Between a rock and an Ice-man

Sunday, 10th November,  Lotus announces that Kimi wouldn’t compete in final two races due to back surgery. This has come as no surprise to most Formula One enthusiasts who are aware of the tensions building between the Finn & the Anglo-French outfit.

Kimi publicly disclosed that he hadn’t been paid for the entire year and the BBC says Genii (Lotus team financier) decided to prioritise paying staff instead of their star driver.

Now here is the quagmire: Lotus is in financial strife and would be targeting 2nd or 3rd place in the Constructors’ Championship to earn more money from the “FOM pot”.  This requires strong point-scoring performances from both drivers. However with Kimi out of the picture, this responsibility falls on Grosjean and possibly their reserve driver(s) Davide Valsecchi or Jerome D’Ambrosio – who haven’t had much racing experience.

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Heikki at Lotus (c) @Lotus_F1Team

Lotus approached Michael Schumacher and Nico Hulkenberg for this seat however the team finally announced on 14th November that Kimi’s vacant seat would be filled by another Finn, Heikki Kovalainen (an experienced driver with more recent experience as a Caterham reserve driver, a race win and a few podium finishes under his belt) thereby giving them a good chance to fight for 2nd or 3rd in the Constructors’ Championship.

This blogger is particularly happy with this choice as Heikki was one of the unlucky drivers who lost out to less-experienced “pay drivers” and deserves a seat in a good F1 team. Heikki will race in the Austin and the Interlagos Grands Prix.

Autosport Awards Voting Opens

Nominations for the Autosport Awards were revealed in today’s edition of the magazine and also online at http://www.autosport.com website.

Vote here in categories including British Driver of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Racing Car of the Year, International Rally Driver of the Year etc and a list of last year’s winners can be found here.

Maria Remembered

11-10-2013: News of Maria de Villota’s death broke over the weekend of the Japanese Grand Prix. It has been reported that the 33 year old former F1 test driver died of “natural causes” in her hotel room in Seville.

She was due to launch her autobiography titled “La Vida es un regalo (Life is a Gift)” in Madrid next week. I was fortunate to interview her early in her F1 career. Read her interview here.

Thank you for being an inspiration to us all. You will be sorely missed. Rest in Peace, Maria.

maria De Villota

Singapore GP Experience

Everyone who follows Formula 1 on Twitter must have dreamt of going to a live race and of the non-classic tracks, Singapore must be one of the most popular choices for most fans.

Jacqui and her friends made the trip to Singapore this year and from their photos, they had maximum access to all aspects of the race weekend and drivers. Jacqui has agreed to share her Singapore Fling experience with fellow fans.

What was your budget and how long in advance did you book flights and accomodation?

Our budget was AUD $10k (£6k) per person for flights, accommodation & race tickets which also included the entertainment – but we were in Singapore for 2 weeks. Singapore is one of the most expensive races on the F1 calendar so you need to have a decent budget

On arrival, how were the locals and temperature?

The locals are very friendly & willing to help. Everyone speaks English so it’s easy to communicate. The temperature is about 27° day & night. The humidity is about 90°. There’s a little bit of relief in the evenings when the sun goes down, but it’s still very humid. Don’t bother packing jackets…you won’t need them. It was ALWAYS hot. You were allowed to take water bottles in & there are filling stations around the circuit.

Food-wise – there was a fantastic variety. I don’t eat Asian food but I didn’t starve over there. Lots of Western food choices in the city – pizza, pasta, sandwiches, cakes, donuts, ice cream…. All available!! I don’t consume dairy but that was ok too because most places make soy milkshakes/coffee.

How easy was it to get from track to hotel?

If you stay in the Central Business District (CBD) you’re pretty much on the track already or only a 5 minute walk away. If you chose to stay our of the CDB you can get to the track on the Metro & it’s never packed. It costs a couple of dollars each way & even the taxis are cheap. Lots of cabs around so you’ll never have an issue getting home.

While you watched Qualifying and the race, amongst whom did you sit?

I was in Corporate hospitality for this race & it was 40/60 (40% locals & 60% international) I think this was the general consensus around the track. Our view was fantastic but you don’t need Corp hospitality or even a Grandstand seat for a great view. Singapore’s General Admission (GA) ticket holders get fantastic close-up action from most parts of the track. I walked through GA during FP2 & put my arm out. If it were double the length I would have touched the cars as they raced by (but that’d be dangerous!)

 Also, we had 2 screens in our area. No FanVision this year but I hear they’re trying to re-negotiate for next yr.

Did you “invade the track” after the race?

You could get onto the grid for the celebrations, but they kicked everyone out after an hour. We hung around & waited for the drivers to leave so we could get their autographs/pictures as they left the circuit. Most fans go to the concerts so it’s a great opportunity to meet your fave F1 personality

Which cars impressed you the most? Did you meet any drivers?

McLaren always impress me. Yes, we met every driver at least twice over the week. If you’re prepared to stake out the paddock entry & local hotels, you will meet every F1 personality

Internet/Tweeting: Best way to tweet while over there

We all bought SingTel SIM cards which gave us 3G & 4G everywhere we went so it was easy to keep in touch

Was this your first GP, Would you recommend this event to others?

It was my 22nd GP but only my 1st Singapore GP. I highly recommend it to everyone. The night life is fantastic & if you really want to meet your fave driver, it’s not that hard!!

Thanks to Jacqui for answering these questions about SingaporeGP. You can follow her on Twitter @jacqui_and_west

Vettel boycotts Webber’s Farewell party

According to BILD website (responsible for breaking the story on Timo’s departure from Marussia and other credible F1 stories), World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel boycotted his current team-mate’s leaving party at the last European race of the season.

It is well known in the paddock that these two drivers are not on each other’s Christmas Card list but this seems like an over-the-top boycott and a missed opportunity to bury the hatchet.

BILD says:

The World Champion sat down one floor alone at a table and played with his phone. [At the party], chatted Mercedes team boss Ross Brawn, the world champion Jenson Button (McLaren) and Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes). Frank Williams was carried up the stairs in a wheelchair.

“We are no longer friends. But we respect each other”, said the Vettel 2 hours before. But the fifth-year team-mates have escalated the feud: crash manoeuvers at the start (Brazil 2012) and team orders (Malaysia) – and now the boycott.

A few weeks ago, on the popular motoring show TopGear, Webber was asked if he would miss his team-mate, and he replied after a long pause; “Probably not much”

AussieGrit

With his newly announced team-mate Daniel Ricciardo, it is hoped that a mutual respect and perhaps friendship can develop and be maintained. But with 3 World Constructor Championships from the Vettel and Webber partnership, it shows you don’t have to be best friends with your team-mate to have a successful F1 team.

Jerusalem Peace Road Show

Guest Blog by @geo1302 (Giorgio Tabarani) - Photos to follow soon

How It All Began

I have never done this before, but I received a message during class on Thursday morning saying “come on man, get here already!”.

It was from a friend of mine who got to Jerusalem already on Wednesday as part of the FSAE program our university, Technion Israel Institute of Technology, is taking part of. Students from mechanical engineering, electrical engineering & Aeronautics started working on the project back in September and the car is finally ready for display and hopefully competing in the Italian FSAE race in September, one week after the Italian Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monza.

They were invited to show off the car in the Peace Road Show as part of promoting motorsport in the country.

Anyway, my friend told me he’ll get me a shirt from his team and sneak me inside the “pits” to see the cars backstage.

From The Pits

After 3.5 hours of traveling and getting lost in the city thanks to many closed roads, I managed to meet up with him, take my shirt and get inside.

They had already rolled out the Ferrari GT cars (1x 458, 3x F430), 2x Ferrari F60 (although I was told only one will run), 1x Audi DTM car and 1x LMP2 Lotus!

I tried to peek inside the garage where the cars were displayed for 4 days (it was closed on Thursday and Friday) and saw the Marussia standing still under the dark only to be told it will not be running! Doesn’t matter as I’m a Ferrari fan and didn’t come to see anything else!

After 30 minutes under the sun we spotted Giancarlo Fisichella standing with the Ferrari mechanics near the F60, and being the only one who recognized him, I started shouting his name. He gave us (3 friends from the FSAE team and myself, so it was quite private!!) a little gesture and went in to change to his overalls. That’s when I started feeling pity for him as it was around 33C in the shadows and he has to wear those hot overalls!

Gradually some (grownup) kids including the Ferrari Driving Academy youngster Antonio Fuoco started getting into the GT cars in the pits, revving them up while we were shouting for them “more, more!”  and get on the 2.8km long track, each doing 3 laps.

After they got back in, they fired up the Audi DTM car. The sound was astonishing! It’s loud and dirty noise, but gives you an amazing sensation when it gets into your heart. Vitantonio Liuzzi took the car out, again, 3 laps and back in.

10 minutes wait until they fired up the Lotus LMP2 car, once again driven by Liuzzi! 3 laps and back in.

Now it was Max Biaggi’s turn to take his Ducati bike out for 2 laps.

Meanwhile we had Chris Pfeiffer warming up his bike (brakes, to be precise) in the pits in front of us. Doing some doughnuts and wheelies, we couldn’t but keep clapping hands, whistling and shouting for him to do more. He’d look at us, give us two thumbs up and do more stunts. What was interesting is he’d stop for a moment after 2 minutes, take a bottle of water and put some on his rear brakes. I guess he doesn’t have to do such things when he’s out on track because he has enough area to speed & cool them down “naturally”.

Finally, he took his BMW bike out to the streets for about 10 minutes, having two main “stages” to perform his stunts for around 4 minutes each and one smaller stage for 2 minutes.

One of the most interesting things we noticed and managed to hear from the drivers when they got back was how terrible the track surface was. To quote one of the Ferrari drivers: “the track is very uneven” and the exact words from Pfeiffer “The surface is very slippery. I don’t know when to brake!”

Meanwhile the Ferrari mechanics turned on the engine on the F60. Everyone went crazy. You could hear the crowds from far shouting as well, even though there were no cameras or anything – all based on the sound.

According to plan, one of the Ferrari head mechanics or a similar part, took a Maserati and went out for “Safety Check” – check the track for oil residue, trash or any other hazards.

20 seconds before the Maserati came in, the Ferrari started rolling out, revving it up a bit – all according to time so when the Maserati comes in; the F60 goes out.

Since the same show was going to be repeated, we decided to go out of the pits & onto the track to see what the drivers do outside too.

From The Track

We got into one of the main stages where drivers had some space to do doughnuts and Chris could perform his tricks. We met some other friends there and hung out there until the show was over.

Some of the highlights were: seeing the F60 with full gas, doing doughnuts and burnouts. Towards the end, Fisi was driving the car slowly up a hill while we were standing trackside, so we all (10 people!) waved him to slow down and stop – surprisingly he answered our request! He did a race start simulation right in front of leaving 3 meters long tyre mark on the street. Definitely highlight of the event.

Pfeiffer did some incredible tricks like standing on the bike, wheelies both front and back, switching legs on wheelies, flip jump off the bike, putting a hot blond girl on the track and driving quickly towards her then front wheelie to kiss her (he failed 4 out of 6 times though, haha).

You can see the show on Youtube, probably :)

Slightly after the “european” cars (Ferrari, Audi, Lotus) finished their show, there was a small rally for israeli-built cars, including rally, karting, buggies and bikes. We all laughed when one bike just halted. The poor guy was humiliated on live TV so we decided to cheer him up and clap hands for him.

Politics

Now to the other side of the scale: Politics.

One of my friends did mention the irony of calling the show “Peace Road Show” and conducting it right in Jerusalem, the most provocative city in the Middle East. On the one hand, you have the Palestinians who claim the whole country to be theirs, on the other hand you have the Jewish who claim to have won it fair and square, in addition to historic rights. Both claim Jerusalem to be the capital of their countries.

Outsiders would say it wasn’t a peaceful show as there were a lot of police attendance, “hundreds of them”, to quote some papers. Not sure how much they know, but that is quite usual in Jerusalem, especially in the area where the show took place:

It was outside the walls of the Ancient City. A place to all three main religions: Christianity, Islam and Judaism- containing some of the most important monuments and holy places. Regardless of which country we’re talking about, there will always be tension between the religious bodies around there and police forces are in demand.

I, for one, don’t care about the politics people mentioned regarding this event. The place was filled with Arabs, Jews, Russians, Ethiopians and tourists who happened to be in the city. From my sources, there were 0 incidents between people. The show came mainly to promote motorsports in the country (which were legalised only last year!) and secondly show signs of peace in the area. Granted, there are fights in the country, but not as the media reports it. To stick to my principles, I will not talk any further about the politics behind this story: I’m not a politician, so I don’t handle this topic!

 

FIA Formula E Preliminary 2014 Calendar

Formula E Holdings has presented the FIA with a preliminary list of 8 cities to host races in the 2014 FIA Formula E Championship.

Cities that are included in the preliminary calendar are: London, Rome, Los Angeles, Miami, Beijing, Putrajaya, Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro. (Rio and Rome are already confirmed and announced).

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “Zero emission world class motor racing is a scintillating concept and I am hugely keen that London be involved in the birth of Formula E. It has the potential to highlight the impressive strides being made in the manufacture of electric vehicles and hosting a street race could also be of considerable economic benefit to our city.”

The Mayor of Miami, Tomas Regalado commented: “We are enthusiastic about the future organization and promotion of Formula E, the worldwide championship for electric single-seater cars, sponsored by de Fédération Internationale de l´Automobile.”

formulaERome

FEH intends to organise up to 10 races in 2014, the inaugural year of the Championship. A further 2 slots will be kept free, to include 2 additional cities among those that have expressed interest.

The promoter has started working with the 8 cities included in the calendar, to discuss all the specific elements involved in hosting a street race. The objective is to finalise formal agreements with the cities on or before July 1st 2013.

The final calendar will be presented to FIA for its approval at the September 2013 World Motor Sport Council.

Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E Holdings, said: “We are thankful to all the cities that have expressed their willingness to host our races. The fact that cities from all over the world are interested in the FIA Formula E Championship is extremely heartening and shows a global commitment to clean mobility and sustainability. The provisional calendar we publish today is composed of cities in America, Europe and Asia. We look forward to also racing in Africa and Australasia from 2015 onwards.”

“At the moment we are working with the 8 selected cities on the feasibility and design of the street circuits. They will all be in city centres, easily accessible by public transport, and will feature some of the most beautiful and well-known landmarks as a spectacular backdrop for the races. The fact that we will only race in city centres highlights the main message of our Championship: the electric car as a solution for mobility in cities of the future.”

With regards to teams, so far FEH has proposed two teams out of ten to the FIA for the 2014 race, these are: the first British team Drayson and the first official Chinese team China Racing.

In February 2013, the Italian company Dallara announced it would design the first Formula E cars and the first sketches have already been released. McLaren is designing and building the powertrain for the cars in a consortium with Spark Racing Technology (SRT), a new company led by French businessman Frederic Vasseur.

Formula E is an ‘open’ championship, it encourages car designers and constructors to build a Formula E car. The FIA technical regulations have set the framework for making such submissions possible. To ensure the availability of cars for the first year, FEH has ordered 42 cars from SRT for the 2014 Championship.

Contribution by @F1nomics

FOTA Forum Barcelona 2013

If you missed the most recent FOTA Fans’ Forum at Barcelona, here is the video. The panel features Jaime Alguersuari, James Allison, Graeme Lowndon and Giedo Van Der Garde.

I do not own the rights – I have just posted it here for fans that missed the live streaming.

2013 F1 Pirelli Tyres

Here is a short view on the 2013 Pirelli tyres, including the new Orange coloured Hard tyre.

20th Edition of Lorenzo Bandini Trophy

In 2013, no F1 driver will receive the Lorenzo Bandini  Trophy. In the 20th year of the award, the Honorary Committee of the Lorenzo Bandini Association has decided to award the trophy to the Vice President of the Scuderia Ferrari, Piero Ferrari.

This is in keeping with other special anniversary years such as the 30th anniversary of the death of Lorenzo Bandini, the trophy was presented to Luca Cordero di Montezemolo and at the 10th edition of the event to Michael Schumacher.

Piero Ferrari (left) (c) Motorsport.com

The association’s President Francesco Asirelli explains: “Italy and Romagna in particular, have always had a soft spot for the “Ferrari”. The name expresses the best Formula 1, not only for patriotic spirit but because the “Ferrari” has been able to arouse emotions that are not within the reach of any other team. This has led us to identify the Vice President, the assignee of the Lorenzo Bandini Trophy in 2013, the 20th edition”

13 years after Jarno Trulli received the award, the trophy is back in the hands of an Italian. The ceremony will be held on Sunday June 2nd at a ceremony in Brisighella, Italy.

Click here for information on last year’s recipient of the award, Bruno Senna and previous year’s winner, Nico Rosberg.

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