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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.

 


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.”


German GP 2010: Alonso Takes Controversial Victory – Ferrari Fined For Team Orders

Fernando Alonso has won today’s German Grand Prix at Hockenheim in highly controversial circumstances following team orders which led to Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa yielding the lead to Alonso.

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel was 3rd.

Race Review

Sebastian Vettel got a poor start off the line unlike Fernando Alonso but the German forced Alonso right into the wall of the pit straight.  However the young German ignored Felipe Massa who took the lead, and some how Alonso managed to keep 2nd place.

Lewis Hamilton had a good start and jumped both Jenson Button and Mark Webber.

Immediately there was action and drama with overtaking and break downs.  A proper classic race circuit in Hockenheim, albeit not the original track, was on for providing us with a classic.

Jarno Trulli had gearbox issues which really destroyed any chances of a good result for him and he made it back to the pits eventually.  Down at the hairpin turn 6, Jaime Alguersuari back ended team mate Sebastian Buemi the Swiss driver lost his rear wing and was forced to retire immediately.

Adrian Sutil had a problem too and the German dived into the pits.  Moments later Liuzzi pitted too, and it was only many laps later we learnt that the team had been expecting the cars in a different order hence why a front wing was ready for Sutil when he didn’t need one.  This meant that Sutil had Liuzzi’s tyres and Liuzzi had Sutil’s.  A bit of a blooper from Force India who had been proving themselves a point scoring team this season.  The drivers pitted to swap as the rules stated.

Following the pit stops of the front runners, all except Jenson Button who went for a long run, Fernando Alonso was heavily hassling Felipe Massa who was clearly struggling with the hard tyre.  The Spaniard was trying everything to pass, including an audacious move between Massa and back marker Sakon Yamamoto but couldn’t make it stick.

Further back, home hero Michael Schumacher was struggling to pass Robert Kubica but the German finally appeared to have some race spirit back.

Sauber’s Pedro de La Rosa had a crazy race full of overtakes and bumping with other cars, but he only managed 13th in the end.  With Kobayashi 11th, neither Sauber managed points on Sauber’s 40th anniversary in motorsport.

It had been a mildly exciting race up until now but the best was yet to come.  For the first time in a long time, clear team orders were asked of Felipe Massa.  Massa himself now denies the team asked him to move aside, and that he told his engineer he wanted Alonso past.  Massa appeared to have a slow get away from the hairpin and Alonso slipped passed.  It was a bad moment for Ferrari according to many, most comparing it to 2002 in Austria.

Alonso went on to win the race, and Massa held on to second and Vettel made third.  Hamilton was 4th and Button was 5th, points again for McLaren who now have 300 in the constructors title.

Webber was 6th, although he had an oil consumption problem.  It will be interesting to see if that affects the engine next week.

With regard the Ferrari team order situation, the team have been fined $100,000 and will have to appear in front of the World Motorsport Council.  The classification remains unchanged.

Race Result – POST FIA

Pos Driver Team Time
1 F. Alonso Ferrari 1.28.38.866
2 F. Massa Ferrari +4.196
3 S. Vettel Red Bull Renault +5.121
4 L. Hamilton McLaren Mercedes +26.869
5 J. Button McLaren Mercedes +29.482
6 M. Webber Red Bull Renault +43.606
7 R. Kubica Renault +1 lap
8 N. Rosberg Mercedes Benz +1 lap
9 M. Schumacher Mercedes Benz +1 lap
10 V. Petrov Renault +1 lap
11 K. Kobayashi Sauber Ferrari +1 lap
12 R. Barrichello Williams Cosworth +1 lap
13 N. Hulkenberg Williams Cosworth +1 lap
14 P. De la Rosa Sauber Ferrari +1 lap
15 J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso Ferrari +1 lap
16 V. Liuzzi Force India Mercedes +2 laps
17 A  Sutil Force India Mercedes +2 laps
18 T. Glock Virgin Cosworth +3 laps
19 B. Senna Hispania Cosworth +4 laps

Retirements

Driver Team Lap Reason
H. Kovalainen Lotus Cosworth 58 Unknown
L. di Grassi Virgin Cosworth 51 Failure following spin
S. Yamamoto Hispania Cosworth 20 Unknown
J. Trulli Lotus Cosworth 4 Gearbox
S. Buemi Toro Rosso Ferrari 1 Rear wing

Post Race Penalties

Scuderia Ferrari – $100,000 for bringing the sport into disrepute through team orders

Heikki Kovalainen – Reprimand, no penalty due to incident with De la Rosa

Force India – Reprimand, no penalty for giving drivers wrong tyres


JJ Lehto Injured In Boating Accident In Finland

JJ Lehto, a Formula One and Le Mans veteran has had a lucky escape from a boating accident in his native Finland.

The former Benetton and Sauber driver, who also won the  2005 24h Le Mans, was sailing a vessel along the Jomalvik Canal in Finland when disaster struck on the ship.  It is unknown what caused the incident, but Lehto was thrown into the water.  Sadly, a friend who he was sailing with was killed.

Lehto suffered concussion and broken ribs among his injuries, and managed to swim ashore but was very confused during conversations with police according to local witnesses.

We wish him a speedy recovery.


Force India and Red Bull Racing To Run F-Ducts In Turkey

Force India and Red Bull Racing have confirmed that they will be running F-Ducts in the practice sessions for the Turkish Grand Prix this weekend as they evaluate whether the air flow control mechanism is a worthy new technical advancement to their cars.

Vitantonio Liuzzi told reporters that the Force India team were very confident of their system, a system which is operated by the drivers wrist.

“We are really optimistic about it,” Liuzzi said. “You can never know. It might change tomorrow, but the team has done a big work in the wind tunnel for the last two weeks to test it and it seemed to work pretty well.

“Tomorrow we’ll get the confirmation because on track you never know, but we are pretty optimistic that it should be spot on.”

“We made a simple system with the wrist so we don’t have to take the hand off the steering wheel,” he added.

Meanwhile Red Bull Racing’s man of the moment Mark Webber told reporters in the pre-race press conference that Red Bull were to evaluate their own F-Duct system as they try and maintain their recent dominance.

“Yes, we will give the F-duct a go tomorrow,” Webber said during a pre-event press conference in Turkey. “We will give it a chance.”

Ferrari, who were one of the first teams to use the system are going to try a variation on the position of the hole that needs to be covered in order to stall the air during practice.

F-Duct air vent


Teams Agree F-Duct Ban From 2011

Formula One teams have agreed to a blanket ban on the F-Duct systems which were brought into Formula One by McLaren this season.

Combining an air vent on the front of the car with a long shark-fin style engine cover the system manipulates rear air flow, stalling it and allowing for a greater top speed.  it can provide drivers with 9-10km/h more high end power, which is vital on circuits which long straights.

While McLaren came up with the idea, it has had various attempts of reincarnations of the idea by Sauber, Williams and Ferrari to differing levels of success.  No-one knew how they were activated until Ferrari’s was spotted on an onboard camera this weekend as Fernando Alonso takes his left hand off the steering wheel to block the vent.  Others may be operated by knees and even elbows.

Christian Horner of Red Bull, who do not have an F-Duct system, says safety is being compromised by the systems.  “It is a clever piece of engineering and hats off to the guys who invented it, but some of the solutions this weekend look a bit marginal when you see drivers driving with finger tips and no hands,” he explained. “So I think there is a safety issue and a cost issue to take into account.” he said last night.

Nick Fry of Mercedes Benz who do not have an F-Duct either, but have been running a radical engine cover this weekend which has a central fin and side engine air inlets rather than a traditional roll bar, it itself being called potentially dangerous told the BBC: “The trouble with these devices is that most of the top teams, if not all the teams, will have an F-duct-type device before the end of the year”

“We’ll all have got it so we’ll have neutralised the advantage McLaren have currently got and therefore we’re just spending money on it.”

Sauber are now using a front mounted duct like McLaren


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.