Monday, 21 March 2011


Lewis Hamilton
“It’s felt like a very long winter. I started the new season feeling fitter and more positive than ever and I’ve maintained that enthusiasm and momentum despite a somewhat difficult few weeks of winter tests.
“We can’t hide the fact that testing has been tougher than we expected: our test mileage hasn’t been as high as that of our rivals, nor have we had the outright pace of the fastest cars. Still, I have a good feeling with MP4-26: I like driving our car, I think it will look after its tyres quite well and I understand that we’ll be making further performance steps ahead of this opening race.
“Nevertheless, we know we go to Melbourne ready for battle: some teams are extremely well prepared – both from a pace and reliability point of view – but that can sometimes count for little in the unpredictable and somewhat chaotic opening races where it’s equally vital just to take points home.
“I strongly believe that, while our preparations haven’t gone as smoothly as we’d have liked, I get the impression that we’ll be arriving in Melbourne with everything finally meshing together – and that makes me really excited.”
Jenson Button
“In the past, I’d always travelled to Melbourne full of positive energy and enthusiasm. But, at the moment, my heart is with the people of Japan as they struggle to come to terms with the scope of the terrible devastation and loss of life wreaked by last week’s earthquake and tsunami.
“While the prospect of a Formula 1 race seems to pale in the face of such a disaster, there have been occasions before when the healing power of sport can actually be beneficial; an escape for people. So I go to Melbourne this weekend resolving to not only try my best, but also to salute the brave people, and my many friends, throughout Japan.
“Albert Park has been good to me: I’ve won there for the past two seasons; it’s a great circuit for racing, it always seems to create unpredictable races and, perhaps because it’s habitually at the start of the season when a precise pecking order has yet to be established, we often see fast cars running out of sequence – and the excitement that that brings. With the added issue of multiple tyre stops, it could be a very exciting and unpredictable race weekend.
“I’m regularly being asked if I can make it three wins in a row this year. On paper that might not look likely, but, seriously, who knows? I most definitely wouldn’t rule it out.”
Martin Whitmarsh
Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes
“Over the winter, we set ourselves some extremely ambitious performance targets for MP4-26. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes are an uncompromising team and, as with every car we build, we tend to push development to the limit.
“In some cases, we’ve pushed over those limits, and the resulting lack of mileage has invariably eaten into our pre-season preparation.
“However, it’s called testing for a reason – and testing MP4-26 beyond its limit has, in some ways, been highly instructive. In actual fact, we’ve gathered a huge amount of useful data about the car, its handling characteristics and its management of the tyres. So while we’ve further fine-tuned the package for Melbourne, we’ve once again set ourselves some extremely tough targets for this opening race weekend.
“So, do I think our testing pace is representative of the pace we’ll show in Australia? No. Do I think we head into the weekend as race favourites? Unfortunately, no. But do I feel that we have the capacity to surprise a few people and be competitive? Very much so.
“As with everything we do at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, we never give up: we’re fighters – that’s the spirit that has won us 20 world championships in the past and which makes us a team you can never under-estimate.”


When: Friday 25 to Sunday 27 March, 2011
Where: Albert Park, Melbourne
Round: 1 of 19

Rubens Barrichello:
Everyone is doubly excited about the first race as we should already have been racing by now. It was great to get more time at home with the kids but I want to get started and can’t wait to see the red lights go out in Melbourne and for the season to be officially underway. It is always an exciting moment when everyone lines up on the grid with no points on the board. I always fantasise a little about what could be, but I keep my feet on the ground and focus on the race ahead. I am absolutely looking forward to getting to Australia.

Pastor Maldonado:
I feel more than ready to start my first season in Formula One. I have never been to Melbourne before but we’ve done a good amount of testing which will add to the time I have spent learning the circuit in our simulator. I am now just looking forward to going racing. It will be a very exciting moment. My aim this weekend is to get a solid finish, and to score some points.

Sam Michael, Technical Director:
Melbourne is a typical street circuit. It will be interesting to go there for the first time with Pirelli tyres, although there should be less stress on the tyres there than there has been at some of the higher speed test tracks we have been to so far. Albert Park evolves over the course of the weekend because the circuit is made up of predominantly public roads. This means that the track is slippery at the start of the weekend, but grip levels improve as rubber is put down on the racing line, largely done through all the practice sessions which help to clear oil and contaminants from the surface.

The FW33 is fully prepared for the first race of the season. Regarding the aero package, we have all the parts that we ran on the final days of testing in Barcelona, plus a few additional changes that we will test on Friday. The main focus over the course of the first few races is, of course, performance, but also to ensure that the car is reliable. We will also find out where we sit in the order. Overall, we are just looking forward to getting out there and going racing again!

From Cosworth’s perspective:
As a circuit, Albert Park is very enjoyable, flowing and quite straight-forward on engine demands. It is a street race, though, which usually means a lot of debris on the track, such as rubbish or leaves, and that can have an adverse effect on the cooling systems as the race progresses. The race is high fuel consumption per kilometre which means that cars run one of the highest fuel loads of the season to compensate. Wet weather and safety car incidents, both of which are quite common in the Australian Grand Prix, can help manage fuel consumption and safety car periods can often dictate race strategy.

You could risk running lighter on fuel on the off chance that a safety car appears but if it fails to materialise there is a downside of having to run 'lean' for the entire race. On an engine severity scale, Albert Park is about middle of the range but the fact that it is the first race of the season means that this race will be the first time that the KERS-adapted CA2011k engine is run in anger over a full race weekend.

From Pirelli’s perspective: Here we are, at the start of what is a brand new adventure for us and all the teams. We’re very much looking forward to it, even though Australia is going to be somewhat different to the conditions we have experienced in official testing, with a more abrasive surface and higher temperatures. Despite that, we’ve seen that a number of teams already have a clear idea of the different strategies possible and Williams is certainly one of those. It’s obvious that there’s a lot of experience within the team, which will be a very useful resource.

Super 1...

Very busy day today at PF International where the Super 1 Series kicked off with the MSA side of things.
Last week, I was at Whilton Mill and courtesy of Russel Atkins, was able to generate much interest from drivers and teams and today was no different.

Never ceases to amaze me how strong and deep the quality of talent there is in karting within this country.

Just looking forward to helping some of these drivers get their names known in the press!

Friday, 11 March 2011

Former McLaren boss gets driving ban

Former McLaren Formula One team boss Ron Dennis has been banned from driving for six months after a string of traffic offences. 

A team spokesman confirmed today: "Our executive chairman's driving licence has been suspended for six months following four minor traffic infringements that resulted in 12 penalty points being accrued."

The announcement and ban imposed on Dennis comes a mere two weeks before the formula One season starts in Melbourne, Australia. In 2008, Lewis Hamilton was charged with reckless driving outside the Alert Park  circuit. The local newspaper - The Surrey Advertiser said Dennis, 63, had admitted to driving through a red light as his latest infringement.
the former boss told the magistrates court that he feared bringing his executive-class Mercedes to a sudden stop would possibly cause a collision with a car in close attendance behind him. "There were only two other cars around but I felt that it would be more prudent to continue rather than stop," he was quoted as saying on the website (

Martin Whitmarsh took over the reigns of the team in 2009 with Dennis taking on an executive chairman role and shifting his focus onto the company's new McLaren MP4-12C supercar.



Q: How did your first test day go in Barcelona this week?
Pastor Maldonado: We had a KERS problem which unfortunately cost a few hours’ track time and we only did two short runs. It is better for the problems to come out now though than on a race weekend; that is what testing is for. We have a new aero package here as well, with more upgrades to come in Australia, so I am keen to get back in the car to try them out.

Q: How are you finding the step up to Formula One? Do you think you are making good progress?
I am feeling better and better within the team and I am enjoying working to adapt the car to my driving style. It is really good.

Q: How is your fitness coming along?
You can always improve your fitness if you keep training. I do lots of running and have also improved what I eat so I’m a bit lighter than I was which is good for the team. I am hoping being very light will help me this season!
Q: How does it feel to jump into a brand new car as opposed to the FW32, as you did in Abu Dhabi, which had a whole year of development behind it?
PM: Starting from zero is a bit different. Last year I just had to focus on myself and on improving lap by lap. Now we need to keep working together to develop the car as well, so there will be more of a job to do. The feeling in the team and with my engineers is good. I know it will be a really great season with them.

Q: Do you feel there is a lot of pressure and expectation on you?
PM: No, I don’t have this kind of pressure. I do my best to understand everything, and to do the best job I can for the team. Our aim is to get the most out of the FW33. We will see what we can do at the first race but I feel ready. I am very happy for my country as they are pushing very hard for me and that is something special. I am here to do my job as well as I can and once I am in the car that is my only focus.

Q: How do you feel heading into your first Formula One race?
PM: It is going to be an exciting moment for me. I have been racing for many years and I have waited many years to be in Formula One so sitting on the grid in Melbourne is going to be great.. I am going to try to treat it like any other race though. My objective is to finish the race, if everything goes well, I don’t see why we can’t score points as well.

Q: What is your objective for the 2011 season?
PM: To learn, be really quick, do my best for the team and improve race-by-race.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Silverstone and progress...

Well, yesterday (Tuesday 8th March 2011) saw me going to Silverstone for the F3/BGT press and media day.

Great chance to see the new cars and drivers in actiona nd to have an enjoyable meeting with Sean Driscoll.

Many things in the pipeline all of which to be revealed in the coming weeks...

Luizzi confirmed at HRT

Vitantonio Luizzi has been confirmed as the second driver at HRT for the 2011 season.

The Italian, who will line upn alongside Indian Narain Karthekeyan, confirmed the deal is for all races and that he was delighted to be still involved in the sport folloiwng his departure from Force India at the end of last year.

“I am really happy to have signed this agreement with Hispania Racing," he said. “I never lost hope to be in Formula One as I knew I have the experience and the right attributes for a young and ambitious team. I face a new challenge now and this excites me.

“I also face a lot of hard work in guiding Hispania Racing through the development of our new car. I am extremely grateful to José Ramon Carabante and to Colin Kolles for giving me such an opportunity.”

Team principal Colin Kolles:
“Luizzi is a very professional driver who will bring a lot of benefits to the team.”

“I have known Tonio for many years as he raced with me in lower categories. I am convinced about his skills to develop a car and his speed. He has shown this in the past having contributed to a large extend developing and moving a back grid car to the front. I had the pleasure of working with him and I am very happy and proud to have him racing with Hispania Racing.”

HRT have also confirmed they will present their 2011 F1 car and drivers on Friday at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, Spain

Pedro De La Rosa back at McLaren

As mentioned to me a few weeks ago by an unnamed source at the team, today's news that De La Rosa has re-joined McLaren is welcomed by me as they will need all his expertese to get the MP4-26 sorted.

Not looking too great for the guys so far. Anyway, here's the official release...

Team welcomes Spaniard back as official test and reserve driver

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is pleased to welcome Pedro de la Rosa back as its official test and reserve driver.

The Spaniard originally joined McLaren-Mercedes in 2003.

Working closely with our race and test teams for seven seasons, he helped develop cars that won 29 grands prix and, most memorably, the 2008 drivers’ world championship with Lewis Hamilton.
As a Formula 1 racing driver, Pedro has driven 84 grands prix for Arrows, Jaguar, McLaren-Mercedes and BMW-Sauber.

But it is as a Formula 1 test driver that his experience, expertise, discipline and communications skills have been most notably brought to bear - qualities that have always been very highly prized by his McLaren Mercedes team-mates.

Indeed, motor racing statisticians may be interested to learn that Pedro has driven a mammoth 361 Formula 1 test days in his long career (fourth on the all-time list behind only Luca Badoer [469], Alex Wurz [382] and Jarno Trulli [381]), encompassing 22,763 laps and 104,248 kilometres.
We will benefit significantly from being able to draw on his enormous experience once again.
Furthermore, we are equally delighted that we will also be retaining the services of 2005 German Touring Car (DTM) champion and 2002 German Formula 3 champion Gary Paffett.

Gary will dovetail his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes test and development commitments in 2011 with a full racing campaign for Mercedes-Benz in the DTM series.

Although he will therefore no longer attend grands prix during what promises to be the most intense Formula 1 season in the history of the sport, encompassing races on five continents, he will work for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes away from the world's racetracks to ensure that we maintain our high standards of race simulation and vehicle engineering – increasingly important areas of development given the lack of in-season track running.

Pedro said:
“Of all the teams I’ve driven for in Formula 1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes is the one that really feels like home.So I’m very excited about returning to the team to help push the development of the MP4-26.

“Lewis and Jenson already have an extremely positive and productive working relationship - so, building on and adding to their existing rapport, I'm aiming to do everything I can to help them get even more from our car, our engineers and our technical resources back at the McLaren Technology Centre.”

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team principal Martin Whitmarsh added:
“I know I speak for all my colleagues when I say that I'm delighted that Pedro has chosen to return to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes. He rejoins us with even greater experience, and his motivation and attention to detail remain as sharp as ever.

"His recruitment adds considerable strength in depth to our driver line-up.
"With two world champion race drivers in Lewis and Jenson, and two of the world's most experienced and capable development drivers in Pedro and Gary, we feel we have a quartet of talent that is absolutely second-to-none.

“Our partners - Vodafone, ExxonMobil, Santander, Johnnie Walker, Hugo Boss and all the others - are also delighted that, once again, they'll be able to draw on Pedro's readiness to involve himself with marketing programmes during grand prix weekends, which he has always performed with enthusiasm and skill.

“Meanwhile, we wish Gary a very successful season in the DTM series with Mercedes-Benz - and are delighted that, away from the world's racetracks, he'll continue to give us the benefit of his considerable technical and developmental abilities.”

Barcelona Test 8th-13th March 2011 - Day 1


Here's the link to my report on Day 1 at Circuit De Catalunya...

Thursday, 3 March 2011

McLaren confirm reasons behind Hamilton/Stewart swap

McLaren have confirmed that fuel supplier Mobil 1 are the force behind the promotional event later this year which will see 2008 Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton and double NASCAR champion Tony Stewart swap cars.

A McLaren spokesman confirmed:
Putting Lewis Hamilton and Tony Stewart on the track together later this year and having them switch cars for a first time is something Mobil 1 has been considering as a great way to highlight Mobil 1's relationships in the world of motorsports. A lot of planning goes into an event of this nature and we are working closely with the Mobil 1 team. When we are able to confirm details, we will share additional information.

It echoes the Juan Pablo Montoya and Jeff Gordon swap in 2003 which took place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and should be an enjoyable event for both drivers.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

Bahrain and McLaren...

From a personal point of view, I am delighted the 2011 Formula One season is not opening in the desert of Bahrain but it has nothing to do with the recent unrest which has recently blighted the country…

While the internal turmoil that has seen many clashes between protesters and those in charge, the decision made early last week by Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad bin Isa Al-Khalifa was the correct one and ensures that the safety of those who work within the sport will not be compromised. Bernie Ecclestone had an easy decision to make and thankfully, by letting the Crown Prince decided the fate of the race, he has avoided immersing Formula 1 into the local politics of the Middle East. The FIA – Formula 1’s governing body, kept a welcome silence with it’s President – Jean Todt, preferring not to make any comment worthy of media attention. One can’t help but wonder if things would have different under the leadership of FIA’s former head Max Mosley…

It has also presented us with the prospect of the Australian Grand Prix opening the season and I am not alone in welcoming that. McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton have announced their disappointment in the team’s latest creation – the MP4-26 but more of that in a minute.

Fact is that the Melbourne venue is regarded by the majority as being their favorite race of the calendar and many were disappointed when it was shoved aside to make way for the deserts of Bahrain at the start of this season. While the Arabian millions that constructed the circuit have generated mixed opinions as to it’s success, many believe that the sheer atmosphere present in Australia year after year should guarantee that the grand prix season kicks off around the greenery of Albert Park, and not the sands of Sakhair.

Amid much anticipation, the  German capital Berlin was the setting for the McLaren launch and while Button and Hamilton expressed cconffidence in their latest car, fact is that in testing,  it has been a disappointment. There is little doubt the team will turn the situation around but when nearest rivals Ferrari, Red Bull and Renault have accumulated considerable ore laps and general running time, it is clear the to regular victories, could be a long one:

"When I first jumped in the car my first reaction was not 'wow, we're going to blow everyone away'," Button told Press Association Sport.

"But then I don't think anyone would have felt that because the car has a lot less downforce and the tyres (Pirelli) are working very differently to the previous tyre (Bridgestone).

"There's nothing that really scares me about the car in a negative way, so there's a lot we can improve through general set-up work.

"This year, at the moment, we've had some issues in testing in terms of getting parts to the circuit and a couple of reliability issues.

"So we've not done as much running as we would have liked, which has hurt our set-up work.

"But we do have four more days and hopefully things are going to run more sweetly at the next test, we get a lot of laps in, and then we can improve the base we have."

Team-mate Hamilton conceded that launching the car so late, has been a hindrance more than a help and that while there are developments in the offing, it is not an ideal scenario.

"The team are aware of it, and of course we'd love to have had more mileage, but there is a real balance," he said.

"We left it (unveiling the car) a bit later, not because the car was late, but because we wanted a week or two more to develop it, and perhaps it's not played right into our hands.

"We've good things in the pipeline, and we definitely improved in the last couple of days' testing, doing 107 laps on the final day at the last test.

"We've not done the mileage at the beginning, but hopefully we can pick up on reliability, and that the downforce is on its way."