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.”
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.
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.
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 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.”
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.
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.”
So far, confirmed broadcasters of HD F1 are:
- BBC – Britain
- Sky – Germany, Austria & Switzerland
- Network Ten: One HD – Australia
- Speed – USA
- Globo – Brazil
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.