Alguersuari joins the BBC

Dumped Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari has a new job. His voice will soon be broadcast throughout the UK on BBC Radio 5 Live as he becomes the station’s expert F1 analyst – a role previously held by Sky’s Anthony Davidson. Alguersuari has a clear desire to return to F1, and this will give him every opportunity to stay around the paddock; he will be karting throughout the year to help keep up his physical training, and no doubt he will also do some DJing.
Whilst it’s not the best place to be in, it could be much worse for the Spaniard – who became the youngest ever to start an F1 race in 2009. Hopefully he will adapt well to radio, and soon be back on track. He was regarded by fans as a great prospect, and at only 21 he has a good chance of a return. Meanwhile, I will look forward to hearing him for the first race of the season.

Marussia also presented good news today, as their car passed the final crash test. It’s been a hard winter, but now they are ready for Melbourne.

It was a choppy 2011 for new Ocean Racing signing Jon Lancaster. The Brit participated in the F2 round at Magny-Cours, finishing both times in the points, but dropped out of the series. He then moved to Auto GP, participating in four races. He scored in all four of them, including a win and fastest lap at Donnington Park. But it’s hard to find sponsorship, and Lancaster was struggling. However, the Brit now has an opportunity to shine with what will hopefully be a full season at GP2.

The GP2s were testing in Barcelona today, and Fabrizio Crestani surprised everyone by going fastest for new team Lazarus. Carlin’s Max Chilton was fastest in the afternoon – a great improvement on 2011, as the team get used to the series. Second was Julian Leal, with Marcus Ericsson third. James Calado continued to be the best of the GP3 graduates, and he has a good chance of being a rookie champion.

Auto GP
This series gets under way in just a few days at Monza, supporting the WTCC. A few drivers have been confirmed, including Max Snegirev, Pal Varhaug and Daniel de Jong. The strange make-up of the calendar may be somewhat off-putting to drivers, but more should be revealed in the next few days.

2011 GP2 runner-up Luca Filippi has confirmed that he will be participating in the IndyCar championship this year from the Indy 500. He will be driving at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, which have Honda engines, alongside former F1 star Takuma Sato.

F2 to use Yokohama tyres from 2012

With the Autosport show beginning in Birmingham today, the usual decline in racing news over the winter has been given a boost. I’m not in Birmingham for the show, as I live too far away most of the time. However, I have gleaned some news from the Autosport website.

Firstly F2, which is changing its tyre supplier as it moves to a faster car. For the past three seasons the supplier has been UK-based Avon. However, the new car will use Japanese Yokohama tyres, purpose-built for the series and the car. It will also feature new carbon composite brakes. The changes made will allow newcomers to be able to work out their set-up more easily, and also should provide better racing.

British GP3 driver Alex Sims, who drove for Status in 2011, is putting his single-seater career on hold to become a McLaren works driver in the GT3 championship. Sims won the sprint race in Turkey last year, but had a run of bad luck in the second half of the season, scoring no points after the German Grand Prix weekend.

2011 Team Lotus reserve driver Karun Chandhok is also taking his focus off single-seaters as he joins the World Endurance Championship with the JRM Racing team. The series includes Le Mans 24 Hours and Sebring 12 Hours, and Chandhok will be the first Indian driver to take part in both those races.

Finally, the BBC have announced their complete lineup for TV and radio in 2012. Joining the TV team will be Gary Anderson, who will be pitlane reporter and technical analysit. Anderson was formerly the Jordan technical director. Meanwhile Jennie Gow, who was one of the BBC’s Moto GP reporters, joins the radio team in the pitlane.

Caterham comes to Formula One

Today Team Lotus takes on its new name Caterham F1. While the Lotus name isn’t gone from F1, many people will be sad to see it leave Tony Fernandes’ team. The rights to the ‘Team Lotus’ name have gone to Group Lotus, which is why they will be called ‘Lotus F1 Team’ for 2012.
All Lotus-connected teams in GP2 and GP3, Indycar and elsewhere will be painted black and gold to match the Formula One team, while all Caterham-connected teams will wear the traditional Lotus colours of green and yellow.
The new Caterham car will be called the CT01.

In BBC news, Ben Edwards will be leading the television commentary. He has formerly done commentary for F1 on the F1 digital+ channel, for CART, for the A1 GP and this year for ITV4’s BTCC coverage. He will be a popular replacement. However, his departure leaves ITV in a quandry as they search for replacements – they have also lost Steve Rider. There is also a question mark over who will partner Edwards in the commentary box.

F2 testing today saw several series regulars joined by several up-and-coming drivers including British Formula Ford champion Scott Malvern, and GP3 driver Vittorio Ghirelli. Ghirelli was unlucky not to score any points in the series this season. Hopefully some of the testing drivers will be in F2 next year. Fastest of all was Miki Monras, who is likely to be a challenger for the title next season.

F1 Birthdays: 18/4/2011

Today’s F1 birthday belongs to a very popular voice. Often alongside David Croft in the commentary box for BBC 5 live, the BBC Red Button, BBC Online and on-track FanVision (formerly Kangaroo TV), Anthony “Ant” Davidson is 32 today.
Ant raced in F1 for a short while for Super-Aguri Honda, but the financially-troubled team didn’t make it past four races in their final season. Honda’s main team also didn’t make it beyond the end of that season.
Prior to F1, he had shown his skills in British Formula Ford by winning the 1999 winter series and coming third in the main series in 2000. He test drove for BAR the next year while participating in British Formula Three (2nd) and the European Formula Three Cup Series (1st). Ant’s BF3 second place was against Takuma Sato, and Ant had 6 wins, 14 podiums overall, 6 fastest laps and 7 pole positions.
In 2002 he continued to test drive for BAR, but also had a couple of failed outings with Minardi. In 2003 he continued to test drive while also taking part in American Le Mans Series (ALMS). In 2005 he took to the grid again for BAR, with once again a single race which he failed to finish.
In 2006 he test-drove for Honda, and in 2007 his chance came with Super Aguri. In 17 races he never finished in the points, and finished 23rd. The next season – 2008 – he finished 22nd out of 22 drivers though the team only did four races.
In 2009 he was a test-driver for Brawn, but also began taking part in more ALMS and Le Mans 24 hours. On top of that, he began his illustrious career with the BBC, and the friendly voice we all love to listen to on the radio. Hopefully, he won’t be going away from the BBC any time soon.
Happy birthday Ant – have a good one!