Archive for January, 2010

McLaren MP4-25 Launched

January 29, 2010 Leave a comment

What a nice treat for me to stumble upon after a power outage at work!

While McLaren isn’t my favourite team at all (I’ve only supported them one in the past – when Kimi Raikkonen drove for them), I always look forward to their car launches because I know that they’ll put out something that looks great and will be, most likely, very fast as well. I didn’t get to catch the live feed of the car launch due to having no power at work, but I’ve checked out quite a few pictures. Here’s one of the new MP4-25.

So, what do I think? Simply put, it looks a lot like a McLaren. I don’t see many radical changes apart from the shark fin, and the livery is relatively the same as it was last year. It’s still an attractive car, and I really like the whole chrome look that they started back in 2007.

It was great to see Jenson Button in McLaren overalls and standing by the MP4-25 as well as beside Lewis Hamilton. It seemed a little surreal to me as well, given that I’m still in disbelief that such an uninspiring driver landed a McLaren drive merely because he drove an unbeatable powerhouse of a car for most of the last season.

Anyway, we all get a break for a few days now until Sauber and Renault launch their cars on February 1. It will be interesting to follow Renault’s launch since they do not have a second driver yet, though some sources believe that the second seat will be filled by Vitaly Petrov.


Ferrari Presents The F10, Autosport leaks the new Williams FW32

January 28, 2010 1 comment

Ferrari presented their 2010 challenger, the Ferrari F10, this morning in Maranello. This launch differs from Mercedes’ launch earlier this week which was only a livery launch. Ferrari is showing us the whole deal, the 2010 chassis and livery.

So what can be said about the launch? Well, all the faces you’d expect to see were obviously present. Stefano Domenicali, Luca di Montezemolo, and Luca Marmorini were the faces I recognized from the team personnel while I watched the live feed. All four drivers were also present (Alonso and Massa obviously included), giving di Montezemolo many ample opportunities for man hug fun that Italians seem to love so much.

The entirety of the launch that I followed was in Italian, so I didn’t understand anything that was being said. Instead, all I could do was check out the car. You know, this one..

When I first saw the car, which I believe was last week when Fernando Alonso ran a few promotional laps, I was slightly turned off by the over abundance of white on the chassis. I am aware that Ferrari has run cars with white wings in the past (quite recently, too), but I don’t believe that they ever made it look so unintentionally ugly as what I see on the F10. The white wings seem completely unnecessary as well, since Ferrari have chosen to print Santander’s name in red on top of the white wings. Santander’s corporate logo is white text over a red background, which is also how Ferrari typically presents sponsors on their car. Aesthetically, the car would have been more pleasing to the eye if it had red wings. The car doesn’t look bad though, and it’s nice to see a Ferrari that isn’t composed entirely of one colour, so in a way the white does help the image of the car to a small degree.

Regarding the shape, I’m not one for analyzing the shape of the car and saying what it can and can’t do. I’ll leave that to the people in the sport, and the armchair “I like to think I’m an engineer, but I’m really not” enthusiasts on internet forums. All I’m aware of is that the front nose and wing supposedly borrow heavily from the 2009 Red Bull chassis. I disagree, and don’t really see any similarities except for the nose being narrow. As proof, here is Red Bull’s car from last year.

Not as similar as it’s being claimed to be, and narrowing the nose cone hardly classifies as ripping off another team’s design.

I will admit, though, that this year’s Ferrari looks like a rocket. It looks sleek, sexy, and fast thanks in part to the former two qualities. However, we know that judging a car’s performance based on looks is not always a good idea. Proof of that would be, well, Ferrari’s 2009 car!

Let’s hope that Ferrari haven’t botched up something with their design again and will be fighting for wins with the other big boys this year.

Autosport also stumbled upon a nice find today. Williams held a private shakedown today at Silverstone, and Autosport managed to snag a shot. Click here to head over to Autosport and check out the new Williams in action!

McLaren launches tomorrow, and I will be posting about that as well.

Congratulations Lewis Hamilton, 2010 World Drivers Champion!

January 27, 2010 Leave a comment

As the chequered flag waves in Abu Dhabi (yawn) at the end of this year, Lewis Hamilton will be crowned world champion. I am predicting this even though I dislike him immensely.

Why I am tipping Lewis is because I opened Microsoft Excel this morning and had a little fun, working on a chart to predict the outcome of the 2010 championship. I scored the drivers based on the following criteria:
1. Their general track record, consistency and achievements.
2. Likewise, the track record, consistency and achievements of their 2010 team.
3. How they performed, as a driver, in 2009.
4. How their current team performed in 2009.
5. My own personal opinion of how talented the driver in question is.

Here are the results that I ended up with, which are in direct defiance of my desire to see Michael Schumacher clinch the title this year.

1. Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes)
2. Fernando Alonso (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro)
3. Jenson Button (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes)
4. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing)
5. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes GP Petronas)
6. Felipe Massa (Scuderia Ferrari Marlboro)
7. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes GP Petronas)
8. Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing)
9. Rubens Barrichello (AT&T Williams)
10. Robert Kubica (Renault F1 Team)
11. Jarno Trulli (Lotus F1 Racing)
12. Nico Hulkenburg (AT&T Williams)
13. Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
14. Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus F1 Racing)
15. Renault Driver 2 (Renault F1 Team)
16. Adrian Sutil (Force India F1 Team)
17. Pedro de la Rosa (Sauber)
18. Timo Glock (Virgin Racing)
19. Vitantonio Liuzzi (Force India F1 Team)
20. Lucas di Grassi (Virgin Racing)
21. Sebastien Buemi (Scuderia Toro Rosso)
22. Jaime Alguersuari (Scuderia Toro Rosso)
23. Jose Maria Lopez (USF1 Team)
24. USF1 Driver 2 (USF1 Team)
25. Bruno Senna (Campos Meta 1)
26. Campos Driver 2 (Campos Meta 1)

I placed the yet-to-be-named second Renault driver in 15th, feeling that they won’t be as good as Kubica but should be able to handle Force Indias and Virgins. The second USF1 driver is 24th, because I feel that they will be inferior to the questionable Jose Maria Lopez. I put both Campos drivers at the bottom (despite Bruno Senna ending up with enough points to be in the 16th to 20th range) because I simply don’t think that Campos will get very far this season, meaning I feel that the team will drop out.

Of course, this little “2010 standings” list means absolutely nothing and I just did it for fun, but do you know what? I am definitely going to be digging this blog post up in November to see how my “predictions” compare to the real final standings.

(This is what happens when a fiercely loving fan of the sport gets bored in the off season, by the way.)

The New Bahrain Grand Prix

January 26, 2010 Leave a comment

It’s becoming a noticeable trend that with each new championship season, unnecessary changes must follow as well. 2010 is no exception. While I disagree with the new points system, it doesn’t bother me enough to cause me to write about it. In order for me to feel inclined to write about a change to Formula One, it has to be really pointless and/or stupid. The change I have decided to write about today is both.

Meet the Bahrain Grand Prix, prior to 2010.

While not a terribly outstanding circuit, the Bahrain Grand Prix did have a few good spots. Turns 3, 4, and 5 are what most people label as the best that the circuit has to offer. I am inclined to agree, especially on Turn 4. It was a good, quick turn and wasn’t too bad for overtaking.

Meet the Bahrain Grand Prix, as it will be in 2010.

What is this? Upon first looking at the circuit, it becomes evident that the track has gained eight corners, I think. I say that “I think” because the picture I have to stare at is fairly small. All of these new corners are in one horribly slow looking section of the course which has been added in between turns 3 and 4. I stare at what they’ve added and I just don’t get it. Based on the reactions from many other fans, they don’t get it either. This new section is very slow looking and cannot help overtaking at all. Turn 4 also now looks completely devoid of overtaking opportunities now, because the cars will be so slow going through it, or so I imagine.

I may not use very technical terms or anything of the sort when I talk about Formula One. I do understand the terms and know how everything works, but when it comes to speaking with technical terms, I’m not great at putting what I know or think into words.. So I’ll just settle with saying that I’m a passionate F1 fan who knows that the lap is longer now, but overtaking will probably also be worse. This was, in my opinion, a very unnecessary change.

Mercedes Launch & Toro Rosso News

January 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Mercedes launched their livery today in Stuttgart, Germany. Their 2010 challenger will be designated the MGP W01, which we will not formally see until testing begins next week. This means that the car shown off today in Stuttgart was a repainted 2009 Brawn Mercedes. Even if it’s not the car that Mercedes will be racing with, it was still a beautiful sight.

The Mercedes MGP W01 will be driven by, of course, Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher. Team Principal Ross Brawn has indicated that there will be no preferential treatment when testing in Valencia kicks off. Rosberg and Schumacher will each drive the car on the first day, and then both drivers will get a full day each for the following two days.

I’m not entirely sure what to make of the Mercedes livery just yet. While it is a shiny silver with subtle streaks all over, I somehow find the car to be very bland or uninspiring. I certainly do like the silver part of the livery, but the MGP W01 suffers from the same problem that the Brawn did last year. While the car looks nice, it lacks sponsors. Too much empty space on a car is a bit of a turn off for me, and the MGP W01 unfortunately does suffer from this.

However, I do believe that the car will actually look quite nice in motion considering the full silver livery, complete with black accents and subtle streaks running across the chassis.

There is a rumour floating around about Mercedes and Nick Heidfeld as well. According to this rumour, Nick Heidfeld has agreed to be Mercedes’ third driver if negotiations with Renault do not work out. Hopefully Nick will end up in the second Renault, because we deserve to see a driver of his calibre continue racing.

On the other side of the pond, Toro Rosso has announced via Twitter that their car will be revealed on February 1, the first day of testing in Valencia. They have also resigned Jaime Alguersuari, much to my dismay. I was not impressed with his performances in 2009, but this may be due to him having zero testing as well. If Jaime isn’t up to speed after preseason testing, then sound the alarms.

Why Renault should sign Nick Heidfeld

January 20, 2010 Leave a comment

According to Eric Boullier, the new team principal at Renault, the team may not sign their second driver in time for the first test session of 2010. This worries me because, as I understand it, they have four drivers in their sights at the moment and three of them are rookies who have never raced in F1 in any form. These rookies are Vitaly Petrov, Ho-Pin Tung, and Jerome D’Ambrosio. I do not want any of these three driving the Renault if the decision for a second driver comes late.

My main reason for protesting against any of the three previously mentioned drivers signing for Renault is quite simple. If they will not be signed in time for testing, then why even sign a rookie? We saw last year how much a rookie can struggle without proper testing. Does Jaime Alguersuari ring any bells? Luca Badoer did no better, and he wasn’t even a rookie, but merely an old dog who couldn’t learn the new tricks of F1 due to the restrictions on testing.

So, in my opinion, the fact that Renault is waiting to long to sign their second driver is very ominous looking. According to Boullier, they are waiting to get their sponsors sorted out and also want to restore morale to the team. Great ideas, but what if they simply take… Too long? They cannot go much longer without signing a second driver, but I’m sure that they know this.

The fourth driver in Renault’s sights is Nick Heidfeld, the BMW Sauber teammate of Renault’s current driver Robert Kubica. Nick is a much better option to take than any of the rookies I had mentioned. While some of the rookies such as Petrov may bring in sponsorship money, Heidfeld brings what neither Petrov nor the other two rookies can bring to the team, and that is proven race experience. Nick Heidfeld is certainly no slouch, and it’s a damn shame that he is still without a drive for 2010.

Kubica and Heidfeld had raced together at BMW Sauber from late 2006 until the end of the 2009 season. There is no doubt in my mind that the two know each other somewhat well by now, and I’m sure that they must be able to work together just as well, too. Renault should sign Heidfeld, at least for the sake of continuity.

Heidfeld has several years of race experience, is a proven points scorer, and knows Kubica. It just seems like a no brainer to me. Is there any reason not to sign Heidfeld? There’s zero doubt in my mind that Heidfeld and Kubica is the best driver line-up that Renault can currently obtain.

A part of me would also like to see these two together at Renault just because I want them to emulate Jean Alesi and Gerhard Berger, two drivers who also raced together at two different teams (Benetton and Ferrari).

Only time will tell what Renault does, but I hope that they go with the most logical choice. They don’t necessarily need sponsorship money as much as smaller teams, so they don’t require a pay driver. Heidfeld is the right choice, and I hope that Eric Boullier sees this.

2010: The Most Exciting Season Ever?

January 16, 2010 Leave a comment

At Autosport International, Martin Brundle explained how he felt that 2010 would be one of the most exciting seasons ever to him, even more than some seasons when he was actually driving. This certainly says a lot, and I’m inclined to agree with him that 2010 could be one heck of a great season. Here are the factors of the upcoming season which, to me, are the most exciting.

The Return of Michael Schumacher
Needless to say, this is the biggest draw for almost everyone. FOM expects the return of the Red Baron (though I think he should be called the Silver Surfer now) to attract many new fans to Formula One. It should be a no brainer to anyone who follows Formula One that this is probably true.

His detractors may say whatever they want about the teams he’s driven for, his own abilities, or the quality of his competition, but their claims are completely overshadowed by the truth. That truth is that Michael Schumacher is statistically the greatest Formula One driver of all time.

He is only 41 years old which, while older than any other driver on the grid, is anything but too old to drive in Formula One. Many current and former drivers expect Schumacher to have few problems being competitive again, and their beliefs are backed by Dr. Steve Olvey, an exceptionally qualified doctor (as if the title didn’t give that away) and rampant fan of auto racing who was also involved in Grand Prix Masters.

Schumacher has so much support behind him and so many facts supporting him that it is impossible to write off the 41 year old seven time world champion.

Alonso vs Hamilton, Part II
2007 was a season to remember. Not only did my main man Kimi Raikkonen win the title, but we were also treated to a heated rivalry between the McLaren teammates of two time champion Fernando Alonso and baby faced rookie Lewis Hamilton. While it is said that the sparks were mostly generated by Ron Dennis butting heads with our dear Fred, and that the media also blew it out of proportion, it is impossible to deny that 2007 gave birth to one of the most exciting rivalries of the current generation of drivers – Alonso vs Hamilton.

Lewis has never been hesitant to talk up his 2007 season, much to the dismay of Alonso fans and Hamilton haters, and it has caused the world to yearn for Alonso to climb back into a competitive car so that we can see the two go at it once more. Will 2010 settle a score and tell us who is better? Well, no. Why not? I’ll simply say this, who is better between Prost and Senna? …. I rest my case.

Ferrari vs McLaren
As both teams secure very powerful line-ups and look to have championship contending cars once more, one cannot help but wonder if the epic rivalry of the past decade will be reborn. This rivalry has given us such amazing battles over the past ten years.

Schumacher vs Hakkinen
Schumacher vs Coulthard
Schumacher vs Raikkonen
Raikkonen vs Alonso/Hamilton
Massa vs Hamilton

Those are some very impressive matchups! What are we likely to see this year?

Alonso vs Hamilton
Alonso vs Button
Massa vs Hamilton
Massa vs Button

While Button doesn’t really get my adrenaline running, the Alonso, Hamilton, and Massa factors are all very significant and this could be a thrilling season if these two teams are at the top!

Mercedes vs McLaren

The alliance has been shattered as Mercedes now desires to stand on its own in Formula One! Their partnership with McLaren was a powerful one, but did it yield as many championships as it should have? I’m not certain.

When looking at each team’s roster, it is hard not to be excited about these two fighting one another. McLaren, arguably the most loved British team in Formula One (unfortunately due to Williams’ slump) is fielding the two most recent world champions, both British. On the other side of the lake is Mercedes, the German superpower who has recruited two Germans. One, a prospect of the future named Nico Rosberg. The other, a seven time world champion named Michael Schumacher. Is there any way not to find this matchup exciting?

Lotus vs Virgin

There is only one reason to follow this matchup if you ignore the fact that they are clearly the strongest of the new teams.

The bosses of each team, Tony Fernandes of Lotus and Richard Branson of Virgin, made a little deal with one another. You see, they each operate successful airline businesses and they have agreed to race each other in the 2010 championship. The boss of the losing team must act as a stewardess on the winning team’s airline for a day. Now if that’s not an exciting bet, then I don’t know what is!

Air Asia is playing hardball with this too. Want proof? Here it is.

Korean Grand Prix

To be honest, I know very little about this circuit. I’m only aware that it is a street circuit that will run by a harbour, and is designed by Hermann Tilke. Here is what it looks like. This is taken directly from the official circuit’s website, but downgraded to fit the width of my blog.

While it doesn’t look incredibly interesting, it’s always nice to go to new races for the first time. Hopefully South Korea will deliver a good race to the fans.

Four New Teams

Campos, Lotus, USF1, and Virgin. While some speculate that Campos and USF1 will not be on the grid (even though one can see that each are quite busy and rapidly working away just by reading the news), Lotus and Virgin are the strongest of the new teams with great drivers and strong backing.

It has been a long while since more than one new team has entered in one season, unless I’m having a serious brainfade. Four is a very impressive number, and it brings a lot of unpredictability to the new season. Will they all be backmarkers, or will they mix it up with the Force Indias and Toro Rossos? What if one of the new teams goes even higher up the grid? With some of the drivers that have signed for the new teams, I wouldn’t be surprised and I’m anxiously looking forward to seeing what they can accomplish.

Several Rookies

In recent seasons, we haven’t been treated to as many rookies as we’re used to. 2010 looks to remedy that by introducing several to us at once.

Nico Hulkenburg
Bruno Senna
Lucas Di Grassi
Kamui Kobayashi (He is, technically, still a rookie.)

Very nice names! USF1 looks set to announce José María López, whom I know very little about, but another new face will be welcomed warmly by me.

I really do like that list of rookies. Hulkenburg is being hyped as the next big thing, and Bruno Senna, nephew of the great Ayrton Senna, is supposedly no slouch either. Lucas Di Grassi is, from what I have heard, quite formidable too. Kamui Kobayashi will become a full-time driver rather than just a replacement, and I’m excited to see what he can do over the course of an entire season.

Four World Champions

Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, and Michael Schumacher will all take to the grid in 2010. Four world champions is mighty impressive, and it’s a number that has my heart thumping! Considering that just last year we only had two line up at the start of the year, and it is easy to understand why this is exciting.

Jacques Villeneuve has confirmed that he is also looking for a drive in 2010. If he finds a seat, that would give us five champions on the grid, though I feel that Villeneuve returning is very unlikely.

Looking ahead at the driver line-up, I feel that it’s such a shame that we lost Kimi Raikkonen to the WRC. To have five champions line up in Bahrain would have been fantastic.

Four Championship Contending Teams

Last but not least… Ferrari vs McLaren vs Mercedes vs Red Bull. The potential for this is very much there. Among these teams, we have several drivers who could win the championship.

Fernando Alonso
Jenson Button
Lewis Hamilton
Felipe Massa
Nico Rosberg
Michael Schumacher
Sebastian Vettel
Mark Webber

Though Button and Rosberg don’t look like particularly strong challengers for the title given the competition, they are still up there and that makes eight drivers who all stand a great chance of winning the world championship. Eight drivers.

Formula One hasn’t been this exciting since, well, before I was a viewer! Bring on 2010, I say. It’s going to be an absolute blast.