Sunday, February 28, 2010


Source: YouTube @EuropeanMotorNews

Photos from final day in Barcelona

...added to our album!

Check them out in our gallery here

Lotus confident with car for season start

Heikki Kovalainen completed another 65 laps in the warm temperatures at Barcelona. After some developmental mechanical and weight balance changes, the team were happy to see yet more improvement in the car’s reliability and pace.

Chief Technical Officer, Mike Gascoyne remarked "It was a game of two halves as they say; we had a good morning where we were able to complete all our plans but a problem with the programme change on the gearbox delayed us in the afternoon, which meant we weren't able to do as much running as we wanted. Overall, however, the test has been extremely productive - in general we've had very good reliability, and the team is in very good shape going to the first race.

"Considering the length of time we've had to work on the project it's a fantastic effort from the whole team. Everyone has worked exceptionally hard over the two tests and we now have to work on the pace of the car and improve that, but it's been a tremendous effort from the whole team and I'm very proud of them."

The test has confirmed Lotus Racing’s belief that they have a reliable car, ready for its debut in Bahrain. Consistency and completion of races are the key goals for the first few Grand Prix, until further aero developments - scheduled for the Barcelona GP - allow the team to begin to flex their muscles and really utilise their experience and talents in the season ahead.

Source: F1 Technical

Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Title is the only target for '10

After coming so close to clinching the title in 2009, it is clear nothing less than the world championship will do for Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel this season. After climbing out of the RB6’s cockpit following testing at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya on Friday, Vettel evaluates his progress and the pace of his rivals…

Q: Sebastian, are you satisfied after your first day in action at Barcelona?
Sebastian Vettel: We completed many laps and we didn’t have any issues that forced us to stop, so I would call it a good day.

Q: You did stop out on the track at one point…
SV: Ah, it has been a long winter break, so I was a little tired. And after all the rain we’ve had lately, the sun was shining, so I thought I might pull over…

Q: Were you trying to avoid an engine failure?
SV: No, not really. But sometimes it is safer to turn the engine off than risk damage.

Q: It’s been a pretty demanding day…
SV: Yes, it was a full day’s work. But it felt good after that long winter break, and the little running we managed last week, to be out on a dry track.

Q: Do you still think Ferrari are the favourites?
SV: I think so. In the morning or in the afternoon, with more or less fuel, they’ve looked pretty competitive.

Q: You were four-tenths faster than Michael Schumacher in the Mercedes GP…
SV: It’s difficult to judge. The times you see after a long day’s running are secondary. The really interesting thing is to see how a car develops over many laps. You shouldn’t put too much emphasis on a single lap.

Q: Were you surprised by Nico Hulkenberg’s time?
SV: Yes, I was. To get a lap time down to 1m 20s you have to be running with very little fuel. The good conditions in the afternoon played to his advantage too.

Q: You say lap times don’t tell the whole story, so what are your thoughts on the pecking order?
SV: As I said before, the Ferrari looks very fast. When you get into the 1m 20s region you have to have a good car. It’s hard to say anything definite about the pecking order, but I would say that Ferrari has an advantage and that behind them it is pretty tight.

Q: What do you expect will happen in Bahrain?
SV: It’s difficult to say. In Bahrain the temperature will be 32 degrees Celsius - that’s double what we have here - so the tarmac will be much warmer. It is hard to say how the cars will behave. Last year the pecking order was clear with Brawn GP on top, but behind them it was difficult to say. We’ve been pretty good from the start, although we were in the midfield at the last test. You should never overestimate tests. There will still be some upgrades. Making a prediction is like playing the lottery.

Q: How are you feeling?
SV: Good. I’ve done more than a race distance today.

Q: On a scale of one to ten, how keen are you for the season to start?
SV: Ten.

Q: What is your goal?
SV: After last season, there can only be one goal - to become world champion. It will be a long, hard season and I will take it race by race. At the moment it looks pretty tight so it will be a sizzling season.

Q: Where would you place Michael Schumacher in the pecking order?
SV: Well, I don’t think it is right to speak only of Michael. You have to consider Mercedes as a team. Nico (Rosberg) is also someone you have to take into account. As I said, I see Ferrari in the lead and then us, McLaren and Mercedes. In this group it is pretty tight. Sometimes one has an advantage over the others.

Q: Does the big fuel tank make driving feel massively different?
SV: No, not really. The cars are longer - we are limo-drivers now. Plus, with a full tank the car will behave different. It’ll be more inert, but at the end of the day it is still a Formula One car.


Ferrari vs. McLaren: the spying returns in Barcelona

Great video!!!!!!!!!!

Source: Youtube @Motorsports45

[Video] Highlights of Kimi Raikkonen's first Rally in Sweden 2010

Source: YouTube @WRCNorthAmerica

Saturday, February 27, 2010

More photos from testing in Barcelona

added to our album...

More here

Corona Rally Mexico 2010 starts on March 4th

The second round of the 2010 FIA World Rally Championship is Rally Mexico, which takes place from Thursday 4th March until Sunday 7th. This is the first of 5 consecutive gravel rounds, with the crews in Mexico taking on a total of 22 stages covering 354.60km.

After the snow and ice of Sweden, 35 crews will take on the heat and dust of Mexico. Based in the city of Leon, 400km northwest of Mexico City, the rally made its debut on the WRC calendar in 2004 and returns after a year's absence in 2009.

Useful Information

Rally Mexico (round 2/13) (4-7 March)
Surface: gravel
Where: León

World Rally Radio will be broadcasting live from the event each day, with roundup podcasts available at the end of each day.

Host City: León
TimeZone: GMT -6

On air times
Friday 5 March: 0700hrs
Saturday 6 March: 0730hrs
Sunday 7 March: 0730hrs

Practical information: The Service Park and headquarters are in the Poliforum Expo Center. The Media Centre is in the Expo-Feria on the Rally Campus. There is a seven-hour time difference between Mexico (GMT -6) and France (GMT +1). So when it is 1200 in León, it will be 1900 in Paris. On the first day of the rally, Friday 4 March, the sun will rise at 0704 and set at 1852. In March, the temperature ranges between 15°C and 30°C with dry conditions expected. The local currency is the Mexican Peso (MX Peso). 1 € = 20 MX Pesos.

Technical: The engines used in Mexico will be used again in Turkey and Portugal. The spare parts (gearboxes, differentials, front and rear subframes, steering racks and turbos) are shared with the Rally Turkey.
Tyres: Each crew will have a total of 36 hard compound Pirelli Scorpion tyres at their disposal, including six for the shakedown.

Reconnaissance: This will take place on Tuesday 2 March from 0700-1800 and Wednesday 3 March from 0700-1730, with a maximum of two runs through each special stage. The maximum permitted speed is 90kph, except when local signs indicate a lower limit.

Shakedown: Thursday 4 March between 0800 and 1200 at San Juan de Otates, which is located 15.9 kilometres away from the service park on a 5.13-kilometre stage.

Start ceremony: Thursday 4 March in front of the Alhòndiga de Granaditas at Guanajuato from 2000.

Route: The total route length is 884.58 km, of which 354.60 km are competitive. There are 22 special stages (11 different stages in total).

Itinerary (all times are local)

Thursday 4 March:
Ceremonial start: Guanajuato 20.00

Friday 5 March: Day 1
SS1 Alfaro 1 22.96km 07.28
SS2 Ortega 1 23.83km 09.01

SS3 El Cubilete 1 8.87km 09.49
SS4 Coca-Cola Street Stage 1.50km 10.57 

Serv A León Poliforum (30 mins) 11.19
SS5 Alfaro 2 22.96km 12.17
SS6 Ortega 2 23.83km 13.50

SS7 El Cubilete 2 18.87km 14.38 

SS8 Super Special 1 2.21km 15.53
SS9 Super Special 2 2.21km 15.58
Serv B León Poliforum (45 mins) 16.28 

Finish León 17.13
Total 137.24km

Saturday 6 March: Day 2
Serv C León Poliforum (15 mins) 07.00 

SS10 Ibarrilla 1 29.90km 07.54

SS11 Duarte 1 23.27km 09.17 

SS12 Derramadero 1 23.28km 10.08
SS13 Coca-Cola Street Stage 1.50km 11.21
Serv D León Poliforum (30 mins) 11.43 

SS14 Ibarrilla 2 29.90km 12.52 

SS15 Duarte 2 23.27km 14.15 

SS16 Derramadero 2 23.28km 15.06 

SS17 Super Special 3 2.21km 16.21 

SS18 Super Special 4 2.21km 16.26 

Serv E León Poliforum (45 mins) 16.56

Finish León 17.41
Total 158.82km

Sunday 7 March: Day 3
Serv F León Poliforum (15 mins) 07.45 

SS19 Guanajuatito 29.13km 08.43 

SS20 Sauz Seco 7.05km 09.34 

SS21 Comanjilla 17.94km 10.12 

SS22 Super Special 5 4.42km 11.27 

Serv G León Poliforum (10 mins) 12.00

Finish León 13.00
Total 58.54km 

Rally total 354.60km

Final podium: Sunday 7 March, from 1300.

Source: RallyBuzz

[Video] Sebastian Vettel climbs Mount Vesuvius

Thanks: Kati@

Webber: "F1 needs quality, not quantity"

Sir Richard Branson is in the Barcelona paddock on Saturday, and he made clear his distaste for Ferrari's recent outburst.

Ferrari's 'Horse Whisperer' column poured scorn on the new wave of struggling small teams in formula one, including Branson's Virgin Racing.

"I think it's a bit sad to see Ferrari carrying on with those kinds of words," said the flamboyant British billionaire.

"Ferrari should be welcoming new teams because they make the sport much more exciting," Branson added.

But as the headlines talk about the failing USF1 team, Campos' push to get two cars to Bahrain, and the hopeful and feisty Stefan GP, Australian driver Mark Webber admitted he sees the sport's situation as "totally mad".

"I've always been a massive believer that you need quality, not quantity," said the Red Bull driver.

"We don't want more competitors but less quality. We need to keep the quality good," Webber is quoted as saying by the Times of India.

Source: F1 Complete

Interview with Fernando Alonso from Shell

Source: ItaliaspeedTV

Friday, February 26, 2010

Photos from Days 1-2 in Barcelona...

More here

Kimi: "Santander put money in so I would leave"

Exclusive interview with Kimi Räikkönen to Autopista

Kimi Räikkönen caught up with Autopista during the course of Rally Sweden, where he spoke about his WRC premiere, and also hinted about his past in Formula 1, as for example the true motive behind his departure from Ferrari.

Finn Kimi Räikkönen caught up with our journalist Fernando Albes at the end of Rally Sweden, where the former Formula 1 world champion made his WRC debut. You will be able to read the full interview on the last issue of Autopista, issue 2.641, on sale now. Here we take a look at the juiciest quotes from a driver that speaks more than it seems...

Kimi, you've caused quite a stir in the rally world. Do you like the rallies better than Formula 1?

I think the repercussion is the same, I race in the rallies because I like it. I don't like it more than F1, I still like F1, but rallying is something I have always wanted to try.

How did you do in Sweden?

The snow is the hardest surface to drive on, because you can't see the driving lines, which could help you. There's still a lot to learn, but I'm getting experience with the car and with the notes, and little by little I'll begin to go faster.

Where is there more pression, here on in Formula 1?

The pression is the same for me, because it's the pressure I impose on myself.

They say you relate the arrival of Alonso in Ferrari to the money Santander put in so you left.

It wasn't me who put in the money, but Santander had something to do with it. But to me it doesn't matter.

Besides talking about more current events from the rally world in his interview, the same article offers a complete study on Räikkönen's performance in Sweden, comparing his pace with Dani Sordo's in his first ever Rally Sweden with a WRC in 2006. The results are surprising...

Translation/adaptation from Spanish: Fran

Schumacher apologised to Heidfeld after Merc seat clash

Michael Schumacher apologised for taking the race seat he was hoping to occupy in 2010, Nick Heidfeld has revealed.

With Schumacher returning to F1 this year, the German pair are united this year at Mercedes GP, with 32-year-old Heidfeld in the reserve role.

But prior to the seven time world champion Schumacher deciding to come back to F1 after three years in retirement, Heidfeld was the favourite for the Mercedes race seat, after putting his talks with McLaren on the back burner.

"McLaren wanted to have me," Heidfeld, who is tipped to succeed Pedro de la Rosa as the chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers Association, revealed in an interview with Sport Bild.

"The negotiations were very close to a conclusion," he said.

But then Jenson Button's talks with Brawn broke down amid the Mercedes takeover, the Briton switched to McLaren, and Schumacher accelerated his talks with Ross Brawn.

Heidfeld was the loser of the deal, but he still had talks in the works with other teams.

"But I decided (to wait) for Mercedes," he explained, also revealing that he would probably have signed with Brawn for 2009, had BMW not taken up its option on him.

When the rumours about Schumacher's comeback hit boiling point, Heidfeld got on the phone with the 41-year-old German and realised he was serious about returning.

"When we saw one another at the Jerez test for the first time, he in a way apologised to me that he had taken the place. It was a nice gesture, but if the reverse was true, I would have done the same," Heidfeld said.

He said he has maintained a normal training regime and is completely ready to drive the W01 car if required.

"For 2011 I see a good chance of getting back a race seat," Heidfeld insisted.

"For the moment I am concentrated on my role at Mercedes. What comes as a result, we will see," he said.

Source: Motorsport

Alguersuari backs Vettel/Red Bull for title

Jaime Alguersuari does not think Mercedes is among the contenders for the 2010 world championship.

The German team, formerly the 2009 title-winning Brawn GP outfit, has signed seven time world champion Michael Schumacher and is regularly listed among the season favourites Red Bull, Ferrari and McLaren.

But Toro Rosso driver Alguersuari said in the Spanish press: "Mercedes are in the second group, along with us, Williams and Sauber."

Force India's Tonio Liuzzi agrees.

"For sure McLaren, Mercedes and Ferrari are the favourite, and I think they will fight for the championship," the Italian said in an interview with

Schumacher's 2010 teammate Nico Rosberg was third quickest in the W01 car at Barcelona on Thursday, about a second off the impressive pace of Mark Webber's Red Bull.

But he said Mercedes is not currently looking to set headline lap times.

"It's such a big step we're bringing to Bahrain it could change things again. So it's not ideal to make any suggestions at the moment," said the German, also referring to a new rear diffuser that will make its debut at the first race.

But teenager Alguersuari, who drives for the energy drinks company's sister team, thinks Red Bull Racing is leading the pack.

"If I had to choose one (title favourite) I would say Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel."

Source: F1 Complete

Webber: Red Bull are in better shape than the others

Mark Webber reckons Red Bull Racing is in pole position as the 2010 F1 World Championship campaign speeds into view - praising the team as 'one of the best if not the best in the pit-lane'

Mark Webber has warned his F1 2010 rivals that Red Bull Racing is 'in better shape than the other teams' as the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir approaches apace – and he warmly praised the energy drinks-backed outfit as 'one of the best if not the best in the pit-lane'.

The Adrian Newey-designed, Renault-powered RB6 has topped the timing screens on a number of occasions during pre-season testing to-date at Jerez de la Frontera and Barcelona, both in the hands of Webber and highly-rated young team-mate Sebastian Vettel, who registered the Milton Keynes-based squad's breakthrough victory in the top flight when he spearheaded a commanding one-two in the rain-lashed Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai early last year.

Having ended 2009 as the team to beat, RBR is bidding to pick up from where it left off when 2010 gets into gear in the desert kingdom in just over a fortnight's time, and after lapping almost a full second out of reach of anybody else on the opening day of action around the Circuit de Catalunya this week – albeit without knowing just what kind of fuel loads different drivers were running – Webber reckons it will be capable of doing just that.

“We had a pretty good day's testing,” the Australian confirmed to the BBC. “[We were] pretty close to Bahrain set-up. We had some new aerodynamic updates which worked pretty well, and some of that stuff will go to the Middle East.

“Every day is crucial, but we're in better shape than the other teams. This team is one of the best if not the best in the pit-lane in terms of what we've done last year and what we're doing this year, so we are very confident going into Bahrain that we're working hard and that the team is doing a good job.”

One possible chink in RBR's armour could be reliability, with a few early niggles and an unscheduled on-track stoppage under the Spanish sun yesterday (Thursday) hampering Webber's time in the cockpit, but the New South Wales native assured that the issues are nothing that cannot be worked through.

“It was a clean day's testing apart from a precautionary stop on the circuit because of gearbox oil pressure with a pretty high mileage part,” the 33-year-old went on. “It wasn't a huge surprise that that had to be done. We tried to take it into the afternoon, but it didn't quite work for us.

“You know, you can always make the car more reliable, there is no question about it – but there were plenty of positives [and] a lot of data to dig through before we get to Bahrain.”

Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Vice-President Norbert Haug, however, has poured cold water on the relevance of lap times before the season gets underway, insisting that with the vagaries of fuel loads accounting for significant discrepancies now that tanks have been enlarged to carry as much as 160kg, trying to make any accurate predictions at all is 'just impossible – it's guesswork'.


Alonso sets a blistering pace

Fernando Alonso set a blistering pace on Friday morning at Barcelona to lead the timesheets with a 1:20.637, 0.336s up on his closest rival.

With blue skies overhead and just the occasional cloud, the second day at Barcelona kicked off with Michael Schumacher the first to set a lap time. However, the Mercedes GP driver was quickly overhauled by Pedro de la Rosa who in turn lost out to Fernando Alonso.

In three runs of five laps, Alonso succeeded in lowering the benchmark time to a 1:20.637, a comfortable 0.850s quicker than the week's previous best, which was set by Mark Webber on Thursday.

In fact, Alonso's average time of those laps, a 1:21.122, was, at that stage, even quicker than his nearest rival's best, a 1:21.571 set by Jaime Alguersuari.

An hour and a half into the session, Lewis Hamilton finally joined the party after an undisclosed problem kept him in the pits.

The McLaren driver almost immediately moved up to fourth place behind Pedro de la Rosa while Sebastian Vettel took fifth. The German, though, was concentrating on long heavy fuelled runs.

Tonio Liuzzi entered the fray, taking third place and then second, just 0.419s off the pace. But he wasn't the only driver on the move.

Vettel climbed ahead of Hamilton and then leapfrogged de la Rosa as he got within a second of Alonso's P1 time. The Red Bull racer's four-lap run saw him average a 1:22.367, which was also some way off Alonso's short-run average.

Schumacher, who completed just 14 laps in the first two hours, returned to the track but after three laps and only a minor improvement to his time was back in the pits.

"Some more changes to the car and Michael is now out doing a sequence of runs with some practice pit stop activity," Mercedes GP reported on Twitter.

The final hour before midday saw de la Rosa work on qualifying runs, improving to second place, 0.336s off the pace, while Schumacher moved ahead of Hamilton into sixth place.

And although Jarno Trulli continued lapping, he remained at the bottom of the timesheets. "Jarno not happy with the balance so will do some tests to investigate," revealed Lotus tech boss Mike Gascoyne.

Meanwhile, it was another wasted morning for Virgin Racing, who only ventured out two-and-a-half hours in the session. The team's VR01 had been damaged when Lucas di Grassi crashed on Thursday - and the knock-off effect was felt by his team-mate Timo Glock.

"Last of the new bits to repair yesterdays crash arrived from uk 1 hour ago," Virgin reported two hours into testing. "The guys are busy completing the car rebuild after a long night at the track and Timo will be hitting the asphalt very soon...

He wasn't.

It took a further hour before Glock finally ventured out, with Virgin reporting: "Installation lap OK on rebuilt car - a new start procedure outside the garage highlighted a small heat shield issue which is being fixed."

But it wasn't until an hour before lunch that the German actually set a time. He went on to complete 16 laps with a best of 1:26.622.

Unofficial Times

1. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1:20.637 60 laps
2. P. de la Rosa Sauber C29 1:20.973 +0.336 46 laps
3. V. Liuzzi Force India VJM-03 1:21.056 +0.419 23 laps
4. S. Vettel Red Bull Racing RB6 1:21.258 +0.621 55 laps
5. J. Alguersuari Toro Rosso STR5 1:21.571 +0.934 24 laps
6. M. Schumacher Mercedes GP W01 1:21.689 +1.052 45 laps
7. L. Hamilton McLaren MP4-25 1:22.696 +2.059 21 laps
8. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1:23.513 +2.876 80 laps
9. R. Kubica Renault R30 1:24.912 +4.275 23 laps
10. T. Glock Virgin Racing VR-01 1:26.622 +5.985 16 laps
11. J. Trulli Lotus F1 T127 1:26.677 +6.040 37 laps

Source: Planet-F1

Neste Oil Rally Finland 2010: Rally Guide 1 reveals the route details of a WRC classic

Details of the route for this year´s Neste Oil Rally Finland have been released together with the Rally Guide 1, which can be found in the Competitors´ section of the website. The 60th anniversary event on July 29-31 is a combination of old and new. Laajavuori - a traditional opening stage in past decades - makes a return, while firm spectator favourite Myhinpää also remains on the bill. The route´s 19 stages total 310 kilometres

- Neste Oil Rally Finland´s three-day format has been tweaked to run the actual special stages on the Friday and Saturday, whereas scrutineering, shakedown and the opening Special Stage will have taken place on Thursday, explains Deputy Clerk of the Course Seppo Harjanne.

Harjanne underlines that particular consideration has been given to ease of spectating, obviously within the constraints allowed by regulatory demands on schedules and stage mileage.

- We want to give a choice of stages in a geographically wide area, with past years´ feedback from spectators, competing crews and teams in mind, says Harjanne.

- There was a desire to include in the route everything that made this rally famous and popular with the fans worldwide. For the competing crews it again offers familiar, fast stages and some new roads, too, he sums up.

In celebration of its 60th anniversary the event is sparked off on the Thursday by the tradition laden Laajavuori stage, which now takes the place of recent opening test Killeri. A novelty for Neste Oil Rally Finland is the re-seeding of competitors on the basis of results from Laajavuori. The top ten from that stage will be able to pick their slots in the running order for Friday.

Otherwise the jubilee rally´s route follows the pattern of recent events. On Friday morning the Urria and Jukojärvi stages are both tackled twice. After service the crews head north-east for the afternoon. Lankamaa and new stage Sirkkamäki are followed by Myhinpää, which proved super popular last year.

On Saturday the route heads south-west. First stages in the morning are Kolonkulma, Väärinmaja and Surkee, before service back at Jyväskylä Paviljonki. Next come Leustu and Himos before a re-run of Surkee and another service in Jyväskylä.

The day, and indeed the rally, is concluded with second runs through Leustu and Himos. The top crews will receive their awards at Jyväskylä Paviljonki at 19.30. The night will climax with a grand anniversary celebration.

Schedule and route maps to be found here

Source:Rally Buzz

Citroën Junior Team set for Mexico debut

Following the wintery conditions of the Rally Sweden, the Citroën Junior Team now changescontinent and surface to contest the first gravel round of the 2010 FIA World Rally Championshipseason. Sébastien Ogier/Julien Ingrassia and Kimi Räikkönen/Kaj Lindström will drive the team’stwo Citroën C4 WRCs.

Having appeared on the World Rally Championship for the first time in 2004, the León-based eventfeatures the most concentrated rally route on the calendar this year. In fact, a full 354.60 kilometres outof a total route length of only 884.58 kilometres are run competitively. Another peculiarity of RallyMexico is that competitors will be driving at an altitude of almost 2800 metres at one point on theopening day (Ortega, SS2 and SS6). Citroën comes into the event fresh from three consecutive victoriesin Mexico, between 2006 and 2008. Nonetheless, the Rally Mexico will be an all-new experience for theCitroën Junior Team, which goes there for the first time.

Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who finished a brilliant fifth on the season-opening Rally Sweden,have some fond memories of their first visit to Mexico. In 2008, Rally Mexico marked the French crew’sWorld Rally Championship debut. They got their Junior World Rally Championship campaign off to aflying start with a momentous win.

“It was a career-defining moment,” remembered Sébastien. “I’ve got some very happy memories ofMexico. We had a lot to learn, but in the end we were able to win after a rally where we were forced toattack in order to gain an advantage, but then also moderate our pace in order to look after the car. Ireally like this rally as the stages are very flowing and progressive. The fans are especially enthusiastic inMexico as well!”

Since making their World Rally Championship debut two years ago, Sébastien and Julien have climbedonto the overall podium (thanks to second place in Greece last year) and finished eighth in the 2009World Rally Championship for drivers. In Sweden, their fifth place ensured that they beat several localScandinavian specialists. So in Mexico, the French duo’s objective will be to at least equal that result.“We started the season well, with a top-five finish on our first visit to Sweden,” added Sébastien. “Ourobjective is to maintain this same pace throughout the season and get closer to the podium on the eventsthat we know a bit already. “In Mexico, we start off with the advantage of having already driven eight ofthe 11 different stages in the C2 Super 1600. On top of that, we were able to prepare for this rally witha day of testing in Spain. If there’s a chance of finishing higher than fifth, we’re certainly going to go forit!”

Kimi Räikkönen and Kaj Lindström will continue their learning curve on the gravel of Mexico. Followingtheir first rally on the snowy tracks of Sweden in February, the Finnish crew now faces a new challenge ona very different surface.

“What I love about rallying is that you have to be competitive on all sorts of different surfaces,” said Kimi.“After my experience on snow, now I’m going to find out about driving on gravel. I really don’t knowwhat to expect, but that is all part of our learning process. I’m very much looking to driving the CitroënC4 WRC in these challenging conditions and getting as many kilometres under my belt as I can, in orderto add to my experience.”

Three questions to… Kimi Räikkönen

Looking back on it now, what conclusions can you draw from your first event in the World RallyChampionship with the Citroën Junior Team C4 WRC?

“The really positive thing is that we managed to cover all the stages on the Rally Sweden and we learneda lot. We could have done better overall had it not been for some small mistakes but we managed toimprove our stage times as the rally went on. That was our initial objective. The second run through thestages was better for us. I also felt a big difference once I became more confident with my pace notes.With more experience, things should get increasingly easier.”

Mexico will be the first time that you drive the Citroën C4 WRC on gravel. Do you think that youwill find this surface easier than snow?

“I’m really looking forward to starting the Rally Mexico. My impression is that driving on gravel should bea little bit easier for us. Or at least that’s what Marcus Grönholm told me! I reckon that we will find amore consistent level of grip on gravel. But for the moment I’m still lacking experience. I just need to getmore kilometres in the car in order to get used to the Citroën C4 WRC in particular and rallying ingeneral.”

How are you going to approach the Rally Mexico?

“My plan had initially been to take part in a test session on gravel, in order to get to know the Citroën C4WRC a bit better on a new surface for me. But unfortunately I experienced a bit of back pain that stoppedme from driving. I’ve had some treatment now but I preferred to rest before leaving for Mexico. Of course Iwould have liked to test the car before going, but it was important to recuperate in order to start thesecond rally of the season in the best possible physical shape.”

Source: racecar - Courtesy: miezicat

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Red flags galore as Webber dominate

Mark Webber was in a red-hot form, but it was the red flag that dominated proceedings on the first day of the final pre-season test in Barcelona.

No fewer than six drivers - Webber, Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button, Lucas di Grassi, Fernando Alonso and Fauruz Fauzy - stopped on the track at various stages during the day.

Red Bull's Webber - who came to a halt at Turn 7 about two hours into the afternoon session - was atop the timesheets for most of the day after posting a 1:23.512 as soon as his car warmed in the morning. That time was soon lowered to a 1:22 before he became the first and only driver to dip under the 1:21 with a 1:21.487 before lunch.

The Australian was the second most productive driver on the track in terms of number of laps completed with his 109. However, he failed to match his early morning times later in the day as he appeared to be running on a lot of fuel.

His main challengers for top spot throughout the day were Nico Hulkenberg and Nico Rosberg. It was rookie Hulkenberg who finished second with a 1:22.504 while Mercedes' Rosberg was a further 0.107 behind.

Sauber continued their good pre-season form with Pedro de la Rosa fourth fastest while Jenson Button had to be content with fifth place. The McLaren driver didn't really set the world alight. First the car's transponder didn't work in the morning and then he stopped at Turn 10 shortly before the end of the session.

The team, though, are happy as he "concentrated primarily on mechanical and aerodynamic set-up work".

Staying with red flags, Alonso completed just 22 laps in the morning after his F10 stopped. Ferrari later revealed an "electronic issue" was to blame.

Lucas di Grassi was the biggest loser on day one after he sent his VR-01 into the tyre barriers. He was injured, but the same could not be said of his car.

"I had a spin at corner 9 compromising some mileage run," he wrote on Twitter. "The causes still being investigated. I am fine, thanks. Next time I will go even faster, always pushing more and more."

He returned to the track later in the afternoon, but he was well off the pace.

Force India as well as Renault did a lot of pitstop practice while the former also focused on "simulating a safety car and queued cars" later in the day.


1. M. Webber Red Bull RB6 1:21.487 109 laps
2. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1:22.504 82 laps
3. N. Rosberg Mercedes W01 1:22.514 107 laps
4. P de la Rosa Sauber C29 1:23.144 73 laps
5. J Button McLaren MP4-25 1:23.452 101 laps
6. T. Liuzzi Force India VJM-03 1:24.064 65 laps
7. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1:24.170 74 laps
8. V. Petrov Renault R30 1:24.173 73 laps
9. J Alguersuari Toro Rosso STR5 1:24.869 111 laps
10. L di Grassi Virgin VR-01 1:27.057 31 laps
11. F. Fauzy Lotus T127 1:28.002 76 laps

Source: Planet-F1

Kimi Raikkonen Happy with WRC Rally Debut for Citroen

Former Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen was encouraged by his World Rally Championship debut for Citroen despite his 30th place finish in Sweden

The ‘ice man’ recovered from hitting a snow bank on stage six to finish 37 minutes off winner Mikko Hirvonen.

Raikkonen, 30, said: “It was a really encouraging event, which allowed me to learn so much.”

Fords Hirvonen was 42.3 seconds ahead of Raikkonen’s Citroen team mate Sebastian Loeb while Jari-Mati Latvala was third.

Citroen boss Oliver Quesnel was quick to praise Raikkonen’s efforts after a difficult weekend.

“We cannot ask too much of Kimi at this stage” he said. “Sweden I think is the most difficult rally to start with, and everybody is looking at him and waiting for – I don’t know what – but he could give more than he has.” “kimi did not do a bad job here. He told me he made too many mistakes but it’s obvious he has to make mistakes – he’s learning.”

Raikkonen set several top 10 stage times, including a sixth fastest time on Saturaday, meaning he would have comfortably scored points had he not lost 26 minutes when he hit the snow bank on Friday. The 2007 Ferrari champion reflected; “It was a really encouraging event, which allowed me to learn so much.” “From the start to the finish I felt I was improving all the time. Sure, we still have a lot to learn because the whole feeling is so different to what I had in Formula 1.”

“But I’m getting a good idea of how to use the pace notes now and I understand the car a bit better as well.”

“Now I’m looking forward to driving gravel on the nest rally in Mexico; it should be a bit easier for me.”

After his poor performance in his last year of Formula 1, it was good to see the Fin upbeat about his chances, maybe the more relaxed environment of Rallying has been a good thing for Kimi.

His chances of winning the title this year are slim however, 125/1 with Betfred. However depending on how the rest of the season goes, he may be in with a good chance in 2011.

Source: Betting Gaming Supermarket
Courtesy: luieluv Planet-F1

Webber hits top, di Grassi hits the barriers

Mark Webber topped the timesheets, Fernando Alonso was responsible for a red flag and Lucas di Grassi crashed into the barriers during an action-packed morning session in Barcelona.

After failing to post any time during the opening hour, Webber quickly made amends by flying around the track in 1:23.512 to remove Nico Rosberg from the No 1 spot.

It was almost dejavu a few minutes later as Fernando Alonso caused the second red flag of the morning at Turn 10 - almost exactly an hour after Lotus' Fairuz Fauzy stopped there. No one was quite sure what caused the F10 to come to a halt.

When the track was reopened, Renault's Vitaly Petrov posted his first time of the day - a 1:29.5 - his time was never going to trouble those setting the pace.

McLaren, who earlier in the day had problems with their transponder, decided to test a new pitstop device on the back of Jenson Button's car, while Lotus did some "lambda sensor runs for engine", according to Mike Gascoyne on Twitter. Force India's Tonio Luizzi was "running through race preparation - simulating a lap behing the pace car now. Tonio has also done some practice pit stops".

The battle for the fastest time in the morning turned out to be a battle between Webber and the two Nicos. Williams' Hulkenberg challenged Webber with a 1:22.684 while Rosberg posted a 1:22.514. However, the Red Bull driver hit back and was the first one to dip under the 1:21 with Rosberg settling for second and Hulkenberg for third.

The third red flag of the day was out 25 minutes before the lunch break after Lucas di Grassi sent his Virgin car crashing into the barriers at Turn 9. According to reports, he lost his back wing and then spun into the tyres. He walked away without a scratch, but the same could not be said about his VR-01.

Alonso finally returned to the track once everyone was given the go-ahead following di Grassi's accident and quickly made his way to fifth place in the timesheets with a 1:24.580 just before the break.

Unofficial times

1. M. Webber Red Bull RB6 1:21.487 57 laps
2. N. Rosberg Mercedes GP W01 1:22.514 58 laps
3. N. Hulkenberg Williams FW32 1:22.684 59 laps
4. P. de la Rosa Sauber C29 1:23.321 53 laps
5. F. Alonso Ferrari F10 1:24.580 22 laps
6. J. Button McLaren MP4-25 1:24.582 44 laps
7. J. Alguersuari STR5 1:24.869 72 laps
8. T. Liuzzi Force India VJM-03 1:25.303 33 laps
9. V Petrov Renault R30 1:26.208 54 laps
10. L. de Grassi Virgin VR-01 1:27.057 31 laps
11. F. Fairuz Lotus T127 1:29.795 37 laps

Fonte: Planet-F1

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Last exam ahead

The Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro is setting up the last details regarding the preparation for the fourth and last test session with the 2010 F1 season ahead, starting tomorrow at the Circuit de Catalunya, near Barcelona. During the Scuderia’s test programme Fernando Alonso will sit behind the wheel tomorrow and on Friday, while Felipe Massa will take over as of Saturday.

The team will use a new chassis, with the number 283. The cars the Scuderia will have available at the start of the season will therefore be complete: chassis 281 debuted in Valencia, followed by number 282 during the second session in Jerez de la Frontera.

Lots of tension ahead of the last test session: maybe this will be the occasion when all the teams will be present on the track in their definite form for the first race and maybe we’ll get an idea about the real performance on the track, because this will also be the last occasion to test with little fuel loads on board with the new qualifyings in sight. Someone already did it last week, but now this is really the last exam.


[Video] Drivers preview Rally Mexico

Source: WRC

[Video] Red Bull Racing presenting their new car with Sebastian Vettel

Source: Red Bull Racing

Vettel: I don't care about increased pressure

Sebastian Vettel insists he is not worried about the added pressure that comes along with being one of the favourites to win the World Championship.

The list of favourites is a pretty long one this year. Besides Vettel, Mark Webber, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Felipe Massa, Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg have all been tipped as possible title winners in 2010.

Vettel, who finished nine points behind World Champion Button last year, admits there will be pressure on him this year, but he's not bothered about it.

"It is true that the expectations are higher from the outside," he told Germany's Salzburger Nachrichten. "It's something I can also be proud of. Our position as one of the favourites this year is down to our achievements of 2009.

"However, there is no time to rest. You must once again prove yourself in each test, in each round. To become World Champion was my goal last year and that will again be the case this year. Whether the pressure comes from the outside, I don't really care."

The new season is just a few weeks away and it's already clear from testing sessions that the four front runners are set to dominate. Vettel, though, insists "there's still more to come" as teams will make further improvements.

"Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and ourselves are at the front," he said. "But everything will be probably be very close. Ferrari have looked pretty strong so far. However, all teams will make improvements to their car before the start of the season, so there's is more to come."

Source: Planet-F1

Fernando Alonso: 'My father was right – Ferrari gives you a special feeling'

The twice world champion is relishing a new lease of life at the most famous team in Formula One

At the end of another draining day Fernando Alonso has one last gauntlet to face. As the winter sun fades across an empty track at Jerez, an hour south of Seville, a ­chattering throng of men and women huddle outside the Ferrari garage. They are Italian and Spanish; and their fervour is uniform.

When the door finally opens, and the two-time world champion and new star of Ferrari emerges, they engulf him. Alonso has worked relentlessly all day, ­ completing 132 laps of testing in a car that has encouraged many bookmakers to install him as a narrow favourite to win this year's drivers' championship. Yet his walk to the Ferrari motorhome looks more taxing.

The 28-year-old smiles politely, stopping every few steps to accept an embrace from a Spanish supporter or to have his photograph taken alongside an entranced Italian fan, but his relief is obvious when he escapes. In an office tucked away at the back of Ferrari's gleaming enclave, Alonso shakes his head. He might have won ­successive titles for Renault – in 2005 and 2006 – and been subsequently embroiled in the "Spygate" and "Crashgate" ­controversies that scarred ­Formula One, but driving for Ferrari is an unusually intense experience.

"My father always told me this would happen," Alonso remembers. "He said, 'If you race for Ferrari then you can retire. Your life is complete.' So after I won my two championships for Renault I said, 'I'm happy now – my career is complete.' And he said, 'No, no, if you drive for Ferrari people will forget the championships. They will remember you as a Ferrari driver.' I said, 'OK, Papa, we'll see.' Now I think he was right. Ferrari gives you a special feeling."

A low-key day of testing offers only a fleeting snapshot of all that awaits Alonso when the new season starts two weeks on Sunday in Bahrain. At least he is suitably equipped to withstand the scrutiny, for he has galvanised a previously non-existent Spanish zeal for Formula One. His fame now prevents him from living in Spain but Alonso derives real pride from the fact that 36,400 fans watched him dominate a routine practice day at Valencia this month, outnumbering those who had attended last year's Turkish grand prix.

"It was a hard battle when I started," Alonso says. "There was nothing. When I raced at Minardi in my first year [2001] my family had to watch me on German TV. In Spain there were no TV rights for Formula One. Now I think the attention on me here will go up even more. But the biggest difficulty will be outside Spain. When I race in Australia or Korea or Japan I know it will be a big change for me because Ferrari fans are worldwide. It's very nice if you win but it's not so good if you lose. All this is part of being a Ferrari driver."

Alonso believes his bruising experience in 2007, when partnering an apparently favoured rookie in Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, will help him to adapt to ­Ferrari's pressurised environment. "2007 was very difficult but I learnt a lot personally. It was good for my career to take that step of joining them and growing up. I learnt how to work with a team and also to ­withstand the media pressure. The difficulties I had were coming from the team and the media. Now I am much more prepared for everything in Formula One – and in life as well.

"But at the time McLaren and Ferrari were fighting each other and it was very close. In the end I think we had the better car but we finished ­second and third [with Hamilton and Alonso both just one point behind Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen]. Unfortunately we did something wrong."

Bitter infighting cost McLaren the championship, while an engineer's appropriation of technical data from Ferrari almost brought down the entire company. "With the spy history I was in the wrong place at the wrong time," Alonso says. "But I was very happy to help the FIA discover everything."

As a result McLaren were excluded from that season's constructors' championship and were fined a record $100m. And last year, even more damagingly, it was proved that Alonso's team-mate at Renault, Nelson Piquet Jr, had crashed his car deliberately at the 2008 Singapore grand prix. That blatant ­cheating forced the introduction of a safety car, and Alonso was the unwitting ­beneficiary as he went on to win the race.

Alonso's position was muddied further by the fact that Flavio Briatore, Renault's team principal, was his manager. Briatore has just won an appeal against his permanent expulsion from the sport but Alonso agrees that "it was a bad season for F1 last year". He adds: "Crashgate was not easy. Flavio is a friend. I have been working with him many years now. So for all the [legal] decisions that go well for him I am happy. But I don't know everything about his case."

Does he expect Briatore to return to the sport? Alonso looks down and shrugs. "I have no idea." Surely he was shocked that Briatore, Renault's chief engineer, Pat Symonds, and Piquet could resort to such squalid and dangerous tactics? "It is in the past," Alonso murmurs evasively.

But Felipe Massa, his new team-mate at Ferrari, remains mortified that the debacle cost him the 2008 drivers' title by a single point. Has he discussed the implications of Crashgate with Massa? "No," Alonso says. That answer is predictable – especially against a typically gossipy Formula One backdrop which implies that the relationship between Alonso and Massa is strained. "People are only writing these things because they know we are very strong. Felipe and I work for the team."

They have, however, had many fierce battles in the past. "I have the same with everybody else," he smiles. "After so many years of course I have battled with Felipe. It's the way it is – and we'll keep having these fights. But Michael Schumacher and [Nico] Rosberg will have fights at Mercedes. I am sure Lewis and Jenson Button will have fights. Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel will have fights at Red Bull – in fact they were fighting last year already. But no one talks about this. They talk about it with Ferrari because we are in a good position."

Button, like Alonso, arrived at McLaren as the reigning world champion and it is easy to imagine tensions between him and Hamilton. "We'll see," Alonso says. "Obviously I don't know how McLaren is now but if he arrived in my time then, for sure, it would be very tough for him. But, hopefully, it's now better for Jenson because I learned a lot from that season and McLaren did as well."

The return of Schumacher will be as intriguing a sub-plot as the rivalries within McLaren and Ferrari. "I was very surprised when I first heard Michael was coming back. But our lives are so intense that when you are at home it's difficult to get used to a normal life. So if you get an opportunity to come back after three years maybe you can't say no. And it's true that since Michael left I haven't won any championships. So hopefully this is a good sign for me. Maybe there is some relationship between Michael and my success."

Alonso's good humour can be attributed to the fact that he believes his Ferrari is the best car he has ever driven – and that he has escaped a dispiriting situation at Renault where, last year, he finished a distant ninth in the championship. "I knew I was only fighting for seventh or eighth but it was important to learn from that. I have no doubt I am a better driver now."

He is also stimulated by his outside interest in creating a new Tour de France team with his friend Alberto Contador, who won the race in 2007 and 2009. "It's a project for me – a kind of dream I have because I love cycling. Creating a top team and being in a position to win the Tour de France will give me a nice feeling. But I know it is not easy to create a top team from zero. You need good riders, good staff, a lot of preparation and, most important, a lot of sponsors. So I don't think we are in the right moment to start a project like this, because of the world economy."

Would he wait until he has retired from Formula One before he attempts to fulfil his Tour fantasy? "No, it can happen at the same time. It is something Alberto and I can work on. As I said I'm very open. I know this year he is with Astana but from next year onwards, for sure, if there is an opportunity I will be very interested. I think he will be interested as well."

Did he train alongside the remorseless Contador in the winter? "He invited me to train with him a couple of times but I was always trying to have something else to do that day! I trained with the Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez, who is from my city [Ovideo], and with some of ­Alberto's team‑mates from Astana."

Before he can chase down a possible Tour triumph as a team director, Alonso looks ready for the most absorbing Formula One season in years. "I expect Ferrari, McLaren, Mercedes and Red Bull to be big contenders. But we are very happy where we are at Ferrari."

Even some British bookmakers have made him favourite for the title, ahead of the last two world champions in Hamilton and Button. Would it be wise to put a bet on him? Alonso laughs and stretches out his hand. "Put the money on me now…"

Source: The Guardian

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Räikkönen to Mexico, via Paris

According to's sources, Kimi Räikkönen has just left Paris after spending several days with studious engineers from Citroën Racing. The objective of this exchange was primarily to analyze the performance produced by the Finn in the Swedish Rally, his 1st event in the Citroën Junior Team.

"The Swedish Rally was my 1st rally in a WRC. We finished in one piece: it was our objective and the most positive thing we got from the weekend. Of course, I made some stupid mistakes which we could have done without. We have paid dearly and they have severely damaged our results," said the driver after the Swedish race, eager to review his race to record personal progress as he considers it essential to his progress.

With the help of engineers from Citroën, Raikkonen has reviewed some of these damaging errors he made in Sweden and how they affected his C4 car. The ultimate goal of this work program is to guide the driver so that he begins to make progress at its 2nd rally, namely the Rally of Mexico which will be raced next week. This time addressing another surface - gravel - where Kimi has a little bit of experience thanks to his participation in Rally Finland last year.

His stay in France would have included a day of testing to finalize the preparations for the Mexican round. "Each kilometre that I travel with this car is very important. Plus, the more I improve my feeling with the car, the better it will be," Räikkönen claims. However, the driver finally came to an impasse on this test: he was suffering from pains in his back that were sufficiently disturbing to prevent him to take part on this session, but without endangering his participation in the upcoming rally.

Tomorrow, the Finn flies to Leon, where he will find 15 special stages plotted in dusty mountains of Central America, and some 7 Super Specials which will not displease him. Farewell nails, it's time for sombreros!

Source: Rallye Automoto365
Courtesy: hello86 @PF1
Translation/adaptation from French: Fran

Loved up Lewis Hamilton reunited with his Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger

Just weeks after his romance with Pussycat Doll Nicole Scherzinger, ended the couple appear to have had a change of heart.

Lewis, 25, and Nicole, 31, split in January after 20 months together to concentrate on their careers.

But yesterday the glamorous couple were spotted openly kissing in Hollywood.

And it seems Nicole couldn't contain her joy as she dropped a broad hint that wedding bells may be on the cards.

'They took a tough decision and both regretted calling it off almost immediately,' a source told The Sun.

When asked if she was looking for anything in particular while browsing clothes in a Los Angeles boutique, brunette beauty Nicole replied: 'This year - my wedding dress.'

Miss Scherzinger was by Hamilton's side as he was crowned world champion in Brazil in November 2008.

But last year saw them spending increasing amounts of time apart due to their busy careers.

Race ace Hamilton is now based in Switzerland while Miss Scherzinger lives in Los Angeles.

Hamilton, 25, was left distraught by the split and had not even acknowledged it with an announcement.

But, after she confirmed the news, Hamilton told the Daily Mail: 'I just want to move forward in a positive manner.

'It never was a distraction but I am not going to take my mind off what I've got to do by thinking about it.'

In an interview with the Mail's You magazine last July, Scherzinger admitted it was challenging to balance their busy careers with romance.

She said: 'We are both driven people who are serious about our work, so we are very supportive of the time we do have together.

'Finding time for each other can get complicated, but we find a way to work it out.'

Source: Daily Mail

Jaime Alguersuari plays as DJ in Madrid Fashion Week

Source: Globoesporte

Button worried about 'happy Alonso'

Jenson Button has admitted to worrying about the noises of optimism from Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.

With the Spaniard having switched from Renault where he was not in the running for the past two titles, some believe Alonso is now testing at the wheel of the championship-favourite car.

In part of an interview with El Mundo, the 28-year-old admitted that the new Maranello built car is currently "showing even better than we expected".

2009 world champion Button told Spain's Marca: "I see a happy Alonso, and that's not good because it means he's fast."

Button, 30, will be at the wheel of the 2010 McLaren at Barcelona on Thursday and Saturday, while Alonso will be testing the Ferrari on the opening two days of the final pre-season test.

Spaniard Marc Gene remains a Ferrari test driver in 2010 and he said he is cautious about the F10's apparent form.

"The car is very reliable and the drivers are very happy, but we must be cautious," he told Diario Sport.

"After the fiasco of 2009 we have no illusions, even though the F10 looks like a good car," Gene added.

Source: Motorsport

Alonso: F1 scandals just wrong place, wrong time

New Ferrari recruit Fernando Alonso has defended his somewhat besmirched reputation in the wake of his implication in two damaging and high-profile F1 scandals over the last three years - insisting that in both instances, he was simply in the 'wrong place at the wrong time'

Fernando Alonso has insisted that his involvement in two of the most explosive scandals in F1 history in recent years has simply been a case of being in the 'wrong place at the wrong time', and as he begins his new – and what he claims will be last – stage of his ultra-successful grand prix career with Ferrari in 2010, the Spaniard stresses that all of the controversy is now 'in the past'.

In 2007, not only did Alonso infamously fall out with both McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton and team principal Ron Dennis during his sole, unhappy campaign at the Woking-based outfit, but he also found himself embroiled in the so-called espionage row, after the multiple title-winning British concern was found to be in possession of confidential technical data belonging to arch-rival Ferrari.

Following a particularly bitter dispute with Dennis in the wake of the Hungarian Grand Prix qualifying session mid-summer, the Oviedo native is even believed to have attempted to blackmail the Englishman by threatening to disclose information to governing body the FIA, which was investigating the crime. McLaren was ultimately fined a sporting record $100 million and disqualified from that year's constructors' standings.

Two years later, and the same Alonso again found himself caught up in a headline-grabbing tale of outrage, as his employer Renault was exposed as having deliberately 'fixed' the result of the 2008 Singapore Grand Prix, by instructing Nelsinho Piquet to crash out to necessitate a safety car period that played perfectly into his early-stopping team-mate's hands and enabled the double F1 World Champion to triumph in the sport's inaugural night-time race from a distinctly disadvantaged grid slot.

Having been implicated – directly or otherwise – in two flagrant examples of cheating have admittedly done little for Alonso's reputation, and whilst he has always protested his innocence in and ignorance of the 'Singapore-gate' saga and was never doubted by the subsequent FIA World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) hearing that very nearly resulted in Renault being banned from the sport outright, his critics argue that mud sticks.

“With the spy history I was in the wrong place at the wrong time,” the 21-time grand prix-winner told British newspaper The Guardian, “but I was very happy to help the FIA discover everything. 'Crashgate' was not easy. It was a bad season for F1 last year and Flavio [Briatore – former Renault F1 managing director and Alonso's manager who allegedly initiated the Singapore conspiracy] is a friend. I have been working with him many years now, so for all the [legal] decisions that go well for him I am happy – but I don't know everything about his case.”

Briatore subsequently proved successful in getting his effective lifetime ban from all FIA-sanctioned forms of motorsport overturned by the French High Court earlier this year, but Alonso insists he has 'no idea' as to whether or not the flamboyant Italian will ever return to the F1 paddock. When put to him that he must have been shocked that his former employers could stoop so low as to resort to potentially life-threatening tactics, all he will concede is: “It is in the past.”

One person who certainly was shocked by the turn of events in the Far-Eastern city-state that night is Alonso's new Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa, who angrily contended in the wake of the fall-out that Renault and Piquet's foul play had likely cost him 2008 title glory, given that the Brazilian had been leading in Singapore prior to his countryman's crash and in the enforced rushed pit-stop there was a problem with his refuelling hose that led to him ultimately taking the chequered flag a lowly and point-less 13th.

The Paulista went on to lose out on the laurels by just a single point in the final reckoning to Lewis Hamilton –somewhat ironically, Alonso's arch-nemesis in 2007, with little palpably love lost between the former McLaren team-mates. Given that ten points were on offer for victory in Singapore and Massa picked up none of them, the 28-year-old's ire is understandable – and it has led, some opine, to a somewhat frosty relationship with the man who has joined him at Maranello this year. Not so, stresses Alonso.

“People are only writing these things because they know we are very strong,” he urged, before concluding: “Felipe and I work for the team.”


Is reliability the chink in Red Bull armour as F1 2010 nears?

Red Bull Racing's new Adrian Newey-designed, Renault-powered RB6 is undoubtedly quick, but is it yet reliable enough to be able to successfully challenge for glory right from the off in F1 2010..?

Mark Webber has confessed that expected F1 2010 title protagonist Red Bull Racing needs to find 'a little more reliability' during the final pre-season group test in Barcelona later this week – with conventional wisdom going that points scored early on in the campaign through being around when the chequered flag falls very often pay dividends in the closing stages.

The Adrian Newey-designed, Renault-powered RB6 has undeniably been rapid during testing to-date, in the hands of both Webber and young team-mate and 2009 F1 World Championship runner-up Sebastian Vettel – but it has also appeared somewhat fragile too, with an engine failure and some mechanical issues stymieing the energy drinks-backed outfit's efforts and costing the team valuable track time at Jerez de la Frontera in southern Spain last week.

The Australian, however – who lapped comfortably quickest on the third day of the four-day session, almost a second out of reach of anybody else – remains confident that it is nothing the Milton Keynes-based squad cannot resolve in time for the Bahrain Grand Prix curtain-raiser just under three weeks away.

“The weather was a lot kinder to us on the last two days and we learned a hell of a lot, no question about it,” the New South Wales native underlined. “We did a lot of stuff with Renault and also learned about the aerodynamics and the chassis – there were lots of things we kept throwing into the fire and we kept learning, so that was good. We need a nice clear run in Barcelona and a little more reliability there and we're ready to go racing.”

In evidence of the RB6's raw pace, Vettel also easily topped the timesheets, on the opening day and this time in the rain – but the German has been quick to downplay any suggestions that RBR is the team to beat heading towards Sakhir, insisting that it impossible to draw an accurate picture of the likely pecking order just yet.

“It's true we did a couple of good runs, but it's hard to know what fuel loads the others were carrying,” the 22-year-old told the official F1 website. “In Barcelona we expect to improve the car even more – how much we succeed, we will see. I have read that Mercedes and McLaren will bring really big updates, so let's wait and see...”


Petrov: Perhaps Kubica will be Renault number two in F1 2010...

Vitaly Petrov might have already been uncharitably labelled a 'pay driver' for the €15 million he is reputedly bringing to Renault in F1 2010 - but the Russian argues his form should not be judged until the season gets underway in Bahrain

F1 2010 newcomer Vitaly Petrov has audaciously stated that just because he is a rookie, that does not necessarily mean he will automatically be the designated number two at Renault to grand prix-winning team-mate Robert Kubica this season – though speculation persists that the Russian's promised budget to secure his drive is still far from forthcoming.

It has been widely assumed that Petrov – who is due to make history in the curtain-raising Bahrain Grand Prix at Sakhir in just under three weeks' time, when he becomes the first of his countrymen ever to grace the grid at the highest level – will play a supporting role this year to Kubica, who some rate as a genuine world champion in-the-making. It is understood that according to the terms of his contract with the team, the reigning GP2 Series runner-up must tally at least a quarter of the Pole's points total to be sure of hanging onto his seat.

His perceived reputation as a 'pay driver' – even though the Enstone-based outfit's new team principal Eric Boullier insists the 25-year-old was signed predominantly for his talent and impressive results in the junior formulae – only adds to that expectation, but the man himself warns that it would be unwise to judge the situation too soon.

“The races have not yet begun, so maybe he (Kubica) will be the number two,” he told state-owned Russian news agency RIA Novosti. “Every driver is responsible for himself.”

The so-called 'Vyborg Rocket' is reputed to be bringing some €15 million to Renault in terms of personal sponsorship to help swell the coffers this year, but half of that sum has yet to materialise, and Russian daily sports newspaper Sovetsky Sport reports that a petition signed by fellow athletes has been sent to the country's prime minister and influential former president Vladimir Putin in a bid to raise the missing €7.5 million.

Petrov has also revealed that he had options to join two other teams for the forthcoming campaign – Sauber and Campos Meta 1 – going on to explain that it was Renault's experience and race and championship-winning pedigree that ultimately convinced him to sign on the dotted line.

“I chose Renault, just as I could have chosen Sauber, for one simple reason,” he is quoted as having said by Yalla F1. “I will learn more and faster with a team that has been around for a long time. It's better to be lost in the middle of a big city than in the middle of Siberia!”


Monday, February 22, 2010

New Campos bosses tell Senna his seat is safe

Bruno Senna met with the new bosses of the Campos team on Sunday.

Under the former leadership of Adrian Campos, the nephew of the great Ayrton Senna was signed by the Spanish based team late last year.

But as the rescue takeover by Jose Ramon Carabante and new team principal Colin Kolles was announced, it was said the 2010 driver lineup would be confirmed in "due course".

It raised speculation that Senna, 26, might be dropped in favour of drivers who can bring more direct funding.

Jose Maria Lopez, the well-funded Argentine driver whose 2010 employer USF1 is not ready to contest the first four races of the season, and Indian Karun Chandhok have been linked with Campos under the team's new leadership.

Brazil's Globo reports that Brazilian Senna met to discuss the situation with Carabante and Kolles on Carabante's yacht in Alicante.

They reportedly told the 2008 GP2 runner-up that he will not be asked to obtain more sponsors in order to safeguard his race seat, although additional funding "would be welcome".

Source: Motorsport

Lotus F1 - The first racing action

Source: YouTube - f1complete

Alonso quietly confident of Ferrari’s potential

He may not have figured at the top end of the timesheets, but Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso believes the team are very much on the right path with the new F10, following last week’s test at Jerez in Spain.

During two days in the car, Alonso completed almost 1,200 kilometres, and although his fastest lap was well over a second down on the session best set by McLaren’s Jenson Button, Alonso insists he is happy with his pace as Ferrari prepare for the final pre-season test in Barcelona later this week.

"I think that someone showed his muscles, while we didn’t,” said the Spaniard following Jerez. “We’ll see in Barcelona - when we’ll show up with the latest updates - where we are compared to the others. We can say that we’re on the right way.

“Over these two days on the dry I could drive many miles and I’m satisfied by the car’s performance and reliability. The F10 is growing very well and there’s nothing that should worry us. We worked on the long run today and the signs we got are really positive.”

Combining Felipe Massa’s running with Alonso’s, Ferrari covered just under 350 laps over the four days at Jerez, a tally that suggests the F10 has little to fear in the reliability stakes. As for its absolute performance, Alonso admitted there was room to progress, but would give no details away.

“Naturally we have to improve, because we’re not at the max, but we’re getting there,” added the former champion. “Where do we have to improve? There’s always something to do, but telling you would mean I’d be like a goalie telling you about his weak point so all the strikers would hit there!"

Alonso will be back on the track on Thursday at Barcelona’s Circuit de Catalunya for the first two days of the four-day session. Massa will drive on Saturday and Sunday.