It was back in 2010 when an investment group announced that they had designs on building a world class race track near Austin, Texas in an effort to bring Formula 1 back to the United States after a 5 year abscence. Along the way there were ups and downs but in the end they got the track finished and it was finally ready to hold its first official F1 event; which took place yesterday in front of over 100,000 fans. As a matter of fact the event sold out completely. Every last cheap seat to the super luxury suites were sold and accounted for by the time race weekend arrived.
So now that it is Monday, what happened? Did it all go off without a hitch? To put it shortly: Yes. The teams and drivers descended upon Austin, Texas at the beginning of the week and glitz & glamor aside it was business as usual. The only real talking point as far as the track went was the fact that the surface was very slippery since it was so very new. Before the F1 event only a few race cars have run the circuit so the asphalt was not “rubber-ed in” at all, making for a slick track. This made practice and qualifying very interesting! However, despite the slippery asphalt the cream still rose to the top as Red Bull, McLarren, and Ferrari still topped the charts.
On Saturday it was Sebastian Vettel who captured the pole position. Lewis Hamilton put up a valliant effort but missed Vettel’s time by a tenth of a second. Mark Webber qualified third which put Lewis in dangerous territory.
Then, we have the points battle. Sebastian Vettel came to America with a mission to clinche the driver’s title for himself and the constructor’s title for Red Bull. After the math was done it was determined that in order for Vettel to clinche the driver’s championship he had to win the race and Fernando Alonso had to finish 5th or worse. If Vettel finished second then Fernando could do no better than 9th, and if Vettel finished 3rd then Fernando would have to score no points at all. The third scenario seemed pretty unlikely so Vettel had to concentrate on winning.
Once the race went under way and the drivers charged up “Phil Hill” things seemed to go Red Bull’s way as Vettel and Webber began to run away from the group. However, Fernando charged his way from 9th place up to 4th. About mid way through the race Hamilton made his way around Webber then set his sights on Vettel. Meanwhile Fernando started to smell blood as Mark Webber’s race car started to have issues. The Aussie’s car finally gave up and Fernando Alonso grabbed third place and held on for all it was worth.
Vettel must have been shaken by the news that his teammate was no longer there to protect him because Lewis Hamilton caught Sebastian in lapse of concentration and pulled off a brilliant pass to take the lead. Hamilton went on to win the race with Vettel taking second place and Fernando Alonso kept his championship hopes very much alive by finishing third. Despite Mark Webber’s DNF, Vettel’s second place finish was enough for Red Bull to secure the constructor’s title and secure them a heafty check to add to next year’s budget.
The driver’s championship on the other hand will all come down to the final race of the season in Brazil next week. Without clinching in Texas, Vettel cannot drive with his “nothing to lose” attitude that he had in the final race of last year. Meanwhile Fernando Alonso will be racing with every ounce hes got to try and win his third championship.
For the second time in history Formula 1 returned to the Jaypee International Circuit for the Airtel Grand Prix Of India. Last year in the inaugural event, Sebastian Vettel dominated the weekend by taking the pole position and leading pretty much every lap and going on to win the race. If you watched the race, you could have easily been fooled into thinking it was a rebroadcast from 2011 because the same thing pretty much happened again. All in all the race itself was pretty uneventful. Lewis Hamilton had a pretty awesome pit stop in which his team changed all four tires and his steering wheel in just 3.3 seconds and a few drivers lost their tires but other than that it was a typical Vettel ass-whoopin on the field. Fernando Alonso kept himself in the points fight by finishing second and Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber captured third.
Vettel’s victory gives him a chance to possibly lock in his third straight title at Abu Dhabi but Fernando Alonso (who is 13 points behind) would have to have a serious blunder. Kimi Raikkonen remains in third place but he is in a very distant third with only 173 points to Fernando’s 227 points and Sebastian’s 240 points. The good news for Kimi though is that he was officially resigned to Lotus for 2013, so while his hopes for a 2012 championship are gone he still has a seat for 2013.
As I mentioned earlier the race was pretty uneventful but if you still want a full post race report check out the SPEED results show.
Just before the biggest spectacle in racing was about to take place in Indy, across the pond Formula 1 had their biggest race of the year among the super wealthy and famous in glamorous Monte Carlo for the 2012 Monaco Grand Prix. Billions of dollars in fame and personal fortune showed up to cheer on their favorite Formula 1 drivers and there were tons of celebrity sightings as many movie stars were in the area for the Cannes Film Festival that was going on just down the rivera. Beyond all the actors and billionaires the big surprise for race fans over the weekend was Michael Schumacher setting the fastest time for qualifying and breaking the track record (which was his). However, the celebration was short lived as despite his stellar performance Michael would be sent back 5 spots on the grid as part of a penalty for an incident he had with Bruno Senna in the previous race. With Schumacher sent back a few rows it was Red Bull Racing’s Mark Webber who gained the pole position for the weekend. From here I bet you can imagine what happened right? For those who don’t know, Monaco is famous for two things: all the rich people that show up to watch and, the fact that the course is notoriously narrow and it extremely difficult to pass. Well, I guess that is three things technically but the way it goes is that who ever is on the pole typically wins the race. This year was no different as Mark Webber held off the field for the entire race to take the win in Monaco. Nico Rosberg managed a second place finish and Fernando Alonso captured third. There were a few eventful moments and to hear about it all freel free to watch the SPEED trio talk it over.
The Formula One season finally came back this weekend as all the teams brought their shiny new 2012 cars down under for the Australian Grand Prix. The talk of the silly season was the new “step nose” that most teams adapted in order to comply with new rules on having the nose of the car at a specific height. However McLaren found away to keep with the rules without having such a drastic dip in the nose line of their car. Many wondered if this would turn out to be a hindrance or a help. Well when Lewis Hamilton qualified on pole followed by his teammate Jenson Button, that question was answered! Surprisingly the Red Bull cars struggled to keep pace with McLaren and Mercedes GP. In an even bigger surprise French driver Romain Grosjean with Lotus GP took the third spot in qualifying but fell victim to contact during the race which ended his chances at a podium finish for the black and gold. Jenson Button managed to get around Lewis as the field dove into the first corner at the start of the race and thats where he remained until the checkered flags fell. Lewis fought hard to keep up with Jenson but some Red Bull pit stop trickery allowed Sebastien Vettel to get past Hamilton for second but Lewis held on for third place. With McLaren taking two of the three spots on the podium does this mean it is their year? Will Red Bull come back fighting? Will Ferrari wake up? I guess we will find out next weekend when Formula 1 goes back to Malaysia!
This is a good weekend for race fans. Formula 1 is finally back with their season opener this weekend in Australia, The American LeMans Series kicks off the 12 hours of Sebring this weekend as well down in Florida, plus the several support races for both series like GP2 and MX-5 cup! In Formula 1 both McLaren and Mercedes GP have been making news as Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button, and Lewis Hamilton have been at the top of the charts during both practice sessions. In ALMS Patrick “Dr. McDreamy” Dempsey made news this morning with the announcement that his team Dempsey Racing will launch a LMP2 program with plans to go to the 24 Hours of LeMans Race next year. In MX-5 Cup rookies have been dominating the veterans in most of the events so far, thus proving the metal of the Mazdaspeed Motorsports ladder system. If you are a race fan you will have a lot of bouncing around to do on your TV and online this weekend. I personally can’t wait to see how it all goes down!
We showed you the teaser video that the Mercedes Petronas AMG team released last week and today the W03 chassis makes the full monty for the press and rest of the world. Like many of the other teams it looks like Mercedes Petronas AMG has adopted the “stepped nose” design in an effort to dance along the razor’s edge of the rules as much as possible. While I am not a fan of the stepped-nose look I will admit that the W03 is a bit more visually appealing than the Ferrari F2012 but looks do not win races. We will just have to see how the W03 will stack up against Red Bull, McLaren, and Ferrari when the season starts.
MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS PRESENTS F1 W03 IN BARCELONA
Posted: Tuesday 21 February 2012 at 07:22
Mercedes-Benz this morning marked two world premieres at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona, with the unveiling of the 2012 Silver Arrow, the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 W03, and the first public sneak preview of the brand-new Mercedes-Benz SL63 AMG. The new high-performance roadster, which develops 537 PS while delivering weight savings of 125 kg and 30% improved fuel economy, was introduced by Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.
The new Silver Arrow, the F1 W03, has undergone an intensive programme of simulation testing at the team’s technical bases in Brackley and Brixworth. This was followed by a filming day limited to 100 kms at Silverstone on 16 February, and a private test day in Barcelona on 19 February, during which the car ran for 354 km. Michael and Nico shared driving duties on both days.
The new car concept is based on a largely stable set of technical regulations, which nevertheless include two significant changes: revision of the maximum bodywork height at the front of the car, which encouraged the distinctive stepped-nose design; and new restrictions concerning the positioning of the exhausts, designed to prevent the aerodynamic benefit gained from exhaust gases during 2011, the so-called ‘blown diffuser’.
The F1 W03 project was begun in May 2011 and is the first full car produced by a technical team that was strengthened last year with recruitments at every level of the organisation. The new car, which is composed of some 4500 parts compared to 4300 parts in 2011, has nevertheless achieved a lower core weight than its predecessor, is better packaged and more efficient. All mandatory FIA crash tests had been successfully completed at the first attempt by the end of the first week of January 2012.
“The F1 W03 is a car that I believe, and hope, our team can be proud of, and which will deliver the on-track results that everybody has worked so hard to achieve,” commented Team Principal Ross Brawn. “Notwithstanding the distinctive nose design, which is certainly an acquired taste, the F1 W03 is an elegant interpretation of the current regulations, and a clear step forward over its predecessor in terms of detail design and sophistication. Last year, we produced a very bold car and, although its more radical elements didn’t always deliver the results we had hoped for, the experience we gained has been invaluable to the design of the 2012 car. The F1 W03 is also a more integrated package, which reflects the ever-strengthening ties between our technical teams in Brackley and Brixworth, and demonstrates that our Silver Arrows works team is taking the next step forward in terms of on-track performance.”
Nico, who drove the first laps in the F1 W03 on 16 February in Silverstone, commented: “We have had a good start to our 2012 testing programme, and it was a great feeling to drive the first laps in the new F1 W03. The car looks good, and is very nicely packaged under the bodywork – all the parts are in harmony, which reflects how well the different departments of our team are working together. From the beginning of our running, we have been able to focus on understanding the car and making good progress with our test programme. It will be very interesting to learn more about where we stand in the next few weeks.”
Michael, who will complete the first full day of official testing with the new car today in Barcelona, commented: “I have done quite a few roll-outs and launches of new cars, but even after all these years, I must say it still feels special. Days like this are precious moments, as they are always filled with hope and anticipation. Already last week, when we were driving the F1 W03 for the very first time, it instantly gave us good feedback and sensations. Starting today, we will work intensively to make it a competitive runner. Obviously, we will only see over the next couple of weeks how big the step is that we have made, but I can say already that the guys and girls back in the factories at Brackley and Brixworth were brilliant in putting in so much effort, and we can only say a big thank you them. I know which reward they would like, and we will definitely try to deliver it. For my part, I am eager to fight again, looking forward to the new season, and I can’t wait for it to begin.”
Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport, concluded: “2012 will mark the third season for our Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows works team, which was introduced in January 2010, and our target is to take a step forward in on-track performance. A lot of work has been done throughout the last year, not just to design the new car but also to build a technical organisation that is capable of delivering to its full potential, with consistency. Our ultimate goal is to become regular race winners and championship contenders, and so to write another chapter of success in the story of the Silver Arrows which began 78 years ago. Our target this year is to take another step forward on that road.”
Following the car’s launch this morning, the F1 W03 will complete eight full days of pre-season testing over the next two weeks at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.
MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS F1 W03
Construction: Moulded carbon fibre and honeycomb composite structure
Suspension: Wishbone and pushrod/pullrod activated torsion springs and rockers
Wheels: BBS forged magnesium
Brakes: Brembo calipers
Brake discs/pads: Carbon/Carbon
Steering: Power assisted rack and pinion
Steering wheel: Carbon fibre construction
Electronics: FIA standard ECU and FIA homologated electronic and electrical system
Gearbox: Seven speed unit with cast aluminium maincase
Gear selectio:n Sequential, semi-automatic, hydraulic activation
Clutch: Carbon plate
Overall length: 4800mm
Overall height: 950mm
Overall width: 1800mm
Type: Mercedes-Benz FO108Z
Capacity: 2.4 litres
Maximum rpm: 18,000 (maximum FIA regulation)
Bank angle : 90°
Piston bore : 98mm (maximum FIA regulation)
No of valves: 32
Weight: 95kg (minimum FIA regulation weight)
American based Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg fans can now rejoice! Henri Lloyd has officially launched the U.S. version of their Mercedes GP Petronas apparel website! Now you can click over and start picking up team gear like hats, shirts, and more accessories that will be available soon. I’m personally digging the new hats myself!
Today rumors became official news when it was formally announced that seven time F1 world champion Michael Schumacher has signed a one-year deal with Mercedes GP (formerly Brawn GP) for the 2010 season along side fellow German driver Nico Rosberg. This comes hot on the heels of the announcement that Petronas snubbed the new Lotus team to become the title sponsor of Mercedes GP. It looks like they knew something we didn’t! It looks like the debate of how the young guns would fare against the legendary Schumacher and vice versa will finally be settled in the new year. Check out Mike’s BBC interview and the official team press release below.
The MERCEDES GP PETRONAS Formula One Team can confirm today that seven-times Formula One World Champion Michael Schumacher will make his racing return in 2010 with the Silver Arrows team.
With seven Drivers’ World Championships, 248 Grand Prix starts, 91 victories, 154 podium finishes and 68 pole positions, the 40-year old German needs no introduction following an illustrious and record-breaking Formula One career from 1991 to 2006 at the Jordan, Benetton and Ferrari teams.
Michael’s return to racing with MERCEDES GP PETRONAS sees his return to Mercedes-Benz Motorsport where he began his racing apprenticeship as part of the Junior Programme in 1990, racing in Group C sports cars and DTM, and sees Michael renew his partnership with Ross Brawn with whom he won all seven of his World Championships.
Today’s announcement confirms the MERCEDES GP PETRONAS driver line-up for the 2010 season with Michael partnering his compatriot, 24 year old Nico Rosberg, in the Silver Arrows cars.
Michael Schumacher: “MERCEDES GP PETRONAS represents a new challenge for me both in a sporting and a personal context. It is a new chapter in my racing career and I am really looking forward to working with my old friend Ross Brawn and my companions from my days with the Mercedes Junior Programme. I am convinced that together we will be involved in the fight for the Formula 1 World Championship next year and I am already looking forward to getting back onto the race track. For me, this partnership closes the circle. Mercedes supported me for so many years when I began my Formula 1 career and now I can hopefully give something back to the brand with the star.”
Nico Rosberg: “It is fantastic that Michael is returning to Formula One and will be my team-mate at MERCEDES GP PETRONAS. It’s a great challenge for me to be up against one of the best drivers of all time. I’m sure that we will form a very strong partnership as he will have lost none of his speed! It is also great news for our sport and the fans.”
Ross Brawn, Team Principal of MERCEDES GP PETRONAS: “I am delighted that we can confirm today that Michael will make his much-anticipated return to Formula One next year and drive for our MERCEDES GP PETRONAS team. As seven-time World Champion, Michael’s outstanding record in Formula One speaks for itself and I am looking forward to working with him again. With the completion of our driver line-up, I believe that we now have the most exciting partnership in Formula One with Michael and Nico, who provide the perfect mix of talent, experience, speed and youth. We can now turn our full attention to the preparations for the new season and everyone at MERCEDES GP PETRONAS is extremely excited about the challenge ahead. With the investment and support in our team provided by Daimler, Aabar and our new title partner Petronas, and with two such exciting drivers, we have all of the building blocks in place to have another successful season in 2010.”
Norbert Haug, Vice-President of Mercedes-Benz Motorsports: “In April 1991, when I had been in charge of the Mercedes-Benz Motorsport programme for just six months, Michael was standing beside me on the balcony one evening. Without the slightest doubt, he said in a low voice: “It’s about time that I got into Formula 1″. Michael had just turned 22 years of age and four months later, he made his debut at Spa in a Jordan. Mercedes-Benz helped him to this point and the rest is history: seven World Championship titles, more than any racing driver, 91 Grand Prix wins, more than any racing driver. Michael has more of everything than every other driver. As part of the Mercedes Junior Programme, Michael had raced in Group C sports cars and competed in a few DTM races. Ross Brawn, then our opponent at Jaguar, quickly realised Michael’s talent and they went on to win all seven of his Drivers’ World Championship titles together at Benetton and Ferrari. Our sporting ambition has always been that Michael should drive again where his professional career had started and Michael knew that. We often joked about it after the races and discussed the prospect seriously several times during the last 14 years in Formula 1. It didn’t happen in 1995, it didn’t happen in 1998 and it didn’t happen in 2005. I am delighted that it will now happen in 2010. I am very much looking forward to working with Michael and everybody at Mercedes-Benz and Daimler extends a very warm welcome to our ‘apprentice’ of 19 years ago. That apprentice is now the most successful racing driver of all time.”