F1 News, Views and Reviews

Lotus Renault GP

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.


F1 2011 Launch Catch Up – McLaren, Mercedes, Red Bull, Sauber, Toro Rosso, Renault…

Catching up on the launches in one mega post.  Here in you’ll find quick interviews with senior members of the team and photos from the Red Bull, Sauber, Renault Lotus, Toro Rosso, Mercedes and McLaren launches.

Apologies for being somewhat late, the whole blog isn’t running at full power until the season starts again.

Red Bull RB7

The world champions launched their new car, named the RB7.  A clear advancement on the hugely successful RB6, hopes are high that this machine can deliver once again.

“This year is no different to any other,” said Christian Horner, team principal of Red Bull.

“I think if we had not have won either championship last year there would have been that expectation and obviously the pressure that comes with that. We’ve achieved that and achieved that in a short space of time and I think it is like winning your first grand prix.

“Out of that comes confidence but not arrogance, but the team goes into this year very, very motivated and very committed but you have to remember we are still an independent team with a customer engine that achieved some remarkable things last year and that is our target again, again, obviously this year.”

 

Sauber C30

The independent Swiss team pulled the covers of their new car, the C30 marking the second incarnation of the team in its modern era.  The new car is backed heavily by Mexican giants Telmex and will be raced by Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez.

Former Force India but now Sauber technical director James Key said: “Our aim in the development of the Sauber C30-Ferrari has been to build on the strengths of the C29 and to eliminate its weak points.

“In addition, it is also important for us to go into winter testing with a car we understand, and we have worked hard on ensuring the characteristics of the car are heading in a direction we believe in. There will be much to learn about the new Pirelli tyres and in this respect we want to ensure there are no surprises with the way the car is handling.”

“My rookie season was a very challenging, very exciting period,” Kamui Kobayashi commented at the launch as he enters his second full season of racing.

“Now it’s still exciting but it’s a different role. It’s more the experienced driver in the team. I am thinking how I can bring a good level to the team.

“I have to be ready to lead the team. That’s why Peter Sauber and the team chose me for this year. This is definitely my challenge and let’s say I am ready to be the leader for the team.”

 

Renault Lotus R31

Newly backed by Group Lotus, Renault pulled the covers off their new car – the R31 – to a mass of media wondering what the final paint scheme would look like, and wondering how the Lotus name debate would go on.  The debate on the name may still be rumbling, but there is no debate over how fabulous the car looks in classic JPS brown and gold.

Featuring front blown exhausts, it looks fast and could be a title contender.  And with Bruno Senna as a spare driver, it harks back wonderful memories seeing the yellow helmet inside a JPS liveried Lotus.

“I’m happy that we had some creative designs on the car. We clearly back our team and definitely our technical team because we want to be fast, we want to be at the front.” said team principal Eric Boullier

“We know it takes time. You have to be creative. You have to find different ways of creating downforce or performance points. We have been taking this path because we believed, quite early in 2010, that we could find more gains going this way.

“In the wind tunnel, or on paper shall we say, the car already has more performance than 12 months ago. If it’s on the car it’s because we believe it works. But we will see on the track.”

Meanwhile Robert Kubica, the number 1 driver was somewhat cautious on their chances “I think realistically speaking is far too early to say what will be possible to achieve this year,”

“Last season was quite disappointing and let’s hope this year will be different. I think definitely we are more prepared this year, because of the more stable situation in the team than last winter, when I joined the team.

“The winter of 2009 and 2010 was very difficult for Renault and I think this year the engineers and designers had a much easier time and much more time to design the car and I think they have done a really good job.”

 

Scuderia Toro Rosso STR6

Toro Rosso, always in their senior brothers shadow has brought a new design to the table and hopes it will deliver them more success this season in the capable hands of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi.

The pairing are aiming for 6th place in the Ferrari powered beast.

“My expectations are to do a decent year and we have to have the target to be eighth and as I said, we are good to be ninth but we have to do better. And at the end of the year we have to bring back an eighth place,” said Giorgio Ascanelli.

“Last year we didn’t have a wind-tunnel, the CFD was not mature in order to define the car,” he added. “Therefore, we did not change very much apart from those elements linked to the change of regulation between 2009 and 2010.

“This year the tools which design the car in its performance aspect, which are again the wind tunnel and CFD, are more mature, which means that although we are still learning how to make the best of them I think we have started using them properly.

“For this year, we have to aim for eighth place, because that is our target and I didn’t think that was possible if we had gone with some sort of conventional car.”

 

Mercedes Benz WO2

Mercedes Benz will be hoping that their second modern F1 car can deliver them some more success than last season.  With Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg behind the wheel they have plenty of potential.  A well sponsor backed car now features the light green of Petronas merging into the brushes silver paintwork.  Ross Brawn, the technical mastertmind behind multiple drivers world championship wins will be eager to deliver the German squad some success.

“It is always a thrill to see a new car ready to take the track for the first time and this year is no exception,” said Brawn. “After our first year as the Mercedes-Benz works team, we are now seeing the benefits of our chassis and engine groups working well together.

“With a good technical structure and a strengthened race engineering organisation, both at the factory and the race track, I am confident that we have done and will continue to do a better job this year in all key areas.

“We want to be setting the standard right from the start but if we are not, we will respond very strongly to get ourselves into the game. Everyone is excitedly waiting to see what the new season will reveal.”

Meanwhile top driver Michael Schumacher was upbeat on the chances of the car delivering him a record breaking 8th world championship.

“I very much look forward to the new season. We have said it several times already but again, we are really to building up something big together. I am very confident that this season we will be standing on the podium much more regularly; ideally in the middle!”

 

McLaren MP4-26

McLaren launched their radical new car in Berlin in a ceremony hosted by lead sponsors Vodafone.  The car will be raced by two former world champions, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton.

The new car features L-Shaped sidepods, and a two tier floor amongst other technical advancements.  The squad are already looking at incorporating a front blown exhaust similar to the Renault Lotus’ design.

Lewis Hamilton was very happy with the machine on launch day.

“I hope the car proves just as innovative once we take to the track next week,” said Hamilton. “I head into 2011 in a relaxed but determined frame of mind.

“I’ve spared nothing during my winter fitness preparations and, in many ways, I feel as fit, focused and refreshed as I did ahead of my first season in Formula 1 in 2007.

“Having spent the past few weeks talking with our designers and engineers, I feel extremely happy that we’ve created a car that will once again allow us to fight at the front.”

 

 

 


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.


Lotus Takes Share Of Renault F1 Team – Lotus Renault GP Rebrand

Lotus, the car company have unveiled their plans to team up with the former Renault Formula One team for 2011, under the name of Lotus Renault GP.

Group Lotus had already expressed a desire to return to Formula One, and following the Renault car company selling its stake in the F1 team back to Genii Capital, it allowed Genii to sell it on to Lotus.

Now at this point, you are probably very confused as Lotus are already in F1.  Well, sort of.  The Lotus team we have seen racing this season have been running under a name that they bought, they are not in any way affiliated with the Lotus Group who run the car company.  This has led Dany Bahar, CEO of Group Lotus to begin court proceedings on Tony Fernandes who runs Team Lotus.  Fernandes, the boss of Air Asia maintains that he will run his team in 2011 as Team Lotus, who will also be supplied with Renault engines.  And just to make it more confusing, both teams are planning to run with classic black and gold John Player liveries.  Excellent.

We aren’t going to get involved with who we think is right in this situation here on TheF1Fanatics Blog but we hope they sort it out as it is going to be mightly confusing next season for fans, commentators and drivers alike.

Dany Bahar told Autosport: “I can think of no better platform for automotive brand communications than motorsport and F1 is the very pinnacle of open-wheel racing.

“We’re well aware that there has been a lot of controversy around the usage of our brand in F1 and I’m delighted to be able to formally clarify our position once and for all: we are Lotus and we are back.”

Meanwhile, Gerard Lopez, chairman of Renault F1 Team and head of Genii Capital added: “We are delighted that we can now go public with the news that we will be racing as Lotus Renault GP in 2011.

“It is extremely exciting to begin a new era for the team in partnership with Group Lotus, and we will continue to enjoy a strong relationship with Renault over the coming seasons. It is a tribute to the excellent work this year by the team in Enstone that we have been able to attract both major sponsorship and new investment for a very bright future.”

Group Lotus have the rights to use their name with the Renault team until 2017.

Autosport have provided this mock-up of what the 2011 Lotus Renault GP car could look like.