Friday, April 30, 2010
The setting is getting clear: Red Bull wants Kimi Räikkönen back to F1 but Räikkönen hasn't yet given his final answer.
It can't be just a coincidence that Red Bull has in practice - including owner Dieter Matescitz - given the impression that the door is open and the decision is in the hands of the Finnish protege.
At the same time they have rumoured that Mark Webber will not get his contract renewed. It's hard to believe that Red Bull F1-team would be willing to give up a driver of Webber's caliber unless they have something better in sight. And of all the possible driver candidates only Räikkönen would be that.
Yet the final decision is dictated in two senses by what is enough for Räikkönen.
Firstly, is one WDC enough for him? Hardly, especially since Red Bull would offer him a chance to get another one.
And secondly, at this point, is it enough for Räikkönen that he has proved to the world that if he wants he can get to the top of rally too?
Maybe. And besides, Räikkönen can go back to rally whenever he wants to but right now he has the last chance to get to the F1-top.
Maybe he will afterall return to the F1-map?
He is already on Red Bull's payroll. If he wants he would surely get a seat in Red Bull's F1-team but perhaps he doesn't want to go back anymore. Kimi thinks that everything is more relaxed in rally. They rumour that Räikkönen would already have a several year contract with Red Bull which would give him the chance to decide for himself whether he will drive a rally-car or a F1-car next year. He will make his decision during the summer.
IN WHICH DIRECTION, KIMI?
Rally or F1? The time for Kimi Räikkönen's decision is coming closer.
5th position in Turkey rally was one sort of a turning point in Kimi Räikkönen's rally career. There he got the final confirmation that he has real chances to rise to the top even in rally.
Räikkönen has a tough decision to make this summer: will he continue climbing up to the top in rally or will he return back to F1's top team Red Bull?
How is it Kimi, have the two recent positions where you scored points made the scale lean over to rally when thinking of next season?
- It hasn't leaned in any direction yet. I have to consider my options in peace and clarify what interests me most. I'll act accordingly, Räikkönen said.
That's it, 'What interests me most'.
According to persistant rumours Räikkönen already has a long contract with Red Bull and as far as we know the decision of whether he will sit in a rally-car or a F1-car next season is completely in his own hands. Räikkönen would have waiting for him a winning car but also on top of that the most pleasing alternative of a team mate, Sebastian Vettel.
- I'm in no hurry, I have to decide before next year, Räikkönen reminded.
Going back to F1 is still completely possible although only a few are talking about it anymore. A few facts talk for him continuing in rally.
Firstly, the aristocracy of the sport is coming closer all the time after the experience and especially the calmness have improved Räikkönen's driving race by race.
Secondly rally has only half of the 'media-hassle' that Räikkönen has always disliked.
Yesterday Räikkönen dropped the heaviest clue so far about the address he is going to next year when he was asked if he will get the next world championship from WRC or F1.
- Well, hopefully from WRC... I already have one from F1.
On Thursday evening at Paris' Hotel Matignon, Michael Schumacher accepted the Legion d'honneur prize from French prime minister Francois Fillon.
Among the guests at the ceremony were the seven time world champion's friend, former Ferrari boss and current FIA president Jean Todt, as well as ex-F1 driver Jean Alesi.
"To find a relevant comparison (to Schumacher), one must go back to the origins of Formula One and the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio, your only rival," Fillon told Schumacher according to French reports.
Earlier this month, Lotus team principal and AirAsia boss Tony Fernandes received the same French decoration for his contributions to aviation. Established by Napoleon in 1802, the Officier of the Legion d'honneur is the highest honour the government of France can award to a non-French citizen.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
Rosberg has secured top three finishes so far this season to sit second in the championship standings after four races, ten points behind defending champion Jenson Button ahead of next weekends Spanish Grand Prix in Barcelona.
That race will see Mercedes introduce a series of improvements to the W01 and while he admitted that he was disappointed that Rosberg hadn't been able to win in China, Brawn said that he felt the German would soon be on top of the podium.
"We've not had a fantastic start but we are still in there because no-one else is really dominating either," told Reuters. "There is still plenty of opportunity.
"I was frustrated at the in China because Nico could have won that race. He made one mistake in very difficult circumstances.
"He's very close to winning a race, just needs things to fall into place...but that will come.”
The KERS system could make a return to the F1 grid for the 2011 season after it was revealed that work is ongoing on cheaper and more powerful versions of the energy recovery system.
KERS was introduced into the sport last season but teams agreed to shelve the technology this year due to the costs involved.
However, Williams F1 technical director Sam Michael has now revealed that both Renault and Ferrari have offered to supply KERS at an affordable level with teams now left to decide on whether or not to bring the technology back.
“Basically, Ferrari and Renault put forward proposals that they could do KERS for less than a million euros,” he told Reuters following a meeting of the Formula One Teams' Association. "Those have been accepted but what Ferrari and Renault are both saying is that unless we increase the energy level from the current 400 kilojoules up to 600 or 800, to make KERS more beneficial, they are not prepared at this stage to commit that they will actually do KERS.
"I think that by Barcelona, the FOTA executive is due to try and make a decision on KERS for 2011. It's all pretty split at the moment on that. Renault will supply anyone who asks for it on the grid and Ferrari will supply any of their customers, anyone who is running a Ferrari engine."
Should KERS be reintroduced, Williams would more than likely develop its own system after increasing its stake in Williams Hybrid Power from 40 to 78 per cent.
Today and in recent weeks, articles have been published relating to the partnership contract between Scuderia Ferrari and Philip Morris International, questioning its legality. These reports are based on two suppositions: that part of the graphics featured on the Formula 1 cars are reminiscent of the Marlboro logo and even that the red colour which is a traditional feature of our cars is a form of tobacco publicity.
Neither of these arguments have any scientific basis, as they rely on some alleged studies which have never been published in academic journals. But more importantly, they do not correspond to the truth. The so called barcode is an integral part of the livery of the car and of all images coordinated by the Scuderia, as can be seen from the fact it is modified every year and, occasionally even during the season. Furthermore, if it was a case of advertising branding, Philip Morris would have to own a legal copyright on it.
The partnership between Ferrari and Philip Morris is now only exploited in certain initiatives, such as factory visits, meetings with the drivers, merchandising products, all carried out fully within the laws of the various countries where these activities take place. There has been no logo or branding on the race cars since 2007, even in countries where local laws would still have permitted it.
The premise that simply looking at a red Ferrari can be a more effective means of publicity than a cigarette advertisement seems incredible: how should one assess the choice made by other Formula 1 teams to race a car with a predominantly red livery or to link the image of a driver to a sports car of the same colour? Maybe these companies also want to advertise smoking! It should be pointed out that red has been the recognised colour for Italian racing cars since the very beginning of motor sport, at the start of the twentieth century: if there is an immediate association to be made, it is with our company rather than with our partner.
Kimi Räikkönen has achieved a lot. He had a strong will to the top and also parents who did their everything for their two sons.
– You have to trust in yourself and in what you are doing. If you know that you have done your best, whether you succeed or not, you are left with a good mood, Kimi tipped.
His reputation abroad is that he doesn't talk much. His mother Paula has called him stubborn and the same pattern is seen in Kimi's tips too.
– Don't bother listening too much to others. Of course you have to listen to those people that you trust but do your own thing. And aim to be the best.
Courtesy: Nicole and Claudie
Eros Ramazzotti, Paolo Belli and Fernando Alonso are the protagonists of a TV ad, promoting the "Partita del Cuore" football match between the Nazionale Cantanti, Italian musicians, and the Squadra Telethon, where also the three Scuderia Ferrari are playing.
The match will be held on 25 May in Modena and is shown live on RAI Uno at 9pm. The entries will go to the Telethon and the Parco della Mistica Onlus Foundations.
The Nazionale Cantanti is made up of Gianni Morandi, Enrico Ruggeri, Luca Barbarossa, Gigi D'Alessio, while the Telethon team, with its logo sported on the Ferrari drivers’ overalls, is formed by Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Giancarlo Fisichella and Scuderia Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali as well as Italian sportsmen and VIPs from show business such as Antonio Cassano and Raul Bova.
The TV spot, directed by Marco Lonardo and set up by Claudio Fasulo was shot at the Fiorano circuit, where Ramazzotti arrived behind the wheel of a Ferrari California, inviting Alonso to the match. The Scuderia driver accepted under the condition that he could bring his friends Massa and Fisichella and to be allowed to drive the Ferrari California.
The TV ad is part of the communication campaign run by the "Partita del Cuore", appearing also on radio and in magazines.
The one the world sees is a whimsy; a round black coat button on his right forearm. The other, hidden on his ankle, is the one of significance.
He added it long before he won the world title but told no one. It was his message to himself. Translated, the Japanese hieroglyphics say Ichi Ban. Number One. After his victory in China 10 days ago few would doubt the sentiment as he sailed through the rain-lashed chaos for his second victory in three Grands Prix against the greatest gathering of talent in decades.
Yet Button admitted to Mirror Sport that his own laziness and naivety almost torpedoed his own career.
Within two years of his remarkable debut at just 20, he was dumped by Renault and derided publicly by team boss Flavio Briatore as a feckless playboy.
"Everyone has tough times in their career and I've had my fair share," said Button.
"For me it was 2001 and a lot of it was my own fault and the fault of the people I had around me. I didn't realise how competitive F1 was and I thought I could just drive around those problems and didn't have to work on them.
"Now I know you need to spend a lot of time with your engineers.
"You need to change the car to make it your own, you need to spend time on your fitness.
"When I came into F1 there were so many areas I didn't know about. I was just very excited about racing against my heroes, the drivers I'd looked up to in the past.
"I didn't come in with my eyes wide open. I had blinkers on. You learn very quickly in this sport. It's not really the place to learn but I did it. I had to.
"That's when I realised there was more to it than just driving the car.
"I really enjoyed the first season but the problem was that it was a good car and I didn't have to work on the set-up with the engineers.
"It was my mistake. You learn from it, I am the complete opposite now. I do everything I need to - plus a bit more I would say.
"I can't imagine anyone works harder than me but fair play to them if they do."
One untold chapter of the Button story is that he was the one that triggered the revolution that turned mid-table Honda into champions called Brawn.
Asked directly if he had been a traitor to the team - and its boss Ross Brawn - who made him champion by quitting for McLaren, Button's gaze doesn't waver.
"Brawn GP doesn't exist any more. I think Ross respects that decision now, I really do. He was surprised and he thought it would be a tough challenge. He's right. It is," added Button. "But life is about challenges."
And Button faces a unique one now - the chance to become the first British driver in history to win back-to-back titles. To outdo Jackie Stewart, Jim Clark, Nigel Mansell, Lewis Hamilton, Graham Hill and the rest.
"We'd all like to be the first to do that," he admitted. "It shows how difficult it is that no one has ever done it.
"If it doesn't happen I'd be disappointed. Like everyone I want to win. It would be a great stat to have.
"But I am here for more than one year and the most important thing is to be fighting for a championship.
"If I don't win it this year then maybe next year or the year after.
"That's the aim for me. What's most important to me is to win a title with this team. When is not so important."
Source: Daily Mirror
Leading doctors are demanding an immediate government inquiry into “subliminal” tobacco advertising on Ferrari’s Formula One cars, and the company’s $1 billion relationship with the maker of Marlboro cigarettes, The Times has learnt.
The red, white and black bar code emblazoned on Ferrari’s racing cars and its drivers’ overalls is designed to remind viewers of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes, it is claimed. Under EU legislation it is an offence for a tobacco company to sponsor sporting events.
Yesterday a spokesman for the European Public Health Commissioner said he thought that Marlboro’s approach constituted potential subliminal marketing. He urged the Spanish and British governments to ascertain whether the world’s second-biggest tobacco company might be in breach of the law.
Formula One teams are due to fly into Spain for the European leg of the season which begins in ten days’ time. The British Grand Prix is on July 11.
Don Elgie, chief executive of Creston, which owns the advertising agency DLKW, said he thought that the bar code was subliminal advertising — where a brand is so recognisable that consumers can be reminded of a product without actually seeing it.
John Britton, a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and director of its tobacco advisory group, said: “The bar code looks like the bottom half of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes. I was stunned when I saw it. This is pushing at the limits. If you look at how the bar code has evolved over the last four years, it looks like creeping branding.”
Gerard Hastings, director of the Centre for Tobacco Control Research, said: “I think this is advertising. Why a bar code? What is their explanation?”
Frank Dobson, who was Health Secretary between 1997 and 1999, also called for an inquiry. Mr Dobson, now a backbench Labour MP, said: “The tobacco firms were working out years ago how they could advertise if there was a ban on tobacco advertising.”
Spokesmen for Sir Liam Donaldson, the Chief Medical Officer, and the Department of Health refused to comment. A spokesperson for the BBC, which has a contract to broadcast Formula One, said: “We are confident that Formula One, and as a result our coverage of Formula One, is fully compliant with regulations.”
In September 2005 Philip Morris, the maker of Marlboro, extended its financial backing for the Ferrari team until 2011, despite the ban on cigarette branding on cars racing in the European Union. The contract is understood to be worth $1 billion over ten years and Philip Morris said Ferraris would not carry Marlboro branding where there was a ban.
A spokesman for the Italian car maker said: “The bar code is part of the livery of the car, it is not part of a subliminal advertising campaign.”
Asked about the Philip Morris contract he said: “$100 million [a year] is not a correct figure. We do not disclose the figure — the figure you mention, it is lower.”
Ferrari is the only Formula One team with a tobacco brand in its formal title, Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro. Its logo also has the bar code and its drivers, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, wear overalls bearing the bar code next to the Ferrari logo on each arm.
Philip Morris said: “We are confident that our relationship with Ferrari does not violate the UK 2002 Tobacco Advertising and Promotion Act. The Formula One Grand Prix in the UK does not involve any race cars, team apparel, equipment or track signage carrying tobacco product branding. The same is true for all other Formula One races across the world.”
Source: The Times
There will be a real gathering of champions on the first weekend of August in Helsinki's Kalasatama. Of the WRC top drivers in addition to Ford's Mikko Hirvonen and Jari-Matti Latvala also Petter and Henning Solberg and Sebastien Ogier have promised to participate, and so has MotoGP driver Mika Kallio.
Former world champions and other pentioners will be represented by Tommi Mäkinen, Markko Märtin, Juha Kankkunen, Timo Salonen and Markku Alen.
”We're supposed to be driving similar vehicles that were used in China in the race of champions, that is open rear-engine circuit cars, buggys and Legends cars”, Hirvonen, who is one of the organizers, tells STT.
The event, which takes place a week after the WRC rally in Jyväskylä, will climax on a final driven on Sunday. Sebastien Loeb, who leads the championship, is too busy to take part in the event but Kimi Räikkönen's participation is possible.
”An invitation has been sent but we still haven't got a reply”, says Hirvonen.
Hirvonen was in Helsinki on Wednesday to present the event and he will immediately head to New Zealand where the fifth WRC rally of the season will be driven in a week.
Hirvonen is third in the WRC series, 41 points behind the leader Loeb.
Source: Helsingin Sanomat
Courtesy: Dracena and Moominpappa
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
The double World Champion has already suffered a couple of engine failures so far this season with the latest coming during Friday practice in China.
However, the Spaniard insists the Ferrari engineers are working hard to fix the problems ahead of his home race at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona in a fortnight.
The problems with the engines? I'm not worried at all," he is quoted on the Ferrari website. "I know that the team is working hard to fix them and I'm convinced that I'll have a reliable and strong engine available, just as I know that they are giving it their all in Maranello to introduce several new solutions for the F10 for the Spanish Grand Prix."
Despite not reaching their potential so far this year, Alonso insists he is more than happy with the start Ferrari has made to the season.
"I wasn't happy with things Sunday night in Shanghai, but now, with a cool head, I can be really satisfied with this start of the season," he said.
"We didn't always gain what we could have according to our potential, but we're fighting for the title and this is what counts more than anything else, considering that in the last two years after four races it was already clear that I didn't have a chance."
The pair clashed memorably during Alonso's ill-fated single season at McLaren in 2007, but have since confirmed their professional friendship is now intact.
But three years after the turmoil of 2007, the Spanish press is generally no fonder of Hamilton. At a media event in the country this week, Alonso was asked if he thinks the British driver is favoured by F1 officials.
In Malaysia, Hamilton received a warning for weaving in front of Vitaly Petrov, and then in China he was merely reprimanded for his pitlane stoush with Sebastian Vettel.
"No, I don't think Hamilton is in any kind of privileged position," Ferrari's Alonso is quoted as responding by the Spanish sports newspaper Marca.
"The truth is that perhaps the decisions have been a little inconsistent, because other times it (Hamilton's moves) would be punishable, but I don't think it's important.
"Lewis has had some warnings and if he does something in the next race, however little, there will be penalties because of the last two races," added Alonso.
After agreeing to end his Ferrari contract a year early late in 2009, the Finn signed on with Red Bull and Citroen and then endured a difficult and crash-laden start to his new career in the World Rally Championship.
But early this month in Jordan, 30-year-old Raikkonen became the first driver since Carlos Reutemann to score points in both F1 and world rallying.
And then shortly after declaring he is not missing Formula One, he finished less than 7 minutes behind winner Sebastien Loeb in Turkey for fifth place.
But when asked if his recent results make it more likely he will stick with rallying in 2011, Raikkonen told Turun Sanomat newspaper: "It has not turned in any direction.
"There is no rush for me to make decisions. We'll have to see what are the possibilities and what for me is the most interesting -- what I enjoy the most and what it is I most want to do," he added.
"We will see at a point some time later this year," said Raikkonen.
Famously not fond of F1's off-track activities and pressures, and ruing the lost days of characters like James Hunt, Raikkonen's observers agree that he seems happier in the rallying world.
"If the F1 world could go back 20 years, it would be the same as rallying now," he said. "It (rallying) is still professional but in just a bit more of a relaxed style."
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
The Citroen-driver came in 5th in Turkey.
He has chances of doing even better in July in Jyväskylä where he was keeping up a surprisingly fast speed last summer with his Fiat in his career's first WRC-rally.
- Jyväskylä is a familiar rally, except for Sunday, Kimi smiled and referred to him driving out during the last stage on Saturday last year in Jyväskylä.
- Hopefully I have got more experience by the time of Jyväskylä so that I could drive faster and challenge the top. It's easier to go to the races when you have more knowledge about the roads and notes. It will help in Jyväskylä.
Getting to the same speed as the top is Räikkönen's biggest motivator on the rally paths.
- I aim for the top all the time, otherewise there would be no sense to drive. I knew beforehand that the others will go pretty fast but the main thing is that I can improve little by little. When you succeed in one stage it already gives you more self-confidence.
Nine seasons in F1 and 5 rallies in WRC give Räikkönen some insight to the differences between the series apart from the driving.
- There aren't as many races in rally as there are in F1 but the races are longer. F1 was probably 20 years ago the same as rally is today. Rally has a more relaxed style and the settings are different. You don't spend time on the paddock, you are in the middle of the forest driving around from one stage to another.
Räikkönen came in 5th in Rally Turkey. Part of the stages were on tarmac.
- Of course it's somewhat more familiar to drive on gravel but there they drove on tarmac with gravel tyres and that's something completely new.
- Then when you drive with real tarmac-tyres it's going to be more like what I'm used to.
- When they have drove the same roads for 6-8 years the old hands have quite an advantage when they almost remember the roads by heart. That's where the difference comes from.
- In summer there will be few completely new tarmac-races so nobody has any advantage there.
Kimi's name has been flashed, again, in rumours concerning F1. Räikkönen admits that rumours are part of motorsport.
- Firstly there's a lot of reporters in the F1-world. Everybody wants to make stories and they interview a lot of people out of which some deliberately tell wrong things and some tell right things. Then everything gets quite mixed up, Räikkönen thinks.
- Everybody wants to do their own story. There has always been rumours and there will always be too.
There isn't much truth in the recent stories. They have tried to fit the Finn into F1 but at the moment Räikkönen is focused on rally.
- I only have a contract for this year so it could be that everything changes next year. I'm in no hurry to decide anything, there's still many months before I even need to start thinking about it.
The comeback to F1 is possible but Räikkönen admits the disadvantages of the sport. Without doubt the media banging is smaller in WRC than in F1 which is filled with rumours and media.
- Of course F1 is the sport I've been doing for a long time and doing it for my living. Of course you would want to do it but there are also a lot of other things you can do for your living.
- There's much of all kinds of useless things in F1 that many don't like. A lot of everything and people are fighting for useless things. It really doesn't belong there and it spoils many good things in the sport, Räikkönen thinks.
The contract with Red Bull is for this year. The Iceman is cool and calm when he talks about his future. The door to F1 isn't yet closed.
- Of course I have to see what next year brings with it. I don't have anything against F1 but I don't have a craving back there either. Of course things can change suddenly.
- I haven't worried much, I will always find something to do, Räikkönen ends the interview.
Why is Räikkönen's name on Guns´n Roses' new albums credits and what is his favourite movie? Watch YLE Urheilu's internet-program Urgent next Monday where you can hear more Räikkönen's thoughts.
RÄIKKÖNEN: I WASN'T THINKING WHAT OTHERS THOUGHT OF ME
Kimi Räikkönen still divides opinions on the F1-paddock.
Some couldn't take at all Räikkönen's cool way of taking things while some again felt really warm for Räikkönen both as a human being and as a driver. The Iceman didn't care what others did.
- I didn't think much about what others thought of me. And I didn't think of them.
- It worked for me although others wanted to think more. Everybody out there are their own persons, Räikkönen analysed the F1-drivers.
One who remembers Räikkönen with special warmth is Sauber's technical manager Willy Rampf.
- He was the best driver I have ever worked with. I still respect him very much, Rampf told in Autosport's interview a while ago.
- Rally is probably the same as F1 was about 20 years ago. They do things professionally in rally but the going is completely different, Räikkönen compared.
- Less people and a more relaxed grip in everything, he summed up.
– It wasn't a torturing experience at all but I doubt I'll ever become a character-actor. It will never happen, Kimi laughed.
Kimi isn't planning on becoming an actor when he retires. Yet the experience was fun and left good memories.
Kimi's unique sponsor-event brought a handful of media people and a full hall of eager DNA-partners who got to see Finland's most famous celebrity in flesh.
Kimi was in a good mood and he answered with a smile to Anette Latva-Piikkilä's questions. He also compared himself to other f1-drivers and pondered what made him different from other talented drivers.
– Of course there's a lot of things, everyone is a different person. Of course a lot depends on who looks and who thinks whatever but I have never thought about what they think about me. And I haven't been interested in what they do, I've always tried to do just my own thing, Kimi revealed.
According to Kimi this strategy has always worked for him but the same recipe isn't necessarily the right one for others. Kimi reminded that a good car makes a big difference when thinking of success.
– You have to have a good car and a good team. The top drivers are yet quite even although there might be some small differences in some things. But the top drivers don't differ much from each other if you would put them in the same car, Kimi confessed.
The DNA-commercial starred by Kimi was shown to the invited guests in Tennispalatsi (a movie theater). Before they showed the commercial he answered to Anette Latva-Piikkilä's questions.
Kimi was in a good mood and relaxed when he remembered his times in F1 and also veiled the smokescreen concerning his future. Anette asked Kimi where he sees himself in 10 years.
– Well my career has been quite long already. Of course a lot depends on the next few years but I haven't thought about driving seriously at 40. It could of course be that I would drive in some serie just for fun, for the joy of driving. But I'm sure that it's not a full-time job so I guess this ends at some point, Kimi confessed.
Kimi answered about what he is going to do next season.
– The scale hasn't gone over to rally, no decisions have been made yet. We do what feels most sensible.
When Button, 30, announced as the new champion that he was leaving Brawn to seek a new challenge in 2010 alongside Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, that explanation was not universally believed.
At the time the Briton apparently made his decision, Nico Rosberg was already under contract for 2010 and rumours were building that Michael Schumacher was set to launch a full return to Formula One to drive Mercedes' new works car.
Paddock rumours are still rife that Button's "new challenge" reason was a cover-story for Brawn effectively ousting the new reigning world champion.
But Brawn said on Monday: "I was disappointed Jenson left.
"He felt people were of the opinion he only won the world championship because he had the best car. So he left us to show them he could do it again elsewhere," he told The Sun.
"He also wanted to prove himself at McLaren against the guy who is probably the fastest and most naturally talented in motor racing -- Lewis Hamilton," continued Brawn.
"He's set himself a massive challenge and he is doing very well so far."
Brawn insists that the split did not affect his off-track friendship with Button, who is currently leading the world championship after winning two of the opening four races.
"We are still friends. We were on the same flight back from Malaysia and we had a good chat.
"Jenson was a fabulous member of our team last year but now he is the history and we have to beat him," added Brawn.
Monday, April 26, 2010
Although one of the better of this year's newcomers, Lotus are still roughly four to five seconds a lap slower than the established frontrunners.
The team, though, is heading to Spain armed with several upgrades for their T127, which Heikki Kovalainen reckons could give them a significant improvement in pace.
"We hope to get a time gain of more than a second," he told Auto Moto und Sport. "But then perhaps we have more space in which to improve."
Kovalainen's belief in that second is echoed by tech boss Mike Gascoyne.
"The Barcelona package has been in the wind tunnel for six months," he said. "The rear will be narrower, the sidepod entries more extreme, the wheel base long.
"Our car will be faster by at least one second."
Mika Häkkinen is sure that former arch rival Michael Schumacher will return to winning ways after a tough first four races in the German's comeback season. The 7-time World Champion's sixth place finish in Bahrain is his best for Mercedes so far whereas team-mate Nico Rosberg has enjoyed two podium results.
Having claimed double titles in 1998 and 1999, the first of which was also within Schumacher's grasp until the final race of the season at Suzuka, Häkkinen left Formula 1 after a disappointing campaign yielded only two wins for McLaren in 2001. With Schumacher having departed the sport five years later, the Finn understands the desire to return for the Mercedes driver.
"It was clear that he needed a break," Häkkinen told Germany's Bild before explaining why Schumacher's pace so far may have appeared slower than expected. "It is up to the new technology of the cars and the tyres - that takes time to get to grips with.
"Another reason is that he is up against a selection of young drivers who have nothing else in their lives at the moment other than a will to win; their lives consist only of Formula 1 but that's a good thing because this sport requires total concentration and total attention. Age does make it more difficult, though; if you're 41, you have other things in life - a family, for example."
However, Mika is confident that Schumacher will greet a podium's top step at least once in 2010. "I'm pretty sure he will win a race this year," the Finn continued. "I know how he ticks and how obsessed he is with working if he has a goal set; but it is difficult for him because this sport allows no excuses - I'm glad I'm not doing it anymore!"
Madrid, 26 April – Fernando Alonso’s thumbs are safe. The Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro driver received as a present from Banco Santander a life insurance, including his thumbs, worth ten million Euros: this has been announced at the Banco Santander headquarters at Ciudad Financiera in Boadilla del Monte, near Madrid, this morning, during a press conference with Alonso, the Head of the Banca Commercial España Enrique Garcia Candela and Seguros y Banca Directa Global General Director Jorge Moran.
“Being close to risk in my profession made me understand that protection is a fundamental aspect. I knew that Santander is the best bank in the world, but now I discovered that they are also leaders in insurances. So I could only choose one of the best possible partners in this field.”
At the meeting with the press Alonso was also asked about the Formula 1 Championship. “I wasn’t happy with things Sunday night in Shanghai, but now, with a cool head, I can be really satisfied with this start of the season,” Fernando said. “We didn’t always gain what we could have according to our potential, but we’re fighting for the title and this is what counts more than anything else, considering that in the last two years after four races it was already clear that I didn’t have a chance. The problems with the engines? I’m not worried at all, I know that the team is working hard to fix them and I’m convinced that I’ll have a reliable and strong engine available, just as I know that they are giving it their all in Maranello to introduce several new solutions for the F10 for the Spanish Grand Prix.”
The next F1 race will be held on Fernando’s home track, the Circuit de Catalunya: “I will race there for the first time with a Ferrari, so the grandstands will be covered in red, I’m pretty sure about that, just my fans from Asturias might contrast to it a little, because they’re usually dressed in blue.”
The event ended with a meeting with some children of the Banco Santander’s employees at the Ciudad Financiera, and with the shooting of a TV commercial, which will be aired in Spain during the race in Barcelona.
Contrary to the widespread pre-season assumption that Button would be hard-pressed to get on terms with incumbent team-mate Lewis Hamilton at McLaren, the reigning champion has out-qualified his young stablemate at the last three grands prix, and his wins in Australia and China have given him a 10-point championship lead.
But Whitmarsh said he always thought Button's combination of speed, experience and determined would lead to spectacular results for McLaren.
"I don't think it's a surprise - I think Jenson has done a fantastic job with the team," said Whitmarsh.
"He's a mature world champion, he's got a lot of experience, he's had a lot of tough times in his career and he's clearly learnt from it.
"How he has conducted himself in the team, how he works with Lewis, how he operates out on the track is fantastic."
Although Button's wet weather skill played a part in both his McLaren wins so far, Whitmarsh dismissed any suggestion that the triumphs were lucky ones.
"Here we are four races in, and he's won two of them," said Whitmarsh.
"No one who's watched those races could say anything other than that he thoroughly deserved to win them.
"They were 'driver wins' - races where the driver had to make the difference, and he did make the difference."
He added that both Hamilton and Button deserved huge credit for McLaren's success so far this season, as the team has not yet been an outright pace-setter and is thought to trail the Red Bull slightly - especially in qualifying trim.
"To come away leading the championship after four races when not everything's gone right shows we've got two great racing drivers and a strong team," Whitmarsh said.
"It's testament to the team and the drivers.
"In China in qualifying I think we had the second fastest car, I think we were still slower than Red Bull but we underperformed in qualifying and didn't make it easy for ourselves.
"We don't always get it right, but we make decisions and we get on with it.
"We've got two drivers who are great racers and they've made a massive contribution."
Sunday, April 25, 2010
The annual end-of-season competition brings together the world's greatest drivers from all motor sport's disciplines and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery. In recent years it has been held at the Stade de France in Paris (2004-2006), London's Wembley Stadium (2007-2008) and Beijing's 'Bird's Nest' National Stadium (2009).
Now The Race of Champions is returning to European soil and the city of Düsseldorf, to the delight of the team that has all but made the ROC Nations Cup its own.
Michael Schumacher said: "It's going to be very exciting to see The Race of Champions in Germany, particularly as Sebastian and I have won the Nations Cup for the last three years. So this is a great opportunity and a fantastic decision from the organisers. I'm really looking forward to defending our title in front of our home crowd. In the individual event we'll all be fighting for ourselves so it will be interesting to see who does better. It's always a fun event to meet up with our colleagues but you take it seriously inside the cars."
Sebastian Vettel is equally thrilled that The Race of Champions is returning to Germany for the first time in over 20 years - but he is well aware that the drivers from the other nations won't just lie down and let the home stars grab all the glory. "It is special to do this kind of event in front of your home crowd," said Vettel. "It will be a unique experience and hopefully Michael and I will get a lot of support. We have a good mix of youth and experience and we'll try to defend our title but we know it won't be easy as the others are always pushing. Last year in the individual race I had a shunt in the semi-final so hopefully I can finally make it into that final and get a good result. Either way it's a great way to end the season. All the drivers always have a lot of fun together at this event, where there are always jokes behind the scenes."
The Race of Champions will take place on a specially constructed tarmac track with two parallel lanes winding their way round the Düsseldorf arena. With its capacity of over 50,000 and such local talent on show the air will already be white hot - but the stadium's roof and heating system will get its own warm reception from everyone involved...
"We race in wintertime, when it is freezing cold," adds Schumacher. "So it won't just be the fans who enjoy sitting in an indoor environment. It will warm up the temperature and the atmosphere for all of us."
Source: GP Update
Kimi Räikkönen, in his fourth rally with the Citroen Junior Team, during last weekend in Turkey, made his first top 5. A beautiful performance for the F1 World Champion 2007, pleased to see his progress race after race. "I'm getting better everywhere," he acknowledges to AUTOhebdo this week. "You know very well what are the steps! Everything happens at once. Little by little, everything seems both better and easier. "
However, the Finn knows he still lacks the level of attack that his car provides him. To progress, Kimi Raikkonen has decided not to take risks, a strategy that allowed him to score his first points. "What counts is to accumulate kilometres, to be at the finish line. The points are the consequence. Their number depends on the race events that affected the best drivers. In Jordan, I found the specials so difficult that I have never taken risks. My points were due to simply being at the finish. In Turkey, it was not quite the same thing. I simply tried to drive. Then I was able to regularly take on Villagra and Wilson. This is not the "top" yet, but it's some satisfaction."
However, the Finn faced severe difficulties, as in the Rally of Jordan, where the complexity of the surface forced him to go at a modest pace."Jordan, I found it horrible. The roads are blind, and tortuous. I felt lost. I really wanted to be at the finish and for this to happen, I had no other choice but to be slow. "
Kimi Raikkonen thus learns step by step, in a discipline that he discover with every kilometre. "I knew it would be difficult. It's not worse than what I expected. Except in Jordan. There, I really suffered." But, as he remains lucid, the Finn is nonetheless ambitious. "I know the depth of the gap that separates me from the top. I know that I have just succeeded in getting intermediate lap times comparably to theirs. All I have left is to multiply these moments. I'm progressing, but fifth, six minutes behind, it's not what I want. "
Translation from French: Fran
Gutsy fightbacks from positions down among the no-hopers have earned the former champion harsh words from fellow drivers at Grand Prix briefings and behind the scenes.
His ruthless overtaking at 200mph-plus has upset his challengers and team bosses alike.
But Hammy, 25, boasts he is in the best form of his career and is producing some of his greatest races.
He and German wonderboy Sebastian Vettel were hauled before race bosses for a dangerous wheel-to-wheel charge down the crowded pit lane in China.
And Aussie tough guy Mark Webber accused Hamilton of barging him off the track. But Hamilton’s all-action, flat-out challenges have been hailed by Ecclestone who said: “People should stop moaning about Lewis and the way he drives.
“He has been absolutely brilliant this season with some spectacular and courageous moves. I love his style and so do the fans.”
And Hamilton is refusing to change his style, warning: “I have been doing it the hard way but I do what I have to do. I am a racer. And a winner. It’s my job. It’s what I do best.”
Source: Daily Star
This year Ogier got Kimi Räikkönen as his team mate. Ogier has only good things to say about the Finn. He met Räikkönen for the first time in Arctic Lapland Rally in Rovaniemi.
- Kimi is a relaxed guy. His public image is completely different if you ask me. They say that he is a man of few words but in our team Kimi discusses all the time with everybody. I think that you can see from Kimi that he enjoys his current situation. I also believe that Citroen as a team is the kind of family where Kimi enjoys himself much.
- I have rallied more than Kimi and I have more experience from rally than him so I have been able to give some small advice to him. Of course I know that he is a world champion in F1 so I'm sure I can also learn a lot from him.
Ogier says that Kimi's biggest problem to drive fast doesn't have anything to do with his driving skills, it has to do with his notes.
- The most important thing for Kimi is to make good notes from this season's races because that way driving in the future will be much more easier for him. Notes and making them is the hardest part.
- Like we have already seen, Kimi learns and his pace improves fast. If he gets his notes in order he will get closer to the top and the podiums with the same speed.
Ogies expects good performances from Kimi in the second half of the season especially from rallies on tarmac and from new rallies.
- Tarmas is a more familiar surface for Kimi but there too the most important thing is to get the notes to work. Without good notes you can't make it, no matter what the surface is.
Source: Vauhdin Maailma
Kimi Räikkönen grabbed the victory and 29% of VM-readers is following his rally business.
Mikko Hirvonen's ride with WRC-Ford has taken him to WRC-victories but in this poll Hirvonen took silver with 26% of the votes.
Mika Kallio's opening race in MotoGP went to the bushes but readers are interested in Kallio: 14% of the readers said Kallio was the most interesting Finnish motorsport-person at the moment.
Juho Hänninen in Rally IRC also got a good amount of votes, 8%, but Lotus F1-driver Heikki Kovalainen didn't get one single vote which was the super-surprise of this poll.
Kimi Räikkönen 29 %
Mikko Hirvonen 26 %
Mika Kallio 13 %
Heikki Kovalainen 0 %
Source: Vauhdin Maailma
Saturday, April 24, 2010
After the first four races of the seven time world champion's comeback, the 41-year-old is 40 points behind his teammate Nico Rosberg, who has outqualifed him at every venue so far.
"I'm not worried about Michael Schumacher," said Frenchman Jacques Laffite, who won six grands prix in the 70s and 80s.
"The (Mercedes) car just does not fit his driving style," the 66-year-old told Germany's Auto Motor und Sport.
"You can see on the track that he is struggling with understeer," said the TF1 commentator.
Mercedes will debut a significant update, including new wheelbase and weight distribution package, at the Spanish Grand Prix, and Laffite thinks Barcelona "will be better" for Schumacher.
Fellow GP veteran and commentator Martin Brundle, who like Lafitte is contesting the opening round of the new Volkswagen Scirocco R Cup at Hockenheim this weekend, also backed his former Benetton teammate Schumacher.
"I believe in his abilities," said the Briton.
"I think he needs more time. If I was seeing the same results in September then I would be worried.
"The fact that there is no testing is difficult for him," added Brundle, who insists he has seen "the old Schumacher magic once or twice" this year in practice sessions.
8th position and four championship-points. No other Finnish sportsman has ever been able to score championship-points in both F1 and WRC. Kimi Räikkönen has - and there's more to come.
Despite all the unrealistic expectations the media has created Kimi Räikkönen has been able to get through all three WRC-rallies almost excellently. He has now his first championship-points in the pocket although Räikkönen himself expected to score points in the autumn at earliest.
He has made mistakes and that hasn't surprised anyone, not even Kimi himself. Rally is a brutal sport where you don't get back on the road after a driving mistake. Whereas in F1 you can make an error with the driving line which will take you over the borders or at the most to the safety-area in rally again a similar judgement error creates a six-volt rolling roulette which can end the whole race like Kimi got to experience in Mexico.
Long working days came as a surprise
Of course Räikkönen was able to prepare himself beforehand for almost everything but one thing surprised even him: when it comes to time the WRC is like the Army for Officers and the F1 again the Civil Alternative Service. In rally you sleep and eat when you have time, the alarm clock goes off at 5 a.m. after which you sit in the race car for five days until the sun goes down (recce included). It's those long racing days that brought back the backpains from a couple of old F1-races that you cannot treat in anyway in rally.
Also the change of the daily routine hindered the F1-star's concentration. Kimi was used to taking refreshing naps on the F1-paddock but in rally you cannot do the same. When a 10 year old routine suddenly changes like this it cannot help but affect the vigor.
Kimi is not a quitter
With Räikkönen's performance and development it isn't a question of speed or lack of talent, it's about enhancing these into a complete ability to perform in the most efficient possible way.
Yet Kimi hasn't even once regretted his decision to switch over to rally. You can see from everything that rally is exactly what he wants to do at the moment. If Räikkönen would have a quitter's nature or if he would be satisfied with the first good feeling then he surely would have stepped right in the helicopter in Rally Sweden when he drove in the snowbank but instead he started shoveling with a small plastic shovel to get his car out of the bank and continued his race after working for half an hour.
Kimi's main goal this season has been to finish rallies and drive as fast as possible. Other quarters have set harder result goals but Räikkönen has wisely stated that 'if you can't finish the rally then it's useless to put any other goals for yourself'.
In Jordan Räikkönen dropped his pace to a safety-level so that he could finish the rally. It was a professional man's humble performance to drive for the end result and it brought good starting points to lift up his own pace in the next rallies so that it's more closer to the topdrivers.
KIMI DRIVES WITH LOEB'S SETUPS
Kimi Räikkönen made his WRC-career's first big decision during Rally Sweden's first service break when he changed his setups so that they matched Sébastien Loeb's. With this decision Kimi wanted to concentrate more on driving from the notes and put the car's setup-matters at the side.
Loeb's suspension- and power transmission -setups don't naturally go along with Räikkönen's driving style but he humbly decided to learn a new driving style. Period.
The learning still goes on. Räikkönen made the only exception for Jordan's first stage where his starting position was 10th. They expected the road to be cleaned of rocks and sand before Kimi's turn came, that's why Citroen's suspension was changed into a remarkably harder one than the others had. This decision turned out to be completely wrong: The road's surface was even more slippery than it was for the first cars so it wasn't any wonder that Kimi said after the stages that it was his motorsporting career's most difficult and challenging race.
After the trial Räikkönen went back to Loeb's suspension estimations and he will trust them in the future too.
Source: Vauhdin Maailma
We reported last weekend that the 50-year-old former boss of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was spotted in Shanghai for the Chinese Grand Prix.
George met with F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone and also Zak Brown, founder and CEO of motor sport marketing firm Just Marketing who represents several high level sponsors according to the Indianapolis Business Journal (IBJ).
"Would Tony George love to broker a deal to bring back a US Grand Prix? Sure," said Brown.
IBJ said sources confirmed that George was in China to discuss F1's return to America and meet with potential sponsors for a race that would not necessary take place at Indianapolis.
Indeed, new Indianapolis Motor Speedway boss Jeff Bulskus said George was not in China to represent the fabled Indy 500 venue, while Ecclestone has been pushing for a street race with the New York skyline.
Brown said: "Tony has a lot of contacts in motor sports, and he knows how to put on a US Grand Prix.
"I think if there's a role for Tony in trying to bring Formula One back to the US, he'd be willing to help. Tony and Bernie have a very good relationship, and Tony has a lot of interest in seeing F1 return to the US," he added.
Tony George, who still has an ownership stake in the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, could not be reached for comment.
Friday, April 23, 2010
Bernie Ecclestone has claimed that Mercedes should have bought McLaren to form the basis of its 'works' formula One team, but admits that it could have done worse the eventually acquiring the Brawn GP team.
The sport's commercial supremo suggested that the German giant should perhaps have made a more concerted effort to prise McLaren from the hands of Ron Dennis during their lengthy tenure as technical collaborators, but accepts that the route the Three Pointed Star eventually followed was as good a way as any of establishing its own team in the top flight.
"To be honest, it was always my opinion that Mercedes should have taken over McLaren years ago," Ecclestone told the official F1 website, "So what they've done now is absolutely sound. Now it's theirs to call the shots."
Mercedes' vice-president of motorsport, Norbert Haug, who shared the interview with Ecclestone, admitted that getting involved with Brawn had had 'positive financial aspects' too.
"Because Brawn GP won the championship last season, we get substantial funding from the rights holder, and we have partnered with great sponsors," he said of the rebranded Mercedes GP Petronas team, "These two aspects are funding the team and not Mercedes.
"We contribute with the engine and a small group of people in key areas - and that's it. It's a very efficient system, and I am sure Bernie would agree when I say that how we've done it could be a role model for when other manufacturers join F1.
"Of course, our board members are racers, but they only gave the nod because we can promote our products on the most important motorsport platform in the world - and demonstrate our willingness to compete, which has been part of the Mercedes spirit since the beginning - the first Mercedes car was a racing car."
Agreeing that F1 'is by far the best platform for a manufacturer', Ecclestone expressed the belief that Honda, BMW and Toyota only withdrew because they could not achieve the level of success of certain rivals - the brands, Haug points out, that are still involved.
"Those who have been successful and have won titles are still part of F1 - Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes," the German noted, "I can only say that our investment in the purchase of Brawn GP paid off. No other team had more exposure over the winter than the rebirth of the real Silver Arrows."
"Let's be serious, manufacturers are all there for different reasons," Ecclestone concluded, "Mercedes are racers, they've been racing for a 100 years. They've always been there [but] the other people come and go. BMW came with us when I had Brabham - we won the world championship with them - and they left. Toyota have been more or less rally people in the past and turned to F1. I probably shouldn't say what I'm going to say, but I think the team was mismanaged, and my guess is that, if they had been managed properly, they would still be with us...."
Q: Christian, how did you get back to the UK after the Chinese Grand Prix?
A: It was a five-stop strategy. Mark Webber and I left the hotel in Shanghai at 0430hrs on Sunday morning. We got a 0715hrs flight from Shanghai to Dubai on Monday, then went from Dubai to Rome, arriving 2030hrs local time. We got a flight from the other Rome airport to Nice, had a night there, then got a flight early on Tuesday morning to Glasgow. I think we were one of the first aeroplanes to go over British airspace. We landed in Glasgow at 1205hrs on Tuesday, only to find out that Mark had forgotten his passport! After enjoying some local hospitality, we managed to get a helicopter transfer from Glasgow to Oxfordshire; arriving in Oxfordshire at 1600hrs on Tuesday.
Q: And how did Sebastian Vettel get home?
A: He was lucky and managed to get a lift with Bernie Ecclestone, who I understand went to Istanbul. Sebastian got another flight from there to Nice and drove home from there so he got home before all of us early on Tuesday morning. Predictably Bernie beat all of us back. I phoned him from Glasgow, very proud that we'd landed on British soil, only for him to say that he'd already been in the office for three hours!
Q: And what was the team's return journey?
A: The majority of the team stuck together. We managed to get them on a direct flight today (Thursday), which arrives in the UK later this afternoon. The cars and freight will also arrive back today, probably beating the team home by an hour or two.
Q: What impact, if any, will the delayed return of the team and freight have on preparations for the Spanish Grand Prix?
A: Thankfully, the way the calendar is with the extra week between the Chinese and Spanish Grand Prix, it has a very limited impact. There's still over a week to turn the cars around and a lot of the components for the next race are produced here in the factory. The factory hasn't been affected obviously the turnaround components are a little bit out of sync now coming back two or three days late, but with the additional week, we're confident it won't cause us any major issues.
Source: Red Bull
Here we go again.
Let's catch Kimi Räikkönen first, he was definitely the biggest Finnish name in Turkey Rally.
Success in the WRC-serie doesn't come at once - not even if you would have won everything possible in the lower series. Not to talk about how difficult succeeding is for a driver who hasn't rallied before. Kimi's 5th position in Turkey was a really tough achievement, for real.
Okay, over five minutes to the lead but let's forget about the minutes. The most important was the position. Now Kimi has found the real deal, now he had the touch. Great.
5th position gave Kimi credability and selfconfidence which will take him further again. Turkey rally proved that he is on the right road. The journey to the top has began.
Kimi has improved in listening to the notes and he has also learned to know better his Citroen. That's why he has the guts to put the foot on the pedal more down.
In the future the most important thing for him is to have the calmness to learn. He has to have the energy to constantly battle so that he grows into succes in rally too. The time for winning, which he got used to in F1, comes later.
Apart from that nothing new and wondrous happened in Turkey. The rally was won by - surprise, surprise - Sebastien Loeb, has anyone ever heard of the man? Oh well, it looks like it's going to be this again from race to race. Citroen and Loeb leading while the others whine.
There hasn't been any real battle for victory. When it was time for it Loeb came in his own pace and made winning look ridiculously easy. Unbelievable.
Mikko Hirvonen came with his Ford in a pace that was okay but I'm sure he is still gutted over hitting a stone. Of course the battle hasn't been decided yet but in the next races Mikko's difference in points to Loeb shouldn't grow over 40. Otherwise the battle will calm down remarkably and then nobody has the energy to get excited about the races.
But it's good that Mikko is attacking by taking risks and that he went flat out for the victory. I myself am of this opinion because during my own career I found the optimal driving style through numerous drivings off the road. But that's how it is, Loeb is conquered only by taking risks, you won't win him otherwise. And because you get 25 points for each victory the importance of winning is big.
I'm sure Malcom Wilson from Ford wasn't satisfied when Jari-Matti Latvala rolled. Okay, same as with Mikko, these things happen sometimes when you drive on the limit. One has to remember that Jari-Matti has drove three even races before this.
Wilson must be gutted over Citroen being on top again when it comes to the manufacturer-battle. The French team has now four competitive cars and drivers, Ford has only two.
Ford has to show what they are made of in the next races. The current level isn't enough.