Thursday, 24 December 2009

Schumacher Returns - It's Official

Mercedes Benz World - Brooklands

It has been a busy week for Mercedes F1...

Further to earlier speculation, on Wednesday 23rd December, the team officially announced that seven time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher will race for them alongside fellow German Nico Rosberg in 2010.

Schumacher, ever confident, has already set his sights on an unprecedented eighth World title which he believes to be achievable despite his age and three year absence from the sport.

He is basing this assumption on the fact the Brawn GP (now Mercedes) Team produced the Championship winning car and driver in 2009.

As I have stated in this blog on a number of occasions, I believe that Brawn were afforded an early season advantage in 2009 over their rivals due to their clever interpretation of the technical rules regarding the use of a double diffuser.

By the time the other teams had modified their cars, Brawn had the Championship effectively sewn up.

It is highly unlikely, in my opinion, that the Brawn/Mercedes team will be afforded the same head start in 2010 and therefore it follows, that Schumacher will not have an open road to the Championship.

I do believe 2010 will be a very tight season with several teams and drivers in the hunt for Constructors and Drivers Championships.

Massa and Alonso at Ferrari will be fun to watch taking points from each other - and, I expect, squabbling throughout the season.

I have a good feeling about Hamilton at McLaren - provided the team can produce a decent car. I believe Button will struggle with a top class team mate coupled with an unfamilar car and team organisation.

If Red Bull can continue to develop their car, Vettel will definitely be another Championship contender. I would like to include Mark Webber in the list of possible Champions but fear he will continue to be dogged with the bad luck that has plagued his career to date.

In addition to the news of Michael Schumacher's impending return to F1, Mercedes have also signed a title sponsorship agreement with Malaysian oil giant Petronas, much to the chagrin of Lotus F1 who had hoped to do the deal themselves.

My friend Himmat Singh in Malaysia has written an interesting post on his blog from a local perspective about the Petronas/Mercedes link up and it's implications for Lotus.

If you'd like to read it, please click here.

How do you think Michael Schumacher will fair in 2010? Will he still be competitive or just make up the numbers?

Why not leave a comment? They are always very welcome.

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Michael Schumacher Back to F1 in 2010?

Picture by Schumigirl1956




Rumours are rife that seven time F1 World Champion Michael Schumacher will be lured back to Formula 1 next season behind the wheel of a Mercedes following a sabbatical as "advisor" to Ferrari (and mentor to Felipe Massa).

Dear old Bernie Ecclestone's little piggy eyes have lit up already at the thought of the extra cash that would be generated.

He has already been reported in the media extolling the virtues of a Schumacher return to F1 action.

Ferrari boss di Montezemelo has stated that they would not stand in the way of a Schumacher return with rivals Mercedes and that his return would be a good thing for Formula 1 in general.

Whether it will actually happen remains to be seen. After all we have been in this position before a few months ago...

When Felipe Massa was injured at the Hungarian GP, Schumacher was lined up to replace him for the remainder of the season.

However, due to a neck injury he had to abandon the plan and there then followed the sorry debacle of Luca Badoer and Fisi - surely one of Ferrari's most embarassing seasons ever.

So what do I think (assuming it actually happens)?


I have to say that I am not one of Michael Schumacher's biggest fans.

He is undisputedly highly skilled behind the wheel and can read a race tactically much better than many of his rivals.

However, in my opinion he has a crossed the line on too many occasions as to what I would deem to be appropriate behaviour on the track.....


OK, maybe I'm being too polite here - I mean he has a propensity to cheat when things aren't going his way!

Having said that, the prospect of the current World Champion Button competing with no less than three former World Champions (Hamilton, Alonso and of course Schumacher) could make for an entertaining season.

For Mercedes, pairing up Schumacher with a fellow German driver Rosberg, in a German car with a German engine, would be a marketing dream.

It would be interesting to see how Schumacher would fair in the Mercedes after a long absense from F1 and without the familiar Ferrari team around him.....

If you have found this post interesting, please feel free to leave a comment!

You may also like the following posts......


2010 Formula 1 Teams and Drivers

Fisichella's Ferrari Swansong

Ferrari - Face Facts - You Can't Polish a Turd!!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

2010 Formula 1 Teams and Drivers

Here are some thoughts on the 2010 F1 teams and drivers that have been announced so far...

McLaren

2009 Champion Jenson Button has signed for McLaren and will race alongside Lewis Hamilton the 2008 Champion.

I have a feeling he may well rue this decision come the end of the season.

At Brawn he was undisputed top dog but won't have this luxury at McLaren where Hamilton has (literally) grown up with the team.

In my opinion Button's weaknesses will become plain to see when up against Hamilton in the same car. If Brawn had not had the headstart over the other teams this year due to their clever interpretation of the technical rules, Button would not have become Champion.

Unfortunately for Button, if it does not work out at McLaren he has burnt his bridges with Ross Brawn and Nick Fry having left on less than amicable terms. Button seems to have a knack of doing this , another example being the situation with Frank Williams a few years back.

Ferrari

I am looking forward to seeing Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa spending the whol;e season squabbling!

Ferrari may regret taking on Alonso if they end up with a similar situation to the one McLaren found themselves in when he was paired up with Lewis Hamilton.



Brawn/Mercedes

The Brawn team will be rebranded Mercedes next year. So far they have announced only Nico Rosberg on their 2010 driver roster. He should do a solid job and could even possibly win his first GP if the car is up to scratch.

The second driver slot could go to Heidfeld making an all German line up. He is a consistant points scorer but will never set the world alight.

Sauber

Peter Sauber has managed to do a deal to salvage the remains of the BMW team and has been granted a 2010 grid slot. This is welcome news.

No drivers have been announced so far.

Williams



Williams have an interesting line up. Veteran Rubens Barrichello is paired up with German youngster Nico Hulkenberg. Whilst many were happy to write off Barrichello, Frank Williams obviously still sees potential. It is rumoured he is getting $ 6 million for the season!

I have seen Hulkenberg racing in A1Gp at Brands Hatch and he was the class of the field.

Obviously it is a big step from A1Gp to F1 but I think he will be exciting to watch if the Williams car is on the pace.


Red Bull

Red Bull retain the same driver line in 2010 - Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel. If the car is on the pace in 2010, Vettel must be a serious contender for the Championship.


McLaren will have Hamilton and Button taking points from each other and Ferrari will have the egos of Alonso and Massa to control.


US F1


One of the newcomers to the grid in 2010. No drivers have been announced so far. I can't help feeling this team will be a flash in the pan. Maybe one season in F1 at the most before they gently fade away. I don't believe there is any real enthusiasm or appetite for F1 in the USA especially as there isn't even a US Grand Prix anymore.

Campos


Another of the new teams. They have signed the late Ayrton Senna's nephew Bruno. The famous surname will no doubt be a good selling point with their sponsors but may not necessarily bring track success!


Manor/Virgin


Newcomers Manor have paired up with Virgin and signed Toyota refugee Timo Glock as their lead driver. He should do a solid job.


Renault


Renault have signed Robert Kubica although I have severe doubts that they will make it to the grid at all in 2010. Renault are actively looking to exit F1 and are said to be in negotiations with potential buyers. A decision should be made by the end of this month.


Lotus


The last of the new teams. have not announced any drivers yet although there is a good chance that Jarno Trulli will find his way there.


Force India


Force India have retained Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi. I am hoping that they will continue to progress during 2010 although this could be difficult with the added competiton from the new teams.


Toro Rosso


Toro Rosso have confirmed Sebastian Buemi and are expected to retain Jaime Alguersuari. It will be interesting to see if both drivers are still with the team at the end of the 2010 season. There are a lot of young drivers in the Red Bull pool waiting in the wings to take their place...


Other posts you may like....

FIA Announce New Teams for 2010

Singapore Race Fix

BMW Pulls out of F1

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

F1 Must Get Back To Basics

Regular readers may have noticed that I have not been posting much lately....

To be honest, I have to admit that I have not been greatly enthused by the goings on in F1 at the tail end of the season which ended with a whimper.

Barrichello had his usual luck at the Brazilian Grand Prix, a puncture putting paid to his title challenge and handing the Championship to Brawn team mate Jenson Button.

The F1 show moved on to the new venue at Abu Dhabi.

With nothing much left to race for, both the drivers and constructors Championships having been settled in Brazil, I did not have great expectations....

Ecclestone, the BBC F1 commentary team, the drivers, in fact it seemed like everyone and his aunt was trotted out to twitter on about the lovely job that had been done on the circuit facilities and how much had been spent, how wonderful it all was - blah blah blah.

What we ended up with was (yet) another boring, processional race.

Call me old fashioned but F1 can do without all the window dressing.

People who attend a Grand Prix want to see RACING - i.e. overtaking, action, entertainment, excitement - NOT lovely hotels they can't afford to stay in!

When I say people I am of course referring to the ones who actually pay for a ticket with their own hard earned cash and are genuine followers of the sport.

I don't mean the ones who are given a freebie ticket, are plied with free grub and booze and haven't got the slightest clue or interest as to what is going on trackside.

Unfortunately it seems that Ecclestone is intent on putting more Abu Dhabi/Valencia type yawnfest races on the calendar in the future at the expense of traditional racing circuits.

Take for example the way he is handling the British GP (or possibly lack of it) for 2010.

It's a disgrace.

Not content with practically bankrupting Donington with his contract terms he is now trying to push Silverstone into accepting one which would also be financially unviable.

If Donington can't make money in the current economic climate at those terms, how does he expect Silverstone to do so?

His answer (as usual) - take it or leave it - we don't need a British GP when there are umpteen other venues around the world begging to host a GP willing to pay what we demand.

Well I'm sorry mate, yes we do!

The British GP must not be sacrificed to satisfy the money lust of one greedy aged parasite!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Barrichello Takes the Championship Fight to Button

Photo by S G Mendez

Rubens Barrichello has taken the 2009 F1 Championship fight to Jenson Button by landing pole position for tomorrow's Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos.

Button meanwhile made a hash of qualifying by failing to change to the intermediate tyre at the right point and remaining on full wets. He qualified fourteenth.

The third Championship protaganist Sebastian Vettel fell at the first hurdle by failing to progress from Q1 in a heavily rain affected qualifying "hour" which, due to various red flags, dragged on for nearly three hours. He starts fifteenth on the gird - directly behind Button.
Unfortunately the delayed coverage meant that those of us watching on the BBC had to endure Jake (the Plank) Humphrey asking numerous mind numbingly inane questions to pad out the time waiting for the qualifying sessions to restart.

At least today he managed to refrain from incessantly referring to David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan as DC and EJ - one of my pet hates - aaaarggghhh

It's almost enough for me to want the BBC to start showing adverts!

Putting my latest BBC F1 commentary rant to one side, it now appears that the Championship is a straight two horse race between Button and Barrichello - barring any miracle from Vettel tomorrow.

I still believe that Button will take the Championship but not until Abu Dhabi and with a whimper rather than a bang.

Call me unpatriotic but I'm afraid I do not class Button as a driver in the same league as the likes of Lewis Hamilton or Kimi Raikkonen.
The Championship was virtually gifted to him by dint of the fact the Brawn car in the first half of the season, due to their clever interpretation of the rules, was streets ahead of the opposition.

At the same time any misfortunes to the Brawn Team seemed to fall in the lap of Rubens Barrichello.

In the second half of the season the other teams have improved their cars, in particular Red Bull and McLaren and since that point Button has not had the sniff of a victory and has played safe.

If he remains with Brawn next year, as is expected, and their car is on a parr with the McLarens, Ferraris etc it will be interesting to see how he fairs on a level playing field - if I would hazard a guess, not too well.

The race tomorrow holds a lot of promise and could be a classic (maybe too much to hope!).
It will be great to see Vettel going for it from the back - after all he has nothing to lose. Button will need to try and keep himself out of trouble and avoid a DNF.
At the front Barrichello and Webber (P2) will both be desparate to win. Barrichello to keep his Championship hopes alive and Webber to prove to his doubters that he can get the job done.

Others to look out for in my opinion are Sutil who took an impressive P3 for Force India and Kimi Raikkonen in P5.
If it rains again during the race Sutil is definitely in with a shout for a podium finish.
Other posts you may like....

Monday, 21 September 2009

F1 Singapore Race Fix - FIA cop out let's Renault off the hook

Bye bye Flav - don't come back too soon! (picture by Nicogenin)



The FIA World Motor Sports Council held it's must anticipated extraordinary meeting in Paris today to decide the fate of the Renault F1 team following their investigation into the Singapore race fix scandal.


The FIA have decided to slap Renault with a two year suspended ban from Formula 1 following their admission of race fixing at last year's Singapore Grand Prix.

The perma tanned lothario Briatore has been given an indefinite ban from all things F1 including driver management, which would appear to leave Alonso, Grosjean, Kovalainen and Webber on the lookout for a new representation.

Fellow conspirator Pat Symonds has received a lesser five year ban due to his co-operation with the FIA investigation.

Both Symonds and Briatore were sacked by Renault earlier this week in advance of the WMSC hearing.

According to the World Motor Sport Council, Renault’s plot to cause a deliberate crash was "an offence of unparalleled severity which warranted permanent disqualification from the sport"

Despite this, it decided to suspend the sentence for two years after taking into account Renault’s unreserved apology and swift action in parting with Briatore and Symonds.

The disqualification will only be activated if Renault is found guilty of a “comparable breach” between now and the end of the 2011 season.

What an absolute cop out!

Members of the Renault F1 team conspired to cause a deliberate accident which could easily have resulted in serious injury (or even worse) to Piquet, other drivers, the marshalls or spectators.

The punishment - if you can call it that - effectively amounts to no more than a slap on the wrist.

No points deduction. No race ban. Not even a reversal of last year's Singapore race result.

Contrast that with the way that McLaren was dealt with after the Ferrari "spygate" incident or Lewis Hamilton after the Australian Grand Prix.

There is simply no consistancy in the way FIA punishments are meted out. The plain truth is, the FIA were scared another manufacturer would leave F1.

Mosley will of course have the satisfaction of knowing that his arch rival and constant critic Briatore is permanently out of the picture before he hangs up his boots at the FIA.

On the other hand, Nelson Piquet Jr's fledgling F1 career now lies in tatters despite being granted immunity from the FIA for giving evidence against Renault.

He has apologised profusely for his part in events and stated that he wants a second chance to show his true potential in the future.

Somehow I don't see that there will be a queue of teams falling over themselves to take him on next year!

This is a shame because I believe away from Briatore's dictatatorial regime he may just have had a chance to blossom (look at the difference in Jenson Button since moving away from Renault).

I saw Piquet race at the innaugral A1 GP at Brands Hatch a few years back and he wiped the floor with everyone there including several former F1 drivers.

The only way I believe Piquet will be reappearing in a F1 car in the near future is if he, or more likely his father, is able to bankroll a drive with one of the new teams joining in 2010.

Renault claim that they conducted a thorough internal investigation into the race fix allegations and in line with the FIA's own investigation (what a surprise) found that “Flavio Briatore, Pat Symonds and Nelson Piquet Jr had conspired to cause the crash” and that “no other team member was involved in the conspiracy”.

To be honest this sounds to me like yet another load of old tosh.

Fernando Alonso has therefore been absolved both by Renault and the FIA from taking any part in what happened in Singapore.

I find it very hard indeed to believe that a very experienced driver like Alonso (lynch pin of the Renault Team) when asked to make a stop on lap thirteen of the race would not question this strategy.....

It would not surprise me if more revelations come to light over the next few weeks and months.

Do you agree with me, or do you have your own views on this post?

If so, why not leave a comment now?

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Briatore out! Symonds out! Renault out?

Flavio Briatore and Pat Symonds have parted company with Renault today ahead of the FIA World Motorsports Council hearing next Monday regarding the alledged race fixing at last years Singapore Grand Prix.


Sacked Renault driver Nelson Piquet Jr contacted the FIA to say that he had been instructed to deliberately crash his car during the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix by Briatore and Symonds which allowed his then team mate Fernando Alonso to go on and win the race.

Alonso had taken a very early pit stop and Piquet's crash caused the safety car to be deployed ruining the race strategies of the other teams.

In a statement issued today, Renault said “The ING Renault F1 Team will not dispute the recent allegations made by the FIA concerning the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix”. They went on to make it clear that Briatore and Symonds had left the team.

Last Friday, Renault and Briatore launched criminal proceedings against Piquet Jr and Snr for making false allegations and blackmail.


Oh dear, oh dear. It looks like the perma tanned one has shot himself well and truly in the foot this time!

It would appear that Renault are holding their hands up to the crime which will leave Briatore hung out to dry. No doubt he will be sued by the Piquets and Renault, maybe even by their title sponsor ING and others.

If found guilty by the FIA, which on the face of it looks pretty clear cut, Renault have to be (at least) in line for disqualification from the 2009 Championship and a ban for next year, or possibly even longer.


Ecclestone has been shrewd as usual and has covered his bases well.


This week, Malaysian owned Lotus has been announced as the official thirteenth team on the 2010 grid and BMW Sauber, who announced their departure from F1 earlier this season but have now been bought by Swiss backers, are the first reserve team in case one of the other teams drops out.....

One consequence of a Renault ban would be engine supply to customer teams although that may be mitigated by the return of Cosworth who will be supplying engines for all the new teams including Lotus.

I personally will be glad to see the back of Briatore in F1.

He was nothing more than a bully, and as has now been shown, a cheat willing to put the lives of drivers, marshalls and spectators at risk for the sake of ten World Championship points.


Nelson Piquet Jr should have a smile of satisfaction on his face right now knowing he has had the last laugh overhis tormentor Briatore. The problem is this sorry episode has probably snuffed out his F1 career before it has had a chance to blossom.

The fact he went along with the race fix plan for whatever reason shows a serious lack of judgment in my opinion.

Pat Symonds should have known better too. His long career may now be in tatters although it is rumoured the FIA have offered him immunity from punishment if he gives evidence against the team.

The FIA, and Max Mosley in particular, would take great satisfaction in destroying Briatore once and for all.

How about Alonso? Was he in on the plan too? He will no doubt deny any knowledge of it but I find that hard to believe. Seeing the underhand way in which he conducted himself at McLaren, conspiring against Ron Dennis with the FIA, makes me extremely suspicious.


It will be very interesting to see what comes out at the FIA hearing next week.

Friday, 11 September 2009

Fisichella's Ferrari Swansong

Ferrari have finally bowed to the inevitable and showed Luca Badoer the door after two embarsassing outings as replacement for the injured Felipe Massa.

Following his recent heroics in the Force India car at Spa (first pole for the team and second place finish behind Kimi Raikkonen), Ferrari have snapped up the services of Giancarlo Fisichella for the remainder of the season.

Fisichella has been announced as Ferrari reserve driver for 2010 which would appear to mean it will be hi's F1 swansong, unless Massa suffers a setback in his recovery or Raikonnen/Alonso have an accident (God forbid).

On the subject of Alonso it would appear that his switch to Ferrari, one of the worst kept secrets, is close to being confirmed. As a precursor, McLaren main sponsor Santander has signed a new five year sponsorship agreement with Ferrari.

It doesn't take a genius to work out why a Spanish owned bank would suddenly take an interest in Ferrari!

Meanwhile back at Force India, Liuzzi has been promoted from reserve driver to replace the departed Fisichella.

Today in the second free practice session in Monza for the Italian Grand Prix, Adrian Sutil was fastest for Force India while Fisichella in the Ferrari propped up the time sheet.

It looks like Force India will make another good showing at Monza. My prediction is that Sutil will make it through to the top ten shoot out and I'm sure that Fisichella will improve and probably qualify around 13th/14th.

Even Raikkonen was off the pace today and the gap back to Fisichella was around 0.7 seconds - already a marked improvement on Badoer.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

BTCC Silverstone - Jackson on pole

Mat Jackson is on pole for tomorow's opening BTCC race at Silverstone, his first of the season and to cap it, a new qualifying lap record round the National circuit.

Rob Collard lines up second on the grid in a Chevrolet sandwich with James Nash third and Jason Plato fourth.

Collard will no doubt be hoping to get a clean start and not have another coming together with Nash.... Must seem like deja vu.

Current championship leader Colin Turkington qualified in fifth with Team RAC team mates Jelley sixth and BTCC bete noire Anthony Reid a credible tenth after a long absence from the series.

Reid will have his old adversary and sparring partner Matt Neal one place behind him.

Youngster Jonny Adam is seventh whilst Giovanardi is the highest placed of the Vauxhalls.

Tom Chilton is ninth in the Ford.

Former F1 driver Johnny Herbert in his BTCC debut had to prematurely end his first qualifying session due to a front end failure on his Honda Civic but will hopefully show some pace in the race.

Belgian Grand Prix - Fisichella takes first pole for Force India

Picture by Eugene Flores

Veteran Italian F1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella has claimed a shock pole position for tomorrow's Belgian Grand Prix at Spa which promises to be a classic (at least compared to last weeks run round the "Tesco car park" as Mark Webber described it!).

Fisichella's pole, the first ever for the Force India team, was gained in dry conditions so could not be put down to inclement weather and was therefore on merit. After fuel correction he would have been fourth - still an excellent achievement.

The Force India cars were consistently fast in all three qualifying sessions today.

After a poor showing in Valencia, the Toyota and BMW teams each qualified both of their cars in the top ten. Trulli (Toyota) is second on the grid with his team mate Glock seventh. Heidfeld is a season's best third for BMW with his team mate Kubica fifth.

On the other end of the scale Luca Badoer put in another lacklustre performance in what could/should be his last qualifying session for Ferrari. He spun off the track and will start plum last - again.

Jenson Button's title push was dealt another blow. He qualified in fourteenth on the grid whilst his team mate Barrichello, still on a high following victory in Valencia last weekend, was fourth. Button was some 0.4 seconds slower than his team mate.

I can see Button being overhauled in the Championship before the end of the season. He has been mediocre in the last few races and does not seem to be holding up to the pressure.

At the beginning of the season, the Brawn car was without doubt the best in the field, especially in the hands of Button.

Since then, the likes of Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari have gradually caught up and now there is little to chose between them at most circuits.

At the same time, Barrichello has raised his game perhaps realising that at this stage of his career this could be his last tilt at the driver's Championship. His issues with the Brawn team earlier in the season now seem to have been ironed out.

When everything is going swimmingly Button is fine. As soon as things start to get difficult he seems to lose the plot and his head goes down.

The Red Bull's were having a poor day by their standards. Vettel qualified eighth after making a mistake and Webber ninth. Rosberg for Williams struggled into tenth but is fueled heavier than the other top runners.

I have not mentioned Kimi Raikkonen so far. Although he qualified sixth he is definitely a possible contender for the victory tomorrow. He will have the benefit of KERS so should make up a few places off the start. He also has a string of Spa victories under his belt.

Others to watch will be Trulli and Barrichello. Having said that, if the weather changes, as it often does without warning at Spa, anything could happen!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

BTCC - Anthony Reid back for Team RAC

Anthony Reid at Brands Hatch 1998 - photo by Tonylanciabeta


As reported in the excellent Touring Car Times, the bete noire of the BTCC, Anthony Reid, is back racing this weekend at Silverstone for Team RAC.


Reid has not raced in the BTCC since 2004 but has been drafted in by Team RAC for the remainder of the season to support Colin Turkington's championship bid together with Stephen Jelley.

I have always been a fan of Reidy and welcome his return to the series.

He will no doubt ruffle a few feathers along the way and get the old women, Neal & Plato whinging! (just like the good old days).

Despite all the controversy that seems to follow him around, when all is said and done he is still a quality driver.

Reid has just returned from competing in a TC2000 endurance race in Buenos Aires where he finished second in a Honda Civic.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Ferrari - Face Facts - You Can't Polish a Turd!

There is an old, if somewhat vulgar, saying here in the UK - "you can't polish a turd".

Ferrari seem to be trying to do just that with poor old Luca Badoer....
They are keeping him in the car for the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa this weekend despite his woeful performance in qualifying and at the race in Valencia, apparently in the (vain) hope that he will improve.

Let's face it, if he couldn't get to grips with the bland Valencia circuit, how is he going to cope with the rigours of a track like Spa?

It seems to me that Ferrari have completely written off the 2009 season.

They are showing absolutley no ambition despite the fact their car in the right hands, is clearly competitive at some circuits as evidenced by Raikkonen's podium in Valencia.

I would not be surprised if Raikkonen gets another good result at Spa.

There must be dozens of drivers who would give their right arm to replace Badoer as Massa's stand in for the remaining Grand Prix of the season.

When Michael Schumacher broke his leg in 1999, Ferrari drafted in Mika Salo. He did a great job as stand in and would have even won a race, if he had not dutifully ceded the lead to his team mate and championship contender Eddie Irvine.

I would like to see Piquet given a chance and do well.

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than to see him outperform Renault and rub Briatore's nose in it.

On the subject of the perma tanned lothario, I'm just wondering how long it will be before he prematurely ends the career of Romain Grosjean who's first F1 outing did not exactly set the earth alight.....

Thursday, 20 August 2009

BTCC Snetterton - Nash v Collard in Pictures

They say a picture says a thousand words.... Here is the story of when Nash met Collard!



Collard leads race three through the Esses from Nash with Turkington close behind in third place.



Nash makes a botched overtaking attempt punting Collard off at high speed who collects the inncoent Stephen Jelley.



Both cars come to rest on the grass verge and marshalls are quickly on the scene.



Stephen Jelley is quickly out of his Team RAC BMW but there is a worryingly long wait for Collard to be extricated from his car.



Despite being a bit dazed I am pleased to report that Rob was fit enough to express his opinions, as only he can, of Nash's driving!



Collard trudges away ruing another lost victory as Nash leads the race in his absense.



Collard and Jelley compare notes. I bet Nash's ears are burning inside his helmet.



Stephen Jelley surveys the remains of his BMW.


The villain of the piece. Nash goes on to take his first BTCC race victory only for it later to be overturned by the stewards in favour of championship leader Colin Turkington.


Meanwhile, the busy marshalls clean up the remains of Jelley's BMW.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Schumacher rules out F1 return

Just when it looked as though we might have a bit of added spice for the rest of the F1 season, Michael Schumacher has decided against returning to Ferrari on medical grounds.

Schumacher sustained injuries in a motorbike accident earlier this year and suffered neck pain (some will say he has always been one of those!) when test driving a 2007 Ferrari on track. It is feared his injury would be further agravated if he were to temporarily replace Felipe Massa as reported previously in this blog.

Instead of the mouth watering prospect of the Red Baron returning to the track we have, err, Luca Badoer. Luca who? - Luca Badoer.

He has been beavering away behind the scenes at Ferrari for many years as one of their test drivers and last raced an F1 car around ten years ago so don't expect him to set the world alight.

I suppose given the very short notice this was probably the only option Ferrari had to replace Massa now that Schumacher has also stepped back.

It would appear that Ferrari have written off this season to concentrate of next year.

Remember, if you enjoy reading these posts, why not subscribe or leave a comment?

Saturday, 8 August 2009

F1 - Schumacher Returns - Piquet Out














Despite Michael Schumacher's manager stating last week that he was "200% sure" Schumacher would not replace the injured Felipe Massa at Ferrari, he has now been confirmed through to the end of the season!

Ferrari have thrown a hissy fit earlier this week (as they usually do when things don't go their way.....).

They had requested dispensation from the FIA and other F1 teams to allow Schumacher to test the 2009 Ferrari due to the in season test ban. This request was turned down flat by Williams, Toro Rosso and Red Bull in case it set a precedent. A tad harsh maybe but after all, rules is rules as they say.

I have a gut feeling that Schumacher could win a race later this year. If I was a gambling man my money would be on Abu Dhabi. Here's why -

1. It is the last race by which time he should be back in the swing and fully up to speed with the car

2. Ferrari will no doubt have made further developments to the car throughout the remaining races

3. It is a new circuit for all the drivers making it a level playing field

What do you think? Your comments are always welcome.

Meanwhile over at Renault, Nelson Piquet Junior has been shown the exit door - not unexpected.
Yet another in a long line of victims of the perma tanned Lothario.
He has already been replaced by rookie Romain Grosjean who was Renault's official third driver.

I cannot see that he will do any better than Piquet managed when all the team's resources are directed at Alonso.

I think it was a mistake for Piquet to join the Renault team in the first place although it is completely understandable that he would see it as an immediate move into one of the top teams at the time.
He may have been better advised to take the traditional route and join a team lower down the grid for a couple of seasons and then move up to better things (like Alonso for example).

Briatore is notoriously difficult to work with and it became quite quickly apparent that Piquet was not feeling the love!

Jenson Button had a similar miserable time at Renault but since leaving his career has flourished.

Piquet is not a shabby driver by a long chalk - at the inaugaral A1 GP meeting at Brands Hatch he wiped the floor with everybody (including some ex F1 drivers), winning both the sprint and feature races by some margin.

I really hope that he will get a chance to find another berth in F1, perhaps with one of the new teams and prove his true potential.

Nothing would give me greater pleasure than seeing Briatore made to look a twat once more!

Photos thanks to - Schumigirl1956 & Ann64

Friday, 31 July 2009

BTCC Snetterton - Eaves Out, Flash Back

We're off to Snetterton for this weekend's rounds of the BTCC.

Top runners Colin Turkington, Matt Neal and Fabrizio Giovanardi are all hotly tipping Jason Plato to take the honours in his Chevrolet having won at Snetterton seven times before.

I would say keep an eye out for his team mate Mat Jackson as well. He could also go well.

At Cartridge World, Dan Eaves has been replaced by Gordon Shedden for the remainder of the season. Eaves has had a poor season so far and pairing Flash with Jones will make for a stronger team.

I will be posting up some pictures of the action on my return next week so please watch this space! - or even better, subscribe to this blog.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

BMW to Pull Out of F1

German car manfufacturer BMW has announced that it will leave Formula 1 at the end of the current season during a press conference in Munich this morning. This just three years after taking over the Sauber team.

BMW claim they are leaving Formula 1 to concentrate more on projects which promote environmental sustainability.

Hmm. I think more likely the fact that they are languishing in eighth place in the constructors Championship this year (when they thought they would be title challengers) coupled with the failure of their KERS system, could possibly have something to do with it!

In the current economic climate BMW it seems clear do not have the stomach to plough even more cash into developing a new car for 2010 following this year's dismal failure.

The fate of Mario Theissen and the F1 staff at Munich and Hinwil in Switzerland is still in the balance as BMW has not yet decided whether to try and sell the team outright or disband it.

The departure of BMW, which was not entirely unexpected according to the FIA, follows that of Honda earlier this year. It is now feared other F1 teams including Toyota and Renault may be reviewing their position.

BMW has said it will remain "actively involved" in other categories including touring cars and world superbikes as well as the Formula BMW championship for young drivers.

In my view it seems strange that BMW would want to continue to support an open wheel championship when they are no longer involved in F1, but hey, lots of things don't make sense nowadays!

Monday, 27 July 2009

Lewis Hamilton Takes Hungarian GP Victory

Pic by Eugene Flores

Lewis Hamilton returned to winning ways in style at the Hungaroring taking his first victory of the season.

Hamilton started from fourth on the grid but quickly managed to overhaul the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel off the line and Mark Webber a few laps later thanks partly to the KERS fitted to his McLaren.

Fernando Alonso scampered off from pole but had to make an earlypit stop as his car had been fuelled much lighter than Hamilton and the Red Bulls.

At the pit stop, Renault failed to secure the right front wheel of Alonso's car which subsequently detached bouncing down the track. Fortunately no repeat of the Henry Surtess tragedy at Brands Hatch the week before.


Alonso crawled back to the pits on three wheels andlater into retirement. Hamilton took over the lead and from that point on controlled the race to the chequered flag.

Sebastian Vettel also retired from the race following suspension damage caused to his car off the start by Raikkonen.

Kimi Raikkonen got off to a flyer, again thanks to KERS, and maintained good pace throughout the race. The Ferrari like the McLaren is steadily improving race by race putting further pressure on Jenson Button and the Brawn team.

Raikkonen was able to work his way to a second place finish in front of Mark Webber who has now leap frogged Vettel into second place in the driver's Championship.

Nico Rosberg continued his good form and finished in fourth. Unlike earlier in the season, Rosberg's Williams is able to remain consistent throughout a whole weekend and not just during Friday free practice.

Hamilton's team mate Kovalainen took fifth place giving McLaren a welcome double points finish. They are optimistic this form will continue at the next race in Valencia.

The two Toyotas of Glock and Trulli finished sixth and eighth respectively.

Jenson Button's grip on the driver's Championship continues to slip. He could only manage a seventh place finish and two points. Fortunately for him, due to Vettel's earlier retirement the damage to his lead was limited.

On the current trend I can see Brawn failing to win both the constructors and the driver's Championships.

POST RACE UPDATE
Following the incident with Alonso's wheel, Renault have received a one race suspension from the stewards and will therefore not be able to compete in Valencia. Renault have already lodged an appeal.
Massa's condition is said to be no longer life threatening and he is conscious and talking to members of his family.
It is almost certain he will not be able to compete for the rest of the season and there is even a suggestion that he has a problem with his left eye that could permanently curtail his F1 career.
Let's hope it is not that serious and he is back in the Ferrari next year.
Speculation is rife as to who will replace Massa at Ferrari until the end of the season.
One name being touted is 40 year old Michael Schumacher who still has an advisory role at Ferrari.
Although not a fan of Michael Schumacher's antics on track during the course of his F1 career (e.g. parking on the corner at Monaco), if he were to come back Mansellesque style it would certainly bring some welcome added spice to the remainder of the season.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

F1 Hungarian GP Alonso Takes Pole - Massa Injured in Crash

Photo by Ph-Stop


There was high drama at today's qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Fernando Alonso eventually took pole from the two Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber in a very hard fought session.

Lewis Hamilton qualified a season's best fourth on the grid continuing his good form from Friday ahead of Nico Rosberg (Williams) and his fellow team mate Heikki Kovalainen.

Kimi Raikkonen qualified his Ferrari in seventh. Jenson Button has work to do from eighth on the grid - it does seem that the Brawn GP march has been halted. Nakajima in the second Williams took ninth spot on the grid.

Felipe Massa had an accident in turn 4 during Q2 in circumstances reminiscent of the one at Brands Hatch last weekend in which Henry Surtees tragically lost his life.

It appears that a rear suspension spring may have fallen from the back of Rubens Barrichello's Brawn and struck Massa on the head causing concussion. Massa subsequently speared into a tyre wall at high speed.
He was stabilised at the track and then flown to hospital for emergency surgery to a head wound. It is reported that the surgery went well and further news on his condition is expected to be released by Ferrari in the morning.

It is unclear at this stage which of Ferraris reserve drivers will take Massa'a tenth place on the grid in the race tomorrow.

The qualifying sessions today have been extremely tight. In Q1 the top nineteen cars were separated by around 1.1 seconds. Both BMW's dropped out continuing their abysmal form this season together with both Force Indias.

As expected, Toro Rosso new boy Alguersuari will be propping up the grid in twentieth position although to be fair he did bail out with a mechanical failure so it was not possible to judge his real pace today.

In Q2 the top fifteen cars were separated by only one second and the top ten by only 0.5 secs. Apart from Massa crashing out, the session saw both Toyotas, Buemi and Nelson Piquet drop out. The rumours continue that Piquet's F1 career with Renault is hanging on a slim thread and today's outing will not help his cause.

Normally the highlight of a Hungarian GP is the qualifying and today did not disappoint.

The action that takes place on track on the Sunday of a Hungarian GP can generally be inscribed on the back of a postage stamp (unless there is rain...).
In my opinion it vies with Valencia as one of the dullest races on the F1 calendar. Like watching paint dry.
This year, with Hamilton in P4 and able to benefit from KERS and old enemy Alonso on pole there could be some fireworks off the line.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this Hungarian GP will be the exception to the rule!

F1 Hungarian Grand Prix - Hamilton Fastest in Second Practice

The McLaren revival appears to be continuing. Green shoots of recovery or a false dawn? Only time will tell but hopefully the former.

Lewis Hamilton clocked the fastest lap time in second practice today at the Hungaroring closely shading his team mate Heikki Kovalainen who had been fastest in the morning session.

Williams were also having a good day. Nico Rosberg was third fastest and Nakajima fifth. German Grand Prix winner Mark Webber was fastest of the Championship front runners in fourth with Vettel sixth.

What about the Brawns? Barrichello was seventh fastest whilst Button appears to be on the back foot so far in (unlucky?) thirteenth. The Ferraris were also having an off day with Raikkonen in eleventh and Massa languishing a lowly eighteenth fastest.

As expected, the new nineteen year old Spanish "wonder kid" Jaime Alguersuari of Toro Rosso (STR) was slowest approximately two seconds off Hamilton's pace and about .7 seconds slower than his team mate Buemi.

According to reports in the British press today, a number of the leading drivers have expressed concerns about Alguersuari's lack of experience in an F1 car due to the current testing ban and worry that he could impede the leading runners or even cause an accident.

It is too early to judge. The step up from F3 or another junior series to F1 is enormous and many have tried and failed in the past. On the other hand there have been several occasions when rookie's have scored points in their first Grand Prix - e.g. Vettel (the real wonder kid!) or Buemi.

STR are definitely taking a risk putting him behind the wheel in favour of Sebastian Bourdais who was recently fired from the team.

Do they seriously expect that a nineteen year old rookie with no F1 testing under his belt will perform any better than a former US champ car Champion?

My gut feeling is that Alguersuari has been appointed for his marketing potential. Unfortunately for him, Bourdais has the look of a school teacher or librarian rather than a pretty boy!

Several other names have been touted round as long(er) term replacements for Bourdais including Jacques Villeneuve and Sebastian Loeb.

I think the chances of Villeneuve landing a seat with STR are minimal but Loeb behind the wheel... now that would be interesting to see!

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Henry Surtees Killed in Tragic Accident at Brands Hatch


I had been planning to write a post about the enjoyable time I'd had with the family at Brands Hatch this weekend until I heard the news this morning that Henry Surtees had died from the head injuries he sustained in an accident on Sunday afternoon (19th July) at only eighteen years of age.

Surtees was struck on the head and immediately rendered unconscious by a wheel which had broken loose from Jack Clarke's car a few seconds earlier between Westfield and Sheene corners causing him to plough into a crash barrier at around 120 mph.

Although the emergency services were very quickly on the scene and Surtees was evacuated by air ambulance to the Royal London Hospital it was tragically to no avail and he did not survive his injuries.

Jonathan Palmer head of Motor Sports Vision who own the Brands Hatch Circuit and also run the Formula Two series issued a statement earlier today.

According to the statement a full investigation will be carried out into the circumstances of the accident to see if any lessons can be learned for the future.


The cars which are designed and built to FIA standards by Williams have similar safety features to F1 cars such as wheel tethers, raised cockpit sides etc.
It seems that Surtees sadly just had the complete misfortune to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

He had been having one of his best in the series weekends having gained his first Formula Two podium, finishing in P3 on Saturday.

I would like to take this opportunity to profer my sincere condolences to his father John and family.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

WTCC Brands Hatch - Menu on pole

Alain Menu has qualified on pole for the first WTCC race at Brands Hatch. His Chevrolet team mate Rob Huff was only seven thousandths of a second behind. It would be good to see Huff get a result at his home race although Menu went very well at Brands last year.

Former WTCC champion Andy Priaulx lines up third on the grid.

Current championship leader Yvan Muller, another Brands Hatch specialist, is just outside the top ten in eleventh whilst James Thompson is way back in 25th in the Lada Priora.

The weather forecast is for intermittant light rain showers throughout the day which could lead to some interesting racing. Maybe a Muller charge from the mid field?

Friday, 17 July 2009

FIA WTCC heads to Brands Hatch this weekend








The FIA WTCC heads to Brands Hatch this weekend (17th/18th/19th July).

Swine flu permitting (yes - junior appears to be down with it at the moment!), we will be in attendence again this year.

I will post some pictures of the action one day next week so keep watching this space.....

Going into Brands Hatch, the current driver's championship standings are as follows -

1. Yvan Muller - 80 points
2. Gabriele Tarquini - 66 points
3. Augusto Farfus - 65 points
4. Rickard Rydell - 46 points
5. Robert Huff - 43 points
6. Jörg Müller - 42 points
7. Andy Priaulx - 38 points
8. Jordi Gené - 32 points
9. Tiago Monteiro - 31 points
10. Sergio Hernández - 29 points
Here are a few more pictures taken last year to whet your appetite.....










Monday, 13 July 2009

German Grand Prix - Webber takes first F1 career victory

Mark Webber completed a perfect weekend at the Nurburgring this afternoon with a stunning drive to victory - the first of his F1 career - despite being handed a harsh drive through penalty after a slight coming together with Rubens Barrichello off the start.

When the penalty was handed out I honestly thought that would be it for Webber's chances and the end of what could have been potentially an exciting race. Once again the hierrarchy would have conspired to remove any ounce of entertainment from the proceedings.

Fortunately Webber was so focused he was able to outclass the whole field today including his much lauded team mate (even by me in previous posts!) Sebastian Vettel who finished second completing another Red Bull Racing one-two.

Felipe Massa finished third his best result of the season. Rosberg of Williams drove a solid race to fourth despite qualifying poorly on Saturday.

The two Brawn's of Button and Barrichello finished fifth and sixth respectively due to tyre issues and, in the case of Barrichello, issues in the pits (fuel rig problem).

Barrichello who qualified second on the grid had managed to get the jump on Mark Webber at the start but later got held up behind Kovaleinen and later Massa.

Alonso had a good run towards the end of the race clocking up fastest laps and managed to take seventh place. The top eight was rounded out by Kovaleinen.

Lewis Hamilton had rocketed off the grid from P5 into the lead (making full use of the KERS) but managed to clip Mark Webber causing a puncture which effectively ended his afternoon. Hamilton ended taking the wooden spoon.

The Red Bull Racing star definitely seems to be in the ascendant this half of the season.

The same cannot be said from Brawn GP. Following their blistering start a few cracks (or should that be chasms?) are starting to appear. As mentioned in our post yesterday, Button's body language at the press conference was all telling. The Brawn car was totally outclassed by Red Bull this weekend.

Following the race, Barrichello spat the dummy (once again) in an angry TV interview shown on the BBC coverage implying that the team lost the race and that he had done all that was necessary to win it.

To compound matters, Barrichello once again found himself finishing behind Button after the final round of pitstops when he had been in front beforehand. No doubt he has in mind the situation at Ferrari where he played Patsy to Schumacher.

He was probably unaware of the fuel rig issue at the time of the interview and will no doubt get slapped down by Ross Brawn and told his fortune!

To rub salt in the wounds, there is a strong rumour that Virgin will not be sponsoring the team next season and instead will be supporting newcomers Manor F1.

New parts are expected for the Brawn car at the next race in Hungary but will it be enough to hold off the resurgent Red Bulls?

Sunday, 12 July 2009

German Grand Prix - Mark Webber Takes First F1 Career Pole

Aussie Mark Webber took his first F1 career pole position at a rain affected qualifying session at the Nurburgring yesterday afternoon with a blistering lap in difficult conditions.

It transpires that this pole position was fully merited as his car is fueled heavier than his nearest rivals on the grid.

Rubens Barrichello made a good tactical choice of tyre and was able to take second slot on the grid behind Webber but in front of his team mate and Championship leader Jenson Button in third.

At the press conference, Webber (obviously) and Barrichello seemed very pleased with their performance whilst Button's body language told a different story. It doesn't look like he will have an easy ride during the race today.

The Red Bulls appear to have the edge over the Brawns this weekend. On top of that, with more changeable weather forecast for the race, Barrichello and Vettel are ones to watch out for.

Talking of Vettel, he qualified fourth to the disappointment of the German crowd, but when fuel load is taken into account he would have been only 0.25 seconds behind Webber in P2.

The McLaren team appear to have pulled out all the stops to make some major improvements to their performance this weekend. New aero parts have been fitted to Lewis Hamilton's car giving around 0.7 seconds per lap improvement.

Hamilton qualified fifth and could be on for a podium finish especially if the weather comes into play. Heikki Kovalainen qualified sixth despite the new parts only being fitted to Hamilton's car but will probably drop back during the race.

The other star of qualifying (apart from Mark Webber) was Adrian Sutil who guided his Force India into P7. The highest ever qualifying slot for the team. Again the position was fully merited when fuel adjusted. Could Force India be on for their first points of the season?

The two Ferraris of Massa and Rakkonen qualified eighth and ninth respectively whilst Nelson Piquet rounded out the top ten outqualifying his team mate Alonso.

Hopefully Webber and Barrichello can both outscore their respective team mates this weekend to add some well needed spice to this season's Championship.

All will be revealed later today.

Sunday, 14 June 2009

BTCC Croft - Turkington Takes Pole

Colin Turkington of Team RAC has taken pole position at Croft. Jason Plato qualified second on the grid with Turkington's team mate Stephen Jelley third. Jelley is certainly much improved this season compared to last year.

Jones, fourth, was the only non BMW/Chevrolet qualifier in the top six. The two Chevrolets of Mat Jackson and Harry Vaulkhard were fifth and sixth fastest respectively.

VXR team mates Jordan and Neal are seventh and eighth whilst current Champion Giovanardi is way back in thirteenth. Jordan is certainly holding his own against his vastly more experienced team mates.

The top ten is rounded out by James Thompson ninth and Rob Collard in tenth.

With a fair wind, this weekend could see Turkington take the lead in the driver's Championship.

Saturday, 13 June 2009

FIA Announce New Teams for 2010

The long awaited list of entrants for the 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Championship has been announced today but as the budget cap row continues to simmer (or should that be boil?) nothing can be said to be cut and dried by a long chalk.

THE CURRENT TEAMS

The ten current F1 teams have been granted spots on the 2010 grid.

HOWEVER...... five of those teams have been given a week to drop their conditions or lose their slots. A further three are objecting to being entered!

Of the current teams, only Williams and Force India appear to be 100% confirmed for 2010 as they broke away from FOTA and submitted unconditional entries before the May deadline.

Red Bull, Ferrari and Toro Rosso are the three teams objecting to their entry but the FIA insists they are contractually committed to compete in 2010.

Ferrari has already intimated they may challenge this in the courts and again stated they will not participate in the Championship next year unless their conditions are met.

Brawn, McLaren, Renault, Toyota and BMW Sauber have been granted provisional entries on the basis they drop their conditions by the 19th June. If they fail to do so they face being excluded from the grid.

Due to the proposed FIA budget cap, numerous new teams including Lola, Prodrive, Team Lotus etc are waiting in the wings to fill any vacancies.

NEW TEAMS ON THE GRID

The FIA has announced the three news teams competing next year will be -

Campos Grand Prix

This team is owned by Spaniard Adrian Campos, a former Minardi driver who later became manager to one Fernando Alonso. Campos currently run in GP 2 and were crowned champions in 2008.

Their car will be designed by Dallara and powered by Cosworth who are making a return to Formula 1.

It would appear that Ecclestone wants to keep the F1 interest in Spain alive now that Alonso is no longer in a front running car.

This can be the only reason a team like this got in ahead of teams with the racing pedigree of Lola or Prodrive.

Click here to view the team web site

Team US F1

This team was hotly tipped to join the series as it is known that Ecclestone is desparate to get a foothold in the USA and was heavily backing their bid.

The team will be run by Ken Anderson (ex Ligier) and Peter Windsor (ex Williams) and based in North Carolina. The car will be powered by Cosworth.

Team US F1 have stated they will run at least one American driver but L2F thinks it is likely to be an all American set up.

Several driver names have been put in the frame including Danica Patrick and Scott Speed.

Landing a (potentially) front running female driver like Patrick would be an excellent marketing opportunity and may also help in their stated goal of popularising F1 in the States.

Scott Speed, although undoubtedly cheaper than Danica Patrick, would probably be a liability given his form and team problems at Red Bull.

Manor GP (Manor Motorsports)

This was the surprise of the bunch.

Manor Motorsports , owned by John Booth is a successful team in the F3 Euroseries based in Sheffield.

The car will also run a Cosworth engine.

Why they have been included over more prestigious contenders remains to be seen. They obviously must have said the right things to Ecclestone!

Friday, 12 June 2009

Litespeed & Lotus Group in F1 Squabble

As previously reported in this blog, British F3 team Litespeed have submitted an entry for the 2010 FIA F1 World Championship.

Should their F1 bid be successful, they have been given permission by the rights holder to use the Team Lotus name, resurrecting it for the first time since 1994.

Could be a return of the famous racing green and yellow livery.

Following this announcement by Litespeed, the Lotus Group have issued the following statement......

"Group Lotus PLC and its subsidiary Lotus Cars Limited, the manufacturer of the legendary Lotus Elise and global high technology engineering consultancy, are not connected or affiliated to, nor in any other way associated with the newly-announced ‘Team Lotus’ that has submitted an entry 2010 Formula 1 championship,” ........ “Group Lotus PLC will take all necessary steps to protect its name, reputation and brand image.”

Both sides may be being a bit premature considering the fact that the FIA has not yet confirmed the winning bidders for the 2010 grid.

Lotus Group could be missing a trick here.

If Litespeed/Team Lotus do win a spot on the grid for 2010 and it is a well run outfit, as it should be with the likes of Mike Gascoigne on board, the Lotus Group will indirectly benefit from massive worldwide television exposure equivalent to millions of pounds of marketing spend.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

BTCC - Colin Turkington to be Replaced at Team RAC?

Watch out Colin Turkington and Stephen Jelley!

L2F Junior has been honing his racecraft and we are pleased to report that the laps times have started to tumble. He is eyeing up a spot on the grid for BTCC 2024.

Button Wins Again in Turkey - Is the Season Over Already?

Jenson Button continued his winning streak at the Turkish Grand Prix last weekend making it six wins out of seven.

The race was effectively done and dusted before the first lap had been completed.

Vettel who had qualified on pole went wide whilst pushing hard enabling Button to slip through.

From then on it was game over. Nobody had the pace to keep up with Button. His team mate Barrichello who had in qualified third, suffered clutch problems and had a terrible start off the line dropping more or less to the back of the field before eventually retiring from the race. This was Brawn GP's first retirement of the season.

It was a dissapointing race for Vettel in the end. He finished on the third step of the podium behind his team mate Webber.

Webber had driven very well throughout the race to a highly deserved second place. He is now fourth place in the drivers Championship only 1.5 points behind Vettel. The two Brawn GP drivers, however, are pole apart. Button is now leading the Championship over Barrichello by a massive 26 points.

Whilst I would dearly love to have a British F1 World Champion again at the end of this season, I would like to see Jenson closely challenged as Hamilton was last year.

Unless the other teams step up to the plate in the next couple of races it will be fait accomplit.

I am still sticking to my prediction that Barrichello will show some form at Silverstone and finally make some inroads into Button's seemingly unassailable lead.

Saturday, 6 June 2009

Turkish GP - Vettel Takes Pole


Red Bull Racing's 21 year old wunderkind Sebastian Vettel has snatched pole position for tomorrow's F1 Turkish Grand Prix in the dying seconds of Q3 (as predicted in this blog!).
Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello of Brawn GP had to settle for second and third on the grid respectively.
Vettel's team mate Mark Webber has qualified fourth and, in a much improved performance for Toyota, Jarno Trulli was fifth fastest.
The two Ferraris of Raikkonen and Massa are sixth and seventh, Fernando Alonso (Renault) is eighth, Rosberg (Williams) ninth and Robert Kubica of BMW tenth.
The BMW's are showing some improvement in form compared to recent Grand Prix with Heidfeld one spot behind Kubica in eleventh.
McLaren are having (yet) another dismal weekend. Lewis Hamilton was dumped out of Q1 and qualified a terrible sixteenth. His team mate Kovalainen, despite topping the time sheets in second practice on Friday, fared little better with fourteenth spot on the grid. McLaren are hoping to rush through new parts in time for Silverstone but whether that will make a lot of difference remains to be seen.
Force India driver Adrian Sutil qualified a very creditable fifteenth.
The top seven runners were separated by barely half a second and with a tricky circuit to navigate (practically every driver has had an off this weekend so far), it promises to be an exciting race tomorrow.
Our podium prediction - Vettel to win, Button second, Massa third.

Friday, 5 June 2009

Mosley Tells FOTA Teams to Form Their Own Championship

The Formula 1 2010 budget cap row continues to rumble on before this weekend's Turkish Grand Prix.

As reported previously in this blog nine of the ten FOTA member teams submitted conditional applications for the 2010 FIA Formula 1 World Championship by the 29th May deadline.

Williams broke ranks from the Formula One Teams Association (FOTA) and submitted a full entry to the Championship in line with their commercial and contractural obligations. They were later suspended from membership of FOTA.

Subsequently, Force India have also submitted a full entry and face suspension, like Williams, from FOTA.

Following the announcement of the proposed budget cap from 2010 onwards, many new entrants have been persuaded to submit entry applications and as the total number of teams that can enter is limited to thirteen (26 cars), places on the grid are not guaranteed for all of the current established F1 participants.

Perhaps emboldened by the level of new applicants to the sport, Mosley has effectively told the eight FOTA teams lead by Ferrari that have submitted only conditional entries for 2010 to put up or shut up.

Mosley has stated that if they are not happy with the rules set by the FIA they should consider running their own Championship and then they are free to do what they like.

This is certainly a high stakes game for all concerned.

Should the likes of Ferrari and McLaren do as is suggested by Mosley and go their own way Ecclestone will find himself in hot water with the television networks and advertisers.

On the other hand, some of the FOTA teams could find themselves in court for breach of contract. It is said that Ferrari could be sued for as much as £ 500 million.

The FOTA teams would also have enormous expenditure to get a breakaway series up and running.

Ecclestone has exclusivity arrangements with all the circuits currently used by F1 and numerous major television deals. The FOTA teams would have to negotiate venues and television coverage from scratch.

Some of the teams (Toyota ? Renault ?) may use these shenanigans as a convenient excuse to bow out completely in view of the losses they are currently incurring in their production car business.

Hopefully everyone will see sense at some point before too much irreversible damage is done.

F1 Turkish Grand Prix - Kovalainen Fastest in 2nd Practice

McLaren driver Heiki Kovalainen has topped the time sheets in the second Friday practice session for the Turkish Grand Prix pipping Fernando Alonso by a wafer this margin of six thousandths of a second!

Robert Kubica took third fastest in a seemingly improved BMW while Williams driver Nakajima was fourth fastest ahead of his team mate Nico Rosberg (seventh). Despite an earlier engine failure, Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull was fifth fastest followed by Jarno Trulli in sixth. Toyota are looking to make up for their dismal showing in Monaco.

What of the two Championship leading Brawns? Barrichello was eighth fastest with Jenson Button lagging behind in twelfth. Some more work to be done before qualifying tomorrow.

The top ten was rounded out with Webber in ninth and Nelson Piquet in tenth.

Massa (eleventh), Hamilton (thirteenth) and Raikkonen (fifteenth) found themselves outside the top ten.

Who will be on pole tomorrow? My guess, maybe Alonso or Vettel. We will see.

Thursday, 4 June 2009

Alex Wurz Confirms 2010 Superfund F1 Entry Bid

Former Benetton, McLaren and Williams driver Alex Wurz is the figurehead for a new Formula 1 project in association with investment company Superfund.

Wurz confirmed that he and Superfund founder Christian Baha had submitted an entry for the 2010 World Championship and were optimistic about their chances of getting one of three open places on the grid.

They had decided, after being interested for many years , that the cost of running a team in 2010 was going to come down to a level where it would become economically viable.

Wurz has confirmed the team has already been in discussions with a current F1 outfit regarding a technical partnership and a provisional agreement had been signed.

The Austrian retired from F1 in 2008 but continues to race occasionally in sportscars and will be competing with the Peugeot team in the Le Mans 24 Hours.

Sunday, 31 May 2009

Formula Two Valencia - Robert Wickens Takes Victory Again

Robert Wickens took a lights to flag victory in the second race of the FIA Formula Two Championship in Valencia this afternoon capping a perfect weekend for him.

Italian Mirko Bortolotti finished in second, with 19 year old Austrian Philipp Eng taking the final podium position.

There was disappointment for Swiss female racer Natacha Gachnang who tangled with Alex Brundle on the opening lap - causing her immediate retirement.

Jolyon Palmer was tapped into the gravel and retired from the race on lap one and Lithuanian Vasiliauskas went off after making contact with Jousse in a battle for eighth place. He later returned to the circuit at the back of the field, but was still able to clock up the fastest lap of the race. Definitely one to keep an eye out for in future races.

Henry Surtees finished 12th.

FIA F2 Round 2 - Valencia, Spain Results

1st - Robert WICKENS (CAN) - 25:22.024 - 17 laps
2nd - Mirko BORTOLOTTI (ITA) - 25:27.935 - Gap +5.911
3rd - Philipp ENG (AUS) - 25:29.905 - Gap +7.881
4th - Andy SOUCEK (ESP) - 25:30.639 - Gap +8.615
5th - Nicola DE MARCO (ITA) - 25:31.804 - Gap +9.780
6th - Mikhail ALESHIN (RUS) - 25:33.731 - Gap +11.707
7th - Edoardo PISCOPO (ITA) - 25:35.625- Gap +13.601
8th - Carlos IACONELLI (BRA) - 25:38.640 - Gap +16.616
9th - Tobias HEGEWALD (GER) - 25:40.850 - Gap +18.826
10th - Julien JOUSSE (FRA) - 25:43.601 - Gap +21.577

BTCC Oulton Park - Colin Turkington Takes Double Victory


Team RAC driver Colin Turkington took victories in both races one and two at a sunny Oulton Park today putting himself within two points of current BTCC Championship leader Matt Neal.
James Thompson continued his good run following on from Donington taking a lights to flag victory in race three.
In race one Turkington lead home Jason Plato in second whilst youngster Jonathan Adam of Team Motorbase continued to outshine his more experienced team mate Rob Collard taking the third step of the podium.
The highest placed Vauxhall in race one was driven by Fabrizio Giovanardi. The top six was rounded out by an improving Stephen Jelley in P5 and Adam Jones in P6.
In race two, Turkington was joined on the podium by Giovanardi in second and Plato in third. The Vauxhalls showed much better in race two. Matt Neal took fourth and Andrew Jordan sixth. Jonathan Adam had another strong result in fifth.
In race three Team Dynamic's James Thompson lead home the two Vauxhalls of Andrew Jordan and Matt Neal.
It seems to me that Andrew Jordan is mixing it very well with his more senior Vauxhall team mates despite the short period of time he has spent in the BTCC especially when compared to how Tom Chilton performed when he was in the same position a couple of years ago.
Rob Collard improved on his race one and two performances with a fourth place. Plato finished in fifth and Giovanardi in sixth
The next BTCC rounds (13-15) will be at Croft over the weekend of 13th/14th June.

BTCC 2009 Drivers' Championship (after Oulton Park rounds)

1 - Matt Neal - 111
2 - Colin Turkington - 109
3 - Fabrizio Giovanardi - 92
4 - Jason Plato - 87
5 - Rob Collard - 78
6 - James Thompson - 74
7 - Adam Jones - 51
8 - Andrew Jordan - 47
9 - Mat Jackson - 41
10 - Jonathan Adam - 41

F1 Budget Cap Latest - FOTA Teams Sign Up For 2010

As reported previously in this blog, Williams F1 have already signed up for the 2010 F1 Championship.

Now the remaing nine FOTA teams have submitted their entries for 2010, despite their previous threats to boycott Formula 1 if the proposed FIA budget cap was pushed through.

FOTA issued a statement on Friday afternoon (29th May) stating that all its members would commit to F1 through to 2012 – provided they receive guarantees about the sport’s future governance, and that the FIA accepts FOTA's modifications to the controversial budget cap proposal.

The announcement could signal a breakthrough in the long-running dispute between FOTA and the FIA.

FOTA have insisted that a new Concorde Agreement be signed by all parties by June 12th. This is the date when the FIA has indicated it will publish the list of confirmed participants in the 2010 season.

FOTA is seeking a formal contract to give greater stability over the rule-making process, having been unhappy with the way recent rule changes were pushed through the FIA World Council, bypassing teams and other stakeholders represented on the F1 Commission.

In return for such guarantees, FOTA members will pledge their allegiance to F1 for the next three years.

FOTA’s other major proviso concerns the technical regulations to be adopted for 2010, which it says must be based on this year's rules subject to the amendments it has proposed in a submission to the FIA.

These amendments are believed to include a phased introduction of the budget cap and measures to ensure prospective new teams can compete in the higher-spending initial year.

The FOTA statement said: “All FOTA teams have today submitted conditional entries for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship. FOTA confirms all its members’ long-term commitment to be involved in the FIA Formula One World Championship and has unanimously agreed further and significant actions to substantially reduce the costs of competing in the championship in the next three years, creating a mechanism that will preserve the technological competition and the sporting challenge and, at the same time, facilitate the entry in the F1 championship for new teams. These measures are in line with what has been already decided in 2009 within FOTA, achieving important saving on engines and gearboxes".

“All FOTA teams have entered the 2010 championship on the basis that: 1) The Concorde Agreement is signed by all parties before 12th June 2009, after which all FOTA teams will commit to competing in Formula One until 2012. 2) The basis of the 2010 regulations will be the current 2009 regulations, amended in accordance with proposals that FOTA has submitted to the FIA.”

“All FOTA teams’ entries for the 2010 FIA Formula One World Championship have been submitted today on the understanding that (a) all FOTA teams will be permitted to compete during the 2010 Formula One season on an identical regulatory basis, and (b) that they may only be accepted as a whole".

All ten of the current teams on the F1 grid have now declared their intention to compete in next year's championship which will be expanded to thirteen teams (26 cars).

We understand that applications have been received from Prodrive (run by former BAR boss, Dave Richards), Campos Racing of Spain, the much vaunted Team US F1, Lola and Litespeed who currently run in F3 but have just teamed up with Mike Gascoigne for their F1 program.

It has been reported in the British press that Ecclestone has initimated that in view of the fact the 2010 grid is now oversubscribed some existing F1 teams may be replaced by new entrants to the sport.

All will be revealed on 12th June.

Robert Wickens Takes First Victory in Formula Two

Canadian Robert Wickens, a member of the Red Bull Junior Team, has won the first Formula Two race to take place in 25 years after a lights to flag victory in Valencia.

Carlos Iaconelli was second and Lithuanian Kazim Vasiliauskas was an impressive third after starting from P9 on the grid.

Henry Surtees finished seventh and Alex Brundle eighth.

TOP TEN FOR RACE 1 - FIA F2 CHAMPIONSHIP VALENCIA, SPAIN - 23 LAPS

1st - Robert WICKENS (CAN) - 37:03.621
2nd - Carlos IACONELLI (BRA) - 37:07.491 Gap +3.870
3rd - Kazim VASILIAUSKAS (LIT) - 37:08.862 Gap +5.241
4th - Mikhail ALESHIN (RUS) - 37:12.175 Gap +8.554
5th - Julien JOUSSE (FRA) - 37:13.543 Gap +9.922
6th - Mirko BORTOLOTTI (ITA) - 37:14.525 Gap +10.904
7th - Henry SURTEES (GBR) - 37:14.940 Gap +11.319
8th - Alex BRUNDLE (GBR) - 37:15.947 Gap +12.326
9th - Nicola DE MARCO (ITA) - 37:16.534 Gap +12.913
10th - Sebastian HOHENTHAL (SWE) - 37:17.597 Gap +13.976

Saturday, 30 May 2009

BTCC Oulton Park - Plato on Pole


Jason Plato has taken a last minute pole position for tomorrow's round 10 of the BTCC at Oulton Park.
His team mate and fellow Chevrolet Lacetti driver Mat Jackson starts in P2 with Team RAC's Colin Turkington in P3.
Adam Jones has qualified a very creditable P4 in his SEAT Leon. Motorbase's Jonathan Adam took P5 outqualifying his much more experienced team mate Rob Collard in P9.
Reigning BTCC Champion Fabrizio Giovanardi was best of the three Vauxhall qualifiers in P6.
Youngster Andrew Jordan in P8 outqualified current Championship leaderMatt Neal in P10.

The second Team RAC of Stephen Jelley has qualified in P7.

Thursday, 28 May 2009

Williams Suspended from FOTA

It has been announced that Williams have been temporarily suspended from FOTA - the Formula One Teams Association - following their unilateral decision to sign up for the 2010 F1 season as was reported in this blog earlier in the week.

Frank Williams said "FOTA’s decision, although regrettable, is understandable. However, as a racing team and a company whose only business is Formula 1, with obligations to our partners and our employees, submitting our entry to next year’s championship was unquestionable. In addition, we are legally obliged under our contract with FOM and the FIA to participate in the world championship until the end of 2012.”

Williams it would seem is one of the few gentlemen remaining in F1 and not one to go scurrying off to court at the drop of a hat (unlike our Italian friends).