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Marussia Virgin Racing Launch Their 2011 Car

Marussia Virgin Racing have launched their car to take on the 2011 world championship in a lavish London ceremony.

The Marussia name now preceeds Virgin following a major tie up with the Russian sportscar manufacturer and the team at the end of 2010.  It has led to the new car being designated as the MVR-02.

Designed purely by CFD last season, the VR-01 was largely disappointing mostly due to reliability issues, but the Cosworth powered team are hoping for better things this season.  The new car is a clear advancement on last seasons machine, in a similar fashion to Team Lotus, the experience of a season with development has led to a much tighter  overall package being produced.

The Virgin features a much lower front nosecone than we have previously seen, and there is also an interesting exhaust design at the rear of the car – whether that is forcing some form of blown aerodynamics at the rear end we do not know.

Nick Wirth, head of design at the team was clearly very happy with the new car, citing a serious gain in aerodynamic strength and reliability.

“Since the middle of year we worked on process, we calibrated how fast we had to improve and what did we have to work on,” he said.

“We have done a huge amount of development of physics and what we are doing to catch up with everyone.”

“The back of car is heavily regulated from last year, and we managed to take this car and not only catch up where we were, but go above it in terms of aero efficiency – in every single way this car is faster and better than last year.”

The car still retains its red and black paintwork, but this year has some white thrown into the mix to make quite a good looking machine.  Various high profile sponsors including of course Virgin and Marussia, but also QNET and CSC have retained sponsorship with the backmarkers providing a good financial base.

Timo Glock will race the car for a second season alongisde promoted rookie Jerome D’Ambrosio who ousted 2010 racer Lucas di Grassi from the race seat.

Glock, 28, says he is hopeful of a big step forward this season.

“We want to grab points in first races and then work from there,” he said. “We are much more sorted out, more structured, we have one year experience so we should be on a good way.

“But we have to realistic, we were 3-4 seconds off the pace last year and you never catch 3-4 seconds in winter time, so we have to make some improvement and then move up.

“I am hoping for a realistic step. I am happy to do a proper step over the winter with the team together and be strong in first races. When you see back to lots of crashes and technical problems – that is where we struggled last year and that is where we have to be strong.”

 

Robert Kubica Could Be Ruled Out For At Least A Year Following Accident

Polish racing driver Robert Kubica will spend at least one whole year recovering from a rally crash he suffered this morning, according to his surgeon.

Kubica, who races for Renault Lotus crashed the Skoda Fabia rally car this morning and was airlifted to hospital suffering serious injuries.

He has spent many hours in surgery, with rumour speculating around the internet about his condition.  However tonight, his surgeon has told reporters that he will spend 5 days in intensive care and will need at least one year to rehabilitate his right hand.  His hand shattered in the accident, along with fractures to his right arm and leg.

Initially it was suspected the Pole could have his right hand amputated,however surgeons were confident they could save it.  His doctor has now said it could take a week to decide if he will regain full functionality.

“We have to wait at least a week to see if his hand survives,” Professor Igor Rossello told Italian media, referring to the likelihood of a return to full functionality. He added that it could take a year for the Pole to be able to use his right arm again.

Racing drivers from around the world have been quick to send in messages of support, and Fernando Alonso has already flown in to visit Robert in hospital.  Michael Schumacher is rumoured to be on his way to visit also.

Bruno Senna could well be drafted in to race as Renault Lotus’ spare driver in the short term at least.  Whether the team decide to bring in another driver for the season is unknown.

We wish Robert Kubica all the best.  Our thoughts and prayers are with him tonight.

Robert Kubica Hospitalised Following Rally Accident

UPDATE ON KUBICA’s CONDITION:  http://wp.me/p3uiu-11K

Renault Lotus F1 driver Robert Kubica has been airlifted to hospital following a car accident while competing on a rally.

The incident, described as a high speed accident, left the Pole injured and he had to be airlifted to hospital.  His co-driver Jakub Gerber was uninjured in the incident.

While he has remained conscious throughout the whole incident, the extent of Kubica’s injuries are as yet unknown.  Reports are variable, with some suggesting he has fractured a wrist, while others say he has broken both legs.  Speculation as ever with such incidents is rife.

Renault have released a minor statement, with a press conference that has been pushed back to 3pm GMT.

“Robert Kubica suffered an accident at high speed this morning while competing in the Ronde di Andora Rally,” a Renault statement said. “The driver was airlifted to Pietra Ligure Hospital, where he is currently undergoing medical checks. His co-driver is fine. [We] will issue another statement as soon as more information is known about Robert’s condition.”

Kubica is a well known Rally enthusiast, he and other drivers have competed in many events such as this one before.  However with the incident potentially ruining the start, or all of his season perhaps drivers will now be banned from competing in such events by their employers.

We will get a post up as soon as the press conference is over this afternoon with more information.  Right now though, our thoughts are with Robert.

F1 2011 Launch Catch Up – McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, Sauber, Toro Rosso, Renault…

Catching up on the launches in one mega post.  Here in you’ll find quick interviews with senior members of the team and photos from the Red Bull, Sauber, Renault Lotus, Toro Rosso, Mercedes and McLaren launches.

Apologies for being somewhat late, the whole blog isn’t running at full power until the season starts again.

Red Bull RB7

The world champions launched their new car, named the RB7.  A clear advancement on the hugely successful RB6, hopes are high that this machine can deliver once again.

“This year is no different to any other,” said Christian Horner, team principal of Red Bull.

“I think if we had not have won either championship last year there would have been that expectation and obviously the pressure that comes with that. We’ve achieved that and achieved that in a short space of time and I think it is like winning your first grand prix.

“Out of that comes confidence but not arrogance, but the team goes into this year very, very motivated and very committed but you have to remember we are still an independent team with a customer engine that achieved some remarkable things last year and that is our target again, again, obviously this year.”

 

Sauber C30

The independent Swiss team pulled the covers of their new car, the C30 marking the second incarnation of the team in its modern era.  The new car is backed heavily by Mexican giants Telmex and will be raced by Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez.

Former Force India but now Sauber technical director James Key said: “Our aim in the development of the Sauber C30-Ferrari has been to build on the strengths of the C29 and to eliminate its weak points.

“In addition, it is also important for us to go into winter testing with a car we understand, and we have worked hard on ensuring the characteristics of the car are heading in a direction we believe in. There will be much to learn about the new Pirelli tyres and in this respect we want to ensure there are no surprises with the way the car is handling.”

“My rookie season was a very challenging, very exciting period,” Kamui Kobayashi commented at the launch as he enters his second full season of racing.

“Now it’s still exciting but it’s a different role. It’s more the experienced driver in the team. I am thinking how I can bring a good level to the team.

“I have to be ready to lead the team. That’s why Peter Sauber and the team chose me for this year. This is definitely my challenge and let’s say I am ready to be the leader for the team.”

 

Renault Lotus R31

Newly backed by Group Lotus, Renault pulled the covers off their new car – the R31 – to a mass of media wondering what the final paint scheme would look like, and wondering how the Lotus name debate would go on.  The debate on the name may still be rumbling, but there is no debate over how fabulous the car looks in classic JPS brown and gold.

Featuring front blown exhausts, it looks fast and could be a title contender.  And with Bruno Senna as a spare driver, it harks back wonderful memories seeing the yellow helmet inside a JPS liveried Lotus.

“I’m happy that we had some creative designs on the car. We clearly back our team and definitely our technical team because we want to be fast, we want to be at the front.” said team principal Eric Boullier

“We know it takes time. You have to be creative. You have to find different ways of creating downforce or performance points. We have been taking this path because we believed, quite early in 2010, that we could find more gains going this way.

“In the wind tunnel, or on paper shall we say, the car already has more performance than 12 months ago. If it’s on the car it’s because we believe it works. But we will see on the track.”

Meanwhile Robert Kubica, the number 1 driver was somewhat cautious on their chances “I think realistically speaking is far too early to say what will be possible to achieve this year,”

“Last season was quite disappointing and let’s hope this year will be different. I think definitely we are more prepared this year, because of the more stable situation in the team than last winter, when I joined the team.

“The winter of 2009 and 2010 was very difficult for Renault and I think this year the engineers and designers had a much easier time and much more time to design the car and I think they have done a really good job.”

 

Scuderia Toro Rosso STR6

Toro Rosso, always in their senior brothers shadow has brought a new design to the table and hopes it will deliver them more success this season in the capable hands of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi.

The pairing are aiming for 6th place in the Ferrari powered beast.

“My expectations are to do a decent year and we have to have the target to be eighth and as I said, we are good to be ninth but we have to do better. And at the end of the year we have to bring back an eighth place,” said Giorgio Ascanelli.

“Last year we didn’t have a wind-tunnel, the CFD was not mature in order to define the car,” he added. “Therefore, we did not change very much apart from those elements linked to the change of regulation between 2009 and 2010.

“This year the tools which design the car in its performance aspect, which are again the wind tunnel and CFD, are more mature, which means that although we are still learning how to make the best of them I think we have started using them properly.

“For this year, we have to aim for eighth place, because that is our target and I didn’t think that was possible if we had gone with some sort of conventional car.”

 

Mercedes Benz WO2

Mercedes Benz will be hoping that their second modern F1 car can deliver them some more success than last season.  With Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg behind the wheel they have plenty of potential.  A well sponsor backed car now features the light green of Petronas merging into the brushes silver paintwork.  Ross Brawn, the technical mastertmind behind multiple drivers world championship wins will be eager to deliver the German squad some success.

“It is always a thrill to see a new car ready to take the track for the first time and this year is no exception,” said Brawn. “After our first year as the Mercedes-Benz works team, we are now seeing the benefits of our chassis and engine groups working well together.

“With a good technical structure and a strengthened race engineering organisation, both at the factory and the race track, I am confident that we have done and will continue to do a better job this year in all key areas.

“We want to be setting the standard right from the start but if we are not, we will respond very strongly to get ourselves into the game. Everyone is excitedly waiting to see what the new season will reveal.”

Meanwhile top driver Michael Schumacher was upbeat on the chances of the car delivering him a record breaking 8th world championship.

“I very much look forward to the new season. We have said it several times already but again, we are really to building up something big together. I am very confident that this season we will be standing on the podium much more regularly; ideally in the middle!”

 

McLaren MP4-26

McLaren launched their radical new car in Berlin in a ceremony hosted by lead sponsors Vodafone.  The car will be raced by two former world champions, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.

The new car features L-Shaped sidepods, and a two tier floor amongst other technical advancements.  The squad are already looking at incorporating a front blown exhaust similar to the Renault Lotus’ design.

Lewis Hamilton was very happy with the machine on launch day.

“I hope the car proves just as innovative once we take to the track next week,” said Hamilton. “I head into 2011 in a relaxed but determined frame of mind.

“I’ve spared nothing during my winter fitness preparations and, in many ways, I feel as fit, focused and refreshed as I did ahead of my first season in Formula 1 in 2007.

“Having spent the past few weeks talking with our designers and engineers, I feel extremely happy that we’ve created a car that will once again allow us to fight at the front.”

 

 

 

Team Lotus Launch Their 2011 Machine The T128

Team Lotus (the one who raced last year) have become the second team to officially pull the covers off their new 2011 car.

The green and yellow liveried machine will start be raced by Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen this season under the name of Team Lotus as the management’s row with Group Lotus, now affiliated with Renault, continues.

The new car retains the 50′s yellow and green livery that fans came to know and love last season.  New sponsors stand side by side with old ones, on the now Renault powered machine.

On the technical side, Mike Gascoyne has said that the T128 is far more exciting, intricate and advanced than last seasons T128.  There is much more thought and special design in the front wing roll hoop and on the side pods especially.  The rool hoop/air box design is very similar to the blade design used by Mercedes in 2010, although this had been outlawed by the FIA – Lotus have found a way around the regulations.

“I think that basically this car looks like a frontrunning car in every area,” Mike Gascoyne said. “We said very clearly that we want to start challenging the established teams and I think that’s very achievable.”

“With last year’s car and especially the first half of the season it was just an exercise in survival, whereas from the middle of last year it was about building the team up – that’s when we started working on this car

“I think the thing that was a challenge this year was that the 2010 car really was a one-off, because of the way it was done with the design team and the time we had.

“There’s been almost no carry-over of parts for the 2011 car, whereas normally you’d have a substantial carry-over and the chance to optimise last year’s parts.”

Elliot Dason-Barber, head of R&D added: “The area that intrigues me the most is the front suspension, and the rear as well actually.  We’ve tried to push the boundaries with a few things to make it a bit lighter and more efficient.”

The team’s aim this season then looks to be fighting at the front.

Veteran Jarno Trulli, who endured a torrid 2010 campaign with the team said this morning: “Sitting on the grid in Bahrain this year will feel very different – a different tension,”

“Last year we were just aiming to finish the race. This year we’ll be aiming to finish in the points. With the package we have, that should be achievable.”

 

 

Ferrari Launch Their 2011 Car The F150

Ferrari have become the first team to launch their 2011 Formula One car – named the F150.

Thw F150 name comes from the fact it is 150 years since Italian unification, the flag bearer for the nation decided it was important to increase exposure of the major event in the country’s long history.  The cars rear wing features an Italian tricolore flag too to increase the patriotism of the famous team.

The car itself is not abnormal in colouring to previous Ferrari’s, the beautiful scarlet paintwork is retained.  Sponsors look thin on the ground, but they are bigt and important.  Bank Santander have increased their sponsorship of the team, as they begin to move away from former team McLaren.  Philip Morris brand Marlboro are still a sponsor, but have no presence on the car any more following the banning on the bar code blank out design.  A new Scuderia Ferrari logo instead dominates the engine box.

The car looks very similar to the 2010 beast that nearly won the world title.  It does not have a shark fin rear wing, as the f-duct system is now banned.  Aldo Costa the chief designer at the team said the car looks similar but underneath is a whole new package.

“The major aspects with the most impact on the project were connected to the aerodynamic development. The car will change a lot. The double diffuser, the F-duct, is gone.” Costa told Ferrari.com

“The rear wing will be movable, so that the driver can overtake the car in front of him and use it in the qualifying according to his needs. The KERS is back. Although we’ve improved its size, it’s still quite big.

“As far as the looks are concerned the rules keep them [the cars] quite unaltered. The cars look like the ones from last year, but from a technical point of view they will be really different.”

The boss of Ferrari, Luca di Montezemolo has stated a clear intention that this car has been built to win the world championship.

“This year we have to win and we will do our best to win,” di Montezemolo declared at the team’s Maranello headquarters.

“We have updated the team, we have made some improvements and we are awaiting the challenges against our first opponents.”

Meanwhile star driver Fernando Alonso – who shook the car down a few days ago – was buoyant and said this vehicle was much better than last seasons.

“There are no doubts that when I arrived in January 2010, I drove a car that had different characteristics to what I drove in previous years,” said Alonso at Ferrari’s launch in Maranello today.

“Now I will drive a car that is a continuity of what I drove in 2010. I think all the developments and the direction that you go with improvements in the car over one year has some kind of definition of your driving style.

“I think that helps the designer of the car and the technical people with next year’s car, so I think in 2011 there will be some kind of direction that we took in 2010 regarding my driving style.

“So I think I will feel more confident with this year’s car. I will feel more comfortable driving the car, it will be more predictable to me. And I know the team now – I know the people, I know the guys, I know the names of all my mechanics, something that was not the case in Bahrain last year. So that will also help.”

 

Why Michael Schumacher Could Win The 2011 World Championship

Michael Schumacher’s 2010 comeback was somewhat abortive.  The results, the driving standard and the overtakes were well below par for the former champion.  He even let his team mate beat him for the first time in his career.  So why can Schumacher, the fallen Ferrari hero, win the world championship for an 8th time?

It’s still the same Michael Schumacher

Indeed, we saw glimpses of it last season.  The passion, and the desire to do well.  He was racing on the ragged edge, braking as late – if not later – than anyone else.  The trouble was, he didn’t have the car underneath him to be able to win.  It took him a while to get reacquainted, but in truth it would take anyone a while to get used to be these new cars.

The 2011 car will be built around him

Sorry Rosberg fans, the fact is – Schumacher & Brawn will be running the show at Mercedes Benz.  Let’s not forget, they are paying Michael an arm and a leg to race for them.  He will design the car around him, something he didn’t get chance to do last season.  He also has an entire year of racing with the wide nosed, tall winged cars so has plenty of data and ideas to call upon when constructing the new vehicle.  An insider has already said that downforce and grip levels on the simulator are exceeding expectations.  Not a bad start?

Pirelli Tyres

Yep, the great big unknown means it’s all a level playing field this season.  No-one knows much about Pirelli just yet, so it’s a fair and even start for all the drivers.  It’s about adaptability, and we know deep down inside the 42 year old he can adapt.  He also looked quick in the 2010 car on 2011 rubber.

Less expectation than last year

At the start of 2010, we all expected the Schumacher from 2006 to jump behind the wheel and immediately win.  Let’s not forget here, 2005 and 2006 were barren seasons for Schumacher – he walked away with nothing.  He was in decline, so why did we expect him to be immediately brilliant?  I was and still am a Schumacher fan, but I knew he was not as good as he used to be.  This year he will have less expectation than before.  We’re all used to him driving and Germany has a new world champion to thrust under the spotlight at every opportunity in Sebastian Vettel.

Other drivers still fear him


When the red baron’s helmet is filling your wing mirrors, surely it must make your heart beat twice as fast.  Fernando Alonso has already said he fears Schumacher the most for 2011

“There will be five world champions on the track and the most dangerous champion for me is always Michael.  Now in January if I have to choose one name I have to say Michael. He is seven-time champion, he has nothing to prove. He had a difficult season but he is still a champion. N He is still super class and if the car is right he will be a contender,”

BUT

Its not all going in Schumacher’s favour.   Michael is a lot older than any of the other title contenders now, and that could be his downfall.  Not suggesting he isn’t fit, he is probably more athletic now than he was before – but age is still a factor.  Red Bull are not suddenly going to be slow, they just aren’t.  Not with Vettel and Newey onboard.  Ferrari and Alonso will be desperate for the title.  McLaren have two world champions driving for them.  Oh and there’s the small matter of the fact Nico Rosberg was better than Michael last season.

Nevertheless, as an outside bet – you could do a lot worse than Michael.

Formula One Goes High Definition

This week FOM, the Formula One Management company run by Bernie Ecclestone, has announced it will be providing native High Definition Formula One coverage for the very first time.  This heralds the entrance of the sport into the super clear broadcast territory.

High Definition television has been available for some time now in the United Kingdom, initially with the Sky satellite service, and then later with both Cable and free to air boxes and solutions.  HD is said to reach over 25% of homes in the UK alone.  Europe is playing catch up to the United States of America however, who have had a super high definition broadcast for many years.

While the UK is playing catch up to the USA, F1 is playing catch up to other sports.  Soccer, Cricket and American Football are just three sports which are all regularly broadcast in the clear definition, which provides a stunning amount of clarity over a normal SD broadcast.  For some reason, despite being one of the most commercially driven sports in the world, F1 was slow on the uptake to HD.  That commercial edge is somewhat surprising.

It has to be assumed, that part of the reason why soccer made it onto HD so quickly was this commercialism.  Consumers drove the change.  With the number of advertisers on F1 cars and around the tracks, one would assume they would be “chomping at the bit” to get it into the greater clarity viewing.  But alas not, and 11 years into the 21st century will be the first time we get to see it.

Perhaps it is the investment into equipment that FOM were struggling with.  After all, the number of cameras needed for a decent HD broadcast at an F1 circuit would be huge.  And think of all of the cameras on the cars too, one can only presume micro HD cameras will be installed for the new season.  Indeed some are now calling for F1 to go the whole hog and invest into 3D coverage.  While a lovely concept for the novel new viewing of television, there are an unbelievable number of pitfalls and problems surrounding the ability to broadcast such things – the technology really isn’t there yet.

Camera's on the cars will have to be improved

Bernie Ecclestone had always said HD would only come to F1 when the broadcasters really demanded it.  “I said to the broadcasters, are you going to get more viewers, will more people watch F1 because it is HD or will less people watch it because it isn’t? They really need to have a check and see who has got the right televisions.

“I don’t think the average public realise that it is not the television, they have to have something to receive it as well. It is like producing a colour signal when people only have black-and-white sets.”

The decision however seems a good one.  With both television companies and fans applauding the decision.  Forums, and the popular micro-blogging service Twitter have been full of praise for the move.  Some viewers have written that they will now be investing in HD receiving equipment in order to watch the new service.  People without the ability to view HD should also see some improvement in the standard definition coverage, with BBC saying that their British SD channel viewers will receive a downscaled edition of the HD feed.

Brian Sullivan, CEO of Sky Germany, said: “The broadcast of Formula 1 in true HD is something that millions of racing fans in Germany, Austria and Switzerland have yearned for.”  Meanwhile, Danielle Nagler, Head of BBC HD in Britain said “It’s fantastic news that FOM has decided to green light HD broadcasts, and we’re looking forward to sharing with the fans all the races in all their detail on BBC One HD and BBC HD.”

Reporters under spotlight: Everything will be in greater quality improving the viewer experience

So far, confirmed broadcasters of HD F1 are:

  • BBC – Britain
  • Sky – Germany, Austria & Switzerland
  • Network Ten: One HD – Australia
  • Speed – USA
  • Globo – Brazil

Karthikeyan Makes Surprise F1 Return With HRT

Narain Karthikeyan has made a surprise return to Formula One after being announced as one of Hispania HRT’s drivers for the 2011 season.

The Indian driver was unveiled as the first racer to be working with the Spanish based squad, who look likely to enter into a second season of racing despite on-going financial concerns.  Karthikeyan first raced in Formula One with Jordan in 2005, before spending a brief time as a Williams test driver.  He has also raced in Superleague and in Audi sportscars.

Team principal Colin Kolles said: “It is a great pleasure for us to have signed Narain Karthikeyan as our race driver for the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship.

“I have known Narain for a long time and he can revert to the experiences he gained when he was competing for Jordan Grand Prix and being test and reserve driver for Williams F1. Narain has also been driving in other racing series and running in one of the legendary Audi sportscars in the Le Mans Series.

“I am sure that his experience and speed will be very useful for the team during the season. We are welcoming Narain to our team and we look forward to working closely with him this year.”

HRT have yet to announce their second driver, but it will not be Karun Chandhok.  He claims he declined the chance to race for the team.  Sources also suggest that Bruno Senna will not be returning as he cannot find enough sponsorship capital.  Nico Hulkenberg and Tonio Liuzzi are both linked to the seat with the minnows.

 

Button Steps Up Pre Season Training With Lance Armstrong

Jenson Button teamed up with record breaking cyclist Lance Armstrong, as he continues to prepare for another Formula One season.

The McLaren driver excitedly tweeted that he would be riding with Armstrong, the 7 time Tour de France winner, in Hawaii.

Armstrong responded via Twitter “I hope he doesn’t ride as srong as he drives F1 cars…!”

Lance Armstrong is of course famous too for the Livestrong brand, something he set up after being diagnosed with cancer – and suriving – himself.  The yellow colour of the leader of the Tour de France is replicated in the charities products, most notably in the yellow wristbands.

Lance Armstrong @ the 2006 Indianapolis 500

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