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.
Michael Schumacher reassured fans that he was totally fine following a horrific accident at yesterday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
The former 7 time world champion was lucky to escape serious injury following an incident with Force India driver Vitantonio Liuzzi. Schumacher spun early on into the first lap of the Grand Prix, and Liuzzi came flying around the corner to be greeted with Schumacher stranded in the middle of the circuit. The Italian drivers car bounced up onto the Mercedes Benz narrowly missing Schumacher’s helmet. The German was helpless inside the cockpit.
Both drivers emerged unscathed, and shook hands on their way back to the pitlane.
Schumacher said: “I went off the line, spun and because of the dirt there, the back of the car just came around.
“I had to go to the medical centre just for a precautionary check, but I am totally fine and was not hit by anything in the incident.”
It was a sad end to a poor come back year for Schumacher. He had shown good pace towards the end of the season, and said he was looking forward to competing again next year with his German backed Mercedes Benz outfit.
“What happened is a shame as obviously I would have liked to have finished the season with a more positive ending,” he added.
“But I am already looking forward to fighting again next year.”
Force India and Red Bull Racing have confirmed that they will be running F-Ducts in the practice sessions for the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend as they evaluate whether the air flow control mechanism is a worthy new technical advancement to their cars.
Vitantonio Liuzzi told reporters that the Force India team were very confident of their system, a system which is operated by the drivers wrist.
“We are really optimistic about it,” Liuzzi said. “You can never know. It might change tomorrow, but the team has done a big work in the wind tunnel for the last two weeks to test it and it seemed to work pretty well.
“Tomorrow we’ll get the confirmation because on track you never know, but we are pretty optimistic that it should be spot on.”
“We made a simple system with the wrist so we don’t have to take the hand off the steering wheel,” he added.
Meanwhile Red Bull Racing’s man of the moment Mark Webber told reporters in the pre-race press conference that Red Bull were to evaluate their own F-Duct system as they try and maintain their recent dominance.
“Yes, we will give the F-duct a go tomorrow,” Webber said during a pre-event press conference in Turkey. “We will give it a chance.”
Ferrari, who were one of the first teams to use the system are going to try a variation on the position of the hole that needs to be covered in order to stall the air during practice.
Fernando Alonso got his Ferrari career off to the perfect start with victory in the first round of the 2010 season in Bahrain.
The Spanish driver was followed across the line by team mate Felipe Massa, making it Ferrari’s first 1-2 finish in some time. The joy was evident on the faces of the mechanics post-race.
Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 world champion was 3rd.
The anticipation pre-race was unbearable, following the drivers parade we discovered Ferrari replaced both engines and that the Hispania drivers would start in the pits.
The start of the race was fast and furious as expected, with Fernando Alonso managing to squeeze past Felipe Massa as the Ferrari boys snaked through the first few corners behind Sebastian Vettel – who would go on to pull away into a phenomenal lead.
Further back, Mark Webber’s car blew out lots of smoke with excess oil burn off, blinding Robert Kubica’s path and forcing him and Adrian Sutil to spin off. In the carnage, Michael Schumacher made the most of it and worked up into 6th, also making a good effort was Vitaly Petrov who ended up on the cusp of the top 10.
On the second lap, Hispania’s Karun Chandhok bowed out of his debut after crashing. Not the start he hoped for. A matter of laps later, Nico Hulkenberg another rookie spun off, just managing to save his Williams from the gravel trap. During this action, Lucas di Grassi pulled off and retired with hydraulic failure – something that would stop a lot of cars today.
The laps counted down, without much action until Robert Kubica pitted for harder compound tyres and lit up the track. The leaders soon pitted as Kubica’s times tumbled, this first and only pitstop for the majority of the field. The stop allowed Jenson Button, the current World Champion to get past Australian Mark Webber who had been struggling to keep a good pace following that oil blow off on the first corner of the race.
Kamui Kobayashi retired around this time with a hydraulic issue, the same issue would stop his team mate Pedro de La Rosa on lap 30 – the pair hadn’t had a brilliant weekend although De la Rosa had hooked up good pace in race trim. On lap 14, Vitaly Petrov retired in his pitbox with front wishbone failure – how it got broken is still a mystery.
The pit stops were quick, with the top 3 all being under 4.5 seconds.
From there on in it was relatively trouble free with only two more retirements, of Bruno Senna whose Cosworth engine sounded rather worse for wear, and just before Timo Glock who retired we believe due to a hydraulic failure.
All was going well for Vettel, despite Fernando Alonso attempting to gain on him after the Ferrari drivers were told to slow down as their engines were overheating in the dirty air. However, Vettel’s exhaust cracked and the Red Bull driver lost all power, Alonso caught him like his car was on fire and powered on passed – the clean air aiding the Ferrari’s cause.
This clean air allowed Alonso to put in a series of amazing hot laps, he is definitely the one to watch for these first few fly-away races.
Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton managed to get passed the ailing Vettel but he did hold off the Mercedes’ of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher who were making large gains on his Red Bull towards the end.
Button and Webber followed Schumacher over the line, and it was Tonio Liuzzi in 9th who had a quiet but consistent race. Rubens Barrichello held on to 10th to take advantage of the final new point scoring position.
Kubica and Sutil recovered to 11th and 12th respectively following their earlier spins, ahead of Alguersuari and Hulkenberg.
Heikki Kovalainen had a good consistent race for Lotus, overtaking and without technical problems. He finished ahead of Buemi who retired on the final lap, and Jarno Trulli who struggled to the line with a mechnical issue and also seemingly a seat fitting issue – the Italian was holding his back in pain after getting out of the car on the final lap.
While Alonso will take the glory, and will become the Ferrari fans new hero it is worth mentioning Felipe Massa’s performance finishing 2nd in his first race back following that terrible accident in Hungary last season.
Roll on Australia!
|4||S. Vettel||Red Bull Racing||+38.713|
|8||M. Webber||Red Bull Racing||+46.308|
|9||V. Liuzzi||Force India||+53.089|
|12||A. Sutil||Force India||+1.22.958|
|13||J. Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||+1.32.656|
|14||N. Hulkenberg||Williams||+ 1 lap|
|15||H. Kovalainen||Lotus||+ 1 lap|
|16||S. Buemi||Toro Rosso||+ 3 laps|
|17||J. Trulli||Lotus||+ 3 laps|
|P. De la Rosa||Sauber||30||Hydraulic|
|L. di Grassi||Virgin||3||Hydraulic|
Fastest Lap: F. Alonso 1.58.287
Post Race Interviews
F. Alonso – Ferrari (1st): “A very special day for me. Coming back the top of the podium is always special but even more special with Ferrari. We have history behind the team and all the expectations a driver has when he drives for Ferrari. There is no better way to start the relationship. This is the best team in the world, we worked hard all winter, the guys did a very good job in winter testing. We have done nothing so far – we only won the first race but to be first and second is the result that the guys in Maranello deserve because they have been working day and night to give us this fantastic car. This first victory is dedicated to all the people in Italy, the mechanics here and president di Montezemolo. This result is very, very positive.”
F. Massa – Ferrari (2nd): ”First of all I think it is fantastic to be here, so thanks a lot that everything is great. Being here with a competitive car and going through the whole race with good pace, so thanks to God I am fine and thanks to everybody who was supporting me in a difficult time. The race was really good and fantastic for us. For sure I didn’t have a good start, I lost an important position to Fernando at the first corner. After that the race was perfect for me on the soft and with the hard.”
L. Hamilton – McLaren (3rd): “I had quite a good race, unfortunately I lost a bit of ground, locked up into Turn 4 and went wide, got in a bad position and Rosberg got past me. I was then much faster but it’s difficult to follow here and look after the tyres. If I was ahead of him maybe I would have been able to follow the train these guys [the Ferraris] were creating. It is a strong result for me and the team,” he said. “It was more than we expected. We need to continue to push to keep up with these guys.”
S. Vettel – Red Bull Racing (4th): “All in all it was a positive except the failure this weekend. Under any conditions from Saturday morning onwards we were the quickest. I think we had very good control of the race, we had a very good strategy, I knew how my tyres were. We had quite good control of the tyres and the brakes, everything running smoothly. I think it was 15-20 laps to the end I just lost power. I don’t know what it was but I think something mechanical broke. Luckily we could continue but we should have won really.”
M. Schumacher – Mercedes Benz (6th): “It’s the start and then after it is just sort of go your pace and not do mistakes. Overtaking is basically impossible, other than if somebody makes a mistake – Lewis had a little one so Nico was able to pass him, but got back past at the pitstop. That’s about it. That’s the action we are going to have with unfortunately this kind of environment of race strategy. But, anyway, it was good fun. Especially the beginning and now we are going to work forward in order to catch up what is in front of us.”
Robert Kubica – Renault (11th): “All our hard work this weekend was undone by the incident on the first lap. I think Sutil just didn’t lift off because he couldn’t see anything and he hit me. I spun during the incident and that cooked the rear tyres: they were overheating from that point onwards and I eventually stopped very early on lap 12. I completed the rest of the race on hard tyres, and that was a big challenge: I just set myself the goal of finishing in the points, but we didn’t quite make it. Without the incident on lap one, I think we would have had a very strong points finish because we showed the pace to fight well. Overall, it was a positive weekend for us”
Heikki Kovalainen – Lotus (15th): “It was a good race for our team. To get both cars to the finish is a great achievement. My car didn’t have a single problem, I know Jarno did and managed to nurse his car to the end, but the primary goal was to get both cars to the end and we achieved that. So far the team has reached every goal we set ourselves, so that is fantastic.”
P. De la Rosa – Sauber (Ret): “I actually had a good start, but then lost positions when I had to go off the track to avoid colliding with other cars. On the grass I lost acceleration and some cars were able to pass, so when I arrived at turn four I had lost several positions. Then I felt we had a car that was good enough to fight for points, and there still was a chance to achieve this when I was called into the pits on lap 29 because of an hydraulic problem.”
Bruno Senna – Hispania HRT (Ret): “It was certainly a relief to have been in the race for so many laps. Everything was going well. I felt I had a little too much understeer. I had a good base set-up now after these laps and my engineers will have a better starting point to work from for next race. There was a vibration from the back of the car a lap earlier and then the car suddenly stopped. We’ll have to investigate what happened. But I am very happy for the whole team for their incredible hard work to ensure we are in a position to be racing again in Melbourne.”
Lucas di Grassi – Virgin Racing (Ret): “I got a great start and the car was feeling pretty good. I think we could have had a good race with the car that we had but then just a few laps into the race I had to pull over in turn 9 and my race was over before it had really begun. There’s no point being downhearted. We’ll be back in Melbourne with some new developments and a fix for the problems we experienced here. It’s race one of 19 and there’s a long way to go yet. I would like to thank the team for an incredible job here and over the past few months. It’s been a huge effort and I hope for a better result for the whole team in Australia in two weeks’ time.”
Force India become the latest team to show off their 2010 creation after taking the covers off the VJM03.
The team were speculated to be in financial difficulties following a mis-timed tax return, however all now seems well and on the back of a successful 2009 season, they look to the future with the more advanced design of this car.
The Silverstone based squad will have Adrian Sutil, the perennial German and Vitantonio Liuzzi racing for them, with DTM ace Paul di Resta working Friday practice and test role for them.
“There’s a little bit of variety out there but predominantly we are happy,” Mark Smith, design manager told Autosport. “You will always see something on each car that makes you think ‘that’s interesting’ but understanding how they work on your car is the key thing.
“We haven’t looked at photos and thought ‘we’ve missed something significant’ and we’re excited to get down to Jerez.”
Vijay Mallya was bouyant over his team, and said he wants podiums and points regularly this season.
“Our goal is to continue on the same path of performance improvement that we had at the end of 2009,” said Mallya.
“I don’t think I am being over-proud when I say 2009 was an exceptional year for us. The bare statistics say it all: one podium, one pole position, one fastest lap, a further five top 10 starts and 13 points.
“We’ve learnt from our experiences and we’ve come out a better team: resilient, resourceful and now resurgent. I hope 2010 will see this great progress carrying forward.
“We’ve got one podium so far but I would hope that, this time next year, I’m talking about more points and more podiums. I’m confident we can get this, why not aim high?’
Vitantonio Liuzzi, a driver who promised so much but has had little chance to deliver says that 2010 is a fresh start for him.
“In Force India I feel really good, the atmosphere is great and the team works well together,” he said. “Even when I was in a difficult position last year as a test driver they were very supportive and I’ve built a good strong relationship with them.
“I feel like I’m in a family and for sure much better environment than I have been in the past. This year is a new start for me. I’m a different person from two years ago and I am approaching it from a different mentality.
“It’s a different Tonio and I’m looking forward to what can come. I’m still young and have a lot of time in front of me so I just want to prove what I can do.”
Force India have announced they will be retaining the services of Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi as drivers for the forthcoming 2010 season.
The team based at Silverstone will keep the drivers they finished 2009 with.
While Adrian Sutil has now been with the same team since it was running under the Spyker moniker, the race seat is good news for former tester Liuzzi who only got a few races when Giancarlo Fisichella parted ways with Force India for Ferrari.
“We are very pleased to retain the services of both Adrian and Tonio for another season,” said team boss Vijay Mallya.
“We have always maintained that consistency is key at this stage in the team’s development and for the first time in many years we will have the continuity of not only the same drivers, but also the same engine and senior management.
“With this stability now in place I truly believe we have an excellent platform to build on and move forward on our strong 2009 performance. I am sure we have one of the most dynamic line-ups on the grid and I hope this will stand us in good stead in what we all hope will be a transitional year for the team.”
Force India had some really strong performances in 2009, and will be looking to maintain their strength into the new year.
Vitantonio Liuzzi has been confirmed in the vacant Force India race seat, a direct promotion from team test driver.
The Italian will get his opportunity now that Giancarlo Fisichella has replaced Felipe Massa’s replacement driver Luca Badoer in the Scuderia Ferrari team.
Talented racer Liuzzi, now 28, has not competitively raced an F1 car since the end of the 2007 season when he was released from contract by Red Bull sister team Scuderia Toro Rosso.
“I’m delighted to give Tonio the opportunity to get back into a race seat, which I know he has been itching to do for the past two years,” said team boss Vijay Mallya.
“Force India is now in a very competitive position and we need a driver who can continue this momentum. This will be the chance for Tonio to demonstrate to both the team and the field that he has the commitment, speed and professionalism to perform and I am sure he will seize this opportunity.”
Liuzzi will get the chance to race until the end of the season, starting with his home Grand Prix next weekend at Monza.
Felipe Massa visited a top doctor in Miami, Florida yesterday afternoon for a prognosis of his condition and recovery time, and the results were good.
The doctor suggested following plastic and skull surgery, Massa should be 100% to return to the cockpit in 2010.
“Obviously, the results of examination has been warmly welcomed in Maranello, in the sense that the team can count on Felipe 100% for the start of next season,” said a Ferrari statement.
Meanwhile Massa told Autosport “I’m very happy with the outcome of the tests. After the small operation I’ll undergo in the next few days, I’ll finally be able to start doing gym exercise to get back in shape a bit and, after that, I’ll be able to start doing some testing on karts. On track with an F1 car? Let’s go one step at a time: now I’m focused only on starting over with physical activity, which is already a nice step forward.”
The rumour mill now starts the search for a permanent end-of-season replacement for Massa, with Luca Badoer being unlikely to continue after 2 shocking races. Giancarlo Fisichella looks favourite at the moment, especially with Vitantonio Liuzzi suggesting to Italian media he will be racing in Italy. Unless of course he means Ferrari not Force India. Robert Kubica is a name that has been banded around La Gazetta and the like but is totally unconfirmed right now.
Force India reserve driver Vitantonio Liuzzi is to try his hand at racing A1GP cars when he takes to the wheel for Team Itay in the increasingly popular series.
The Italian has been given clearance by his team to race, to keep his hand in at racing openwheel racecars. He raced in 8 events of the Speedcar Series at the start of the year, with promising results.
Liuzzi joined F1 as a champion of F3000, with the Red Bull Racing team taking turns at driving with Christian Klien alongside David Coulthard in that team’s first season. The following year (2006), Liuzzi became the #1 driver with Scuderia Toro Rosso, driving basically the same Red Bull car just repainted with restricted V10 engines. The following season Liuzzi continued with Toro Rosso producing some good results, but never great ones. By the end of the season relations with Red Bull were torn and Liuzzi was officially out of work.
He tested with Force India, but only managed to get the reserve seat being pipped to a race seat by talented rookie Adrian Sutil and experienced Giancarlo Fisichella.
“I’m really looking forward to trying the A1GP car and to get back to racing, which is the thing I like to do most,” said Liuzzi.
“I am pleased that Vijay Mallya and Force India agreed to release me for these races so I can feel the adrenalin of a race atmosphere again.”
Force India has quashed any speculation of major driver changes in the wake of a deal with McLaren Mercedes by announcing an un changed driver line-up for the 2009 season.
This means that Gary Paffett, Pedro de La Rosa nor Paul di Resta will be donning Force India overalls and racing the VJM02 next season.
Giancarlo Fisichella stays in F1 for another season, as does talented young German Adrian Sutil who must impress in the forthcoming season if he is to graduate to a higher drive. I have been a long time believer in his ability, but if it doesn’t come this season, maybe Force India should move him on.
Vitantonio Liuzzi has also been retained as test driver, which is a shame to see a driver of his calbire in that position.
“I firmly believe that next year will be a huge opportunity for this team,” Vijay Mallya said.
“We have a new technical partnership with McLaren and Mercedes, a dynamic new management structure and now one of the most solid driver line-ups on the grid.
“We certainly welcomed the insight and advice of our new partners in this matter, however the choice was entirely ours based on the current talent available in the market today.
“In Giancarlo, Adrian and Tonio we have a wonderful balance between experience and ambition, and now complete consistency.”
Vitantonio Liuzzi has declared himself pleased with his Force India test depsite a relatively poor lap time.
The Italian is touting for work with a new team after being sacked from Scuderia Toro Rosso.
The new Indian outfit, Force India, are highly interested in signing the Italian for his speed and experience in F1.
He admitted he enjoyed the tests, it was a good team and that he saw a lot of potential.
“I am pretty happy with the whole day. In the morning we had a very good session and set some quick times but in the afternoon we had a small problem that affected the driveability of car. It was a shame the lap time was not better, but we gave a lot of information to the team and there is more to come as for sure it was just one test. ” Liuzzi said
“With some more experience the team is ready to grow – there is a good group with some good support from the new owners.
“There is obviously work to do, but I am sure after some small changes the car can be way quicker and you can make a huge difference over the lap.” he added