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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.”





New Team Order Rules Won’t Change Anything – Webber

Mark Webber believes that the recent changes in the ruling on team orders, changing them from being banned to being allowed, will not change anything in the sport.

The team orders ban had been in force for some time, but following Ferrari’s flagrant disregard for the rule at Hockenheim in 2010, speculation was to be that the rule needed to either be enforced or dropped.

Webber, of Red Bull Racing, has been at the forefront of “second driver” following his teams clear desire to support team mate Sebastian Vettel.

“Like they [team orders] never went!” said Webber during an interview with BBC Radio Five Live.

“Look, it is something that has been around since the 1950s, 1960s. It’s always been there, when you have got two drivers driving for a team and you swing results around every now and again to help the team achieve a better result.

“It has been done in the past, done up and down the field. I’ve done it myself at times and been on the receiving end.

“I think people should not get too nervous, they won’t see it every weekend, nothing is going to change.”


Webber’s New Book Reveals He Raced End Of 2010 Season With Broken Shoulder

A new book being published by Mark Webber has revealed that the Australian drove the final four rounds of the 2010 season with a broken shoulder following another mountainbike incident.

Webber was one of 4 drivers in contention for the world championship last season, racing for Red Bull alongside eventual winner Sebastian Vettel.

An extract from the book, obtained by the BBC revealed:

“On the Sunday morning before (the Japanese Grand Prix weekend at) Suzuka, I got on a mountain bike for the first time since my accident in Tasmania at the end of 2008.

“I was riding with a great friend of mine. Suddenly, he crashed right in front of me and I had nowhere to go but straight through the ears of the horse! I suffered what they call a skier’s fracture to my right shoulder.

“Suzuka is a brutal track so it was a blessing that the Japanese weather gave me an enforced rest day on the Saturday (when qualifying was rained off), and a pre-race injection helped, too. In the end, we got through the weekend all right.”

Red Bull Racing Share Out Staff Bonuses For Winning Title

Red Bull Racing owner Dietrich Mateschitz has handed out all of the staff bonuses to his team following their double world championship victory this season, according to German newspaper Bild.

It has been estimated that the majority of the 500 staff in Milton Keynes were given £10,000 for their troubles over the season, while more senior staff earnt themselves a bonus of about £42,000 for their part in the victories.

World Champion Sebastian Vettel earnt himself around £2.6million for winning the world championship, on top of the extra sponsorship money and revenue he will now command following the championship victory.  Proctor & Gamble have already signed a new sponsorship deal with the young German.

It is merely a drop in the ocean for owner Mateschitz, himself a millionaire, who is expected to receive about £62million in prize money for the championship wins.  He has always maintained however that his wallet is not a bottomless pit when it comes to the budget for the team, they are estimated to have a middle ground budget of between €300million and €500million.  Toyota were the top budget spenders in F1, but it is likely that Ferrari have regained the crown of the largest spenders in F1.


Reaction To Sebastian Vettel’s 2010 World Championship Win

Here’s a selection of comments and quotes to Sebastian Vettel’s World Championship win today at Abu Dhabi.

Sebastian Vettel: “I am a bit speechless to be honest, I don’t know what you’re supposed to say in this moment. It is unbelievable. I went to bed and kept thinking about the race, about what might happen. I had some good imaginations and a good feeling.”

“We have seen incredible fights and a tight season.”   don’t know how many times we have had a different leader. Some people got written off very early and then came back, like Fernando, they came back hard. Lewis [Hamilton] came back and was leading all of us.  For some reason it does not feel like it is happening. It’s strange, but it will sink in when I finally go to sleep – but I think we will have daylight before that happens.”

Michael Schumacher (former 7 time world champion): “I’m quite happy for him because we are friends and it has been a tough year for him.  He’s had up and downs he has had to go through, probably more on the mechanical side than on the driving side so he really deserves this championship.  Well done to him, well done to the team, a great job from them all.

“My time was different time from his time, I just feel very happy for him. I think he deserves all the credit. He is a great driver, he is a fantastic guy, so I am more than happy for him.”

Christian Horner (Red Bull team principal): “It’s unbelievable.  It’s been a very emotional week for this team. I’m just so proud of the team. It’s just an amazing feeling to be double world champions, it’s the icing on the cake with the drivers’ [title]. This team is the best team in the world.  Sebastian, it’s the first time he’s led the world championship and he’s done it at the last race of the year. Unbelievable. A great job, he drove a perfect race when the pressure was on.

“He has had ups and downs, he’s had bad luck, he’s had some mechanical problems, some engine failures but he never lost his focus and belief – and now he is a champion. A great season.”

Mark Webber (Red Bull team mate): “I fully congratulate Seb on the world championship.”

Nico Rosberg (Mercedes Benz): “Congratulations to Sebastian today and he deserved the title.”

Jenson Button (McLaren): “Sebastian’s had some great races this year.  We’ve all had up and down races this year, but for the last few races Sebastian has done a great job, and he deserves to be world champion of course.”

Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber): “I also want to congratulate Sebastian (Vettel) for his great success!”

Rob @TheF1FanaticsBlog: “I was always confident that Vettel would win a title someday, but I really thought Alonso would win today.  Well done to him, but as a Ferrari fan I am highly disappointed!”


Brazilian GP 2010: Vettel Wins At Interlagos As Red Bull Crowned Constructors Champions

Sebastian Vettel won the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, ahead of team mate Mark Webber.  The pairs 1-2 means that Red Bull are now the constructors world champions.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was 3rd, picking up more points as he looks to shore up the drivers championship.

Race Review

We had a new pole sitter at the start of the race inn Nico Hulkenberg.  However the glory was short lived for the German, who didn’t have a great start and was immediately over taken by Sebastian Vettel.

On the way down to turn 3, Webber took 2nd from the Williams driver while it took Fernando Alonso another lap to dispatch the former GP2 Champion.  Alonso had managed to sneak past Lewis Hamilton for 4th, when the British driver made a mistake at the end of the straight into turn 3.

From then on, the Red Bull’s significantly pulled away and Fernando Alonso attempted to catch them up.  Lewis Hamilton got stuck behind Hulkenberg, complaining of a poor amount of grip.  He would eventually pit for harder tyres, set a few fastest laps and once again begin complaining of a lack of grip.  This years McLaren seems to be struggling with the tyre degradation.

Further back, Michael Schumacher had a good start but got force onto the grass at turn 2, but got moved back to 10th when he rejoined.  He slipped passed Jenson Button, but after his pit stop he got stranded behind Adrian Sutil.

Many drivers, including Jenson Button and Felipe Massa pitted for tyres early on to get out of the train that had formed behind Hulkenberg’s Williams.  Both Massa and Barrichello had problems at their stops, no luck for the Brazilian’s today.  Massa had to make a second stop, he seemingly had an issue with the front right tyre.

There was relatively little action in the middle half of the race, with the action coming from Webber trying to catch Vettel.  Massa was making his way through the field, and Jenson Button too had thrown himself into contention.

On lap 51, Vitantonio Liuzzi got it all wrong into turns 1 and 2, had he slammed into the barriers by the pitlane.  The safety car had to come out, and both McLaren drivers pitted for tyres as they had been complaining of a lack of grip.  It left them with a lot of overtaking to do.

The safety car also threw Nico Rosberg into the pits, and a horrible pit stop where the front tyre changers appeared to have no idea which Bridgestone’s had been taken off the car and which ones were supposed to be going on.  Nightmare stuff from the silver arrow mechanics.  Rosberg pitted again a lap later changing his mind from harder prime tyres to super soft option tyres.

When the safety car returned to the pits, Vettel pulled away with the fastest lap of the race.  Further back, drivers struggled to work their way through the traffic.  Alonso was held up for far too long by Alguersuari, meanwhile the two McLaren’s couldn’t free themselves from a brace of fast cars in the midfield with their new tyres.

On lap 60, Massa went around the outside of Buemi at turn 3.  The Swiss driver wasn’t happy so rammed Massa off the road.  More bad luck for the Brazilian who is having oen of the worst seasons of his Ferrari career.  Adrian Sutil also had contact with Buemi, but managed to get passed to secure 12th.

Nick Heidfeld was unlucky to be given a drive through penalty for ignoring blue flags at the restart.  In all honesty, everyone in that pack wasn’t concentrating on the flags – either penalise none or all.

From there on it was a relatively easy race, and Sebastian Vettel took the race win ahead of Mark Webber.   Red Bull are now the constructors World Champions.

Race Results

Pos Driver Team Time
1 S. Vettel Red Bull Renault
2 M. Webber Red Bull Renault +4.243
3 F. Alonso Ferrari +6.807
4 L. Hamilton McLaren Mercedes +14.634
5 J. Button McLaren Mercedes +15.593
6 N. Rosberg Mercedes +33.300
7 M. Schumacher Mercedes +43.400
8 N. Hulkenberg Williams Cosworth + 1 lap
9 R. Kubica Renault + 1 lap
10 K. Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari + 1 lap
11 J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso Ferrari + 1 lap
12 A Sutil Force India Mercedes + 1 lap
13 S. Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari + 1 lap
14 F. Massa Ferrari + 1 lap
15 V. Petrov Renault + 1 lap
16 R. Barrichello Williams Cosworth + 1 lap
17 N. Heidfeld Sauber Ferrari + 1 lap
18 H. Kovalainen Lotus Cosworth + 2 laps
19 J. Trulli Lotus Cosworth + 2 laps
20 T. Glock Virgin Cosworth + 2 laps
21 B. Senna Hispania Cosworth + 2 laps
22 C. Klien Hispania Cosworth + 6 laps


Driver Team Lap Reason
L. Di Grassi Virgin Cosworth 63 Unknown
V. Liuzzi Force India Mercedes 50 Accident


Red Bull And Renault Confirm 2011 Renault Engine Deals

Red Bull Racing and Lotus will both use Renault engines for the 2011 F1 season, it was confirmed today at Interlagos.

Red Bull are already supplied with the French manufacturers units, however there had been speculation that the team would abandon their deal and use Mercedes Benz power for 2011.

The deal signed today means they will continue the partnership that started in 2007.  Previously the Austrian energy drink backed team had used Cosworth and Ferrari power units.  The team will also increase the presence of Renault branding on the cars, with Renault badges being place on the nosecone of each Red Bull and text to be places on the visors of each driver.

“We’re pleased to announce this extension,” said team boss Christian Horner. “We have always enjoyed a very straightforward relationship with Renault and they have supported us extremely fairly during the past four seasons, contributing to our thirteen grand prix victories so far.

“The relationship continues to evolve and we look forward to working with them during our 2011 Formula One World Championship campaign.”

Lotus had already announced that they would be dropping their Cosworth power supply for 2011.  The new team had also signed a deal to use Red Bull transmission in 2011 so this move to Renault power is a sensible one.

“I am absolutely delighted that we can now officially talk about the partnership with Renault,” said Lotus boss Tony Fernandes.

“There has obviously been a great deal of speculation about which engine will be powering our cars from 2011 and now the announcement has been made I think everyone can see just how ambitious we really are.

“The combination of the Renault engine and the Red Bull Technology gearbox and hydraulics gives our design and aero teams a successful, tried and tested platform to work with for next year’s car.”

Renault will be supplying the same amount of teams with engines that Ferrari and Mercedes Benz shall do next season.  Cosworth are the other major engine supplier in the sport.



Webber’s Blown His World Title Chance – Brabham

Jack Brabham, the three time F1 world champion says that fellow countryman Mark Webber has blown his career opportunity to win the world championship following his retirement from the Korean Grand Prix last weekend.

Webber crashed out in rainy conditions, after losing traction on the outside of a turn at the Yeongam circuit.  He spun out into a concrete wall before cannoning across the circuit and smashing into Mercedes Benz driver Nico Rosberg’s car.

Brabham believes that Webber has now lost the opportunity to win this title, and possibly lost the opportunity to ever win a title as he gets towards the end of his racing career fighting younger drivers like Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel.

“It would mean a lot to me and it would mean a lot to Australia, but unfortunately I think his real opportunity has been blown last weekend,” 84-year-old Brabham,  explained to the AAP news agency.

“I’m really there behind him in the hope that he gets there, but if he doesn’t do it this year I don’t think he ever will; people like Alonso are young and Mark’s getting a bit too old now, really.

“He can probably go one more year but every year that goes by now he’s getting older and this is a young man’s sport; he’s racing against 21 or 22-year-olds and he’s got the job in front of him.”

Red Bull Drop Hartley From Test Role And Junior Programme

Red Bull have announced today that they have dropped up coming race driver Brendon Hartley from both their F1 test driver role and from their junior driver programme.

Red Bull run one of the most diverse athelete sponsorship programmes, and have worked with drivers like Sebastian Vettel and Vitantonio Liuzzi on their path into F1 along with other sports competitors such as Lindsey Vonn.  Their junior motorsports programme is one of the most competitive to be a part of and usually guarantees some form of success, however Hartley has now been dropped from the funding scheme and faces and uphill battle to save his motorsport career.

The New-Zealander was racing in Formula Renault 3.5 with little recent success, and will be replaced in the Red Bull team in that series by Jean Eric-Venge.  Daniel Ricciardo becomes the sole test driver for Red Bull Racing.

Christian Horner said: “We would like to thank Brendon for all his efforts and the work he has done with Red Bull Racing over the last few seasons. He has provided useful feedback for the team and we wish him all the best for the future.”

Meanwhile Hartley told this weeks Autosport Magazine: “I want to get across that they have given me a lot and I’m not bitter.”

Horner And Red Bull Push For Engine Equalisation

Christian Horner and Adrian Newey of the Red Bull Racing team have announced they are pushing the FIA to allow full engine equalisation from the start of next season.

Red Bull have had a good season thus far with multiple race wins and pole positions for both of their drivers, Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.  The outfit which is based in Milton Keynes, England uses Renault customer engines and has done for some seasons.  However it is widely known that the Renault power unit is not as quick as some of the other engines in the field, by around 35bhp.

The team attempted to become a customer to the Mercedes Benz performance engines, but this was blocked by McLaren under their special right to veto as the main customer for the German manufacturer.

Red Bull point out that they are happy with Renault and their service, they just want a power equalisation programme.

“I think if you look at basic studies you would say we are about three per cent down on power – which is probably about 30-35bhp,” said Horner. “That is as much as four tenths per lap, but until you run all the engines in the same conditions on a dyno and do a fair and proper comparison you can never be sure.

“You often hear Ross Brawn talk about weight distribution, or the centre-of-gravity and cooling efficiency so on, and the more power you have the more heat you generate.

“But you need to look at all the aspects in a collective format. The most important thing moving forward is that chassis will for sure converge, as there is freedom within the regulations, and that is where the engines will become a bigger factor.”

He added: “It is getting a bit boring. Through the regulations, there is nothing that specifically deals with engine equality, and that is the problem. I think it is acknowledged that there are differences and there is a format that was agreed last winter to evaluate the engines, which was agreed upon by all the manufacturers, but some of the teams stopped that from happening. We are back in to that situation.”

“In terms of supply, we are very happy with the relationship we have with Renault,” explained Horner. “They treat us very well, and we have a very good partnership with Renault.

“Unfortunately the product, due to the homologation, is frozen and therefore you have a performance freeze.

“Mercedes have made it transparently clear that they will not be supplying any additional teams for next year- so we rely on the FIA and the teams and manufacturers to create a healthy situation. It is not healthy to have a situation where one engine is significantly ahead of the rest.”

Renault supply both their own works team and Red Bull in 2010