Button beats Bulls brilliantly

Formula One
The biggest event of the weekend was of course F1. McLaren shone, taking a 1-2 on the front row and the first British 1-2 since Adelaide 1995. Romain Grosjean was brilliant and started third, while Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher was fourth. Webber and Vettel were only able to manage fifth and sixth.
The race began, and immediately Hamilton lost out to Button. From there, Button streaked away in a Vettel-esque fashion, with Hamilton close behind. Schumi remained third, while Grosjean lost out to Vettel. Webber dropped to 9th, tapping Hulkenberg by accident and making the German drop out. Grosjean dropped to sixth. Pastor Maldonado was behind the French driver, while Alonso was up to 8th from 12th.
Soon, however, Grosjean was out. The French driver was passed by Maldonado, but failed to drop back when he was in the Venezuelan’s blind spot. A while later, Schumacher had a gearbox failure.
Massa and Rosberg both had tyre troubles, while McLaren were apparently in major fuel saving mode due to a miscalculation – yet they still stayed ahead. The race passed without major incident until the second round of pit stops. The gap between the McLarens allowed them to pit both drivers on the same lap, and the team made a very slick job of it. Ferrari, however, did the five fastest stops of the race. As Button and Hamilton were on their out lap, Vitaly Petrov had a steering failure in his Caterham and pulled up on the pit straight. The safety car came out. Vettel pitted, and emerged between the McLarens.
The field bunched up, and unlapping took place except for Heikki Kovalainen, who was also having car trouble and pitted. He was too fast going onto the pit entry and overtook Vettel and Hamilton, so the Finn has a 5-place grid penalty in Malaysia.
There were more retirements after the safety car, with Senna and Massa having a clash. Massa was out, while Senna retired after a few laps. The other Williams of Maldonado was in sixth behind Alonso, while Perez, Rosberg, Kobayashi and Raikkonen were in another battle with Ricciardo, Di Resta and Vergne behind.
On the final lap, Maldonado crashed as Rosberg’s fuel tank came close to empty. The German fell back to 12th, and there was a big mix-up between the remaining drivers. Kobayashi took sixth, with Raikkonen seventh just ahead of Perez, Ricciardo, Di Resta and Vergne. Those four crossed the line right on top of each other.

McLaren now lead the constructors’ championship with Red Bull second and Sauber third. Jenson Button leads the drivers’ championship. Webber made his best ever finish in his home GP. Perez improved from 22nd to 8th, while Raikkonen went from 17th to 7th.

Formula Renault UK
Young British drivers have been really struggling to find funding for the 2012 season, and with only six entries by today, the organisers have been forced to cancel the series. This is a real disappointment for a series that has seen drivers like Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton and even Pedro de la Rosa. There were 30 drivers in the winter series, but many of them are in the NEC and Eurocup. Many drivers were hoping to take part, but now they will have to look elsewhere to start their racing careers – if they can still find a space.

F2
German driver Markus Pommer was today announced in the 2012 season, He finished well in the German F3 championship and was good in winter testing. However, he does have some dodgy sponsors.

GP2
Rapax have signed French driver Tom Dillmann and Angolan Ricardo Teixeira for 2012. Dillmann shone in GP3, driving the first weekend for Carlin where he got a podium. Despite this, Carlin dropped Dillmann and he missed the second weekend before returning with Addax. In the GP2 final he drove for iSport, qualifying 9th (best of the GP3 drivers) and finishing 6th in the feature race. In the sprint he finished second to James Calado.
By contrast, Teixeira has not had a good racing career. He drove in GP2 2009 for Trident, not qualifying for several races and scoring no points. In 2010 he drove in F2, taking fifth place at Marraketch but struggling otherwise. Last year he test drove for Team Lotus (now Caterham).

Venezuela GP Lazarus are yet to announce their second driver as the teams head to Malaysia for the first race of the season.

GP3 has live timing!

It’s been ‘one of those days’ for Jules Bianchi. Having announced his 2012 drive with Tech 1 in Formula Renault 3.5 (alongside Estonian Kevin Korjus), he set off in the Force India for morning testing in Jerez. This lasted all of three laps, where he caused the first crash of testing. Though the car was not severely damaged, the team lacked the necessary parts for repair. This meant that neither Jules not Nico Hulkenberg (taking over in the afternoon) were able to do any more testing. Nico should get a full day tomorrow.
Generally teams have expressed pleasure with their new cars, though Ferrari have been making unhappy noises. It is probable that these teams are hiding the true facts – do Ferrari want others to underestimate them? Do other teams want to be overestimated? We shall see…
HRT have had a setback in their 2012 car as it failed an FIA crash test. They will need to make changes to the car quickly, as there are only around two weeks before the next test in Barcelona.

Alex Lynn will now be contesting the Euro F3 Open winter series with Team West-Tec, a British outfit. The FRUK champion will be in Portugal at the Algarve circuit the weekend after this one, and at Paul Ricard on the weekend of March 3rd. The Brit will go on to compete with Fortec in the British F3 series this year.

The new GP3 website has launched, featuring for the first time what we all wanted to see – live timing! Now it is possible to follow along with the races without TV coverage.

Don’t forget that Rally Sweden has started this weekend, with Mini’s Dani Sordo quickest on the opening superspecial stage. The Spaniard, who chose to run 11th on the road after the drivers picked their starting positions for the first time, is likely to lose ground over the next few days. However it is a good start for the team.

Formula Renault UK hopes for great 2012

Formula Renault UK organisers have been working hard over the winter to produce an exciting new format for race weekends that will attract more viewers, teams and drivers. Drivers will have to work hard in qualifying to be assured good starting positions in each race, and even then they might not be guaranteed it!
There will be three races each weekend. The first race will be a 15-minute sprint, and the second and third will be 30 minutes each. Drivers will start the third race based on their fastest times, the second race based on their second-fastest times, and the first race based on a draw which will work as follows:

  • A position from 6-10 will be picked
  • All places from first down to that position will be reversed

This is already used in BTCC for the final race of the weekend, but it may cause less havoc for drivers with only the first race being affected.

There will be a new class added to the series, called the Formula Renault Junior class. Teams will be able to run the pre-2010 chassis at a reduced entry fee. The champion of that class will be awarded £1000 amongst other prizes (a shiny watch and a race suit) to help in their career.

It is expected that grid sizes will be larger in 2012, which is good news after the typical 12-car entries from last season and the loss of Manor Competition. Mark Burdett Motorsport has already announced that Brazilian Gabriel Casegrande will be driving for them; Casegrande recently came 3rd in a 500 mile kart race organised by Rubens Barrichello.

Along with support for much of the BTCC rounds, FR UK will be attending the F3 Masters event at Zandvoort in July, and the F3/GT event at Silverstone in early September. Scots may be disappointed, however, as Knockhill is once again missed out. The season begins on March 31st at Brands Hatch.

Complete FR UK press release including calendar: http://frenaultuk.wordpress.com/2012/01/27/277/

Manor and MP combine for NEC and Eurocup campaigns

Since 1989, when Formula Renault UK began, Manor Motorsport has been there. They won the team championship for all but one year from 1994-2000, including that of Kimi Raikkonen, and also won in 2010 with Tom Blomqvist amidst the domination of Fortec. Last season, their main trio of drivers were Josh Hill, Alice Powell and Jordan King – all drivers whose names seem to come up regularly these days.
Founded by John Booth (Marussia team principal), the team was sold to engineer Tony Shaw and his wife Sarah in 2006. They continued to race under the name Manor Competition, and when Virgin Racing came into existence they adopted the same black and red livery to maintain a connection to the F1 team.
Costs, however, are high in FR UK. Until 2009, the team was able to race soley in the series, but new cars from 2010 gave a massive burden on the team’s coffers and, according to this week’s Autosport magazine, they have been forced to make changes. Combining with Dutch outfit MP Motorsport, their Formula Renault team will be known as Manor MP Motorsport, and race in the FR Eurocup with three cars, and the Northern European Cup with six cars. They will retain the red and black livery.

MP Motorsport, who usually run with a yellow livery, began racing in Formula Ford before they turned to Benelux FR 2.0 in 2003. Since 2006 they have been involved in the NEC, and in 2009 they began with the Eurocup. They have picked up a few Eurocup podiums, but had better success in the NEC.
Some 2012 drivers have already been signed; Jordan King joins from the Manor side, while Kal-Oscar Liiv comes from MP Motorsport. Both will be competing in the Eurocup and NEC, alongside one other driver. Meanwhile FFord festival runner-up Steijn Schothorst, a Dutch driver, will be taking part in the NEC for Manor MP.

It will be a shame not to have Manor Competition in FR UK any more. The series supports the BTCC, which means that they are on British televisions every race weekend. This gives massive exposure to the teams. However, the Eurocup and NEC will provide better exposure within single-seater racing, as the Eurocup supports the Formula Renault 3.5 championship.

Red Bull keep hold of Buemi

Good news today as Sebastien Buemi remains in Formula One. With Red Bull lacking a junior series driver at the right level for F1, they have retained the Swiss for the next season. He will be reserve at Red Bull and Toro Rosso.
Buemi was the last of the Red Bull drivers to go through GP2, with the scheme preferring Formula Renault 3.5. He drove for ART in 2007 for half a season, taking two seventh places and a fastest lap. In 2008 he moved to Arden, run by Christian Horner’s Dad (the team originally being set up for Horner to race in) and took two wins and three other podiums on his way to sixth. So in 2009 he became a Toro Rosso driver.
In his first season, he scored six points (under the old top-8 system) with a best finish of 7th. This would end up being his best finish of his career so far, achieved on his debut in Australia and at the Brazilian GP that year.
2010 was a tough year for Toro Rosso, scoring few points and finishing ninth as they lacked an f-duct where every other team developed one. Buemi scored six points, beating his teammate Jaime Alguersuari.
Finally 2011, and Toro Rosso were improving. Despite a strong start to the season he faltered, and was overtaken in the points by his younger teammate. While Buemi’s best finish was 8th, Alguersuari finished 7th twice, both in races that Buemi also finished (Italy and Korea). The Spaniard also managed to finish in the points twice after going out in Q1.
Clearly Red Bull still think they can get something from Sebastien, and hopefully he will be able to continue improving the Toro Rosso as well as working with the RB8.

In other news, P1 Motorsport founder Roly Vincini hopes to be joining the Formula Renault UK championship this year. He has abandoned British F3 plans, and is likely to enter two cars under the GP1 Engineering name. This is good news for the championship, which had a regular field of about 12 drivers last season. Vincini aims to increase the size of the team to four eventually, and says that he is already close to signing his first driver. (via Autosport Magazine)

The first F1 cars are due to be launched next month, with McLaren first before pre-season testing begins in Jerez on February 7th. The noise coming from McLaren (and in particular Lewis Hamilton) is that the MP4-27 should be a good contender against the RB8. Of course, testing can only tell you so much. Nothing is certain until the first race in Australia.

More news will hopefully come soon regarding Williams. See you soon!

Abu Dhabi timetable

I’ve been having the parents up all week, hence the delayed blog posts. I’ve noticed a spike in views recently, and I’d like to thank everyone for reading. Please pass on this blog to other people if you like it.

Anyway, here is the combined GP2/F1 timetable for the race weekend:

Day

Time

GMT

Series

Session

Length

Friday

10:00

6:00

GP2

Practice

45 mins

Friday

13:00

9:00

F1

Practice 1

90 mins

Friday

14:55

10:55

GP2

Qualifying

30 mins

Friday

17:00

13:00

F1

Practice 2

90 mins

Saturday

11:00

7:00

GP2

Race 1

31 laps

Saturday

14:00

10:00

F1

Practice 3

60 mins

Saturday

17:00

13:00

F1

Qualifying

60 mins

Sunday

13:30

9:30

GP2

Race 2

22 laps

Sunday

17:00

13:00

F1

Race

55 laps

Don’t forget that the Formula Renault UK finals are on at Rockingham on Saturday. Only two races remain, and Oliver Rowland is set for the win unless something drastic happens.

Clos and Marinescu called up for Rapax

GP2
Rapax have announced their GP2 finals lineup. Despite not finishing in the top three in F2, Mihai Marinescu will have his chance in a GP2 car alongside experienced Spaniard Dani Clos. Romanian Mihai finished 5th this season, winning the first race at Monza from pole, and also taking the fastest lap. He also finished third on three occasions: in both races at the Red Bull Ring and in the second race at the Circuit de Catalunya.
Though he hasn’t won any GP2 races this season, Dani Clos finished second on two occasions and finished 9th overall. He won a GP2 race in 2010, and has plenty of experience.

FR UK
The experienced Formula Renault UK drivers shone in qualifying, with Daniil Kvyat also making good pace. Josh Hill was fastest, with Jordan King second, Oliver Rowland third, Dan Wells fourth, Kvyat fifth and Felix Serrales sixth. For the second race, the drivers’ second-fastest times were taken. Again, Hill took pole, with Rowland second, Wells third, King fourth, Serrales fifth and Kvyat sixth.
The races went well for Rowland, who won both. Josh Hill was demoted to second, and followed by Dany Kvyat and Jordan King. But King and Hill both spun, leaving them further down the results. Instead, Felix Serrales joined Rowland and Kvyat on the podium. The second was marred by a clumsy overtake from Rowland on Josh Hill who was forced out of the race. The situation also caused a safety car for several laps. Dan Wells came second followed by Serrales. Kvyat was fourth, with King seventh behind Josh Webster and Stefan Wackerbauer.

Tomorrow there will be more GP2 news and more Formula Renault UK racing.