Monthly Archives: January 2012

Watson: F1 is more entertaining now.

Former F1 driver John Watson has said that F1 is very entertaining now with DRS, KERS and the new Pirelli tyres. The Northern-Irishman says that even though World Champion Sebastian Vettel was very dominant last year, The combination of DRS, KERS and the super degradable Pirelli tyres produced some fantastic action in 2011.

Watson who won five Grand Prix’s and finished runner up in 1982 during his 12 year F1 career, said that 2011 was a fantastic year for Formula One.

“Obviously it was dominated by a single team and a single driver but we had a lot of technology come in – we had the DRS, the drag reduction system, the reintroduction of KERS, the Kinetic Energy Recover System, and we had Pirelli tyres. That in itself provided a lot of overtaking, not necessarily what I would call motor racing, but it provided a lot of entertainment and for the audience they saw racing cars doing something they hadn’t seen them do in quite a while and that was passing one another.

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d’Ambrosio joins Lotus as reserve driver

Sacked Virgin driver, Jerome d’Ambrosio is to join Lotus as a third driver it was announced earlier. The belgian who made his Formula One debut im Australia last year was dropped from the team in favour of French rookie Charles Pic.

d’Ambrosio will attend all races next season as a back up driver for Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean and will step in for them if required.

“It’s a great feeling to be joining Lotus F1 Team,” said d’Ambrosio. “It’s an exciting next step in my career. I contested a complete season in Formula One as a race driver for a smaller team where I learnt a lot about Formula One. Now, I have the opportunity to work with one of the top teams with great potential for my future development. With my recent race experience, I know I can make a valuable contribution.”

“Of course, I would love to be racing, but racing with a top team. Being associated with Lotus F1 Team should be more beneficial and this is the choice I have made. This opportunity is one I couldn’t afford to miss. My desire to get back in a race seat in the future is motivating me to do the best job possible in my new position.”

Team boss Eric Boullier added: “To have a third driver who is highly motivated, fresh and talented and who contested the full 2011 season is highly beneficial for us. In Jerome we have someone we know well who integrates beneficially with the squad. He impressed as reserve driver for us in 2010 and at the end of that year he made a strong showing in the young driver test. He also showed strongly in his rookie season as an F1 race driver. I am looking forward to working with Jerome again and think he is a perfect addition to our driving strength.

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Raikkonen back in F1 seat

2007 Formula One Drivers Champion, Kimi Raikkonen has returned to F1 today, getting back in the 2009 Renault car to warm up for his comeback in March. He spent a few hours driving at the Ricardo Tormo track in eastern Spain.

“The Iceman” Is to return to F1 at the season opening race in Australia after two years of Rallying.

Lotus, formerly Renault, said in a statement that the 32-year-old aimed to drive as many laps as possible in the two days in Valencia to get acquainted with his new team and reacclimatise himself with a Formula One car.

They issued a picture of Raikkonen, who last drove a Formula One car in 2009, on his first lap in the R30 – painted in Lotus’s black-and-gold livery – at the Ricardo Tormo track.

“It was nice to get back in the car,” Raikkonen told Sky Sports television at the circuit. “It was quite a few years since I have driven last time, so of course it takes a little while to get used to it. But the main driving, braking, turning and normal things doesn’t take many laps. “Of course to start learning about the car and the team and tyres and everything, that will take time,” he said.

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Ecclestone hopes for better Drivers Championship

He has made no secret of his admiration for Sebastian Vettel’s talent, but F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone admits that he does not want to see the German running away with the 2012 world title.
For the last two seasons, Bernie Ecclestone has, When asked, said that Vettel would claim that years title. However, Ecclestone does hope that he has greater competition in scooping up the title than he did in 2011.Despite the rulebook being tweaked for 2012, Ecclestone is not betting against Red Bull coming up with another front-running car, but hopes that its rivals, including McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes, can raise their game enough to keep Vettel off the top step of the podium at the majority of races.“Of course, Red Bull are still going to be there. I would much prefer a fight for the world title right to the end of the season,” He told Austria’s Salzburger Nachtrichten.

“I don’t want Red Bull to dominate in the same way, but I fear that’s what will happen.”Beyond Red Bull, however, Ecclestone clearly sees McLaren as the champion’s closest rival, with fellow Britons Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton at the wheel of the MP4-27 but hopes that the third- and fourth-ranked teams can also step up their performance this season.“At McLaren, Button is the surprise, as he stood out from Hamilton” he commented, “I would be surprised if Mercedes don’t win a race this year and, as for Ferrari, I can only hope they improve significantly. Alonso is super-talented and deserves a perfect car.”

Despite his misgivings over a potentially one-sided championship, however, Ecclestone also admitted that he understood that fans wanted to be entertained on a weekly, or fortnightly, basis.

“The TV viewers care more about the tension of the race than the championship,” he concluded.

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Horner rates Webber’s F1 chances

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner has backed Australian Mark Webber to improve and step out of his team-mate’s shadow in 2012.

For the 2011 season, The unlucky Aussie had to wait until the final round at Brazil to scoop up his first win of the season, and seventh win of his career. He finished the season in third place behind team-mate Sebastian Vettel and McLaren’s Jenson Button.

But Horner believes that Webber will mount a stronger challenge for the 2012 season.

“Mark has been with the team for five seasons now and he’s a very valued member for the team,” Horner told Autosport.com “He’s training hard, his motivation seems very high and I’m sure he’s going to be fully focused on having a very strong 2012.”

Horner also said that it would be too early to back either of the two young Toro Rosso drivers, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne who will partner up at Toro Rosso for the 2012 season..

“Those two guys are both very competitive,” Horner said. “They are products of the Red Bull junior program and are both Red Bull Racing drivers on loan to Toro Rosso to develop them. “Time will tell. There are no guarantees. It’s the best way to see how their talent evolves over the next season or so.”

Ricciardo, who featured for part of the 2011 season with HRT, and Vergne have replaced Sebastien Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari. Buemi has since joined the Red Bull team as a reserve driver.

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Weekly Formula 1 Roundup

Austin GP track may be finished by August

The Circuit of the America’s track in Austin, Texas, May be ready by August, according to reports. The track is scheduled to host the 2012 US Grand Prix on November 16-18 November.

However, Doubt was thrown over the race in November 2011, when disputes inside the management company began. The construction then ground to a halt after another dispute, This time between Full Throttle Productions (The owners of the track) and Formula One Management because the company had been in breach of its contract since May 2011.  Then the state of Texas had a dispute with Bernie Ecclestone, Saying that the 2013 American Grand Prix (A F1 race to be held in New Jersey in 2013) would interfere with the Austin Grand Prix. This was resolved in mid-december.

Workers are now working six days a week to get the Track completed in time.

FIA Ban Reactive Ride Height System

Formula One’s governing body has moved to ban controversial new reactive suspension systems like the one being tried out by Lotus.

Williams chief operations engineer Mark Gillan said the FIA had declared the systems to be illegal for the season starting in Australia in March. “The FIA has just banned that particular type of system,” He told ‘The Flying Lap’. Gillan said the clarification had been made in a new technical directive issued by the FIA that he had received shortly before going on air on Friday evening.

While the FIA was not immediately available for comment, other sources confirmed the news. Lotus, tried out their system at a young driver test in Abu Dhabi last year but have not commented on it’s significance for the new car to be unveiled next month. Several other teams, including former champions Williams, were also believed to be looking into similar devices while awaiting an FIA ruling on their legality.

Damon Hill joins Sky Sport’s F1 Team

The 1996 World Champion announced earlier this week that he would be on Sky alongside  David Croft, Natalie Pinkham, Ted Kravitz, Georgie Thompson, Simon Lazenby, Steve Rider and former F1 driver’s Martin Brundle and Anthony Davidson.

“There are so many reasons to be excited about the new season and I can’t wait to get started.” Hill said.

However, Hill also said that he will only be with the team for some of the races, as he wants to spend time helping his son, who is trying to get into F1.

He will be there for the following races;  Australia, Bahrain, Monaco, Britain, Germany, Hungary, Belgium, India, USA and Brazil.

One seat left on the grid

There is only one seat left on the grid after Bruno Senna scooped up the seat at Williams from Rubens Barrichello. Hispania have yet to announce who will partner Pedro De La Rosa for their 2012 Campaign. They appear to have dropped last years driver Vitantonio Liuzzi whilst Daniel Ricciardo had gone to Toro Rosso.

The spanish team had come out saying they want £6m for the seat, meaning who-ever gets the seat at Hispania, Its going to cost them.

Dropped Lotus driver Vitaly Petrov has been in talks with Hispania about keeping himself in Formula 1 for 2012, But it seems that Dutch GP2 driver Giedo Van Der Garde is the favourite to take the seat. The dutch is the son-in-law of one of the Netherlands richest entrepreneurs and so, should have no problem getting the £6m needed.

Jos Verstappen released from Prison

Former F1 driver Jos Verstappen has been released from prison after manslaughter charges against him were dropped. Verstappen had faced the charge in relation to an incident where he was alleged to have driven a car at his ex-girlfriend. However, according to reports in both Germany and the Netherlands, the charges have now been dropped over a lack of evidence, which has resulted in Verstappen being freed.

This is not the first time that he has been in trouble with the police. In 1998, He fractured the skull of a karter after an altercation at the track. He was sentenced to a 5 year suspended sentence.

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Jenson Button in Formula One: A review

On Jenson Button’s 32nd birthday, we take a look back at his time in Formula One.

Enjoy!

Jenson Button was born on 19th January 1980 in Somerset and raised in Vobster. He changed his name from Jensen to Jenson to differentiate himself from Jensen motors.

Button began karting at the age of eight, after his father bought him his first kart, and made an extraordinarily successful start. He came 1st in the British Super Prix in 1989, aged 9. He won every race out of the 34 races, along with the title in the 1991 British Cadet Kart Championship. In 1997, he won the Ayrton Senna Memorial Cup and also became the youngest driver ever to win the European Super A Championship.

When he was 18, He began getting into car racing, winning the British Formula Ford Championship with Haywood Racing team. At the end of 1998, he won the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award. As a result, He won a test in a McLaren Formula One car, which he received at the end of the following year. Button entered British Formula Three in 1999 with the Promatecme team. He won three races and finished the season as the top rookie driver and third overall.

At the end of 1999, Button tested for McLaren and Prost but a seat arose at Williams.  Williams team boss Frank Williams arranged a test between Button and Bruno Junqueira, a Formula 3000 driver. Button won and secured the drive.

He made his debut in Australia but crashed during practice and qualified second-last on the grid. However, he performed strongly in the race and was set to score a point before his engine failed 11 laps from the chequered flag.  A sixth-place finish at the next race in Brazil made him the youngest driver ever to score a point. In his first six races, he outqualified his teammate Ralf Schumacher twice and was always close in pace to his team mate.

Button’s best qualification of the season was third place in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps and his best result was fourth in the German Grand Prix. Button finished his impressive debut season in eighth place with 12 points (Ralf finished in 5th place with 24 points).

In 2001, Button was bought for two years by Benetton off Williams. His team mate there was Giancarlo Fisichella. Despite having a great rookie season, His second season in F1 was awful. He had an uncompetitive car and was constantly out performed by his team mate. He finished the year with 2 points and 17th in the championship.

In 2002, Button partnered Jarno Trulli at the team which had been re-branded as Renault. He felt a lot better in this car, and in Malaysia he was on the way to his first ever podium in F1 until a problem in the last few laps dropped him to 4th place. Button was a lot faster than he was in 2001, and though he was often outqualified by Jarno Trulli, Button often out-raced him. On the weekend of the French Grand Prix, it was announced that he would be leaving the team to make space for Fernando Alonso in 2003. Button then secured a place with British American Racing (BAR) for the next 3 years. He finished 2002 with 14 points and in seventh, ahead of Jarno Trulli.

When he joined BAR in 2003, Jacques Villeneuve showed him a lot of hostility, saying that he had been hired for advertising instead of talent. Button replied saying “I am not here to gain Jacques respect”. This hostility did not stop after the first race, with Villeneuve pitting  when Jenson was due, Leaving Button waiting in the pits. Button scored eight points in the next six races. In Monaco, Button crashed heavily and had to be taken to hospital. Button wanted to race but his team would not allow him as a precaution. He continued to out perform Villeneuve and finished the season in ninth place with 17 points.

For 2004, Button partnered Japanese Takuma Sato at BAR after they sacked Villeneuve. He took his first ever F1 podium in Malaysia, only to repeat this in the next race at Bahrain. In the next race at Imola, He secured his first pole position and finished the race 2nd behind Michael Schumacher. Button scored 10 podiums in 18 races and finished 3rd in the drivers championship, behind the 2 Ferrari drivers.

In August, Button became embroiled in a contract dispute. On 5 August, Button chose to leave BAR and signed a two-year contract to return to Williams. This was surprising, as Button was enjoying his best season to date, while Williams had been struggling. BAR, however, insisted they had the right to exercise their option to keep Button. Button’s management argued that the BAR option was not valid because it contained a clause allowing him to leave if BAR risked losing their Honda engines. They felt the new contract signed in the summer for Honda to supply engines to BAR was not definitive, and thus Button was free to move. The dispute went to Formula One’s Contract Recognition Board, who ruled in favour of BAR on 20 October, forcing Button to stay with the team. Two of the men at the centre of the dispute were soon removed from their positions: team principal David Richards was replaced by Nick Fry after Honda bought 45 percent of the BAR business. Button separated from his manager John Byfield, saying he had been badly advised.

In 2005, BAR had a very bad start to the season with both cars being off the pace in the season opening race at Australia and both cars retiring in Malaysia, two weeks later. In the fourth race, A problem was found with the car by the stewards. Both BAR’s had their points from Imola stripped and they were banned for the next two races. They returned at the European race at Nurburgring and finished 10th. In Canada, He surprised everyone by claiming his second pole position of his career but he crashed out on lap 47. In the famous 2005 US Grand Prix, He was one of the 14 drivers not allowed to race after Michelin advised the teams that the tyres were not suitable on the weekend. However, After this, He scored in all the remaining races. He finished the season in 9th place with 37 points.

For the second year in a row, Button had contract disputes involving BAR and Williams. Button had signed a pre-contract to drive for Williams in 2006, but he now felt that he would be better at BAR, and that his Williams contract was not binding. Williams boss, Frank Williams insisted the contract was fully binding, and that there would be “absolutely no turning back”; his team required Button to fulfil some contractual obligations with sponsors. After several weeks of talks, Williams agreed to release Button in exchange for an estimated £18 million in compensation.

For the 2006 season, Button partnered Brazilian Rubens Barrichello, who had left Ferrari. Again, he had a slow start to the season. In Bahrain, he finished in 4th place after starting in 2nd. In Australia, He fell down the grid before his engine blew up and he was forced to retire. At his home race in Silverstone, He got delayed while he was being weighed and suffered in Qualifying, Only managing 19th place. The following day, he spun off on lap 8 and retired.

Button took his first ever win in the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix – his 113th Grand Prix start of his career. He started 14th after a 10-place grid penalty for an engine change. The race was badly affected by heavy rain, Conditions which he is now famous for driving excellently in. Button passed a number of drivers in the early laps and was up to fourth by lap 10. Following the retirement of leading drivers Kimi Räikkönen and Fernando Alonso, he went on to win the race by just over half a minute from Pedro de la Rosa and Nick Heidfeld. In a now famous interview with BBC’s Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson repeatedly criticised Button for never winning a race, And Button told him he would try his best at the next race. That programme was recorded 5 days before the win!

Button finished fourth or fifth for the next five races and finished the season with a 3rd place in Brazil.

In 2007, Button again partnered Rubens Barrichello at Honda. He had the usual bad start to the season. He qualified 14th in the opening Australian Grand Prix and finished in 15th place. In Malaysia, Button finished in 12th place. He retired from the Bahrain Grand Prix on turn 4 after a collision with David Coulthard. Button announced at the Silverstone Grand Prix that he would be at Honda in 2008. He described the 2007 season as a “Total disaster” but did have several good races near the end of the season, especially when there was rain. He finished the season in 15th place with 6 points.

Barrichello remained as Buttons team mate in 2008. Button had an awful season and he scored his only points at the Spanish Grand Prix where he finished 6th.  He finished the season in 18th place with 3 points.

On December 5th 2008, Honda announced that they were quitting Formula One. This meant that Rubens Barrichello and Jenson Button were both left without a drive for 2009. At the last minute, On March 5th, Ross Brawn bought the team, keeping both Button and Barrichello. Button took a 50% pay cut as part of the deal. Brawn GP had an amazing start. Button claimed pole position in the first race and Barrichello qualified 2nd. Button lead the race from start to finish and took a 1-2 for the team. One week later, He took pole again at Malaysia and went on to win the race. He finished 3rd place in China and took another win at Bahrain, Spain and Monaco. Button had won six of the first seven races! The british Grand Prix ended Button’s reign. He finished 6th at Silverstone, 5th at Germany and 7th at Hungary. Button returned to form at Monza where he finished in 2nd place behind team mate Barrichello. However, The following race at Spa marked his first DNF of the season when he collided with Romain Grosjean at the start. At the second last race in Brazil, He qualified 14th but finished the race in 7th, giving him enough of a lead in the points to secure the drivers championship, one race early. In Abu Dhabi, He finished in 3rd place. He finished the season in 1st place with 95 points.

On 18th November 2009, Button announced that he would be driving for McLaren for the 2010 season. He would be partnering 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton. Button finished in 7th place in the first race at Bahrain. In Australia two weeks later he won a very wet race at Australia with a very risky tyre strategy.  In Malaysia, He finished 8th after starting in 17th place. He won the race In china, Which was another rain effected race. Button finished in 2nd place in Turkey after Red Bull’s famous collision when Sebastian Vettel drove into the side of the Mark Webber who had been leading the race. In Belgium, Button retired after Sebastian Vettel got it wrong on the 5th lap and drove into the side of him. At the penultimate race at Brazil, Button’s convoy was ambushed after qualifying while he was driving back to his hotel. Several gun men threatened him but they managed to escape thanks to the efforts of his driver. No-one was harmed. After the race at Brazil, He was mathematically eliminated from the championship after finishing in 5th place. He finished 2010 in 5th place in the championship with 214 points.

Button returned to McLaren for 2011 and would again partner Lewis Hamilton. The year began slowly for Button, finishing 2nd in Malaysia. He finished 3rd in Spain and Monaco. Two weeks after Monaco, In Canada, Button won the Canadian Grand Prix in what has been called his best win ever. Button had his team mate crash into him, made 5 pit stops, served a drive through, got dropped to last place, sustained a puncture after a collision with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, made 27 competitive overtakes and took the lead from Sebatian Vettel with under forty seconds left in the race in the longest Formula One race in History. It has been called the greatest race ever by the F1 community. Button had his first DNF in Silverstone when his front wheel fell off after a bad pitstop and had another DNF at Germany with Hydraulics issues. At Hungary, On his 200th Grand Prix, He won the race, where he won his first race 5 years beforehand. He finished 3rd in Spa, 2nd in Monza and Singapore and won the Japanese Grand Prix, when Sebastian Vettel finished 2nd and won his 2nd title. Button signed a new 3 Year contract with McLaren just before the race in Suzuka.Button finished the last 2 races of 2011 in 3rd place. He finished the season in 2nd place with 270 points. He is also the first team mate of Lewis Hamilton to finish ahead of him in a season.

Button has won all of his races with McLaren in Wet conditions (Except Suzuka 2011) and has joked about this, saying that his dad refused to buy him wet tyres when he was karting, So when he drives in wet races with wet tyres, he loves it!

Jenson will be driving the MP-27 for McLaren in 2012 and will again partner Lewis Hamilton.

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