F1 News, Views and Reviews

Force India

Sutil Happy To Stay At Force India

Adrian Sutil has said he is on the verge of a deal to stay at Force India for the 2011 season.

The highly rated German driver had been linked with a variety of seats away from the independent Silverstone based team, to partner Robert Kubica at Renault or even possibly to join the Mercedes Benz team.

However Sutil, who has raced with Force India since they joined the sport in 2008, says he will be happy to stay with Vijay Mallya’s team for next season.

“I am close to Force India and although there is nothing signed yet, the direction is towards Force India at the moment,” Sutil told Autosport ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

“It looks good at the moment. I said already many times that I am happy to stay here another year, and I cannot say more at the moment. There is nothing signed at the moment but the direction is Force India.”

“I feel good here. I was born here, let’s say. It’s my first team and I still feel good in this one.

“For sure there is a certain time where you think you may need another challenge or to change teams, but I still feel good here and I still feel we can improve our performance. We can do better next year and thinking about that I have to continue another relationship and another partnership.”

 


Is Felipe Massa Ready To Leave Ferrari?

As the Formula One “silly” season comes around again, and drivers are beginning to sign on the dotted line to new contracts one of the more overlooked rumours this weekend in Japan has been the possibility that Felipe Massa could be ready to leave Ferrari in search of being an out and out first driver.

The Brazilian was drafted into Ferrari and raced as Michael Schumacher’s understudy in 2006.  In 2007, he was overshadowed by Kimi Raikkonen who went on to win the title.  In 2008, he missed out on the championship by just a single point and 2009 was the infamous year where he was nearly killed.  2010 has been a difficult year for Massa.  he had to move aside in Germany, so that Fernando Alonso could win the race in order to help his world championship challenge.  It smelt like Schumacher/Barrichello from years before.

At the time Massa accepted the decision, but has become increasingly unhappy both on and off the track.  His performances have slid, and he doesn’t look happy in the garage.  On Thursday ahead of the Grand Prix, Massa told reporters that he “Didn’t want to be a 2nd driver, only the first driver.  I don’t want to be another Rubens Barrichello”.  Hastily, the boss of Ferrari Luca di Montezemolo said that he was still a number 1.  But how can a team have two number ones?  Especially when the other driver is Fernando Alonso.  Lets not forget 2007, when Alonso was challenged at McLaren and he didn’t accept it.

Italian Press and the Suzuka paddock have been awash with rumour that he was ready to leave the team.  The main teams he is being linked with are Renault, and believe it or not – Force India.  The latter statement shows just how far the little team based in Silverstone has come, to attract a driver like Felipe.  Word in the paddock is that now Raikkonen has declined Renault, Adrian Sutil will leave Force India and head across to Enstone to partner Robert Kubica.  This leaves the Force India door wide open for Scotsman Paul di Resta to take over from Tonio Liuzzi, and Felipe Massa could slot in as the number 1 driver within the team.

So it looks like Felipe may hold the key to the driver market this season.  If he leaves, it leaves a completely empty race seat with Ferrari – who could potentially be the drivers championship winning team.  Both drivers at Red Bull and McLaren are secure for 2011, so it would be likely to be an outsider driver coming in to the team.  They have a range of options.  They could select a youngster, one of their young driver programme drivers, but this is highly risky for the team and they would have to be confident that the driver could perform at the highest level straight from the off.

Their other option is to bring in someone experienced.  Kimi Raikkonen rejected Renault for the team, as opposed to rejecting the prospect of Formula One.  Could he make a sensational come back to F1 with Ferrari?  Another possibility could be Michael Schumacher, the tainted son of the Italian team, has allegedly been offered an ultimatum by his Mercedes Benz bosses – perform or face the sack.  Returning to Ferrari would guarantee him continued legend status, and almost certainly a competitive car.  If Schumacher did leave Mercedes, then Nico Hulkenberg could go across to the all German team – his race seat at Williams is rumoured to be being offered to Pastor Maldonado, the GP2 World Champion.

It could make for an exciting winter season after all!


Court Reverses Force India Sponsorship Division – Damages To Be Awarded

A UK court of appeal have today reversed a previous decision made by another British court regarding the Force India sponsorship debate, which started back in 2008.  The court had previously judged that Etihad Airlines, and Aldar two prominent Abu Dhabi based businesses had breached contracts with the Force India team and were forced to pay them $4.7million in damages.

However, under appeal the decision appears to have been reversed.

Etihad and Aldar began sponsoring the Spyker F1 Team in 2007, however when Vijay Mallya bought the team at the end of the season and renamed it Force India the two companies left one year into their three year deal.

The new appeal have said that Etihad and Aldar had every right to leave the deal, as the team had changed hands and also because of rival sponsors being brought onboard.  The judge ruled that Mallya’s own airline, Kingfisher, being a title sponsor alongside Etihad would not have worked out for the Abu Dhabi based airline and therefore they had every right to leave.

Force India have been told to pay costs and may yet be forced to pay damages.


Sutil Keeping His Options Open On Future

Adrian Sutil, the talented Force India driver has told GrandPrix.com that he is keeping his options open with regard any future race seats.

The German driver, who has begun to start scoring consistent points finishes with Force India had until recently spent majority of his F1 career at the back of the grid.  However with a rejuvinated Force India team results had been going his way, and he currently lies 10th in the championship ahead of the likes of Rubens Barrichello.

Things have not been quite so rosy for him in the last two races though.  At his home event at Hockenheim, a pitlane error caused him to finish the race at the back and saw his team get fined.  Then last weekend in Hungary he scored a DNF following a collision with Robert Kubica.

Sutil has been courted by teams in the past, but this is the first time he has openly suggested he may move.  With the top teams all being locked down for 2011, his main option for move appears to be with Renault.  Talented Russian Vitaly Petrov could be on his way out of the team, and Sutil is in high contention for the race seat fighting against the likes of Kimi Raikkonen, Timo Glock and Bruno Senna.

“I’m happy at Force India but I want to move forward,” Sutil said this morning

“The top teams are pretty much closed, so it’s hard to find a better seat than here.

“Scoring points regularly was my goal for this season and next year I want to improve again, whether it’s somewhere else, or here.”

He added: “It’s a tough decision to make right now.

“If you are signing up for something like three years and you’re not confident the team is better, then you shouldn’t do it.”


Force India and Red Bull Racing To Run F-Ducts In Turkey

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.

F-Duct air vent


Di Resta Won’t Test For Force In Turkey

Paul di Resta has told of how he will sit out free practice testing duties for Force India this weekend in Istanbul park as the Silverstone based team use their two race drivers to evaluate upgrades.

Di Resta has been used in place of one of the race drivers at various race free practices on Friday’s this season as the team evaluate the DTM racer for a potential future race seat.

However the bosses at Force India have decided they want Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi to give them experienced feedback on new parts being put on the car this weekend.

Speaking about the decision, di Resta said: “It was a late call from the team but I completely understand their decision as there are some new upgrades coming through this race that really need the drivers’ and the team’s attention.

“I’ll still be there in the garage, trying to learn as much as I can as the developments are pretty exciting. I’ve still done all the groundwork, going in the simulator for some running as I’ve never driven Istanbul Park before.

“It’s a pretty busy time of the year for me as well with the DTM race in Valencia between Monaco and Turkey. But it’s keeping me sharp and focused on racing, which is the best possible situation for me right now.”


Liuzzi Laughs Off Di Resta Seat Link

Vitantonio Liuzzi has laughed off rumours linking Force India test driver Paul di Resta taking his race seat with the Silverstone based team.

Liuzzi tested for Force India before gaining a permanent race seat for this season, spending time waiting in the wings following time with Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso.

Results for the highly rated Italian have been up and down, and often not as good as his team mate.  This sparked rumours that Di Resta could take his seat, the DTM ace performing well in Friday tests.  However Liuzzi had a great race in Monaco and says he is not concerned at losing his seat.

“I am not worried about these rumours; speculation is always at the door and all over the papers,” he said in his exclusive column with ESPNF1. “I have a contract for two years with Force India and they believe in me and I believe in them, so our relationship is very good. They know exactly the problems I was having in China and Spain and they know that it was not due to anything else.

“Also I scored points at the first two races and again in Monaco, so they can see that I’m very much fighting for the team to meet its targets. It really doesn’t worry me that this sort of stuff is printed and it’s quite normal that you get this kind of speculation when you are competing at the highest level.”

Force India’s chief operating officer Otmar Szafnauer said last week: “We still support Tonio fully. t was never the plan to race Paul this year.”


Stefan GP NOT Given Entry As Official 2010 Entry List Announced

Stefan GP have not been granted an entry into the 2010 Formula One season, and will not be allowed to compete unitl potentially 2011 as the FIA consider opening up entries fo the next season of racing to newcomers.

Stefan have already got a car and sent equipment to Bahrain, and despite USF1 not competing this season the Serbian outfit cannot take their place.

“Having considered the various options, the FIA confirms that it is not possible for a replacement team to be entered for the Championship at this late stage,” the FIA said.

“In the coming days the FIA will announce details of a new selection process to identify candidates to fill any vacancies existing at the start of the 2011 season.”

USF1 are listed as deferring their entry until 2011 on the list, and Sauber retain the BMW moniker at the start of the name while Campos become HRT as mentioned yesterday.

Official 2010 Entry List

1  Jenson BUTTON (GBR)        VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES (GB)
2  Lewis HAMILTON (GBR)       VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES (GB)

3  Michael SCHUMACHER (D)     MERCEDES GP PETRONAS FORMULA ONE TEAM
4  Nico ROSBERG (D)           MERCEDES GP PETRONAS FORMULA ONE TEAM

5  Sebastian VETTEL (D)     RED BULL RACING (AUT)
6  Mark WEBBER (AUS)          RED BULL RACING (AUT)

7  Felipe MASSA (BRA)         SCUDERIA FERRARI MARLBORO (I)
8  Fernando ALONSO (ESP)      SCUDERIA FERRARI MARLBORO (I)

9  Rubens BARRICHELLO (BRA)   AT&T WILLIAMS (GB)
10 Nico HÜLKENBERG (D)        AT&T WILLIAMS (GB)

11 Robert KUBICA (POL)        RENAULT F1 TEAM (FRA)
12 Vitaly PETROV (RUS)        RENAULT F1 TEAM (FRA)

14 Adrian SUTIL (D)           FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM (IND)
15 Vitantonio LIUZZI (I)      FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM (IND)

16 Sébastien BUEMI (CH)       SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO (I)
17 Jaime ALGUERSUARI (ESP)    SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO (I)

18 Jarno TRULLI (I)           LOTUS RACING (MAL)
19 Heikki KOVALAINEN (FIN)    LOTUS RACING (MAL)

20 TBA                        HRT F1 TEAM (ESP)
21 Bruno SENNA (BRA)          HRT F1 TEAM (ESP)

22 Pedro DE LA ROSA (ESP)     BMW SAUBER F1 TEAM (CH)
23 Kamui KOBAYASHI (J)        BMW SAUBER F1 TEAM (CH)

24 Timo GLOCK (D)           VIRGIN RACING (GB)
25 Luca DI GRASSI (BRA)       VIRGIN RACING (GB)

Teams are up, no Stefan though...


Hulkenberg Fastest On Day 2 of Barcelona Final Test

Nico Hulkenberg narrowly beat Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso on the second day of the final test in Barcelona.

The German driver did just under 100 laps as many drivers concentrated their morning runs on qualifying performance, and the afternoon on higher fuelrace based simulations with Bahrain being just 2 weeks away.

De la Rosa was 3rd with another impressive performance from Sauber, with Liuzzi showing the Force India pace with an impressive 4th.

Vettel and Alguersuari were close in 5th and 6th, despite the Toro Rosso now running its own chassis and aerodynamic package separate from the Red Bull teams, both ahead of Michael Schumacher in 7th however.

The new teams of Lotus and Virgin were still at the bottom of the timesheets however.

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time     Laps
 1.  Hulkenberg    Williams-Cosworth    (B)  1:20.614   99
 2.  Alonso        Ferrari              (B)  1:20.637  134
 3.  de la Rosa    BMW-Sauber           (B)  1:20.973  114
 4.  Liuzzi        Force India-Mercedes (B)  1:21.056   90
 5.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault     (B)  1:21.258  125
 6.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)  1:21.571  104
 7.  M.Schumacher  Mercedes GP          (B)  1:21.689   85
 8.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes     (B)  1:22.152   93
 9.  Kubica        Renault              (B)  1:24.912   53
10.  Trulli        Lotus-Cosworth       (B)  1:25.524   70
11.  Glock         Virgin-Cosworth      (B)  1:25.942   52


Jerez Test Day 4: Button Quickest

Jenson Button set the fastest time of the day, and the fastest time of the week on the final day of testing in Jerez yesterday.

The McLaren driver was narrowly quicker than an improved Robert Kubica, and Kamui Kobayashi brought Sauber back to the front of the times.

Vitantonio Liuzzi was fast in the Force India, slightly faster than Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari.

Jarno Trulli propped the tables after some mammoth long runs on his first day with the Lotus.

Pos  Driver             Team         Time       Gap       Laps
 1.  Jenson Button      McLaren      1m18.871s            108
 2.  Robert Kubica      Renault      1m19.114s  + 0.243s  117
 3.  Kamui Kobayashi    Sauber       1m19.188s  + 0.317s  117
 4.  Tonio Liuzzi       Force India  1m19.650s  + 0.779s  80
 5.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes     1m20.061s  + 1.190s  130
 6.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari      1m20.436s  + 1.565s  137
 7.  Jaime Alguersuari  Toro Rosso   1m21.053s  + 2.182s  139
 8.  Mark Webber        Red Bull     1m21.194s  + 2.323s  87
 9.  Nico Hulkenberg    Williams     1m21.919s  + 3.048s  137
10.  Timo Glock         Virgin       1m22.433s  + 3.562s  28
11.  Jarno Trulli       Lotus        1m23.470s  + 4.599s  141

b


Jerez Testing Round 2 Day 1: Vettel Quickest

Sebastian Vettel made the most of the poor conditions, slotting the new Red Bull Rb6 onto the top of the timesheets on the second part of the Jerez test, day 1.

The Red Bull Racing favourite slipped ahead of Lewis Hamilton in 2nd, and Felipe Massa in 3rd both drivers making good times given the conditions.

Pedro de La Rosa was 5th, lamenting the conditions but still ended ahead of Michael Schumacher.  Paul di Resta got his first taste of testing, gaining 8th place in the Force India as he shared the cockpit with Adrian Sutil.

Lotus made their debut with the T127 and Malaysian driver Fairuz Fauzy getting behind the wheel with a solid day of testing, and Lotus declaring themselves pleased.  Virgin looked to be struggling a little still, not finding their feet as quickly as Lotus.

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time     Laps
 1.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault     (B)  1:22.593   99
 2.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes     (B)  1:23.017   72
 3.  Massa         Ferrari              (B)  1:23.204   72
 4.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari   (B)  1:23.322   79
 5.  de la Rosa    BMW-Sauber           (B)  1:23.367   76
 6.  M.Schumacher  Mercedes GP          (B)  1:23.803  111
 7.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes (B)  1:24.272   28
 8.  di Resta      Force India-Mercedes (B)  1:25.088   74
 9.  Petrov        Renault              (B)  1:26.237   55
10.  Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth    (B)  1:27.320  109
11.  Fauzy         Lotus-Cosworth       (B)  1:31.848   76
12.  Glock         Virgin-Cosworth      (B)  1:32.417   10

V


Jerez Test Day 3: Washout Continues But Alguersuari Fastest

The third day of the second test at Jerez was another washout, with Jaime Alguersuari coming out fastest after a scorching lap early on in the day in the cooler damp conditions.

Many of the drivers elected to do long runs on extreme wet tyres, with Rubens Barrichello clocking a massive 120 laps today.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa did some long runs, as did Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton who was low down the times.

Lucas di Grassi got his first taste of the Virgin, which kept its wing on today, and also kept itself stuck to the bottom of the timesheets.

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time     Laps
 1.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari    (B)  1:19.919   76
 2.  de la Rosa    BMW-Sauber            (B)  1:20.736   58
 3.  Sutil         Force India-Mercedes  (B)  1:21.428   48
 4.  Massa         Ferrari               (B)  1:21.603   72
 5.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault      (B)  1:21.783   59
 6.  Petrov        Renault               (B)  1:22.000   68
 7.  Rosberg       Mercedes GP           (B)  1:22.820   53
 8.  Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth     (B)  1:23.217  120
 9.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  1:23.985   68
10.  di Grassi     Virgin-Cosworth       (B)  1:37.107    8

alg


Jerez Test Day 2: Kobayashi Fastest As Virgin Takes Off Its Clothes…

Kamui Kobayashi continued to prove the great pace of the new sauber car topping the time sheets on another cold and damp day in Jerez.

Buemi was also fast, as was Hulkenberg and Liuzzi.

Michael Schumacher was back int he car in his gleaming scarlet helmet, narrowly beating Fernando Alonso’s time as it seemed the front runners in Valencia were now doing long fuel runs.

Meanwhile Red Bull still launguished down at the bottom of the timesheets, following their ufnortunate break down yesterday.

But the catastrophic failure goes to Virgin, who in another day of running managed to have their car undress itself on the circuit.  The front wing unit totally collapsed and Timo Glock had to crawl back to the pits, before Virgin announced they would abandon running due to a lack of parts.  Not a good start.

Pos  Driver        Team                       Time     Laps
 1.  Kobayashi     BMW-Sauber            (B)  1:19.950  103
 2.  Buemi         Toro Rosso Ferrari    (B)  1:20.026  121
 3.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes      (B)  1:20.618   83
 4.  Hulkenberg    Williams-Cosworth     (B)  1:20.629   67
 5.  Liuzzi        Force India- Mercedes (B)  1:20.754   80
 6.  M.Schumacher  Mercedes GP           (B)  1:21.083  124
 7.  Alonso        Ferrari               (B)  1:21.424  129
 8.  Kubica        Renault               (B)  1:22.003  103
 9.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault      (B)  1:22.043   99
10.  Glock         Virgin-Cosworth       (B)  1:29.964   11

k


Jerez Test Day 1: Rosberg Quickest As Virgin Well Off Pace

Nico Rosberg was fastest on a very wet and cold first day of this weeks test in Jerez.

The German romped home in his Mercedes Benz.  Sebastien Buemi looked impressive in the Toro Rosso, while Fernando Alonso the home favourite was down in 4th.

Vitantonio Liuzzi did over 70 laps in the new Force India, narrowly beating Vitaly Petrov’s time as he adjusts to driving Formula One cars.

Timo Glock brought out the Virgin into competitive running for the first time, after a series of installation laps his fastest effort was some 17 second a-drift of the best times.

Pos Driver              Team           Time           Gap   Laps
 1. Nico Rosberg        Mercedes       1m20.927s              57
 2. Sebastien Buemi     Toro Rosso     1m21.031s   +0.104     84
 3. Nico Hulkenberg     Williams       1m22.243s   +1.316    118
 4. Fernando Alonso     Ferrari        1m22.895s   +1.968     88
 5. Kamui Kobayashi     Sauber         1m23.287s   +2.860     55
 6. Jenson Button       McLaren        1m24.947s   +4.020     68
 7. Vitantonio Liuzzi   Force India    1m24.968s   +4.041     71
 8. Vitaly Petrov       Renault        1m25.440s   +4.513     27
 9. Mark Webber         Red Bull       1m26.502s   +5.575     50
10. Timo Glock          Virgin         1m38.734s  +17.807      5

r


Force India Launch Their 2010 Car – The VJM03

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 Retain Sutil And Liuzzi For 2010

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.


Former Renault Boys Piquet and Di Grassi Weigh Up 2010 Options

Former Renault drivers Nelson Piquet Jr, and Lucas di Grassi are said to be weighing up their options for the 2010 season of racing.

Lucas di Grassi claims that he is likely to land the second race seat at Manor Grand Prix.  The small new team, who will be powered by Cosworth engines, announced Toyota refugee Timo Glock as their first driver yesterday.

Di Grassi claims there are a lot of guys looking at that team, but that he has a good chance and should find out his fate this week.

“My chances of landing a deal with team Manor are good,” di Grassi is quoted as saying by Autosport.

“They have a couple of guys they are looking at for next year, and I am one of them,” the 25-year-old, who was Renault’s third driver for the 2009 season.

Meanwhile disgraced former Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr, says that he could be heading to NASCAR or potentially back into Formula One for 2010.

Piquet, who was given political immunity for testifying against Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds in the infamous crash-gate where Piquet deliberately smashed his Renault F1 car into a wall at the 2008 Singaporean Grand Prix is not likely to recive a warm welcome back to the paddock.

However he claims Force India are taking an interest in his services.  If not, then he see NASCAR as an ideal arena to test his skills.

“I am close to Force India at the moment, but to me NASCAR is very interesting so I don’t know yet what is going to happen,” he is quoted as saying by Brazil’s globo.com.

“I don’t want to take a decision without knowing how things work here in the United States”.


In-Depth: Have Lotus Stolen Force India’s Design For 2010?

One of the more interesting stories of this week, although not as imporant as Toyota’s exit from F1, was the accusation from Force India’s senior management of concerns regarding the new Lotus F1 teams car.

Photos of the windtunnel model of the first Lotus were released a few weeks ago, and a paddock mole rooted out that Force India’s top management had held meetings regarding what it felt was robbery of design and intellectual property.

It is alleged, that the front wing assembly especially, and other dimensions of the model are sharing exact replicas of aerodynamic pieces and sizes used on early versions of Force India’s 2009 car.

The model, created by a company called Fondtech, a parent company of Aerolab worked with Force India until midway through 2009, when their partnership with Lotus was announced.  Fondtech, based in Italy, have made this model for Lotus’ windtunnel testing use.  Mike Gascoyne is the senior technical director of the team, overseeing large parts of the design and recently worked with Force India.

Following big stories like crash-gate and spy-gate this seems relatively minor, and considering Scuderia Toro Rosso used repaints of Red Bull’s cars and have done since their entry into F1 in 2006, it seems almost trivial.  But it is interesting to see this element of design carried over, and with a ruling stating no two cars can have the exact replica designs to cut out “customer cars” as part of the 2010 regulations and FOTA’s preferred regulations, it will be interesting to see if the FIA take any action over the allegeations.

Mike Gascoyne gave a short interview to Autosport Magazine who brought these allegations to the public eye.  He claims that generic wings were used on the model, almost suggesting that because of Fondtech’s recent partnership with Force India that the designs could be very similar.

“It [The Windtunnel Model] is based around a 2010 chassis, because there is a big fuel volume in it, it has a Cosworth engine, an Xtrac gearbox, our suspension, and other stuff designed by us. The Fondmetal guys put some generic bodywork on [for the tests].” Gascyone told Autosport

“Some of the staff had been working on different projects. And whereas you cannot copy anything or take anyone else’s IP, you can use your expertise – and you will base that on what you know and what directions you know have been happening. That is what has happened.”

Aerolab, the front base of operations for parent company Fondtech have not taken the criticisms lightly and are now sueing Force India over breaches of contract.

“It is quite unusual for us to comment on negative matters but we have been given no other choice but to make public the facts after press reports in recent days suggested that Aerolab has passed on information to parent company Fondtech which enjoys a close technical relationship with Lotus F1 Racing,” said Aerolab’s managing director Jean-Claude Migeot.

“These rumours are designed only to tarnish the company’s reputation and professionalism and to divert attention away from the facts.

“The truth is that Aerolab is suing Force India for not fulfilling its obligations.”

Quite a storm has been created down the end of the grid, so we shall keep looking at what occurs with the allegeations, in a week where Force India recieved nearly $5million payout from Etihad Airlines for cutting short its contract and swapping to sponsor front runners Scuderia Ferrari.

Lotus' windtunnel model

Force India's 2009 launch car, very similar

Front 3/4 of the Lotus

The above winglet from the Force India is a telling design when compared to the Lotus, apart from the two tier winglet which goes towards the nose from the end plate, the design of that winglet is replicated onto the Lotus.  Te curved end plate with small carbon upright is also evident on the black Lotus aerodynamic model above.  As are the sweeping carbon pieces which direct airflow under the car.


Force India Drop Big 2010 Driver Hints As Chandhok Given Sim Test

Force India have given us their biggest hints yet as to their 2010 driver line-up after an interview with Vijay Mallya this morning.

The boss of the team, and Kingfisher lager and aeroplane brand has admitted he has no reason to change from the current line-up of Vitantonio Liuzzi and Adrian Sutil.  Liuzzi being drafted in to a race seat from his test role after Giancarlo Fisichella joined up with the Ferrari team.

“They are loyal and hard working. They are with the team and part of the team, they are doing their best. Unless I have some compelling reason to change, I ask myself why should I change?  As of now I am very happy with what I have and the only role open is a test driver role and we’ll see where we go from there.”

And Karun Chandhok, the known Indian driver will be given a testing chance in the McLaren simulator this week, to perhaps become the teams official test driver for 2010.

“Karun is like a son to me. I have known him from when he was a little boy in shorts. If I can give him a chance, I’d be delighted,” Mallya told Reuters.

Neel Jani, will also be given a shot in the simulator.  I think Mallya should consider another India driver, one Narain Karthikeyan.


Liuzzi Confirmed In Force India Race Seat

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.


Special Feature: When The Small Teams Do Well!

Everyone likes to see the “under-dogs” do well at some point, and following on from Force India’s epic weekend in Spa, where they had the fastest car and scored a second place finish on the back of pole position we look back at some fine performances from the minnows from the late 1990′s through to 2008!

1996 Monaco Grand Prix – Olivier Panis

It was a wet morning before the Monaco Grand Prix and changeable weather conditions were a possibility.  In the warm-up pre-race Andrea Montermini crashed his Forti and wouldn’t make the start of the Grand Prix.  Jos Verstappen hit the wall within moments of the race start as he was on slicks.  After just 5 laps there were only 13 cars remaining with Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Ukyo Katayama, Ricardo Rosset and Pedro Diniz all retiring through incident.

Gerhard Berger then retired, and Martin Brundle spun.  Heinz Harald Frentzen lost his nosecone and ended up well down the field.  At Lowes hairpin, Olivier Panis managed to muscle his way passed Eddie Irvine in the Ferrari.  Irvine lost control and was getting out of the car when the Ferrari engine coughed back into life for him.  Jean Alesi took an impromptu lead but lost it when his suspension failed.  Jacques Villeneuve retired when he was in an incident with Luca Badoer in the Forti who was some 6 laps DOWN on the leaders.

Olivier Panis took his first and only Formula One victory after the two hour limit was passed, it was Ligier’s final victory also and their first for 15 years in the sport.  True underdog stuff.

1996 PAN

1997 Hungarian Grand Prix – Damon Hill & Shinya Nakano

Damon Hill, despite being world champion was driving for the very uncompetitive Arrows Yamaha team and had been experiencing a shocking season.  However in Hungary, the Bridgestone tyres the team used were working well and after qualifying 3rd, Hill managed to lead the race after making a daring move down the inside of Michael Schumacher.  He lead for the majority of the race but ended up finishing second after a throttle linkage failure.  The failure was caused by a small washer, valued at only 50pence but it took away Arrows’ first ever win.  It would be their last podium finish.

Also worth noting in Shinya Nakano’s performance here to 6th place, where he managed to score a single point!

1997 HILL

1998 Belgian Grand Prix – Jordan’s 1-2

Eddie Jordan’s team had always been there or thereabouts at the top of the tables, but this race really put them on the map.

In the rain at Spa Francorchamps there was a huge incident between the La Source hairpin and Eau Rouge with almost every single car in the field involved.  It was caused by David Coulthard losing control, and with terrible spray and mist other drivers piled in at full speed.  Without enough spare cars, many did not restart the race and those that did ended up in accidents themselves with just 8 cars finishing the event, and last placed Shinya Nakano was 5 laps down…at Spa!

Still a brilliant performance from both Damon Hill and Ralf Schumacher led to the team getting a 1-2 finish and sending Eddie Jordan into eclectic jubliation.

1998 CRAS

1999 European Grand Prix – Minardi Points; Stewart 1-3

After a fairly large incident on the first corner taking out two cars this was a pretty crazy Grand Prix all in.  When the rain came it just added to everyone’s problems and cars were spinning off the track all ways.  The standard amount of mechanical problems added into the mix too led to both Minardi’s being in the points.  Disaster struck the story late on when Luca Badoer retired from 4th place with mechanical problems but his team mate Marc Gene managed 6th and a solitary point which was as ever incredibly vital for the team.  However, in recent years it has been suggested that Gene changed the champion of that season, had he been passed by Irvine then Eddie could have won the World Championship by a single point.  But he did not, and Mika Hakkinen took his second and final title.

Worth noting also that Jackie Stewart’s team got a 1-3 finish in the race.  But Minardi were even more of an underdog than Stewart!!

1999 BAD

2003 Brazilian Grand Prix – Fisichella Shines In The Rain

Rain hit the Brazilian GP, and the drains on track couldn’t cope with the monsoon conditions.  With standing water all over the place, many crashed around turn 3 including some of the big names such as Michael Schumacher.  Coy pitting allowed Giancarlo Fisichella up the front of the pack and he completed a beautiful pass over Kimi Raikkonen to take the lead moments before Mark Webber had a huge crash coming into the main straight.  The safety car came out and Fisichella dived into the pits giving Raikkonen the lead again.  When Fernando Alonso had a huge shunt in the same place just moments later the race was red flagged and Raikkonen handed the win.

However in the days following the race, it was discovered the leader from the last full lap won the race and that was Giancarlo Fisichella!  He was belatedly handed the trophy at the San Marino Grand Prix a few weeks later.

2003 FISI

2005 United States Grand Prix

When Ralf Schumacher had another crash at Indianapolis, Michelin realised their tyres were not up to the job of the circuit and moments before the race started they asked the Michelin running cars to pull into the garages post formation lap.

They did so, and we were left with just 6 Bridgestone tyre runners to complete the USGP.  There were shocking scenes that day, but it allowed Jordan and Minardi to score many points and indeed Tiago Montiero to take his first and only podium finish.

2005 TIAG

2008 Italian Grand Prix – Vettel Wins For What Was Minardi!

Sebastian Vettel was drafted into Toro Rosso late in 2007 and showed great promise as a driver.  When the Italian GP came, adverse weather allowed the young driver to put his car on pole, from there he strolled home in the terribly wet conditions while others lost their heads.  Vettel delivered Toro Rosso a win, the team that used to be Minardi and indeed before the big brother Red Bull team even got one!

2008 VETT


Massa On Road To Recovery – Fisichella To Ferrari??

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 Confident Of Maintaining Pace At Monza

Force India F1 Team’s chiefs are pretty confident that they will be able to maintain the blisteringly fast pace shown in Belgium last weekend in the forthcoming Italian Grand Prix at Monza.

The team shocked the field with the VJM02, along with its new aerodynamic upgrades proving a formindable beast and socring the teams first ever pole position at the hands of Giancarlo Fisichella.

The Italian could well have won the race too, if it were not for a safety car and Ferrari’s blindingly fast Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS) working to massive advantage.

“Why not?” team owner Vijay Mallya said when asked if the team would be as strong again in Monza. “We know that the car is quick, blindingly quick I would say. The sector times show it and I think the Monza track will suit us.”

Meanwhile, the teams top tech chief Simon Roberts told Autosport Magazine in an exclusive interview;

“Our car is quick in a straight line. I’d like to say that’s what we intended, but it isn’t.

“What we have tried to do is to put genuine upgrades on the car to create more downforce. The Valencia upgrade was very low on drag and was a good time to deliver that before Spa and Monza.

“We’ve got an aero test next week, so we’ll hit the ground with more data at Monza. That makes it easier for the engineers and we should be able to set into it quicker.”

“Obviously Monza is low drag. We’ve got some more wings to try there. We’ve got an aero test next week so unlike on Friday here, on Friday in Monza we know what the wings do so we should hit the ground strong.”


Belgian GP 2009: Kimi Raikkonen Takes Ferrari’s First Win Of Season!

Kimi Raikkonen delivered an emphatic first win of the season for Ferrari this afternoon after a highly exciting Belgian Grand Prix.

Suprise pole sitter Giancarlo Fisichella came in 2nd place, Force India’s first ever points and thus podium, while Sebastian Vettel kept his championship hopes alive while others around him faltered with 3rd place.

Race Review

The getaway from the line was mostly noted for Rubens Barrichello’s anti-stall kick in, forcing Kimi Raikkonen around his outside and bunching everyone up into La Source hairpin.

Raikkonen dived onto the astroturf around the outside of the turn and raced down to Eau Rouge with Fisichella in the lead and the BMW’s far up the pack.  Further back in the field various cars including Fernando Alonso, Jaime Alguersuari, Adrian Sutil, Timo Glock, Jarno Trulli and Lewis Hamilton were all tangling with bits of bodywork flying everywhere.

The cars were bunched as they headed down the straight to Les Combes, where Romain Grosjean tagged Jenson Button forcing him into a spin.  Jaime Alguersuari tried to miss Button and ended up ramming Lewis Hamilton forcing them both out as well as Button and Grosjean.  This left us with a Safety Car situation with all these cars hanging off the track.

Some drivers including Rubens Barrichello decided to pit in.

When the safety car finally returned to the pits, Kimi Raikkonen using his KERS system to full effect managed to get ahead of Fisichella and that is where he would stay for the rest of the race.  The gap between the two was not very large, and the pitstops [all on the same laps for the pair] didn’t yield a position change.  Had Raikkonen not being using the KERS system then he would almost certainly have lost the place to Fisichella, whose Force India car looked frighteningly quick.

Sebastian Vettel had a very quiet drive to 3rd place, managingto make use of accidents and retirements.

Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld managed to get a great result for their BMW team, with 4th and 5th places.  They stayed out of trouble throughout the race, but were almost certianly helped along by faster rivals being knocked out in the first corner accident.

7th place finisher Rubens Barrichello never looked like troubling those at the front after his poor start.  He did well to end up in the points, but in all honesty was lucky to finish with his Brawn GP car pluming smoke for the final 3 laps.  The Brazilian’s car then set on fire as he returned to the pitlane after the race!

Just finishing ahead of Rubens was Heikki Kovalainen, the sole finishing McLaren using good strategy to make the position from a poor qualifying start.  8th was Rosberg picking up vital points, but Mark Webber really should have been there but he had a pitlane incident where he was released into the path of Heidfeld, focing the German to nearly crash and got given a drive-through penalty for it.

Timo Glock should also have finished higher than 10th, but a fuel rig failure ruined his chances of points from early good running.

Sutil, Buemi and Nakajima came next in the classifications with fairly average races, and Luca Badoer brings up the rear of the field [again] in what is likely to be his last Ferrari race.

Fernando Alonso retired with a broken front left wheel and suspension, while we do not know Jarno Trulli’s problem possibly a fuel pressure issue.

Classified Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 K. Raikkonen Ferrari 1.23.50.995
2 G. Fisichella Force India Mercedes +0.939
3 S. Vettel Red Bull Renault +3.875
4 R. Kubica BMW Sauber +9.966
5 N. Heidfeld BMW Sauber +11.276
6 H. Kovalainen McLaren Mercedes +32.763
7 R. Barrichello Brawn Mercedes +35.461
8 N. Rosberg Williams Toyota +36.208
9 M. Webber Red Bull Renault +36.959
10 T. Glock Toyota +41.490
11 A. Sutil Force India Mercedes +42.636
12 S. Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari +46.106
13 K. Nakajima Williams Toyota +54.241
14 L. Badoer Ferrari +1.38.177

Fastest Lap: S. Vettel (Red Bull) 1.47.263

Retirements

Driver Team Lap Reason
F. Alonso Renault 27 Tyre/Suspension
J. Trulli Toyota 21 Fuel Pressure (Poss.)
J. Button Brawn Mercedes 1 Accident
R. Grosjean Renault 1 Accident
L. Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 1 Accident
J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso Ferrari 1 Accident

KR


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 31 other followers