Thursday, March 31, 2011

Red Bull not ruling out bid for Hamilton

Helmut Marko is not ruling out making a move for Lewis Hamilton, perhaps as imminently as in time for the 2012 season.

After a recent round of speculation, during which Red Bull team boss Christian Horner described Hamilton as a “great driver”, the 2008 world champion insisted he is committed to McLaren.

But Hamilton also said in Australia: “Of course, I’m going to be in formula one for some time, and you never know which way the wind will take you.

” At Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel’s future is firmly secure, but his current teammate Mark Webber – who had a dire start to the 2011 season in Melbourne – is signed up only to the end of the year.

“First we have to see how the season goes for Mark and what he decides,” Red Bull’s F1 consultant Marko told Sport Bild.

“Definitely with his aggression and his speed, Hamilton must always be a topic,” the Austrian added.

“Our philosophy is to have the quickest drivers together in our team,” said Marko.

F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone said he would be happy to see Vettel and Hamilton together at Red Bull.

“Both of them are a gift for formula one, even more if they were in the same team,” he said.

Source: YallaF1

Montoya: Kimi welcome in NASCAR

Former F1 driver Juan Pablo Montoya reckons NASCAR would be good for Kimi Räikkönen and the Finn would be good for NASCAR

Räikkönen, who left F1 at the end of 2009 to move to the World Rally Championship, confirmed earlier this week that he would be embarking on a NASCAR career later this year.

The 31-year-old will take part in some Truck series events before moving on to the Nationwide and Sprint Cup series.

"I am excited about getting to know NASCAR world. I have been following it for a long time," the 1997 F1 World Champ told Finland's Turun Sanomat newspaper.

"I am 100 percent sure it will be fun and challenging.

" And already the Finn has been welcomed by former McLaren team-mate Montoya, who reckons his participation in NASCAR would be good for the sport.

"Well, people talk a lot and I've heard the story already before, but if he's definitely coming it would be really good for him and for the sport," Montoya, who swapped from F1 to NASCAR in 2006, told Autosport.

"He would be very welcome here."

Source: Planet-F1

Q&A With Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton says his podium finish in Australia was a "good starting point" for the season especially as McLaren thought they would struggle...

Q: 18 points is a great prize to take away from the opening race, isn't it?
LH: "It is, it's a good starting point, especially given we never really thought we'd be in such a strong position so early on in the season. Before the race, I'd said that it was important to get some points on the board early in the season.

"I think it's already pretty clear that it's going to be a long and tough championship, so you can't afford to drop points. Every race is going to be important, so while I'd always prefer to win, Sunday was pretty much a 'perfect' result for us - perfect in the sense that we scored good points, and we feel we're going to be stronger in the next races."

Q: We saw some spectacular shots of the car bottoming out after the floor worked loose, but the problem didn't seem to get any worse - how difficult was it inside the cockpit?
LH: "I saw a couple of shots on the TV after the race and it looked quite bad. After the race, I also had a look at the front floor and it was pretty badly banged up. Luckily, it wasn't too bad to drive - obviously, I was losing a bit of downforce, but, by then, I already had quite a comfortable margin over Vitaly [Petrov]. Into the closing laps, the team just told me not to push it or take any unnecessary risks - they asked me to steer clear of the kerbs because, obviously, that's where you're going to most unsettle the car and the floor. And, happily, it all worked out fine."

Q: How surprised were you by the pace of the car last weekend, and how positive do you feel about the forthcoming races?
LH: In a way, I'm never surprised by what the team does, because they always seem able to do impossible things! Of course, going into this race we weren't certain about our performance - we were optimistic, because our simulations were showing a significant improvement, but you never know until you finally get to the track. I feel really comfortable with this car - I'd always said the car felt good, we just lacked a bit of downforce and some decent mileage during the winter tests - and I feel like it's a car that is easy to push to the limit, so I'm very hopeful of what will be coming along to add to its performance down the line."

Q: In terms of developments, what's next in the pipeline?
LH: "As you know, this team is a relentless development machine. We've got two weeks until the next grand prix, so we'll be pushing through some more improvements. "What I think is just as important, actually, is the fact that we got a lot of data about the car this weekend - and we've only just started to exploit this package. What I think will be interesting is how the engineers are able to go back to the factory and understand just what we have and how we can improve it.

"Don't forget: before the race on Sunday, we'd only really had about four hours of track time to develop and understand the new floor and exhausts. And Sunday was our first race distance of the year. So I think there's a lot there that we can really learn to push and get an even better understanding of how the car works.

"But, going back to the original question, I've been speaking with Doug [McKiernan] and the aerodynamicists and engineers and we've got a huge amount of interesting stuff in the pipeline. As a team, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes never sits still - you can guarantee we'll have new parts arriving for the next race, and Martin is fantastic at pushing the team to bring forward whatever we have. It's relentless, but it's really where we excel as a team: we never give up, we work incredibly hard and we make sure we deliver.

"I want to thank every man and woman back at MTC for working so hard, and for putting in so much effort to get us back to where we belong: your efforts are honestly and truly appreciated."


Saku Koivu combined Gillett's and Räikkönen's NASCAR-path

Foster Gillett, who lured Kimi Räikkönen into NASCAR-challenges was following his future star driver's grips in the rally in Portugal, which he also attended.

At the same time I got offered a chance to explain some backgrounds to Räikkönen's surprising switch when Gillett gave Turun Sanomat an exclusive interview.

NHL-star Saku Koivu had his share in Gillett and Räikkönen making contact.

– We owned Montreal Canadiens for nine years. I attended every game and lived with the players in both down- and uphills. The most challenging and critical situation I have ever experienced was
Saku's battle against cancer.

– At that time we were the team-owners for the first year. I was 23-years old. We didn't know well, Saku and I, but that period connected us very closely. My family did all they could to help Saku win his battle. It was a worthy victory. Saku is alive, he is doing well, he has a wonderful family and still plays magnificently.

– That victory also spiced our eternal friendship and mutual respect. Saku is a skillful leader on ice and a great man as a human being. He gave a face to Canadiens organisation for many years. We went through some rough times but he never lost his will to try. To me Saku is one of the most inspirational sport figures of all times, Gillett praised.

Although both left Montreal they still kept in touch.

– When I came to the NASCAR-circles Saku knew it and called on a regular basis to hear how it goes for us and if he could do something for us.

– Then one day I was thinking what I and our sponsors should do to get forward. The idea of offering Kimi Räikkönen co-operation was born. I didn't know how it would work out in practice so I called Saku. Saku assured me he would be happy to help and he gave me the contact information I needed in order to get in touch with Kimi.

– I called to Finland immediately, we met in Miami and now a few months later we have chosen our joint path and are at the moment looking at the right moves at this point, Gillett said.

– We have made many plans over how to combine Kimi's rally- and NASCAR-schedules. We have really got our feet wet so to say. Lets see how it starts going and how Kimi feels.

Driver-centered racing

Räikkönen's switch to NASCAR offered a news bomb all around the world.

– The sport is its own small world, Gillett thinks.

– Kimi is known all around the world and he is a popular sport star. I hope that Kimi's decision to come over the Atlant to struggle as a pioneer in new challenges also wakes up other top drivers, sponsors and top engineers to follow him.

What does Gillett expect from Räikköen as a NASCAR-driver?

– It will become clear in time. Of course I have my own theory about how it could go.

– When they in Europe talk about over- and understeering, we again use words tight and loose. With a tight the front pushes when you turn into a corner and with a loose the rear again is loose. The more tight, the more physically the driver has to turn the wheel to the corner.

– I know that Kimi has drove on so many different tracks and rallies and slided sideways so often that the looseness will feel very familiar to him. I would assume that he feels quite comfortable in a car like that.

– From what I have understood about Kimi's history he doesn't like a tight car. The situation will become clear in time but I think he will have an advantage of it in the beginning.

– NASCAR is very driver-centered because the cars are almost identical and the difference between the faster and the slower is very small and laptimes are tightly bundled. Therefore the driver makes the difference as long as he gets the right equipment. There is no computer, no telemetry. In NASCAR the driver himself is the computer.

Marketing by driving

Räikkönen's image is a silent Iceman. How will Kimi fit in the American marketing mentality?

– The way you drive talks for itself. You don't have to blabber there. The way you drive and the way others drive against you brings out your character and that fascinates the audience. Kimi is an incredible personality and all our organisations are thrilled over him being part of this program.

– I know Saku's steel character and know its part of his Finnish nature. I believe that Kimi is made of the same wood, Gillett emphasises.

Turun Sanomat, Faro


Courtesy: Nicole

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Kimi Räikkönen approved to race Trucks at Charlotte

Former Formula One champion Kimi Räikkönen has tendered his driver application and resume to NASCAR, the sanctioning body confirmed Wednesday.

Räikkönen has sought and received approval to compete in the May 20 NC Education Lottery 200 Camping World Truck Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, according to NASCAR spokesperson Kerry Tharp.

Beyond that, Räikkönen’s plans have not been announced. A newspaper in his native Finland cited Raikonnen as saying he intends to bring his ICE-1 Racing team to NASCAR competition with former RPM boss Foster Gillett as one of his financial partners.

Source: SportingNews

Formula One Champ Kimi Räikkönen to Race in Nascar in May

Kimi Räikkonen, the 2007 Formula One world champion, has requested and received approval to run in a Nascar Camping World Truck Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 20, said Amanda Jones Ellis, a spokeswoman for the series.

Turun Sanomat, a newspaper in the racer’s native Finland, reported Tuesday that Räikkönen, 31, is expected to race with a new team in the truck series, followed perhaps by a move to the Nationwide Series and then into the Sprint Cup Series, the big leagues of stock-car racing. Räikkönen did not disclose how many truck series races he planned to drive this season.

“I’m really looking forward to get there to familiarize to the world of Nascar,” he told the newspaper. “I have been following it for a long time. I just love the American spirit of racing. Obviously, it will be very challenging and great fun for me.”

Räikkönen would not be the first former Formula One driver to move to Nascar. Juan Pablo Montoya won seven Formula One races in five seasons before joining Chip Ganassi’s Nascar team in 2006. Montoya has won two Sprint Cup Series races in 150 attempts.

Montoya, a native of Colombia who also won the Indianapolis 500, is widely credited with bringing a new group of fans into stock-car racing. Similarly, Räikkönen, who won seven Formula One races in 2005 and six in 2007, may cause European auto-racing fans to be more curious about Nascar.

The Finn, known by competitors and fans as the Iceman, left the Ferrari Formula One team after the 2009 season. After failing to land a position with another top-level Formula One program, Räikkönen drove in 15 races in the World Rally Championship, finishing 10th in the standings last year.

Räikkönen’s new team, ICE 1, will be owned by Foster Gillett, who ran the day-to-day operations at Richard Petty Motorsports. Gillett’s family owned the Montreal Canadiens hockey franchise and are also former co-owners of the Liverpool soccer team.

Despite his Nascar ambitions, Räikkönen has not abandoned W.R.C. He is expected to participate in eight races for a team also known as ICE 1 this season, driving a Citroën.

Source: The New York Times
Courtesy: Kriss

Kimi Räikkönen: The most versatile star in motorsport

The amount of vehicles Kimi Räikkönen has collected from several genres in motorsport is in it's own class. There's no doubt that we are talking about today's most versatile motorsport-man.

Räikkönen has raced in karting, with a Formula Ford, Formula Renault 2,0 -liter, Formula 1, WRC-rally car, motocross bike, snow sledge, jetski and soon also with top class NASCAR-cars starting with trucks.

I even heard that Räikkönen has sometimes asked if he could try stunt flying. He didn't get permission for that though...

Basically everything that has an engine interests Räikkönen. At home he has all possible vehicles - at some point there will also be room for the legend's American Legends-car.

Grabbing the NASCAR-challenge proves once again in it's own way the burning passion Räikkönen has to try new things. Usually when a Finnish star leaves the F1-tracks they cool down in for example DTM or Arctic rally. NASCAR-ovals are something that scares them right from the start.

Mika Salo drove in NASCAR-tests but it didn't open up a new career for him there. NASCAR is as popular to Americans as F1 is to Europeans - it's their royal class of motorsport.

Soon Räikkönen will become the Finnish pioneer of that serie too - and most obviously one of it's spectator-magnets.

The Columbian tv- and radio-reporter Diego Meija who I chatted with especially when Juan Pablo Montoya was driving as Räikkönen's team mate in McLaren, stopped by in Barcelona's F1-tests.

Mejia told that Montoya had already for some time compared his own NASCAR-switch to Räikkönen going into the rally world. The Columbian star said that they both had to start from zero because the new genres were so different than F1.

Based upon this Räikkönen has to learn the basics once again, just like he had to do when starting his rally career two years ago.

Turun Sanomat


Courtesy: Nicole

Gordon and Piquet happy that Räikkönen is coming

4-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon and Nelson Piquet, who drives in World Camping Truck -serie welcome Kimi Räikkönen to NASCAR-tracks according to Reuter.

– It would be a really cool and exiting thing. I'm a F1-fan and have followed Kimi racing and winning there. It would be really awesome to get him to race in NASCAR, Gordon assured.

– I think it's great for the serie to hear that Kimi decided to join and compete with trucks. I'm sure it will be great for him to see what American racing really is about, Piquet said.

Turun Sanomat, New York

Courtesy: Nicole

Kimi Räikkönen, what are you thinking?

Former Formula 1 champion Kimi Räikkönen told a newspaper in his native Finland that he would try his hand at NASCAR racing—with Foster Gillett as a partner in his ICE-1 Racing team

If this is true, and not an elaborate hoax, Raikkonen would be wise to be wary.

Gillett ran the day-to-day operations at Richard Petty Motorsports last year and ran the organization into the ground. Foster and his father, George Gillett, left hundreds of creditors and former employees holding the bag at RPM.

This is the same Foster Gillett who introduced himself to driver Carl Edwards by trying to "borrow" Edwards' four-wheeler in the driver/owner coach lot at Homestead—without permission.

"I hear my little Polaris Razor start up—I hear the exhaust start up," Edwards told Sporting News the day after the incident in November 2009. "'Who's in my four-wheeler?' So I run out the door, and here's these two guys—and I don't know who they are—and they're getting ready to take off. I say, 'Hey, hey, who are you?'

One of the guys was Foster Gillett, but that was a mere peccadillo compared with some of the larger consternation the Gillett family has left in its wake.

The Gilletts are hated in England for the bungling of their ownership/management of the Liverpool soccer side in the English Premier League. In 2008, George Gillett spoke of death threats against his family from the club's fans, threats Gillett said arose primarily from comments made by his estranged partner in the team, Texas billionaire Tom Hicks.

George Gillett didn't win many friends in Montreal when, according to Forbes, he leveraged the Bell Centre for $240 million after acquiring 80.1-percent interest in the Canadiens, as well as the building. A reported $72 million of that money found its way to Gillett's pocket as a dividend.

Ultimately, Gillett sold the Canadiens to the Molson family for a tidy profit. He wasn't as fortunate in Liverpool, where he lost the team to John Henry's New England Sports Ventures in a forced sale through the Royal Bank of Scotland, which had loaned more than $350 million to Gillett and Hicks.

Some reports describe Foster Gillett as an investor in the deal with Raikkonen. With what money? Ray Evernham recently sued two companies owned by George Gillett for $19.2 million Evernham alleges is owed from the original sale of majority interest in Evernham Motorsports to Gillett.

Gillett walked away from a reported $90 million loan from Wachovia/Wells Fargo that was used to purchase Evernham Motorsports, which became RPM after a merger with Petty Holdings. Investors Andrew Murstein and Douglas Bergeron bought the loan for pennies on the dollar ($11 million, according to a Forbes report), and after Richard

Petty made a substantial investment of his own, the company returned to solvency. NASCAR will welcome Raikkonen with open arms. The Finnish driver is a bona fide superstar, and if he follows the plan of starting in the Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series before making a decision about competing in Sprint Cup, he's approaching the transition in a prudent way.

One has to wonder, though, if there's any NASCAR news in Finland. Due diligence should have squelched involvement by Foster Gillett before it started.

Richard Petty barely escaped having his name and reputation permanently sullied through association with the Gillett family.

Raikkonen doesn't need to take the same risk—and he doesn't need to leave any four-wheelers sitting around after dark.

Source: SportingNews

Courtesy: sleenster

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Lewis Hamilton to take 13,000-mile detour to watch brother Nicolas make race debut ahead of Malaysian GP

But the McLaren driver insists it will not affect his preparation for the Malaysian Grand Prix a week on Sunday, where he will attempt to reel in Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton finished second to the world champion at the season opener in Australia on Sunday, an unexpected result given McLaren's dismal pre-season form.

As he prepared to fly to Kuala Lumpur on Monday to begin training for the sweat-fest in Sepang he reflected on that stunning turnaround, claiming that he was mentally and physically in the best shape he has ever been.

“Things are pretty good,” Hamilton said. “And they can only get better. Finally I’ve got something I can fight with, something I can take the fight to the Bulls with.”

This time last year Hamilton was under a cloud after he and his father Anthony decided to go their separate ways following nearly 20 years together as driver-manager.

Twelve months later he was buzzing after the pair shared a hug on the grid in Melbourne, a symbolic step in their blossoming relationship.

“This weekend was the best feeling I have ever had with my dad being here just as my dad,” he said.

“The support I had — he has always given me immense support, but I think it was support mixed with some stress of ‘I don’t want to let you down’. But this time it was just ‘I’m so proud to see you out there’, and it just felt fantastic. Really, really great.

” Hamilton flies back to the UK this weekend to watch 19-year-old Nicolas, who suffers from cerebral palsy, take part in his first race at Brands Hatch, where he makes his debut in the Renault Clio Cup, before returning to Kuala Lumpur.

“I am the closest person to him, but even I cannot comprehend what it must have been like to have the difficulties he has had,” Hamilton said. “I’m so proud of him.

"I’ll just head back to see his qualifying and race and then pop back out. It’s cool. I’ll get to watch lots of movies on the plane. Physically, this is the best I’ve ever felt by a long way.”

Source: The Telegraph

Former-Formula 1 Champion Kimi Räikkönen in Talks to Join Nascar Team

Kimi Räikkönen, the 2007 Formula One champion, is considering an offer to join a team in the Nascar auto-racing series, his agent David Robertson said.

Robertson declined to identify the team the 31-year-old Finn was talking to.

“Negotiations are ongoing but nothing is guaranteed,” Robertson said by telephone. “Somebody had come to us with an offer and we are considering it.”

Räikkönen is set to join a new team, ICE1 Racing, in the Truck series before moving to the Nationwide and Sprint Cup categories, reported, citing Finland’s Turun Sanomat newspaper.

One of the team’s partners is Foster Gillett, the son of George Gillett, according to George Gillett is the former owner of the Liverpool soccer team and the Montreal Canadiens ice hockey team.

Räikkönen was the top-earning athlete after golfer Tiger Woods in 2008 with $45 million in income, according to Forbes magazine.

He was dropped by Ferrari after the 2009 season and left Formula One to compete in the World Rally Championship for Citroen last year. Räikkönen remains committed to his contract in the rally series, Robertson said.

Courtesy: sleenster

Räikkönen goes to NASCAR

The world champion of Formula One and current rally star Kimi Raikkonen expands his field of experiences: The 31-year-old Finn is going to race in the most popular North American race series NASCAR

The spectacular NASCAR debut for Raikkonen will be already before the becoming summer. Kimi is going to carry on with WRC Rally, too. He has agreed to do eight more rallies this year.

With the world famous newcomer driver there will be also a brand new team to race in NASCAR level: ICE1 Racing. Raikkonen joins forces with Foster Gillett. He will be the major partner of the Finnish team.

Foster's family was the former majority owners of the Montreal Canadiens NHL franchise and the former co-owners of Liverpool football club.

Last year Foster Gillett was operating with Richard Petty Motorsport in NASCAR. Now he is about to break new ground with Raikkonen and ICE1 Racing.

American spirit inspires Raikkonen

– I’m really looking forward to get there to familiarize to the world of NASCAR. I have been following it for a long time. I know, it’s a very tough and open top racing series. I just love the American spirit of racing. It feels just great to get involved with that. Obviously, it will be very challenging and great fun for me, Raikkonen assures to Turun Sanomat.

As every rookie Raikkonen will start his NASCAR career with a race in World Camping Truck series. After that Kimi is going to Nationwide and will be adding the Sprint Cup series as well upon successful completion of the NASCAR approval process.

Most of the drivers are competing in all three main series.

The negotations for the car for ICE1 Racing team are just about to be finished. Raikkonen will race both in ovals and normal track circuits.

Räikkönen's program will include both oval- and normal track-races.

Räikkönen will decide upon his continuance based upon how well it goes for him in USA's elite serie.

Racing with Montoya again

NASCAR has hit the top of popularity almost without Formula One champions. The latest F1 champion involved with NASCAR was Jacques Villeneuve a couple of years ago. The local hero Mario Andretti had his spell in NASCAR, too.

With Raikkonen going to NASCAR there will be exciting meeting of two previous McLaren team mates. Juan Pablo Montoya was a thundering pair of Raikkonen in 2005 and 2006. Now the Columbian is one the few F1 stars who have made it to top of this highly challenging class of motor sports.

Turun Sanomat


Courtesy: Nicole

Video: F1 drivers a message of support to Japan

They say:

Everybody, let's join hands
Everybody, have courage
Everybody, get hopes

Source: YouTube
Courtesy: Yukari

Lewis Hamilton sees fight with Fernando Alonso as new 'Senna v Prost'

Sebastian Vettel may be the man most likely to thwart Lewis Hamilton's hopes of a second world championship this season, but as the McLaren driver arrived in the tropical metropolis of Kuala Lumpur it was not the German on his mind but the man he describes as his "nemesis", Fernando Alonso.

"I will always think that my nemesis and my closest rival will always be Fernando," said an unusually reflective Hamilton. "Just because of my history, when I started out. I see him as my Prost, if we were [Alain] Prost and [Aryton] Senna. If you were to say 'choose a driver' [that I would like to be] I would clearly choose Ayrton. And maybe I would put him as Prost.

" The rivalry between Senna and Prost, which is brilliantly captured in the new film, Senna, was one of the most bitter in all sport. The difficult relationship between Hamilton and Alonso in 2007, when the Spaniard was unsettled and ultimately driven from McLaren by Hamilton's rookie brilliance, had its moments, too. Hamilton, probably, has never received proper credit for his performances that season, when he missed the championship by a single point.

But is not Vettel his true nemesis now? "I don't think so. If he continues to have a car like he does now then, maybe, but I think when we get equal pace then we will see some serious racing. Maybe he [Vettel] is the new Mansell? Not that I would rate him like I do Mansell." Ouch.

But with the next race, in Malaysia, almost two weeks away Hamilton is less concerned with racing rivals than his relationship with his family. He is close, once more, with his father and former manager Anthony. And this week he will return to England to see his brother Nicolas, who has cerebral palsy, race for the first time.

"I can't miss my brother's first race [at Brands Hatch next weekend]. It's OK. I can sleep on the flight. I can still stay in this time zone. I'll just head back to see his qualifying and race and then pop back out. It's cool. I'll get to watch lots of movies on the plane.

"Me and my brother are close. I mean, everyone has their situations in life, but it has been tough for him. I can understand what he has been through because I am the closest person to him, but even I cannot comprehend what it must have been like to have the difficulties he has had. And now he gets to have the opportunity to live the dream himself. Me and my dad will be there.

" The relationship between Hamilton and his father has been strained for the past year, since Hamilton decided that he no longer wanted Anthony to manage his affairs. But they have been closer in recent months and were seen together at the Australian Grand Prix. Anthony now manages the latest British FI hope, Paul di Resta.

"This weekend has been great. I don't know whether you saw me and my dad spent a lot of time together. I asked him if he would like to be on the grid with me and he said 'I would love to do that'. It just felt fantastic this weekend.

"I felt the support that my dad gave me – it was the same as he has always given me but without the stress. I said to him 'I know you have to go down the other end of the grid' and he said 'No. Paul understands that I want to be up this end as well.'

"My dad was just there as my dad. He has always given me immense support, but I think it was support mixed with some stress. But this time it was just 'I'm so proud to see you out there' and it was just fantastic. Really, really great. Things are pretty good. Great times and they can only get better.

" Then, suddenly, it was back to racing. "Finally I've got something I can fight with, something I can take the fight to the Bulls with," he said, following McLaren's revival in Melbourne and his second place.

"Malaysia is a massive downforce track so you're going to see Red Bull as quick if not quicker. But I have no doubts our car can be competitive as well.

" Meanwhile, the McLaren team principal, Martin Whitmarsh, said: "We leave here [Melbourne] knowing we had a car capable of taking two places on the podium. It was genuine pace. Both drivers and the team had a difficult winter and it is fantastic to come out of it that strong. We have to dig deep, it's a long championship and we have to improve race by race."

Source: The Guardian

Monday, March 28, 2011

Alonso's Blog: An uphill start but no dramas

It wasn’t the start that we all wanted but nor is it anything to get worried about. I already said it yesterday evening at the track: 12 points is not far below the world champion’s average last year and two title contenders finished behind me. So overall the Australian Grand Prix can’t be defined as disastrous. Certainly, in qualifying we were very far from Vettel’s Red Bull and far from Hamilton’s McLaren but in the race the situation improved – perhaps not compared to Sebastian but certainly against the others. The start was a pity: if I hadn’t found myself down in 9th place at the beginning of the first lap I’d have been able to fight to the finish for the two lower steps of the podium.

I’m not one of those who believes a degree of temperature here or there can determine major changes in the performance of the car on the track. So I don’t agree that the fact that yesterday was hotter compared to Saturday necessarily played into our favour. On Friday, when temperatures were similar to those during qualifying, the car went very well. The next day, from the morning, it wasn’t so good and we have to understand why that happened by carefully analysing the data.

For me there weren’t any big surprises this weekend, particularly because I didn’t arrive in Melbourne with a clear idea of how the grid would line up. From the tests, especially this year, it was difficult to have a realistic picture of the situation. The only positive surprise was the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres which, at least at Albert Park, showed less degradation than what we saw at the test. We will see how things go in Malaysia at Sepang, on a track that is very different to the semi-street circuit of Albert Park.

I’ve stayed in Australia and I will remain here until the beginning of next week, when I will head to Malaysia. It’s important to prepare very well for the next two rounds, which are back-to-back. They are both very demanding from the physical point of view, especially Sepang where we drive in very high temperatures.


Räikkönen gave advice - Sebastian Vettel celebrated his championship with a 100 000 euros purchase

Sebastian Vettel celebrated his last year's championship the way Räikkönen adviced him.

According to Bild Vettel decided to celebrate his unforgettable title by ordering himself a handmade unique motorcycle from Walz Hardcore Cycles.

The bike that is estimated to cost about 100 000 euro is built by Marcus Walz and he builds it upon the 120-horsepower Avalanche-model.

According to Bild Kimi Räikkönen adviced his good friend Vettel to buy the bike.

The bike should be ready in September.

Source: Ilta-Sanomat

Courtesy: Nicole

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Räikkönen promises to increase his speed next

Kimi Räikkönen has now drove this season's two rallies without making any bigger mistakes. In Sweden he was 8th and in Portugal he was 7th.

We didn't experience an afternoon flash like in Sweden - several stages in a row in top 5 - in Räikkönen's first rally on gravel.

– I'm kind of like a score-automaton, Räikkönen joked.

In Portugal Petter Solberg went past him on the powerstage with a bang.

– We knew he was coming since he was so close. We could have come totally super but we didn't take the risk, instead we came to the finish, Räikkönen said although he is always bugged when even one place is lost.

ICE1 Racing -team's Citroen came to Portugal with wrong setups. On Saturday the setups were right but they got the car to it's best only on Sunday. After the rally ended it would have been in the best stitch to start the race.

– At least we learned about the car when the setups weren't nearly what they should have been. I guess it's easier now to go to the next rally.

No surprising situations

Then what about the progress - do you feel that you took a step forward like in Sweden the second time?

– It didn't go exactly like that. This race was only driving. It made no sense to push too hard. Sure it went better when you really tried. We took it pretty peacefully almost all the time.

– When I have been driving more and got more experience those situations won't come up anymore. Next I have to try and drive faster now that the notes are kind of safe and listening to them has also improved. That way you won't run into those surprises, Räikkönen said.

If Rally Jordan is cancelled on Monday, then Räikkönen will participate in Rally Sardinia which wasn't in his preliminary schedule.

Has Räikkönen caught up with the top drivers?

– Still an ice-figure skater won't start making goals in hockey at once because the genres are so different. In rally you can count with both hands fingers the requirements you have to master 100% in order to get in the same speed as the top. Kimi has learned a lot of each of those but not enough. The fact that he has such a good speed with this short training is a sign of talent, Kaj Lindström said.

Turun Sanomat, Faro


Courtesy: Nicole

Räikkönen bite the dust

Kimi Räikkönen came in 7th but suffered in time because of Armindo Araujo.

– We got stuck in the dust behind that Mini for about 8 km because he had a puncture or something else. We got the car better and my own driving got better too, Räikkönen coughed.

– It more cool to drive when the car feels normal. On Friday we *** No swearing *** up the setups and we had made some mistakes from the beginning.

What about the F1-race. Did you see the qualification in the morning?

– No, because I'm not there, Räikkönen said.

Turun Sanomat, Faro


Courtesy: Nicole

Tyre puncture bugged Kimi

Portugal is the first rally on gravel for Kimi Räikkönen's new Citroen. The start was sticky and just as Räikkönen started to find a better rhythm the tyre emptied all of a sudden without hitting anything.

– The air just disappeared and suddenly we noticed that there went our tyre. We had 11 km of the stage left. We drove the rest of the stage with the wheel and lost 1,40 minutes. If you have over 15 km to the finish of the stage, then it's worthwhile to stop and change the tyre, Lindström told.

– It was a bad thing when the tyre went. I improved my driving in the afternoon but during service break we took the wrong direction with setups. I had no grip, Räikkönen said.

– Of course it was seen during the first stage that it was a race on gravel. It was sticky but we got a hang of it around the final phase of the stage, Lindström said.

The team's mecanics had some overtime work when everything is changed so that they get the setups to hit better.

– It felt surprisingly hard although it shouldn't have felt that way. We will change the whole suspension just in case, if there is some problem with it, Lindström said.

Source: Turun Sanomat
Courtesy: Nicole

The Vettel Diaries: Everything went perfectly

Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel triumphs at the inaugural race of the 2011 Formula 1 season with a win at the Australian Grand Prix. Here's what he had to say:

Right now, I just couldn't be happier! Everything went perfectly – from the start until the final lap. It was simply amazing.

Of course it’s a good feeling to be ahead but that doesn't give you the right to lie back and relax. You need to stay focused and concentrated at all times since there are always things that can happen. The track in Melbourne, especially, is one where things can happen pretty quick and we also had the sun to contend with towards the end, which made it kind of hard to see everything perfectly. But in the end, we gave our best and were rewarded with the first win of this season.

I'm super happy and unbelievably proud of my team. They did an amazing job today and each and every one of them deserved today's win. I'm also really excited to get such a beautiful trophy, which displays the steering wheel of legendary F1 driver Jack Brabham. It will of course be placed in a very special spot back in the factory in Milton Keynes.

I also got another very special prize – a bottle of port with the picture of last year's winner on it. It's kind of funny to look at it and see Jenson [Button, McLaren] smiling back at me but that also makes me worry about how my picture will look like next year. I just hope they don't use a picture from the last few hours, as I look a bit messy!

Thank you for all for your support and all the best from Down Under!

Source: Red Bull

Alonso: Seb was on another planet

Fernando Alonso is content with his fourth-place finish in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix, saying it's not "such a bad result

Ferrari lacked pace the whole weekend and they were unable to match Red Bull and McLaren on Sunday as Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton claimed the first two places with Renault's Vitaly Petrov third. However, Alonso still managed to finish ahead of Mark Webber and Jenson Button.

"If you just look at the classification, this is not such a bad result; yes we have lost ground to Vettel and Hamilton, although we have done better than Webber and Button," he said.

"Here at Albert Park, it seems that I have a season ticket for fourth place, as it's the third time in four years that I've finished the race in this position. Last year, we came here off the back of the win in Bahrain, which means that the same result then had a very different feel to it.

"Once again today, Vettel seemed to be on another planet, while the others were a bit closer, not to the extent they were on Friday, but at least not as far off as in qualifying yesterday.

" It was almost a repeat of the final race of the 2010 season for Alonso as he found himself stuck behind Petrov. The Spaniard though was quick to point out that it wasn't such a big deal as Petrov is unlikely to challenge for honours.

"Finishing behind [Vitaly] Petrov again like in Abu Dhabi? True, but it's a coincidence and then, at this stage it is more satisfying to have managed to keep Webber behind me, who I reckon will be a more serious rival in the title fight than the Russian."

The new adjustable rear wing and KERS provided two of the major talking points in Australia.

"KERS worked well as did the moveable rear wing, although it did not make the overtaking moves that easy," he said. "At the start there was a bit of confusion: I got away well, but then Button headed for me and I had to go wide to avoid a collision. The strategy was just right and it helped me to make up some places.

"Maybe if I hadn't ended up immediately in traffic, I could have tried to go for two stops but given how things went, we made the best decision. We are in the right zone for us to be able to win a title, but definitely not if we keep finishing third or fourth. We have to improve, we know that, but it's still too early to make any predictions."

Source: ESPNF1

Video: Interview with Sebastian Vettel after a dominant victory in the Australian Grand Prix 2011

Source: FiftyBuckss

Petrov eyes lead role after podium

It will be hard to wipe the smile off Vitaly Petrov's face over the next few days after he claimed an unexpected podium at the Australian Grand Prix

Petrov, derided as a pay book driver during his rookie season, showed up his critics with a faultless drive to finish behind Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton at Albert Park.

His P3 also sees him enter the record books as the first Russian to claim a podium.

"I am happy to be here sitting with these guys [Vettel and Hamilton]," Petrov said at the post-race press conference.

"All weekend was pretty good but after that we didn't know where we are. Coming here we had some new parts and from Friday practice our car looked very strong, and qualifying was not too bad.

"Then we focused on our race, and today did everything perfectly and we must be proud of our place today.

" The 26-year-old Petrov started sixth on the grid but he got off to a superb start and was up to P3 after the first two corners.

"The start was not bad and I tried to attack Fernando and then saw Jenson Button in front, so why brake earlier?" he said.

"I eased the brake and tried to pass both of them which was great.

" What will be pleasing for Petrov is the fact that he beat team-mate Nick Heidfeld, who was installed as Renault leader after Robert Kubica was ruled out for most of the season following a serious rally accident.

When asked if the result shows that he can lead the team, Petrov said: "I think I don't need to answer anything, you can see it also. But yes!"

Source: Planet-F1

Hamilton: Take P2 and be very proud

A "proud" Lewis Hamilton put aside McLaren's pre-season woes to start his 2011 campaign with a well deserved podium finish in the Australian GP

McLaren's form in pre-season testing, where their MP4-26 not only lacked pace but was also one of the least reliable, resulted in the team introducing major upgrades ahead of Melbourne.

One of the main alterations was to their exhaust system, with the team opting to go with a design similar to that used by Red Bull and Ferrari.

The updates immediately showed results with Hamilton taking a solid second-placed finish behind Sebastian Vettel in Sunday's 58-lap race.

"I think we can definitely take this and be very proud of ourselves," said the 2008 World Champ.

"The guys did a great job coming into this weekend. A week or two ago we were not expecting to be anywhere near top five, to come away with second and the car more reliable, I think it is a great achievement for us guys."

But with the car now up to scratch, Hamilton concedes McLaren need to focus on other avenues in which they can improve.

"We were clearly catching Seb (Vettel) earlier in the race. Strategy is one for sure we can work on but we have a good pace and I am looking forward to the next race."

The Brit's chances of catching Vettel were also undone when he damaged the floor of his car riding the kerbs, which resulted in him losing downforce.

"The plank and the part of the floor is massively damaged. I don't know when it happened.

"I was losing quite a lot of downforce with that, so was trying to nurse the car home for points as we need them for later in the year."

Source: Planet-F1

Mature Seb urges team to stay grounded

Sebastian Vettel could be forgiven for getting carried away after starting the 2011 season the way he finished 2010, but the defending Champion is keeping his feet firmly on the ground

The German won three of the last four races last year to claim his maiden title and he started the new season in similar fashion as he led from start to finish, cruising to victory at the season-opening Australian Grand Prix.

However, unlike last year when he was squealing like a little girl over the team radio after every victory, this year his response was cool, calm and collected as he crossed the finish line.

"Thank you boys," he said in the aftermath of Sunday's race. "Fantastic race, really controlled. Thank you very much. Very cool. Excellent car. Excellent stops. We learned a lot from today, keep it in mind.

" To further prove how much he has matured in the space of a few months, Vettel urged his team to stay grounded during the post-race press conference.

"I tried to keep saying to the team that we need to keep our feet on the floor," he said. "We got a lot of points which is very important and we enjoyed ourselves, which is even more important. It is a long year and a lot of things can happen.

"The guys [Lewis Hamilton and Vitaly Petrov] sitting next to me, plus Ferrari is always very strong, Mercedes did not have a great start but they will come back stronger than last year.

"It will be very close but it is important to finish, so big, big compliments to the people back at the factor. The car was quick but also reliable and that is the key. It's the first time I have finished the Australian GP as well so I am very, very happy.

" Although he finished more than 20 seconds ahead of Hamilton, Vettel insists it wasn't as easy as it looked.

"It was not an easy race," said Vettel. "The start was crucial. I had a good getaway but didn't know if it was enough until I saw Lewis and Mark [Webber] battling for position. On the first stint I trying to hold a gap and then at some point you reach a cliff and the tyres see some degradation.

"Lewis caught up and we came in. I could not have done more laps and after my stop it was crucial to get past Jenson, which I could do immediately so that was very, very important. After that the second part of the race I didn't know what was going on behind Lewis and with him dropping off in terms of amount of pressure I could control the situation a bit better.

"There were a lot of things to learn today and we need to have another look at the race."

Source: Planet-F1

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Q&A: Kimi Räikkönen

Kimi Räikkönen is on course for his second world championship points of 2011 after completing day two of Vodafone Rally de Portugal in seventh place overall caught up with the Ice 1 Racing star and discovered why the former Formula One world champion feels more at home in the new-generation Citroen DS3 WRC.

You weren’t so happy with the handling of your car yesterday. What was the problem?
“There were some issues with the ride height of the car. It was driving wrong, not how I liked and it was a bit tricky yesterday. But at least today it has been okay and has done what I wanted it to do.”

Now that you’re happy with your car have you been able to up your pace?
“I’m just driving at my own pace, not taking any risks. I know I can improve [my speed] but I don’t want to do anything stupid.”

It’s your second year in the world championship. What are your main objectives for 2011?
“I am trying to improve all of the time and learn more and more to go fast more often. It’s more or less the same story as last year but of course we have more experience so it’s a bit more easy.”

How different is your Citroen DS3 to the C4 WRC you drove last season?
“It’s not so much different. Okay this is the first time for us on the gravel with this car after we did not go to Mexico. The car is smaller and has a normal gearbox but it doesn’t really change anything overall.”

Are there any aspects of the DS3 you particularly like?
“It’s more like what I did before with the Super 2000 car I drove [in 2009]. The gearshift is in a different place - it’s not the paddleshift - but it’s not a problem. It doesn’t make a lot of difference. When I started the rally in my FIAT it was like this so it is normal.”

What are your thoughts on the Portuguese stages?
“The country is nice but the stages are pretty tricky. It’s one of the most difficult rallies and you have to have really good pace notes. Today has been tricky but the roads are still nice. It’s more slippery today and also more difficult.”

And finally Kimi, how has day two been for you?
“We were behind a car on stage 11 for eight kilometres in the dust. This was not good but it was okay, no big issues today.”

Source: WRC

Video: BBC F1 2011 - 1 Aus - Sebastian Vettel 'couldn't find' Kers button

When asked if he set his pole position time for the Australian Grand Prix without using the Red Bull's Kers system, Sebastian Vettel says no because he "couldn't find the button"

Source: FiftyBuckss

Webber: Mystified by the gap to Sebastian

Mark Webber qualified third on home soil for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne, but he simply could not match his team mate around Albert Park on the day. It is a long race and he is well positioned to challenge for a win at home, where his best result to date is fifth place. The 34 year old spoke at the FIA post qualifying press conference, here are the highlights:

It was seven-one-hundredths-of-a-second between you and Sebastian here last year. It is a lot more than that this year. What went wrong?
Mark Webber: Yeah. Couldn’t do the times today. I was disappointed, obviously, with my performance. Seb put in a very good lap. Obviously, disappointed to get bumped off the front row as well. Tried my best. Mystified to the gap to Seb, to be honest. I will have to go through it and have a look at where I can improve and go from there. So bit frustrating, of course, but credit to the team. The guys have done an incredible job. It is not the best day for me. The bar is high but I would like to have done better today but we still have to reflect on the performance of the team today and what they have done over the winter is a great effort.

Third, not where you hoped to be, but some people are saying that qualifying isn’t quite as important as it used to be, due to the factors introduced to liven up the race. Do you agree?
Mark: Well, today didn’t go to plan for me, obviously. I’m not overly rapt to be third on the grid. Seb did a very very good lap time, so I need to… It’s our first qualifying of the year. We’ve had some reasonable exposure with this car in performance runs, but today’s obviously absolutely serious and everything counted, so we put everything forward. I wasn’t in the fight for pole, clearly, so we need to address that and take it into tomorrow’s race. You have a point, obviously. It’s not like last year in terms of qualifying, how powerful it was, but nevertheless it’s still important, you know. I would rather to be here than eighth or ninth. I think the most important thing out of today is that we can see the potential of the car. It’s the first time that everyone’s got into things. The team have done a phenomenal job, so I’m looking forward to a good race tomorrow, get some good points and we will come away from here having learned a lot, as we already have done today.

How unknown is the race tomorrow? How much are you going into the unknown?
Mark: We got a snapshot on Friday, what we might expect on Sunday; there’s still some questions, for sure but not as many as… We’ve had a reasonable build-up in testing. Seb and I had a smooth run on Friday so the team’s got some good data to lean on, to go into the grand prix tomorrow, and obviously we’ll put everything forward to get the best result for us.

Can you beat Sebastian tomorrow?
Mark: Well, it’s never impossible, but unfortunately I’ve let Lewis onto the front row as well. Obviously I’m not happy with that for the team. It’s a long season, so today you can be disappointed, of course, but we’ll go into tomorrow’s race hoping to get the best result possible and as the boys have already said, it’s a long grand prix, a lot of things can happen.

Were you using the KERS in your car today?
Mark: No.

Would it have made a difference to getting you on the front row if you had been?
Mark: Maybe. We didn’t run it today for reasons we will keep in the team.

Are you surprised by Ferrari’s performance?
Mark: Well, yeah, a little bit but I think today it’s pretty clear that people are still getting used to the tyres and maybe it’s not the right window for some people, so this is moving the lap times around a lot. I think we saw Nick Heidfeld go out very early. Some people are still finding their way. Maybe Ferrari are in that boat.

How hungry are you going into your home grand prix tomorrow?
I think you want to do well at every grand prix, clearly. I think there’s a little bit extra emotion, obviously, as both these guys can relate to: Germany for Seb and UK for Lewis. That’s normal. Any sportsman competing in a big event at home, there’s a fraction more emotion attached to it. It shouldn’t really make you perform better, you’ve got to perform everywhere you go, but also keep in mind that it’s a long season this year. You need to get off to a good start in the championship. I didn’t put myself into the best position today but I’ve had tough Saturdays before and Sunday… it’s a long, long day, so I hope I will see you guys again tomorrow.

Source: YallaF1

Hamilton: I’m thrilled we’re on the right track

Lewis Hamilton defied all predictions to claim second place on the grid for the season opening Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. The 2008 world champion gave a customary gritty display to split the Red Bulls and also fire a warning to rivals that McLaren are never to be written off. A couple of weeks ago predictions of doom and gloom for the Woking squad prevailed, today they have shown themselves as contenders.

Eight-tenths off Sebastian [Vettel] is a lot but after the very poor winter testing you had I bet you couldn’t even dream you’d be sitting on the front row for the first grand prix.
Lewis Hamilton: Absolutely. I’m absolutely thrilled to be up here today. The guys back at the factory have done an unbelievable job. Really a massive step this weekend. The car is feeling fantastic. Of course, we still have a lot of work to do but I think we have really got ourselves on the right track and a great foundation for us to build upon. I know the guys back at the factory will keep going but a big thank you to everyone at home. Keep pushing.

A phenomenal effort by the guys to transform what was a difficult car into a front row car?
Lewis: Absolutely fantastic and superb effort from the guys back at the factory. It was a very brave and tough decision for us to kind of pull back from what we had been developing over the winter test and after the last test to decide ‘okay, we are going to come back in another direction’. I think since I have been here we have never ever done that before but the results from the wind tunnel looked good and the guys worked harder than they have ever pushed before to get the components here and the car feels a huge improvement for us and a great stepping stone for us. A great foundation for us to really push on. I know we have got some good things in the pipeline from this base where we are but, of course, the gap. If he didn’t use KERS, that is another half-a-second so that is 1.3 seconds, which is not normal.

You talked about that margin. Are we going to see that margin eroded and how soon do you think you can do that as, obviously, the pace of development is massive?
Lewis: It is, yeah. We, as a team, have good development rate. I think over the years you have seen us come from quite far back and be able to develop a little bit faster than some others. At least we are in the fight and from there we can score good points, continue to work on our reliability and, of course, closing the gap is going to be very tough. It is a big gap still, but the car feels fantastic so I can’t even imagine what he (Vettel) feels like round the corners.

You were shaking your head when we were talking about KERS. Is that because you didn’t use it or were thinking ‘wow, without it’.
Lewis: No, I used it for half my lap and I ran out towards the end of the lap. I didn’t have any more. No, I had probably, like, 40 per cent still left. That is a little bit of time but nothing which would get me close enough to them. That is a staggering lap time they did, so well done to Sebastian but like I said I’ll catch you up.

One week ago you were saying that you had a car that was far from being a winning car and a week later you come up with a very fast car which could be a winning car, so what happened? I don’t understand.
Lewis: Well, I was never saying that the car was bad, it already felt better than last year’s car. It was just lacking downforce. What downforce enables you to do is brake later, to attack the corners faster, to get on the power earlier so in improving your downforce you improve your minimum speed, so you can improve your kilometres per hour through each corner by ten kilometres. That’s a lot of time, because you carry that all the way down the straights. So we’ve improved the rear end of the car which means that I’m able to attack corners a lot more, massively faster in the higher speed corners and so we’ve basically just fixed an area of the car which was lacking and it clearly shows, this weekend, that by fixing that one part, the rest of the car is working quite well around it. But we still have a lot of work to do, but it’s really due to a fantastic job by the guys back at the factory.

Are you surprised by Ferrari’s performance?
Lewis: Yeah, I think they’ve got a great car. I find these tyres very easy to use, and obviously these guys have found them quite easy to use, but I guess some people down the field have not really been able to switch them on how they would like but this is very early, we’re all learning as we go along. At the end of the testing, it was obvious that they (Red Bull) were the fastest, they were the championship winners the previous year, they were the fastest and won the last race, so clearly, rolling into next year, they were going to be the most competitive, so it was no surprise that they were the quickest this weekend. I would have thought that Ferrari would have been a bit closer to us but I think, again, it’s just the tyres. Maybe if they got the tyres working they would be able to close the gap.

Source: YallaF1

Vettel: Need to keep our feet on the ground

Sebastian Vettel spoke during the FIA press conference after completely dominating qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix at Albert Park in Melbourne, round one of the 2011 Formula 1 World Championship. The world champion thus starts his title defence in fine style, sending a clear signal to his rivals ahead of the first race of the season. It is his 16th pole position of his F1 career.

A totally dominant performance. Half-a-second faster than last year’s pole position and you didn’t even use the KERS button. You must feel on top of the world?
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, I mean it was a bit of a funny winter. A lot of things changed. The cars changed a lot. Winter testing has been busy and we all try and work our way around the tyres, the new Pirelli tyres, but coming here we were all surprised how well they were working on one lap and also what we have seen on Friday with a bit more fuel in the car was quite promising for Sunday, so we will see how we get on. Surely we have done the first step and starting the season that way is like you want to and it is just a good sign for all of us in the team. We have been working very hard to get that new car, the RB7, where it is now, so I think it is mostly down to the people back in the factory plus the people Down Under now preparing the car and making it ready. I think it was a pleasure today, quite fast, and I am very happy with the result. But if you look at the points we have zero points just like everybody else so we will have to see tomorrow.

In the race tomorrow looking after the tyres is going to be crucial. It is a step into the unknown really for all of you on these new tyres. What are you looking for and what are the key indicators going to be for tomorrow’s race.
Sebastian: Well, I think the key is always to finish the race, to see the chequered flag. Last year, half-way through, we had to retire. But I am quite confident. We had a very, very good preparation in the winter. We hardly suffered any reliability issues. The car was reliable from the first minute and obviously not too slow, so things are looking good. But it is a hard race with the new tyres. It is a bit racing into the unknown. We kind of can guess how the tyres will behave, but in the end we have to see how it is and also racing all the others, having probably more than one stop, it will be quite entertaining for us as well. A lot of things that we need to keep an eye on and focus on, so looking forward, but today was the base and couldn’t have been any better.

That margin over the rest of the field. Does it come as a surprise to you?
Sebastian: Yes. I just said it was a long winter and we all tried to find our way with these new tyres, which always wasn’t easy. Coming here, since Friday onwards, we were surprised how good the tyres worked. It should be fine tomorrow. We were a bit afraid after what we have seen, the degradation we have seen in Barcelona, so that’s positive and, car wise as well, we came here with a good feeling but never kind of knew where we would be. Even though the gap now might appear to be very big, it is a long season, a lot of things can happen and today no-one has scored any points. It is a good position to be in, it is the best position, pole position, so I am very happy with that. I think for all the guys who have been working very hard on that car, some were a bit, how can I say, surprised that not a lot of things changed in the car compared to last year but we have proven that things changed and we have done a good step. As I said we need to keep our feet on the ground and see how we get on tomorrow.

You didn’t use KERS? Is that correct and, if so, why not?
Sebastian: We didn’t use it in qualifying, that’s correct.

Sebastian: Not fully charged.

You were particularly good in the third sector. Is that something you have concentrated on?
Sebastian: Well, third sector I think, end of sector two, is just before the high-speed section, 11/12, so after that there is not that many straights anymore. We know that we are probably not the fastest guys on the straights for couple of reasons but in the corners we tend to do not too bad. If you look sector one, sector two there are some straights or more straights and maybe that is the reason. I don‘t think today, even though the result looks for some people quite clear, you know, I think we don’t get over-excited what happened now. We have to keep on working and we want to improve the car. We have things coming up, good things coming up, so let’s see what we can do.

Do you think Melbourne is the best track for your car?
Sebastian: I don’t know. There are a lot of tracks to come, that’s for sure. Last year we were competitive here, the year before as well. We seem to like the place. I like coming here as well, the track is a challenging one, it’s quite rough in some places. It’s a demanding track for the driver and the rhythm is right, so after one lap you feel happy, I would say, not that you don’t feel happy at other tracks but I think here the satisfaction you get is quite good. You feel and you sense the speed around here, so that’s something I enjoy a lot and obviously our car likes it as well. All in all, I think that’s a good match. So far it has been quite good.

Are you surprised by Ferrari’s performance?
Sebastian: Yeah. I think they had a very good run in the winter. Yesterday it was a bit difficult to judge. I thought they’re reasonably competitive and more or less there. I was surprised in qualifying. Q1 I saw that they put on some option tyres already. It was quite tight for Felipe to get through – not tight, but he had one last shot. And then it’s difficult to judge from the inside of the car what was going on, so that’s really all I saw, more or less. After that, you focus more on yourself. In Q1 you have a bit more time to watch TV, I would say. Yeah, I was surprised.

Source: YallaF1

Video: BBC F1 2011 - 1 Aus - Fernando Alonso looking for improvements

Fernando Alonso is already looking to improving his Ferrari for the next race in Sepang after qualifying in fifth for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix

Source: FiftyBuckss

Alonso: We missed something today

Fernando Alonso says he's okay with his P5 in qualifying, however, he's not okay with the 1.44s gap to Sebastian Vettel

Despite many predicting that Ferrari would be at the front in Australia, the Scuderia struggled in Saturday's qualifying.

Alonso could only manage fifth place while his team-mate Felipe Massa fared even worse, qualifying down in eighth place.

"We were not super-competitive today (compared to) practice," Alonso conceded.

"We knew if we took a big risk we may be fourth, if we are safe, we go fifth or sixth, so no need to take risks in the first qualifying of the season."

The Spaniard, though, insists he's "happy" with his grid slot, although the massive 1.44s gap to pole-sitter Vettel is a worry for the Italian marque.

"Position we are happy, distance from pole we are not happy, so we need to look at that overnight. Overall grip was where we lacked.

"We were not so bad yesterday, so we missed something today. I suspect this was not normal pace from us and we will get better and better tomorrow."

Source: Planet-F1

Qualifying: No stopping F1's reigning Champ

There was just no stopping F1's reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel as the German picked up where he left off last season, claiming pole in Australia

Vettel took pole position at Albert Park in a dominant display that left the other teams and his team-mate trailing. McLaren were the best of the rest with a strong performance from Lewis Hamilton who finished P2 ahead of Mark Webber and Jenson Button.

Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa managed P5 and P8 for Ferrari, but Michael Schumacher failed to make Q3 while team-mate Nico Rosberg took P7. Performance of the day came from Vitaly Petrov who put his Renault into P6.

01. Sebastian Vettel, Germany, Red Bull, 1:23.529
2. Lewis Hamilton, Britain, McLaren, 1:24.307
3. Mark Webber, Australia, Red Bull, 1:24.395
4. Jenson Button, Britain, McLaren, 1:24.799
5. Fernando Alonso, Spain, Ferrari, 1:24.974
6. Vitaly Petrov, Russia, Renault, 1:25.247
7. Nico Rosberg, Germany, Mercedes, 1:25.421
8. Felipe Massa, Brazil, Ferrari, 1:25.599
9. Kamui Kobayashi, Japan, Sauber, 1:25.626
10. Sebastien Buemi, Switzerland, Toro Rosso, 1:27.066

Eliminated after second session
11. Michael Schumacher, Germany, Mercedes, 1:25.971
12. Jaime Alguersuari, Spain, Toro Rosso, 1:26.103
13. Sergio Perez, Mexico, Sauber, 1:26.108
14. Paul Di Resta, Britain, Force India, 1:26.739
15. Pastor Maldonado, Venezuela, Williams, 1:26.768
16. Adrian Sutil, Germany, Force India, 1:31.407
17. Rubens Barrichello, Brazil, Williams, no time set

Eliminated after first session
18. Nick Heidfeld, Germany, Renault, 1:27.239
19. Heikki Kovalainen, Finland, Lotus, 1:29.254
20. Jarno Trulli, Italy, Lotus, 1:29.342
21. Timo Glock, Germany, Virgin, 1:29.858
22. Jerome d'Ambrosio, Belgium, Virgin, 1:30.822
23. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Italy, Hispania, 1:32.978
24. Narain Karthikeyan, India, Hispania, 1:34.293

Source: Planet-F1

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pärmäkoski is Vettel's helper and doctor at the same time

Finnish trainer Tommi Pärmäkoski is tuning WDC Sebastian Vettel for the third year just like the German star tunes his own RB7-car. The demands grow year by year because the 23-year old German F1-star might want to drive until he is 40.

Is the trainer's job easier when he works with such a young man instead of lets say a 42-year old man like Vettel's former idol Michael Schumacher?

– I'm sure his youth is an advantage. I can put strain on Sebastian in a different way because a young person recovers much more faster and he can train in a different way. We can do everything more diversely and we don't have to think as much at the relation between recovering and training like the case with a more experienced man would be, Pärmäkoski says.

– In a way youth is an advantage but on the other hand it requires more work because the goal is to drive for a long time. That's why you have to proceed systematically.

Then what does a job as a WDC's physical trainer mean?

– It's a big unity. All the nutrition, food and liquids, rest and strain, all training, what we do and when we do it. I'm like a helper who at times runs with his hair standing up straight from one place to another.

– On the other hand I'm the person who Sebastian works with most closely. I'm sort of his mental support every moment. I'm also in charge of when we fly to the race locations, when we leave them and what we will do in the meantime. It's a big part of mental wellbeing.

Tough season educated even more

Pärmäkoski chews a while on the question if he is in his dream work.

– Of course this is a very interesting job. There are many kinds of sports and different kinds of sportsmen. I'm sure that I have time to experience something else too. At the moment I'm happy that I got a ride with the reigning WDC and got to see from close just how tough his mental state was in such tough places. I don't think many can say that they have watched on a daily basis from close how a championship like this has been won.

– Of course it requires a good car but when you have a good car all the other blocks also have to be in place in order to win.

How different is Vettel now mentally and physically?

– Last season was difficult and it educated him a lot. He had different troubles and different mistakes starting from crashing into his team mate. The championship really didn't come easily. If possible it strenghtens Sebastian mentally even more now that he knows he is good enough to win the championship.

– Physically I think that he is pretty much on the same level. We started training later because first he had to calm down and rest after different championship-festivities. When Bahrain was cancelled we got an extra time of two weeks that again was nothing but training.

Picked up more Finnish

Pärmäkoski and Vettel talk English with each other. Yet they haven't forgotten Finnish.

– He has picked up a few new words again, the trainer smiles.

Pärmäkoski has also cleared up how Vettel was able to ask in Finnish where his invitation to the castle is when he was interviewed right after becoming WDC.

– I asked about it and Sebastian had learned that word from me. Yet it came to his mind because Kimi Räikkönen had told him at one time that if you win the championship then you get an invitation to the castle. Yet it was unbelievable how he remembered it at that exact moment, Pärmäkoski laughs.

Turun Sanomat


Courtesy: Nicole

Sebastian Vettel: Looking forward, not back

After a day of sheep shearing, Sebastian Vettel got down to the rather less serious business of giving us his thoughts on another year of F1

by Matt Youson on Mar 25, 2011

G’day Seb, happy to be back in the paddock?
Yeah. It’s good to see a lot of faces again. Obviously once the winter starts lose connection to some of the people and it’s good to be back. Over the years – and I haven’t been here for a really long time like Michael or Rubens – but still, you know people from other teams and have friendships and it’s good to reconnect with everyone.

Is it different walking in to Albert Park as the F1 World Champion?
To me it’s not a big difference. It’s a very good feeling and it’s something that no one can take away from me, and that feels good. And I think no matter when you look back it will always feel good. But naturally we are built to look forward, so looking backwards isn’t natural, particularly in sports; I think you always tend to look forward to the next race, the next game, the next match.

Surely something must have changed?
Nah, not really! I mean as you know I have a new contract but as for everything else, no. I don’t get preferential treatment in restaurants or anything. Though walking down the streets – not so much here – but back home you get recognised more often but, y’know, it just shows you how many people followed what you did and that makes it special, and makes you very proud. It puts a smile on my face.

Did winning the world championship make signing the new contract an easier decision to take?
Not really; I mean obviously it isn’t something that you decide to sign in one day – at least I didn’t – and it’s not like it’s a one-line contract that you just sign or you don’t; there’s a few pages there to read. I signed because I feel very comfortable with the team and there’s nothing really that I would like to change.

I think we have a common target, we achieved a lot together in the past and we’re all keen on getting that feeling again and racing at the top against the best teams and the best guys out there and seeing that we are competitive. My number one priority is to win races and race at the top of the field. I love driving, don’t get me wrong, but I love to compete and I’m very confident I can do that in the team I’m in now and will be with in the future. That’s why I decided to stay a bit longer.

Looking at this race, Melbourne hasn’t been very kind to you in the past…
I liked the race last year, and I like coming here. As a German, in our country it takes a long time before someone calls you friend, here the whole country is calling me ‘mate’, and it’s nice! And usually we have great weather, though not at the moment, and the track is one I really, really like, and they have a nice trophy. It used to have a kangaroo on it, and I hope it still does because it’s the sort of thing you’re only going to get here.

There’s the serious side of the sport like the racing and the competition and I love that, but I also love racing for the little things like a trophy that’s a little bit different to the ones you get elsewhere. That’s something too.

In terms of the title defence, do you need to come out and dominate from the start?
I think anybody wants to start as well as he can. I think the situation this year is a bit tricky because you really don’t know how competitive everyone is. We’re happy with the work we did in the winter and the car has been working reliably since the first test onwards – but if that’s enough, we don’t know. We only get to know on Saturday or Sunday in the race. I think the new tyres could make things a bit different, but the strongest package of car and driver will be able to win races, so in that respect nothing has changed.

What sort of feeling do you have for the tyres?
Well, they’re black and they’re round…

They are different to last year, the tyre doesn’t last as long as it used to, so it’s a new challenge. The strategies will change, people will stop more often because after between 10 and 20 laps the tyres give up and force you to pit. In Barcelona, where we were testing, that meant something like three or four stops over a race distance. Here it could be a little bit different, but generally it’s impossible to one-stop or two-stop, so it will be three stops or more.

You’ve already mentioned the trophy, would it be disappointing to leave here without it?
Because it’s the start of the season I really can’t answer that question. I really don’t know if we are in a position to win the race. We might know a little bit more after Friday practice, and definitely we’ll know more on Saturday. We have a good feeling but still we need to see how strong we really are. So, I’m quite confident we should be there or there abouts. The masterplan is the same. I don’t have to lie about it, the target is to win, as easy as that. If you come here as champions you want to keep on winning. That’s why we have been working very hard in the winter and y’know, of course we are looking forward to a good weekend, and picking up that trophy with the bloody kangaroo on it…

Source: Red Bull

Videos: Lewis Hamilton feeling 'fit and focused' and McLaren duo upbeat after fast Australian GP practice

McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton are pleased with the progress their team have made ahead of the 2011 season, after the pair set the fastest times in practice sessions for the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne

Source: FiftyBuckss

Jense hopes to end career with McLaren

Jenson Button is ready to see out his Formula One career with McLaren

Button is in the second year of a multi-million pound three-season contract with the Woking-based team, and at present is so happy he believes they will be the last he works with.

Approaching the start of his 12th season overall in Formula One, after spells with Williams, Renault, BAR, Honda and Brawn, the 31-year-old has no intention of hanging up his driving gloves yet.

But as far as Button is concerned, given the enjoyment of working with a team he feels show him the ultimate respect, he can see no reason of driving for another team after McLaren.

"I've a few years that I still want to race in Formula One," said Button.

"I'm sure it will come to a point with me where I'll think 'Right, I don't want to do it any more, I want to do something else'.

"That point isn't yet, and I can't even imagine it happening yet.

"In fact, I can't imagine going somewhere else in Formula One after McLaren. I'm really happy here.

"When I was younger, at the start of my years in Formula One, I never thought I'd drive for McLaren.

"But now I'm here I feel very at home, strangely at home after one season. They've really welcomed me, and there's a good atmosphere."

After experiencing many lows during his career, such as the two wretched years with Renault and the problems he endured at Honda when their car ran towards the back of the grid, Button has been amazed by the honesty he has so far encountered within McLaren.

"When something goes wrong there is no finger-pointing. You talk about it," added Button.

"For instance, (technical director) Paddy (Lowe) will come up to me, and say 'I'm so sorry, this isn't what we want, and what we want you to see either. We're going to get back on track'.

"I'm not talking about this year as such, but there's such a great atmosphere here and they are such positive people.

"They really tell you what is happening. They don't keep you in the dark. They really involve you in everything they do.

"For me that is great. I love being involved in what is happening within a team. It's important to me that I'm not just doing the driving."

Source: Planet-F1

Australian GP - Delayed verdict. The 2011 season gets underway in Melbourne

On the opening day of the Formula 1 World Championship, Ferrari chose to show solidarity with the Japanese people, who have been so seriously affected by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit a fortnight ago. Therefore the two 150° Italia cars carried a phrase in Japanese and the country’s national flag. During today’s three hours of free practice, the Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro drivers completed a total of 102 laps, split between 48 for Fernando Alonso and 54 for Felipe Massa.

Fernando Alonso: “Nothing new yet and what else would you expect? These two free practice sessions have not actually revealed the real relative strengths of the teams: this morning Red Bull went well and in the afternoon it was McLaren’s turn, with us and Mercedes always in the mix, while Williams and Renault also seem competitive. There are so many teams who could be in with a chance of going for the win and therefore it’s obvious that it will be necessary to have a good Saturday, without any mistakes if you want to start from the front row. Today, we concentrated mainly on analysing the behaviour of the Pirelli tyres, which seems a bit different here to what we saw in testing, partly because the track surface has very different characteristics. As far as strategy is concerned, we will need to be very flexible during the race, because at the moment, we know too little about the tyres to be able to say with certainty on which lap it will be best to stop. From what we have seen today, maybe we can do ten laps on one set of tyres, or maybe thirty! I am happy with the way the car is going: at the start there was a bit of understeer and we still are a way off from having perfect grip at the front, but it went better than I was expecting. We wanted to show that Japan was in the thoughts of all of us at Ferrari, which is why we ran with a sticker dedicated to the people of a country that has brought a lot to Formula 1 and where our sport has a great following.”

Felipe Massa: “We tested a lot of things in these two free practice sessions, splitting the work with my team-mate so as to explore different ways to go in terms of preparing for the rest of the weekend. I expected to set a quicker time, especially as the softs were not at their best until the fourth lap. On the hards, on the longest runs, it did not achieve much, as there were also a few drops of rain to complicate the situation. From what we have seen, the soft tyre shows less degradation than we might have expected, but we have to work out if that will still be the case in the race. This track is definitely less hard on tyres than Barcelona for example, where we did so much testing. This year it will be vital to study their behaviour carefully, circuit by circuit. The difference in outright performance between the two types of tyre is very marked. McLaren and Red Bull seem very strong, but there are other cars that can also be on the pace.”