Monthly Archives: October 2012

Toro Rosso keep current line up for 2013

Scuderia Toro Rosso have confirmed that their current line up of Aussie Daniel Ricciardo and Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne will remain with them next year

It will be the second season that both men have been at the team, with Daniel Ricciardo driving with HRT for half a season in 2011. The team is currently 9th in the Constructors Championship with three races remaining.

Jean-Eric Vergne has surpassed his team-mate so far this season, scoring 12 points while his team-mate has scored nine.

Franz Tost, The team principal, said: “Since the summer both have scored more points and everyone in the team has been impressed with their maturity.”

While Daniel Ricciardo had this to say,  “I feel I have been growing and developing as a driver and my approach to the technical side of the sport has also progressed this year.”.

Jean-Eric Vergne commented that, “I feel much stronger now and I know I have become a better driver over the course of the season.”

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Hulkenberg in at Sauber

Sauber have confirmed that Nico Hulkenberg will drive for them next season. The German currently races with Force India after spending 2011 as their reserve driver. Rumours have circulated since the Korean Grand Prix nearly three weeks ago that Nico would be moving to the swiss team to replace Sergio Perez who left the team to join McLaren after Hamilton left McLaren to join Mercedes.

“We’ve been observing Nico for some time now and his performances have been very persuasive,” said Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn. “That was the case in GP2 and has continued into Formula 1. He clearly showed that he can seize the chance if it arises. But high spots like that are one thing; systematic teamwork is another – and on that score I have confidence in Nico too,” she added.

While Hulkenberg had this to say “I’m really looking forward to working with Sauber,” said Hulkenberg. “It’s a well-placed team and very competitive. Plus it’s a team in which young drivers have repeatedly delivered exceptional performances. I would like to take up that baton. Sauber is currently going through a very positive development and I’m certain that together we can achieve a lot,” he hoped. “Until that time I will remain fully focused on my job with Force India.”

The talk of the paddock is  that Esteban Gutierrez who currently acts as the team’s reserve driver will step in as his team-mate, leaving Kamui Kobayashi without a drive in 2013. However, Both 2011 Toro Rosso drivers, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastian Buemi are expected to be fighting for a seat at the team aswell as Adrian Sutil after he was dropped by Force India following on from a conviction in January of grievous bodily harm against Lotus group CEO Eric Lux.

Sauber’s rising star, Sergio Perez, has already been snatched up by McLaren after they lost their own star, Lewis Hamilton, to Mercedes.

If Sauber were to hire Esteban Gutierrez, it would enable them to feed off billionaire Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world who already has a connection with Sauber and is happy to sponsor Mexican drivers.

It’s believed that if Alguersuari, Buemi and Sutil fail to make the grade at either Force India or Sauber, they will probably be knocking on Caterham’s door where Giedo van der Garde has been lined up to take Vitaly Petrov’s seat for 2013, especially since the Russian lost his government funding and no longer has a sponsor.

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Iceman staying at Lotus

Kimi Raikkonen has finally announced, to little surprise, that he will be staying at the Lotus for the 2013 season. There was much speculation that the 2007 World Champion would be moving to Ferrari, the team that he won his championship with. But these talkings were quashed when Felipe Massa, Raikkonen’s former team-mate, signed a new contract for next year after his good run of form.

The Finn has had a very successful comeback this year, currently standing 3rd in the championship, despite actually winning a race!

The ‘Iceman’ had this t say – “I think my return to Formula One has gone pretty well and the team has done a very good job all year so far. To be honest, I didn’t expect to be fighting for the drivers’ championship this season when you look at where the team was in 2011, so it has been great to be on the podium so many times and to score points on a regular basis. I feel very comfortable with Lotus F1 Team and we share the same philosophy of racing. Continuing with the team was an obvious choice for me and I’m looking forward to making another step forward together next year.”

Team boss Eric Boullier has already confirmed that Romain Grosjean will partner him next season.

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Vettel storms away to dominant Indian win

Sebastian Vettel has stormed to his fourth consecutive win this season, bringing the number of laps he has led in a row to 205.

At lights out, Vettel had a bit of trouble from Webber who started alongside him. Mark was unsuccessful and then came under pressure from Jenson Button who had jumped Lewis Hamilton into Turn 1. Lewis tried to retake Button into turn 3 and pulled it off. However, He was vulnerable to both Button and Fernando Alonso, both of whom swept straight past him, Button, Alonso and Hamilton 3rd, 4th and 5th respectively.

In the middle of the field, Jean-Eric Vergne locked up his tires and could do nothing as his car went straight into the back of Michael Schumacher’s car. Schumacher, the innocent victim, was left with a very bad right rear puncture and he was forced to crawl very slowly back to the pits. Somewhat fortunately, he had no damage to the bottom of his car and he was ok to rejoin the race, albeit in 24th and a minute away from Pic in 23rd.

Vettel and Webber stormed away while Alonso passed Button for P3 on Lap 5. Button fell back slightly into the clutches of Hamilton but Lewis could do nothing to pass him. Right behind them was Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen who were catching the McLaren’s while fighting each other.

Sergio Perez was fighting Nico Hulkenberg for P8 and lost all grip in his tires. For probably the first time in a few years, we got the chance to say a Sauber was pitting first! He rejoined and came out behind the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo. He dived down the inside of the Aussie into turn 1 before getting clipped, and with it, a puncture. This was a carbon copy of the Schumacher/Vergne incident as they came together in T1 before both ditching the carcass of the tire in T5. Perez crawled back to the pits while the stewards deemed it to be a racing incident.

Just when we were getting into a rhythm of constant parading, Maldonado and Kobayashi were scrapping for position when the Japanese driver clipped the Venezuelan’s rear tire. Guess where? Turn 5! All the action was in Turn 5, except for Pedro de la Rosa’s scary failure. Narain Karthikeyan had been warned that his brakes were too hot, just before de la Rosa’s brakes failed. The car spun around before going through the gravel backwards and into the barriers at turn 4. Luckily, the gravel slowed him down and it wasn’t a big crash. Still, a brake failure isn’t exactly what one needs when driving an F1 car at the end of the longest and fastest part of the track!

Vettel was still charging away at the front when Alonso was fighting Webber for P2. He got past him when the Aussie lost his KERS unit during the race. Alonso sped away while Hamilton looked menacing in Webber’s mirrors. But Webber managed to hold him off to finish just 0.6 seconds ahead. The bottom of Vettel’s car was scraping off the ground but this did nothing to taint his form as he crossed the line to win the race.

Michael Schumacher and Sergio Perez both pulled into their garages to retire their cars as a precaution. Schumacher pulled in with 4 laps to go and had completed more than 90% of the race distance and so will be classified as 22nd.

Vettel has expanded his lead over Alonso by another 7 points and now leads the Spaniard by 13 points. Lewis Hamilton is now 75 points behind Vettel and so, if he was to win the Championship, he would need to win the last 3 races while Vettel retires from all 3, albeit very unlikely. Jenson Button has also been wiped out of contention after this Grand Prix.

Final Standings:
1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Fernando Alonso
3. Mark Webber
4. Lewis Hamilton
5. Jenson Button
6. Felipe Massa
7. Kimi Raikkonen
8. Nico Hulkenberg
9. Romain Grosjean
10. Bruno Senna
11. Nico Rosberg
12. Paul di Resta
13. Daniel Ricciardo
14. Kamui Kobayashi
15. Jean-Eric Vergne
16. Pastor Maldonado
17. Vitaly Petrov
18. Heikki Kovalainen
19. Charles Pic
20. Timo Glock
21. Narain Karthikeyan
22. Michael Schumacher

Retired:

Sergio Perez – Precautionary retirement
Pedro de la Rosa – Brakes Failure

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End of an Era

He’s won 91 races, won an outstanding seven world championships, secured a whopping 68 pole positions, led an unimaginable 5096 laps, inspired an entire country to race and starred in ‘Cars’. He’s Michael Schumacher and he’s about to retire from the sport that has held him dear for 21 years. And yet, half the people don’t seem to care.

Its true, his comeback hasn’t been fantastic. Leaving the sport in 2006, He was waved off by the paddock but returned in 2010 to reunite the Schumacher/Brawn arrangement that dominated the sport for five years. But all did not go well and as of Qualifying after the 2012 Indian Grand Prix, He has never won a race, only had one podium (3rd in Valencia) and one pole position (in Monaco) which was cruelly stripped from him after he was penalised five grid places following his crash with Bruno Senna in Catalunya a week earlier. Coming from a home of Schumacher fans, It breaks my heart to see him come under so much criticism from International Media and mockery from fans after his disastrous return. This year alone he has retired from SEVEN Grand Prix – BUT it can be argued that only two were his fault, with mechanical failures being to blame for the other five.

After the Monaco Grand Prix, Newspaper ‘Bild’ published an article showing how he should actually be leading the championship by that stage. The analysis said that Schumacher lost 15 points in Australia with gearbox trouble and 11 points in Malaysia after Romain Grosjean t-boned him in the wet conditions. In China he lost 18 points due to a loose wheel, while battling team-mate Nico Rosberg for the lead of the race. He lost 7 points in Bahrain due to a DRS rear wing problem, and 4 points in Spain in the crash with Bruno Senna.

In Monaco, his pole was stripped from him before yet another fuel pressure problem struck in the race. That might have cost him the win and 25 points, Bild claimed.

It’s agonising to see all these mechanical failures on Schumacher’s side of the garage, while Nico Rosberg has had plain sailing. At the Canadian Grand Prix, Schumacher’s DRS failed, which isn’t uncommon. It was uncommon though, that his wing got stuck OPEN! The wing is usually designed not to do this, and the strength of the Mercedes pit crew failed to close it, forcing him to again retire.

Looking at some of the races where he has been fast, its clear that he definitely has raw pace. During Qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix, he set an amazing lap. If you can, look it up and watch it; It’s a pure masterclass in driving.

In Valencia, He started way back in 12th but after a fantastic charge through the field, he finished in 3rd place. This doesn’t sound too hard, but going from 12th to 3rd in Valencia is nearly as hard as doing so in Monaco.

The 2011 Belgian Grand Prix marked Schumi’s 20th year in Formula One. A loose wheel nut sent him out of Qualifying in the opening minutes with a big shunt into the barriers at turn 6. He, without getting to set a time, qualified down in 24th. But, He had the perfect race and finished in a spectacular 5th.

And not just does he have raw pace, but he has massive support in areas. Rita Xiume’s article for the Italian Grand Prix describes Michael Schumacher’s cult following in Italy and how he is possibly even more popular than the local Ferrari.

I was of course saddened at the news that Schumi is to retire at the end of the season. I’ve watched F1 since 2010 and so next year will be the first time that I watch an F1 race without Michael Schumacher competing. Yet, I’m glad that I had three years of watching and supporting Schumacher race. Whether or not you are a Schumacher fan, I think you should acknowledge the end of an era. Our great sport’s most successful driver and most well-known star is finally leaving the sport.

Michael Schumacher, I applaud you.

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Battle of the Bulls – Vettel leads lockout

The Red Bull drivers of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber have locked out the Indian front row today after setting the standard in all three Practice sessions. Such is their surprising dominance that it is the first time that the Milton Keynes team have secured three consecutive front-row lockouts.

Sebastian will line up ahead of Mark, but Mark maintains that if he can get past Vettel, he will not move over for him. This could be Fernando Alonso’s only chance at the championship, lining up in P5 on the grid. Between Webber and Alonso is Lewis Hamilton in P3 and Jenson Button in P4. Felipe Massa lines up in P6, right behind his team-mate and just in front of former team-mate Kimi Raikkonen. Raikkonen lines up in front of Sergio Perez in P8 who did a fantastic job to make it so high, despite missing Friday practice due to illness. Behind Perez is Pastor Maldonado who has struggled all weekend and Nico Rosberg in P10 who didn’t set a time.

Romain Grosjean is the first man outside the top 10, Followed by Nico Hulkenberg in P12, Bruno Senna in P13 and Michael Schumacher in P14. Daniel Ricciardo is P15 ahead of a disappointed Paul di Resta in P16. Kamui Kobayashi in P17 will be worried about his seat for 2013 with Esteban Gutierrez being given track time this Friday in place of Perez.

Jean-Eric Vergne took his usual position at the back of the field, being the only non-‘new team’ driver out in Q1. He lines up P18 ahead of Vitaly Petrov in P19 and Heikki Kovalainen in P20, who strangely set his fastest lap on prime tyres. Timo Glock beat Pedro de la Rosa today, lining up P21 and P22 respectively. Local boy Narain Karthikeyan took a nice break from his usual P24 in Qualifying by beating Charles Pic, who lines up in 24th, by 0.1seconds.

Oddly enough, there was absolutely no grid penalties to be handed out after qualifying today and so everyone will start where they qualified. They race starts at 9.30pm GMT but don’t forget to set your clocks back one hour tonight or you’ll be an hour early for the coverage.

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Webber: “I will not pull over for Vettel”

Red Bull driver Mark Webber has insisted that he will not pull over for his team-mate during the Indian Grand Prix, despite being 63 points behind him in the standings with 100 points up for grabs.

When asked if Red Bull would allow him to win the race, despite his team-mate being involved in a tense championship battle, he said “I will win. That’s it.  If I’m in the lead this weekend, I’m not pulling over for anyone.” He added.

The Aussie, who was a close runner-up in the 2010 Championship was asked if his objection to team orders could lead to punishment, countered that Red Bull team principal Christian Horner had assured that he could race while he still stood a chance at the title.

“This weekend, if I have a chance to win the grand prix, I will go for it,” the Australian said. “Mathematically I have a chance.” but admitted”It’s going to take a lot of smelly races for Seb and Fernando.”

“Winning some races is going to be useful but if those guys are finishing as they normally do it’s going to be difficult to get those kinds of points back, given how the points are spread now. Very difficult but never say never.”

Webber and Vettel haven’t always had the best relationship. In 2010, both drivers were in a vicious five way fight for the title resulting in two coming together in Turkey and Britain.

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