Brake Glow

An aspiring motorsports journalist’s personal blog.

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.

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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.

Marco in at Starworks in Last Minute Deal

The Starworks Motorsports entry that was set to drop out of the Rolex 24 has made a revival and will be on the grid later today at the famed Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The entry was originally slated with drivers Tony Kanaan, E.J. Viso and Ryan Hunter-Reay. Due to a cut in funding, however, Viso and Kanaan were forced out of the seat and the status of the No. 2 Starworks Daytona Prototype left unknown. Speed.com’s John Dagys reported late Friday night the car will race in the twice around the clock event albeit with a new driver line-up.

Hunter-Reay remains aboard but is the only staple from the initial driver list. The entry will now consist of Hunter-Reay, Michael Valiente, Scott Mayer, Miguel Potolicchio and the surprise, last-minute addition of Marco Andretti. Marco is already in Florida for a private IndyCar test at Palm Beach Raceway and accepted the deal less than a day prior to the Rolex 24’s starting time.

The addition to the Andretti Autosport driver’s already crammed schedule means an IndyCar test Saturday morning with a banzai run to Daytona International Speedway to take his first stint in the Riley-Ford DP. Early Saturday, the 24-year old began to realize the strain that could amount. “Do they make a 40 hour energy drink,” asked Andretti via Twitter. “Going to be a long couple days but there is no better place to be than the cockpit!”

When Marco straps in for his first stint later Saturday, it will mark the first time the third-generation IndyCar driver has seen the Daytona road course (in competition) and his first time in a Daytona Prototype. Saturday’s Rolex 24 is not the first time Marco has seen the cockpit of a sports car however. In 2008, Andretti frequented the cockpit of then Andretti-Green Racing’s Acura LMP2 car in the American LeMans Series.

The Rolex 24 at Daytona kicks off at 3:30 p.m. EST live on Speed.

F-1 Notes

Barrichello at KV Shop for Seat Fitting: After the news broke mid-day yesterday, the Twittersphere has been abuzz with talk of F-1 refugee Rubens Barrichello testing a KV Racing Technology IndyCar at Sebring this coming week. IndyCar drivers took to the social media site to voice their praise for the Brazilian and to encourage his endeavor into IndyCar. Even the great Mario Andretti tweeted at Barrichello, “good luck at Sebring test. Hope you’ll like it enough to join IndyCar. Tony Kanaan will be a great mate!” Barrichello joined in the fun early Thursday morning. Barrichello posted a picture of himself snugly tucked into the cockpit of a DW12 during a seat fitting. Since Brake Glow makes every effort to avoid copyright infringement in any form, the picture can be seen here. Barrichello is scheduled to turn his first laps in an IndyCar at Sebring on Monday.

Caterham Forced Into Early Unveiling: The Caterham F1 Team, formerly Lotus, was forced into an early unveiling of their 2012 challenger. Pictures of the aptly named CT01 emerged early Wednesday. The release to the media was initially scheduled for Thursday in an agreement with the UK-based, F-1 Magazine, but some readers received their copy of the periodical early on Wednesday. The early arrival to some fans led to pictures being lifted from the magazine and posted to the internet. Caterham relented and released a single picture for the media’s official use later in the day on Wednesday. Team Principal, Tony Fernandes, made the best out of the situation. “I am thrilled that we broke cover first and that the CT01 is the first example anyone has seen of a 2012 car,” he said. Fernandes said he expects more from the team in 2012 with points scoring being the main goal. The Malaysian pointed to the amount of development into this year’s car: “The detail right across the whole package is light years ahead of where we were when we first started out, and we are all excited about seeing what it can do when we get on track.” The public will see the CT01 on track for the first time in February as Formula One heads to Valencia for preseason testing. Photos of the CT01 are available through the team’s Flickr account here.

“Can’t Underestimate (Schumacher)” – Glock: Marussia driver, Timo Glock, recently came out to in defense of his fellow countryman, Michael Schumacher. Schumacher has brought mediocre results to his MercedesGP Team since his return to Formula One in 2010. But, Glock says, that does not mean he has lost his edge. In an interview with the German publication, Sky Sports News HD, Glock praised Schumacher’s tenacity and motivation. “He (Schumacher) is highly motivated and still someone who you always have to take into consideration,” Glock said. Glock finished his thought, “You can’t underestimate him in any way.” The 7-time World Champion and winner of 91 Grands Prix has yet to score a win, or even a podium, since his return two years ago. 2012 will be Schumacher’s third season with MercedesGP. His contract expires at the end of the 2012 season and his future plans remain unknown.

Wilson, Engineer Papas Return to Coyne

Justin Wilson will return with Dale Coyne Racing in 2012 (Photo: Zach Wenzel)

Dale Coyne Racing announced the return of their sole winner, Justin Wilson, to the Plainfield, Illinois-based team.

After a two-year hiatus from Coyne, Wilson reunites in 2012 to the team he brought their first win (Watkin’s Glen, 2009.) The duo also return in 2012 with Honda power, but the new DW12 is sure to provide some new challenges for the engineering team.

In addition to Wilson’s return, engineer Bill Papas also returns. Papas was with Wilson in 2009 for the team’s win.

Read the full media release below:

Dale Coyne Racing is proud to announce that they are “Putting the Band Back Together” with its 2009 winning combination of driver Justin Wilson and renowned engineer Bill Pappas, all powered by Honda.

After a two year absence, Wilson returns to Dale Coyne Racing after bringing the seasoned team its first win at Watkins Glen, NY back July of 2009.

“I am really excited as to how all of this has come together,” Wilson said. “Dale is committed to win, and it shows by him bringing back my 2009 engineer Bill Papas, the level playing field of a new car and the much appreciated continuation with Honda engines should make 2012 a very exciting year for all of us.”

Dale Coyne Racing will once again be powered by Honda in 2012. “Dale has shown us he is putting together a winning team,” commented Honda Performance Development President Erik Berkman. “The Honda family has a long history with DCR and we look forward to having them as a valued partner in 2012.”

Honda has been a fixture in North American open-wheel racing since 1994, and has played an active role in the growth of the IZOD IndyCar Series. Honda has supplied racing engines to the full, 33-car Indianapolis 500 field every year since 2006, and for a record-six consecutive years, the ‘500’ has not seen a single engine failure.

Wilson has shown his prowess over the years. Justin won two IZOD IndyCar races (Detroit in 2008 and again at Watkins Glen in 2009), as well as multiple wins in the former Champ Car Series. He is one of the top contenders to deal with in the pool of IndyCar driver talent.

“We are very excited about 2012 and the team we are assembling,” reflected team owner Dale Coyne. “As to this opportunity, racing is a combination of things, team, dedication, the right equipment, and engineering and of course the driver. This combination knows each other and this coupled with Honda and other improvements in our efforts for 2012 and beyond should make for a break out year for Dale Coyne Racing.”

Returning to DCR squad in 2012 will be the talented engineer Bill Papas. Papas joined DCR in 2009 for that season, which saw the team win Watkins Glen and nearly win at St. Petersburg and Mid-Ohio.

“I want to thank Dale for being able to put this combination back together,” said Pappas. “I think the world of Justin and his abilities and now we can seriously get after the challenge of winning more races.”

John Dick, who has a long respected history in the sport and most recently as engineer and technical director at KV Racing will also join Dale Coyne Racing in 2012.

Details of the team’s second entry and sponsorships will be coming out sometime in February.

Barrichello to IndyCar?

Recent WilliamsF1 refugee, Rubens Barrichello, will get his first sampling of an IndyCar later this month.

Speed.com unveiled the news that Brazilian Barrichello is set to test one of KV Racing Technology’s IndyCars next week in Sebring, Florida. The test will collude with one already scheduled for KV driver, and fellow Brazilian, Tony Kanaan.

Barrichello’s intentions remain unclear, however, after publicly promising his wife he would avoid racing on American ovals. If Barrichello made a full-time IndyCar debut, he would not be the first in doing so at the age of 40. Nigel Mansell made the transition from F-1 to CART in 1993 at the same age.

Another option potentially available to the 300-some Grands Prix veteran models that of Sebastien Bourdais’s return to American open-wheel last year. In 2011, Bourdais ran a strict road courses-only schedule for Dale Coyne Racing.

More will be added as it becomes available.

3 IndyCar Stars Rendered Ride-less for Rolex 24

IndyCar stars Tony Kanaan, Ryan Hunter-Reay and E.J. Viso will be forced to merely spectate at this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. The three were set to drive the No. 2 Starworks Motorsports Ford-powered Daytona Prototype. Due to a last minute withdrawal of funding from the team’s sponsor, however, Starworks has pulled their entry from competition.

Team owner, Peter Baron, spoke to Speed.com about the situation. “The funding was supposed to come through for (the Rolex 24), we were waiting for as long as possible and holding out hope,” he said. Remorsefully, Baron continued, “but it all fell through at the last moment and we can’t funds things out of our own pocket.”

All three drivers took to Twitter to announce the disappointing news. “This will be the first time I have missed the 24hrs of Daytona since 2006! Good news is I’ll be back in the IndyCar Monday in Sebring,” announced Hunter-Reay. Kanaan mirrored that sentiment, “Guys, unfortunately I will not race at the Daytona 24H this Saturday. The funding that the Starworks Motorsports team had went away,” he said before bouncing back with optimism: “On the other hand, I will be testing my #11 KV Racing IndyCar on Monday again!”

After a tweet mentioned all three drivers, calling the team’s actions “classless” to pull their entry mere days prior to the event, Viso took to the team’s defense. “It has nothing to do with the team. They did all they where suppose to,” Viso proclaimed.

Baron, meanwhile, is left to figure out revisions to his other DP entry. As of this posting, that situation remains unclear. Baron did expect to release a statement to the press sometime Wednesday to explain the direction of the team for the Rolex 24.