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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.”

 

 

 

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Brawn Denies Button Ousted So Schu Could Return

Ross Brawn jumped to defend the actions of Mercedes Benz in letting Jenson Button go to McLaren after he was accused to ousting the Briton to make way for Michael Schumacher.

Schumacher announced his return with Mercedes, the re-branded Brawn team with whom Button won the world title this morning.

And team principal Brawn says he would like to have kept Button but it was not to be.

“I don’t think that is the case [that Jenson went for Michael],” said Brawn. “We made a good effort to try to find a solution with Jenson and it didn’t work out. Jenson made his decision in the end not to stay. We made a big effort to keep him but it wasn’t possible in the end.

“It overlapped to be honest. I had a loyalty to Jenson but when that started to look difficult I started talking to Michael, and things developed from there.

“Michael and I kept very close over the years and I saw from his disappointment over the summer, when he couldn’t drive a Ferrari, how much passion he still has for the sport. We’re incredibly excited now about the prospect of Michael being part of the team.”


McLaren Waiting To Decide On 2nd Driver

McLaren have annonuced they will bide their time in the driver market as they make their move for a 2nd driver to partner Lewis Hamilton for 2010.

The team have multiple options, but want to wait until Fernando Alonso is confirmed at Ferrari before making a move on any other drivers.

They are also still considering keeping Finn Heikki Kovalainen, based on his race pace improving and becoming more consistent.

“At the moment we have not, and we are not in any conversations with drivers and we will see in the future,” Whitmarsh told the BBC about his team’s driver plans going forward.

“I think in reality there are some changes probably with Fernando at Ferrari. That frees up the driver market and every year there is a number of pivotal points during the season which determine what is going to happen in the driver market.

“This year I think we all know that the Fernando/Ferrari move has a knock-on and that ripples through the other teams.

“Clearly the BMW withdrawal has also had an impact. I think we don’t see a need at the moment to rush into it, we are concentrating on developing the car and making sure we are more competitive, which I hope we will be this weekend.”

There are many drivers who will be free and available, but out of that list we see these potential candidates:

  • Kimi Raikkonen – Dislodged by Alonso, drove for the team previously but would he want to return? Word is that he is leaving Formula One altogether
  • Jenson Button – Impressive season thus far, could be world champion. Could McLaren deal with 2 Brits together?
  • Nico Rosberg – Talented, and McLaren have resources Williams don’t.  His best chance of a title?
  • Robert Kubica – No seat now BMW have left, he is being heavily linked with Renault
  • Adrian Sutil – Not such a long shot, good friends with Hamilton. He has pace but needs a decent car.


HWA Denies Mercedes F1 Team Project

HWA, the division responsible for building Mercedes’ DTM and other racing cars has played down speculation that there is soon to be a Mercedes F1 Team on the grid with cars built by them.

Last week Focus  a German news magazine claimned that HWA could be on the verge of setting up a McLaren/Mercedes ‘B’ Team.  This is gathering pace with British motoring weekly Autocar who claimed that Dubai based backers, who were formerly involved with prodrive F1 could provide significant funding.

It is also fueling rumours that Mercedes wants to end links with Ron Dennis’ McLaren team.

However, HWA have denied any such plans.

“There’s nothing to it” Hans-Juregn Mattheis, HWA CEO told sport1.de.

“This is all pure speculation.”

“We currently have no ambitions in the direction of Formula 1”. he added

Mercedes HWA DTM