Monday, 26 December 2011

Caterham Logos to Appear on Team Lotus’ F1 Cars

It’s funny how things turn out sometimes. In 1973, Caterham, which was founded in the 1960s as a Lotus dealer, acquired the rights to build the Seven from Lotus. Now, Team Lotus has purchased Caterham Cars through a holding company, part owned by Malaysian Tony Fernandes.

Starting from the British GP in Silverstone this weekend, the Caterham logo will appear on the sidepods of both Team Lotus F1 cars. Interestingly, this comes 50 years after Lotus’ first win in a Formula 1 Grand Prix (Innes Ireland in the US GP). Earlier this year, Caterham launched its first new model for 15 years, the sports prototype racing car SP/300.R.

This is a monumental occasion for Caterham Cars. We are a niche low-volume sportscar manufacturer and yet we are now a key partner for a Formula One team with an extremely bright future. In terms of global visibility for the Caterham brand, you don't get much better than Formula One. Caterham has a long and distinguished history in grassroots motorsport but this puts the firm in front of a truly global audience to sit alongside major car brands including Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes-Benz.

Friday, 16 December 2011

Lotus Renault aim to win Formula 1 title in three years

Lotus have set an ambitious target of winning the world title by 2014 after signing ex-champion Kimi Raikkonen alongside Romain Grosjean for 2012.The team, who are changing their name from Renault for next season, won titles with Fernando Alonso in 2005-06 but were fifth overall in 2011.Team principal Eric Boullier said: "The plan is to be world champions in two or three years' time."That ambition was behind the decision to change both drivers, he added.The Frenchman, who was speaking at a news conference in Paris, admitted that doing so was "not fashionable" but that it "corresponds to owner Genii's desire to become a top team again".

The Pole was badly injured in a rally accident in February and is still not fit enough to drive an F1 car.The team started the season strongly, with a podium for each driver in the first two races, but Renault then slipped down the field.

They finished the season with 73 points, 92 behind fourth-placed Mercedes, who in turn were 213 behind third-placed Ferrari.Heidfeld was replaced by the Brazilian Bruno Senna for the final eight races, but both Senna and Petrov have been dropped for 2012.Raikkonen, who was dropped by Ferrari in favour of Alonso at the end of 2009, returns after an unsuccessful two years in the world rally championship.Grosjean was dropped by Renault at the same time, after an unconvincing half-season alongside Alonso.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Massa left to regret Saturday puncture

Felipe Massa was not able to celebrate his 100th Ferrari Grand Prix in style, finishing fifth at home track Interlagos on Sunday. The Paulista started seventh and seized two places, but was left to lament a puncture which the team discovered 24 hours earlier.

It was a difficult race at the end of a weekend that was not the best from a technical point of view, Massa began.We never managed to find the right balance and then came the sting in the tail of the puncture we discovered yesterday, which robbed me of a set of Softs for the race and thus meant I had to make only two stops.

I knew it would be penalising because I would have to do a lot of laps on the Medium, a tyre with which we have a bigger performance gap than on the Softs when compared to our closest competitors. Sure, I would have liked to celebrate my one hundredth Grand Prix with Ferrari with a much different result, but I have to accept the way things went.

In fact, the race pretty much summed up the season: reasonably good on the Soft, then struggling on the harder compound. It’s been a difficult year for me and the team and now we can turn the page. We must work on improving the car and I will do all I can never to have such a disappointing season again.

Friday, 25 November 2011

Brazilian Grand Prix, November 27

Few fans are as passionate as the chanting, samba drum-wielding Brazilian crowds that cram into Interlagos each year.Having cheered Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna to championships in the 1970s, '80s and '90s, they expect great things from their modern day heroes Felipe Massa and Rubens Barrichello.The pressure seemed to jinx Barrichello, who had a series of disastrous Brazilian Grands Prix and has only once made the podium at home.But in 2006 Massa ended the drought and dominated at Interlagos to the delight of his countrymen – and then repeated the feat in 2008, although it wasn’t quite enough to bring him the title.

Having recently settled near the tail end of the calendar, it has become the scene for many title denouements, and the organizers hope that will be the case again this year as it reclaims the season-closing slot that Abu Dhabi had taken for the past two seasons.Fernando Alonso clinched both his championships at Interlagos, Kimi Raikkonen edged out Alonso and Lewis Hamilton in 2007’s three-way thriller, Hamilton claimed the 2008 title in the most dramatic of circumstances with his final corner move in the rain, and then in 2009 Jenson Button tigered through the field to secure his first crown.

Even when not deciding a title, Interlagos is rarely dull, as the bizarre 2003 event, won by Giancarlo Fisichella and Jordan amid downpours, mega-shunts and organisational confusion, demonstrated particularly well.The Sao Paulo circuit was first used as a Formula 1 venue in the 1970s, but fell out of favour when the more exotic location of Rio pitched for the race.While the city may have been more glamorous, Rio’s circuit didn’t match the challenge posed by mighty Interlagos, which returned to the calendar in shortened – but still demanding – form in 1990.The track is bumpy, the ramshackle facilities somehow escape the kind of official censure that the likes of Silverstone have received, and Sao Paulo itself can be a fearsome place for travellers.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Korea DRS zone location revealed

F1 heads back to Yenogam for a 2nd year and it appears little has been done to the circuit since the 1st race where the track only got FIA approval 2 weeks before the Grand Prix. The pit entry, criticised by many, remains and the many buildings planned around the circuit still haven't come to be. The layout is a good one though with a really mixture of long straights and technical corners. I'm not happy with the DRS zone for this race which is between turns 2 and 3, the longest straight on the track at over 1km. Surely this will provide some action anyway and with DRS added may become too easy. We'll still lots of action, i just fear it will be diluted somewhat. There are shorter straights before and after the DRS zone so expect some battles to continue for a few corners. I like the DRS but there's room for improvement and perhaps the way it is implemented needs adjustment. Hopefully the FIA will assess it closely over the winter.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Hamilton ready to reach new level: McLaren chief

Lewis Hamilton's victory in the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a sure sign of his championship-winning potential in 2012, according to McLaren team chief Martin Whitmarsh.Hamilton has endured a rollercoaster year on the Formula One circuit, and off it. Last month he also split up with long-term girlfriend and fiancee Nicole Scherzinger.

On Sunday the Englishman took full advantage of the early retirement of double world champion Sebastian Vettel to win the penultimate race of the season with comfortable aplomb.For Whitmarsh, it is a sign of great things to come.There is no reason why, in my mind, he cannot raise himself to another level now, said Whitmarsh.I think this was a great recovery from where he has been in the last few months, and he can do greater things even than this.I think he is pretty happy with this one. You can see that in him and that enables people to drive with greater confidence and to attack that little bit extra.

We are looking forward now to getting to Brazil and having another race, which is a good feeling for us all.Two-time world champion Fernando Alonso of Spain came home second for Ferrari, wiping away some of the memories of a nightmare race in 2010 when his title challenge was wrecked by strategic mistakes.In third was Jenson Button, who along with Vettel, Alonso and teammate and fellow Briton Hamilton is the only other driver to win races this season.

Whitmarsh added: This win also means both of our drivers have got three great wins apiece this year and I am sure both of them think they can make it four by the end of the season.

Thursday, 10 November 2011

F1: Vettel eyes hat-trick at Yas Marina Circuit

It’s all systems go for the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix weekend with the drivers fired up despite German Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull Racing running away with the championship.

The magnificent Yas Marina Circuit which hosts the only ‘twilight’ race will always remain special for the Vettel who was crowned the youngest Formula One world champion in a thrilling finale last year in the UAE race.

After successfully defending his title to become the youngest double world champion, 24-year-old Vettel will be looking for a hat-trick of triumphs in Abu Dhabi having won the race in the inaugural year as well.

Having powered his Red Bull team to the constructors’ title, Vettel will add spice to the competition by chasing a couple of individual records.

Victory this weekend in Abu Dhabi will leave him needing to take the chequered flag in the final race of the season in Brazil to match Formula One great Michael Schumacher’s record of 13 wins in a season.

Vettel can also equal the record for the most pole positions in a season (14) at the Yas Marina circuit, which he loves despite complaints that there are too few overtaking opportunities.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

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Tuesday, 1 November 2011

Singapore GP: can Vettel keep his nerve?

The brink of making history is a pretty daunting place to be stood, so spare a thought for Sebastian Vettel this weekend. The current world champion is the only man to finish every race so far this season, and all but one of them on the podium. He’s currently running at a staggering 77% pole position hit rate and, if all goes according to plan.Well, to make things as easy as possible, he obviously needs to win the race. Vettel is currently leading the championship by 112 points from Fernando Alonso, and with 25 points awarded for a race win and six races left to go, that leaves a potential 150 up for grabs. So – basically – if Seb takes the chequered flag on Sunday and Alonso isn’t on the podium, he’ll be world champion, providing Mark Webber and Jenson Button finish lower than second. So, realistically, Vettel’s best bet of quaffing a magnum of Mumm is to hope that Lewis Hamilton has a good race and follows him home.

1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Fernando Alonso
3. Lewis Hamilton
4. Jenson Button
5. Mark Webber
6. Felipe Massa
7. Nico Rosberg
8. Vitaly Petrov
9. Michael Schumacher
10. Adrian Sutil

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

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Tuesday, 11 October 2011

In 2011, Greater Noida on Formula One course

It's official. India will host its first Formula 1 Grand Prix on October 30, 2011. The announcement came following an extraordinary meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris on Wednesday. The addition of an Indian GP to the F1 calendar will make 2011 a 20-race season, the longest in the history of the sport. According to FIA deadlines, the track needs to be completed by July 30 and it will get a go-ahead subject to FIA homologation.

The 5.14-km track, located on the outskirts of Greater Noida is being built by Noida-based Jaypee Sports International and is designed by German racetrack designer Hermann Tilke, who has designed F1 circuits in Malaysia, Bahrain, China, Turkey, UAE and South Korea.

According to Mark Hughes, vice-president of JPSI, the track will be among the top five in the world as far as average speed is concerned. The average time per lap is expected to be around 1 minute 24 seconds. The track will have straights, quick corners and elevation changes. Hughes assured that the track would be ready by May 31.

FIA delegates will then inspect the safety conditions of the circuit along with the nature of the track surface. The track, which is being built at a cost of $350 million, will have a spectator capacity of 1-1.2 lakh and won't be restricted to Formula 1 races. It's being built to accommodate MotoGP and Superbike races as well.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Vettel aside, exhausts as a star F1 performer

Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull aside, the star of this Formula One season has been Pirelli for being brave sufficient to provide teams with tires that wear out cleverly something easier said than done. No offense intended, but Vettel has sucked the expectancy out of the driver's championship by being so triumphant.

Starting on pole for 11 of the 14 races and winning nine of them, he has left only crumbs for everyone else. Since Vettel needs just one more point to do it, you can all but bet the house that the young German will win the world title in Japan next weekend, efficiently making dead-rubbers of the last four races in Korea, India, Abu Dhabi and Brazil.

The easier and debatably safer path for the Italian manufacturer would have been to supply F1 with tires that just ran on and on, that wouldn't lose grip and tempo, wouldn't need changing in a race. After all, who wants to be associated with a product that doesn't last? Instead, at risk of staining its repute with potentially bad publicity, Pirelli accepted the challenge of delivering tires that would wear out after roughly 10 or 20 laps.