Tuesday September 8 2009

8 09 2009

Could Mercedes ditch Red Bull before their deal has even been signed?- It has been widely speculated that red bull had decided to switch from Renault to Mercedes. However German car firm has today shelved its plans to announce its engine plans for next year at Monza. Speculation is that this may be part of the Brawn equity deal, which seams plausible. Equally plausible is the possibility that the powers that be aren’t so keen on 1 engine supplier at 3 of the top 5 teams. Of course it could just be that negotiations are held up. Williams will be looking on eager eyed, but I guess we wont hear any more until they are ready to announce it…

Ferrari and Santander to make an announcement at MonzaWhat’s this! One of McLaren’s top sponsors’ having an event with their big rivals Ferrari? The sponsorship deal has been long known about, if not confirmed, but the event could be one to watch. Ferrari traditionally confirm their driver line-ups for the following year at Monza. Could announcement with a big Spanish sponsor bring about some other Spanish flavoured news? Quite possibly; although it is also conceivable that they may wish to wait whilst the FIA investigate Alonso’s role in the alleged actions of Renault at the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix

Massa Speaks- In an exclusive interview with the guardian… He speaks about his accident and the difficulties it has put though both him and his wider family. The audio is ruined by a terrible interviewer so it probably best to just read the text, but even this is fraught with errors (The incident occurred during Qualifying, not practice) He comes across very well though, the incident has clearly had a big impact on him, but he still hopes to be back and quick as ever. And its very interesting to here how he had contacted the Surtees family a few days before. But just as we are so taken away with what a nice guy he is; he talks about how Jenson could be choking for the title like Lewis almost did last year. He seems to sum up Ferrari… does 99% of what’s required to like make you genuinely likable before holding up a massive reminder of why you had to be convinced in the first place. Still, all the best for his recovery.


Friday September 4th 2009

4 09 2009

Renault to appear before the WMSC One of the unfortunate hangovers from last weekends otherwise great race at spa was the emergence of a story that the FIA were actively investigating a previous world championship event. This was the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, where Alonso was able to triumph thanks to a timely safety car caused by his teammate just after he emerged from the pits. Apparently there was suspicion in the paddock at the time, and the most interesting claim for me was the fact that Massa actually confronted Flav about it. I don’t think it would have gone this far if there wasn’t serious evidence beyond Piquet’s say so. It does raise some interesting questions, if Flav and the senior management were to receive bans, and Renault pull the plug, what happens to the team?

Toyota set to stay in F1 but stop the huge spending An outbreak of common sense may have struck, good news that they are staying but they have been spending way too much for far too long. It would cost them a fortune to close the team down with such a big staff, and it would be hard to run it as an independent team given both its location and the size of its facility. Hopefully they will stay; at least until they can say they have more wins than Honda.

Peter Sauber in Malaysia Pretty much a sign that all is not well with prospects for his team to be around next year. I wasn’t aware that PETRONAS had signed up for three years so close to the withdrawal of BMW. They are clearly unhappy and I would be surprised if they had an exit clause to cover such an eventuality. If PETRONAS do throw their weight behind a lotus team, then I cant see Sauber continuing. Interesting also to note that the car company does not own the rights to the name Team Lotus. It will be interesting to see how this develops if they do not wish to cooperate with litespeed. Could they run the team calling it lotus grand prix for example?

Rossi could have raced at Monza Well as pleased as I am for Fisi to jump in the spare red car, it would have been even more amazing to see what Rossi could do in an F1 car. I would love the likes of him and Loeb to jump in F1 cars and see where they rate against the likes of Lewis, Kimi and Fernando. Maybe in the future perhaps?

Thursday September 3rd 2009

3 09 2009

Lotus to return to F1?- Speculation started to emerge from twitter this morning that the lotus marquee could be returning to the f1 grid. Initially being reported by Ian Burrows  of F1 was the idea that it could be a merger with Sauber, with the Malaysian government taking control of the team, and using it to promote both the state owned oil firm of PETRONAS who have been a long term major sponsor of the team, as well as also owning lotus through their control of Proton cars. Later on Autosport reported that this could in fact be a rival bid designed to take Sauber’s place on the grid. The latter of these 2 options appeal to me more. Whilst I am a big fan of having f1 teams based all around the world (it is after all a world championship), the prospect of a legendary team like Lotus retuning is a mouth-watering prospect, but if it does return I would like it to do so properly from Norfolk and not simply be a Sauber with a different badge and a lick of paint. If Sauber loose their primary sponsor of PETRONAS as well as BMW it is very difficult to see how it could continue.

Ferrari add some Fizz- It was a pretty badly kept secret at the weekend, despite everyone acting as if they hadn’t the foggiest idea where the rumours had come from, but Giancarlo Fisichella is now officially Ferraris driver for the remaining 5 races of the 2009 season, and there reserve driver beyond that. His stunning drive to 2nd at the weekend probably sealed the deal and added a few more pennies on to his contract. He has given up any chance of a race seat next year to do it which shows how much the chance to drive a Ferrari means to him. I wish him all the best and it would be an amazing fairytale for him to win at Monza in 10 days time.

Force India’s success gives McLaren the Hurry up- Well the topsy turvy nature of this season has struck a blow to the egos of McLaren as the team they provide technical assistance to beat them at Spa. I hope they don’t take it too hard though, they have had a highly impressive turn around themselves, and I think they would be far better optimising themselves for next season than trying to eek out 3rd place in the constructors championship this year.

I have been a bit out of the lop for a few days, but hopefully normal service has been resumed!

Tuesday August 24th 2009

25 08 2009

Brawn financed for the future with sponsorship deals- One of the biggest mystery’s of the season has been Brawns mysterious lack of sponsors given their success. Of course economically times are hard and many companies don’t want to be seen splashing out on expensive sponsorship deals at a time when they need are making job cuts. The signing of the Concorde has obviously helped things along and Brawn will have a shiny new sponsor for next season, so expect the cars to stay with their classical white look for the foreseeable future. I wonder who it cold be? O2? Sony? Coca-Cola? The mind Boggles!

More Business News- PitPass has an interesting article on sponsorship exposure at the European GP. Mclaren and their title sponsor Vodafone come off expecialy well, but I found it quite interesting how much the relative values are compared to the cost of running TV and print ads. James Allen also has an interesting point on the end of his article on Brawns news. He tells us how Richard Branson has been able to use his access to the F1 Paddock thorough his Brawn sponsorship to do some deals. Its an area of F1 sponsorship we don’t often hear about which I thought was interesting. He also raises the prospect of Manor being named Virgin, which sounds good if only for the amusing headlines it could produce.

Cosworth to be down on power next year? Not too surprising really considering all the running the other teams have had since the Cosworth V8 last ran for Williams. They have been quite bullish on their chances, but I expect them to be down at least at the start. But with development frozen hopefully they can catch up quickly.

Are the Nerves getting to Jenson? At the start of the season perhaps one of his biggest assets was his attitude. He was happy to just be there after a difficult winter, and the fact he didn’t have to worry about championships with ever race success being an added bonus shone though. In Bahrain he had the confidence to put a risky move on Lewis, early on without the fear of damaging his championship chances. Now leading the championship and struggling or a few races, the pressure is beginning to mount. Hopefully he can remember how he felt before Melbourne and that will relax him enough to let the car work well where it does and just try to do as well as he can when it doesn’t. Being stressed certainly won’t help him and hopefully the early season Jenson will be back sooner rather than later.

Red Bull are soon to make a decision on their 2010 Engine Logic says they will side with Mercedes after the reliability issues they have had with the Renault power plant this year. It is also significant to note they went with Renault because it seemed to be the dominant engine at the time with Alonso winning championships against the Ferrari’s. It could be good for the sport to have 3 top teams all running the same engines, but on the other hand Variety is the spice of life and I don’t want to see F1 becoming a spec engine series vs the Ferrari’s. There is also the issue of how Mercedes would handle a straight fight between the Red Bulls and McLaren’s for the title if the situation emerged…

F1 is not a sport Well there you have it. I guess all the Soap Opera politics and comical responses of Bernie which have entertained us for the past few months have not had the same effect on the Indian government. This poses a problem for a future Indian Grand Prix. But until the secuirity situation in idia improves enough perhaps it would be better to wait a few years, and make sure the event is a spectacle for the surrounds and the racing and not the security

Nelson for Ferrari? It seems like the logical move the paddock has been waiting to here, although nothing firm has been said, Nelson tweeted the following in response to a cartoon by the ever brilliant Bruno Mantovani: (TRANSLATED)Very cool! Thanks Mantovani! God willing, will be it! 😉 Here’s hoping!

…And thats todays F1Rundown!

Monday 24th August 2009

24 08 2009

Red Bull to not run KERS at Spa Well there isn’t a big surprise they haven’t run it so far and it seems a bit of a stretch to just bolt it on in the 2 day turnaround between back to back GP’s. They might still run it at Monza hough where I expect the long straights and lare braking zones make it perhaps the best circuit for the system.

Bridgestone announce tyre compounds for the remaining races of the year- Some of them are consecutive compunds some of them have the wider spread we saw at the beginning of the year. To be honest I am not all theat bothered. I think the mandatory running of two compounds rule is completely silly, and I hope it is ditched sooner or later. Formula one is about teams optimising their equipment to the absoloute peak of technology, using unsuitable tyres because of a illy rule makes no sense at all. It doesn’t help Bridgestone either as more often than not their tyres are seen to be not working properly.

Badoer set to keep seat at Spa- Despite the fact that everyone who has ever seen as much as a photograph of an F1 car believing they could do a better job, it looks like Ferrari will persist with the veteran Italian Tester. It doesn’t make sense to me, and the lap times cant make sense to Ferrari either. The only theory is it is one massive retirement present for the guy who did make a largely unsung contribution to Ferrari’s dominance under Schumacher. How long they continue with the theory is another matter.

Gene is not the happiest guy around-Well hes been overlooked for his home GP and too really rub the salt in the guy who has replaced him has perhaps the most disappointing race in a Ferrari for a long time. To make matters worse Luca’s performance has been so bad it may mean that Ferrari go to a driver like the underrated Nelson Piquet as he is up to speed with modern F1 cars and has been racing for Renault. Gene could argue that winning Le Mans proves he has raced enough, but the lack of testing in the current car may purseude Ferrari to look externally.

Valencia and Suzuka sign race deals- We are going back to Valencia for 5 more years which is a disaster, it is a terrible circuit. If I had to say something good about it the bridge is lovely and its nice to see the cars by the water. Unfortunatly in terms of racing it has little to offer, I don’t think there has been a significant overtake in the two GP’s it has hosted, and there are no corners of note. But alas, the bad news does come with a spoonful of good as Suzuka have signed up to run the Japanese GP in 2010 to fill the gap between the 09’ and 11’ races which was to be run at Fuji before the dropped out. Its great news, Suzuka is one of the best circuits in F1 in my opinion, and if we have to put up with the tedium of Valencia in order to race their then so be it.

Thats todays rundown What do you all think?

Saturday August 22nd 2009

22 08 2009

Williams to run KERS next year? Well the agreement not to rn it was decided by FOTA, and since FOTA have expelled Williams they are free to use it I guess. Its quite surprising they wish to run it next year after not utilising it this year, but perhaps they feel confident it will be developed sufficiently by then. The team have a unique flywheel system which they hope to sell on for use in busses and trains so I guess they want the publicity. On the other hand they still haven’t been invited back into FOTA so they may be out to cause as much trouble as they can. It will certainly disrupt the grouping. It will be interesting to see what Toyota do. They need Williams to run Kaz Nakajima as much as Williams need the engines, and the arrival of Cosworth next year wil offer new options to the team.

Free Practice 3- I missed watching this myself this morning, but a bit of reading later and I have caught up. Force India will have been very pleased to have topped the time sheets. They have nee under a bit of pressure this weekend with the team owner (Vijay Mallya) allegedly putting pressure on the team (and presumably team principle Vijay Mallya). Good luck to them, but if they cant raise their game I would rather see someone who can take their slot on the grid who can. Vettel delayed the session for half an hour after his engine sprung a leak and he drove a long way leaving oil all over the track and the racing line. This is dangerous and I am very surprised he hasn’t been punished. Although Its not too hard to see why he hasn’t been with the way the championship is set up at the moment.  Nakajima and Kubica also put in quick times which is good for the future of the former and a big come and get me advert for the latter.

Michael Schumacher is incredibly frustrated- apparently the fact he cant comeback has hit the former racer hard. If that’s the case I am not sure attending this weekends race was the best thing to be doing.

Red Bull to Run KERS?- Well this is interesting, a few races back the teams couldn’t get rid of their systems quickly enough! Following Lewis’ win in Hungary which owed a considerable part to KERS, the system appears to be back in vogue. Monza and Spa should be good for the system with long straights and large topographical changes which will see extra horsepower being especially useful. With the team lagging behind in the championship they have an incredibly good chance to win it although they are running out of races and a resurgent McLaren provides another obstacle. They need to gamble, and they can’t afford to be blown away off the line by KERS cars and sit behind them to pick up the smaller points. Brawn can do this on the other hand, so it makes sense for Red Bull to roll the dice and give it a go, but they will need to be careful not to upset the balance of the car.

Badoer’s cap says it all- If making your Debut in F1 is difficult, then jumping into a Ferrari alongside a former world champion over 10 years since your last race must be a daunting prospect. The Italian had managed to lower expectations with convincingly slow performances in the practice sessions. He managed to maintain these standards in Q1 with his best time being two and a half seconds slower than Raikonnen. Its just not good enough, I feel for the guy, but you cant keep someone that slow in the car. The lack of race experience in 09 F1 may also hamper Gene’s chances of getting in the car. If it was down to me I would love to see Nelson Piquet have a go in the Ferrari and show what he is really made of. He has an impressive race history, and although he didn’t show this at Renault, another team could be just what he needs to shine in F1.

Qualifying- Q1 saw a disappointing performance from Nakajima who had done well in FP3, Joining Badoer new boy Jaimie was unable to make it out the first session, if he is still learning but I wonder how long he will get in the car before they decide Hartley might deserve a go? Specialist qualifier Trulli also disappointed going out early. Q2 saw the exit of new boy Grosjean who I think can be pleased to have gotten that far. Sutil wasn’t able to convert his FP3 pace into a Q3 slot, Kubica did well to drag the BMW up into the top 10 shootout, Webber will be disappointed with only getting to ninth, whilst teammate Vettel will be pleased to be ahead of Button in 4th.. Heikki was very unlucky with a small mistake costing him pole which went to his teammate. McLaren are defiantly back, and look like they will be fighting for wins for the rest of the season.

Weights- Heikki’s lap was perhaps even more impressive as it has been seen to be done with an extra 2KG fuel in the car. It looks like Jenson and Rubens will be able to go a couple of laps longer which should be useful to Button if he gets stuck behind Vettel’s Red Bull. Something else to watch for is Trulli appears to be fuelled to go to the moon so expect a Trulli train behind him if he is given the chance to develop one.

That’s today’s rundown. What do you all think?

Friday August 21st 2009

21 08 2009

Free Practice 1 The F1 cars are back! it was great to see them back in anger after (an unnecessary) few weeks away. The session ends up looking good for McLaren with their cars 1st and second, and pretty good for brawn too with Ruben’s topping the sheets. Looks like the sweltering temps got them some heat into the tyres. What this tells us though is another matter, as we don’t know what the teams have been running in terms of fuel loads and what their goals for the session were.

Whitmarsh tells us Alonso is off to Ferrari. FOTA unity taken to the next level? Now McLaren are announcing Ferrari’s future driver line ups! Possibly a slip of the tongue, but as the McLaren boss was questioned over his future line up he cited Alonso’s move as shuffling up the driver market. I have no doubt he knows things we don’t, but was this more than just paddock gossip? It certainly won’t please Ferrari to hear what he said, but it does give the rumours a new level of credibility.

Free Practice 2: It began with reports of no screens working in media centre at the beginging of the session which isnt great after the debarcle in Hungary. Rosberg hit a bug live on onboard his onboard camera which gave us a sniff of drama as the director stuck with him and the bug for a few corners. Badoer appears to be cruising around like it really is a test session at one point he was 5 seconds off the pace. If he doesn’t pick the pace up over the weekend he will be gone before Spa. Looked good for Brawn against Button and Barrichello traded fastest laps during the seesion, and they will be pleased to have finished 2nd and 3rd. McLaren had a new front wing: Heikki took it 2nd quickest in FP1, Lewis took it sideways and although he managed to avoid a major meeting with the wall in FP2, he did enough damage to not go out again. Alonso put in a good showing on the timing sheets as he topped the session; they did look good in Hungary until the wheel fell off. It did make Grosjean look particularly bad though as he languished in 17th. Alonso had a big incident with Nick Heidfeldtoward the end of the session. Locking up into the last corner, before loosing his front wing and sending the BMW flying in the process…. This amused Schumacher.

Sebastian Vettel Extends his Red Bull Deal Having bought the youngster up into F1 (although admittedly not giving him his first drive) Red Bull have signed the young German up until the end of 2011 with the option of another year. Good news for Red Bull as he is there star. It’s a bit of a risk for Vettel as he will obviously be on the big bucks, but will he have a car under him to win with for the next few years. I have no doubts about his speed, but I do still question his overtaking ability, and being stuck in the midfield will put this under a big microscope.

Fisi to be a Ferrari a test driver in 2010? Despite the fact he told AUTOSPORT he wasn’t going to, and the testing ban effectively meaning he would be retired, it must be an attractive option for the aging Italian racer to go to what is effectively the Italian national team. He seems like a nice enough guy, but I don’t see what he is achieving back there on the grid. It may be time for some younger blood to come in and show what they can do.

Webber says Red Bull below par at this stage- They have had a couple of great races since Silverstone, but they still lag in the championship. They cant afford to lag behind the brawns anywhere, especially where they will be strong given the higher temperatures. Vettel might have been unlucky not to finish in Hungary, but Its only Friday so don’t write them off just yet, as there is plenty of time before the points and prizes are handed out

Could Bernie pull the plug on Valencia and send the European GP to Silverstone? Well its certainly an interesting idea. Valencia looked poor on TV today. The best scenes were of the people having fun on the beach, hardly any pictures of the grandstands suggest no one was watching the racing. The circuit is an ugly procession though concrete barriers going part such highlights as the container port and a dull old fish market. Going over the bridge is the only real highlight on a circuit which appears to be to be near on impossible to overtake at due to having go many corners and minimal straights. Silverstone on the other hand has been packed of late if the British GP does go to Donnington, it would be great to keep it on the calendar. It would certainly be a turnaround from speculation earlier this year that there could be no races in Britain.

Renault let off again as driver’s miss autograph sessionNot a lot to say here really. It was a good initiative, and I am glad they have just been reminded of it. But it does strike me that the whole race is here for Fernando Alonso. It seems ironic that he was the one that missed the autograph signing. I hope his fans don’t feel too let down; hopefully Renault can sort out another session.

Badoer gets fined for speeding Well who can blame him, its his first real race weekend so he needs time to get to terms with the limiter. But then he did it again. Which was clumsy but forgivable. Then a third, which was just reckless. Then a fourth… WHATS WRONG WITH YOU MAN?

Todt shows off What’s the best way to counter your opponents manifesto? In the world according to Todt it’s to shower yourself in praise from important motorsport people from all over the world. Its certainly an impressive list even if it perhaps wasn’t the classiest move. More on Ari and Jean in a post this weekend.

That’s today’s rundown. What do you all think?