Tuesday, 16 September 2014

2015 F1 Calendar - 20 Races and a return to Mexico!

The 2015 FIA Formula One World Championship calendar is confirmed as follows:

15 March                    Grand Prix of Australia

29 March                    Grand Prix of Malaysia

5 April                        Grand Prix of Bahrain

19 April                      Grand Prix of China

10 May                      Grand Prix of Spain

24 May                      Grand Prix of Monaco

7 June                       Grand Prix of Canada

21 June                     Grand Prix of Austria

5 July                        Grand Prix of Great Britain

19 July                      Grand Prix of Germany

26 July                      Grand Prix of Hungary

23 August                  Grand Prix of Belgium

6 September              Grand Prix of Italy

20 September            Grand Prix of Singapore

27 September            Grand Prix of Japan

11 October                 Grand Prix of Russia (Sochi)

25 October                Grand Prix of USA (Austin)

1 November               Grand Prix of Mexico

15 November             Grand Prix of Brazil

29 November             Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

Pascal Wehrlein becomes MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS reserve driver

The MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team is delighted to announce the appointment of Pascal Wehrlein to the position of reserve driver.

After a successful early career in go-karts, Pascal (19, Sigmaringen, Germany) won the 2011 ADAC Formel Masters before graduating to Formula 3 in 2012. In his maiden season, he secured second place in the F3 Euroseries championship and claimed the title of best rookie.

For 2013, DTM with Mercedes-Benz beckoned and 18-year-old Pascal became the youngest driver in series history, continuing the long-standing Mercedes-Benz tradition of developing young driver talent.

Yesterday at the Lausitzring, he took a commanding debut victory from pole position, leading every lap but one in wet-dry conditions on his way to becoming the youngest race winner in DTM history at just 19 years of age.

In addition to his DTM duties, Pascal has played an integral role in the Formula One team’s race support operations during the 2014 season.

In total, he has completed more than 30 days in the simulator this season, covering over 12,000 km in the virtual F1 W05 Hybrid.

Pascal reached another important milestone in his career development last Thursday 11 September, when he drove a Formula One car for the first time at the Autodromo Internacional Algarve in Portimao.

As part of a Young Driver Evaluation test conducted by the team, Pascal took the wheel of the team’s 2012 challenger, the F1 W03. Running a programme designed to familiarise him with the car, Pascal achieved a total of 500 km on the day, completing 109 laps and impressing the team with his progress and feedback.

Pascal will travel with the team from the Singapore Grand Prix onwards as part of his reserve driver duties.

Pascal Wehrlein:
“I was delighted when I learned that I would be completing a Formula One test for MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS in Portimao. It took me a few laps to get used to the incredible speed, the very hard brakes and the high cornering speeds – it’s in another league compared to the DTM. But I adapted quickly and was able to improve in each of my short and long runs. In total, I drove 500 km and didn’t want to head back into the pits! The test was simply the greatest experience I have had so far in motorsport. There weren’t any nerves, which surprised me – I just felt ready for it. The feedback from the team and from Toto was very encouraging and I think that I did a good job. It certainly helped that I have been working hard in the simulator since February. For me, it is a nice recognition of my efforts that I have been nominated as reserve driver for MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS. For me, it’s a dream come true to have completed this test and now to take on my new role. All my life, I have worked hard to get the opportunity to drive an F1 car. And it was always my goal to do it with Mercedes-Benz.”

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
“We are delighted to officially welcome Pascal to the team after his successful test last week in Portugal. He has worked hard behind the scenes this year in our simulator, playing a very important role in our pre-race preparations. Aside from Nico and Lewis, he is the driver most familiar with all the procedures of our F1 W05 Hybrid and therefore the right choice for the role of reserve driver. He took an important step last week when he drove a Formula One car for the first time – and we were pleased to see him deliver a composed and impressive test, in line with our expectations. This was followed by a fantastic win yesterday at the Lausitzring in the DTM, making the most of conditions where pure driving talent was able to shine. Pascal has a bright future ahead of him and we are excited to have him onboard for what will be an intense conclusion to the Formula One season.”

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Its Official - Di Montezemolo leaves FERRARI

As I predicted here quite a while ago, Di Montezemolo has now left Ferrari - Here is the statement and link to my original article

Just remember - you heard it here first :)

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Teams in 2015

Sunday night in the Monza paddock as the teams were packing away the motor homes for the last time this season a big rumour was gathering storm on twitter regarding the future of some of the teams on the F1 grid.

Adam Parr (ex williams CEO) tweeted

As Adam is a guy with a lot of inside information and many contacts in the paddock I certainly don't doubt him and he must know of some serious financial issues with the current teams.

Clearly Caterham are struggling, they havent got the money to pay the bills and to pay for upgrades, their new team principal Albers has already quit after only 3 races in the hot seat so the post Tony Fernandes future of that team looks very bleak indeed

Marussia also look to be struggling, although if they keep 9th place in the championship they will earn a big payday. Although this might yet not be enough to keep the team a-float, especially if the Chilton cash fails to turn up on time again.

So who could be the third team struggling? Could it be Force India? With Vijay Mallya and Roy Sahara blacklisted in India for various dealings and up on numerous court charges relating to non payments of bills and tax etc, They really could be on the brink.

Could it be Sauber? Sauber had a failed Russian investor last year and have clearly struggled this year with a sub-par car and non impressive drivers. The word in the paddock though is that they do have a buyer / investor in Lawrence Stroll, the Canadian billionaire and 817th richest man in the world who made his fortune in the fashion industry. My sources in the paddock claim this to be a pretty much done deal and a very welcome one it will be too!

This then after some research and chatting to people in the know, leaves Lotus. Lotus are only really still here in F1 thanks to the cash from Venezuela courtesy of Pastor Maldonado. The team is struggling so badly it cannot afford the deposit on the Mercedes engines for next year. There is also mass discontent from staff who haven't been paid and are asking for resolution before the Russian GP or they will not attend. This is pretty serious stuff and one wonders if they will even make the finale in Abu Dhabi let alone the grid in Australia 2015.

So if we lose three teams, are third cars the way to go? Or should F1 do more to encourage new teams? Shouldn't it be easier for a GP2 squad to move up to F1 if they do well - yes they should but this all comes down to the ridiculous costs in F1. As always, if the money was distributed more evenly and a cost cap enforced, it could make F1 quite an attractive business model.

Conspiracy Theories

It seems that a theme is appearing down at Mercedes Benz this season as every time anything happens it's being widely reported as a deliberate act to keep the championship alive or to ensure their favourite driver wins. Of course I'll state now that I categorically do not believe any conspiracy theories bounding around after the fantastic Italian GP in which Hamilton won due in part to a Rosberg error.

However some newspapers have decided to produce a story as fact that Nico deliberately out braked himself to give the lead to Lewis hereby righting his wrong and paying back for the error in judgement at spa. Firstly I wonder how much of this is British newspaper press who wish to crush their own nations sportsmen and women at every opportunity and are trying to point out that Lewis can only win if it's gifted to him, another thought is that they are happy to publish blatant lies to sell news papers (it's not an alien concept is it?) 

I think here the facts speak for themselves. Turn 1 at Monza is one of the toughest braking spots of the year, both Nico and Lewis have had brake issues throughout the year. Therefore a simple mistake here is not unheard of! 

Secondly, would Mercedes ask Rosberg to do such a thing? The punishment if court would be huge as it's 'race fixing' and if the execution of the 'off' was not perfect then the spectators, marshals and drivers lives are all put unnecessarily in danger. Also Mercedes have a very strong ethics code that runs through the company. I would bet that if Mercedes had instructed Nico to let Lewis past then he'd have done it a really obvious way on track so as to make the point that this is a gift. 

Thirdly if Nico was asked to move aside by the team, would he? Would he allow his main championship rival into the lead? The simple answer is no.

So is like to ask where the facts that make up the newspaper stories have come from? Or is this just the absolute fabrication and desperation for a story? As if they have facts, please make them public so that the FIA can investigate a horrendous breach of the rules, if not don't waste our time on ridiculous reporting.

I for one love this sport and hate the ethics of the sports competitors being questioned needlessly, the sport makes a bad enough job at PR itself without needing outside help. All this has marred what was an excellent race in Monza and a much deserved win for Lewis.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Caterham F1 Team statement - Albers leaves after just three races!!

Caterham F1 Team statement
Christian Albers has resigned from his position as CEO for Caterham F1 Team. Manfredi Ravetto is taking over his current duties with immediate effect.
Christijan Albers, Team Principal: “Over the past months I have dedicated all my energy to ensure the takeover of the team would go as smoothly as possible and to achieve the best possible result for our investors, sponsors and all the people involved with Caterham F1 Team. As such I worked tirelessly to reconstruct the team while, at the same time, making technical updates on the car. In doing this we created both a better foundation for the team's future and achieved significant improvements on the speed of the car.
“Due to private reasons and in order to be able to spend more time with my family, I will resign from my position as CEO of Caterham F1 Team. I wish the team all the best in the future.”
Manfredi Ravetto: “Christijan has been an asset to the team since the moment he joined. It’s been a challenging last few months, but we have moved forward together and we want to thank him for his hard work and commitment to the team. We wish him the best for the future.”

Friday, 29 August 2014

Rosberg / Hamilton / Mercedes - What next?

So the dust has settled on the eventful Belgian Grand Prix in which a moment of madness cost Mercedes F1 team 25 points and Lewis Hamilton any chance of scoring points in that event.

It is clear in my mind that Nico did not set out on Sunday with the aim of hitting Lewis, It wasn't pre-mediated or planned. He went for an overtaking opportunity and then refused to back out of an ever closing gap to prove that he wont be spooked by Lewis during wheel to wheel racing. That split second decision caused the accident.

The incident however is in reality no different to what we've seen all through the field, or look back to Hamilton and Massa's famous scrapes in 2011.

The mystifying thing however is why the stewards didn't act. Had it been a Grosjean or Maldonado I think there would have been a drive through penalty for 'causing an avoidable collision'. There should have been some kind of penalty for that because good clean racing is what we're after!

After the on track exploits we had lewis claiming that it was 'on purpose' which appears to be a mis-quote of Nico saying, "I was going for the gap but wasn't going to back and look weak or like I'm a push-over" and Nico has released a statement admitting it wasn't the best day on track and was
an unfortunate incident. Most of the press seem to want to pull these waring fractions together to make headlines telling tales of deliberate cheating etc but it really isnt like that.

This situation requires the team to be strong, sit both drivers down and have a very serious word. We've been applauding the team all year for letting the drivers race and giving us a show, long may it continue but the golden rule has to be, dont hit your team mate. No real punishments need to be given and certainly some of the ideas being banded around some of the other 'more connected' F1 news sites are utter rubbish. Mercedes are not going to punish Nico for racing, they'll tell him its unacceptable and at worst give him a small fine for losing the team points that day.

You can't help but feel that with Toto Wolff doing his best angry terminator impression on Sunday that the team is really missing the strong leader it had in Ross Brawn, someone with a real authority. Could Mercedes be in the situation where too many chiefs make the situation so muddy that no one really knows who the boss is. Could this indecision / failure to work cohesively in the end cost the team the drivers title? Because Red Bull are improving and Daniel Ricciardo can win this title with a bonus double points win in the last race... That would be a disaster for Brackley.. And Stuttgart