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Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Kovalainen, Ricciardo, and Vergne await 2013 confirmation

Just as an addendum to today's announcement by Sauber regrading Nico Hulkenberg I see from ESPN and Autosport that Toro Rosso and Caterham have yet to confirm Heikki Kovalainen, Daniel Ricciardo and Jean Eric Vergne for 2013.

Heikki is quoted as telling Autosport that:
"At the moment there is no movement, I'm waiting on what Tony wants to do. He has different options and has to decide what route he wants to take with drivers. The fact is, I don't bring money and I get paid. Whether that's the deciding factor or not, I don't know.
We still have a good relationship. I've been with him for a long time already and I trust him 100 per cent. But at the same time, I need to keep my eyes open in case he wants to go the other way"
I don't think I have to say it, do I? Remember Jarno! He too was being paid.  I think it's very important for Heikki to keep his "eyes open".  Disregarding my remark in the earlier story, about how Williams would probably take on another paying driver, the gamble of taking Heikki on to guarantee them points in a good car might well offset the short term loss of income derived from a sponsored driver.  The only downside from Williams perspective is that they would be likely to lose Bottas, who is being touted by all and sundry as the next great driver, should he not get the second seat in 2013.

Almost in the same breath ESPN talk to Daniel Ricciardo about his lack of any news on the 2013 seats at Toro Rosso.  He is quoted as saying that neither he nor Jean Eric are sure of the future:
"Nothing's been signed on paper but we've been involved with some brief discussions on next year and what [technical director] James [Key] is hoping to achieve and what the team is looking for. So I guess being involved with these discussions is a positive and to be honest I think we definitely deserve another season".
Ahh! the positivity and naivety of youth.  I'm sure Sebastian Buemi and Jaime Alguersuari were in the exact same boat last year.

Red Bull has come under a lot of criticism from the F1 fraternity of ex-drivers, team owners, etc. 
for its approach to its young driver's programme, being accused of pushing them too fast and then dumping them even faster when they don't deliver.  The criticism appears to labour under the impression that Red Bull seem to want each of their new guys to deliver a la Sebastian Vettel.  I don't know the truth of that criticism or otherwise. 

Surprise! Surprise! Sauber hire Nico Hulkenberg for 2013

Finally, the worst kept secret (other than Lewis to Mercedes) in Formula 1 has been made public.  In 2013 Nico Hulkenberg will drive for the Sauber team.

No doubt his long time sponsors, Dekra, are bringing funds to the team along with Alpinestars, Katjes, and Rheinwaal. If I remember correctly, his Williams deal was rumoured to be worth about £10 million to the team.

The second driver has yet to be announced, but is likely to be another sponsored driver since Kamui Kobayashi, after his brilliant drive in Suzuka, made public his desperate need to attract sponsors in order to keep his seat next year.

Money currently up for grabs include Esteban Gutierrez, another Mexican Driver sponsored by Carlos Slim Jr., Adrian Sutil, whose march back to F1 from the wilderness would bring another rumoured £10 Million to a team, Robin Frijns, who is backed to the tune of we don't know how much, by Frijns Industrial Group, and Bruno Senna, worth about £12 million, should he lose his seat at Williams.

Of course Williams are top of the paying driver heap with Pastor Maldonado who, I recently read, brings a reported £45 million by way of the Venezuelan State Oil Company PDVSA.

The figures are astounding but, given the Williams drivers' failure to capitalise on the potential of this year's car, I would expect that Williams will have to plump for another paying driver who can offset the £7 million that has been lost by way of Constructor's Championship placement.

Nico Hulkenberg is currently driving for Sahara Force India and his best Formula One race result this season was at the Belgian Grand Prix, where he finished fourth on the challenging Spa-Francochamps circuit.
Team Principal, Monisha Kaltenborn said on the announcement that:
We’ve been observing Nico for some time now and his performances have been very persuasive. That was the case in GP2 and has continued into Formula One. An obvious highlight was how he scored pole at Interlagos in 2010 despite the most challenging external conditions. He clearly showed that he can seize the chance if it arises. But high spots like that are one thing; systematic teamwork is another – and on that score I have confidence in Nico too. I’m sure he will fit in very well with the Sauber F1 Team. We look forward to working together with him.

Nico Hülkenberg is quoted as saying:
 “I’m really looking forward to working with the Sauber F1 Team. It’s a well-placed team and very competitive. Plus it’s a team in which young drivers have repeatedly delivered exceptional performances. I would like to take up that baton. The Sauber F1 Team is currently going through a very positive development and I’m certain that together we can achieve a lot. Until that time I will remain fully focused on my job with the Sahara Force India Team. I’d like to thank the management at Sahara Force India for giving me the chance to return to Formula One as a team driver.”
Another seat is finally sown up for 2013.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

HRT Abu Dhabi Preview


Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Preview

2nd-4th November
Yas Marina Circuit – 55 laps – 5.554 km

Abu Dhabi, Tuesday the 30th of October 2012

With the Indian Grand Prix just finished, the teams head west for the third to last race of the season in Abu Dhabi. Narain Karthikeyan will race for the first time at the Yas Marina Circuit after completing a solid race at his home Grand Prix. On his behalf, Pedro de la Rosa returns to a circuit where he drove at in his Pirelli test driver days and where he hopes to have the same good sensations as in India but overcome the problems that forced him to retire last Sunday. Ma Qing Hua will step into the F112 for the third time in Friday’s first free practice session, replacing Narain Karthikeyan.

The Yas Marina is an anti-clockwise circuit and, like many of Hermann Tilke’s constructions, it combines high-speed straights with tight corners. The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is a spectacular event, not only because of the magnificent facilities and its location but because it’s the only race that starts in daylight and finished at night time.

Pirelli has elected its medium and soft tyres for this race.

Pedro de la Rosa: "The Yas Marina is a circuit where braking, maximum speed and grip are essential and it’s very smooth so you can be aggressive with the height and bring out a very low car. I know the track from when I tested with Pirelli, although I’ve never taken part in the Grand Prix, and it’s a very nice circuit and even more so at night time. Our car should adapt quite well, especially in the first sector which is made up of straights and braking areas. It will be another tough challenge for our brakes so it’s very important to understand what happened in India, fix it and try to finish the race”.

Narain Karthikeyan: "I’ve never been to Abu Dhabi; it will be my first time racing there and I hope to adapt well to do the best job possible. The circuit looks fantastic and there will also be a lot of Indian fans spurring me on which is always helpful. After finishing the Indian Grand Prix in front of my home crowd I’m determined to complete another good weekend in Abu Dhabi”.

Ma Qing Hua: ""I'm delighted to have another chance to drive again during a Grand Prix weekend with HRT F1 Team. After my two Friday outings in Monza and Singapore, I've continued to work hard both physically and mentally to be well prepared for opportunities like this one. Apart from the gym and the simulator, I've spent a lot of time going karting as its one of the best ways to train, keep fit and stay focused. To be able to continue gaining experience in a Formula 1 car and adding more miles to my tally is essential for me right now and I want to thank the team for making it happen. I'm getting to know the car and the engineers more each time and this makes me more confident every time I step in the car. My target now is to keep on progressing and learning from the team. I'm really looking forward to getting back out on track and it will be interesting to drive at a circuit like Abu Dhabi where I hav e never been before."

Luis Pérez-Sala, Team Principal: "The Yas Marina is a circuit I like with fantastic facilities and the race and everything surrounding it is spectacular. The target will be to finish with both cars after having not done in the last few races. I hope we have a good performance and that the problem we suffered with the brakes in India doesn’t reoccur in Abu Dhabi. Ma has been training and I’m happy to be giving him another opportunity to step into the car at a circuit he’ll enjoy and that will help him to continue progressing and accumulating experience”.

Pirelli on Abu Dhabi GP tyre issues

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix from a tyre point of view:
Abu Dhabi, 2-4 November 2012


Milan, October 29, 2012 – The P Zero White medium tyre and the P Zero Yellow soft tyre have been nominated for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend, which follows straight off the back of the Indian Grand Prix. Abu Dhabi marks the final time that the soft tyre will be seen in competition this year, during which it has proved itself to be Pirelli’s most versatile compound, appearing in 15 of the 20 grands prix on the calendar.

Abu Dhabi marks a perfect send off that plays to its attributes: the surface is fast and smooth and there is a wide variety of speeds and corners, in keeping with the design philosophy of the circuit, which was to incorporate many of the best features and layouts of other existing tracks.

Nonetheless, Yas Marina successfully comes together as a cohesive whole, where tyre wear is low and the drivers can push hard from start to finish. With plenty of test data from Abu Dhabi – including from the now-traditional young driver test, which will take place once more straight after the grand prix with six teams this year – the teams have plenty of prior knowledge and data from this spectacular circuit.

Yas Marina places specific demands on the tyres. The first part of the lap consists of a flowing sequence of corners, where the car is subjected to lateral forces of 4g, before there is a long straight where the cars remain on full throttle for around 15 seconds and the tyres are subjected to a downforce loading in the region of 800 kilogrammes. In turn 11 the tyres experience up to 5g under braking, while throughout the final sequence of corners the tyre tread is progressively heated up, reaching a peak temperature of approximately 120 degrees centigrade.

A peculiarity of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix is that it starts in the afternoon and continues until dusk, meaning that ambient and track temperatures tend to fall, rather than rise as the race goes on – and this has an important effect on tyre strategy.

Pirelli’s motorsport director says:

Paul Hembery: “We will always have very fond memories of the Abu Dhabi circuit because it is where our adventure in Formula One really started: back in 2010, the teams sampled our tyres there for the very first time at the official end of season test following the grand prix. That was a very special test, as we were brand new and the teams needed to understand our tyres. We’ve returned to test in Abu Dhabi a few times since, and we actually launched our 2012 programme to the international media there as well at the beginning of this year. The reason why we’ve often chosen Abu Dhabi for our testing and for other functions is because it has a bit of everything, which enables each aspect of a tyre’s performance to be thoroughly assessed, and because the track itself features some very modern, state-of-the-art facilities. We know that the combination of the medium and the soft tyre works extremely well here, and with the teams also having plenty of data about the circuit characteristics, they should be in a strong position to construct some race strategies that will make a real difference to the outcome of the weekend. With the championship so closely balanced now, having the right strategy could quite literally decide the title. Qualifying is also really important in Abu Dhabi, so we are expecting to see some strong efforts throughout the three qualifying sessions on Saturday.”

The men behind the steering wheel say:

Vitaly Petrov (Caterham F1 Team): “Abu Dhabi’s a great place to race: there’s always good support from Russian fans who make the trip there and I’ve enjoyed the challenge of racing on a track that has a bit of everything – the flat out section in the first sector, the tighter corners heading towards the hotel and what is almost a street circuit layout as we go around the hotel and back towards the start-finish straight. It’s also cool racing on a track where we start in the afternoon but finish with the sun down. For the fans it’s a great place to watch F1 and what I’ve seen on TV looks great, particularly around the hotel. Technically one of the main challenges is to get the braking right. We spend a lot of time working on braking stability and when you’re on track you can make up, and lose, a lot of time if you don’t attack the braking zones – but the added challenge with that is managing the tyres. We’ll have the medium and soft compounds for the race and with track evolution as high as it is over the weekend you need to make sure you look after the tyres as much as possible so you can get the most out of every set in each session. Overall it’s a race I’m looking forward to and hopefully we can make a bit more progress there and put on a good show for everyone watching.”

Pirelli’s test driver says:

Lucas di Grassi: ““Abu Dhabi is one of those races that is as much of a challenge for the engineers as it is for the drivers. It’s all about car balance and getting that right: the driver doesn’t make as much of a difference as he can do in places like Spa and Suzuka, for instance. In terms of infrastructure, Abu Dhabi for me is the best circuit in the world: it’s a great place for people to watch Formula One cars, with a little bit of everything and a spectacular setting. Tyre wear is not such a big issue in Abu Dhabi – good traction is the most important consideration – but the work done in free practice will be even more important than usual, as it will be vital for the teams to find a good balance on both compounds. The difference in speed between them should be quite small if the car set-up is right. With the championship coming to a close, everyone will be trying to find the last tiny advantage, so from a technical and strategy point of view it will be very interesting. With reasonably high ambient temperatures tyre warm-up should not be a problem, even with the harder compound. I would expect most teams to go with two pit stops, but some drivers might try stopping just once.”

Technical tyre notes:
Abu Dhabi, like many circuits, requires a medium-downforce set-up to guarantee good straight-line speed down the long main straight, which is more than one kilometre, but also enough downforce to provide enough braking stability and aerodynamic grip through the corners.
There are comparatively few high-speed changes of direction, so in order to help traction, one of the key demands that the tyres face on the Yas Marina circuit, the engineers tend to set up their cars with a comparatively soft rear end. At the start of the weekend the dust on the track surface can cause graining, and there is quite a high degree of track evolution.
Abu Dhabi is located at sea level, ensuring a high ambient air pressure. This benefits engine power, which increases further as temperatures fall towards the end of the race. This too has a significant effect on tyre wear and strategy.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Red Bull lock out the front row in India

Vettel took pole and Webber second to ensure the best possible position for Red Bull going into the Indian Grand Prix tomorrow at the Buddh Circuit.

McLaren locked out the second row, Hamilton beating Button, with the two Ferrari's taking 5th and 6th Alonso shading it over a constantly improving Massa.

Kimi is a row back alongside Perez while Maldonado and Rosberg complete the top ten.

Rosberg didn't bother putting in an appearance in Q3, no doubt saving his soft option Pirelli's for the race.

All the teams, other than the RB and McLaren, seem to have had problems getting the cars to work on the track.

Neither of the Force India's managed to get through to Q3 at their home Grand Prix.

Petrov outqualified Kovalainen again this weekend - the slump in Heikki's form would appear to coincide with the quashing of rumours linking him with a move up the grid and the increasing reliance of the midfield teams on paying drivers.  Rumours linking Senna to the Caterham seat just won't go away. A prediction of mine made in an article written for PureF1.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Susie Wolff already chosen as 2013 Williams Test Driver?

Perhaps the Herald Scotland knows more than the rest of us.  I spotted a link to this story on twitter yesterday, (sorry to the tweeter, probably GPD who has an eye for these stories, but I can't remember who it was) and was astounded as the very concept of it would currently appear to be without merit.

None of the F1 Journalists or other F1 heads out there have signalled any knowledge of it either.

The paper begins with the following quote:
The 29-year-old from Oban, who has been involved in motor sport since she used to beat the boys as a teenager growing up in the west of Scotland, took the wheel of an F1 vehicle for the first time last Wednesday at Silverstone, and Herald Sport understands she impressed her employers enough to gain elevation to what is effectively the third seat at Williams, behind their principal drivers, Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna.
They're saying that Bottas is out and Maldonado and Senna are both confirmed as next years driver pairing.

I simply cannot believe it.  Susie has driven an F1 car once in her life, last week and while she may have done all right (I haven't come across any lap-times) it's highly unlikely she's anywhere near the pace required to keep a third seat warm next season.

I know Toto Wolff is her husband but this would provide an entirely new definition of Nepotism

Nepotism Demotivator

Am I wrong or is the silly season just getting a bit sillier race by race?

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

HRT F1 on Indian GP

Indian Grand Prix Preview

26th-28th of October
Buddh International Circuit – 60 laps – 5.125 km

Madrid, Friday the 19th of October 2012

After two consecutive races in Japan and South Korea, the calendar offers a bit of respite and an opportunity to recharge batteries before another two weeks of continuous racing in Asia which gets underway with the Indian Grand Prix from the 26th to the 28th of October. It will be the second time that Formula 1 visits India, after a successful first edition in 2011 where Narain Karthikeyan made history by being the only local driver to take part in the first Indian Grand Prix. It will be a very special occasion once more for HRT Formula 1 Team and, in particular, for local hero Narain Karthikeyan, who will also be of great help to his teammate Pedro de la Rosa, who has never raced at the spectacular circuit.

The Buddh International Circuit is made up of two long straights and a variety of corners which are demanding for driver and car alike. The track goes up and down with downhill gradients of 8% and uphill ones of 10% and the track has a width of up to 20 metres in some areas that make for various overtaking opportunities.

Pirelli has elected its hard and soft tyres for this Grand Prix.

Pedro de la Rosa: "Just like Korea this will be a new circuit for me and all I know of it is from the work I did on the simulator last year. From what I know it’s an interesting circuit with a lot of medium and fast corners where we will have two DRS zones. It will be interesting to see how the asphalt has evolved from one year to another because last year it was brand new and quite dirty. I must admit that, overall, it’s a circuit that I like the look of. We hope to have solved the reliability issues which we suffered in Korea and complete another good race here”.

Narain Karthikeyan: "Obviously this is the most anticipated race on the calendar for me and there is already a great buzz around the event. The layout of the Buddh International Circuit is a great mix which makes it challenging for the tyres as there are very few conventional straight-forward corners but since the surface isn’t abrasive at all, wear shouldn’t be an issue. I’ve got great memories from last year’s Grand Prix as I had a great weekend; the car was good and we were quick. I hope this year things go even better and I can dedicate it to the fans who are showing me so much support. I can’t wait to get out on track!”.

Luis Pérez-Sala, Team Principal: "Personally I’ve never been to the Buddh International Circuit but I’m eager to see it because I’ve heard great things about it, being a very complete track. We’re looking forward to it because of Narain, who will have all the fans backing him throughout the weekend. It’s a very special Grand Prix for him and we hope to put in a good performance and for him to complete a good race like last year. Pedro has never driven there and will have to adapt first but he’ll definitely lean on Narain’s experience from last year. Our target is to have good reliability and finish the race with both cars and improve the performance from Korea to reach the level we were at in Japan”.

Pirelli on Indian GP, Impact of Tyres

The Indian Grand Prix from a tyre point of view:
Delhi, 26-28 October 2012

                                P ZERO SILVER AND P ZERO YELLOW FOR THE HEAT OF INDIA
What’s the story?
Milan, October 22, 2012 – Formula One comes to India for only the second time this weekend, and just like last year Pirelli will bring the P Zero Silver hard and P Zero Yellow soft tyres. However, these compounds are softer compared to their equivalents last year, and with a better knowledge of the Buddh circuit plus some real data, Pirelli can afford to be less conservative this time – which should lead to even closer racing.
Compared to the last grand prix in Korea, where Pirelli brought its two softest compounds, India places heavy demands on the tyres. This is due to a number of factors, starting off with the high ambient temperatures in excess of 30 degrees centigrade. The track layout also takes in several fast corners that put plenty of lateral energy through the tyres: in particular the banked turn 10, which is similar to the famous turn 8 in Turkey. The front-left tyre is subjected to an acceleration of 4g on the exit of the corner, where maximum grip is required to hold the racing line, but the tyres are actually under full lateral load for six seconds during the corner, which increases wear.
At the beginning of the lap in particular, there are some notable elevation changes that exert vertical forces on the tyres as well, combined with a braking force of 3.6g into turn 4. The main straight, which is more than a kilometre long, is one of the longest of the year: while tyre tread temperature peaks at over 100 degrees centigrade during the course of the lap, it tends to cool down considerably by the end of the straight.
As the circuit is not used extensively during the course of the year, a high degree of track evolution is expected over the weekend. A dirty track causes excessive wheelspin as the cars struggle for grip: this also increases tyre wear. Generally though, the surface of the Buddh circuit is quite smooth, which means that degradation is contained.
Pirelli’s motorsport director says:
Paul Hembery: “There was an amazing atmosphere and an extremely warm welcome at the Indian Grand Prix for us last year, so we’re all looking forward to going back. This year we know a little more about the track so we’ve made a less conservative choice, with the hard and the soft tyres striking exactly the right balance between performance and durability. The circuit layout is one of the toughest that our tyres will face throughout the second half of the season and it’s also the last time that we will see the hard and soft combination this year, which was previously used in Barcelona, Britain and Japan – which gives you some idea about the demands of this circuit. The Buddh circuit has been specifically designed to encourage overtaking, which is also one of the objectives behind the design philosophy of our tyres, so we should be set for an action-packed race at a crucial point in the championship.”
The men behind the steering wheel say:
Narain Karthikeyan (HRT): “Last year the tyre choice was understandably a bit conservative, but with all compounds slightly softer for 2012 and the track in fantastic shape, it may be a different story this time. The layout is a great mix, which makes it challenging for the tyres as there are very few conventional corners, barring turn 1 and maybe the final corner. The first gear exit at turn 3 punishes the rears if you are impatient with the throttle. At turns 5-6 you are turning and scrubbing off a lot of speed simultaneously so it’s easy to test the limits of the track at the exit. There are a couple of fifth gear direction changes as well, with the esses of turns 8-9 and 13-14 negotiated at well over 200kph. Finally there’s the seemingly unending turn 10, where you have steering lock on for over six seconds while the minimum corner speed is just under 200kph, putting tremendous energy into the front-left. So overall, it’s a fairly busy lap but since the surface isn’t abrasive, wear shouldn’t be issue. We’ll have to wait until the Friday sessions to find out what we can expect in long runs with both compounds. The goal would be to see how the softs perform on high fuel. Obviously this is the most anticipated race on the calendar for me, there is already a great buzz around the event considering that the championship is still wide open and I hope all drivers and F1 personnel relish the Indian experience.” 
Pirelli’s test driver says:
Jaime Alguersuari: “I think that the layout of the Buddh circuit is one of the best in Formula One, and it also happens to be one of the toughest on the tyres. I’ve got good memories of the track personally too: last year I finished eighth after a good qualifying as well. You get this interesting combination of low, medium and high speed corners, as well as long straights. A lot of the corners are quite unusual: for example we have a chicane right at the end of the lap that we take in fifth gear, which doesn’t happen very often! What puts the biggest stress on the tyres in India is the fact that many of the corners are very long, so there is a sustained lateral load with some fast changes of direction as well. You need all the grip you can get and there is a risk of graining as well if you do not manage the tyres properly. The hard and the soft tyres are a very good choice here – the hard will be perfect to race on – and I think that a one-stop strategy could be possible if you look after the tyres in the correct way.”
Technical tyre notes:
  • There was a performance gap of up to two seconds per lap between the two nominated compounds last year, but this year the gap should be a lot smaller, allowing the majority of the front-runners to get through Q1 on the hard tyre.
  • The asphalt of the Buddh international circuit was brand new last year, but one year on the characteristics of the surface may have evolved. A new circuit gradually releases oils from within the asphalt, which forms a slippery layer on the track surface. Over time however this film gradually disappears, giving it more grip and making it more abrasive.
  • The pit lane in India is one of the longest in Formula One at around 600 metres. This leads to a relatively significant time loss when changing tyres, which is an important factor when considering the race strategy.

Williams Previews Buddh circuit

When: Friday 26 to Sunday 28 October, 2012
Where: New Delhi, India
Round: 17 of 20
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: On the back of a disappointing result in Korea the team have worked extremely hard to address the balance inconsistencies that affected both cars.  We believe that we have found a solution and look forward to testing and optimising around the updated car. The weather forecast in Delhi is good with predicted dry running throughout the weekend in reasonably high track temperatures and, as ever, the aim is to keep both the Pirelli hard and soft tyres within their optimal working window throughout the weekend.
Pastor Maldonado: India is enjoyable because it’s so different and the track is one of my favourites. It’s still a new track but it has a good combination of medium and high speed corners, chicanes and good changes in direction. Coming to the final few races, making the most of our cars potential is going to be important, so hopefully we can score points here and put ourselves in a strong position for the final three races.
Bruno Senna: I’m looking forward to this weekend because India has a different atmosphere to many other Grand Prix and it’s always a unique place to visit. As a new track the surface is very smooth and the layout is fast and flows well with some high speed corners which will suit our car. We should therefore be looking to improve on our performance in Korea.
Rémi Taffin, Head of Renault Sport F1 Track Operations: The first part of the track is mainly composed of straights, including an awesome 1.12km straight, the longest on the calendar. Unusually this straight dips in the middle. The second part of the track is a lot more intricate, with all the corners linking together, so driveability will be very important. The challenge will be getting the right balance between the responsiveness needed for the off-camber turns, such as the chicane at turns 13 and 14, and longer corners such as the radial turn 10, which need a steady application of power. At the start of the weekend dirt on the racing line and pollution within the atmosphere can have a detrimental effect on air filter performance, so this will need careful monitoring during P1 and P2.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli Motorsport Director: For the Indian Grand Prix, we’ve nominated the P Zero Silver hard tyres and P Zero Yellow soft tyres, as we did in 2011. Along with everybody else though, this time we benefit from much greater knowledge of the track and the conditions so we can afford to be a little less conservative. It’s quite a demanding circuit for the tyres due to high ambient temperatures, some fast corners and notable elevation changes, as well as a long straight. All these factors contribute to putting plenty of energy through the rubber. We are also expecting to see a considerable degree of track evolution over the course of the weekend. Generally speaking, our tyre compounds are softer this year but we should still definitely see a performance gap between the two nominations selected for India, which will open up a number of different opportunities for strategy. Coupled with the wide and open track layout, this means that there is plenty of potential for overtaking as well.

Renault preview Indian GP


(All images courtesy of Renault Sport F1)

Preview to the Indian GP

The FIA Formula One World Championship enters its final furlong this weekend with the penultimate double header of the season. First in the back to back weekends will be the Indian Grand Prix, held at the Buddh International Circuit in the Greater Noida suburb on the outskirts of the Indian capital, New Delhi.

The event made its first world championship appearance last year to great acclaim. The 5.125km track was designed by Hermann Tilke and features a multitude of different corners, cambered turns, long straights, gradient changes and challenging conditions to test drivers and engineers alike.

The Renault-powered Red Bull Racing of Sebastian Vettel won the inaugural race last year.

Indian Grand Prix facts and figures
The track follows the contours of the gently undulating countryside. Over the course of a lap the track rises and descends in gradient, notably the first corner that falls steeply downhill before climbing back up again towards turn three.
The Buddh circuit features three long straights; the pit straight, the long run between turns three and four and the shorter spurt from there down to turn five. The power sensitivity is therefore slightly higher than average, with approximately 65% of a Qualifying lap spent at full throttle. The longest straight is 1.2km, with the engine running at wide open throttle for 14s as the car negotiates the dips and crests that characterise this circuit.
As per usual, seventh gear selection will be governed by the longest straight, as well as the compromise between qualifying and race DRS usage. With the start-finish and main straight running opposite directions, any change in wind direction will at least be partially offset by the corresponding benefit along the other straight. Turns one and four are both possible overtaking opportunities.
The second part of the track is much twistier, shifting the emphasis from outright power to engine drivability. Turns 10 and 11, a radial turn with a profile similar to the Spoon Curve in Japan, is one of the most challenging. The drivers ‘play’ with the pedal over a relatively prolonged period as they attempt to find the limit of the car. This sustained period of lateral G will also test the engine’s oil and fuel systems to their limits.
The dust kicked up from the sandy fields around the circuit creates a very hazy atmosphere and small particles may be ingested into the engine. The robust air filter based on desert rallying will help preclude any blockages, but the filters will be thoroughly checked between sessions and replaced where necessary to avoid any power loss.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing
I have good memories of India from last year. It is a great track that challenges every element of the car and driver. The first half of the circuit is a little like Korea with long straights and a lot of time spent at full throttle. You need the engine to be strong at the top end in this part. Then after turn 5 the track becomes a lot twistier. There are some different speed corners, which go off camber at times, and this is where you need the engine to be very smooth so you can get the right lines. We know that this will play to the strengths of the Renault engines so let’s see how we go this weekend.

Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations

The Buddh International Circuit is an interesting circuit, with a variety of corners and speeds throughout the lap. Like Korea, the first part of the circuit is mainly long straights linked by low speed corners, so we work to deliver good top end power and acceleration but also rear stability under braking. Additionally, the circuit is very slippery with the dust, and any additional grip will be reflected in the lap time.

There are several long, radial turns, such as the turn 10 and 11 complex, where delivering sustained torque in the medium rev range is required. Balancing out the need for high top end power with the requirements for good medium and low speed driveability adds to the challenge, but with one year of running at the track we now have a lot of data available to fully optimise the engine for the circuit before arriving.
This year, with the championship in a crucial stage, getting all elements of the package on point will be crucial, so any extra advantage will be rewarded. No pressure...!

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Caterham previews Indian GP

Caterham F1

Indian Grand PrixView
Race Laps: 60
Lateral and longitudinal forces are equally distributed throughout the lap
Track dirty every day
High temperatures with no rain expected during the weekend
In 2011 the prime tyres were hard and options were soft

2011 Weather

Air/Track temp ( C): 30 / 37
Pitlane altitude (m): 213
ATM Press (HPA): 990
Hum (%): 20
Wind (kph): SE2
2011 Timing
P1: VET (1:24.178 Q3)
P2: HAM (1:24.474 Q3)
P3: WEB (1:24.508 Q3)
CF1T best: P19 KOV (1:28.565 Q1)
P1: VET (1:27.249 L60)
P2: BUT (1:27.967 L60)
P3: ALO (1:27.953 L58)
CF1T best: P14 KOV (1:30.294 L58)
Circuit Particularity
Bumpiness: low
Overtaking chance: medium
Kerbs: low
Ride height setting particularity: none
Engine severity: medium / high
Gearbox severity: medium / high
Lat/Long grip: lateral
Aero eff ratio: medium
Safety car history: 2011 – none
Track grip evo during w/e: very high
Aero settings: high
Brake wear severity: high
Brake cooling necessity: low
Driver Quotes
Giedo van der Garde (driving FP1 in Heikki Kovalainen’s car): “With each session I’m doing I’m getting more comfortable with the car and the team and the feedback I’m getting from the engineers is good, so India’s another chance to build on that. It’s another new track for me but one that looks cool on my simulator, and the other drivers have told me it’s better than quite a few of the stop / start type of tracks so I’m looking forward to getting back out on track.
“I’m also really looking forward to going to India. I’ve never been before and I’ve always wanted to go to India, plus I’m a big fan of spicy food so it’ll be a chance to have a completely new experience, on and off track.”
Heikki Kovalainen, car 20, chassis CT01-#03: “It’s our second time racing in India and I’m excited about getting back there. Last year I think we were all impressed with what they did with the circuit – the layout was really good, an interesting mix of elevation changes and different types of corners, not what we’ve seen at a lot of the newer circuits so one I think we all enjoyed.
“Performance-wise I think we’re all realistic about what we can do in India, but that doesn’t mean we’re not working as hard as we can to keep progressing. The guys behind us are putting up a good fight and, while we have clear air between us on track, we need to make sure we keep that gap, and, where possible, take advantage of anything that happens ahead.”
Vitaly Petrov, car 21, chassis CT01-#02: “The Indian track is one of the good ones. It’s pretty smooth, nice and wide, so you can take different lines into some of the corners, and it has a couple of really good corners like the double left turns five and six which you come into quickly, and then braking for the chicane through seven, eight and nine. The track surface itself is pretty similar to Korea. It will evolve a lot over the weekend and you’ll see times coming down as the grip levels improve but, as with the whole year, managing the tyres is going to be really important. In Korea we didn’t have as much track time in the practice sessions as we’d have liked, so one of the main objectives will be making sure we get as many laps done as possible so we go into Sunday knowing as much as we can about the tyre behaviour over a race distance.”

Would McLaren buy Cosworth?

I stress that this is not a news story sourced from insiders but has been put in my head by one of the visitors to the blog who searched for the word string "Cosworth, for sale, McLaren, F1". If that doesn't give you ideas then nothing will.

We know that McLaren have been tinkering with the idea of producing their own engines for the road car and for F1.  So far, the word coming from the MTC is that they have not done it/are not planning on doing it in the immediate future.

The sale of Cosworth must be enticing for them though.  Here is a ready-made engine producing factory, with expert staff who have the experience and knowledge of how to build Formula 1 engines.  Add this to McLaren's own expertise and Ron's single-mindedness when it comes to success in any given field and you've got the perfect combination - a world class, British Formula 1 team and Marque and a British engine designing and producing factory.

It seems like a match made in heaven.

The only thing that could make it better is if Williams were to enter a joint venture with McLaren to purchase the Cosworth factory and produce the engines.

First female world driver's champion!

I've been out of action over the last few days as my wife gave birth to a little baby girl on Saturday morning.

It might be a little too early  to presume that she'll be the first ever female world driver's champion, particularly given that her elder sister might want that title, but, hopefully it won't be a Michael/Ralf scenario.

Will update the blog again coming up to India, as I'll be doing lots of late nights.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Maldonado runs out of options; wants to stay at Williams

Gosh! isn't it funny how things can change over the course of a week?  Coming up to Japan Pastor Maldonado must have been sweating over whether Hugo Chavez would get re-elected for without his financial backing there would be no seat in Formula 1 for the Venezuelan.

I do have to make an aside here to express my political interest in how a Socialist, Quasi-revolutionary president can justify spending vast wads of cash on one individual, when it might better be used elsewhere to serve the people.

Anyway, luckily for him Chavez did manage to get re-elected and the money was safe, Pastor's participation was assured by Venezuela's deep pockets.

Suddenly he became bullish, making comments both before and after Japan to the effect that he, and his money, might not be at Williams next year.  It also appeared that together, he and his money were "we" as per the following quotes from the 4th and 7th of this month:
I don't want to talk about that now. The team is still looking for the next year, for the drivers, so I prefer to not answer your question about the drivers, but for sure there is still a market, it is moving a lot, so I hope to be in the best place I can.
At the moment, for sure, there is the chance to go to other teams but we are considering remaining here, and it is still too early to say anything. The team, usually they confirm the drivers at the end of the season. So we are talking, we are negotiating...
At the time there were a number of seats up for grabs with the market having been thrown wide open by Lewis Hamilton's move to Mercedes, and Sergio Pérez replacing him at McLaren.

Sauber was a definite possibility, in that they were (and, theoretically, still are) looking for a driver with sponsorship.  However that seat is being widely reported as being taken by Hulkenburg, which only leaves the option of seats at Force India, Caterham, Marussia, or HRT F1 as realistic possibilities.

Now, having looked at what's left after the feeding frenzy, Pastor and his money realise that they are out of options.

Even Force India isn't looking such a good bet for the future with Vijay Mallya having serious financial issues back home in India.

So really that only leaves Williams as a viable option.  Williams who built him a car this year with huge potential which he has failed to deliver.

Now ESPN are reporting that he has decided that he wants to stay with Williams for the coming year. A much more contrite sounding Maldonado set out his CV for the press and his hopes for 2013:
I passed two wonderful years with the team, I won my first race with the team in my second year and I really appreciate that the team give me a great responsibility as the first driver, driving the first car of the team. 
I think I did pretty well. I could do better and I hope and I am 100% sure that next year will be much better than this year; not only from the driving points of view but also from the team point of view of being much more compact and working in the right direction. We know each other more now so it is going to be easier for both sides next year.
He couldn't make it any clearer, he's now talking as "I" rather than "we", and lets face it, Williams want the money he brings.

It sounds like a done deal.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Cosworth is for sale

The Telegraph is reporting that Cosworth have made the decision to put the company up for sale. The company currently supply engines to Marussia and HRT and a question mark has hung over the company's future in the sport since the announcement of the 2014 engine changes was made which would require Cosworth, a private engineering company, to invest a significant amount of money into it's build and testing, not to mind R&D if it were to remain on as an engine supplier.

The news is not insignificant as, were new owners to pull out of F1, the engine options for all teams going forward would be limited to Mercedes, Renault, and Ferrari.

While there have been stirrings and rumours around regarding Honda's return to the sport and interest from Audi, no commitments have been forthcoming to date.

Interview with Monisha Kaltenborn

From Sauber Press Office - Hinwil, 17th October 2012.

I'm not in the least surprised that the interview, conducted by Sauber, steered clear of any question as to who would be driving for the team next year, or whether Kamui would hold onto his seat.  In essence it appears as an introduction interview to the job of Team Principal; gentle and friendly in tone, motivational in response.  It is the passing of the baton and seamless transition.  There is no indication as to how she intends to go forward or whether she intends things to change.  It's a puff piece which gives you a flavour of the new Boss and a preview of her thoughts on the forthcoming Indian GP.

Monisha Kaltenborn is almost a week into her post as the first female team principal in Formula One. With a total of four podium places so far, the Sauber F1 Team has enjoyed a very successful 2012 season. The forthcoming Indian Grand Prix takes the new boss to her native country. There’s plenty to talk abou

Your passport gives your full name as Monisha Kaltenborn Narang. Why do you so rarely use your double surname?
Monisha Kaltenborn: “I really like my Indian name. My Indian heritage and my parents’ family mean a great deal to me, which is why I never wanted to give up Narang. On the other hand, you have to admit that double-barrelled names aren’t very practical in day-to-day business operations. That’s why I only rarely use my full name.”

What does the Indian Grand Prix mean to you?
MK: “Well, I really have to distinguish between the professional and the private side. From the sports point of view, as far as the Sauber F1 Team is concerned the Indian GP is a race like any other, with the same meticulous preparations and the same aspiration to achieve the best possible result. From a personal point of view, it’s rather different. Obviously I’m particularly looking forward to this race in my home country. As I travel to all the grands prix as part of my job, I don’t have time for private trips to India. During my school and university days I would go there regularly. My husband Jens and I celebrated our marriage in India with a fabulous and very happy Hindu ritual. I feel very attached to India.”

Will you be seeing friends or family during the grand prix?
MK: “I won’t really have time for private visits during this year’s race, but I’ll be flying out at least a day early to spend some time looking around New Delhi and attending various media events. I’m also involved as an ambassador for the FIA’s Women in Motorsports Commission, as well as an event by the F1 in Schools initiative.”

Which memories do you associate with India?
MK: “Oh, undoubtedly my wonderful childhood. Since I was their only grandchild for a long time, my grandparents spoilt me rotten, and we had three delightful dogs. Up to the age of eight I attended Welham Girls’ High School in Dehradun, my birthplace and one of the oldest and most traditional cities in the north of this vast country. It was a very happy time with marvellous friendships. Then in 1979 my parents decided to emigrate to give me a better education.”

What made your parents decide on Austria?
MK: “Originally the plan was to find a new home in an English-speaking country. But Vienna was the first stop on our journey because an uncle of my father’s was working at the atomic agency there. We liked it and so we stayed. I was sent straight to an Austrian rather than an international school, so I learnt the language very quickly and became integrated. I also completed my law studies in Vienna and took on Austrian citizenship, which had many advantages. And of course I have a lot of ties with Austria. I’ve spent a considerable part of my life there, after all.”

To what extent are you still Indian today?
MK: “I don’t think you ever lose your roots, and anyway you can tell where I’m from just by looking at me. I also think I have a certain serenity and openness you might describe as Indian. That includes shrugging off negative experiences and focusing positively on the future – something that is very important in an environment as competitive as Formula One. As for my Hindi, it’s no longer as good as I’d like it to be. But I do try to talk Hindi with the children occasionally. Our son is ten years old, our daughter seven, and I’d like them to learn the language. But my parents are better teachers than me.”

How important do you think Formula One is for India?
MK: “Basically it’s difficult for any sport to find a place in India next to cricket. But I do think that the interest in Formula One has risen significantly since its debut last year. At least the media interest we are experiencing as a team would strongly indicate that. It seems right that India, as an upwardly mobile nation, a huge marketplace and a high-tech location, has found a place in the Formula One calendar with its excellently trained engineers. Both Formula One and the country can benefit from it.”

What chances do you hold out for the Sauber F1 Team at the Indian Grand Prix?
MK: “The track layout is very similar to that in Korea. There are slow and fast turns and quite a long straight. However, it will be warmer there and Pirelli is providing different tyres – soft and hard rather than the super-soft and soft ones we had in Korea. That will mean different race strategies. For the C31, the circuit in India is likely to be neither ideal terrain nor particularly problematic. I’m confident that we will manage another decent points haul there.”

You’re into your first week as Team Principal at trackside. What does this step mean for you?
MK: “I’m very happy at the confidence that Peter Sauber has placed in me. I grew into this role step by step, of course. I had been head of the company’s legal department since 2000, in 2001 I joined the Board of Management, in 2010 I became CEO, and since the end of 2011 I’ve held a third of the company’s stakeholding. Peter Sauber’s withdrawal from the day-to-day running of the business has been on the cards for a long time, so this latest step was well prepared. I’m acutely aware of what it means to carry the responsibility for this company, which has been around for over 40 years and involved in Formula One for almost 20 years.”

Is it more difficult as a woman to be accepted as Team Principal?
MK: “Professionally I’m sure gender plays no role. And as I’ve been around for such a long time, I don’t think I’ll be seen more in terms of a woman than a boss. People who are new to the scene might just do a double-take at first, but that will soon settle down.”

How do you manage to cope with the twin responsibility of work and family?
MK: “It usually works very well, though in some situations it can prove an organisational and emotional challenge. I believe it’s very important to involve the children. We stay in touch on race weekends by phone or skype – these days, fortunately, there are such options. At home my husband, my parents and a nanny manage to cushion my professional absences. I’ve got a strong support system, and the kids are really proud of what their mother does.”

How satisfied are you with the Sauber F1 Team’s achievements so far this season?
MK: “With four podium places and now 116 world championship points, we can certainly be proud of our achievements so far as a private team. Of course there have been races where things didn’t go to plan and we forfeited valuable points. Our car, the Sauber C31-Ferrari, is a great success and has proved competitive on virtually any kind of circuit. Some describe it as one of the best cars on the grid. Now it’s a matter of carrying the impetus forward into the remaining four races. Our ambitious goal remains to finish fifth in the Constructors’ World Championship. And I have the utmost confidence both in our team at Hinwil and in the crew at the track along with our two drivers, Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Pérez.”

What are your personal highlights of the season so far?
MK: “To answer that I’m going to have to take off my sober, objective hat for a moment: it was just so emotional when Kamui finished third in Japan.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Pirelli announces tyre nominations for final three races

Milan, October 16, 2012 – Formula One tyre supplier Pirelli has announced the tyre nominations for the final three grands prix of the year.

In Abu Dhabi, the teams will use the P Zero White medium tyre and the P Zero Yellow soft tyre. For the all-new United States Grand Prix, Pirelli will bring the P Zero Silver hard and P Zero White medium tyre. Exactly the same nomination – hard and medium – will be used for Brazil.
The Abu Dhabi race is run in the late afternoon and evening, with falling temperatures. Although the lap takes in a wide variety of speeds and corners, the surface is quite smooth and degradation is not excessive, making medium and soft the perfect choice.
Austin will be raced on for the first time, and the simulation data established by Pirelli’s engineers over the summer has indicated that the hard and medium tyres will be best-suited to the varying demands of this track. On a new circuit, a relatively conservative choice will make sure that all possibilities are covered. During a recent visit, Pirelli’s engineers established that significant energy loads will be put through the tyres. High temperatures are also expected.
The Interlagos circuit, by contrast, is well known for being demanding on the tyres, with big elevation changes, high-speed corners and significant energy loadings going through the structure. For these reasons, the hard and medium tyres are also the best choice for the final race of the 2012 season.

Vettel to Ferrari - Media Driven

How many times will we see this story being repeated before Sebastian Vettel finally signs a contract sometime in late 2013?  The story has already had at least three media incarnations over the course of the last year; this current run being the third.

First story, December 2011

No new information has come out since December 2011 when James Allen reported on a story in Gazzetta dello Sport suggesting that Ferrari had now a strong desire to get him to the team in 2014.

Luca di Montezemolo said at that time:
"Vettel is a brilliant driver, he's young, but seems very intelligent in the way he carries himself. He has a great future...let's see. I like drivers who use their head more than their right foot".

He followed that with:
"But it would be on condition that we don't upset the balance in the team. Today we have a balance, i don't want drivers who'll have a problem with each other".

The story was repeated in May and June of 2012 on a number of different websites including the BBC, where Andrew Benson stated unequivocally that:
Hamilton is out of contract at McLaren this year and Red Bull's Vettel is known to have a non-binding pre-contract with Ferrari for 2014...
It has emerged that Vettel and Ferrari have some form of pre-contract, which has options on both sides and which is dependent on the team's performance in 2013. The precise details are not known.
In May the Independent had said that:
Speculation has surfaced Vettel has already signed a pre-contract agreement to join Ferrari in 2014, a claim strongly denied by the 24-year-old.
Speaking to German newspaper Bild, Vettel said: "I know nothing about it. I've never signed anything."
Autosport kicked in with:
"I think they are both intelligent guys and they could easily coexist together," Domenicali said in an interview with Sport Bild and Auto Bild, extracts of which were published on Ferrari's official site on Wednesday.
Both Vettel, who has been linked with a move to Ferrari when his contract with Red Bull expires at the end of 2013, and Alonso are fighting to become the youngest ever three-time champion this year.
Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who also took part in the interview, agreed with Domenicali.
"That wouldn't be a problem: both are drivers who are always looking for a new challenge and to be in the same team would be a new and big challenge," he said.  They would both think they can bear the other one, as they are sure of themselves and Stefano would do what was required to so that they were treated equally".
The story ran in various guises for over a month.

Third Story, October 2012

And now we have the same story again in October 2012 and once again it's prevalent so I don't particularly need to reference any particular source.  It seems to be running on a 5 monthly cycle, December 2011, May 2012 and now October.  It's as if the media are looking back and wondering if they can get away with it again.

A lot of guys are blaming the BBC for rehashing the story however the latest timeline for the story makes it impossible to gauge exactly where it began.

Personally, I'd like to put the whole thing to bed until Eddie Jordan makes a statement - but I'd refer you all to two ESPN stories in 2010 one quoting Sebastian and the other quoting Luca

Vettel to Ferrari 2010?

Sebastian's quote in November 2010:
"No question, it is my wish and goal to drive for Ferrari one day," Vettel told Sunday's Bild am Sonntag. "Or Mercedes, another legendary brand. But right now I'm happy. I have two more years of contract with Red Bull and we have big plans."
Luca in December that year:
"Sebastian is fast, intelligent and young," the Ferrari president told Cologne tabloid Express. "He will drive a red car sooner or later."
and that story also quotes Dietrich Mateschitz:
"Seb wants to drive for Ferrari some day. We will make it as difficult a decision for him as possible."
I leave to you to make your own mind up.

Speaking of First Corner Incidents!

Video of Ron Dennis interviewing Senna after THAT incident in Suzuka in 1990.

Senna ahead on points had qualified on Pole and needed to protect his lead from Alain Prost.  As we know the race didn't last long for either of them.

Here's Senna discussing it, with some footage.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Massa drive to podium hampered by slow Alonso

For those of you watching on Sunday the pit-to-car radio message was one I'd never heard before.  In it's most basic form it meant; "Hold station behind your team-mate": on another level entirely it meant; "slow down you're going too fast", something which must have pleased Massa immensely.  It's not a comment he's heard a lot this season.  Rob Smedley looked particularly chuffed at Massa's racecraft

"You're too close to Fernando. Drop off" to 2-2.5 seconds behind.  At this stage there's around 40 laps gone of the race, Massa is very much faster that Alonso and, team orders should have played out a little differently.  Why not let Massa take off down the road after Webber, see if he can catch him up, slow him down and allow Fernando to drive up to the battle and fight for the second step of the podium.  We can see by the laptimes that Alonso got faster towards the end of the race, what he needed on lap 40 was Massa wrecking his tyres in order to threaten and slow down Mark Webber. Ferrari needed to provide a threat to Webber what they did was call Massa to "heel".  I still think Felipe would do well to get out of there. 

Poor choice of strategy on the pit-wall; Even if Felipe got past Mark it is likely that he would have to give up any position to accommodate Fernando's title position.

Great drive by Massa and, should he keep it up it may well be the resurgence he needs to secure his Ferrari seat into next year which is what he seems to want (incidentally the Web seems to be alive with the old Vettel/Ferrari seat rumour in 2014, which we were all saying was a signed precontract earlier this year).

Title is Sebastian Vettel's to lose

Vettel's title to lose
Courtesy of Renault Sport F1
Following the Red Bull stroll to victory in Korea the language of the chasing teams is seeming increasingly defeatist.

Fernando Alonso, while attempting to remain upbeat, said after the race:
Obviously Red Bull have made a step forward and they won three races. They were one and two in qualifying in Suzuka, one and two in qualifying here, one and two in the race here so it's something that is not in our hands
and Lewis Hamilton's take was:
I guess the pressure is now off, I guess that’s us kind of out of the championship. It’s tough because there’s so much work from the team, so much work from all the people around to try and win this thing. We were still in the fight up until now, but it’s too far away now.
As for Lotus they are definitely out of the mix at this stage.

As I've been boycotting the Bahrain GP, treating it as a non-championship race from a points perspective, I'd like to point out that in my world driver's championship Fernando still leads Sebastian by 13 points, with McLaren having been overtaken for second place in the Constructor's by Ferrari on the strength of last Weekend's result.

Sebastian has had three spectacular results, winning all before him since the teams went East: with Alonso making the statement that Ferrari have brought no upgrades since Belgium, and McLaren not getting any luck either in car reliability or tyre wear there's only one team who are poised to profit and that's the Red Bull and Sebastian.

Pirelli Review Korean GP

Vettel’s tyre management skills help him to victory in Korea

Yeongam, October 14, 2012 – A third consecutive victory for Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel, following on from his success in Singapore and Japan, has made the drivers’ championship even closer heading into the final four rounds of the season. Vettel started the race from second on the grid using the Pirelli P Zero Red supersoft tyres, and then carried out two stints on the P Zero Yellow soft tyre to win from his team mate Mark Webber, having taken the lead at the start. Vettel’s fourth victory of the year has given him the drivers’ championship lead, while third and fourth places for Ferrari, thanks to Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa respectively, moves the Italian squad up to second in the constructors’ championship.
McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton was the first of the top drivers to stop on lap 13, on a circuit where the front-right tyre is particularly tested. Nonetheless, with a low wear rate, both compounds showed durability and performance on the Yeongam circuit. Two laps later, race leader Vettel also stopped for the first time, taking a set of soft tyres like Hamilton. A different strategy was adopted by Sauber’s Sergio Perez, who started on the soft tyre and then changed to the supersoft on lap 18, finishing on a set of softs for the last 22 laps.
Webber also tried to use tyre strategy to his advantage by pitting earlier than his team mate on both occasions in an attempt to ‘undercut’ him, but Vettel was still able to stop for the second time for soft tyres on lap 35 and re-emerge in the lead after a 2.9-second pit stop. His final set of soft tyres went for 20 laps, while Webber made his final set last for 23 laps – also setting the fastest lap of the race with one lap to go.
The top 10 all started on the supersoft tyre, which proved to be between 0.2 to 0.6 seconds quicker per lap than the soft. The highest-placed driver to start on the soft tyre was McLaren’s Jenson Button from 11th, but he was eliminated on the opening lap following a start incident. This left Perez as the top runner who started on the soft tyre, with the Mexican eventually finishing 11th on a two-stop strategy.
Hamilton adopted a three-stop strategy, finishing 10th after ending the race on the rapid supersoft tyres following his final stop on lap 42. The Englishman attempted to make up places during his final stint, exploiting the extra performance offered by Pirelli’s softest compound, but came under pressure from Perez with his McLaren trailing a piece of astroturf picked up from the side of the circuit.
By contrast, Williams driver Pastor Maldonado went for a one-stop strategy, changing from the supersoft to the soft on lap 21 and making his final set of soft tyres last for 34 laps. The Venezuelan finished in 14thplace.
Pirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery commented: “In the end we saw the majority of competitors adopting a two-stop strategy here as they did last year, despite the fact that our soft tyre is softer than it was in 2011 – although a one-stop strategy still proved to be possible. We’re satisfied with the performance of both compounds, which experienced less graining than they did in free practice and qualifying, thanks to a high degree of track evolution. Congratulations to Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel, who has won more races than anybody else this season, thanks also to his tyre management skills that allowed him to control his advantage from the front in Korea and take the lead of the championship standings for the first time since Barcelona. We also saw many interesting battles all the way down the classification, with a wide range of different strategies adopted as each driver tried to gain a competitive advantage. With particular demands placed on the front-right tyre, the final phase of the race proved to be crucial, but Vettel managed the situation perfectly.”
S Vettel on track using P Zero yellow Soft tyres
Courtesy of Renault Sport F1

Renault Post Race Press release Korea


Courtesy of Renault Sport F1

Sebastian Vettel dominated today’s Korean Grand Prix to secure his third consecutive win and take the lead of the drivers’ championship by six points.
Vettel took his Renault-powered Red Bull Racing to the win, 8.2secs over team-mate Mark Webber, to secure a Red Bull-Renault 1-2 finish. The win also takes the total of Renault-engined victories in F1 to 149.
Lotus F1 Team’s Kimi Raikkonen finished in fifth position, while Romain Grosjean claimed seventh overall, giving the team a double points scoring finish. Kimi duelled with Lewis Hamilton for the first part of the race, but got past in the first round of pit stops. From that point on, the Finn maintained track position to score a further 10 points and maintain third in the drivers’ title race. Romain had a busy race as he battled with Hamilton and then Nico Hulkenberg, who ultimately got past on track in the final third of the race. Romain then brought the E20 home in seventh, his eighth points’ scoring finish of the year.
Williams F1 Team had a more difficult weekend, with Pastor Maldonado passing the flag in 14th and Bruno Senna 15th. Chez Caterham F1 Team, Vitaly Petrov finished in 16th and Heikki Kovalainen 17th ahead of both Marussia cars.
Red Bull Racing extends its lead of the constructors’ championship to 367 over Ferrari’s 290. Lotus is now just 29 points from McLaren in fourth, while Williams is eighth and Caterham 11th. In the drivers’ championship Vettel has 215, Alonso 209, Raikkonen 167, Hamilton 153 and Webber 152. Grosjean is eighth, Maldonado 15th ahead of Senna in 16th. Kovalainen remains 20th with Petrov 21st.
Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations
After securing our 200th pole with Mark yesterday, it’s been a good weekend for Renault in terms of results, but we’ve worked hard to get there. The 1-2 result for Red Bull might have looked easy, but we have to manage the engine maps carefully, particularly towards the end of the race when tyre wear is high. Taking the lead of the drivers’ championship and extending the lead in the constructors’ championship is positive, but things can change very quickly and we will remain focussed at the track and at Viry to maintain reliability and performance in the final four races of the year.
A good double points finish as well for Lotus to put four Renault-powered cars in the points. We have worked solidly with the team this weekend to optimise the Coanda exhaust system introduced on Kimi’s car. This requires a new set of engine maps and different engine settings, but we have made good progress in this area and between now and the next event we will be able to further optimise everything to be closer to the podium.
It’s been a tough weekend for Williams and Caterham, but with two weeks between now and the next race we can work with both to come back stronger in India.

Perfect day for Red Bull in Yeongam

Car 1 SEBASTIAN VETTEL, Finish Position: WINNER! Start Position: 2nd

“I think it was a perfect day for me and the team. It was important to get a good start. I was able to out-accelerate Mark and get side by side, I had the inside for Turn 3 and a good exit, which meant I could stay ahead for Turn 4. I was in the lead, but we have seen before that it doesn’t always stick. My one mistake today was a lock-up going in to Turn 3, but with the tyres it was marginal for everyone. You couldn’t push so much and my front right didn’t look too happy from the inside many times. We were able to pull away in the first and second stint and hold it for the third. We will have to do our best to remain where we are now. We have to just keep it simple and do our job.”

Car 2 MARK WEBBER, Finish Position: 2nd, Start Position: 1st
“I had a bit too much clutch off the line, which was disappointing. I put up a fight on the back straight with Sebastian, as it wasn’t all over. I tried to make a move, but once I pulled out of his slipstream, both of us were on the same speed. After that I was going quite well in the first part of the race. I couldn’t use DRS, due to the yellow flags and after that it became a tyre battle. The second stint wasn’t so good, as I went a bit slower to conserve the tyres, but that made the degradation a bit worse. The last stint was the strongest, but it was too late by then. Congratulations to Sebastian on the win and it’s great for the team that we got a one two, especially for the Constructors’, but I have mixed emotions. It was a good result, but of course, I wanted to get the top result today.”

CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “A phenomenal team result. It was our first one two of the season and a great performance. Both drivers executed excellent races. Sebastian made the better start and he and Mark ran side by side all the way down the straight to Turn 3, but gave each other just enough room. Thereafter it was a case of tyre management and executing a good strategic race, which we did with both cars to seal our first one two of 2012. It’s been a very positive ten days and it’s important we continue to build on the momentum going into the final four races.”

CYRIL DUMONT, Renault: “A fantastic result today. We started first and second and finished in the same positions, but with the drivers the other way around. Seb took the lead in the Drivers’ Championship which is very good result from this race. We have had a good feeling from the last two races and I just really hope we keep this momentum going for remaining four.”