New rookie F1 driver Jaime Alguersuari has confirmed that he wil be in attendance at the World Karting Championships in September.
Alguersuari, who is just 19, will add this duty to his racing with Scuderia Toro Rosso and in World Series Renault.
He was recruited to the Toro’s after Sebastien Bourdais’ untimely and public exit from the team. Despite just straightline testing the 2009 car he made a solid debut at the Hungarian Grand Prix. He will be hoping for more in Valencia, a race staged in his own country.
Not content with 2 race drives and now the karting, he was seen DJ’ing in central Barcelona recently to many thousands who were partying in the streets.
“I will be competing in the KZI World Karting Championship in Sarno, Naples in September,” he told the official F1 website.
“I am only interested in learning and learning to compete against the best. Portimao (the latest World Series round) and Sarno mean the same to me – pitting myself against the best drivers right now.”
In these tough times, it’s good to know he will have many skills!
Although Felipe Massa’s condition is said to be “improving” there are underlying doubts that the Brazilian will compete in the European Grand Prix at Valencia in 4 weeks time. There are some doubts to when he will return, and if he will during the entireity of 2009. This has sparked a huge debate on who could race for Ferrari, and here I take a look at some of the possibilities Stefano Domenicali and Luca di Montezemolo could be assessing in the next few weeks. Get well soon Felipe!
Luca Badoer is Ferrari’s main test driver and has been with the team for sometime. The Italian also drove for Minardi, Scuderia Italia and Forti throughout the early 1990’s, and despite competing in many races he failed to score a point. His last appearance in a race 10 years ago with Minardi could mean he is out of form and fitness, but he has done plenty of testing especially with the KERS system.
Marc Gene is Ferrari’s “other” test driver, and works a lot on straightline speed testing. He drove for Minardi in 1999 and 2000, before moving to test with Williams where he was a substitute driver for 3 races. He is also a factory team Le Mans driver for Peugeot meaning he is fit and healthy enough to haul an F1 car around for 2 hours. Scoring points on his substitution for Williams in 2003 is impressive, and he would be my choice of the two test drivers.
The most successful F1 driver ever, and Ferrari’s darling looks like the obvious choice on paper. Indeed he has everything going for him, and keeping his hand in with occasional testing he should have no problems with the F2009. However his manager has cast doubts on his return, and Schuey has always denied wanting to drive again. Could he be the one to help them out of a rut? I’d like to think so, and so would Bernie Ecclestone who must be rubbing his hands with glee at the chance of getting Schu back in a car.
A bit of an “off-the-wall” choice, but it does make some sense. Rumour says Alonso has signed a contract for 2010 with Ferrari, and with Renault being suspended from the next GP there is a slim chance Alonso could make his Ferrari debut some 8 months earlier than expected at another ‘home’ GP of Valencia. It would be quite interesting to see the Spaniard alongside Raikkonen.
No-one has really considered Senna’s impressive nephew Bruno, but he has no race seat and is a proven fast driver. He also drove at the Ferrari anniversary celebrations at Silverstone a few years back. He’s young, fast and this could be a perfect break for him.
Sebastien Bourdais – About as likely as me to get the drive
Niki Lauda -I think he was joking
Takuma Sato – Probably more likely than Bourdais
Jaime Alguersuari is on the verge of being confirmed as Sebastien Bourdais’s successor to the Toro Rosso race seat today, after straight line speed testing in Italy.
The 19 year old Spaniard will become the youngest F1 driver in history if he takes the wheel of the STR4 at the Hungaoring next weekend, trying to bring some good fortune and points to the Faenza based team.
He has hardly done any testing with the team, and close friend Ferrari tester and former Minardi driver Marc Gene says will mean he is going to have a hard debut.
“Jaime is ready, but there are lot of factors playing against him,” the 2009 Le Mans winner told Diario Sport.
“No testing, and Hungary is a tough track” he added
Alguersuari has another bonus for Toro Rosso, sponsorship. In a move which will remind older viewers of the Minardi days, he is backed by various Spanish companies including Repsol, who have sent around $2million to Italy trying t guarantee the seat for their man.
Fortunately for the 19 year old, he is a good driver too – unlike some of those who have in the past bought their seats…
Sebastien Bourdais has officially been fired from his seat at Scuderia Toro Rosso.
The French driver, who is one of the most successful ChampCar drivers of all time, never really fired up in Formula One during his one and a half seasons with the former Minardi team.
In 2008, Bourdais came on the scene with great expectations and he had a good debut. However further on into the season, he was involved in various calamities, and became totally outclassed by German team-mate Sebastian Vettel who took Toro Rosso’s first ever win at the Italian Grand Prix.
He was retained for 2009, but became an accident waiting to happen. His incident with Heikki Kovalainen at the British Grand Prix looked the final straw, and after retirement from the German GP, emotional good-byes from Bourdais a man who often bursts into tears looked like the partnership was over.
“In Sebastien’s second year with us, the partnership has not met our expectations and therefore we have decided to replace him as from the next round of the world championship, the Hungarian Grand Prix,” said Franz Tost, team manager.
Whose waiting in the wings? Well, the number 1 most likely replacement for Bourdais is Jaime Alguersuari who has been told to go testing this week with the 2009 car. Bruno Senna, the popular GP2 driver; Nelson Piquet Jr [if he has been sacked] and Takuma Sato [who tested for Toro Rosso during the winter] are all likely candidates for the challenge too. Only time will tell…
Toro Rosso, the feeder and sister team to Red Bull Racing have admitted they expect progress to be slow until they recieve the aerodynamic upgrades which powered the RB5 to victory at the hands of Sebastian Vettel last weekend at the British Grand Prix.
The new aerodynamic updates included a new front wing and nose section, new diffuser, floor and rear wing.
Toro Rosso were formed in 2006 after Red Bull admitted desire for a second team, and with one owner not being allowed to own two teams Gerhard Berger and Franz Tost were co-owners with exclusive Red Bull support and sponsorship. The team are still based in Faenza, Italy and scored their first win last season in Monza.
“We suffer from the lack of new specification aero parts,” Franz Tost told F1Live.
“We will have these for Hungary, when I expect and hope that this will bring us back to the front end of the midfield.”
Scuderia Toro Rosso have launched their 2009 challenger the STR4 at Jerez, Spain.
The new car is very similar to the Red Bull Racing RB5, but Giorgio Ascanelli has denied that it is a simple rebadging process for the machine.
It will be powered by Ferrari engines.
The drivers for this season are Sebastien Buemi and Sebastien Bourdais. Confidence is high for the team, which was once Minardi, because of their amazing race victory at Monza last season.
“The 2008 season was good in terms of our on-track performance, which, it’s fair to say, exceeded our expectations, with our biggest ever haul of points, a pole position and a win. It’s going to be tough to live up to that this year,” team boss Franz Tost said
“Therefore our target has to be to leave every race track on a Sunday night, knowing we have done the best job we could. The results will then depend on how everyone else has done.”
Ascanelli claims that the car is indeed different to the RB5;
“Red Bull Technology does extremely significant work in defining the essential characteristics of the new car: its length, wheelbase, weight distribution, its basic metric characteristics,” said Ascanelli.
“However, with any F1 car, the packaging revolves around an engine and peculiarities from the drivers and, as we run a different engine to our sister team, it involves a different fuel system and fuel tank. Therefore, ours is completely different to the Red Bull Racing car and is designed here by us.”
Sebastien Buemi has confirmed that the Scuderia Toro Rosso car for the 2009 season will be launched on Monday.
The car, named the STR4 will share a lot of similarities with the Red Bull Racing RB5. The similarity is hardly suprising given two things; firstly the link between the Red Bull team and Toro Rosso and secondly the fact that all of the Toro Rosso’s have been Red Bull’s so far:
- 2006 STR1 was a 2005 Red Bull RB1, indeed it still had the Cosworth V10′s even though everyone else had V8′s
- 2007 STR2 was 2006 RB2, but had a few parts from the 2007 car later in the season.
2008 STR3 was a 2008 Red Bull RB4, park them next to each other and they’re the same.
Indeed the only difference between the RB5 and the STR4 will be the engines, Red Bull run Renault units but Toro Rosso continue their partnership with Ferrari which last season was to their advnatage finishing higher than Red Bull and also scoring a victory with Sebastian Vettel at the Italian Grand Prix.
“It’s like the Red Bull, only in our colours!” Buemi told Swiss newspaper Blick
Sebastien Bourdais was the fastest driver of the day at Jerez, but Lewis Hamilton was the fastest of the 2009 car runners at the circuit.
While Ferrari and Toyota were not running in Bahrain, Toro Rosso, McLaren and Red Bull amongst other teams were present in Europe for one of the first dry tests of the season.
Bourdais was clearly fastest, but mainly because the 2008 cars on slick tyres are just so much faster than 2009 cars.
While Hamilton was fastest of the 2009 bunch, the McLaren team are still running a 2008 rear wing on the MP4-24 so the times are not 100% accurate to the new regulations.
Sebastian Vettel was kicking at the World Champions heels in the new Red Bull RB5, with a time just 0.001 of a second slower. That Red Bull has the potential to be one of the best this season.
Nakajima and Fernando Alonso followed in 4th and 5th places.
“Today was all about getting mileage on the car, especially with the new KERS system,” said Alonso.
“It was my first full dry day in the car and so I was able to learn a lot. We completed lots of laps, which is encouraging and now we will start working on the set-up of the car so that I can get more comfortable with it.”
Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:18.493 128 2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:20.737 93 3. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:20.738 92 4. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:20.898 92 5. Alonso Renault (B) 1:21.307 133
Meanwhile in Bahrain….
Takuma Sato has declared himself incredibly disappointed to have missed on a drive with Scuderia Toro Rosso as the Italian team announced Sebastien Bourdais had taken the second seat.
The Japanese driver has shown significant talent within F1, and was doing very well with the tiny Super Aguri team before they folded in early 2008.
He entered into F1 with Jordan in 2002, and continued to race with BAR and Aguri.
“I am not sure what my future holds, I will be discussing with my Manager what our next steps should be. However, I strongly feel that I have unfinished business in F1 and that I still have a lot to give. I am determined to stay in top level motorsport and I will be fully focused on making a return to F1 as long as any opportunity is there.” Sato told ESPN F1-Live
“I want to thank all my supporters who have been absolutely fantastic with their loyalty, I will always remember these fantastic relationships we have built and hope we can one day repay this support.”
Meanwhile, Sato’s manager declared himself deeply upset with the decision. He is certain that Sato was faster, and Bourdais only has the seat because of better sponsorship.
“I am extremely disappointed that Scuderia Toro Rosso has not chosen Takuma to race for them in 2009. Taku had showed tremendous speed and commitment during the three tests he did for the team and I believe he proved to be the faster driver.” Andrew Gilbert Scott, Sato’s manager told ESPN F1-Live
“Unfortunately however the team made no secret about the fact that they would need the drive to bring a substantial amount of funding to the team to secure the drive.”
Sebastien Bourdais is on the verge of getting a race seat at the Scuderia Toro Rosso team after months of rumours and tests according to a Swiss magazine.
The magazine, Speedweek, claims that Bourdais has been picked over Takuma Sato and it will be announced next week.
Sato has not been picked, despite good tests apparantly on account that expected sponsorship earnings for the Toro Rosso teams would be significantly lowered thanks to the world economic downturn.
Bourdais, a multiple ChampCar World Champion competed in F1 for the first time in 2008 with a couple of good results and quite a few bad ones. He was frequently centred around controversy and has a strange knack for it being everyone else’s fault but his own.
His manager Nicolas Todt only said “We are always in negotiations with Toro Rosso”.
Takuma Sato has been handed another test with the Scuderia Toro Rosso team.
The popular Japanese driver, who has shown serious speed in the past but conjoined with multiple accidents, has been out of a drive since Super Aguri went bankrupt last season.
Toro Rosso have been looking for an experienced driver to go alongside a young-gun. It is thought that Sato will be fighting it out with Rubens Barrichello, Sebastien Buemi, Bruno Senna and Sebastien Bourdais to get one of 2 seats up for grabs.
Taking on Sato would be useful for the Red Bull Energy Drink brand in Japan where it has struggled to establish a good position.
A statement on Sato’s website said: “We are extremely happy to announce that Takuma will be testing again for Toro Rosso in Barcelona on 17-18 November.
“Toro Rosso have yet to decide on their driver line up for the 2009 season. We would like to thank all the fans, as ever, for their fantastic support for Takuma and look forward to more good news soon.”
Fernando Alonso took the chequered flag to win 2 races in a row, but for the title runners it was not a good afternoon whatsoever!
Now Alonso can win with Renault, will he stay or will he go?
Thankfully, this time in Fuji it was dry, not absolutely hammering it down with rain like back in 2007.
Down into the first corner, Raikkonen had the advntage over Hamilton, and was on his outside. Hamilton, unhappy with this fact, made an incredibly agressive and unecessary dive down the inside of Raikkonen forcing them both off the track. To say it was like watching Senna and Prost would be an understatement, “If i can’t have it, nor can you” moment. This forced Massa and Kovalainen off too as they had to take avoiding action, and thus allowing Alonso and Kubica in front.
A few laps later, Massa cut a chicane and got given a penalty for it, yes a penalty so all you people who think Ferrari don’t get penalised there you go. Hamilton got one for forcing off Raikkonen, they both came in at the same time and effectivly their races ruined as they had to force their way through the mid-field for the rest of the event.
Kubica led for the first stint, with Alonso and Kovalainen on his tail. Kimi Raikkonen had a stellar effort to force his way back through the field into 4th.
At the stops, Alonso managed to leap-frog Kubica and Kovalainen retired with an engine failure.
Alonso then controlled the race, taking his second pitstop easily.
Raikkonen did a late run on Kubica, but could not find a way around the Polish driver, who ater the race was outspoken on how agressive Hamilton had been during the season.
Piquet did a great drive from 12th to 4th, never going to pass Raikkonen but a great drive. Their result illustrates how much progress they have made on the car in the past few weeks.
Bourdais tangled with Massa forcing the Ferrari into a spin late on, and after the race was penalised for it. This means Vettel was 6th, Massa 7th, and Bourdais 8th.
Kazuki Nakajima saw his home race ruined when David Coulthard suffered catastrophic suspension failure, ripping Nakajima’s front wing off as the out of control Red Bull slammed into the barriers. DC was unhurt.
Classified (post Bourdais penalty)
The Japanese Grand Prix;
Fuji Speedway, Japan;
|2||R. Kubica||BMW Sauber||+5.283|
|6||S. Vettel||Toro Rosso||+39.207|
|8||S. Bourdais||Toro Rosso||penalty|
|9||M. Webber||Red Bull||+50.811|
|10||N. Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||+54.120|
|13||R. Barrichello||Honda||+1 lap|
|14||J. Button||Honda||+1 lap|
|15||K. Nakajima||Williams||+1 lap|
Fastest Lap: Felipe Massa, 1.18.426
|G. Fisichella||Force India||22|
|A. Sutil||Force India||9|
|D. Coulthard||Red Bull||1||Suspension|
Dietrich Mateschitz would appear to be backing out of his decision to sell his half share in the Scuderia Toro Rosso team.
In an interview with a popular Austrian newspaper, the businessman reckoned that he may have been too hasty in his decision to sell up. Indeed, if an offer that he couldn’t refuse came he’d sell but otherwise he is looking likely to be onboard for 2009.
He admitted concerns over customer cars and parts for 2009 though.
“It might happen that we leave everything as it is,” he told Austrian newspaper Salzburger Nachrichten this weekend. “We haven’t been informed about the new rules yet and it depends on what is written down there – which parts each team must design and produce individually.
“We will see if an interested buyer shows up, but it might happen that we do not want to sell at all any more. Right now, I would say nothing is fixed yet.”
Mateschitz also confirmed that Frenchman and multi ChampCar title winner Sebastien Bourdais is in contention for a seat at the team. “We will check all the possibilities,” he said.
“Bourdais remains one of them, but overall, there are not that many possibilities.”
The possibilities so far we believe are: Sebastien Bourdais, Sebastien Buemi, Takuma Sato, Bruno Senna and Nelson Piquet.
Sebastien Bourdais has declared himself stunned at the amazing track that is Singapore.
The small location is going to be hitting the headlines as it is the first ever F1 night race, something Bourdais has plenty of experience of from ChampCar World Series.
“It is daylight,” Bourdais told Autosport as preparations continued at the Marina Bay circuit on Wednesday.
“The most unbelievable job they have done is with the lighting. It is quite impressive. You have all these structures built around the place, all overhead. It’s quite impressive – I have never seen anything like it.”
After allaying fears about the lighting of the circuit, which has led many leading drivers to doubt the viability of the race, he admitted concerns about the tight hairpin at turn 10 and some about the pitlane entry.
“I’m quite impressed. It is obviously a huge undertaking when you have to build from scratch, but I think they did really well.
“The only thing I am a bit bewildered by is the chicane (at Turn 10) that they have put together. I can see why they have done it because there is no run off there, and it would be a fast and open corner if you did not do something, but even so!
“We had a similar problem in Champ Car when they were trying to prevent cars from short cutting chicanes at Monterrey, and the things were half the size of what they are right now – and we were smashing the tubs there left and right.
“Since you don’t go and buy a Lola or whatever it is these days in F1, you cannot really afford to damage cars. I haven’t seen Charlie (Whiting, F1 race director) yet, but I am a bit surprised. There are fixes for this though.
“The pit entry also seems to be a bit dodgy. You will be running quite a bit quicker than the guy who is going to pit, and you are all going to get to the same point because the entry is just hard left.
“So these are my only two concerns – otherwise the rest of the track is really nicely done. It is a nice track.”
Sebastien Bourdais has said if he stays at Scuderia toro Rosso for the 2009 season, that he wants the car to suit his driving style more.
The Frenchman believes the car was developed with other drivers in mind, especially considering it is basically a respray of Red Bull Racing’s RBR4.
Bourdais reckons this is why he is struggling, and if he got a car more developed to him then he would be even further up the standings.
“Obviously I would like to stay, but it all depends on what the expectations are,” said Bourdais, who came close to a podium finish in Belgium.
“If their (Toro Rosso’s) expectations are for me to adapt to a car I don’t like, then I don’t think it’s a good idea to keep me.
“If they believe in my potential and my perception of things, which I personally believe can lead to an even better car because it has always been the way I function, then yes, we should definitely give it a try, keep on working and make it better.”
Sources close to Scuderia Toro Rosso have confirmed rumour from earlier in the week that Japanese driver Takuma Sato is in talks with the Faenza based team.
Sato, a fast but generally wreckless driver has been without a seat after Super Aguri folded. He has proved himself on many occassions, and has plenty of backing from Japan which could be useful to STR if Red Bull were to pull their sponsorship now dealings are at a minimum.
“We have had talks but there is nothing to confirm yet,” a Toro Rosso spokeswoman said.
Sato’s manager Andrew Gilbert-Scott says they would jump at a chance to test for STR.
“If we had the chance to test with them, then we’d be delighted to do so,” he said.
If Sato is genuinly in with a good chance, as too is Sebastien Buemi it leaves little option for current driver Sebastien Bourdais, and even less for poor old Anthony Davidson who always ends up going from pillar to post.
Scuderia Toro Rosso have begun a major recruitment drive, with a target of adding 50 more workers by 2010.
The small Faenza based outfit which was born from Minardi, a former fans favourite, is owned partly by Red Bull and partly by Gerhard Berger.
With Red Bull’s half up for sale, and the possibility that customer cars will be no longer allowed, Toro Rosso who use a variant of Red Bull Racing’s car and have done so since inception in 2006, will have to create their own cars which will take staff and money.
The first major recruitment of note is Fabio Segalini who designed the original GP2 car.
“We are trying to grow, and if we want to improve our performance we have to grow,” Berger is quoted as confirming to GPWeek.
“I would say about 50 people, we definitely want to strengthen ourselves for the future,” he added.
Ultimate Motorsport, the F3 team have claimed today they are close to agreement with Scuderia Toro Rosso’s owner Dietrich Mateschitz and Red Bull about buying his 50% sharehold within the team.
Toro Rosso is for sale if an offer that is right comes along according to Dietrich Mateschitz whose half is actually for sale. Gerhard Berger who owns the other half has declared he will not sell, yet.
Many have expressed interests, but Ultimate Motorsport are in the advanced stages of discussions into buying the sharehold.
The team, which took its first F3 win at Snetterton last weekend, is going to crate an academy where drivers start in Karting, move to F3 and World Series before hitting the big time.
“We are in negotiations so I can’t reveal too much about it until everything is final,” Barry Walsh of Ultimate Motorsport said today.
“We always set out with Formula One as the target. I would only have got involved in the project in the first place if I was confident we could take it all the way to F1, that is the aim.
“If our plans go the right way, I’d like to think we could be on the grid for 2009. The aim is to have the whole structure, with the academy from karting, through Formula Three and the World Series, and Formula One at the top.”
Scuderia Toro Rosso have announced that their new car, the STR3 will not be ready to race in Turkey this coming weekend, and it is unlikely the car will debut in Monaco either.
The team had a very short test with the STR3 in Barcelona, after Sebastien Bourdais stuffed it in the wall at turn 9 in testing, a corner at which Heikki Kovalainen would bury his McLaren in the Spanish GP.
Now the team, based in Minardi’s old factory, are questioning whether it would be best to launch the new car in Monaco, where it could again be written off. Instead it could be as late as Canada for the new car, although that poses major problems with getting parts to the track if they are needed.
“Monaco is a question – do you bring the new car there? If you’re unlucky, you can end up with no car at the end of the week,” Gerhard Berger, co-owner of Toro Rosso commented.
“Maybe there would be room to consider Canada, but it’s still the worst-case scenario.”
The GPDA have announced they will be lobbying the FIA and the officials at Circuit de Catalunya to make changes to turn 9 at the track after a series of accidents.
Heikki Kovalainen was involved in a huge shunt at the corner, his car hitting the wall well over 120mph despite gravel, and burying the Finn with his MP4-23 underneath the tyre barrier, like Luciano Burti’s accident at Spa in 2001.
Sebastien Bourdais also destroyed his STR3 in testing at the circuit on that corner, delaying work on the new car.
Now the GPDA want changes, with bigger run off areas being high on the agenda.
“We need to make the run off there a bit bigger,” said Mark Webber, who is a big campaigner for improved safety in F1.
“(Sebastien) Bourdais also had a crash there in a testing and we need to look at it.
“The run-off on the exit of the corner is good, but not so on the entry. If you have a problem on the way in, there is not enough run off.
“But we will learn from the accident and we’ll move the barriers back next year I am sure.”