Brake Glow

An aspiring motorsports journalist’s personal blog.

Category Archives: Formula One

New Form of Motorsport Emerges from Italy

Red Bull F1’s Mark Webber recently tweeted a link to a video from Italy. The video shows the emergence of a new sport combining racing with boxing.

Okay. All kidding aside, we have no idea what’s going on here. Unfortunately, we don’t speak Italian. The only explanation we can offer is the driver who spun obviously blamed the other driver for causing his spin.

We don’t advocate violence, but on occasion it can provide some off-the-wall entertainment.

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F-1 and IndyCar Notes

Raikkonen Leads Tuesday Testing at Jerez: Despite meaning little for actual 2012 pace, Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen returned to the controls of a modern Formula One car in style. The Finn paced the field on Tuesday at Jerez in the new Lotus E20. The Iceman seemed  to lack surprise after topping the charts. “The lap times don’t matter today. I’m happy with the balance of the car, which feels good, and the fact that we didn’t have any major issues. Also, I did more than a race distance today and did not have any physical problems at all, which is good,” he said. Raikkonen also touched on Formula One’s Drag Reduction System, or DRS, which allows a car within one second behind another car to open the rear wing and reduce aerodynamic drag– to enable easier passing. “You just put the wing down and go past easily. The guy in front can’t really do anything,” said the 2007 World Champion. “But I agree that at least it makes the show better,” he added.

Barrichello to Decide Future Next Week: Brazilian Rubens Barrichello expects to announce a decision regarding his racing career sometime next week. The former Ferrari F1 driver was interviewed by a Brazilian radio station Tuesday and addressed the situation. “We have spoken with many people and there are things to be resolved, including the family aspect,” Barrichello said in reference to the promise he made to his wife to stay away from American ovals. Barrichello tested a new DW12 IndyCar for KV Racing last week at Sebring and seemed to enjoy the experience. The 39 year old elected to stay for a third day of testing after only being scheduled for two. Although he may not be asking for advice, many are offering it to Barrichello. The likes of Emmerson Fittipaldi and Eddie Jordan have cautioned the Brazilian from entering IndyCar. David Coulthard, however, stressed Barrichello should follow his heart with any racing decisions.

 

Sato in at RLL

In evaluating the numerous prospects campaigning for a seat in the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Honda-powered Indy car for the 2012 season, the Indianapolis-based team was searching for the right balance of speed, success and experience to lead it into the new era of IZOD IndyCar Series competition.

 

With his glittering Formula 1 resume and strong recent results demonstrating his continuing climb up the IndyCar Series grid, Takuma Sato proved to have all of the tools for the job, as the team named the Japanese veteran to pilot the team’s #15 Dallara/Honda/Firestone – one of its two Indy cars in 2012.

 

Sato, who made 91 starts over seven seasons in F1, joins RLL after making great strides in IndyCar in 2011. A two-time IndyCar Series polesitter last year, Sato looks to build on a successful sophomore season that saw him earn three top-five finishes, seven top-10s and lead 61 laps on his way to a 13th-place finish in the point standings.

 

“RLL is extremely pleased to welcome Takuma to our IndyCar Series team for 2012, and we anticipate having a very strong season together,” said team co-owner Bobby Rahal. “While we were determined to have an experienced driver for this season, we also needed someone that knew how to get to the front and Takuma has shown that he can do that, and we expect to have a great opportunity to win races this year. He has made great strides through the last two seasons in IndyCar and I have no doubt that we can produce a strong effort with him leading the team.”

 

Takuma made his Indy car debut in 2010 and made great improvements in 2011, gaining speed and positions as he visited the circuits of the series for the second time. In 2011 the IZOD IndyCar Series competed on 11 tracks that were also on the 2010 schedule, and Sato improved his finish from 2010 on seven of those circuits.

 

“I’m very proud, motivated and excited to be chosen by Bobby to join his big project,” Sato said. “This team I feel has got huge potential. Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing has got a great history and record of winning so my motivation is ever so high and I am extremely thrilled to start the new season. With a new car for everybody, I am confident that we’ll be up to speed very quickly.”

 

RLL returns to full-time IZOD IndyCar Series competition in 2012 for the first time since 2008. That season saw Ryan Hunter-Reay finish seventh in the final series standings, marking the 11th consecutive year that a RLL driver finished the year in the top-10 in driver points. The winners of the 1992 IndyCar championship as well as the 2004 Indianapolis 500, RLL Indy cars have finished in the top 10 in more than half of its 587 career series starts.

 

The RLL squad is currently readying the car for its first preseason tests and expects to participate in the IndyCar Series open testing at Sebring in March. The team is also finalizing its plans for a second car and intends to have it ready for preseason testing as well. The final sponsor and driver lineup for 2012 will be announced in the near future.

The above posting is the work of Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing.

Ferrari, Force India Unveil 2012 Cars

Despite massive snowfall at Ferrari’s Italian headquarters, the famous marque unveiled their 2012 challenger early Friday. Force India joined Ferrari by launching their new car at Sliverstone.

Ferrari’s launch was expected to be quite lavish but, after the snow fell, the Italian team made the decision to cancel the formal launch and release pictures of the car on their own. Meanwhile, Force India held a major press conference in the pit area of the U.K. circuit.

As expected, both cars possess the unsightly “bumped” nose to meet this year’s new height requirements on the nose of the car imposed by the FIA.

Ferrari's F2012 (Photo Courtesy of Ferrari F1)

Ferrari’s F2012: Ferrari released the justification behind the change in shape and how they feel the rule changes for 2012 will impact the Scuderia.

Scuderia’s interpretation of the technical and sporting regulations that apply this year: the main changes when compared to 2011 concern the height of the front section of the chassis, the position of the exhaust pipes and the mapping for the electronic engine management. Practically every area of the car has been fundamentally revised, starting with the suspension layout: both the front and rear feature pull-rods, aimed at favouring aerodynamic performance and lowering the centre of gravity. The front wing is derived from the one introduced on the 150º Italia in the final part of its racing life and has been evolved from there. Further evolutions are planned in this area for the opening races of the season. The nose has a step in it that is not aesthetically pleasing: with the requirement from the regulations to lower the front part, this was a way of raising the bottom part of the chassis as much as possible for aerodynamic reasons. The sides have been redesigned, through modifications to the side impact structures, the repositioning of the radiators and revisions to all aerodynamic elements. The lower part of the rear of the car is much narrower and more tapered, a feature achieved partly through a new gearbox casing and a relocation of some mechanical components. In recent years, the area of exhausts has been crucial in terms of car performance and much effort was expended on this front, based on changes to the regulations introduced this year. The rear wing is conceptually similar to the one used in 2011, but every detail of it has been revised and it is now more efficient. Naturally, it is still fitted with DRS (a drag reduction system,) which is operated hydraulically. The front and rear air intakes for the brakes have been redesigned and work was carried out in collaboration with Brembo to optimise the braking system.

 

 

Force India’s VJM-05:

Force India's 2012 car, the VJM 05 (Photo :Sahara Force India Formula One Team)

 

Force India also touched on the changes made to this year’s car in their press release:

Sahara Force India unveiled its 2012 challenger today as Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg pulled the covers off the VJM05 at Silverstone. They were joined by reserve driver, Jules Bianchi, as the team’s new car was presented for the first time.
 
The VJM05 is the second car to be created under the watch of Technical Director, Andrew Green, as the team seeks to build on its on its sixth place finish in the constructors’ championship and take the fight to the teams that lie ahead.
 
“We have set our sights on challenging for fifth place,” explained Team Principal and Managing Director, Dr. Vijay Mallya. “To do so we will need to begin the new campaign by delivering the kind of form we showed in the second half of 2011. I believe this is a realistic goal and that we have the talent and determination to realise these ambitions.”
 
Chief Operating Officer, Otmar Szafnauer, echoed those sentiments as he praised the team’s efforts to develop the VJM05: “The new car has come together nicely over the winter. We don’t know what our competitors have done, but we’ve made some gains over the winter and believe we’re in reasonable shape. It’s going to be difficult in the midfield, but our focus is on starting strongly and improving our position from last season.”
 
Summing up the approach to 2012, Andrew Green added: “The car looks more refined; a lot racier and a lot more purposeful. You can start to see the aerodynamic concepts coming through now. It looks quite a bit different to the previous years, and so far the performance in the tunnel has been encouraging.”
 
The drivers were delighted to get their first glimpse of the new car and set out their hopes for the season ahead:
 
Paul Di Resta: “Seeing the new car built and complete for the first time is always an exciting moment. It’s when you realise that all the waiting is finally over and the season is beginning for real. I’ve had a good winter and I’ve recharged my batteries, but now I’m fully focussed on 2012 and looking forward to the start of testing. There’s a really positive feeling in the team, good stability and hopefully we can pick up where we left off at the end of last year.”
 
Nico Hulkenberg: “I saw the new car in the wind tunnel a few times and followed its progress during the winter. It looks aggressive and fast, but we won’t know where we stand until we get out there and compete against the others. Preparations for the new season have been full-on with simulator sessions and lots of fitness training. I feel ready to get back to racing and I’m excited to find out what the new car feels like next week.”
 

Once again the Sahara Force India cars will be powered by the Mercedes engines with gearbox supplied by McLaren Applied Technologies. This will be the second season with the Mercedes KERS.

Sutil: Hamilton is a coward, changed phone number

Adrian Sutil had some harsh words for his (former?) friend Lewis Hamilton after Sutil’s appearance in a Munich court.

The German lashed out in Germany’s Bild am Sonntag, calling the McLaren driver a coward and “not even a man.” The harsh words come after Sutil’s suspended 18-month sentence and EUR 200,000 fine. Sutil had called Hamilton to testify in the case, but because of Hamilton’s prior commitments to McLaren’s launch of the MP4-27, Hamilton was unable to attend.

With Hamilton’s absence, the German had no official witnesses in the trial against him. Sutil indicated he felt Hamilton’s testimony would have cleared himself of any wrongdoing in the nightclub fight that left Lotus co-owner Eric Lux badly cut.

Sutil took Hamilton’s absence personally. “Lewis is a coward, I do not want to be friends with someone like that,” Sutil said. “(Hamilton’s) father sent me a text message written and wished me luck for the process” but that was all the help that came from the Hamiltons, said the former Force India driver. Sutil alleges Hamilton took another step to ensure the German’s legal troubles could not bother the 2008 World Champion: he changed his phone number. “(Hamilton) has changed his phone number. I could not reach him anymore,” Sutil said.

The legal troubles have left Sutil’s career and reputation badly damaged. Sutil’s manager said a 2012 F1 seat is now “almost impossible.” But, his manager said, the FIA allowing Sutil to keep his super license has helped the German’s confidence.

Barrichello Chooses to Stay for Third Day of Testing

Rubens Barrichello made the decision to stay in Sebring Wednesday for a third and final day of IndyCar testing.

Originally, the Brazillian was only scheduled to partake in two days of testing with KV Racing and Tony Kanaan on the Florida road course. However, the Indianapolis Star‘s Curt Cavin reported early Wednesday that Barrichello opted to stay with the team Wednesday.

Testing duties now alternate between Kanaan and Barrichello in the No. 11 KV Racing Chevrolet and E.J. Viso in the No. 5. machine.

The racing world seems united in their apprehension awaiting for Barrichello’s decision, especially the IndyCar world. Barrichello made a promise to his wife at one point to avoid racing on American ovals. But, following the development of the DW12 and IndyCar’s departure from many 1.5-mile ovals, that promise may face reneging.

Barrichello recently told Kanaan he was impressed by the friendliness and closeness of the IndyCar paddock. Kanaan alluded that may play some role in Barrichello’s decision.

For footage from Sebring testing, below is a video on-board Kanaan’s DW12 as he navigates the Sebring short-course. Check out his son’s hand prints on the back of his helmet.

McLaren Unveils MP4-27

The Vodafone McLaren-Mercedes F1 Team unveiled their 2012 car early Wednesday morning.

The Mp4-27 continues on an evolutionary basis from last year’s car, aesthetically.  Unlike the majority of the F1 field, McLaren opted away from the so-called “bumped” nose design and kept with a traditional look. Despite looking largely similar to last year’s car, McLaren’s Jenson Button told Speed.com’s Adam Cooper that the overall package vastly differs from last year’s.

“It may look like a direct evolution of last year’s car, but we’ve analyzed every area of performance over the winter,” Button proclaimed. “The whole car has benefited from lots of fresh thinking and new ideas in every area,” he added. Button said with last year’s rules remaining largely stable carrying over into 2012 McLaren was able to focus on their 2012 car relatively early. “I still think we had a very fast package last year – it was very strong in certain areas – and our race pace was almost always fantastic,” said Button. “But we’re hoping for a further step forwards in 2012.”

Button’s teammate, Lewis Hamilton, echoed those sentiments. “I’ve been keenly following the development of MP4-27 over the winter and I’ve been really encouraged by the results and the data that the engineers have been showing me … Jenson and I won six races with MP4-26 last year and I think we’ve been able to retain all the strengths and the reliability of that design while also incorporating lots of improvements and new ideas into the new car,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton did express some minor concerns about a loss in downforce with 2012’s new exhaust regulations. “The biggest changes for 2012 are the modifications to the exhaust regulations – that will reduce the downforce and grip that we had last year,” cautioned Hamilton. Despite the new regulations, Hamilton has faith in his engineers at McLaren. “It just puts the emphasis on the designers to try and claw some of that back in other areas.”

The Formula One teams will begin showcasing their new cars’ abilities next week in Spain for pre-season testing. Button has the privilege to drive the MP4-27 first. “I know that everyone will be watching us very closely to see what progress we make during the preseason tests, but I genuinely believe we have every reason to feel optimistic about the progress we’ve made and our competitiveness this year,” he said. “I’m really looking forward to getting behind the wheel in Spain next week.”

Keeping in line with Brake Glow‘s strict anti-piracy guidelines, photos of the the MP4-27 may be found here.

Sutil Convicted, Fined

German Formula 1 driver, Adrian Sutil, was found guilty of “causing grievous bodily harm” to Eric Lux, Genii and Lotus F1 co-owner.

The hearing, in a Munich court, shed new light on the events surrounding the conclusion of the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai last April. Closed circuit television footage from inside the nightclub where Lewis Hamilton hosted his victory party shows the lead up to the altercation between then-Force India driver, Sutil, and Lotus Executive, Lux. The footage had no audio but showed Lux’s group vacating the VIP area when a group of friends including Hamilton and Sutil enter.

Lux returns later and grabs Sutil’s left arm and attempts to forcibly remove Sutil from his chair. Seemingly instinctively, Sutil reacts and pushes Lux away with his free arm. Unfortunately for Sutil, however, he was still holding the glass. The glass in Sutil’s hand resulted in the cut to Lux’s neck which ultimately needed 24 stitches.

Although the footage seemed to indicate Sutil acted in self-defense, the Munich court handed down a suspended sentence of 18 months. Sutil was also told to pay a EUR 200,000 fine. Coincidentally, Sutil and his management team met with Lotus officials late in 2011 to discuss a potential role with Lotus in 2012. Perhaps an out-of-court agreement would have been met had Sutil became a driver for Lotus.

Sutil’s management came out later Tuesday to reveal the German will not receive any reprimands from the FIA, Formula One’s governing body.

Bernard Wants Barrichello in IndyCar

Rubens Barrichello was again the talk of the paddock as IndyCar testing resumed at Sebring Tuesday. The f1 veteran, with 22 years of experience in the pinnacle of motorsport, brought out some uncommon faces to see during pre-season testing. In addition to KV Racing owners, Jimmy Vasser and Kevin Kalkhoven, IndyCar president, Randy Bernard, was also on hand in Sebring to see Barrichello embark on his first IndyCar venture.

“(Barrichello)’s a champion,” Bernard told the Associated Press, “a driver who would be a tremendous addition to a series.” Bernard also indicated IndyCar might assist in Barrichello’s decision to move to IndyCar financially. “If there is a transition, I want him to know that we’re here to help him,” Bernard said to racintoday.com

KV Racing’s other driver, and Barrichello’s good friend, Tony Kanaan also provided insight onto Barrichello’s future. “Right now, we don’t have anyone signed for the other two cars. You can tell by his face he’s having a lot of fun,” Kanaan told Speed.com. “By the time he gets out of the car he’ll have a pretty good idea what he wants to do,” Kanaan added.

Today is the last day Barrichello is set to test with KV Racing while the majority of the IndyCar teams are set for a three day test.

On-board footage from Barrichello’s test at Sebring can be seen below.

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Weekend Round Up (Jan 20-22)

I apologize for a lack of content over the weekend. I was out of town and away from computer access for much of the weekend to attend a baptism for my niece. With that in mind, here’s a brief look at what’s happening in the racing world since Friday night.

Michael Shank Racing Wins Rolex 24: After years of trying, the Michael Schank Racing team won their first Rolex 24 at Daytona. The team, consisting of A.J. Allmendinger, Oz Negri, John Pew and Justin Wilson, fought off a hard-charging Ryan Dalziel in his Starworks Motorsports entry to win the famed event by a mere 5.2 seconds. The narrow margin of victory marked one of the closest finishes in endurance racing history. The win also gives strong momentum to the Michael Shank Racing squad as they begin the endeavor into a new field of racing: IndyCar. Full results from the Rolex 24 here.

Tracy to MSR in 2012?: Speaking of Rolex 24 winners, Michael Shank Racing, there have been strong indications that a deal to sign 22-year IndyCar veteran and 2003 CART Champion, Paul Tracy, to their IndyCar program. Tracy was in Daytona competing against MSR in Doran Racing’s DP. ““I’m trying to do a deal with Michael Shank to start an IndyCar team with himself and AJ Allmendinger,” Tracy told Speed.com’s Marshall Pruett. “We have a sponsor lined up. We need to put together an engine program this week and tie up a couple of other lose (sic) ends of some other contractual stuff, and if we can do that, then we’ll get the car put together and try to get to Sebring to test.” One obstacle facing Tracy and MSR are the sponsor connections Tracy has to Honda-Canada. MSR signed an engine contract with Lotus but, should Tracy bring Honda dollars and connections, the MSR team may be easily coaxed into signing on with Honda instead. Tracy has been on the hunt for a full time IndyCar ride since the last year of Champ Car in 2007 when he drove for Gerry Forsythe’s team.

Paul Tracy last drove full-time in 2007 for Forsythe Racing's Champ Car team. Could Tracy become MSR's driver in 2012 for his farewell tour from IndyCar racing? (Photo: Zach Wenzel)

IndyCar Teams Resume Testing, Barrichello Turns First Laps: A large group of IndyCar teams have returned to a testing regimen to prepare the new DW12s for competitive action. KV Racing, Andretti Autosport, Dreyer and Reinbold and Panther Racing have all turned laps at Sebring today with more expected to join the group this week. The test marks the first time new Andretti Autosport driver, James Hinchcliffe, dons his new GoDaddy.com colors. The one stealing the spotlight in Sebring, however, is an IndyCar rookie having only turned his first laps in an IndyCar but a few hours ago. The rookie comes highly recommended though by much of the paddock, especially Tony Kanaan. Of course, we’re talking about the most experience Formula One driver in history, Rubens Barrichello. The Brazilian is evaluating a potential run in the IndyCar series this year following his departure from WilliamsF1. Officially, the test is set only to allow Barrichello to provide his expertise feedback on the new car’s development. But many, including Barrichello, have left open the possibility to run in IndyCar.

Barrichello’s first departure from pit lane in an IndyCar was posted to KV Racing’s youtube channel and can be seen below.

Sutil Attempted Resolution with Lux: German F1 driver, Adrian Sutil, attempted to resolve the bar fight saga with Lotus Team Executive, Eric Lux, out of court it has emerged. Sutil realizes the outcome of the case largely determines what will become of his career. He acknowledged attempts to resolve the situation out of court with Lux, whom he cut with a broken glass in a Shanghai night club. The 28- year old talked to SID news agency about the severity of the situation. “I’m sorry, extremely sorry, I didn’t want it to happen,” Sutil said. The former Force India driver told SID despite appealing to Lux out of court, Lux had no interest and “wanted to destroy” Sutil. Lux received phone calls from Sutil in his efforts to apologize, but Lux never accepted the calls. “I expected him to come to Luxembourg and apologize to me. A call is not enough,” Lux testified. Sutil and Lux did discuss resolutions but none were agreed upon. Sutil claimed Lux’s demands were outlandish and involved a “very, very high amount” of money as well as Sutil’s sitting out of numerous Grands Prix.