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Archive for February, 2008

 Plane Similar To Piquets

Nelson Piquet Jnr, has taken delivery of a new private plane.
He was given the the plane which is a Cessna of the Citation Mustang type worth $2.6-million by Rui Thomaz de Aquino, president of the Brazilian airline TAM.

“I’m going to be able to devote more time to training, reduce distances and gain precious hours,” Piquet said.

The Brazilian driver, who will partner Fernando Alonso at Renault, said he would hire a pilot, because – unlike his father – he doesn’t have a pilot’s licence.

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Lack Of F1 Updates

Sorry for the lack of F1 news updates in the past couple of days

I have had a family bereavement, so I haven’t had the time to update the news here as often as I normal like to do.

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 Sakon Yamamoto

The ING Renault F1 team have today confirmed that former Super Aguri & Spyker driver Sakon Yamamoto will be their new test driver for the 2008 season

Yamamoto said:

“I am very excited to join the ING Renault F1 Team for the 2008 season. It is a great honour for me to be associated with a team that has won world championships. I will learn a fantastic amount, and I look forward to contributing in every way the team asks of me.”

Flavio Briatore said :

“We are delighted to welcome Sakon to the team for 2008, We plan a particularly aggressive development programme for the coming year, and his F1 experience will be useful to us in this context.
Furthermore, the ING Renault F1 Team is one of the most active in promoting Formula One around the world thanks to our unique Roadshow programme, and Sakon will boost our visibility in important markets. He will be an important asset for the team.”

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Circuit De Catalunya 

Grand Prix officials have give a stern warning that if Spain does not take action to stop racist attacks on British track ace Lewis Hamilton, it could lose the chance of a hosting a Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in April

Over the weekend a lot of racist abuse was directed at Lewis Hamilton
Several banners and fans were removed from the circuit, and police were called in. It was also reported on Sunday, that some people painted their faces black and were wearing t – shirts with the slogan ” Hamiltons Family ” on the front and “Alonso No 1” on the back.

The International Automobile Federation (FIA) has condemned the behaviour and threatened Spain with punishment if further racism is reported.
An FIA spokesman said: “FIA are surprised and disappointed at the abuse directed at Lewis Hamilton. An act of this kind is a clear breach of the principles enshrined in the FIA statutes, and any repetition will result in sanctions.”

******************************************************

The Circuit de Catalunya wishes to explain its position regarding the actions of a minority of spectators on Friday, February 1st during the test session of Formula One teams:

1.- The total number of spectators during the three days of the event was 55,000 fans with a general attitude of respectful and excellent behaviour during the whole session. The Circuit de Catalunya particularly wants to thank the majority of fans for their attitude, and kindly seeks public recognition of this.

2.- We strongly support the FIA’s position with regards to fighting against all racial, political or religious discrimination in motor sport.

3.- The Circuit de Catalunya will not allow even the smallest incident to repeat itself within its facilities, and new measures are currently being taken into consideration in addition to those implemented during the latest sessions. These measures have been studied with the support of the Catalan Police and the Circuit’s security services, and they will be reinforced in the upcoming tests sessions and at the Gran Premio de España Telefónica de Formula One.

4.- That the Gran Premio de España Telefónica de Formula One represents the image of a country in the world and the Circuit de Catalunya will not accept any abuse of this image through racist attitudes or attacks on sporting competitions. The Circuit requests the Grand Prix to be the genuine meeting point for all the different supporters of drivers and teams in our sport. Especially to represent the welcome and sporting values of our country and our national sponsor.

5.- In case of sanctions, the Circuit de Catalunya may consider the possibility of taking legal actions against those who caused the incidents, regardless of the magnitude.

6.- The Circuit de Catalunya will officially state its position to the FIA, the Real Federación Española de Automovilismo (Spanish Motorsports Federation) and the rest of circuits in Spain, with special interest for those who also host Formula One tests.

http://www.circuitcat.com

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 Mark Webber
On the last day of F1 testing in Barcelona, Mark Webber has finished top of the time sheets.
Jenson Button finished last, outpaced by his team mate Barrichello
Yesterday’s fastest timed man Vettel finished 10th today.
Hamilton was also just beaten by team mate Kovalainen
Testing will start in Bahrain tomorrow for Ferrari & Toyota
Final Times Of The Day :
Pos Driver Team Car Time Diff  Laps
1. M. Webber Red Bull Racing RB4 1:22.385   61
2. H. Kovalainen McLaren MP4-23 1:22.422 +0.037 66
3. L. Hamilton McLaren MP4-23 1:22.459 +0.074 75
4. R. Kubica BMW Sauber F1.08 1:22.492 +0.107 64
5. F. Alonso Renault R28 1:22.509 +0.124 62
6. N. Heidfeld BMW Sauber F1.08 1:22.874 +0.489 58
7. S. Bourdais Toro Rosso STR2 1:22.877 +0.492 64
8. D. Coulthard Red Bull Racing RB4 1:22.889 +0.504 67
9. N. Piquet Jr. Renault R28 1:23.039 +0.654 64
10. S. Vettel Toro Rosso STR2 1:23.232 +0.847 52
11. R. Barrichello Honda RA108 1:23.795 +1.410 65
12. A. Sutil Force India F8-VII 1:23.800 +1.415 86
13. J. Button Honda RA108 1:23.808 +1.423 67

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Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton has apparantly suffered some racist abuse from Spanish fans during testing in Barcelona.
Spanish media said the McLaren driver was booed and insulted whenever he made his way from the team motorhome and into the pit area on Saturday.
Shouts of “puto negro” (bloody/f**ing black) and “negro de mierda” (black s***) were clearly heard
“It is not right the way he is being treated,” McLaren test team manager Indy Lull was quoted as saying.
The Barcelona circuit director then asked for fences to be put up around the McLaren paddock and immediatley ordered the removal of banners that had been put up in the grandstand opposite
“We would like to make a plea to the fans to behave correctly, no type of offensive behaviour can be tolerated,” circuit director Ramon Pradera said

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Kazuki Nakajima 

The Williams F1 team have decided to pack up and head back to their headquarters in the UK after only 2 days of testing in Barcelona

The had new parts flown in on Frank Williams private plane this morning, which were fitted to the Fw30, but the team feel they have not fully resolved the problem of what caused Nakajimas crash yesterday.

So they decided to pack up and leave.

The team hope to go to Jerez next week to test again

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Sebastian Vettel 

At the end of day 2 in Barcelona testing , Sebastian Vettel has finished at the top of the timesheets, followed by his team mate Sebastian Bourdais.

Hamilton was 3rd fastest of the day, Button could only manage 12th fastest of the day

The 2 williams drivers were back on track at lunchtime today, after their cars were fitted with new parts after Nakajimas crash yesterday.

Testing Continues Tommorow

Final Times Of The Day :

Pos Driver Team Car Time Diff  Laps
1. S. Vettel Toro Rosso STR2 1:21.679   88
2. S. Bourdais Toro Rosso STR2 1:21.782 +0.103 88
3. L. Hamilton McLaren MP4-23 1:22.135 +0.456 80
4. H. Kovalainen McLaren MP4-23 1:22.616 +0.937 55
5. R. Kubica BMW Sauber F1.08 1:22.833 +1.154 74
6. F. Alonso Renault R28 1:22.938 +1.259 95
7. N. Piquet Jr. Renault R28 1:23.002 +1.323 94
8. M. Webber Red Bull Racing RB4 1:23.020 +1.341 80
9. N. Heidfeld BMW Sauber F1.08 1:23.070 +1.391 52
10. D. Coulthard Red Bull Racing RB4 1:23.322 +1.643 62
11. N. Rosberg Williams FW30 1:23.780 +2.101 23
12. J. Button Honda RA108 1:23.969 +2.290 47
13. K. Nakajima Williams FW30 1:24.109 +2.430 27
14. V. Liuzzi Force India F8-VII 1:24.284 +2.605 36

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Christain Klien  

BMW Sauber have today confirmed that former Honda test driver Christian Klien will be their new test and reserve driver for the 2008 F1 season

Marko Asmer has also been confirmed as the new junior test driver

Klien said : “Joining the BMW Sauber F1 Team is a bit of a homecoming for me. I’m really pleased that I will be part of the team in 2008 and continue to be involved in Formula One.”

Asmer said : “I always hoped for an opportunity to get into Formula One. Naturally I did everything I could to avoid any mistakes and to do a good job. I learnt a lot while driving in the tests at Jerez and Valencia, but also as a spectator and observer. I was given a very friendly welcome and got on just fine. I feel good in the BMW Sauber F1 Team and I’m very grateful to be a part of it now.”

BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen said ” We wanted a third driver with Formula One racing experience, as well as an up-and-coming young driver for us to train up to Formula One level. With Christian we have signed a driver who is familiar with the format of a grand prix weekend and can step into the breach right away should one of our team drivers have to back out.
Marko has driven our car four times since 4th December and has made steady progress. He has worked in a concentrated, focused and calm fashion.
The feedback from the engineers bears positive testimony to him, and the chemistry between him and the team is right as well.”

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Lewis Hamilton 

On day 1 of the Barcelona test, Lewis Hamilton has finished the day fastest.
Today’s test session saw quite a few problems with various drivers

The people who stopped on track today with problems were

N. Heidfeld
F. Alonso
N. Piquet Jr.
D. Coulthard
G. Paffett
K. Nakajima
S. Bourdais
M. Webber

Testing Continues In Barcelona Tomorrow

Final Times Of The Day :

Pos Driver Team Car Time Diff  Laps
1. L. Hamilton McLaren MP4-23 1:22.263   84
2. F. Alonso Renault R28 1:22.889 +0.626 61
3. R. Kubica BMW Sauber F1.08 1:22.983 +0.720 66
4. G. Fisichella Force India F8-VII 1:23.015 +0.752 100
5. N. Heidfeld BMW Sauber F1.08 1:23.270 +1.007 53
6. G. Paffett McLaren MP4-23 1:23.349 +1.086 47
7. N. Piquet Jr. Renault R28 1:23.367 +1.104 46
8. S. Vettel Toro Rosso STR2 1:23.387 +1.124 90
9. N. Rosberg Williams FW30 1:23.453 +1.190 12
10. D. Coulthard Red Bull Racing RB4 1:23.491 +1.228 45
11. M. Webber Red Bull Racing RB4 1:23.547 +1.284 43
12. S. Bourdais Toro Rosso STR2 1:23.920 +1.657 49
13. K. Nakajima Williams FW30 1:23.955 +1.692 36
14. R. Barrichello Honda RA108 1:24.125 +1.862 41
15. A. Wurz Honda RA108 1:26.975 +4.712 26

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 Kazuki Nakajima

The Williams F1 team have stopped testing for today.

Kazuki Nakajima had a nasty high speed crash this morning, but luckily he walked away unhurt.  Thw williams team then decided to stop testing for today, until they could find the cause of the accident.

At the time Nico Rosberg was also on track in the FW30, but they decided to bring him in, and check his car didn’t have the same problems which caused Nakajima to go off.

The practice session was stopped for nearly 20 minutes while track marshals removed Nakajimas FW30.
A team spokesman has said of Nakajima, “He is fine. It was related to a front wing mounting issue which will be fixed and the car will be running again tomorrow.”

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 Nelson Piquet Jnr

You are preparing for your first F1 season and it won’t be the first time the Piquet name has been seen in Formula 1
“That’s true – and maybe it won’t be the last! I am very proud of my father’s achievements, and pleased with what I have done so far too. I have always wanted to race: there is just something inside me that loves driving, and it doesn’t matter if I am in a go-kart, a racing car or even a road car. I have earned my place in F1 on my own merits, and worked very hard to get here. After working for a year with the team as test driver, it was good to see that effort rewarded with a race drive. It is important that Renault and Flavio have chosen to put their faith in me this year.”

You have been working with the team for over a year. Do you feel ready for your F1 debut?
“If I had been given the opportunity to race last season, I would have taken it without a second thought. I am a racing driver, so what I want more than anything else is to race. But I also believe I have learned a lot as a test driver. I am going into my first season with a team I know well, and that can only be a good thing. 
To make my debut with Renault was the ideal option for me, and I am pleased that it turned out this way.”

Fernando Alonso is returning to a team where he won two world titles. How do you expect your relationship to be?
“I have never had a proper team-mate in my career; nobody I could compare myself to in order to improve. I know that I have a lot to learn from Fernando because he has a lot of F1 experience, he knows the circuits, and he has won two titles; he is the perfect benchmark. I can’t wait to start working with him because I hope he will help me to improve, and I think that together, we can do a good job for the team.”

What is your target for 2008?
“I want to get the maximum out of the package, and do a good job for the team. Of course, I am a competitive person and I would love to fight for wins, so I will do everything to make that possible. There is a lot to learn this year, but I will take every chance that comes my way!”

Do you think that the absence of driver aids could help a rookie to shine?
“The driver’s role will be even greater in 2008, and it might be easier for a young driver to do well because we are used to driving without electronic aids. Having said that, all the F1 drivers have enough experience to adapt very quickly. From my point of view, I must say that I prefer driving without the aids, because that is what I was always used to in Formula 3 and GP2.”

The F1 circus will arrive in Melbourne in just a few weeks’ time. Have you thought about it already?
“Not really to be honest, because it is still a long way off – and there is lot of work to do beforehand. I am focused on the next test sessions and our development programme. That will help me to improve my physical condition, because driving is always the best preparation; and I can continue learning, to make sure I am ready for my first Grand Prix.”

Do you think the ING Renault F1 Team can get back to the front of the field this year?
“It is always hard to say at this time of year. What I know for sure is that nobody at Renault wants another season like 2007, and everybody has given their maximum to produce a competitive car for 2008. Our rivals like McLaren, Ferrari and BMW haven’t been standing still either during the winter, and we will need to fight hard. But I know that we will do our best.”

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 Fernando Alonso

What was your feeling when you began testing with the ING Renault F1 Team in January?
“I know the team, the working methods and how Renault goes racing. We got down to work straight away, and I immediately felt comfortable with the engineers and mechanics. The welcome from the team was fantastic, and saw I lot of people I knew from when I was here before. I am happy to be back at Renault, and I think I will be more relaxed ahead of the new season.”

What did you think of the R27 when you drove it, on your return?
“It is hard to say because I only drove for two days, and I was getting used to the car without driver aids at the same time; that made it hard to have a clear opinion. It didn’t take long to get comfortable with the car, and it responded well to the set-up changes we made. After not driving all winter, it was very useful for me to get my marks. We didn’t look at the car’s ultimate pace, as that wasn’t the target. Our work was focused on preparing for the new R28.”

You drove the new car last week in Valencia.Tell us about it…
“The first test of a new car is always very exciting. As always, our first job was to make sure everything was working properly, like the safety systems and all the on-board controls. We did a lot of calibration and measurement work. My first feeling with the car was good. I think we made some good steps during the first test, and collected interesting data. We did a lot of runs, getting longer all the time to test the reliability levels of the car. It was encouraging.”

What is the development workload like at this time of year?
“There is always a lot to do at this time of year, but we are making good progress. The team is working incredibly hard, producing new parts at the factory, and at the track to make the most of our testing days. We aim to get the most out of every lap we do, and to carry on moving forward. The pre-season tests are extremely important and we are trying to exploit them to the maximum.”

Do you think the new regulations will change things out on track?
“I don’t think it will make any difference at all, to be honest. The teams have been preparing for the changes for a long time, and we are in a good situation – although the workload has been enormous. The drivers are using the winter tests to adjust their reference points and to adapt their driving style, but they will all be ready by Melbourne. After two or three races, I think we will have forgotten what it was like with driver aids, and the cars will be performing well without them. On the other hand, I think the races will be more spectacular, which will be positive for F1 fans.”

Which will be the team to beat this year?
“It is hard to make predictions at this time of the season. But if you take into account the level of competitiveness last year and what we have seen during the first tests of 2008, I think Ferrari could well be setting the pace from the start of the season.”

How are you approaching the 2008 season?
“Some people have suggested that I have unfinished business from 2007, but that’s not the way I look at it. I am preparing for this season the same way I always have done: by concentrating on my job. Our work during the winter will dictate whether or not we are competitive at the start of the championship, and that is my focus. Once we start racing, I will try and get the maximum out of the car, and to work with the engineers to improve. That has always been my approach, and will continue to be.”

You have a new team-mate in Nelson Piquet Jr. How is your relationship?
“I didn’t know him before re-joining the team. We have a good relationship because we have the same targets: to work with the team to get the most out of the car, to develop it and to help the team become competitive again.”

What are your ambitions for this year?
“The entire team is absolutely determined to get back to the top, they are pushing very hard and that is a big motivation for me. First and foremost, I am a racer, and I obviously want to win. I will do my maximum to make that happen, and I know that is what is expected from me.”

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