Sponsors and drivers

There are a couple of changes to the GP2 lineup this weekend. Alvaro Parente returns for Carlin now that his McLaren commitments are over, so no Mikhail Aleshin. After his injury at Spa, Stefano Coletti’s place is taken by fellow Monagesque driver Stephane Richelmi. Richelmi currently drives in Formula Renault 3.5, and has taken six points so far in his debut season. Those six all came at Monza, which is encouraging.

Renault has signed a number of sponsorship deals recently, including with a Brazilian oil company and Gillette. Cue jokes about how they couldn’t sign with Gillette before because of Nick Heidfeld’s beard. After the amicable parting of Heidfeld and Renault, Bruno Senna will be driving for the remainder of the season.
At Toro Rosso, there’s also a sponsor coming on board in the form of Spanish company Cepsa. This might be good news for Jaime Alguersuari who of course is looking for a race seat next season. If Jaime doesn’t get the seat, he does have an alternative income as he moonlights as DJ Squire. The Spaniard is launching his debut album next week.
Virgin have got a sponsorship deal with Belgian company Soleco, who are renewable power company mainly dealing in solar panels and other forms of environmentally friendly power generation.

Finally, it is Vitaly Petrov’s birthday today. The Russian is 27 years old.

Summer day 14 – Jaime Alguersuari

Jaime Alguersuari – 14
It’s crunch time for the two Toro Rosso drivers as they fight to defend their race seats from Daniel Ricciardo. One of them will have to go, but Alguersuari and Buemi are both putting up a strong defence. Together they are the youngest team on track, and Jaime is the younger of the pair.
His season began relatively badly, for while Buemi got the Toro Rosso into tenth in Australia, Jaime was ‘only’ 12th, which is still good for the team compared to their 2010 performance. Buemi picked up four points there (it would have been one without the Sauber disqualification) and Jaime came 11th. In Malaysia, neither driver picked up points. Then came China, and after Petrov caused Q2 to be red flagged, both Toro Rossos made it to Q3. Jaime was ahead. But a mistake by his pit crew caused him to lose his tyre and become the only non-finisher.
Turkey and Spain were also bad races for Jaime, and Buemi picked up two points in Turkey. It looked like the Spaniard was doomed to give up his place to the Aussie youngester. In Monaco, he failed to finish the race during the red-flag causing incident, while Buemi picked up another point.
But in Canada, his fortunes changed. Qualifying a seemily-bad 18th, the team made the switch to a wet set up and he started from the pit lane. Amongst all the red flags and safety cars, nobody noticed as he shot up the grid and finished 8th. In Valencia, he was about the only driver who could overtake, coming again from 18th to 8th. He now had 8 points, the same as his teammate but ahead on countback.
Both Toro Rossos had a bad qualifying in Britain, not going fast enough to beat Heikki Kovalainen before the rain came down. Starting for the fourth race in a row in the bottom seven, he finished tenth, picking up one point while Buemi had his first DNF. In Germany – Toro Rosso’s 99th race – their luck was not in. They both finished, but neither picked up points. And at the Hungarian Grand Prix – race 100 – they both picked up points. The Toro Rosso is definitely better in a race situation, and both drivers are good. One of them will have to go next year. There are eight more races until we find out who that will be…

Points: 10
Worst qualifying: 19
Best qualifying: 7
Worst finish: 16 (Turkey and Spain)
Best finish: 8 (Canada and Valencia)
Average difference: 1.64
Laps completed: 614/681 (90%)
Average race position: 13.27 (Best: 10.4 Valencia; Worst: 15.0 Australia)

11 drivers in Valencia

I haven’t actually watched all of the European Grand Prix. When you have a race where people are overtaking in the pit stops, you need to have a few decent retirements to make things more interesting. While I believe there was a near miss between Alonso and Kovalainen, and Schumacher managed to damage his rear wing on Vitaly Petrov, there were no real overtakes even with DRS helping.
I’m still going to rank drivers 1-11 though. Here they are:

11 – Pastor Maldonado Was behind most of the backmarkers without catching them up for most of the race. There’s a reason he’s only ahead of Karthikeyan in the championship.

10 – Michael Schumacher As I mentioned, he hit his car on Petrov. Oops.

9 – Kamui Kobayashi Even the king of overtaking couldn’t do it today, and even finished behind his teammate who was on a 1-stop strategy.

8 – Vitaly Petrov The spark at the start of the season seems to have faded. He’s missed out on Q3 again, and started 11th. In the race, he missed out on points.

7 – Jarno Trulli Went nowhere, starting and finishing behind his teammate after choosing to stick with a 2-stop strategy.

6 – Jerome D’Ambrosio Overtook Liuzzi, but couldn’t catch up with Glock.

5 – Mark Webber At the start of the race, his teammate stormed into the lead, and he was left struggling. A later gearbox problem finished him.

4 – Paul di Resta Hampered by Nico Hulkenberg’s free practice accident, he didn’t get many laps in over the weekend. So he did okay.

3 – Felipe Massa A good start, but ended up behind Hamilton and in fifth where he started.

2 – Lewis Hamilton Started third, finished fourth. His first time off the podium at Valencia.

1 – Jaime Alguersuari Started 18th again. This time on the grid, he pushed through and finished 8th again, equalling his best-ever finish. A rubbish qualifier, he’s shown the doubters (me included) he can do it in the wet or the dry.

F1 birthdays: 23/3/2011

Being young can be of great benefit in gaining you records in Formula One. Starting his career in 2009 was Jaime Alguersuari, today’s birthday boy (aged 21) who will be the youngest driver on the grid in Melbourne. In fact, he’s held that record for some time – since 2009, when he replaced Sebastien Bourdais – and even if Buemi is replaced by Daniel Ricciardo then he will still be younger, and only one of the test drivers (Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez) is younger than he is. Continue reading

24 drivers in 24 days – eighteen

It should have been one week until the Bahrain GP’s first practice today. But we have to wait 21 days until Australia instead. Oh well. Barcelona testing is only a few days away: Tues-Fri for most teams, and Weds-Sat for a few.

#19 – Jaime Alguersuari How do you become the youngest Formula One driver ever? Get a test position with Toro Rosso and hope the other driver doesn’t live up to the hopes of the team! Skipping the usual routes into F1, Jaime jumped straight from FR3.5 into F1 with Sebastien Bourdais leaving Toro Rosso. He continued his FR3.5 races in 2009, but in 2010 the Spanish driver became full-time F1. He’s also a well-known DJ in Spain, going under the name DJ Squire.
In 2007, Jaime came second in 2007 FR2.0 Italia, competing against such drivers as Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso test driver who could potentially steal his seat in the coming season), Oliver Turvey, Stefano Coletti, Fabio Leimer and Andrea Caldarelli of GP2. He lost out on first place to a Finnish driver who is currently competing in Formula Three, but only by eight points. Jaime had three wins, two second-places, two third-places and only two retirements. He also had one pole position and one fastest lap (oddly, in the only race in which he finished but not in the points). He’s got talent, and was starting to beat Sebastien Buemi by the end of the 2010 season. He has said himself that he believes the two Toro Rosso drivers are not only competing to stay in the team, but also for a Red Bull seat. Red Bull aren’t going to give Vettel’s seat away, so Webber better watch out!