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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.”





Toro Rosso Announce 2011 Launch Date

Scuderia Toro Rosso have announced that they will be launching their 2011 Formula One car on February 1st.

The launch will take place at the Valencia Circuit on the day that official pre-season testing starts.  Swiss based squad Sauber are also launching their new car at the circuit.

The Faenza based team will have Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi driving for them once again.

Toro Rosso Sale Denied – Many Interested In Purchasing Team

Dietrich Mateschitz has been forced to deny that one of his Formula One teams, Scuderia Toro Rosso is up for sale.

It had been reported online earlier this week that the team, based in Faenza, was up for sale at a paltry €30million.  The team was formerly known as Minardi until the end of 2005 when Mateschitz took control of the outfit and rebranded it to fit in with his Red Bull portfolio.  Designed as a feeder team to the main Red Bull squad, it had been using repaints of the senior teams cars until this year when the rules on customer cars was finally sorted.

The team are most famous for producing the 2010 title challenger Sebastian Vettel who joined at the end of 2007, winning their first and only Grand Prix at Monza in 2008.  He was then promoted to the senior Red Bull Racing team.

“There are constant rumors about it, but now we have no plans to sell Toro Rosso,” Mateschitz’s PA told 422race.com.

Despite the denial of sale there are reported to already be a number of people interested in purchasing the team, should Mateschitz decide to sell.  These include Carlos Slim, the Mexican entrepreneur who has always been interested in buying in to the F1 dream.  Another interested party is Jacques Villeneuve along with the Duragno group who failed to succeed in becoming the 13th team for 2011.  Stefan GP have also been linked with purchasing the team now they have severed all links with the former Toyota outfit.

Toro’s Rule Out Using F-Duct System

Scuderia Toro Rosso have ruled out using an F-Duct system on their car, stating that it is too expensive for the potential gain.

The small junior Red Bull team is going it alone from their parent team this season with their own car design and development programme based at their headquarters in Faenza Italy.  They say that they have other aerodynamic developments to add to the car which will provide a greater benefit for the same cost.

“That’s because if I have ten euros in my pocket and I’m hungry, I buy two sandwiches with it instead of three grams of caviar,” Ascanelli told Autosprint

“Maybe we’d be able to find some advantages after five months of development, but in that same time span we can improve even more by developing other parts of the car.

“That kind of system is no good for those who, like us, began to get the wind tunnel to work properly only in November.”

Toro Rosso Awaiting Red Bull Aero Updates

Toro Rosso, the feeder and sister team to Red Bull Racing have admitted they expect progress to be slow until they recieve the aerodynamic upgrades which powered the RB5 to victory at the hands of Sebastian Vettel last weekend at the British Grand Prix.

The new aerodynamic updates included a new front wing and nose section, new diffuser, floor and rear wing.

Toro Rosso were formed in 2006 after Red Bull admitted desire for a second team, and with one owner not being allowed to own two teams Gerhard Berger and Franz Tost were co-owners with exclusive Red Bull support and sponsorship.  The team are still based in Faenza, Italy and scored their first win last season in Monza.

“We suffer from the lack of new specification aero parts,” Franz Tost told F1Live.

“We will have these for Hungary, when I expect and hope that this will bring us back to the front end of the midfield.”

Scuderia Toro Rosso Launch The STR4

Scuderia Toro Rosso have launched their 2009 challenger the STR4 at Jerez, Spain.

The new car is very similar to the Red Bull Racing RB5, but Giorgio Ascanelli has denied that it is a simple rebadging process for the machine.

It will be powered by Ferrari engines.

The drivers for this season are Sebastien Buemi and Sebastien Bourdais.  Confidence is high for the team, which was once Minardi, because of their amazing race victory at Monza last season.

“The 2008 season was good in terms of our on-track performance, which, it’s fair to say, exceeded our expectations, with our biggest ever haul of points, a pole position and a win. It’s going to be tough to live up to that this year,” team boss Franz Tost said

“Therefore our target has to be to leave every race track on a Sunday night, knowing we have done the best job we could. The results will then depend on how everyone else has done.”

Ascanelli claims that the car is indeed different to the RB5;

“Red Bull Technology does extremely significant work in defining the essential characteristics of the new car: its length, wheelbase, weight distribution, its basic metric characteristics,” said Ascanelli.

“However, with any F1 car, the packaging revolves around an engine and peculiarities from the drivers and, as we run a different engine to our sister team, it involves a different fuel system and fuel tank. Therefore, ours is completely different to the Red Bull Racing car and is designed here by us.”



Front end

Front end

Side view

Side view

Buemi and Bourdais with the new car

Buemi and Bourdais with the new car

Bourdais takes the STR4 on its first public shakedown

Bourdais takes the STR4 on its first public shakedown

Buemi Confirms Toro Rosso Launch Next Monday

Sebastien Buemi has confirmed that the Scuderia Toro Rosso car for the 2009 season will be launched on Monday.

The car, named the STR4 will share a lot of similarities with the Red Bull Racing RB5.  The similarity is hardly suprising given two things; firstly the link between the Red Bull team and Toro Rosso and secondly the fact that all of the Toro Rosso’s have been Red Bull’s so far:

– 2006 STR1 was a 2005 Red Bull RB1, indeed it still had the Cosworth V10’s even though everyone else had V8’s

– 2007 STR2 was 2006 RB2, but had a few parts from the 2007 car later in the season.

2008 STR3 was a 2008 Red Bull RB4, park them next to each other and they’re the same.

Indeed the only difference between the RB5 and the STR4 will be the engines, Red Bull run Renault units but Toro Rosso continue their partnership with Ferrari which last season was to their advnatage finishing higher than Red Bull and also scoring a victory with Sebastian Vettel at the Italian Grand Prix.

“It’s like the Red Bull, only in our colours!” Buemi told Swiss newspaper Blick

Bourdais Set To Claim Toro Rosso Seat

Sebastien Bourdais is on the verge of getting a race seat at the Scuderia Toro Rosso team after months of rumours and tests according to a Swiss magazine.

The magazine, Speedweek, claims that Bourdais has been picked over Takuma Sato and it will be announced next week.

Sato has not been picked, despite good tests apparantly on account that expected sponsorship earnings for the Toro Rosso teams would be significantly lowered thanks to the world economic downturn.

Bourdais, a multiple ChampCar World Champion competed in F1 for the first time in 2008 with a couple of good results and quite a few bad ones.  He was frequently centred around controversy and has a strange knack for it being everyone else’s fault but his own.

His manager Nicolas Todt only said “We are always in negotiations with Toro Rosso”.