Vodafone set to leave Formula 1?

Hamilton signs with Mercedes for 2013  by Les Speed – via F1QA – September 28th, 2012

With Lewis Hamilton jumping the good-ship McLaren Mercedes and Mexican Sergio Perez quickly brought on-board as his replacement, can Vodafone be far behind?

Celebrity Life Image by JohnONolan via Flickr

Reports had confirmed that McLaren were offering Lewis quite a bit less then his previous deal, which possibly with Jenson Button as team-mate and the fact that Lewis hasn't won a World Championship for some time might have been justified. That argument could go both ways, as with co-number one drivers and a slightly unrealiable car, how could Lewis have won a World Championship anyway?

Nonetheless, in the last four years since Lewis did win his one and only World Championship, everything has gone up in price; gas, food, travel, etc. So to be offered a lower salary as reward for the years of service, probably didn't sit right with the Flash of Stevenage, OBE and of whom, with the firing of his greatest mentor, his father Anthony, is obviously a man of few sentiments and of many ambitions.

Enter, stage right, Mercedes, who have known and somewhat nurtured Lewis' career over the years, to throw one of their own overboard and scoop the disorientated Flash while the scooping was good. After-all, the team needed a good reason to get the board in Struttgart to continue funding their addictions.

That in itself warrants a report of its own – as does, how McLaren is actually faring after launching a $200,000 Supercar in the midst of a Global recession.

Yet, with Telmex backed Perez in at McLaren, what does that say, in addition to the lower pay-packet offer, about Vodafone's committment to the future? Especially, now with the dynamic-British-duo no more. And to the rumours of Coca-Cola as a 2013 McLaren sponsor?

Are they the Real-Thing, after-all?

If you do recall Schweppes was a McLaren sponsor for years, so the Woking outfit knows how to service a drinks company and current sponsor, Lucozade, a potential clasher with Coca-Cola, has recently taken to promoting its MaxiMuscle brand on the rear wing. Plenty of intrigue and B2B potential ahead, no doubt.

Enjoy the show!

Twitter me at http://twitter.com/f1qa

 

Adam Parr’s departure was profitable for Williams

F1 business good for Williams after Ecclestone payment

By: Adam Cooper via Autoweek. SPEED TV on September 11, 2012

Williams Grand Prix Holdings has announced an improved financial performance for the first six months of 2012.
 
Pastor maldonado antes de chocar en los próceres Image by anyulled via Flickr
 
The company says turnover on its core Formula One business has increased by 57 percent to $117 million, while net profits are up from $13.6 million.

Williams is one of 12 F1 teams, and is listed on the German stock exchange.

The team makes no secret of the fact that its performance has been boosted by a “sweetener”payment from F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone related to the new Concorde Agreement.

It said in a statement: “The notable increases in half-year turnover and profit are largely due to our diversification strategy,as well as the recent receipt of a one-off payment following a new commercial agreement for our continued commitment to Formula One.”

Sir Frank Williams said: “Williams is at a very exciting stage in its history, and these promising results are indicative of this. We have made good progress on track this year, thanks in part to a new technical team, which has seen us pick up our first win in eight years. Our diversification strategy is also gaining momentum, positioning us as a leader in the development of cutting edge technology in areas such as sustainability and safety.”

CEO Alex Burns emphasized the company’s diversification strategy: “These results also validate our long-term business plan of adapting technology and know-how developed in Formula One for commercial application in energy efficiency, safety and education. Our core business is now generating strong revenue figures from projects outside of Grand Prix racing.

“For example, our partnership with Jaguar, to develop the ground breaking C-X75 hybrid supercar, is making good progress, and other Formula One teams are also using our technology, including a new deal with Marussia that will see them use our KERS technology next year.”

On the track, Williams driver Pastor Maldonado of Venezuela won the Spanish Grand Prix in May to give the team its lone win of 2012. Maldonado is 15th place in the driver standings, one spot ahead of teammate Bruno Senna.

Read more: http://www.autoweek.com/article/20120911/f1/120919969#ixzz26Dqt1KJS

 

Ferrari chief and his vision of Formula 1

 

 

Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo has renewed calls for a cheaper Formula 1 with more testing and less reliance on aerodynamics – plus perhaps consideration given to shorter races.
 
Salone dell' Auto di Francoforte 2007 Image by schumachergirl1956 via Flickr

On a weekend where there has been a renewed focus on cost control in F1, di Montezemolo argued that the time was ripe for a big rethink about the future of the sport.

“We want an F1 with less cost,” he said at Monza. “Tell me why we have to spend a huge amount of cost to spend 24 hours in the windtunnel to do a small wing flap that for the public [the interest] is zero, for the television is zero, and for me as a road-car manufacturer it is less than zero because we will never use this for the road car?”

He added: “Ferrari has been in F1 for more than 60 years. The success in F1 is crucial. Ferrari will remain in F1 if F1 is F1 and not a race for electric cars or games. It is innovation and technology and, if you have to spend money, you spend it for the advanced research and not for something that is nothing to do with competition.”

Di Montezemolo met with FIA president Jean Todt and F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone for talks at Maranello on Friday to discuss the future of grand prix racing – and said he believed important steps needed to be taken.

“I want to have rules that permit us to spend less, because I don't think if you say, this is [area] limited to spend [on], how can you control this?” he explained. “I think in the recent past, somebody cheated on this.

“So I prefer to have clear rules that allow [teams] to spend less, particularly in something that is not crucial for the spectators or the competition.”

Speaking about potential changes to the format of race weekends, di Montezemolo said: “Looking at young people, it [the length of races] is too long.

“Maybe I'm wrong but I think we have to look very carefully what we can do to improve the show of F1. I give you one example, one and a half hours is a long time for young people; maybe it is good instead to have the race in two parts.

“Maybe it is a mistake, but we have to think of something, we cannot stay always the same.

“We have to be innovative without losing the F1 DNA, like technology and innovation. Now, the last 10 laps if you are in the lead, you take care of the tyres, because maybe you don't arrive at the end, you take care of your engine. This is not F1 extreme; it is something we have to look at. Maybe we maintain the race, maybe it is something we change for the future.”

He also suggested that F1 should be more flexible about when races take place.

“You can maybe give more room for technological research for the road cars and also to improve the show, because this is another problem,” he said. “I don't think it's good to race in July and August at 2pm when the people are in the sea or on vacation. Soccer plays at 6, 7, 8 o'clock.”

Formula 1 Midseason Report: Felipe Massa

 

By 

t) on August 22, 2012

Before the start of the season, I highlighted six drivers who had a lot to prove going into 2012. The article can be found here.

The mid-season break is as good a time as any to revisit those men to see how they're progressing. First, let's take a look at Felipe Massa.

Felipe Massa's Ferrari F10 in the Senna Corner (Montreal) Image by Gregory Moine via Flickr

Background

Massa entered 2012 on very thin ice. He could—and probably should—have been dropped at the end of last year following an extremely disappointing 2011.

The Ferrari was the third-best car, occasionally the second-best, but Felipe's best finishing position in any race was fifth.

The year before hadn't been much better. While teammate Fernando Alonso battled for (and probably should have won) the title, Massa was a distant sixth place overall.

Since returning from the injuries he sustained at the 2009 Hungarian Grand Prix, Massa had started 38 races, won none (though he gifted the 2010 German Grand Prix to Alonso) and scored just five podiums.

His performances were far from good enough.


2012

The Ferrari was a very poor car at the start of the season. While Alonso managed to drag it around the track at a reasonable speed, Massa simply couldn't handle it.

This was somewhat expected; only the very best drivers can take a bad car and make it respectable.

But in a field with mere tenths separating the front-runners and the midfield, the size of the gap was just too big. After just two races, the knives were out, and lists of potential replacements were already being compiled.

After five, it seemed almost certain that he'd lose the seat at the end of the year—and possibly sooner.

Then Massa enjoyed a mini-revival at the sixth race, Monaco. He pretty much matched Alonso lap-for-lap most of the weekend, and finished close behind his teammate. That's exactly where Ferrari want him.

His pace was decent in Canada too, but an error early in the race put him into a spin and he fell from fifth to 11th, losing any chance of a podium finish. He'd demonstrated good pace at two very different circuits.

He wasn't especially poor at Valencia, either. The results say he finished a lap down while Alonso won, but on this occasion, Felipe was blameless. It was a combination oftrack debris, Kamui Kobayashi and a badly-timed (for him) safety car which left Massa a distant 16th.

And in the British Grand Prix, Massa qualified well in the rain and came home in fourth place, his best result of the season. In fact, it was his best result since 2010.

But one decent finish didn't prove a great deal. Felipe needed two good races before the summer break (a point at which a team may, if they haven't already, make a decision about their driver lineup for the next year).

In Germany, a first-lap accident dropped Massa to the rear of the field and he could only fight back to finish 12th. And in Hungary, a poor start from seventh left the Brazilian ninth after the first lap.

A race distance later, that was where he finished.


Has he proved a point?

The improvements in pace Massa has shown as the season has progressed won't harm his cause. In terms of pure pace, he appears to be largely within the window Ferrari want him operating in—within a few tenths of Alonso, with occasional blips.

Trouble is, he just isn't getting it done in the races. The pace he has means nothing if he can't convert it to good finishes.

It's true that he's had some poor luck here and there—Valencia, for example—but in Formula 1, a driver makes a lot of his own luck. If someone runs into trouble, it's usually because he put himself in trouble's way.

It doesn't matter that Felipe can point to a timesheet and say he was only 0.143-seconds slower than his teammate over the course of a lap.

What matters is the fact that, since he became able to drive the car at a half-decent pace (Monaco onwards), Massa has scored 23 points.

Alonso has scored 103.

I don't think he's done enough—and if he's still in F1 next year, it'll be a huge surprise.

 

Follow me on Twitter if you wish, @JamesNeilsen

 

Helmut Marko says the F1 Paddock is Jealous of Red Bull

 

Red Bull's Helmut Marko says the team is simply “more creative” than its rivals…
via SPEED Staff / GMM  |  Posted August 01, 2012   GMM Newswire
 
 

 

Head to head! Red Bull Racing and Lotus Renault trucks Image by Supermac1961 via Flickr

The paddock noise about Red Bull 'cheating' is fueled by jealousy, the team's Helmut Marko has claimed.

So far in 2012, the reigning champions have been at the center of most of F1's technical controversies, including holes in the floor, wheel hubs, engine mapping and ride height adjusters.

In a headline-writer's dream, team boss Christian Horner let his temper slip this week when German reports quoted him as denouncing the sagas as “bulls**t”.

And Austrian Marko, who is team owner Dietrich Mateschitz's right hand man, denied in an interview with the German broadcaster RTL that Red Bull is overly “aggressive” when it comes to interpreting the rules.

“We are just more creative,” he said.

“We live within the regulations, but of course we also see how we can make them work best for us.”

Marko said “other teams” are simply not as good as Red Bull on that front.

“When they see us do something, they either copy it or they try to have it forbidden,” he said.

“The jealousy and envy that we see in the paddock is because we have won for the past two years, and because we are not a traditional racing team.

“I think this has fed this resentment and these attempts to disturb us in some way,” he added.

 

Where’s Bernie??

 

Nurburgring 'not annoyed' by Ecclestone snub

Nurburgring officials might be forgiven for feeling “annoyed” after being stood up at the weekend by Bernie Ecclestone.

Bernie Ecclestone  Image by RyanBayona via Flickr

Despite the Nurburgring entering an insolvency process, bosses Jorg Lindner and Kai Richter took the time and expense to travel to Hockenheim, specifically to meet with Ecclestone and discuss their circuit's crisis.

“They waited and waited, but Bernie did not come,” revealed the Suddeutschenewspaper.

Media reports speculated that the F1 chief executive stayed away for fear German prosecutors would order his arrest as they push forward with a bribery investigation.

“We are not annoyed,” a spokesman for the Nurburgring told DPA news agency.

“We are in contact in other ways (with Ecclestone) regarding formula one at the Nurburgring in 2013.”

Already convicted and jailed for receiving Ecclestone's bribes is the former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky, whose lawyer Daniel Amelung says 81-year-old Briton Ecclestone cannot hide forever.

“I wonder how in the future he can fulfil his duties in Germany, in Europe, indeed in the entire world if the prosecutor should apply for an international arrest warrant,” he told Bild newspaper.

Ecclestone has been unavailable for comment.

(GMM)

Halfway Through the 2012 F1 Season That Has Never Failed to Thrill

By BRAD SPURGEON via IHT, nytimes.com

F1 Drivers Parade: Fernando Alonso in an Austin Healey Image by Gregory Moine via Flickr

HOCKENHEIM, Germany — We have now arrived at the halfway point of the longest Formula One season in history — 20 races, ending at the end of November — and I think it is safe to say that there has not yet been a boring race.

Formula One
Formula One

A view from the paddock with Brad Spurgeon.

The German Grand Prix at Hockenheim on Sunday began looking as if it might end up a boring affair as Fernando Alonso scored pole position during a superb qualifying in treacherous, wet conditions and the Spaniard in the Ferrari looked set to hold onto the lead to the end. But with 25 laps left in the 67-lap race, a sudden teasing game began when Jenson Button in a McLaren managed to pass Sebastian Vettel in a Red Bull and take second position after starting sixth.

Button looked like he would capitalize on Alonso’s Ferrari’s frequent weakness: its tires’ performance at the end of races. As the British driver — who has not won since the first race of the season in Australia in March — pressured Alonso, at about a second behind him for many laps, the race became a scenario of suspense and guessing.

But guessing that this time it would be the McLaren that wore out its tires seemed unthinkable. Yet, suddenly, it was Button who became the prey to the rapidly attacking Vettel, who passed Button with less than three laps left and finished second.

Then, two hours after the race, there was more excitement as it was announced that Vettel had illegally passed Button by driving off the edge of the track at the hairpin to get past the McLaren driver, gaining an unfair advantage. Vettel was penalized, with 20 seconds added to his race time. He dropped to fifth in the race classification, which raised Kimi Raikkonen of the Lotus team to third place, and Button to second.

None of this changed the winner: Alonso claimed his third victory of the season — the only driver who can make that boast — proving once that again that he can capitalize on every opportunity that presents itself. He extended his lead in the series to 154 points. Mark Webber, in the other Red Bull, has only 120 points, while Vettel has 110.

But the race had the added benefit of showing what happens when the series’ five German drivers compete in their home race. Vettel, who has never won a race in July — and therefore never won his home Grand Prix — once again failed, with victory looking like it was teasing him, so close yet so far.

Michael Schumacher started third on the grid and finished seventh in a strong race which had the German driver outperforming his teammate — Nico Rosberg, another German, who finished 10th — for the third race in a row. And Nico Hulkenberg in a Force India, finished ninth.

The only German driver who did not finish in the top 10 was Timo Glock, in the inferior Marussia car that has not scored a point so far in its two and a half seasons in the series.

In the end, there was plenty to watch and dream about here, just as there has been at every race so far this year, and as the tight season no doubt promises for the next 10 races.

 

Moss likes the old days when drivers could get killed

via paddocktalk.com

Ultra-safe F1 'a shame' – Moss

Sir Stirling Moss thinks it is “a shame” formula one is so safe today.

“The concept, the whole idea, has changed,” the British legend, who started winning grands prix in the middle of the 50s, said on Austrian Servus TV.

Jaguar Heritage Racing Image by jaguarcarsmena via Flickr

“That's a shame, because we had fun risking life and limb and that's gone now, really,” added Moss, 82.

Moss admits that the danger was a key factor in his enjoyment of racing.

“In my opinion, if you don't want to take risks, play tennis,” he added.

Not everyone is backing the latest Olympic F1 proposal

 

 Canadian gold rush - Proud to be Canadian. Vancouver trash bins during the 2010 Games (Image by Carson Ting via Flickr)

Olympic Park no place for F1 race, says Porritt

LONDON | Wed Jul 18, 2012 11:35am EDT

The possibility, however slim, of a Formula One race one day being held in the London Olympic Park left Green campaigner and environmentalist Jonathan Porritt boggling at the ironies of life on Wednesday.

Organisers of the Games, which open next week, are proud of their efforts to make the Olympics in east London as car-free as possible through an array of rail and bus links and secure bicycle parking.

At the same time, the London Legacy Development Corporation announced on Tuesday that one of the four bids to take over the Olympic stadium after the Games was from a little-known company acting in association with Formula One.

Premier League West Ham United remain the favourites to become tenants but F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, who denies any direct involvement in the bid, has spoken in the past about his interest in hosting a race in London.

“Our life is full of irony isn't it,” smiled Olympic 'Sustainability Ambassador' Porritt, whose father Arthur was a bronze medallist for New Zealand in the 'Chariots of Fire' 100 metre race at the 1924 Paris Games.

“I find the whole story about F1 racing and sustainability quite difficult,” added the man whose focus has been on the sustainable design of Olympic venues and an environmentally-friendly legacy.

“F1 racing is a celebration of crazy, unsustainable use of cars in many ways and I would much rather that we would see more use of the park for cycling and all of those kind of things,” added the environmental activist and former director of the Friends of the Earth campaigning group.

The gas-guzzling sport of Formula One is trying to burnish its green credentials, with teams and factories offsetting their carbon footprint and the sport declaring itself carbon neutral.

Technical rules have been changed to make engines last longer, with bio-fuel and fuel efficiency set to be an increasingly important factor, while manufacturers are also keen to establish a link between racing and 'greener' road cars.

Organisers have pushed urban street circuits, such as Singapore or Montreal where spectators do not have to drive to grands prix, and compared the sport favourably to the Tour de France cycle race which is followed daily by a long caravan of vehicles.

The sport, however, depends on criss-crossing the globe, and teams fly cars in jumbo jets to circuits from Brazil to Australia to Singapore.

SOCHI PLANS

While the Formula One-angled bid for the London stadium looks a long-shot, the 2014 Winter Games in the Russian resort of Sochi has a grand prix as part of its legacy planning.

The first race there is scheduled for the months after the Games, using some of the same facilities built for the Olympics.

“One is bound to say that these things just sound dissonant,” said Porritt.

“Motor car racing just doesn't fit in that stable for me.

“To me it's extraordinary that anyone could think this could be on the side of the angels when it comes to sustainability but there we go,” he told Reuters.

Despite London's best efforts to limit car usage, something also pushed by fears of gridlock on narrow congested roads at Games time, VIP guests and Olympic officials will be whisked around town in a fleet of BMWs.

“They will be very noticeable to people living in central London because they will be whizzing up and down those specially designated lanes and probably making people a bit angry on that score,” conceded Porritt.

“Who knows, in 20 years time, maybe there will be no cars at all even for members of the IOC.” (Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Ossian Shine)

 

F1 » Hamilton hits 100GP’s in Germany

Lewis Hamilton: I still remember my first [F1 race] as if it were only yesterday…

2010 Canadian Grand Prix Podium: Hamilton, Button, Alonso Image by Gregory Moine via Flickr

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton will reach a landmark in Germany next weekend, when he takes in his 100th F1 race, and he has admitted that he finds it quite 'unbelievable' that he has already done so many grand's prix.

The 2008 F1 world champion has enjoyed much success since making his debut at the top level back in 2007, and while Silverstone last time out was disappointing and he only finished eighth in front of his home fans, he is already looking ahead and looking to strike back.

Indeed he is keen to mark his latest F1 milestone in style and given his current position in the drivers' championship, he is 37 points off Fernando Alonso, a win – his second win of the year – would be well-timed.

“I was quick to get over our disappointing weekend at Silverstone, running with the Olympic flame on the day after the race and then quickly turning my full attention to Hockenheim.

“Unbelievably, next weekend will mark my 100th grand prix. That's incredible, because I still remember my first as if it were only yesterday – I guess F1 has that effect on you!” Hamilton said.

Looking to the German GP more specifically weekend, Hamilton added that he likes the Hockenheimring, although he wishes he would have got the chance to race on the old longer layout.

“It's always been a regret of mine that I arrived in F1 too late to race on the classic Hockenheim layout, where the track disappeared for miles into the forests and was only broken up by a couple of relatively high-speed chicanes,” Hamilton continued.

“It must have been incredible battling round that track with minimal downforce, locked in a slipstreaming battle with another car and waiting for just the right moment to pounce and overtake.

“Still, I very much enjoy the updated track – it's a place that's built for racing: the hairpin at the end of the back straight is a classic overtaking spot, and the whole layout seems to make it more inviting for a following car to attempt an overtake,” he concluded.

 
 

De Villota recovery described as ‘remarkable’

 

via AFP – 22 hours ago — Marussia test driver Maria De Villota is making a remarkable recovery from last week's horrific crash which resulted in her losing her right eye, her F1 team reported on Wednesday.

Jerome d'Ambrosio Image by nic_r via Flickr

The 32-year-old Spaniard required two operations at Addendrooke's Hospital in Cambridge after the accident at Duxford Airfield that saw her run into the tailgate of a stationary service vehicle.

Although her condition was life threatening over the first few days, on Monday De Villota showed enough of an improvement to be moved out of the Neurological Critical Care Unit.

A team statement read: “Despite severe injuries, Maria's recovery during that time has been remarkable.

“Following two successful surgical procedures in the days following the accident, last Saturday the medical team at Addenbrooke's Hospital began to gradually reduce the level of Maria's sedation.

“By Sunday morning, Maria was awake and able to speak to her family, which provided a very important – albeit early – indication that there were positive signs for Maria's recovery.

“Since that time, Maria has been making small but significant steps. She was moved out of the Neurological Critical Care Unit on Monday and is no longer receiving sedation.

“Her family remain by her side and she is communicating freely with them and the medical team. Medical assessments are ongoing to monitor Maria's improving condition.”

 

 

Coca-Cola rumored as McLaren major sponsor…

 

F1: Sources Insist Coke Eyeing McLaren Sponsorship Deal
via SPEED Staff / GMM  |  Posted July 11, 2012   GMM Newswire
 

Button Rocket Image by polarjez via Flickr

Sources continue to insist that Coca-Cola is interested in entering Formula One as a sponsor.

Business journalist Christian Sylt suggested recently that Coke, arguably the most recognized brand name in the world, could replace McLaren's title sponsor Vodafone.

It had emerged that Vodafone is currently reviewing its major sponsorships.

Another F1 journalist, however, on Tuesday rubbished the “stupid” story on the basis that McLaren already has a drinks sponsor, Lucozade.

But two well-placed sources insist that the Coke rumors are real.

One of the sources said he can prove that Coca-Cola's global head of sports sponsorship has been obtaining detailed data on the beverage sponsorships sector in F1.

He said Coke has “more than a passing interest” in the sport.

The other source, meanwhile, said the Coke/McLaren link is so strong that a potential 2014 McLaren livery has been contemplated that harks back to McLaren's classic red and white of the '80s and '90s.

McLaren's current grey/silver livery dates back to 1997, but its engine partner Mercedes' rival works cars are now also colored similarly.

Moreover, the Woking-based team will begin to pay for its Mercedes engines from 2013, as Force India does already.

“If McLaren goes ahead and switches its livery, it would make sense to do it for a brand as big as Coke,” said Sylt on Wednesday.


 

F1 — Webber and Alonso emerging as favourites

 

By Alan Baldwin — via Reuters — LONDON, July 9 – After a wet and muddy British Grand Prix weekend at Silverstone, Formula One could see some sort of a pattern emerging in a season that has so far stood out for unpredictability.

Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso and Webber Image by nic_r via Flickr

Ferrari and Red Bull like the look of it but for McLaren, and their world champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, it is not a pretty sight.

The long-suffering but loyal 125,000-strong crowd on Sunday saw Ferrari's Fernando Alonso start on pole position and Red Bull's Australian Mark Webber take the chequered flag and winner's champagne.

At the previous race in Valencia it had been a Red Bull on pole, this time with double world champion Sebastian Vettel at the wheel, while Alonso went on to triumph in front of his home Spanish fans.

Alonso and Webber are now the only two drivers to have won twice in the nine races so far this year and Silverstone's rain-soaked track handed both their teams their biggest points haul of the season from a single race.

The Spaniard has 129 points to Webber's 116 with Vettel the only other driver with a three figure tally on 100.

With three races in quick succession this month – Germany and Hungary are on back-to-back weekends – there is the danger that by the time the teams head into the August break the championship has gone from being wide open to a two-team tussle at the front.

McLaren tumbled from second to fourth overall with Hamilton now 37 points adrift of Alonso and behind both Red Bull drivers.

“A pattern is sort of starting to emerge but that could be thrown out of the window quite easily at the next race,” said ever-cautious Red Bull principal Christian Horner.

“I think it's far too early to write off anybody in this championship.”

FERRARI RECOVERY

That said, Red Bull and Ferrari have been consistent.

Alonso has now finished his last 21 races in the points while Webber has suffered only one retirement in the past 12 months and finished in the top four in seven of nine this season.

“I'm very proud of the Ferrari recovery in the last few weeks and now we have been fighting for the victory in the last three or four grands prix,” said Alonso after Sunday's race. “So we're heading in the right direction.”

Ferrari, celebrating a first pole since 2010 and fourth-placed Brazilian Felipe Massa's best result since that year, appear to be hitting their stride after a sluggish start to the season.

Red Bull, who had both their drivers on the podium together for the first time this year, have also figured out how to make their car go faster.

“Obviously we got some confidence with our car in Valencia. I think that before then, we'd been finding our way with the new regulations, but I think we understood a little bit more about the RB8 in Valencia, and that has been an on-going process here,” declared Webber.

McLaren, winners of the season-opener in Australia with Button, are finding the Pirelli tyres hard to fathom.

Hamilton won in Germany last year and Button in Hungary and team principal Martin Whitmarsh was hopeful that upgrades would help the team get back into contention.

“Sometimes you learn more from these weekends than the successful ones,” he told reporters.

“I'm not seriously worried. worry doesn't make your car go quicker,” added Whitmarsh. “There's no magic, you've got to work on developing the car and understanding the conditions.

“It is very tricky to go from being so strong in the first stint on one set of prime (tyres)…and about 15 minutes later you put them on again and they feel different. they respond differently yet you set the same pressures and temperatures.” (Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by John Mehaffey)

 

 

F1 Live — British GP Update – July 7, 2012

 

Silverstone encourages fans to attend the British Grand Prix on Sunday 08 July.

On the Turn Image by andrewrennie via Flickr

Silverstone would like to thank fans that heeded the circuit’s advice on Friday evening and did not come to the Formula 1™ Santander British Grand Prix on Saturday.

While it was an extremely difficult decision, and one that will have disappointed people that had to stay away, the decision gave the circuit a fighting chance to repair and get previously unsafe car parks into a state that can be used on race day.

The circuit has implemented further contingency plans throughout Friday night and Saturday. As a result, it is now in a stronger position to accommodate all ticket holders coming to Silverstone on Sunday.

The circuit has issued the following important information for fans coming to Silverstone tomorrow:

Information for Sunday (08 July)

  • – Everyone with a valid ticket for Sunday is encouraged to come to Silverstone
  • – Please leave plenty of time to arrive at the circuit and, where possible, travel in 4×4 vehicles, on motorcycles or car share
  • – Where possible, please maximise car capacity for your journey
  • – In order to park vehicles safely, fans should be prepared for a longer walk than usual. Please wear sensible shoes and clothing
  • – The severe weather conditions over the last weeks and, in particularly, the last 48 hours, has had a significant impact on the public car parks. It will, therefore be more difficult to park on than in previous years
  • – Please follow Stewards’ instructions. They will do everything possible to ensure you are parked as quickly and efficiently as possible
  • – Everyone who has a valid ticket for Sunday entry arriving by foot (campers & people staying in the locality) with pre booked tickets should arrives as normal
  • – People with pre-booked Park and Ride passes and tickets should follow directions as sent out and follow instructions from stewards. Please be patient – we are doing our very best and are working hard to get you in
  • – Campers must leave cars at the campsites and not bring them to the circuit as they will be turned away
  • – Campers should avoid trying to leave the site on Sunday night and stay until Monday morning. This will avoid getting caught up in traffic unnecessarily
  • Hospitality guests should follow instructions as normal, and again be patient with stewards
  • – To help stagger traffic exiting the site, please stay behind and enjoy the off-track entertainment, including the post-race Grand Prix Party

For up-to-date information tune into 87.7FM, keep an eye on the website, or on our Twitter and facebook pages.

Richard Phillips, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, said: “The weather has been a constant issue over the weekend. Tomorrow will be a bit of a challenge, but please bear with us; we are going to do our best.”

The event will not be able to take place without the drivers, teams and officials. Please ensure they are given priority when accessing the circuit in the morning.

 

 

F1 Live – at the British Grand Prix

 

Start Your Engines, F1 Style, at the British Grand Prix

 

 

Massa to De Villota — “Stay strong”

 

Via Planet F1 — Thursday 5th July 2012

Felipe Massa  Image by p_c_w via Flickr

Few will know the despair that Maria De Villota will feel after her crash on Tuesday more than Felipe Massa and he has implored her to remain positive.

The Marussia test driver was involved in a horror accident that saw her car hit the tailgate of a support truck. On Wednesday, team boss John Booth confirmed that the Spaniard remained in a stable but critical condition but that she had lost her right eye.

Massa himself nearly lost an eye when a spring from Rubens Barrichello's Brawn worked loose and struck him on the helmet during qualifying for the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009. The Brazilian was knocked unconscious and as a result his Ferrari plowed into a barrier.

The Ferrari driver had surgery around his left eye and had a titanium plate inserted in his skull. Luckily for Massa, he was able to race once more.

Drawing on the experience of his own accident, Massa took to Twitter to show his support for De Villota.

“My thoughts are for Maria and her family,” he wrote.

“I pray God to help her at this time. Don't give up Maria and think positive! As I did after my incident!!!!!”

 

De Villota loses eye in F1 crash

By Alan Baldwin via REUTERS — LONDON | Wed Jul 4, 2012 12:33pm EDT

(Reuters) – Marussia's Spanish test driver Maria De Villota has lost her right eye and remains critically ill in hospital after surgery for facial and head injuries, her Formula One team said on Wednesday.

Aguirre demanda 'tolerancia cero' y 'romper el silencio' frente a los maltratadores (25 noviembre 2011)  (Image by Comunidad de Madrid via Flickr)                                                                                Maria De Villota in late 2011, seated far right  

De Villota was involved in an accident while driving the car for the first time on Tuesday in a straight-line test at Duxford airfield in the east of England ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix.

After completing one run and returning to the mechanics, her car suddenly accelerated into the back of a team truck with the 32-year-old's helmet taking much of the impact.

“It is with great sadness that I must report that, due to the injuries she sustained, Maria has lost her right eye,” team principal John Booth said in a statement.

Marussia said surgeons at Cambridge's Addenbrooke's hospital had embarked on a lengthy operation that began on Tuesday afternoon and kept the driver in theatre until Wednesday morning.

“Maria remains in a critical but stable condition,” the team said.

De Villota's family were with her at the hospital. The driver is the daughter of former F1 racer Emilio De Villota.

She was appointed test driver of Marussia in March, making her the only woman in such a role at the time although Williams have since handed a similar development role to Suzie Wolff.

The Spaniard has raced in various series and tried out a Renault Formula One car in August last year.

Marussia's race regulars are German driver Timo Glock, who missed the last grand prix in Valencia through illness, and Frenchman Charles Pic.

The British-based team, who were formerly known as Virgin Racing and have not scored a point since their F1 debut in 2010, have no reserve driver and De Villota lacks the necessary super-licence for the role.

Booth said the team had embarked on “a very comprehensive analysis of what happened and this work continues for the moment”.

He added that British-based Marussia had been overwhelmed by messages of support for De Villota, her family and the team.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

 

Maria de Villota in hospital after test crash

 

Maria de Villota is conscious and undergoing further medical assessment at Addenbrooke's Hospital in Cambridge following her testing crash on Tuesday morning.

The Marussia Formula 1 test driver was rushed to hospital earlier in the day following an accident shortly after her first run for the team at a straightline aerodynamic test at Duxford Airfield.

According to eyewitness reports, after slowing down as she prepared to return to the temporary pit awning, de Villota's car lurched towards the rear of a team transporter, and collided with a tail-lift at the rear of the truck.

Emergency services were called immediately and, after being extracted from the car, she was transferred with what the ambulance service called “life-threatening injuries” to hospital, where she arrived in a stable condition.

Marussia issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon indicating that her life was not in danger, but saying that it was too early to assess the extent of her injuries.

“Since Maria's arrival at the hospital at approximately 10.45am this morning, she has been receiving the best medical attention possible at the hospital, which is the region's major trauma centre,” said the statement.

“Maria is conscious and medical assessments are ongoing. The team will await the outcome of these assessments before providing further comment. The team's first priority at this time is Maria and her family.”

The F1 community has sent its best wishes to de Villota, whose only previous experience of grand prix machinery was when she tested a 2009 Renault last year.

Fernando Alonso wrote on Twitter: “I just got home and found out [about] Maria's accident, we called the family and hopefully we will know more soon! All my energy with you!”

Jenson Button also wrote: “Terrible accident for Maria de Villota, Marussia F1 team test driver. My thoughts are with Maria and her family at this very difficult time.”

 

Pastor Maldonado masters 2012 Pirelli tyres

 

Pastor Maldonado believes that he has a better understanding of Pirelli's 2012 Formula 1 tyres than he did with last year's rubber. 
 
Post race pit lane Image by MatHampson via Flickr

This season's tyres have been the subject of much discussion, as teams battle to get them to work. That has resulted in fluctuating form throughout the field.

But Maldonado, who won the Spanish Grand Prix for Williams and was fighting for a podium finish in Valencia before colliding with Lewis Hamilton, is happy that he knows what to do to get the 2012-spec compounds working.

“I think I understand the tyres very well,” said Maldonado. “Much better than last year. Even if they changed for this year, I have a great feeling.

“I know exactly what to do to look after the tyres, how to manage the race to get a longer life from them. I am always trying to improve, but I think the combination between me, the car, and the tyres is good at the moment.”

Maldonado explained that he has worked hard to get an understanding of the Pirellis because of how close the competition is in F1 this year.

“These tyres are working with a small window of temperature,” he added. “As soon as you are slightly out of that range, you are nowhere.

“It is very difficult to put a lap together, and the gaps are so small. As soon as you lose two tenths, it is difficult even to get into the top 10.

“We have been working so hard to try to understand the tyres, to help them, and to get the car working in different conditions and different set-ups.”

 

Ecclestone – no fear of Hockenheim arrest

 

Bernie Ecclestone has denied suggestions he will not risk travelling to Germany next month.

Bernie Ecclestone inspecting the Paddock Club Image by Nick J Webb via Flickr

Bild newspaper indicated recently the F1 chief executive might skip the race after this weekend's British grand prix for risk of arrest.

Speculation is ramping up that Ecclestone, 81, will be charged for bribery, after former F1 banker Gerhard Gribkowsky was convicted and jailed last week for receiving the payments from the Briton.

“The only thing I did wrong is that I personally paid him ten million pounds”, Ecclestone told the German newsmagazine Focus, explaining the money was paid because Gribkowsky was threatening to cause trouble with his British tax affairs.

But what about the risk of arrest in Germany?

“Of course I'm going to Hockenheim,” Ecclestone insisted.

Time will tell what the next step will be, given the Munich court's depiction last week of Ecclestone as the “driving force” of Gribkowsky's corruption.

“The prosecutors' attitude has been quite aggressive in the last couple of days,” an unnamed person close to Ecclestone told the Financial Times.

Are charges likely?

“No idea,” Briton Ecclestone insisted.

The publication suggested Ecclestone may be suspended as F1's chief executive by owners CVC if he is charged.

“What we ought to do is wait and see, shouldn't we?” Ecclestone said.

CVC declined to comment.

(GMM)

When will the Iceman triumph again?

 

Kimi Raikkonen increasingly frustrated by his lack of wins on return

BGP07 1663 Image by p_c_w via Flickr

Kimi Raikkonen has admitted he is increasingly frustrated at still being winless eight races into his Formula 1 comeback as his and Lotus's strong form has raised his expectations.

The 2007 world champion, back in F1 in 2012 after a two-year sojourn in the World Rally Championship, is sixth in the points at present and has taken three podium finishes.

Raikkonen said that while he would have been delighted at the prospect of those results before he rejoined F1, the fact that he feels better results have got away is leaving him discontented.

“If you asked me before the start of the season whether I would be happy with podiums I would have said yes, but now I've had some good results, I want more,” he said.

“In the last few races the results haven't been as strong as I've wanted. We've finished well but I'm disappointed not to have a win yet.

“We just have to get everything together and I'm sure it can come.”

The Finn finished second in the European Grand Prix last weekend, but did not think it was one of his stronger grands prix.

“I think we've been closer to the win at other tracks, but if we see everything going right for us over a race weekend we're not far off,” said Raikkonen. “We're certainly getting there.”

He added that it would be particularly pleasing if his first triumph with Lotus came at Silverstone next weekend.

“When you win in Silverstone, it gives such a good feeling. You have to get everything exactly right,” Raikkonen said. “I won there in Formula Renault and then with Ferrari in 2007.

“It would be fantastic to win again there, especially with the factory just down the road. I'm sure we would have some fantastic celebrations.”

The Enstone team's last Silverstone win came in its Renault era, with Fernando Alonso in 2006, while Raikkonen's most recent F1 triumph was for Ferrari in the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix.

 

Ecclestone ‘Co-Perpetrator’ In Bribery, Prosecutor Says

Via Bloomberg — By Oliver Suess – Jun 27, 2012 3:34 AM PT

Bernie Ecclestone Image by RyanBayona via Flickr

Formula One’s Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ecclestone said June 21 he doesn’t expect to be charged in a bribery case and that he was “not at all” concerned the case would disrupt Formula One’s planned initial public offering in Singapore. 

Bernie Ecclestone was a conspirator in a bribery scheme that sent $44 million to a Bayerische Landesbank executive to clear the 2005 sale of the lender’s stake in Formula One racing, prosecutors said.

Formula One Chief Executive Officer Ecclestone, “hasn’t been blackmailed, he is a co-perpetrator in a bribery case,” public prosecutor Christoph Rodler said in closing arguments at a Munich trial against former BayernLB Chief Risk Officer Gerhard Gribkowsky. The two men agreed they “would support a sale of BayernLB’s Formula One stake to Ecclestone’s benefit.” 

Ecclestone, who isn’t a defendant in the case and hasn’t been charged with the crime, is planning an initial public offering for Formula One in Singapore where shareholders intend to raise as much as $3 billion. Gribkowsky, on trial for accepting bribes, breach of trust and tax evasion, confessed last week to the charges and said Ecclestone bribed him  during the sale of the lender’s stake in the racing company to CVC Capital Partners Ltd.

Gribkowsky told the court the indictment against him was “in most parts” correct. In exchange for his confession, the judges informally agreed Gribkowsky would get a prison term ranging from 7 years and 10 months to 9 years. Rodler sought a longer sentence of 10 years and six months today.

“Gribkowsky’s confession came at a late stage on day 45 of the trial, but at least it was made,” Rodler said referring to payments made by Ecclestone to Gribkowsky. “Ecclestone doesn’t give away money, he generates it; that’s why bribery remains as the only explanation.”

Not Concerned

Ecclestone said June 21 he doesn’t expect to be charged and that he was “not at all” concerned the case would disrupt Formula One’s planned IPO in Singapore.

Ecclestone, who is being investigated by Munich prosecutors over the issue, told the court last year he was caught up in a sophisticated shakedown and paid Gribkowsky because he feared the banker might tell U.K. tax authorities about a family trust controlled by his then wife.

Prosecutors charged Gribkowsky, who managed Munich-based BayernLB’s interest in Formula One, with accepting bribes, breach of trust and tax evasion. They claim he received $44 million to steer the sale of the bank’s 47 percent stake in the racing circuit to CVC, a U.K.-based buyout firm, and also agreed to a sham contract under whichEcclestone received a kickback. Until last week, Gribkowsky denied the claims.

Vital Interest

“Ecclestone had a vital interest to get rid of the banks as he feared for his life’s work,” Rodler said. “He massively supported the sale with everything within his power.”

At the same time, “Gribkowsky was looking for an exit from the dusty state-owned bank and the sale of the Formula One stake was his last chance to play a role in the racing series,” Rodler added.

BayernLB acquired the Formula One stake after the 2002 bankruptcy of Leo Kirch’s media group. Gribkowsky clashed with Ecclestone and sued him in London over corporate-governance rules changed to limit the lender’s influence. Ecclestone wanted to push BayernLB out and saw a chance when CVC showed interest, prosecutors said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Oliver Suess in Munich at osuess@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Aarons at aaarons@Bloomberg.net.

 

 

Apply brakes before investing in Formula 1

 

BEN WEISS'S EYE ON ASIA Archives | Email alerts

June 26, 2012, 12:02 a.m. EDT

Commentary: The $2.5 billion IPO may be too ritzy for investors

Formel 1 - Nürburgring 2009 - Siegerehrung Image by mjohn2101 via Flickr

TEL AVIV. Israel (MarketWatch) — The real hot seat in Formula 1 may not be inside Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes, but rather in the boardroom when the executives meet to finalize the timing and pricing for its much-anticipated $2.5 billion Singapore initial public offering.

With recent share sales by F1’s major shareholder implying a valuation of F1 at a ritzy $9 billion, its flamboyant 81-year-old chief executive, Bernie Ecclestone, may need to kick his cherished car racing empire into high gear to convince investors. And F1 is not the only lucrative licensing company on the circuit, either. If investors are willing to trade in fast cars for a couple of beloved fictional cartoon characters, ahead of F1 in the grid is Walt Disney Co. DIS +1.31%  and Hello Kitty’s Sanrio Ltd JP:8136 +0.11%   .

Who is holding pole position in F1

The FIA Formula One World Championship may be the most viewed sporting championship in the world with an annual audience of over 500 million, but the most interesting viewing is how the British-born Ecclestone found his way into the F1 driver’s seat. Through four decades of dealings and legal tussles, a former race car driver himself, Ecclestone, managed to steer the F1 commercial rights away from both the industry body and the race drivers association.

Today, F1’s shareholders include Ecclestone (5.3%), his ex-wife, Slavica Ecclestone (8.5%), together with private equity fund, CVC Capital Partners (35%) , Lehman Brothers (15%), Waddell & Reed Financial WDR +1.35%   (21%) and others including BlackrockBLK -0.86%  and Norges Bank, Norway’s sovereign wealth fund.

Financials of Formula 1 

  2011
Revenue $1,520m
EBITDA $684m
Net Income $358m
Enterprise Value(est) $9,100m

Source: UBS

 

Unquestionably, F1 is a winning brand and a trophy asset. Its 20 races in 19 countries generate close to $1.5 billion in annual sales. In fact, by 2016, UBS analysts estimate that there will be 22 races and F1’s annual sales will have grown to $2.4 billion at a healthy 25% profit margin. Such is the glamour of the F1 business, rumored buyers in recent years have included a consortium led by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. NWS +3.05%   and an investment unit of Fiat IT:F +1.88%  and Ferrari’s Agnelli family, and Carlos Slim of Mexico, the world’s richest man. (News Corp. is the parent company of MarketWatch.) The financial effect that F1 can have on a host city from tourism and other services is unmatched by any other sporting event, including the Olympics — this, despite the fact that F1 generally hoards all the trackside advertising or broadcast revenues for itself.

But just how sustainable is F1’s growth, and have we begun to see its wheels slowly fall off? In the past few years, Honda, Toyota and BMW have all pulled out as race teams, unable to generate a meaningful return on their investments.

Formula 1 vs. Disney and Hello Kitty…

More at Apply brakes before investing in Formula 1 – MarketWatch

 
 

Ben Weiss has worked throughout the Asia-Pacific region for hedge funds and private equity firms. He runs a boutique venture capital firm in Hong Kong.

 

F1 Boss Back In Spotlight

Banker Admits Taking Bribes From Bernie: F1 Boss Back In Spotlight  

 By

Bernie Ecclestone's bruised face featured in Hublot ad

Bernie Ecclestone's bruised face featured in Hublot ad  

Despite being the ultra-rich boss of Formula 1, Bernie Ecclestone hasn't had an easy couple of years. Back in December 2010, he was beaten and robbed of his Hublot watch. Then he had to buy the most expensive house in America for his daughter. Last year, allegations of $44 million in bribes paid to a BayernLB banker surfaced. This year, the banker is back, admitting he accepted the bribes.

The report, via the AFP (via Google) out of Munich, Germany, says Gerhard Gribkovsky has finally admitted to taking the bribes from Ecclestone, stating that the charges against him in the matter were “essentially true.” As a result of the bribery allegations, Gribkovsky faces 7-10 years in prison for charges of corruption, tax evasion, and embezzlement. Eccelstone hasn't been charged, and denies any wrongdoing.

Gribkovksy says he accepted the money in 2006 and 2007 while chief risk officer for the state-owned BayernLB bank. BayernLB had acquired the rights to F1 back in 2002, but the bribes were given, according to the BBC, to smooth over Eccelestone's own financial troubles through a complex arrangement of commissions and trust payments.

That may change, however, as the AFP article quotes Gribkovsky as saying Ecclestone told him, a year before making the first payments, that the way F1 works is “you scratch my back and I scratch yours.”…More at Banker Admits Taking Bribes From Bernie: F1 Boss Back In Spotlight – Motor Authority

 

 

McLaren fixes Button’s Issues?

 

McLaren hopeful it has identified cause of Button's struggles

via ESPN Staff

June 20, 2012« Vettel and Alonso 'could coexist' at Ferrari – Domenicali

 

McLaren's operations director Simon Roberts is hopeful that the team has discovered some “very subtle” differences between its cars that could help solve Jenson Button's recent problems

Jenson Button struggles with his McLaren in Friday Practice 1. Image by ph-stop via Flickr

Button has only scored two points in the last four grands prix and has failed to make it in to the final part of qualifying in the last three. Button's struggles were accentuated when he finished 16th in Canada while Lewis Hamilton won the race, but Roberts told a Vodafone McLaren Mercedes phone-in that the team had discovered some potential causes ahead of the European Grand Prix.

“I think Canada was very interesting because fundamentally we run the same car for both drivers and they both have the same parts available,” Roberts said. “Although we allow them to adapt the set-up to their driving style, clearly we had something fundamentally different in terms of the tyre performance and car performance. We've been able to actually capitalise on that and there's been a huge amount of work back at the factory analysing the data and just checking that everything was as we thought it was.

“We're pretty sure at the moment that there was nothing untoward with Jenson's car and actually nothing fundamentally wrong with the set-up, but in the subtlety of these cars at the moment there are differences, and I think going in to Valencia we're quite optimistic that – having identified that – I think we can have a slightly different way of getting Jenson's car under him for qualifying and for the race.”

When asked what the differences are, Roberts refused to go in to detail, but stressed it was so small that the team was cautious how much progress it would make with Button in Valencia.

“I'm not going to go in to exactly what they were but they are very very subtle. This isn't big stuff like fundamentally running a different aero balance or anything like that, this is absolutely down buried in the detail and I think you've seen already this year how teams can get right in the sweet spot of the tyres or miss it. I don't think we were far off (in Canada), there was nothing fundamentally wrong with his set-up but on the day it clearly delivered a different level of performance. So we think we're a step nearer to understanding it all, but whether we've got it cracked yet only time will tell. Definitely a painful but interesting learning exercise for us.”

© ESPN EMEA Ltd.

 

 

Raikkonen still on target

 

Lotus defends Kimi Raikkonen's performances

Lotus boss Eric Boullier insists his team has no concerns about the performances of Kimi Raikkonen this season – even though the Finn has endured his fair share of frustrations on his return to Formula 1.
Kimi Raikkonen Image by nic_r via Flickr

Raikkonen has faced particular difficulties in finding a power steering set-up that he likes – and that  prompted questions about his attitude when he elected not to run in first practice in Monaco because he did not like the feel from the car.

With his inexperienced team-mate Romain Grosjean on a high after his strong second place in Canada, and now just two points behind Raikkonen in the drivers' championship, there is a renewed debate about whether or not the former world champion can rediscover his previous race-winning form.

But Boullier says the outfit is fully behind Raikkonen, and thinks it was only normal to expect the Finn to take time to fully get himself back up to speed in F1 – and for Lotus to understand how best to work with him.

“It is all part of the understanding between team and driver,” Boullier told AUTOSPORT. “We had two new drivers in the team and each driver has his own driving style and characteristics.

“It is just part of the learning process – and teams like McLaren, Red Bull Racing and Ferrari, they have driver line-ups that they are used to working with.

“This year we had two new drivers – which included one nearly complete rookie. And with Kimi, we just had to take time to adjust. It has just been part of the process to understand his driving style and make adjustments to know how best to work together.”

Lotus is still chasing its first victory of the year, and success for either Raikkonen or Grosjean in Valencia would make them the eighth different winner so far this season.

Although the team has been in with a shout of victory several times this season – including in Bahrain, Spain and Canada – Boullier says there is no mounting desperation to reach that target.

“There is certainly no frustration,” he said. “I think we have to be proud of what we achieved so far, and I can only praise the efforts of factory and all the guys. There is no frustration to have – it is a new cycle, new drivers, and we knew we cannot have the perfect style from race one. You always have to improve yourself.

“Our car was coming from a little bit further back than the others, so it took time to get the package working. But it is nice to have some good expectations.”

 

F1 Driver Rankings – 2012

 

 

BGP07 1090Image by p_c_w via Flickr
 

Now that we are seven races into the 2012 Formula 1 race calendar, one thing is clear, the total domination we've seen by Sebastian Vettel and the Red Bull Racing team in past years seems to be over. For now. While some people (including Ferrari driver Fernando Alonsohave complained there are too many contenders, I think it makes for great racing. The only exciting thing about the 2011 season was watching Vettel win all the races and really dominate the sport. Watching the individual races was actually less exciting because you almost expected him to qualify in pole position, then finish first. When he did it, it was expected, not an exciting finish.

 

The 2012 F1 season has been much more equalized, yet with podium positions still mainly divided among the same five or so top drivers. I would like to see more of lesser-known drivers win races, we did have that in Spain when Williams driver Pastor Maldonadowon the race. But other than that race, and Mercedes' Nico Rosberg's win in China in mid-April, it's still the same small club. Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, Red Bull's Mark Webber and McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. You can pretty well be sure the top three will include those drivers, in some order, at least.

 

2012 race results

The first race of the 2012 season in Australia was won by Jenson Button. It was Fernando Alonso who won the second race in Malaysia. Mercedes' Nico Rosberg took the checkered flag at the third race of the season in China, followed by Vettel's win in Bahrain. In Spain it was new guy Pastor Maldonado who won, followed the next race by Mark Webber's Monaco victory. Next race was in Canada and Lewis Hamilton won that one, leading us into the Formula 1 Grand Prix of Europe, scheduled for June 24 in Valencia, Spain.

 

Rankings

After the seventh race, it's McLaren's Lewis Hamilton at the top of the F1 driver's rankings with 88 points. Behind him is Ferrari's Fernando Alonso with 86. In third place is Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel with 85 points. red Bull's Mark Webber is next with 79, followed by Mercedes' Nico Rosberg with 67, then the field trails off sharply.

 

 

A lifetime auto racing fan, Freddy Sherman collects vintage muscle cars and attends races and rally events in the U.S. and around the world. He loves and writes about IndyCar and Formula 1 racing and you can follow him on Twitter –@thefredsherman

More from this contributor:

Will Formula One's IPO Do Better Than Facebook? Fan's Look

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Will Michael Lewis Be the Next American Formula 1 Driver? Fan Interview

 

F1 news – F1 Clothing

 

Sauber chief: F1 better than ever

June 15, 2012 — Updated 1248 GMT (2048 HKT)

 

The Sauber team first competed in Formula One in 1993.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Peter Sauber believes F1 has never been more exciting
  • The 2012 season has seen seven different drivers win the first seven races
  • Mexico's Sergio Perez has already secured two podium finishes for the Swiss team
  • Sauber hopes Perez and Kamui Kobayashi can continue to produce good results

Sergio Perez

Image by p_c_w via Flickr

(CNN) — Peter Sauber believes Formula One fans have never had it so good, after a season opening which has seen the first seven races produce seven different winners for the first time in the sport's history.

His Sauber team have also enjoyed a promising start, with Mexican driver Sergio Perez securing his second podium finish of 2012 at this month's Canadian Grand Prix.

After Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel cruised to the drivers' and constructors' titles last year, the 68-year-old is pleased to see a wider variety of drivers taking the checkered flag.

“As far as I can see it's just a handful of people in the paddock who can't get used to not knowing by Friday who's going to win on Sunday,” Sauber told F1's official website.

Hamilton wins in Canada to top drivers' standings

“I think the fans see it in a completely different light. They're delighted with the unpredictability, the sheer variety and the unbelievably close competitive”

“I've been in Formula One for 20 years now and for me it's never been better or more exciting. That's partly down to Pirelli, who are supplying the tires for this show.”

Many drivers have struggled to tame the rapidly degrading rubber, but Perez, competing in only his second F1 season, has drawn plaudits for his ability master Pirelli's tires.

The 22-year-old produced another impressive drive to finish third in Montreal as he battled against the odds.

“Sergio had started from 15th on the grid, so you wouldn't normally be contemplating a podium place — you'd be happy just to get into the points,” Sauber said.

“But once the front-runners began to develop problems with their tires towards the end of the race, it became clear that something very special could be unfolding.

“Sergio was not affected by these tire problems and was able to continue his all-out offensive right to the end. He drove an extraordinary race.”

The Swiss marque have already collected 58 points through Perez and his Japanese teammate Kamui Kobayashi — 14 more than the team managed in the entire 2011 season.

Sauber hopes to build on the encouraging start his team has made at the next race, the European Grand Prix in Valencia on June 24., and he believes more podium finishes are possible.

“If we manage to exploit our full potential as a team, in other words get everything right from Friday morning to Sunday evening, a great deal is possible.,” he said. “After seven races it is patently clear that the C31 (Sauber's car) can be fast on virtually any kind of track.

“After seven races with seven different winners, so much seems possible. In Malaysia we came very close to winning. Further podium places certainly seem a realistic prospect.”…More at Sauber chief: F1 better than ever – CNN