F1 Roundup

JENSON BUTTON WEBSITE HACKED

A story has appeared on Jenson Button’s website claiming that he was involved in a car accident. However, users on social networking site Twitter spotted several flaws in these statements.

1) The first paragraph claimed that he was in a critical condition, when the second half contradicted itself stating McLaren were contacting the FIA to see if he could race. Surely if he was critical, the question would be a no brainer.

2) No announcement on McLaren website, or any legitimate news source. You would think this would be of paramount importance if such an incident existed.

3) The picture “supplied” is in fact one found on a google search if you type in “Mercedes SLS crash”. The origin of the picture is a Top Gear article, written in 2010. Also, the picture was taken in Russia.

SKY SNATCHES F1 FROM BBC

It has been widely speculated for a while that due to a freezing in the licence fee, that BBC would be looking to axing its Formula One coverage. However in an unprecedented move, News Corp owned sattelite broadcaster Sky have taken the majority of the rights starting in 2012. Outrage has been widely reported from analysts and supporters, many of which cite the reason of affordability of Sky Sports as a hurdle. BBC retain the rights to ten live races and “extensive highlights” of qualifying and races they do not cover. However, McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh has since claimed that Bernie Ecclestone told him the BBC’s extensive highlights would in fact be deferred full race replays.

AND WHO WILL SKY USE AS THEIR TEAM?…

Speculation has already started into the identities of Sky’s potential presentation team for 2012. Familiar Sky Sports News presenters such as Georgie Thompson and ex- Blue Peter presenter Simon Thomas have been speculated, and the name of Tamara Ecclestone has also done the rounds. One thing I feel worth noting is if anyone from BBC would move, I would highly predict it would be Martin Brundle- though his tweets on Twitter suggest he is at present unsure to what his plans are for 2012.

I can’t see Jake Humphrey moving- he will more than likely be redeployed as a main presenter for BBC’s Olympic coverage. Also don’t rule out BBC and Sky sharing presentation teams to save the BBC money.

AND FINALLY…

Yet another Fake F1 takeover has taken place. It was once again a great success. Many thanks to all the Fake’s that took part.

Spare a thought for HRT…

Their car isn’t great and they are spending the season scrapping with Virgins. I can only presume it can disrupt normal mind processes at times…

 

HRT Truck

Was the truck driven by Karthikeyan?

CFD Now Wirthless

This season’s Technical Director cull has continued with another scalp- Virgin and Wirth Research have parted ways, at the same time announcing that their design approach from now on won’t be all CFD. Nick Wirth joins Sam Michael (Williams) and Aldo Costa (Ferrari) in the F1 Job Centre.

This is significant- when Virgin entered Formula One they said they were going to revolutionise Formula One design with an approach that negated “wasteful windtunnels” and was cost effective and this news is effectively an admission of failure. This was evident on track- their highest grid placing this season has been on the tenth row of the grid with only the Hispania’s for company.

So- what next for Virgin? Interestingly, reports suggest that disgraced former Renault Technical Director Pat Symonds, (currently suspended from all active Formula One roles for his part in the disgraceful scam in the 2008 Singapore GP) is heading up plans for the 2012 car in his role of consultant. Some media outlets are suggesting that Aldo Costa (ex Ferrari, Minardi) would be a suitable candidate- his time at Minardi proved that he can produce decent cars on a tight budget. I would also like to tip Sam Michael’s hat into the ring- Williams would not have had an astronomical budget, and the cars he produces would certainly get Virgin into Q2 as they are currently angling for.

The same announcement about Wirth’s departure also contains another interesting anecdote- Virgin are looking for a technical base, which also surely signals an end to the ridiculous triangle currently going on where Virgin handle the commercial side, Wirth handled the Technical side, and Manor Motorsport prepared and ran the cars. One of the technical bases they have evaluated (and probably the prime candidate for the new base) is the former Arrows and Super Aguri base at Leafield.

I wonder where they will find a windtunnel to borrow. One can assume that if they get a technical partnership with McLaren as rumoured (same as Force India currently enjoy), that they would be able to access the McLaren windtunnel facility, but failing that I wonder if they’ll share the spare windtunnnel at Mercedes with Hispania.

One thing is for sure- today signals a defeat (for now) for the all CFD design approach. While Nick Wirth appeared to be a decent man to chat to in the paddock, his previous F1 design history is slightly chequered- In 1994 and 1995 he ran the backmarker Simtek team (until their mid season bankruptcy) and from 1996 to 1999 designed the post-Brawn & Byrne Benetton cars which hardly covered themselves in glory.

I will post later on my thoughts of Pat Symonds reappearing- though if you look through your computer screens you can probably see steam coming out of my ears, so you can see where this is going…..

Red Bull using “Start Up KERS”?

Today’s Qualifying performance by Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel is one that has left the F1 World scratching their heads. How did he manage it without using KERS?

When pressed for a reason why, Mark Webbers only reply was “there were internal reasons why”. Which would suggest they’ve got something they are trying to hide from the other teams.

For those that don’t know what KERs is, or what it does, here’s a brief explanation. KERS stands for Kinetic Energy Recovery System, and works by using taking some of the energy that would otherwise be used as waste heat energy and stores it inside a battery. Drivers can then use this during the race as an “energy boost” or a “push to pass” button. FIA regulations currently state that it can be used for a maximum of 6.7 seconds a lap and this is governed by programmes in the FIA standard ECU (Electronic Control Unit).

The advantage of it is of course, the technical features listed above. However it does have two limitations that put off some teams- cost, and weight. In order to encourage usage of the KERS system, the FIA decided to raise the minimum car weight to 640kg.

It’s not a cheap system to implement however, and does require concessions in design concepts to fit it in- the KERS battery is both heavy and cumbersome and requires being designed around.

Suggestions right across a paddock suggest that Red Bull have devised a clever “Start Up KERS”. It is alleged that it will be “trickle charged” in the garage before the race session. Then, come the start of the race the energy inside this “Start Up KERS” will be activated, thereby matching the start pace of the KERS cars, without the cumbersome weight. So how does it work? Well it would appear that if true, it saves on weight (as the battery is a lot lighter). Also- as alluded to if the normal KERS goes wrong, it’s a lot of weight lugged around for nothing, creating a disadvantage.

This would explain Mark Webbers quote that “it’s an internal team thing”. No confirmation yet though. And if it is true it does not gather energy from braking, is it actually a KERS system?

Edit: For further information on this, BBC’s pitlane reporterTed Kravitz has done a great article here

NCB Sportswire Podcast: Australian GP Practice Sessions 1 & 2

In the first of the NCB Sportswire podcasts recording the 2011 Formula One Season in audio form, I take a brief look at Australian GP Practice Sessions 1 & 2.

It was an eventful kickstart to the F1 year- Karun Chandhok spinning out at turn 2 on his outlap, Hispania still building their cars and much much more…

Take a listen, leave a comment and tell me what you think.

Bahrain Grand Prix Review/Australia Preview

What an exciting race we had to start the season! AND who would have thought that Vitaly Petrov would have got Pole Position!!!..

Sadly, this isn’t the start of the Formula One season- temporarily postponed while the Middle East get their freedom (and rightly so, so put those daggers away :-)). So let’s just put it this way- The Hispanias started with three wheels as the fourth was held at Bahrain customs, Heikki Kovalianen wins from Kamui Kobayashi and Michael Schumacher while Fernando Alonso doesn’t start after suffering an horrific injury while playing with lighters- yes a singed eyebrow.

Looking forward to the new season- ITS AUSTRALIA IN TWO WEEKS TIME! Which of course means early bedtimes, usage of alarm clocks and sales of Red Bull going through the roof.

I personally cannot wait. So what’s in store for the F1 legion?

Red Bull Racing look very strong, as do Ferrari and a four way dingdong into the first corner looks almost inevitable if pre season testing is anything to go by.

McLaren- the less said about their pre-season. They completed less mileage than everyone except Hispania, and it is widely regarded that their new car is a mutt. They’ve clearly got a lot of work to do.  Similar can be said for Mercedes GP who still don’t seem to have recovered since the Brawn Euphoria in 2009. It would appear their design team still have hangovers because, by Ross Brawns’ own admission their car is a second off. They say they can regain it by Melbourne…….but I’m not so convinced.

The best of the rest accolade seems to be a very close scrap between Renault and Sauber. Both have looked quick in testing, though how much Renault will miss the injured Robert Kubica is yet to be seen. Out of all drivers out of a job there is no doubt Nick Heidfeld is the best option around. This season will tell if Petrov is any good or merely a pay driver.  Rubens Barrichello recently remarked that the “Sauber looks like a decent car” and their times throughout testing suggest likewise- Perez topping the last test.

A few weeks ago I almost wrote off Toro Rosso because I did not believe they’d be given swathes of funding by their parent team who I thought would put all the money into their sister team. But with whatever resources- the team at Faenza don’t seem to have done a bad job at all- they’ve looked fairly quick in testing.

Williams haven’t looked too bad either- and I’ve got hopes for the pairing of Barrichello and Maldonado. All in all- it could look like a competitive midfield scrap.

Sadly, I don’t think Force India will be joining them in that- it would appear that a winter spent sacking Liuzzi and taking legal action against Lotus (or being in court themselves) has been a distraction.

Talking of which- there are expectations to be filled for Lotus. After a season of being best of the newcomers, progress up the grid is their aim. There’s no issues in the driver department- once again Italian Veteran Jarno Trulli is partnered with Finland’s Heikki Kovalianen.

Straggling the back of the grid again is Virgin. Given that there has been masses of progress by other teams, Virgin would have to practically pull miracles to catch up from last year. That said if anyone can drag them up the grid, Timo Glock can.

And so…..to Hispania. They’ve got a decent lineup in Karthikeyan and Liuzzi. But their car has only just finished, with parts still at customs. Still…an improvement on last year.

 

And something amusing to end.... (c) Unlap 2011

Murrayism of the Day: 9 February

Today’s Murrayism sees Murray turn into Science teacher.

Click here for today’s Murrayism!