Archive for January, 2009

When In Rome

January 27, 2009

You may find yourself in the middle of a formula 1 race. ‘Ol Bernie is trying to add another street course to the F1 calendar. Why? The global economy has gone south for the Winter (hopefully) and putting on a Formula 1 Grand Prix isn’t exactly cheap, the organizers of the Canadian GP were unable to fit the rising bill to host the race at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and gave up hope of having the sole North American race on the F1 schedule.

Bernie says that street circuits offer more than just glamour (that oddly enough is only found in Monaco) that they “bring the racing to the fans”, yet, not everyone quite likes the idea of having another street course race. Luca di Montezemolo, president of Ferrari and the FOTA said “At least Monaco has it’s own history, having 3 or 4 Monaco’s is too much”.

Will there be a Formula 1 race in Rome? Or is this another bunch of hooblah? We’ll find out together.

Sebastien and Sebastien show back for a second season!

January 23, 2009

Rumors, speculation all pointed toward Sebastien Bourdais to head back to Newman/Haas/Lanigan racing in the US after one season in F1. But today, French and Swiss papers are both reporting that Sebastien Bourdais will be back with the Scuderia Toro Rosso Team.

Bourdais’ rookie season in F1 wasn’t exactly spectacular when you compare it to his former teammate, Sebastian Vettel who scored 35 points compared to Bourdais’ 4.

Also, Bourdais is shown with Sebastien Buemi on the STR website under the team section.

BMW Sauber F1.09

January 20, 2009

They won their first Grand Prix in 2008 and finished a convincing third in the constructors’ championship. Now BMW Sauber are hoping their new car will power them to even greater things in 2009.

After testing a heavily revised hybrid car over the winter, the wraps finally came off the F1.09 at a special launch ceremony at the Spanish circuit of Valencia on Tuesday, with race drivers Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica in attendance.

The F1.09 completed its first installation lap shortly after and will begin its first test programme at the track later in the day. BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen said its target is to regularly challenge for victories in 2009 and to fight for the championship title.

“The one-two in Canada and a total of 11 podium finishes in 2008 set an exacting standard,” he said. “In 2009 we are looking to maintain our first-class reliability record while at the same time enhancing our performance levels so that we can be at the front of the pack on a consistent basis. We are aware that we are aiming extremely high. This is the final step in our development, and that’s generally the hardest one to take.”

The concept phase for the F1.09 began back in February 2008 and the 2009 regulation changes – reduced aerodynamics, the introduction of KERS and the return of slick tyres – mean the new car cuts a very different figure from all of its predecessors.

Its nose is higher and much wider than before. The huge front wing consists of three elements and stretches across the full width of the car. The rear wing, on the other hand, is considerably slimmer – in line with the new regulations – and stands unusually high against the onrushing air. Intricate aerodynamic add-ons, such as air deflectors and cooling air exits, have been reduced to a minimum. Another eye-catching feature are the sidepods, which are now higher at the front. The front axle has also been modified and the rear axle is a new design.

Willy Rampf is responsible for the F1.09 concept and will oversee operations at the race track in his capacity as technical coordinator. Managing Director of BMW
Sauber AG, Walter Riedl, will lead the technical department at the team’s Hinwil plant in Switzerland and has responsibility for the development of the car.

While the chassis is the work of the Hinwil team, the KERS technology has been developed in Munich. There, Markus Duesmann (head of powertrain) and his team also have the job of preparing the BMW V8 engine for the extra mileage stipulated in the regulations. Each driver is allocated eight engines for the 2009 season.

It may be all-change in terms of the engineering behind the car, but the men behind the wheel will be the same as in 2008. The team will once again line up on the grid with the Pole Kubica and German Heidfeld as their driver pairing. And 26-year-old Austrian Christian Klien also stays with the team as test and reserve driver.

BMW Sauber have conducted intensive preparations for 2009 as they attempt to achieve their latest ambitious aim. These have included early testing with KERS and new aero elements.

“The team started work early on the wide range of changes,” said Heidfeld. “I’m confident that we’re in good shape and am looking forward to the first race, when we’ll see whether the balance of power has shifted at all.”

Theissen concluded: “In the three years since the BMW Sauber F1 Team was formed, we have always met the goals we set ourselves and are confident that we can do so again this season.”

Williams FW31 & Renault R28

January 19, 2009

Renault and Williams both gave their 2009 cars their first public outings on Monday morning at the start of this week’s multi-team test session at the Algarve Motor Park circuit in Portugal.

The Renault R28 was presented to the press by drivers Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet, along with team boss Flavio Briatore, while Williams tester Nico Hulkenberg starred with the FW31, running in an interim testing livery. The team’s 2009 race livery will be revealed prior to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix in March.

Both cars will be testing alongside those of rival teams McLaren, Toyota and Toro Rosso. McLaren track debuted the new MP4-24 at the Portimao circuit on Saturday following its UK launch last Friday, and Toyota ran their new TF109 for the first time at the Portimao venue on Sunday.

Testing continues in Portugal until Thursday. In neighbouring Spain, BMW Sauber will launch their new F1.09 – and start testing it – at Valencia on Tuesday.

Dennis to step down as McLaren boss

January 16, 2009

After joining the McLaren F1 team in 1980, after winning 162 grands prix, 8 constructors and 12 drivers world titles, Ron Dennis will step down as team boss for the McLaren-Mercedes team.

“Let me make one thing clear: this is very definitely not retirement,” said Dennis. “In fact, I intend to work even harder from now on. And it’s because I intend to work even harder – on growing the McLaren Group – that I’ve decided to pass the role of Team Principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes to Martin.

Martin, as in Martin Whitmarsh who will succeed Dennis in his position effective March 1, about a month before the season opener in Melbourne.

“Ron and I have had many discussions about this over the past few weeks and months, but eventually it became clear that Ron’s decision was final,” commented Whitmarsh. “Everyone knows what an incredible career Ron has had to date; his legacy is huge. As such, I remain hugely mindful of the responsibilities I assume as team principal – it’s a daunting yet exciting prospect. Despite today’s announcement, I hope we will still continue to work as closely together as before.”

McLaren MP4/24 unleashed

January 16, 2009

McLaren have revealed the car with which Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton will defend his drivers’ crown in 2009. The wraps came off the all-new MP4-24 at the team’s UK base in Woking on Friday.

McLaren hope the car, which will be raced by the unchanged driver line-up of Hamilton and Finland’s Heikki Kovalainen, can take them to their first constructors’ title since 1998, after finishing second to Ferrari last season.

“Well, obviously, I haven’t driven it yet,” said Hamilton at the launch, “but there’s an old saying in motor racing that says a beautiful car often turns out to be a quick car. And all I can say is that I hope that’s right, because I reckon the MP4-24 looks simply sensational. Really beautiful, in fact.”

The design of the Mercedes-powered machine incorporates the significant 2009 rule changes – including slick tyres, reduced aerodynamics and the introduction of KERS – and it will run for the first time in testing at Portugal’s Algarve Motor Park next week.

The 2008 aerodynamic regulations were framed by the FIA and the Overtaking Working Group (OWG – headed by McLaren’s engineering director Paddy Lowe, Ferrari’s Rory Byrne and Renault’s Pat Symonds) which met throughout 2007 to address the issues affecting the difficulties of overtaking in Formula One.

“This year’s changes to the bodywork rules are probably the biggest in Formula One’s history; and such a comprehensive change is both daunting and thrilling in equal measure,” commented Lowe. “While the new regulations mean it’s difficult to predict which teams will be out at the front, we feel confident that we’ve approached the task wisely and produced a car of which everybody here can feel very proud.”

The OWG’s influence can be most clearly seen around the MP4-24’s front wing, now wider, and the rear wing – now more compact. Other factors affecting the car’s aerodynamics include the banning of ancillary appendages, the addition of driver-adjustable front-wing flaps and a heavily revised rear diffuser.

“The huge rule changes are really exciting for a driver,” added Hamilton. “The winter months are already quite busy because you’re very heavily involved in developing the new car, but this year it will be even more intense. And the whole experience will also feel quite fresh because so much is new. I hope the racing is as close and as exciting as has been predicted because that’s always more fun for a driver and fantastic for Formula One’s fans.”

The MP4-24’s KERS device has been developed in collaboration with McLaren and Mercedes- Benz HighPerformanceEngines, which has been developing and refining the system for almost two years. The device enables the car to recover energy under braking, store the energy for a lap and release it when the driver presses a button on the steering wheel.

With a fully optimised KERS device’s output capped at 400kJ (discharging 80bhp boost for 6.7s per lap), the development team’s primary focus has already shifted to further improving the unit’s integration within the chassis in order to minimise performance loss elsewhere within the package. An optimised KERS package can be expected to deliver a 0.3-0.5s gain per lap.

With in-season track testing now prohibited, the MP4-24 will undergo an intensive winter programme prior to the season-opening Australian Grand Prix on March 29, starting at Portimao next week and followed by two more group tests at Jerez in Spain and another in Barcelona.

“The regulatory changes have only increased our ambition to remain at the competitive vanguard,” commented McLaren boss Ron Dennis. “And, for this year, our target is clear: to win both world championships if possible. Lofty aims, I grant you, but we exist to win.”

Toyota’s 2009 Bullet – The TF109

January 15, 2009

Toyota unveiled their 2009 car in innovative fashion on Thursday, as the new TF109 made its world debut in a specially-made, big-screen movie trailer, made available to fans online.

With revisions to the Formula One regulations set to shake up the order, the Japanese team are hoping the TF109 can take them to their first win since entering the sport in 2002…

Work began on the TF109 last October, with the car’s new shape heavily dictated by the FIA’s regulation changes, with wider front wings, narrower rear wings and fewer additional aerodynamic devices.

“Our target this year is to fight to win the first race for Toyota in Formula One,” declared team principal Tadashi Yamashina at Thursday’s launch, a proclamation that comes in light of their improved showing last season, which included two podiums and top-ten starts at 14 of the 18 races.

“After eight years in Formula One we have gained a huge amount of knowledge and improved considerably,” said Toyota Racing President John Howett. “There are many elements of our team which are at the very highest level so the challenge now is to fill any gaps and ensure the entire organisation is performing at the very top. Then we must put all the elements together and deliver the success we are all fighting so hard for.”

Toyota continue with an unchanged driver line-up for 2009. Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock were critically-acclaimed co-stars for the team last season and they will again be supported by Japanese reserve driver Kamui Kobayashi.

“I still have plenty I want to achieve in Formula One but my dream now is to win the first race for Toyota,” said 34-year-old Italian Trulli.“I have now spent longer racing for Toyota in Formula One than any other driver and I have seen the huge progress that has been made since I joined in 2004. It has been a long journey and we have had ups and downs but we have never given up or lost faith.”

Glock, whose Toyota race career began only last season, added: “If you look back at the cars I have been racing for the last five years they have all been quite different, with the 2004 Jordan, then Champ Car, GP2 and the Toyota TF108, and I have been competitive in each of them. That shows how quickly I can adapt to a different car so I don’t have any concerns at all about adjusting to the 2009-style Formula One cars.”

The 2009 changes have presented Toyota and all the Formula One team with a significant design challenge. “This complete programme has been more demanding on our company than any previous new car project I have been involved in,” said Pascal Vasselon, senior general manager (chassis).

New Year, New Cars, New Drivers, New Races

January 14, 2009

After an unexpected and sudden holiday break, we’re back to posting and updating the news of the F1 world! There hasn’t been much going on in the 3 (or so) weeks we’ve been gone.

Yeah right. GP2 sensation Sebastien Buemi will drive one of the STR cars this year, no word if the Sebastien and Sebastien show will be back for a 2nd season  as Sebastien Bourdais hasn’t been offered an extension for this season.

Ferrari unveiled their 2009 car, the F60 (that is not related to the F40 or F50 road cars).

As for the new races, there is only 1 new venue, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on a street course, but there are two diffrent venues this season:  the German Grand Prix is back at the Nurburgring, and the Japanese Grand Prix is back at Suzuka.