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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.”

 

 

 


Sauber Announces 2011 Car Launch Date

The Sauber F1 team have announced that their 2011 car, the C30, will be launched on January 31st.

They are the first team to confirm their launch date.  The Ferrari engined squad have already confirmed their two drivers for the 2011 season, in the form of fans favourite Kamui Kobayashi and new rookie Pastor Maldonado.

They have signed a sponsorship deal with Telmex, a major Mexican telecommunications company.

 


Heidfeld Hopeful Of Securing 2011 Seat

Nick Heidfeld has said he is hopeful of finding a race seat for the 2011 season, after Sauber announced this week they would sign young Mexican Sergio Perez.

Heidfeld had been drafted in to the Sauber team to replace Pedro de La Rosa for the final few races of the season.  The 33 year old, who had previously driven for the team in both its privateer and BMW ownership days had been hopeful of racing for the team in 2011.

However he is now looking for a seat in another team, and some big teams like Renault and Williams have yet to confirm their driver line ups.

“I think it will happen,” he said of his prospects of landing a race drive. “But until it’s signed, you can never be sure.

“Obviously there are not that many places left for next year, but we are doing our best. It’s looking positive, definitely.”

“I didn’t know about it [Perez signing for 2011] before I signed for this year,” said Heidfeld. “Obviously I knew that there were things going on in the background and Peter [Sauber] informed me before it was made official.

“Actually, I didn’t complain. Quite the opposite – I congratulated him because it’s great news for the team and especially for the guys in Hinwil who I have worked with for seven years. I’m happy that they can continue with a partner in Telmex that secures the future and gives them the possibility to move further up.”


Perez To Race With Sauber For 2011 Season

Mexican rising star Sergio Perez has been announced as one of Sauber’s race drivers for the 2011 season.

Perez, who drove in this season’s GP2 Series, will join Kaumi Kobayashi at the Swiss based outfit.  Sauber took over the team once again at the start of the season, following BMW’s withdrawal from the sport.

“Formula 1 is the dream of every young racing driver,” said Perez. “And now this dream is about to come true for me.

“Although I’m very much aware that this is also a big challenge and responsibility, I’m happy to accept that and am proud to be representing my country in the highest category of motor racing.

“I would like to thank Peter Sauber for the faith he’s shown in me and I’ll do everything I can to make the most of this wonderful opportunity.”

Along with a new driver, Sauber also announced a major sponsorship deal with Telmex, the telecommunications company owned by Mexican entrepreneur Carlos Slim.

“Sauber has been not only a very successful racing team but also a strong talent developer of some of the most recognised names in racing since their early stages as well as one of the most respected people in the sport,” said Telmex chairman Carlos Slim Domit, the eldest son of Slim.

“Their decision of having Sergio with them is very significant on his career to become a top driver representing Mexico. For Telmex and our racing project Escuderia Telmex it’s a great step forward, and we feel very proud to be able to consolidate these years of work for having a Mexican driver in F1 with Sauber Motorsport.”

Peter Sauber added: “Telmex has been involved in motor sport for a number of years already and supports drivers in various race series. Now they are making the key step up into the top category of motor racing, and we are happy and proud that they are taking this step with us.”

Sauber have already changed drivers this season, with Nick Heidfeld replacing Pedro de La Rosa.  The German now has no seat for 2011, although he is being linked with a drive at Renault.


De La Rosa Out, Heidfeld In At Sauber

Pedro de la Rosa has been sacked from his position as a race driver with the Sauber team, to be replaced from the Singaporean Grand Prix by German driver Nick Heidfeld.

Heidfeld has had a long relationship with Sauber, driving for it under its private ownership in the early 2000’s, and again when it was run by BMW.  He left at the end of last season and joined Mercedes Benz as a test driver, before being released to help Pirelli with their 2011 tyre testing.  Now he rejoins Sauber for a race seat.

Sauber had some bad fortunes early on, but hit form recently with good finishes.  The Ferrari powered car is quick, but sadly not reliable enough.  Heidfeld will partner popular Japanese Kamui Kobayashi.

“It was a hard decision for me to make as a team principal and I want to thank Pedro for his professionalism,” explained Sauber. “By signing Nick we have a driver we know extremely well who will help us to further judge the comparative potential of our car.”

De la Rosa expressed his shock at the decision, which comes after he returned to the sport at the start of this season.

“I am surprised by the team´s decision, but I respect it and would like to wish everyone good luck for the remainder of the season,” he said. “I still intend to be in Formula 1 for 2011”.

Heidfeld himself added: “I’m looking forward like crazy to having the opportunity to go racing again in a good car in Formula 1 from the Singapore Grand Prix onwards. After the last months I’m even more motivated than ever.


Kobayashi Retained By Sauber For 2011

Sauber have confirmed they will be retaining popular Japanese driver Kaumi Kobayashi for the 2011 season.

Kobayashi, 24, made his debut with Toyota at the end of the 2009 season proving popular with fans because of his dare-devil overtaking style.  He went on to win a contract with the reformed Sauber team for 2010 and after a difficult initial period is now performing quite well.

“We enjoy having our rookie as part of the team – both as a driver and a person,” said team principal Peter Sauber.

“We never had any doubts about working with him again in 2011.

“Kamui has definitely fulfilled our expectations in terms of his speed and fighting spirit. Plus, his work with the engineers and his technical understanding has also developed very well.

“The experience he has built up over his first full season in Formula One will certainly stand him in good stead for 2011. And our aim is to give him a fast and reliable car from the outset next season.”

Kamui Kobayashi added:

“We had a very difficult start to the season, but we’ve worked together to pull ourselves out of that situation.  I feel very much at home in Peter Sauber’s team and am very pleased we’ll be working together again in 2011.

“However, for now I’m focusing one-hundred per cent on this year. There are still six grand prix weekends to go in 2010, and we’ll be hoping to make up more ground.”


Maldonado Says He Will Not Replace De La Rosa At First European GP

Pastor Maldonado, the talented Gp2 driver has doused the flames of rumours that he will be replacing veteran Spanish F1 driver Pedro de La Rosa for the first European race of the F1 season at the struggling Sauber team.

The Venezuelan, who attempted to get into F1 with both Stefan GP and Hispania says he has not spoken with Peter Sauber, the boss of the Swiss team and has had no approach thus far.  He says he wants to concentrate on his GP2 season.

“Last year we had a possibility to go into Formula 1 but then there was a problem with Stefan GP,” he told GPUpdate.net. “We were working very closely with Campos, now Hispania Racing, but in the end our sponsors weren’t able to come up with a positive result. We’ll see.

“We are trying to move into Formula 1, for sure; it’s not easy, I think nowadays it’s difficult for every driver. You need a lot of money with the small teams. We will try to go into a middle or big team – that’s better at the moment because finding the money for a larger team is nearly impossible.”

When asked whether he is involved in talks with Sauber, Maldonado rejected the claims. “For the moment, no,” the Maracay-born driver concluded.


Sauber To Run F-Duct In Malaysia

Independent Swiss based team Sauber will be testing a modified version of their take on McLaren’s contraversial F-Duct system this weekend in Malaysia, with the hope that modifications made to the system from its initial test in Australia will allow the team to run it for the Grand Prix on Sunday.

The F-Duct is essentially a hole which draws in air, but when the car is on the straights the driver has the opportunity to close off the hole with their leg, hand or arm and stall the air flow onto the rear wing thus giving the car a greater top speed and allowing a benefit over other cars.   Sauber’s is mounted on the side pod, whereas McLaren’s is mounted on the nosecone.

It is expected if the system is proven to give a significant advantage other teams will follow suit and make their own versions of the system.

Pedro de la Rosa said: “We will run it tomorrow, to continue the testing. It is a modified version and we are trying to get on top of it.

“It is not an easy system to make it work and they have been working very hard in Hinwil to get some modifications in time – and we will see tomorrow.

“We will react accordingly. If it works, fine. If it doesn’t we will wait for another grand prix. But we are pushing 100 per cent on this.”


De La Rosa Becomes Certina Ambassador

Pedro De la Rosa has become an ambassador for the Swiss watch brand Certina as the company increases links with the Sauber team.

Sauber have been lacking in sponsors, and currently run soley white cars but Certina have decided to continue backing the team who are based in Hinwil.

The logo’s appear on the wing mirrors of the cars, and are likely to take more of a prominent placement on the overalls in coming races.

“I am really happy to have such a reliable and dynamic partner as Certina on my side for my comeback into racing and also to be able to wear their sporty and distinguished watches,” Barcelona’s de la Rosa commented.

“With his wealth of experience and his speed, Pedro is a safe bet in Formula 1,” added Certina President Adrian Bosshard. “He is also a great sportsman, which is the ideal complement to the Certina team. I am convinced that he will move the team forward with his great technical expertise.”


Sauber Considering Name Change

Peter Sauber has revealed that his team are considering dropping the BMW part of their name following the German car manufacturer’s decision to pull out of the sport and sell the team back to him at the end of last season.

It was a surprise to many that eter Sauber kept the BMW part of the team name, especially considering that he is getting engines supplied by Ferrari but he has revealed he was hoping for a major sponsor to add to the team name.

“We will submit an application for a chassis name change, but the timing has yet to be decided,” he said when asked by Autosport Magazine about the naming situation.

“It will happen some time this season.”

He said that sponsors had been difficult to come by, and that he was disappointed his cars remained soley white.

“Today we are looking for sponsors for the 2011 season. I hope we will find some sponsors for this season.”

“If we find a title sponsor for 2011 in the middle of the year then maybe we can have them for this season too,” he added.