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Archive for January 17th, 2008

Nick Heidfeld

The BMW Sauber team had a productive day of work at the Valencia circuit on Thursday as they continued with the first test with the new F1.08.
BMW were hindered by poor weather yesterday but, despite some gusty winds in the afternoon today, the team managed to complete the scheduled programme.
Nick Heidfeld was the man in charge of working with the new car, covering a total of 117 laps as the team began making changes in the mechanical and aero set-up to check the car’s reactions.
Meanwhile, Marko Asmer drove last year’s car for a total of 76 laps.
Heidfeld will continue to drive the new car in tomorrow’s final session at Valencia, while teammate Robert Kubica will replace Asmer in the F1.07.

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Mercedes DTM boss Norbert Haug wants to wait for Ralf Schumacher to decide whether he wants to race in the DTM this year before finalising the team’s driver line-up.

After the former F1 Grand Prix driver sampled a 2006-spec C Class at Estoril this week, Haug said: “I don’t want to raise high hopes. He is testing and to date nothing else has been discussed.

“Should he be inspired by the tests and the same can be said about us, then it’s time to continue the discussions.”

But Haug denied that Mercedes is looking for an ex-Formula One driver to replace Mika Hakkinen, who retired at the end of last season: “The series is strong enough, we don’t need to hire people just for their names,” he said.

“I’ve known Ralf since he was in F3, and for many years he said he’d like to try the DTM. I said he should wait until his current contract situation allowed it and this is the first opportunity.”

Ralf Schumacher declared himself happy after testing the black C-Class touring car at the former Portuguese Grand Prix circuit Estoril this week, ahead of a possible switch to the German race series in 2008.

“It is a new feeling for me to have a roof over my head,” the former Williams and Toyota driver told the Bild newspaper.
“The first lap was enormous fun,” Schumacher, a six-time winner of F1 races, added.

Ralf is due to drive again on Thursday, with Bild saying talks with Norbert Haug about a possible 2.5 million euro retainer to race this year may then begin.

Haug, Mercedes’ competition director, observed: “His lap times were very satisfactory.”

Mercedes also tested fellow F1 refugee Christian Klien and F3 graduate Maro Engel alongside regular drivers Bernd Schneider and Bruno Spengler at Estoril.

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The city of Valencia will play host to the European Grand Prix this season at the end of August. The city will be hosting its very first race through the streets of the city centre and harbour. At the moment work is fully underway to get everything ready for the eleven Formula 1 teams and thousands of fans that will visit the city in August.
The track through the city of Valencia will cover 5.473 kilometres. Organisers of the Grand Prix in Valencia expect the drivers will be completing a lap in around 1 minute and 37 seconds with an average speed of 200 kilometres an hour. In the Juan Carlos harbour the drivers will see their speed go up to 320 kilometres an hour.

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James Rossiter

Super Aguri Honda did not get its new year test session off to the best of starts after overheating problems prevented the team from testing on both Tuesday and Wednesday. Yesterday, Anthony Davidson spent a frustrating day watching the action from the sidelines once again. The team had been hoping to receive the parts they needed to cure the overheating issues that had marred the opening day of their action. But a scheduled plane that was due to arrive at Gibraltar at midday ran into technical problems, and the components had to be flown to Malaga instead. 
A team member attempted to drive the parts to the Jerez track only to find that the motorway from Malaga was closed due to road works – meaning the test finished before the essential parts arrived.
In total, the team managed ten timed laps on Monday with James Rossiter behind the wheel of the SA07B.

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Lewis Hamilton 

Lewis Hamilton has been testing the McLaren Mercedes MP4-23 in the damp conditions in Spain this week and like team-mate Heikki Kovalainen and many of his rivals, the Brit has so far found the experience of driving a modern F1 car on the limit without driver aids an enjoyable experience.  Here is what he thought below.

How did testing go today?
“I am quite happy with it. I think today was a bit of a difficult day, the weather wasn’t great, which is a bit unusual for Spain. But despite that, we had a good day.”

What about the traction control, do you find it dangerous in the wet without it?
“No, its just fun.”

Who are the people to beat this year?
“I think it will be the same as last year. It is difficult to say who is quick and who is not right now. We don’t know what everyone is doing, light runs, heavy runs. As always we won’t see until we get to the first race.”

What have the you been working on today?
“I am getting used to having no traction control, and also managing the tyres and developing the car.”

How do you think the start of the races will be without electronics?
“I think from the look of the practice starts we are doing at the moment, we seem to get off the line quite well. It is the second part of the process where you can have some wheel spin, but I don’t see it slowing us down. ”

How is your relationship with Heikki?
“It is good, we have had a friendship for maybe four or five years already, so it couldn’t be better.”

How did you feel about the wet conditions this morning?
“It was the first time I have driven in these conditions without traction control and you have to just take it step by step and try to build up to it, because it is slippery. It is even harder without traction control, it really does make it a little bit nervous on corner entry and you just have to deal with it. You have a lot less engine braking, which makes a difference to how you brake and approach the corners. I think times will be similar, but it is a lot more tricky and probably easier to make mistakes.”

Is it the lack of traction control or engine braking that has the greatest impact?
“Probably traction control, without it driving is more natural but there is so much power. We as a team, and actually I am sure all the teams, are working hard to understand how to use the power better.”

We have had about a week since the launch, how are things progressing?
“I’ve had two and a half days in the car and we got off to a really good start. Compared to last year the first few tests have been a big improvement, to see the reliability of the car already. It is great for the team and shows how hard they have been working. We are moving in the right direction, we just need to keep chipping away.”

Is the MP4-23 a big improvement on last year?
“It will be. The car is an evolution of the MP4-22, so it feels very similar. Already different bits feel better and I am sure over the next few weeks it will just get better and better and keep improving.”

Compared to this time last year, do you feel better prepared for the season?
“A lot, I know what I need, I know how much I have to train, how many days of testing I need to do. I am fitter now than I was this time last year. Going into the races, I know the tracks and it makes it a little bit easier. It is still a big, big challenge for me and the team.”

From last year, are you leading the team more in testing?
“I think we share the responsibility quite equally throughout the team, between Heikki, Pedro, Gary and myself. Although our driving styles are not all the same, we all have our own input and it seems to be working quite well.”

You had a spin this morning, what happened there?
“It was just wet and I touched the kerb, I just went onto the edge of the gravel. I locked the rears, without the controls, the engine braking, there is a lot more locking of the rear wheels at the corner entry. When you are on the limit and pushing, that kind of thing happens.”

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