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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.”





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.

Team Principals Speak Out On Tyre Situation – Test Time Requested

Some of the top team principals in Formula One have spoken out about the current decision making process over the new tyre manufacturer for Formula One.  Bridgestone, the sole supplier for many season’s contract runs out at the end of 2010 and a new manufacturer needs to be selected.  Pirelli and Michelin are the final two manufacturers in the running for the contract.

Ross Brawn, the principal of Mercedes Benz and former owner of Brawn GP said that he feels the teams need a couple of test sessions with demo tyres from the new manufacturers.

“There has got to be some testing with the new tyre supplier, whoever it is, so I think late summer and early winter there will be some tests organised with the new tyre supplier,” said Brawn.

“But again, we must try and accommodate that within the teams we have. We can’t afford to go out and start rebuilding test teams again.”

Brawn re-itterated the point that the teams want to keep similar technical regulations with regard the tyres, a statement which almost confirms Pirelli not Michelin will be chosen as the Italian manufacturer wanted to stick with the current Bridgestone-spec tyres.

“The teams have together produced a technical specification of the tyre we want,” he said. “So there is a document that we have all contributed to which is a broad spec of the sort of tyre that we want which means there is a single directive to the new tyre supplier of the type of tyre that is needed.

“That means we can continue with the development of our cars. Our cars are being designed around the current tyres because we have no other information.

“So I think everybody wants a tyre to come in that has similar construction characteristics to the current tyre, whether the compounds are quite the same is another matter.”

Ross Brawn - No Messing

Meanwhile Swiss team boss Peter Sauber says he wants a decision sooner rather than later.

“I hope we have a solution before Canada,” Sauber said.

“It is not an easy situation this tyre situation, but it is important we have a tyre supplier for the next season and I think it is important to have a sole supplier tyre.”

Eric Boullier said while his team should theoretically favour the Michelin contract, his team were totally neutral in the decision.

“Let’s say historically Renault could prefer Michelin because they are both French companies, but I don’t think there is a preference for the Renault F1 team,” said Boullier.

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.

Key Joins Sauber As Technical Chief

James Key, who stepped down from his role as technical director with Force India just a few days ago has been annoucned today as the new technical director of the Sauber F1 Team.

Key, who is just 38 and has years of experience with Jordan, Midland, Spyker and Force India under his belt will take over the role from April, when Willy Rampf steps down from the position after many years in charge.  Key will start work before hand to get used to the team.

He admitted on visiting the new Hinwil factory in Switzerland, he had his mind made up with the team having endless opportunities.

“The first time I saw the facilities in Hinwil, I knew straightaway the kind of opportunities open to me there.  The wind tunnel, the supercomputer, the machine park and the expertise of the team were extremely persuasive.

“There is significant potential at Sauber, and with the ever-changing world of F1 I think the team is very well placed at present.

“I am grateful to my old team for the past 12 years I spent with them, but now I very much look forward to starting my new job. I would like to thank Peter Sauber and the team for this great opportunity.”

Peter Sauber was very happy with his new signing.

“Despite his young age, James looks back on more than a decade of experience in Formula 1 – and the 2009 car in particular proved quite a revelation,” said Sauber.

“James comes from a private team and knows how to work around a limited budget. With us he will enjoy high-level technical opportunities.”

Sauber Launch The C29; Their 2010 Contender

Sauber have launched their first independent F1 car since 2005 today, the team took the covers off their new car known as the C29 in a low-key ceremony in Valencia.

The car retains a BMW Sauber style paint job with a majority white finish and bits of navy and a tiny streak of red, but so far the team possesses no sponsors of note.  Hopefully this will change before the season opener in Bahrain in 6 weeks time.  Another thing which we hope will change is the name, at the moment the team are still known as BMW Sauber F1, but I’m sure Peter Sauber, and Ferrari their engine supplier would like that name adjusted.

The car features an uncharacteristically high nose, but once again it is a long one – clearly a 2010 common feature.  the car has a beautifully sculpted rear, and features a shark-fin wing like the one on the McLaren albeit a little shorter.  The Sauber is probably, in my mind, the most visually pleasing of the 2010 cars so far, but it remains to be seen whether it will be fast.

Willy Rampf, technical director was bouyant.

“The development of the BMW Sauber C29 has seen the team build on the experience gained last year and the improvement in performance over the final third of the season. However, the new regulations banning refuelling during the race and stipulating a reduced width for the front tyres have required significant changes to the car’s design.”

Owner Peter Sauber was happy with progress, admitting it has been a frantic chase to the grid.

“The last few months have been very intense for us,” said Sauber. “First we had to battle to secure the survival of the team and then we focused on putting a strong set-up in place for the future.

“The technical preparation of the 2010 car has continued uninterrupted and according to plan since the spring of 2009, despite all the turmoil. We have a long tradition of bringing together an up-and-coming youngster and an experienced campaigner as a driver combination – and it’s an approach that has brought us a lot of success.”

The drivers for 2010 are talented rookie Kamui Kobayashi, and 38 year old perennial McLaren test driver Pedro de La Rosa who says he never expected to get another shot at racing.

“At last I can feel like a proper racing driver again,” he said. “I’ve really missed the competition out on the track. At the same time, though, I’ve learned a lot technically and on the systems side, and now I want to bring that knowledge to the team.”

The car will be on track testing from tomorrow, along with most of the other teams in Valencia.  Renault launch their new car, the R30 this afternoon.

Sauber Confirmed In Final Grid Slot

The Sauber F1 Team will make a return to the Formula One grid for the first time since their owner sold the team to BMW at the end of the 2005 season.

Toyota pulled out of F1 and made a grid slot available, which was desired by Sauber – but could have been taken away if someone had bought Toyota.

With the Japanese manufacturer confirming last night that they had returned their entry to Bernie Ecclestone and the FIA, it looked ever more likely Sauber would be confirmed on the grid, and now they have been.

“This is excellent news for the workforce in Hinwil,” said owner Peter Sauber.

“After many weeks of uncertainty, we have finally secured our place on the grid for 2010. Now we can enter into concrete negotiations with drivers and sponsors.”

A statement issued by the FIA said: “The FIA has written to inform BMW Sauber AG that their application for an entry in the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship has been successful.”

“Subject to their signing the Concorde Agreement, BMW Sauber will be awarded the 13th entry in the Championship, taking the place of the departing Toyota team.

“The FIA has worked closely with the Commercial Rights Holder and the teams involved over recent weeks and is grateful for their support in achieving the best outcome for the sport.”

The team are already working on their 2010 car, codenamed the C29 which is likely to be powered by Ferrari engines, and Christian Klien is currently favourite for a race seat.

Toyota Not Selling F1 Entry, Paving Way For Sauber’s Return

The Toyota F1 Team are NOT selling their F1 entry, claiming they have already given it back to the FIA and Bernie Ecclestone.

This news will come as a crushing blow for Stefan GP who were hopng to purchase the former team based in Cologne. However it will be a champagne moment for Peter Sauber, whose team look to be set on the path back to Formula One.

A Toyota source said they are also working on a reduced penalty fine for leaving F1 having signed up to the 2012 Concorde Agreement with Bernie Ecclestone.

The source said: “We have returned our entry to the FIA and have no intention or wish to influence or interfere in the allocation process. That is a matter for the Federation.

“We are discussing a settlement with Bernie on the basis of goodwill and what is acceptable to all parties.”

They are going to sell their initial 2010 car model however, and there has been some interest – Stefan Gp’s name was banded around, although without a grid slot the reasoning behind their purchase would be confusing.  Allegedly, the source says, Kamui Kobayashi is being offered as part of the deal!

Sauber Confident Of Gaining Final Grid Slot As 2010 Car Takes Shape

Peter Sauber has said he is “very confident” that his newly re-formed Sauber team will gain the final grid slot, after an FIA meeting for the 2010 season.

The Swiss businessman bought back his team from BMW and is now hoping to gain the empty grid slot vacated by Toyota.  The only stumbling block to this is a report in today’s Blick a Swiss based tabliod saying that Serbian GP outfit ‘Stefan GP’ are to buy Toyota’s operation and rename it in order to avoid some $130million of fines.

The above is increasingly unlikely, and Sauber is confident the Hinwil outfit will make Bahrain next year.

“This agreement means that the future of the team and the location in Hinwil are secured,” he said in an interview with Formulaone.com

“I am very relieved about that development.”

“It would have been a crying shame had one of the best Formula 1 factories closed down. Regarding the slot on the grid I am very confident that we will be given a final confirmation very shortly.”

In terms of his new car, now known as the C29, which will be powered by Ferarri, Sauber is confident regarding its development into a fast paced machine.

“Our 2010 car is perfectly on schedule,” he said. “The development and fabrication have been unaffected by the situation. Having been able to proceed with uninterrupted development was also possible thanks to excellent cooperation with Ferrari, who submitted all the relevant data very early.

“Regarding the performance of the C29 we are all very confident. Two months before the first tests, we have already reached a very good basis for further development.”

Sauber Buys Team Back From BMW

Peter Sauber has announced that he has purchased his old Formula One team back from BMW.

The businessman sold his successful team to the German car manfuacturer at the end of 2005, and the team achieved some success with Sauber staying on board.  His name stayed on the cars too.  However with BMW pulling out of the sport, the future of the team remained uncertain.

Qadback Investments Group wanted to buy the team, but their financial dealings are under scrutiny, and Peter Sauber stepped in to get his old team back.

The whole deal is built on whether or not they get the final grid slot, which is yet to be decided, as Toyota have pulled out of the sport.

“We are very happy with this solution,” said Dr Klaus Draeger, Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG. “This fulfils the most important requirement for a successful future for the team.

“Our relationship with Peter Sauber has always been excellent and marked by absolute respect. We would like to express our thanks to Peter Sauber and the whole team for the excellent cooperation during the recent four years.”

Peter Sauber added; “I am very relieved that we have found this solution. It means we can keep the Hinwil location and the majority of workplaces. I am convinced that the new team has a very good future in Formula One, whose current transformation with new framework conditions will benefit the private teams.

“Our staff here are highly competent and motivated, and I look forward to taking on this new challenge together with them. I would like to thank BMW for four shared years that have in the main been very successful.”

We at The F1 Fanatics Blog are really happy about this, Sauber were a great team and we can just hope they make the 2010 grid!