Monday, February 22, 2010

Will the USF1 situation ever end???!!!!!

Just when we thought they were dead and gone USF1 have decided to finally brake their silence and tell the world that they are not dead BUT they wish to skip four Grand Prix. I'll admit I was a fan of USF1 for a long time but now I am starting to get fed up of their dire Formula 1 attempt. I'd be a bit more sympathetic if they were in Lotus' position and only got the entry late last year but USF1 have been planning their assault on the championship since the start of 2009!! I'm praying that the FIA see a bit of sense and give the entry to Stefan GP. Besides if money is the big issue for them then surely missing four races would bring even more financial strain to them in the form of fines. Remember when the FIA clarified Jean Todt's announcement declaring it OK to miss three races? They made it clear that any team absent from a Grand Prix would be punished in some way. Its been a long time since any team has had to miss a Grand Prix because of financial problems. Remember Arrows' last season in 2002? At the French Grand Prix that year they deliberately failed to qualify because of financial issues which subsequently led to their withdrawal a few weeks later. A better example would probably be Forti. The little Italian team was famous for being well of the pace in their first season in 1995 which was a big reason that the FIA brought in the 107% rule in which a car had to qualify within a 107% of the pole sitters time or they would not be aloud to start. So in some respects they were responsible for their own dreadful performance for the 1996 season where both cars failed to qualify for four of the ten races they participated in. By the British Grand Prix they had no money and Cosworth had stopped supplying engines. To avoid a massive fine from the FIA Cosworth allowed them to complete a few miserable laps and then withdraw from the event. I think the thing that is ironic about these teams is they were both powered by Cosworth engines!! Lets hope this isn't a curse they carry with them for badly funded teams!! I think for the good of the sport we should see Stefan GP get the spot because there's nothing worse than seeing a team fold halfway through the season while another team who had the resources were rejected an entry . It results in the rest of the paddock not taking them seriously. Maybe the FIA should listen to Stefanovich and increase the grid to 28 cars. At least that way Stefan Gp will get the slot regardless of USF1's situation and if the American team do make it to the grid eventually they will still have a shot at the rest of the championship. Either way it will be an interesting few weeks with regards the 2010 season. Just three weeks to go!!!!!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

USF1 Dead and gone??

I thought I'd make an extra post this week to address a certain rumour that seems almost certain to become reality. Reports have been appearing on a number of websites that are saying that USF1's hopes of participating in the 2010 Formula 1 World Championship are dead. Let's be honest it is the news that was expected for a long time. There has been no press releases or communication of any sort from the team in a number of weeks. Apparently Peter Windsor (Team Co-Principle) told the team's only signed driver, Jose Maria Lopez, that his services were no longer required. The history of teams struggling in F1 is quite a long one but if this becomes official then USF1 will become the most unsuccessful team in the history of F1. MasterCard Lola are the team who have held the title since 1997 and any Formula 1 fan will tell you how much of an abomination they were!! These were the guys who arrived in Australia for Round 1 of the championship and failed to qualify. They were over ten seconds off the pole time set by Jacques Villeneuve, who incidentally has been linked with Stefan GP. MasterCard Lola showed up in Brazil for round 2 of the championship but didn't even bother trying to qualify and quickly withdrew from the championship. But at least those guys made it to the grid!!! What baffles me the most about USF1 is that Windsor has been planning the team's assault at the 2010 championship since early 2009. Lotus got their entry towards the end of last year and they're in Spain testing with the rest of the field.
Its a real shame because I thought this team could reignite America's interest in F1 which had been infamously tarnished at the 2005 US GP. This begs the question will Stefan GP get the go ahead to compete in the championship. They had been campaigning to get onto the grid as the fourteenth team and they have Bernie Ecceslstone's approval which is a big plus for them. They seem to have a more complete package and have sent equipment to Bahrain and Malaysia for the start of the season so they certainly don't lack determination anyway! Also Campos seem to have a takeover secured in which case their participation in the championship seems to be secured also. Hopefully now Bruno Senna will get a shot at F1 at last!

Getting back to USF1. You have to feel a little sympathy for their driver Lopez. The Argentinian was set to make his debut in the championship and had the backing of the Argentinian Government. But having said that with his racing history maybe this is saving himself the embarrassment. He has very little experience in single seaters so jumping into a Formula 1 car and not become a mobile chicane maybe a big ask but he has gone to Europe in search of one of the few remaining seats left for 2010. USF1 appears to be nothing more than another example of how not to run an F1 team so lets hope Stefan GP gets the spot so we can still have twenty six cars on the grid!!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Testing Round 2!!

Finally one of the new teams takes to the track in an official test!! Albeit with problems. Virgin F1' s testing program got off to a troubled start and for a while I thought Virgin were in trouble. If you didn't read about it their front wing failed shortly into the first day after only a handful of laps and a lack of spare parts meant that they had to sit out the rest of day 1. It wasn't until late the next day that they got back into the action and even then there wasn't much mileage done. It wasn't until the final day on Saturday that they got a good number of laps under their belt. Talk about a big wake up call!!! Ive been focusing on how USF1 and Campos Meta are struggling to even make it to the first Grand Prix never mind test and completely forgot that the new teams that are ready to test may encounter problems like this. At least on the final day they got a good number of laps under their belt and they also have the final test (which starts on Wednesday) to try and weed out any other problems as well. Having seen Virgin's first test problems it will be really interesting to see how Lotus' car will fair and to see if they have as many problems. Lotus who were the latest of the new teams to launch their new car could well have a mountain to climb and it will be a very important four days testing for them. All of this puts into perspective what a challenge it is going to be for Campos and USF1 when , or should I say if, they make it to Bahrain. They will no doubt experience the normal teething problems that comes with a new car and with the practice sessions being the only proper testing they're going to be able to do. Its not inconceivable to think that they are going to be mobile chicanes and with pay drivers like Jose Maria Lopez who doesn't have a lot of experience in single seaters they could be the new Master card Lola team!!!! I look forward to hearing Martin Brundle's comments on their performance, at the moment he doesn't believe they will make it to round 1!! As for the rest of the teams it was a busy week. I'm encouraged by McLaren's performance they seem to have improved a lot over this time last year and hopefully it will continue. But we won't really know what the situation is fully until Bahrain. Michael Schumacher believes that there are four teams in with a shout this year and that is a mouth watering prospect. Its four weeks from yesterday to the first grand prix I can't wait!!!!!!!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Testing week 1 conclusions

I have to say at the end of the first pre-season testing session in Valencia the results were not what I would have expected. For the moment at least Ferrari's claims that their car may under perform have shown no signs of truth. The F10 was easily quickest of the lot on all three days. Its only the first test and the times mightn't necessarily reflect the true pace of the car for a number of reasons, fuel load being the main reason, but you have to say they're off to a good start. Mercedes seemed to get off to a disappointing start which is something that even they admit with Ross Brawn saying that they were off the pace. It mightn't be the magical return Schumacher was hoping for but he did prove one thing. He seems to have more pace than Rosberg in the Mercedes for the minute. Again, it was only the first week of testing but it was certainly a morale boost for the German. Sauber impressed me the most this week and although a lot of people are saying that they were running with a low fuel load in order to get to the top of the time sheets in order to encourage sponsors to invest in the team their long runs seemed quite impressive. If the current trend continues Sauber could be the dark horse in terms of race victories this year. Mclaren's testing was centralised around getting to know the car and getting all the problems ironed out. The new car looks stunning and is easily the most radical of the cars launched so far, I lot of people are predicting big things for the team that had a disappointing 2010. Renault and Williams got off to quiet starts. Renault's new pay driver Vitaly Petrov spent the last day getting used to his new car and was second last in the time sheets. Lets hope that he does not live up to the reputation of the traditional pay driver in which money overtakes talent! Williams also had a quiet start apart from the last day in which Hulkenberg had a collision with Pedro De La Rosa. Hopefully they can challenge for a better amount of points this year and with Cosworth engines back in the car hopefully that will help them. Finally one of the new teams launched their car this week albeit with a bit of difficulty! Their online streaming of the new car failed and so we only got to see pictures of the new car. I can't wait to see how this car fairs in Jerez, the second test track. It was tested at the stowe section of Silverstone at the end of the week but the true indication of where it lies will be seen then. Force India, Lotus and Red Bull are to launch this week. At Last!! It is a bit of a worry that Red Bull missed the first test session because it means less time to iron out the problems, even though it was the same last year. The problem is the weather forecast for Jerez is supposed to be rainy so it would hinder them even more. I was very surprised to hear during the week that Force India's participation this year was thrown into question apparently because of financial issues but thankfully it seems to be all sorted now. Who could forget Lotus. The team (albeit rum by a Malaysian consortium) will launch its first car since in withdrew from F1 in 1994. Its another car I'm excited to see in action and hopefully it can live up to the massive history this team has in F1. And so we come to the last two team who yet again show no signs of announcing any car related news. Campos and USF1's participation are still in doubt but the signs are showing that things may be improving. For Campos' sake I hope so, Adam Carroll is rumoured to be signing for them!! The Portadown man has been rumoured to have been recommended by Tony Teixeira. I'm sorry I'm Irish!! We crave some sort of representation in the sport even if Carroll is technically British!! He is seen as Irish in a lot of Irish people's eyes particularly after representing us in A1 GP. But if the rumours are true then Campos' participation may well be dead already if Stefan GP have their way. The Serbian team have bought the remains of the 2010 Toyota project and are looking to boot one of the new teams out to get an entry for themselves. I say bring back pre-qualifying!! That way everyone gets a chance at racing! Its another exciting week in prospect, I can't wait to see how it unfolds! Cya next week!!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Pre Season Testing finally begins

In the time between the last blog seven teams have fully launched their cars. Its Monday the first of February which mean only one thing. Pre-season testing is finally here!! A three month drought of main driver action will be sorted today as the cars take to the track at Valencia to get their first shakedowns. One of the interesting things to come out of the launches last week is that the new Ferrari could be in trouble already. If rumours are to be believed then a B spec version of the new car is already in development back at Marenello. Apparently the new car lacks pace. Here's hoping that this bit of news will shut Luca de Montezemello up after his outspokenness at the Ferrari launch. Montezemello ranted about the fact that testing was limited and that the FIA should allow more of it. Many who know the history of the Ferrari F1 team will know that they are big fans of blowing cash on testing. In many respects it could be their economic superiority over their rivals that helps them stand out from the crowd in terms of performance. He also gave out about the fact that the three car rule wasn't introduced in which every team would run three cars each. (He also went as far as saying that Schumacher would have remained at Marenello for 2010 if such a rule was brought in.) This proposed rule is so economically ridiculous that there is no way it would ever be introduced. As mentioned in previous posts some teams are struggling to even make the grid this year with two cars. Not to mention that some teams would surely miss out on a grid slot as well. (thirteen teams with three cars each equals thirty nine cars!!)
Renault raised a few eyebrows when it launched at Valencia on Sunday as well. Their new car, the R30, was very similar to its predecessor the R29 and there were suggestions that it may well be the R29 and that the public had been fooled. But this isn't the most striking thing about the car. The new yellow and black (and a bit of red) livery is a breath of fresh air to the horrific colours we have seen from Renault in the past. Renault also announced that Vitaly Petrov would drive the second Renault which he paid quite handsomely for (reportedly around seven percent of Renault's overall budget!!)
Sauber also launched their new car at Valencia..... excuse me, BMW Sauber launched their new car. Yes the old name remains, even though BMW's involvement with the team is gone the team is to retain the name (strangely) for the season. With De La Rossa and Kobayashi as the drivers it could be an interesting season with a mix of experience and youthful determination.
McLaren launched its challenger the day after Ferrari and this is the team I'm most excited about seeing in action. The two most recent world champions who both are real racers going at it in the same team. They've both stressed the importance of team work so I guess they know what question is on every one's mind. Are they going to fall out? It will be one of the more interesting stories of the new season. Mercedes finally launched their new car after releasing their livery last Monday. It has all the trademarks of a title challenger. Impressive design and great drivers, look out for these lads they won't disappoint. Williams and Torro Rosso also launched on Monday. Williams, always a team that will go a different way on their design had similar features to the rest of the grid apart from an extra air intake. Torro Rosso have entered 2010 as a constructor for the first time, meaning they haven't gotten assistance from Red Bull. It will be interesting to see if they can cut it on their own.
Testing starts today and all the preparation, building and design start to show their results in the next few weeks. I'll be back next week to round up the first week of testing and hopefully some of these areas will have answers. Till then, cya!!