Caterham does some rebranding

GP2
From next season, Caterham Team AirAsia will be renamed Caterham Racing, to match the name change of the F1 team. The two racing teams, the car company and other car-related ventures will come under the Caterham Group banner.

F1
With Kimi Raikkonen definitely not going to Williams next season, Barrichello’s seat looks set to be taken by GP3 champion Valtteri Bottas, or maybe someone else. Meanwhile, Renault are not just looking at their current lineup but also at drivers from other teams to possibly take over in place of Robert Kubica.

The details of the BBC/Sky television deal have begun to emerge over the last few days, with Martin Brundle signed up with Sky to commentate. He will not, however, be the lead commentator. The BBC will be doing ten races, with Sky doing all twenty. Sky, however, have the exclusive broadcasting rights for Bahrain and the US Grand Prix. Both of these races are under threat.
BBC Radio 5 Live will continue to provide live coverage of every practice session, qualifying and the race, so even if you cannot afford Sky then you can still enjoy F1. When I didn’t have a television, this was how I enjoyed F1. I would watch half of the races at my aunties’ house, and listen to the other half at home.
The ten BBC live races are: China, Spain, Monaco, Valencia, Britain, Belgium, Singapore, Korea, Abu Dhabi, Brazil.

Oh yeah, and it was qualifying yesterday and Sebastian Vettel took pole. It looks wet for the race today, so we could be in for a treat.

Yellow and green

Two champions will be driving the Williams FW33 at the F1 young drivers’ test this year. Mirko Bortolotti will be taking control of the car on day three as his prize for winning the F2 championship, while GP3 champion and Williams tester Valtteri Bottas will be driving for the first two days. So no surprises.

Meanwhile Riad Asmat the Team Lotus/Caterham CEO has announced that the team will be continuing with the green and yellow colour scheme in 2012. It’s a great way for the team to maintain continuity whilst leaving behind the Lotus brand that has caused so much confusion this season. I can’t help but wonder if the ART GP2 and GP3 teams currently sponsored by Group Lotus will be changing their colour scheme in 2012; currently Caterham Team AirAsia uses the same green and yellow as their F1 sister, and will most likely continue to do so in the next season.

Razia, Chilton and Charouz in Abu Dhabi final

F1
Formula Renault 3.5’s 2011 champion Robert Wickens takes to the track for Marussia Virgin in the first practice session at Abu Dhabi next Friday. He will replace Jerome d’Ambrosio. The Canadian has shown great form over the past three years of racing, finishing second in GP3 and F2 before this year’s victory. It is unlikely that he will be an F1 driver next year, with GP2 being the most likely option, but he has the backing of Marussia. As the FR3.5 champion, he will also be taking part in the young drivers’ test at Abu Dhabi for Renault.

GP2
Kevin Ceccon will be taking part in the test as well, and like teammate Stefano Coletti will be in the Toro Rosso STR06. It’s a big step up for Ceccon, who only turned 18 this year and was moved into a GP2 seat after Davide Rigon’s accident. Though he wasn’t able to shine in GP2, he fought well in Auto GP to emerge victor in the final race of the season.
Carlin have announced that their full-time driver Max Chilton will be driving alongside Jan Charouz the Renault reserve and FR3.5 driver in the GP2 final. AirAsia have their driver Luiz Razia alongside Alexander Rossi for the final, and Razia will also be taking part in the F1 young drivers’ test for Team Lotus. Razia also took part last year for Virgin when he was their test driver.

KERS, confusion and GP2

F1
Team Lotus and Red Bull, Virgin and McLaren, HRT and Williams. Each of the three ‘baby teams’ has a collaboration with one of the more experienced teams on track. HRT have renewed their deal with Williams for 2012, which includes the use of Williams KERS. Now that the British outfit have had a year to work on their KERS, it should be much more reliable. Hopefully it will help the Spanish outfit to boost their performance next year. Virgin/Marussia might have more trouble than the other two teams, as unlike Team Lotus/Caterham and HRT it does not share the same engine supplier as its partner. They will have to get KERS from somewhere if they are to be competitive, otherwise they will once again finish 12th overall.
Speaking of ‘Finnish’, Williams are rumoured to be announcing at Abu Dhabi that they have signed Kimi Raikkonen for 2012. The Finn quit F1 after 2009 in order to pursue rallying. He has also had a go at NASCAR. At the start of this year, it seemed unlikely he would ever return. Now, however, the Iceman could be back. A great racer, he will be an additional boost for the struggling team. It could provide a good challenge for him in a less competitive car.
After a meeting of the Formula One Committee today, it has been confirmed that from 2012 Team Lotus will be known as ‘Caterham’, Renault will be known as ‘Lotus’, and Virgin will become ‘Marussia’. It remains to be seen what team names they will adopt.

GP2
Meanwhile, Stefano Coletti returns to racing in Abu Dhabi alongside Kevin Ceccon at Scuderia Coloni for the GP2 final. Afterwards, he will be taking part in the F1 young driver test for Toro Rosso. Stefano injured his back in the Spa-Francorchamps GP2 feature race. He won two races this season – the Turkey and Hungary sprints – despite being a rookie. He has a lot of potential, and should do well.
Another driver taking part is, unsurprisingly, Alexander Rossi. The young American will be driving for Team AirAsia, as well as taking part in the young drivers’ test for Team Lotus.

Summer day 22 – Davide Valsecchi

Davide Valsecchi – 6
Having failed to pick up any points in the first two races of the season, Davide Valsecchi had a better race in Barcelona to take AirAsia’s second and third points finishes as his teammate struggled. At Monaco, he qualified second and took the lead of the feature race when Sam Bird stalled on the line. He got a good lead towards the end, and on his final lap pushed hard to take the fastest lap on top of the first win for his team. There were two more points finishes in Valencia including a podium.
Since then, AirAsia’s strategy has sometimes been off, but it was working well in Hungary. That didn’t help Davide however, who qualified 26th after a penalty. The Italian’s decent finishes have kept him high in the championship, but he will need to do better if he’s going to stay sixth or climb up the table.

Points: 30
Best qualifying: 2
Worst qualifying: 26
Best finish: 1 (Monaco feature)
Worst finish: 17 (Silverstone sprint)
Retirements: 1

Summer day 17 – Luiz Razia

Luiz Razia – 11
It’s a brave step to join a team that has only one year of racing experience in total. Team AirAsia came in new for 2011 along with Carlin, but have definitely impressed more than the British team. Despite many seasons in different series, Carlin haven’t had the best first GP2 season. AirAsia, however, have shone.
And they began well, taking a podium in their first GP2 Asia race, though Luiz was beset with trouble in that series. For the main series, however, he took points by coming sixth in his first race this season. It was an excellent start, but in the sprint race that followed neither driver picked up points. In the four races that followed, he was beset with three retirements and a disqualification. Misery, while his teammate was grabbing points and a win at Monaco.
Then came the Valencia race, and both drivers were on form. Luiz took the second of their two podiums in the round, with his teammate just missing out.
Strategy went wrong in Silverstone and Germany, but at Hungary it was again time for Luiz to shine. The weather and a spin for Adam Carroll sealed Luiz’s pole when Luca Filippi was challenging, and the Brazilian took the first pole position for himself and for his team. He struggled off the line in the feature race but came home third, and was seventh in the sprint.

Points: 19
Best qualifying: 1
Worst qualifying: 20
Best finish: 2 (Valencia sprint)
Worst finish: 18 (Istanbul sprint)
Retirements: 4

Livery Change for AirAsia

In GP2, there are three teams with similar liveries: Arden, Coloni and AirAsia run in varying amounts of red and white: AirAsia having the most white. Meanwhile, Rapax run in white and black with some red, and there are other liveries that come in red or white. This can get confusing, particularly between Coloni and AirAsia.
So AirAsia have decided to change their livery. From Germany onwards, their cars will be green and yellow to match their sister team Team Lotus. There’s just one slight problem: Lotus ART also run in a very similar green and yellow livery. ART have a connection through Group Lotus. AirAsia’s comes through Team Lotus and Caterham. Both have a valid connection to the historic colours.
What happens next? It does make sense for the F1 team and GP2 team to run in the same livery. But will this cause too much confusion between the teams? How will ART react?
Comparison: new AirAsia chassis, ART’s car