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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.”

 

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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.


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.

 


Ferrari Reshuffle Top Staff Following Abu Dhabi Failure

Ferrari have reshuffled their senior engineering team following a series of failures that saw them lose the 2010 Formula One World Championship at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

One of the most senior Ferrari members called Fernando Alonso into the pits too early, forcing him to be stuck well down the field and handing Sebastian Vettel the title.

Chris Dyer, who worked with both Michael Schumacher and Kimi Raikkonen during their championship years has been ousted from the pit wall.  His new role is as yet undefined.

Pat Fry steps into the team as head of race track engineering.  Fry formerly worked for McLaren.  Neil Martin also formerly of McLaren joins the team, working under chief designer Aldo Costa.

“The mistake was, in terms of magnitude, huge – and it produced devastating effects. But in a normal race it would have been a normal error,” Team principal Stefano Domenicali told Italian newspaper La Repubblica.

“So you must not jettison everything, even the good things, because of that mistake. We will change things and officially announce things in the coming hours – and we will make sure that those who make delicate decisions are able to have all the tools they need not to be wrong again.”

He added: “I will personally try to help the team from a psychological point of view as well, because the hardest penalty in a shoot-out is the one coming after you missed one.”


Williams Denies Maldonado Is “Pay Driver”

Williams CEO Adam Parr has rubbished rumours that Pastor Maldonado is simply racing for the Williams team as a “pay driver”.

Maldonado has joined the British based team alongside Rubens Barrichello, ousting popular German rookie Nico Hulkenberg.  Speculation in the press had been that Maldonado could raise more sponsorship capital for the team and Hulkenberg, something Williams desperately needs as many of their main sponsorship deals come to an end in 2011.

“The guy just won the GP2 with a rookie team with more victories than anyone. The mere fact that we have to talk about it is absurd. It’s a shame, really,” Parr told motor21.com

Parr also had good words to say about former man Hulkenberg;

“I would like to see him at Williams again,” Parr explained.

“He has the dedication and the passion to be a great driver and I was so impressed with his maturity and professionalism.

“I hope he finds a position somewhere else but on the other hand I would like to maintain a relationship with him,” he added.


Petrov Secures Seat For 2011 and 2012 at Lotus Backed Renault Team

Russian driver Vitaly Petrov, who had an up-and-down season with Renault in 2010 has cleared up all speculation about his future following an announcement that he has secured a two yar race seat deal with the Lotus Renault team.

He raced with Renault last season, and will continue alongside popular Polish driver Robert Kubica as we approach the new year.  Renault has been undergoing some changes recently, announcing a partnership with the Lotus Cars group meaning the team is now known as Lotus Renault.  They will be running in classic John Player Special style liveries next year.

“We are very pleased to confirm that Vitaly will be staying with us for 2011 and 2012, in order that both he and the team can build on a promising 2010 campaign,” Team Principal Eric Boullier said.

“The entire team has been working flat-out over the past months to improve our competitiveness, and a stable driver line-up is essential to achieving our targets.

“Robert Kubica provides a remarkable benchmark for both speed and consistency, and we are certain that Vitaly will move closer to this level of performance next year.”

Team chairman Gerard Lopez said:

“Last season, he showed on several occasions that he clearly has the potential to deliver,” Lopez said. “It was just a matter of putting everything together during the same weekend, race after race, and this will be his target for 2011.”

Kimi Raikkonen and Adrian Sutil  had been linked with the Renault seat.


D’Ambrosio Confirmed As Marussia Virgin Driver For 2011

Jerome D’Ambrosio has been confirmed as the second driver at the Marussia Virgin Racing team for the 2011 season.

The Belgian driver, who tested with both Virgin and Renault at the recent rookie tests in Abu Dhabi, will take over the race seat from ousted 2010 driver Lucas di Grassi.  D’Ambrosio clearly did enough to impress the team during the test and as expected takes the race seat.

Timo Glock will race alongside Jerome at the team, which is now receiving backing from Marussia a Russian sportscar manufacturer.

Speaking about the deal, D’Ambrosio said: “I’m thrilled to have achieved my goal of a Formula 1 race seat with Marussia Virgin Racing.

“When I came to the team in September this year it was everything I could hope for. I had a tough test to complete because there was a lot of competition for this seat, but at the same time I got on well with the team and felt that I had found my home.

“I feel very comfortable with them – they are extremely professional and ambitious people and it is exciting to think that I can be a part of shaping the team’s future.”

 


Toro Rosso Announce 2011 Launch Date

Scuderia Toro Rosso have announced that they will be launching their 2011 Formula One car on February 1st.

The launch will take place at the Valencia Circuit on the day that official pre-season testing starts.  Swiss based squad Sauber are also launching their new car at the circuit.

The Faenza based team will have Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi driving for them once again.