result forced it out of this week’s final pre-season test. The Banbury-based outfit had been hoping to roll out the first car to be built in-house in time for the start of Thursday’s four-day test, having run with last year’s machine during the first Barcelona test last week. However, those plans have now been scuppered following news that the MR01 has failed the 18th and final crash More…

Posted on November 5, 2009


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

Posted on November 1, 2009


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

Posted on October 13, 2009


The Brazilian Grand Prix is always a hard one to predict, just ask Lewis Hamilton. But when rain is forecast, anything can happen. And this weekend is not looking great. Showers are forecast for Friday and Saturday and on race day they are talking about thunderstorms. On each day there is a 60% chance of rain. Last year the rain played havoc with the race and set us up for one of the most thriling climaxes to a Grand Prix in years. It started to rain in the closing stages and the front-runners didn’t want to take any chances so More…

Posted on October 3, 2009


The stewards have made a decision on the drivers who failed to observe the yellow flags during qualifying in Suzuka today. We have just been told that there is to be a five place drop on the grid for Jenson Button, Rubens Barrichello, Fernando Alonso, Adrian Sutil and Sebastien Buemi. In an unrelated matter, it seems that Heikki Kovalainen may have to move back five places also due to the need to change gearbox after an accident. Button and Barrichello are due to speak shortly. Ross Brawn confirmed that neither lifted for the yellow flags which were put out to More…

Posted on September 24, 2009


Bernie Ecclestone has said in the last few days that he thinks that the penalty meted out to Flavio Briatore by the FIA World Motor Sport Council was too harsh. Ecclestone is a member of the WMSC himself and has a personal interest because Briatore is a close friend and business associate with whom Ecclestone spends his evenings at race meetings. Now, it seems their relationship is broken. Speaking at an LG press conference in Singapore today he said, “He’s not talking to me, I don’t know. He thinks I should have defended him, which I couldn’t.” But beyond that, More…

Posted on September 15, 2009


Who would want to swap places with Renault’s Director of Engineering, Pat Symonds? The veteran, whose F1 career goes back almost 30 years to the Toleman team, is the only senior engineer to have worked with Senna, Schumacher and Alonso and is always fascinating on the subject. It has been a career of great distinction. He hasn’t worked for Ferrari, Williams or McLaren but he has helped a new team break their stranglehold on F1 glory, with Benetton in the 1990s and Renault in the 2000s. Both phases brought double world championships and although there was a whiff of controversy More…

Posted on September 10, 2009


Fernando Alonso spoke today at his usual Thursday afternoon press briefing about the investigation into the events of last year’s Singapore Grand Prix, which he won thanks to a safety car triggered by his team mate Nelson Piquet’s accident. “I’m very surprised. I cannot imagine this situation, so as I said, I’m surprised, and it’s time to think in another job, in Monza and the next grand prix because I’m not spending any more time on this.” He added: “I will not comment too much about this, as the team said we will not comment. For me it’s not even More…

Posted on August 27, 2009


This afternoon I sat down, along with various press colleagues, with Fernando Alonso, Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg and all three gave very interesting insights into their thought processes at this important time in the driver market. It’s quite possible that all three drivers will move teams for next year. Widespread rumour since last Christmas has Alonso going to Ferrari (either next year or 2011), Kubica has a choice of Williams, Renault and Toyota, Rosberg will probably either stay put or move to McLaren Mercedes. This stage of the season is all about trying to unpick the lock, to figure More…

Posted on August 23, 2009


It’s 8-30am, I’ve just arrived at the track, travelling through empty streets, the city still coming to life. The track is down the end of the main avenue which leads to the docks. There are boats in the marina, including two super yachts owned by McLaren’s Mansour Ojjeh and Force India’s Vijay Mallya. They are trying but this place is still more Tilbury Docks than Monaco. There haven’t been many people here all weekend, the crowds in the stands have been sparse, not Turkey levels, but still pretty low. The recession is blamed for the low attendance and also the More…

Posted on August 22, 2009


Pity poor Luca Badoer; he pounds around test tracks at the wheel of championship winning Ferraris for years, dreaming of his chance to race one of the blood red cars in a Grand Prix. When the call comes from President Montezemolo he has ‘no choice’ in his words but to accept and travel to Valencia, to a track he does not know, to qualify and race a car for the first time in ten years when he hasn’t been able to test. The dream turns into a nightmare. In third practice, the last one before qualifying, he was just under More…

Posted on August 22, 2009


Lewis Hamilton took his first pole position of the season and the 14th of his career at Valencia today, beating his McLaren Mercedes team mate Heikki Kovalainen into second place. Rubens Barrichello was third for Brawn GP. Sebastian Vettel was fourth with Jenson Button fifth. The other title contender, Mark Webber was down in 9th place. Hamilton tacked the session with great confidence, doing only one run and saving a set of tyres in the second part of qualifying. He said afterwards that it has been a long time since he had the car to do this. But he was More…

Posted on July 16, 2009


On my way back from the airport on Sunday night my taxi driver was talking about Mosley this and Ecclestone that and I asked him if he was interested in other sports. He was. So then I asked him if he could name the regulatory and commercial bosses of any of those sports. He could not. These larger than life characters have actually taken over the limelight from the drivers this season, which is extraordinary but it looks like that is about to end and the focus for the final eight races will be on who is going to win More…

Posted on July 15, 2009


Many people are expecting white smoke today with the signature of the new Concorde Agreement, which will being stability to Formula 1 after months of wrangling. But it will not be today. What is scheduled for today is a meeting of the financial directors of the FOTA teams plus those of Williams, Force India and the three new teams. This meeting in Geneva is set to finalise financial details of the cost reduction mechanism. As for the Concorde Agreement, the various parties are edging closer to signature. Both team representatives and FIA representatives say that there are no negotiating points More…

Posted on July 14, 2009


We await confirmation that Jaime Alguersuari will replace Sebastien Bourdais at Toro Rosso from next race onwards. The 19 year old will become the youngest ever F1 driver, joining the ranks of Sebastian Vettel and Mike Thackwell in that list of teenagers who hit the big time. Apart from having a name which commentators will curse as it hardly trips off the tongue, Alguersuari will be up against it a bit at Budapest, which is quite a technical track on which to make a debut. He has only had one outing in an F1 car so far, at the Portimao More…

Posted on July 13, 2009


One of the great success stories of this season has been the arrival at the front of the grid of the Red Bull team under Christian Horner. The team has been building up steadily over the last few years since Red Bull took over the former Jaguar team. Horner has assembled a talented technical team, bringing in Adrian Newey to head the design department and other less well known but equally important people like Neil Martin, who heads the strategy group. People may well look back on this 2009 season as the year when the double diffuser issue meant that More…

Posted on July 12, 2009


If Silverstone weekend was all theatre and drama, regarding the rebel teams battle with the FIA, this weekend has been much calmer and more subdued. Possibly because of the cold, wet weather. But behind the scenes in the warm and dry motorhomes there has been a great deal of activity. Yesterday I heard that the eight FOTA teams had aligned themselves with CVC, the money men behind F1 and that the position now is that if they cannot find the agreement needed with the FIA  to get the new Concorde Agreement signed this week, then they will breakaway. FOTA had More…

Posted on July 12, 2009


Mark Webber took the first win of his long career today in commanding style, surviving a drive through penalty for ramming Rubens Barrichello at the start to take the chequered flag and give Red Bull its third win of the season. Webber’s Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel was second and Ferrari’s Felipe Massa third. We thought that Silverstone may have been a turning point of the season, with the almost brand new Red Bull car which dominated the weekend. Today we got confirmation that it was – and it is not just because of the high speed corners that More…

Posted on July 11, 2009


A lot of the teams this evening are talking about tomorrow’s race being one of those wet/dry, chaotic races with loads of pit stops as the conditions change. I’m sure that Mark Webber would like a nice uncomplicated race, in the dry, so that he could convert his well-earned pole position and car advantage into a first GP victory. Meanwhile plenty of drivers with nothing to lose, like Lewis Hamilton, Heikki Kovalainen and Adrian Sutil will be going for it, taking risks and strategy gambles in the hope of nicking an unexpected win. Sutil did an amazing job today, not More…

Posted on July 11, 2009


Sebastian Vettel was not his usual chirpy self this evening. I caught up with him at 4-30pm local time with some other media colleagues and fired a few questions at him. I’ve heard from other teams’ engineers that the data shows he’s been a little tentative this weekend. No-one would blame him for being tentative in the insane, changeable conditions we had this afternoon, but generally it seems that the occasion may have got to to him a little bit. This is totally understandable. He has inherited the mantle of Germany’s sporting hero from Michael Schumacher and the country doesn’t More…

Posted on July 11, 2009


Mark Webber drove a nerveless final lap in qualifying today to take the first pole of his 128 race career. This was one of the most sensational qualifying sessions in recent memory, with intermittent rain falling throughout the second and third sessions, making tyre choice and timing of runs absolutely critical. The most extreme part of the session was qualifying 2, where there was a window of about three minutes to be on the slick tyre as the track began to dry out, before it started to rain again. Webber, Rubens Barrichello and Sebastian Vettel all got through safely but More…

Posted on July 11, 2009


Bernie Ecclestone has come out with the strongest indication yet that his old friend and colleague Max Mosley is in the final months of his FIA presidency and will stand down. Speaking to his favourite journalist, Ed Gorman in the Times, the same paper to which he gave the fateful ‘Hitler got things done’ interview, Ecclestone says that Mosley will follow through on his promise when his current term is up in October, “I have no doubt in my mind, as long as I’ve known Max, he’s always done what he said he would do. He’s an honourable person. I’ve always More…

Posted on July 10, 2009


Former world rally champion Ari Vatanen has confirmed that he will run for the FIA presidency in October. Whether he will run against the incumbent, Max Mosley is unclear at the moment. After a week of intense negotiations it seems that the Formula One Teams Association is making it a condition of signing the new Concorde Agreement that Mosley stands by his promise at the recent FIA world council meeting to stand down at the end of his term in October. If the teams sign the new Concorde Agreement and a legally binding document to work together to reduce costs More…

Posted on July 10, 2009


The politics which have dominated Formula 1 appear to be more under control now and as a result the talk here in the paddock is all about drivers movements for next season. Normally this subject is top of the agenda at this time of year, but teams and journalists have been too tied up dealing with possible breakaways. One move which seems to be on the cards is Nico Rosberg to BMW in place of Nick Heidfeld. The 24 year old is in his fourth season with Williams and clearly feels it is time to move on. He said yesterday More…

Posted on July 10, 2009


The Force India team had an embarrassing moment this morning when a legal dispute spilled over into the paddock as German police officials tried to impound their motorhome and other assets. It relates to a dispute with a supplier over the motorhome. It happened at breakfast time and guests of team sponsor Medion were forced to go to the Williams motorhome for a coffee. The team were able to compete in both practice sessions and it has indicated that the situation has been resolved and there will be no more disruptions this weekend. Giancarlo Fisichella had a strong first practice, More…

Posted on July 10, 2009


McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh confirmed today that the team will reduce development of this year’s car after the next race in Budapest and throw most of its efforts into ensuring that it has a race winning car in 2010. Speaking to Radio 5 Live today, Whitmarsh said, “This race and Hungary we will have a big push from the team and let’s hope it puts us in the hunt. Then inevitably we have to put effort into making sure we have a very fast car next year. There’s a lot of effort as the car will be radically different More…

Posted on July 9, 2009


Last night it looked as though World War Three had broken out again between the F1 teams and the governing body, but having got to the Nurburgring and heard both sides, it seems to me that, bizarrely, a lasting solution is close. Despite the fire and brimstone of various statements over the last 48 hours, in fact the two sides are close to signing a new Concorde Agreement which would return stability to the sport. This document would also be signed by venture capital firm CVC, who are majority shareholders in the commercial rights holder, with Bernie Ecclestone. CVC and More…

Posted on June 26, 2009


Max Mosley has fired off another letter to the members of the FIA World motor sport council, in the wake of negative comments from FOTA members over the deal struck on Wednesday. Mosley wrote to FOTA president Luca di Montezemolo yesterday demanding an apology for the ‘misleading’ statements he and other FOTA team bosses had made. No apology was made at the FOTA press conference, however Montezemolo did write back to Mosley yesterday saying that he had read Mosley’s comments with amazement and pointed out how his observations had been misunderstood. Montezemolo went on to reaffirm respect for all the More…

Posted on June 17, 2009


It was Alfa Romeo who won the first ever F1 Grand Prix at Silverstone, Ferrari won the second. Will Sunday see the Scuderia claim victory in the final race there? Never say never, but they were not as competitive in Turkey as many had imagined they would be. However for Silverstone they have some upgrades for the car which were tested in a straight line aerodynamic test on Monday by Felipe Massa. The Brazilian was driving a new chassis, which has a lower centre of gravity and is slightly lighter than the previous one, like the chassis Raikkonen has been More…

Posted on June 15, 2009


We are currently waiting for the FOTA dossier, which was promised last week, detailing all the ways in which F1 is going wrong under the current FIA administration. It now sounds like we might get two dossiers, the other from the FIA itself detailing its dealings with FOTA and what it describes as ‘hardliners’, looking to scupper the process. It’s strange because you hear from both sides that there is a detailed process of meetings going on behind the scenes and yet above the surface the mudslinging is in full flow. The FIA issued a statement on Monday morning saying More…

Posted on June 13, 2009


Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo made a high-profile visit to the Le Mans 24 hours today and was the official starter of the event. His visit had been planned for some time and was highly symbolic; the Le Mans 24 hours is not sanctioned by the FIA and with the fall out over Formula 1 entries for 2010 Montezemolo was keen to show that there is life beyond the current set up in F1. FOTA has made it clear in the last 24 hours that it wants to see reform of the way in the FIA is run and is More…

Posted on June 11, 2009


Before the Turkey weekend I flagged up that I was interested in Toyota’s performance after their alarming slump in Monaco and to some extent, Spain. Well Jarno Trulli had a great weekend, qualifying 5th and racing strongly against Nico Rosberg to finish fourth. Toyota are looking pretty good in third place in the championship, although you can see them possibly dropping one place to fourth when Ferrari get motoring in the second half of the season. What was hugely encouraging for Toyota in Istanbul, though, was that they kept the Ferraris behind them all weekend, despite the massive gains the More…

Posted on June 10, 2009


Details of the 2009 motorsport business forums have been announced. There will be three events this year, the traditional event in Monaco in December, the Middle East event in the days before the Abu Dhabi GP in October and a US event in Orlando in December. The forums have evolved over the past five years into the leading event for discussion and debate on the major issues around the world of motorsport business. The wide ranging programme covers every area of commercial activity in the sport from sponsorship acquisition and exploitation to championship management. I have been asked to host More…

Posted on June 8, 2009


Following on from my earlier post, Frank Williams said some very interesting things on Saturday afternoon, so here they are in more detail. He covers the current 2010 entry crisis, explains Max Mosley’s motivation, looks at the problem of engine supply if there is a split and talks about possibly housing one of the new teams on his site. What is the situation with FOTA, you are suspended, will you go back? “We are out of FOTA, expelled. Normally when you are expelled, you don’t go back to school or not that one, anyway. In or out, that’s fine. If More…

Posted on June 6, 2009


Sebastian Vettel was fastest in all three qualifying sessions today at Istanbul and picked up his second pole position of the season for Red Bull. Pole position changed hands three times in the final moments of a terrific session. First Mark Webber grabbed it, then Jenson Button went faster, but Vettel got the lap which mattered. Jenson Button again had a quiet build up, with various set up issues to be resolved in practice, but delievered a big lap at the end to start alongside Vettel on the front row. But the early indications are that the Brawn may have More…

Posted on June 5, 2009


There have been some interesting suggestions in your comments as to the line up we may see on the grid next year, some of you clearly have some time on your hands to theorise and put drivers in cars. I’m not going to do that, but I am going to think about what the F1 grid might look like in terms of teams next year and take a snapshot of where we are with this delicate situation. The starting point is the teams who are legally obliged to take part next year. Williams acknowledges that it is one and Force More…

Posted on June 4, 2009


I’ve just been sent a press release from a German company, which owns the remnants of the Super Aguri team and also the Brabham brand. They have announced that they have entered next year’s world championship as Brabham. This is a very strong deja vu for me. I started my professional career in Formula 1 in 1990 with the Brabham team. I was the team’s press officer for two seasons. Our drivers in 1990 were David Brabham and Stefano Modena, the team principal was Herbie Blash (now on the FIA race direction team with Charlie Whiting) and it was owned More…

Posted on June 2, 2009


One of the teams I will be keeping a very close eye on this weekend is Toyota. When I went to the pre-season test at Barcelona, Toyota was one of the teams you would say was in the best shape. Jarno Trulli could barely contain his delight that he had what appeared to be a very good car, after several frustrating years. And so it proved in the first four races, where the team averaged 6.6 points per race, putting them a strong third in the championship. But since then they have really struggled and have blanked twice, in Spain More…

Posted on May 31, 2009


I’ve been fascinated by the coverage of the FOTA teams’ entry for next year’s world championship in the last couple of days. On Friday morning I was saying that something was going to come out of FOTA which was quite different from the convergence position with the FIA that was being widely reported. And so it proved. Then when the FOTA statement was made most commentators seemed to see it as Ferrari and the other eight teams signing up after all, which it was some way from being. Ferrari obviously felt quite frustrated with this and so they issued one More…

Posted on May 27, 2009


At a meeting of FOTA teams in London today it was decided to suspend the membership of the Williams team, after they broke ranks and submitted an entry to the 2010 world championship. “Fota’s decision, although regrettable, is understandable,” said team boss Frank Williams. “As a company whose only business is F1 with obligations to our partners and employees entering was unquestionable. In addition we are legally obliged under our contract with FOM and the FIA to participate in the world championship until the end of 2012.” Williams acknowledged that the suspension of the team is temporary, pending ongoing negotiations More…

Posted on May 15, 2009


The meeting between the F1 teams and FIA president Max Mosley and commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone failed to reach any conclusions today, but Ferrari has followed through on the threat of mounting a legal challenge. An injuction has been filed with the courts in France, where the FIA headquarters are situated, and will be heard on Tuesday. If it fails then the negotiations can move swiftly towards finding agreement on a £40 million budget cap and from there setting the details of what is included (engines, drivers, specific research programmes?) and the process for checking the accounts. It sounds More…

Posted on May 14, 2009


As the pressure builds in the powerplay between the FIA and the manufacturers, led by Ferrari, the Scuderia continues to push the idea that F1 is what it is today because of their unbroken participation over 60 years. On the official Ferrari website they have posted a piece called, “The pride of making F1 great” and they go on to list all the great moments, which make up the sport’s history, of which Ferrari was the central protagonist. The intro to the piece reads, “Since the year 1950, when the modern Formula 1 World Championship was held for the first More…

Posted on May 13, 2009


There have been some fantastically interesting comments in the last couple of days on the Ferrari story. Most people think F1 cannot survive without Ferrari, but I sense maybe 20-25% think it can. To me this boils down to an ideological debate about what F1 should be and how it should be governed. The manufacturers, having failed to achieve any change in the governance of the sport the last time they united – in 2004 – are now trying to finish the job off, knowing that this time Ferrari is on their side and is not going to be picked More…

Posted on May 13, 2009


Renault is to be the next manufacturer to declare that it will withdraw from Formula 1 if the FIA does change the rules as voted by the FIA world council on April 29th. Following on from Toyota on Sunday and Ferrari yesterday, the French manufacturer will argue that the two tier system and the budget cap are not the basis for a sport in which it wishes to participate. BMW are expected to follow shortly. I would not expect Mercedes to take their place in this queue, as they are more likely to keep their heads down after the recent More…

Posted on May 12, 2009


Ferrari today decided to test Max Mosley’s assertion that “Formula 1 can survive without Ferrari” It issued a strongly worded statement following a meeting of the Board of Directors which said that it would not enter the 2010 F1 world championship if the rules voted through by the FIA world council on April 29th are not changed. It noted that the April 29th meeting was convened to hear a disciplinary matter (the McLaren lie-gate scandal) and that the decisions taken there brought into being a two tier system of rules “based on arbitrary technical rules and parametres.” It goes on More…

Posted on May 11, 2009


I’ve always been a huge Steve McQueen fan. I love the film Le Mans and I share his passion for moto cross bikes – if you haven’t seen the documentary he made about bikes, “On any Sunday”, treat yourself, it’s magnificent. One of my proudest possessions is a TAG Heuer Monaco watch in the Gulf colours of the Porsche car which McQueen races in the film. You get the idea… Anyway, someone at TAG Heuer has had the idea of putting Lewis Hamilton into a clip with McQueen from the film and I saw it today for the first time. More…

Posted on May 11, 2009


Vijay Mallya is bobbing in the harbour on his motor yacht, Flavio Briatore will have zoomed off in his private jet, like most of the drivers but the winner of today’s Grand Prix, was on the Easyjet flight to Luton with his team, Red Bull, Force India, me and a load of sunburned, happy fans. Most of them couldn’t believe their eyes that Ross was on the same flight and he had to pose for photos with many of them. His only token bit of elitism – he paid €12 for Speedy Boarding! Ross has always been a team player More…

Posted on May 10, 2009


The latest development in the stand-off over the budget cap and new regulations for 2010 is that Toyota’s John Howett has told the Italian media that if the conditions for competing in 2010 do not change, then “Toyota will not sign up for the world championship.” Howett went on to say that the company was evaluating a return to Le Mans 24 hours among other possible alternatives. Howett is the number two in FOTA, the team’s organisation. He is vice-president working underneath Ferrari’s Luca di Montezemolo. It would appear that Howett is articulating what all the other manufacturers are thinking. More…

Posted on May 9, 2009


Adrian Newey, the Red Bull technical director is back in the F1 paddock this weekend after a few weekends based at home, developing updates for the car. Newey is a fascinating character. On the surface he looks like a real quiet, studious person, but when you see him in action and talk to him you realise that he is one of the most competitive people in Formula 1, drivers included. He has that rage to compete, which marks out the real champions. It was very much in evidence during his Leyton House, Williams and McLaren days, but after many seasons More…

Posted on May 7, 2009


Today had two distinct parts for Lewis Hamilton, but they both had to do with breaking eggs. In the morning he took part in a Vodafone promotion whereby the public challenged him to do something and he ended up making a spanish omelette. I know, it’s not an obvious pr activity for a Formula 1 driver, but it’s better than being suspended on a harness above a stage, as he was in Turkey last year, again by Vodafone. In the afternoon he realised the truth of the saying “You can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs”, as the fall out More…

Posted on May 6, 2009


Kimi Raikkonen will be in Regents Street, London this morning, opening the new Ferrari store. It’s a big site, I went past it yesterday and it’s full of Ferrari branded goodies. It’s amazing to think that it’s a year since Raikkonen last won a Grand Prix. He dominated the Spanish GP last season from pole, but since then he’s failed to make the top step. He would probably have won in Canada if he had not been hit in the pit lane by Lewis Hamilton and he was on target in France until his exhaust started burning a hole in More…

Posted on May 5, 2009


This weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix at Barcelona will almost feel like the start of the season again, with so many teams bringing substantially updated cars. In most cases this is a response to the ruling that double diffusers, as used on the Brawn car, are legal. It will be fascinating to see who goes up and who goes down. Here’s my take on the things to look out for. Ferrari The reigning constructors’ champions have had a disastrous start to the 2009 campaign in terms of results and the car has not shown strong performance at any track, really. They More…

Posted on April 30, 2009


Good week for: Kimi Raikkonen – the 2007 champion has bought a £20 million dream home on the outskirts of Zurich, where he can shut the door behind him and not give another thought to slow Ferraris, KERS or the media. Ice cream anyone? Honda – Despite seeing the car it paid for winning three out of four races, the company says that ditching the F1 programme will help it stay profitable in 2009. KERS – After lots of wobbles as teams lost confidence in KERS in China, in Bahrain it was proven to be a ‘must have’ for any More…

Posted on April 30, 2009


Yesterday’s news from the FIA world council was the appetiser, but today comes the main dish, the real story; the announcement of the full budget cap plan, which is set to redraw the business model of Formula 1. It will be the first time in the sport’s history that the amount a team can spend is controlled. You could argue that this should have happened years ago, before the manufacturers drove the costs through the roof. The teams have already been informed of the details but are not willing to comment ahead of the official announcement. My understanding is that More…

Posted on April 29, 2009


Today’s verdict by the World Motor Sport Council to issue a three race ban for McLaren, but to suspend it for 12 months has received a fairly balanced reaction. Given the original incident, where Trulli was allowed to pass Hamilton behind the safety car in Melbourne, what happened in the stewards’ room there and in Kuala Lumpur and what has transpired since with McLaren going out of its way to demonstrate that it has accepted mistakes were made and changed the governance of the team, this is a well balanced and light judgement. To go further would have been excessive. More…

Posted on April 29, 2009


There seems to be a division of opinion about what is going on between Brawn GP and Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Group. There are stories that a deal has been done for this year and next, while there are strong suggestions coming out of the team that other parties are interested and Branson should pony up some more serious money if he wishes to go forward. Branson was in the Bahrain paddock at the weekend, holding a press conference to announce that Rubens Barrichello and Niki Lauda had both paid €200,000 to fly into space on the Virgin Galactic spaceship. More…

Posted on April 28, 2009


Jenson Button took his third win of the season on Sunday in fine style. This was a victory which demanded a great deal of care, because he didn’t have the fastest car out there on the day, not even on the qualifying day, even though the Brawn had appeared to have the legs of the others in Friday practice. He also had to be aggressive on the opening lap, to regain the place lost to Lewis Hamilton at the start. F1 fans around the world are now debating whether Button can capitalise on the superb start he has made to More…

Posted on April 27, 2009


Bahrain was a good weekend for the McLaren team. Although fourth place will not feel like win for them after the slow start to the season, the team is heading in the right direction and was only a few tenths off the pace here. The circuit somewhat flattered their car, with its long straights and lack of high speed corners, but all teams agree that McLaren have clearly made a big step forward. As team principal Martin Whitmarsh explains below they have done this by making constant small steps at every race, whereas teams like Ferrari and BMW have put More…

Posted on April 26, 2009


Well…..not literally but we have just witnessed a new world record on the start finish line here in Bahrain, as the record for holding your breath under water was just broken by escapologist David Merlini. Not something you see every day.. The new record stands at 21 minutes and 29 seconds. A tank of water was placed on the start finish line and Bernie Ecclestone led a delegation of team principals as well as the drivers, standing around waiting for the new record to be set. The event was was staged by watchmaker Jacques Lemans, which has a deal with More…

Posted on April 26, 2009


Luca di Montezemolo arrived in Bahrain this morning to give encouragement to his Ferrari team, which has endured its worst start to a season for over 25 years. He talked of the team making the mistake of thinking it is the best and being caught out and called for a fresh attitude He also talked to representatives of other teams and manufacturers about the current state of F1. This is a huge week for the sport, It is essentially being restructured with new rules for 2010 due to be ratified on Wednesday at the FIA World Council meeting which has More…

Posted on April 25, 2009


Today’s qualifying session again showed that the Brawn cars do not have it all their own way when it comes to single lap pace in qualifying, but their performance in practice, where they seem to have focussed on long runs, indicates that they certainly have the speed to go for the race win tomorrow. But they face a number of complications which may take the race away from them. Their lack of speed hurt them today and meant that they could not afford to carry much more fuel than their opposition for fear of falling down the grid behind Alonso’s More…

Posted on April 25, 2009


It is well documented that Ferrari has suffered its worst start to the season since the 1980s. If they fail to score a point tomorrow it will be their worst start ever. While both Renault and McLaren have been able to bring a version of the double diffuser to their car already, Ferrari is still waiting for its edition to come out in Spain. Against the backdrop of a significant step forward for McLaren, all eyes were on Ferrari in qualifying today to see whether they could get both cars into the top ten shoot out. As it turned out More…

Posted on April 23, 2009


Today has been a very interesting one here in the Bahrain paddock. There is plenty going on, as usual, with many teams bringing new parts to the cars, news coming through of lawsuits at Donington, making the 2010 British Grand Prix an ever more diminishing possibility and discussions of what might happen at McLaren’s FIA hearing next week. A lot of people feel that Shanghai was a bit of a one-off and that the picture at top will be a little more predictable this weekend, with Brawn dominant, Toyota stronger than in China, especially in qualifying where they may have More…

Posted on April 23, 2009


Williams’ Nico Rosberg has given his vote of support to his old friend and adversary Lewis Hamilton as the April 29th FIA hearing into McLaren and Hamilton lying to the stewards comes into view. People are openly talking here in the Bahrain paddock about the possibility that McLaren may face a similar punishment to the one Honda received for it’s fuel tank irregularity, namely a two race ban. This could include Spain and Monaco, if it were to come into immediate effect. Rosberg said that he didn’t know the details of the case but, as one of Hamilton’s oldest friends More…

Posted on April 22, 2009


Fernando Alonso interests me greatly, as regular readers will know, particularly his pronouncements and predictions. He rarely wastes his breath on hype or pr. He’s focussed on what is possible and regularly achieves it, as he showed at the end of last season when he took sensational wins in Singapore and Japan. To see today that he still believes Renault can develop quickly enough for him to have a crack at the title is very interesting. “It’s still an early stage in the year and already the team has made incredible progress, which gives me the belief that we can More…

Posted on April 20, 2009


A lot of people are confused by the performance of Lewis Hamilton in the Chinese Grand Prix. Rain is a great leveller in Formula 1. Talented drivers who do not have the car to compete in normal conditions can shine on a wet track and we have seen plenty of that over the years. Wet races in the last couple of years seem to have been dominated either by Sebastien Vettel or by Hamilton. Hamilton delivered his masterpiece at Silverstone last July, but in Shanghai this weekend he had a very different kind of race, which showed that having the More…

Posted on April 19, 2009


Form is temporary, class is permanent. That is the great adage of the sporting world. So what are we to make of what’s happening at the moment in F1? Is this the start of a change of order, with great names like McLaren, Renault and Ferrari in decline and new teams like Red Bull and Brawn the new top dogs? Anyone who says that would be guilty of serious short term thinking or buying hype. Those three teams deserve great respect for their record of success spanning many years, they are not to be written off so easily. You look More…

Posted on April 19, 2009


Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali started the weekend by sending an email to his team asking them to react to the poor start to the season “with pride”. The team came away from Shanghai empty handed again and now only they and Force India are left without a point. It could have been worse, if Adrian Sutil had held on to his sixth place, but the German driver crashed heavily five laps from the end. However Domenicali was able to draw some pride from the way the early part of the race unfolded. In his post race briefing he was More…

Posted on April 18, 2009


Ross Brawn’s team has been in the eye of the storm lately, what with the protests over the double diffuser and the criticisms of people like Flavio Briatore. Brawn is a thick skinned individual, but he will have felt the personal attacks of Ferrari’s lawyer in the appeal court hearing last week. Of course he’s been around long enough to know that you take the heat when you are the team to beat, he’s been in that situation at Benetton and Ferrari and controversy has been in the air in those times too. He’s a big man, he can take More…

Posted on April 18, 2009


The fuel weights have been released showing that Sebastien Vettel was 17 kilos lighter than the Brawn of Rubens Barrichello in qualifying this afternoon, this is worth about 6 laps. Based on these figures I reckon that Vettel will stop around lap 12 or 13, the classic first stint for a three stopper, and he could well be looking at running the soft tyres in that short first stint to get them out of the way. The Red Bull is not able to match the way the Brawn looks after the soft tyre on a long run and this looks More…

Posted on April 18, 2009


A very exciting qualifying session today, with some stellar performances. Despite losing time with problems with driveshafts in morning practice Red Bull came up trumps in qualifying, Sebastien Vettel took his second career pole position, the first for Red Bull, ahead of Renault’s Fernando Alonso. Vettel’s Red Bull team mate Mark Webber made it a clear sweep of Renault engined cars in the top three. The other Renault of Nelson Piquet was 17th and, although he didn’t have the new parts on his car you wonder how much longer Renault will persist with him after another indifferent start to a More…

Posted on April 17, 2009


This weekend I will again be doing a live update service during qualifying and the race using twitter, which you can follow here on jamesallenonf1.com or on twitter itself. It is basically a feed of my thoughts and observations as the action unfolds; reading the race, seeing the trends, looking at how the strategies are unfolding and so on. At present if you follow the updates here on the JA on F1 site you will have to refresh the page (will have that fixed soon). If you go to twitter.com and ask to follow jamesallenonf1 you will get the updates More…

Posted on April 17, 2009


Jenson Button was fastest today in Friday second practice, his time a good six tenths inside last year’s pole time. He finished second here in 2004 behind team mate Rubens Barrichello, who was in a Ferrari at the time. Both men love this track and are strong here so it should be the best battle between them to date. He has been attacked this weekend by his former boss Flavio Briatore as a ‘kerbstone’ -an odd use of a word, but I think what Flavio meant is one of those big old heavy milestones or bollards at the side of More…

Posted on April 16, 2009


Ron Dennis announced today that he is stepping down as CEO and chairman of McLaren Group and has walked away from all racing activities, a decision he says is unconnected with the team’s current disciplinary problems and which he reached alone. He will head McLaren Automotive, making road cars, a business which later this year will be spun off from the McLaren Group. He has said he wants to double the company’s value in the next five years. The new chairman of McLaren is Richard Lapthorne, the current chairman of Cable and Wireless Plc. Dennis and Whitmarsh will both report More…

Posted on March 31, 2009


After an overnight flight from Melbourne I arrived at the hotel in Kuala Lumpur at 8am to find that my room isn’t ready. That’s okay, there is a pool for later, a decent restaurant and a pretty good wireless signal in the main cafe area, so here I am. It’s hot here, as you’d expect, but blessedly quite overcast which takes the edge off it. It’s a new hotel on me, Port Dickson overlooks the Malacca Straits and it’s about half an hour’s drive into the track. It’s a lot better than the place we used to stay with ITV, More…

Posted on March 30, 2009


I’m sitting in Melbourne airport in the departure lounge waiting for a 1am flight to Kuala Lumpur. I’m not alone, there are plenty of F1 people milling around, rather bleary eyed waiting for the plane. Ferrari are on the flight, along with some French and English journalists, a few photograpers and others. It’s an eight hour flight and it will be tiring, but it’s not a bad flight to catch as it gets in to KL at 6-30am, so you don’t lose a whole day travelling. I was rather surprised at the check-in to see Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali More…

Posted on March 30, 2009


Rubens Barrichello had an unbelievable afternoon in Melbourne on Sunday, which deserves a closer look. He started and finished second, but in between it was far from plain sailing, with two collisions, both of which caused bodywork damage. It is one of those, ‘How did he get there?’ races, so I thought I’d go through the race history and try to explain it. At the start he bogged down when the anti-stall mechanism kicked in as he left the line. He was swallowed up by the cars behind him, and entered the first corner in amongst the cars from row More…

Posted on March 28, 2009


A dozen or so of the British media’s finest representatives sat down with Sir Richard Branson this afternoon to get some more detail. He’s a very tall man, slightly stooped, very pale looking. We sat in the Brawn hospitality area and, having looked in vain through all his pockets for his ‘cheat sheet’ notes Branson decided to just go for it and think on his feet. As always with journalists there was a faint whiff of scepticism about this sponsorship deal with Brawn, the suggestion being that money has yet to change hands. This feeling was reinforced when Nick Fry More…

Posted on March 28, 2009


The appeal lodged by some of the leading F1 teams against Brawn, Williams and Toyota, will be heard in Paris on 14th April, which is the Tuesday before the Chinese Grand Prix. This means that the results of the first two Grands Prix of the season are subject to the appeal. The stewards here in Melbourne threw out the protests of Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault on Thursday into the ‘double decker’ diffusers, which give significantly more downforce than the others are getting. Flavio Briatore is incandescent about this, frustrated as he is by his team’s performance and by the More…

Posted on March 28, 2009


I followed curiously as Sir Richard Branson, accompanied by two dolly birds in Virgin T shirts made their way from the swipe gates to the Brawn GP garage to announce the sponsorship deal. Branson knows a thing or two about getting publicity and this was an old-fashioned attention grab, which worked a treat. He was answering questions from Sky TV Italy, flashbulbs popping all around him. At one point he turned to one of the girls and said, “I think we’re doing rather well, don’t you?” The Brawn mechanics were still putting the stickers on the back-board for the press More…

Posted on March 26, 2009


There’s a strong story doing the rounds here in Melbourne that Richard Branson’ s Virgin group is going to announce a sponsorship deal with Brawn GP tomorrow (Friday). Branson himself is believed to be on his way out here to make the announcement. It is well known that Virgin looked seriously at buying the team from Honda over the winter, but pulled out because, among other reasons, it felt the sport’s environmental credentials were not as strong as they need them to be. I imagine also that they were put off by the uncertainty about the performance of the car More…

Posted on March 26, 2009


As predicted here the protests against the diffusers of the Brawn, Williams and Toyota cars have been thrown out by the Melbourne stewards. But this does not mean that the matter is closed. The plaintiff teams have appealed and that means that the three teams whose diffusers were questioned will race under appeal on Sunday. As it’s unlikely that an appeal can be heard before the Malaysian GP next Sunday, I imagine that the story will roll on there as well so the results of the first two races will be subject to appeal. It’s a bit of a mess, More…

Posted on March 23, 2009


Stefano Domenicali leads the Ferrari team into world championship battle next week for only the second year. The jovial 43 year old is the modern face of Ferrari, the man who has maintained the team at the highest level of competitiveness despite the departures of Schumacher, Brawn, Todt, Byrne and Martinelli. Today in Gazzetta dello Sport he gives an interview which shows the team’s state of mind going into this campaign. Main rival McLaren is behind, but for how long? BMW and Toyota are a new threat and of course the Brawn team have a head-start, but Stefano thinks their More…

Posted on March 19, 2009


Yesterday I posted on Heikki Kovalainen’s quick lap at Jerez, as McLaren pile on new aerodynamic parts in an attempt to claw back lost ground on the opposition. Kova did a 1m 18.202 lap on a single quali lap simulation. He’d tried a two lap run shortly before which was in the high 1m 18s. This compares with Jenson Button on Tuesday in the Brawn, who did a 1m 17.844 lap, again on a single flying lap simulation. So on that basis the McLaren was 4/10ths slower than the Brawn in outright pace. If that is a true reading, it More…

Posted on March 18, 2009


Heikki Kovalainen turned the wick up today on the McLaren as the Jerez test continued for a fourth day with just McLaren and Williams present. It was very hot again in Jerez, the track temperature was 37 degrees and the McLaren pulled a lap of 1m18.202, which is four tenths slower than Jenson Button’s fastest yesterday. By recent standards this is quite an improvement for McLaren. Even yesterday their fastest run with Lewis Hamilton at the wheel was 1.21.199 1.19.268 1.19.144 1.19.165 1.20.510 The team has been bringing new aero parts to the car in an effort to solve the More…

Posted on March 14, 2009


Felipe Massa ended this week’s Barcelona test with a positive message for Ferrari fans around the world, “We have the car we had hoped for.” The only problem is, there’s another car in front of it. The F60 has suffered a few reliability problems this week, a leak in the cooling system prevented Raikkonen from completing a race distance on Tuesday, while Massa lost some time with a hydraulics problem. However the pace of the car has been class leading, leaving aside the Brawn-Mercedes, and Massa heads for Melbourne feeling that he has a car which is capable of fighting More…

Posted on March 13, 2009


Today McLaren swung into action to respond to the waves of speculation about their poor testing performance and to manage expectations ahead of the new F1 season. Regular readers of JA on F1 will know that I was in Barcelona this week and reported seeing the difficulties the driver Heikki Kovalainen was having with the car, as well as analysing the lap times for further evidence of problems. New team principal Martin Whitmarsh went public on Friday with a frank admission that the car is not fast enough and that it has some problems, “”Initial testing of MP4-24, which first More…

Posted on March 13, 2009


It’s official! The Brawn is the fastest car in the F1 field with two weeks to go before the start of the season! It is an extraordinary story. The Barcelona test, which finished on Thursday, could well go down as one of the most remarkable events in recent F1 history, as a team which seemed dead in the water at Christmas, bounced back and not only set the fastest outright lap of the week, but showed that it is faster over the race distance than the Ferrari! Amazingly for a brand new car, reliability was very good too. The car More…

Posted on March 10, 2009


Had dinner with Sebastien Buemi’s Dad last night and he explained the problems the Toro Rosso team is having with deciding what names to use over the radio to differentiate between the two drivers, Buemi and Sebastien Bourdais. Both are called Sebastian, both are nicknamed ‘Seb’, both have the initials SB, both are French speaking and guess what, both of them have the same middle name… Olivier! What are the chances of that? They are scratching their heads. It’ll have to be car 11 and car 12, so literally they will be saying, “Come in number 11 your time is More…

Posted on March 6, 2009


Ross Brawn issued a brief Question and Answer document today, to mark his first full day as a team owner. It doesn’t say much, beyond expressing relief and joy that they finally got there and some heartfelt thanks to Honda and Mercedes for making it happen. Interestingly he does not pick up on the theme expressed yesterday that this deal would not have happened without FOTA, nor does he express heartfelt thanks to Bernie Ecclestone (who offered to fund the buyout) nor the FIA. He says that he is looking for ‘respectable’ performance this season. What is respectable in F1? More…

Posted on March 4, 2009


Felipe Massa has been doing a lot of thinking over the winter judging by some comments he made on the official F1.com site in an interview today. Massa thinks that the races are too long and boring and also that teams and drivers should make more of testing, make it more of a spectacle and encourage crowds and sponsors to come along. The unspoken part of this is that he would like to do more testing miles during the season as, like many people, he feels that the ban on testing from the first GP to the end of the More…

Posted on March 4, 2009


Sebastian Vettel pitched up in Milan yesterday, at the Polytechnical College to speak to some engineering students, who will have been mostly the same age as him, 21. I imagine they discussed things like whether they keep their milk in the communal fridge or on the windowsill, and which of them scrawls a note on the fridge door along the lines of, “Hands off, I’ve licked the cheese”. Actually Vettel would love that kind of talk, his lippy smile would crack into a trademark ironic smile. But such studenty conversation is pure supposition, what is fact is that he revealed More…

Posted on March 3, 2009


Quick posting with some more chatter I’ve heard from Jerez. First is following on from my point yesterday about the poor weather the teams have had for their pre-season tests, apparently it now looks as though none of the teams will manage to reach the 15,000 kilometres of testing agreed for this year, in fact none is likely to get beyond 10,000 kms. The testing ban comes into force with the first race and lasts until the end of the year. Today in Jerez it was wet in the morning and dry in the afternoon, so quite a bit of More…

Posted on March 3, 2009


Little snippet caught my eye today in the Gazzetta dello Sport newspaper. Flavio Briatore was on Italian radio, talking about the stories that Alonso has already signed for Ferrari for 2011 (with an option to drive in 2010 if Raikkonen has another poor season). If you want to learn more about this story, by the way, scroll down to a post I did on it at the very end of December. I’m not sure which way he would prefer it, talking about his star driver once it’s been confirmed he’s going to the opposition (2006 season) or talking about him More…

Posted on March 1, 2009


At the Williams team pre-season briefing the other day, I was mucking about with a Flip video camera and here is a clip of Nico explaining the big difference between last year’s cars and this years and the key to driving the 2009 spec cars. Sorry it’s a bit quiet, I’ll get the audio better next time… Anyway as you can see, Nico looks very skinny. He’s had to lose some weight to compensate for the extra weight of the KERS hybrid system in the cars this season, as have all the drivers (not that he had much to lose). More…

Posted on February 26, 2009


Just had a very enjoyable day at Williams HQ in Grove where a few of us were treated to a series of briefings by the team. The drivers Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima were there, we had a talk around the car by technical director Sam Michael and then a briefing on the team’s health, FOTA and other general F1 matters from Sir Frank Williams and team CEO Adam Parr. They even threw in some lunch, all very trendy, with small tapas-sized portions and lots of them. Being Williams though it was roast beef and fish and chips in the More…

Posted on February 16, 2009


Time is short with the first Grand Prix of 2009 just six weeks away. The former Honda team is in a race against time to be ready with Honda still paying the bills to keep the team a going concern in case a deal can be done to save them. Honda has a strong desire to see this happen as does Bernie Ecclestone. Behind the scenes work goes on; the team has had a Mercedes engine and gearbox for some time to get the installation worked out in case the deal to save the team comes off. The problem is More…

Posted on February 12, 2009


Felipe Massa, like all the drivers at Sakhir, has had a frustrating time with testing interrupted by sandstorms. He got some miles in on Tuesday but did not run the KERS system in the Ferrari car. The plan was to run it on Wednesday, but the sandstorm intervened. Ferrari are not making too many noises at the moment about how well things are going. The car has been faster so far than the BMW and the Toyota and apparently it’s looking quite consistent, which has been the hallmark of Ferraris in recent years. But is it fast enough? Because there More…

Posted on January 21, 2009


I was interested to see that at a press conference at Portimao circuit yesterday, attended by colleagues from the ITV F1 website, Toyota’s John Howett sounded a stark warning about Toyota’s future in the sport if they do not succeed this season. He said, ” We have a great team of people and I think we just feel it’s about time we won. We need a strong season. If we have a weak season we have no future. “Whether we have to win is difficult to say, but I think we feel we have to win.” This is slightly at More…

Posted on November 20, 2008


Life moves on. The story changes. UK papers pulled out of their tailspin over the recession and banking crisis once Jonathan Ross and Russell Brand, Barack Obama and John Sargent gave them something else to write about and this week’s test at Barcelona has moved the F1 agenda on from memories of the dramatic finale in Sao Paulo. F1 is reinventing itself again and focussed on 2009. Revolution is the air, with radically different looking cars and technologies and some amazing ideas for spicing up the show, which take F1 away from much it has held dear for some time More…



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