Monday, 30 June 2014

Pirelli British Grand Prix Preview

(Pirelli Media)

Pirelli have announced that they will bring the Medium and Hard compound tyre's to this weekend's British Grand Prix at Silverstone following three Grand Prix in a row using the Super Soft and Soft tyre. 

The nature of the circuit layout in Silverstone means that team's tend to run a medium to high down force which means that the Medium tyre has a very low operating temperature and as a result of this it lasts longer and as a result driver's may opt to start the race on this compound before switching to the (orange) walled tyre (the medium being the white walled tyre).

Last season, race winner, Sebastian Vettel won the race for Infiniti Red Bull Racing starting the race on the Medium tyre. The weather conditions for the British Grand Prix are always unpredictable and as a result we could also see either the Intermediate or indeed the Wet tyre being used over the course of the weekend. Speaking ahead of this weekend's Grand Prix Pirelli Motorsport Director Paul Hembrey said:

'Silverstone is one of the truly great venues of the year, which is steeped in history and always thrilling for the drivers and fans because of the high speeds involved. British fans are among the most knowledgeable and enthusiastic of the year: it’s absolutely fantastic to see them out in full force, whatever the weather. And the weather is always a talking point in Silverstone of course; in the past we’ve seen everything from bright sunshine to torrential rain. 

As a result, the ability to make quick strategy decisions based on real-time conditions is always very important, as you can’t necessarily rely on previous data. We’ve brought our two hardest tyres, which should be well suited to the conditions, and after the race we look forward to the final dedicated in-season tyre test of the year, from Tuesday to Wednesday. Ferrari and Marussia will be driving for us on the first day, with Red Bull and Lotus on the second day, as we continue our development test campaign.

A number of team's will take part in the final two day in season test which will take place on Tuesday and Wednesday next week immediately proceeding the British Grand Prix in Silverstone. Ferrari and Lotus will be in action on the opening day while Infiniti Red Bull Racing and Mercedes AMG Petronas will run on Wednesday. All team's present at the test will conduct work for Pirelli.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Sahara Force India British Grand Prix Preview

(Sahara Force India Formula Team)

The Sahara Force India Formula One Team have the shortest journey to make this weekend as the outfit get set for their home Grand Prix. The team are based just across the road from the Silverstone based circuit, the home of the British Grand Prix. The team head to their home event following another strong performance last time out at the Rd Bull Ring in Austria where Sergio Perez finished the race in 6th place while Nico Hulkenberg finished the race in 9th.

As a result of yet another point's scoring finish for the team they remain in 4th place in the Constructors championship just eleven point's behind Ferrari.

Speaking ahead of this weekend's race Hulkenberg said:

'We probably did not show our true potential. We were struggling with the car balance and I think that had an impact on the tyres. It’s still good to come away with points, but I think there is more to come when I get on top of the issues we had in Austria.

When asked about the race in Silverstone, the German commented:

'It’s definitely one of my favourite races. We had a full house at the last race in Austria and I expect the same at Silverstone. The fans are great and it’s a race with so much history. Because it’s the home of the team, I can spend a lot of time at the factory seeing the faces that I don’t get to see that often. There’s always a good feeling about the whole week.

Hulkenberg heads to the British Grand Prix hoping to give the team their second podium finish of the season following Sergio Perez's third place finish at the Bahrain Grand Prix earlier this season. This weekend will see F1 tyre supplier Pirelli bringing the Harder compound tyre to the race and The Hulk shared his thought's on this saying:

'All of the drivers enjoy the quick parts of the lap and you have to be committed. When you hook up all the corners in one lap it’s a great feeling. It’s difficult to know how the harder compounds will impact us, but I hope I can continue my run of points.'

Sergio Perez heads to the British Grand Prix following another strong drive last time at the Red Bull Ring and will be hoping for another great result in front of the team's staff as a lot of the factory based staff get to go to the Grand Prix. The Mexican was very happy with his performance at the Austrian Grand Prix saying:

'It was a very strong race for us and an important result. I think we had the pace to fight for a podium, but allowing for the circumstances I think we did a good job. Considering where we started, I think we took the maximum out of the race. The good start was especially important because I was running the first stint on the prime tyre. That set me up for a strong afternoon.'

Perez was asked about the current approach by the Silverstone based team and he said:

'The approach we take is to think about how we can be competitive over a 70 lap race. In the last few events I've done really well, apart from Monaco, where we didn't have the opportunity. We're getting there, but it's just unfortunate that we've been unlucky. In Montreal, for example, we were close to winning the race. I’m sure we can get some good results in the second half of the season.'

The Mexican was also asked about how he feels the team will fair at the British Grand and he stated:

'I think Silverstone will be a bit more of a challenge compared to the last few races, but I am sure we can still do a good job. It’s a track I enjoy and I usually go well there. We have been performing solidly on every track so far and I see no reason we can't put in a similar performance this weekend. It's also the team's local race so this adds an extra motivation for us to do well.'

The team have scored thirty point's in the last three Grand Prix and team boss Dr Vijay Mallya is hoping that trend continues this weekend at the British Grand Prix.

'We have to get out of this mindset of saying we are good on this track and not so good on another track. We need to be competitive on all tracks, which has been the case so far this year. Silverstone is special for us; we regard it as our home track. We'll pull out all the stops and put on a good performance'

© Ben Johnston 2014

Goodwood Festival of Speed - An Incredible weekend for every motor racing fan!

( ©Ben Johnston 2014)

So, where do I begin? This weekend, I attended my very first Goodwood Festival of Speed. I arrived in London on Thursday evening full of excitement and anticipating a great weekend of Motorsport action. But what happened over the weekend went far beyond what I was expecting.

We arrived at the Festival early on Friday morning and one of the first driver's I met was Mercedes test driver Sam Bird who, was extremely friendly. We watched some of the action as a variety of car's made their way up the hill. After watching some cars go up the hill it was time to go back to the Driver's area. I was standing right at the barrier and as I was waiting for driver's to come down the red carpet I was taking photographs of McLaren Formula One car's from the late 1980's.

I suddenly saw former Formula One driver, Karun Chandok coming up the red carpet so I called him over and he very kindly posed for a photograph and signed my ticket before heading back up the red carpet to get ready for his run up the hill.

After getting Karun's autograph, I continued to take picture's of the McLaren F1 car's and also some McLaren Road car's that were on display. I was extremely warm on Friday at the Festival and despite being burnt to a crisp it was a fantastic day and got even better when Sir Stirling Moss and his wife, Lady Suzy arrived down the red carpet. He was really friendly and he signed my Friday ticket which was absolutely fantastic and I was able to get a picture of him. Lady Suzy was also really friendly and spoke to the fans too.

On Saturday, Christian Horner was also also at the show with former Spice Girl Geri Halliwell. They were great stopping and posing for picture's and signing autographs which was great. Former IndyCar Champion Dario Franchitti was also at the show over the weekend and it was absolutely fantastic because on the final day of the show I was down in the holding area where all the cars are prepared for their run up the hill when my friend whispered to me that Dario was coming and I got really excited and said where and turned around to find him standing right in front of me.

I was extremely excited as I had followed Dario's career from 2007, the first year he won the IndyCar championship. He was really friendly and I got a great photo of him and he signed my programme. The atmosphere throughout the weekend was absolutely incredible, on Sunday when we met Dario where they prepare the car's for the hill climb they fired up the 2011 McLaren F1 right beside us which was absolutely min blowing!! Even more so by the fact that I wasn't wearing earplugs. It was absolutely sensational.

( © Ben Johnston 2014 )

Saturday was also a great day as I was able to get Jenson Button's autograph which was fantastic. The 2009 world champion was driving his 2011 Canadian Grand Prix winning McLaren MP4-26.

Saturday also Sky Sports F1 HD pundit and former F1 driver Johnny Herbert drive the 2011 Mercedes W02. It was great to get to meet him and get his autograph. However, for me, the highlight of the entire Goodwood Festival of Speed came yesterday, the final day of the event. Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen made his first appearance at the Festival driving his 2007 world championship winning car. 

We didn't expect Kimi to sign any autographs, however in the morning he appeared on the red carpet and to absolutely everyone's surprise he went up the entire line of fan's signing autographs and I was shaking like a leaf when he got to me and when I tried to ask him a question I hit a brick wall and couldn't say anything. However I did manage to get a photo of him.

It was n absolutely incredible. We were also fortunate enough to meet triple world champion Sir Jackie Stewart. He was incredibly friendly and it was an absolute honor to meet him and he posed for a photograph.

On Sunday afternoon, McLaren Chief Executive Officer, Ron Dennis was on his up the red carpet and when he got to me, I asked him if he was enjoying the festival to which he replied 'I am indeed, thank you very much'.

The excitement didn't stop there, at the end of the Festival, everyone who had stayed on was invited by Lord March, the owner of Goodwood estate to go into the his massive house for a glass of champagne. It was an incredible end to an absolutely sensational weekend.

I would highly recommend a trip to the Goodwood Festival of Speed to any motor racing fan, as it is just Formula One orientated. There is plenty to do at the Festival and is a fantastic and unique opportunity to up close to your motor racing hero's. So if you can't get to a Grand Prix or aswell as a race The Goodwood Festival of Speed is an absolute must with ticket's starting from just £40. 

© Ben Johnston 2014


Thursday, 26 June 2014

Standing restarts given the green light for 2015

(Mercedes AMG F1 Team)

Formula One will introduce standing restarts from 2015 onwards following after a meeting of the World Motorsport Council ratified the proposal. As a result, following a safety car period the FIA race director will decide whether or not the situation warrants a standing restart and if it does cars will line-up on the grid in race order and it will be a full race star.

On the technical side, driver's will from 2015 only be permitted to use four engine's per season before penalties are applied, currently five engine's can be used per driver per season.

The FIA have also confirmed a number of changes.

Testing has also been changed so that there will be three 4 day preseason tests all of which will take place in Europe. While in season testing will continue with 2 two day test session's.

© Ben Johnston

Siroktin dismisses De Silvestro

(Sauber F1 Team)

Russian driver Sergey Siroktin has claimed that Simona De Silvestro's role at the Sauber F1 Team is just a 'marketing ploy' and he does not see the Swiss driver as major threat for a drive with the Sauber F1 Team next season.

Siroktin was signed by the Swiss team last season along with a new major Russian sponsor with a view to the Russian driver racing for the Swiss team this season but that never materialized and it was believed that he could drive for the team in 2015. However, the Sauber F1 Team have recently signed former IndyCar driver Simona De Silvestro as an affiliated driver.

De Silvestro drove the Sauber C31 at the Valencia circuit yesterday, her second time driving the car. Speaking to Russian website, Siroktin said:

'At Sauber, we have a third driver, Guido van der Garde, a test driver - that's me - and a sponsored racer, the person whom they are helping to reach the level of F1, which I think is more of a marketing move,'

The Russian went on to say:

'At the moment, my priority is World Series by Renault, so I do not plan to give preference to other cases in F1 if they can complicate my task or hinder my performance in this Championship. It may give the impression that there was a lull but, in fact, it is not.

Siroktin has yet to drive for the Sauber F1 Team in an official practice session but is expected to drive the C33 during free practice for the Russian Grand Prix at the Sochi circuit in October.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Ricciardo aiming for top three finish in Silverstone

(Frederic Le Floc'h DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

Infiniti Red Bull Racing driver Daniel Ricciardo is hoping for a return to form for the next race, the British Grand Prix, next weekend in Silverstone. The team had a difficult race at their home event, the Austrian Grand Prix last time out at the Red Bull Ring which saw reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel qualify down in 12th and retire on lap 35.

Ricciardo started the Asutrian Grand Prix from 5th place but finished in 8th. The Australian is hoping that he secure a top three finish at the teams second home Grand in Silverstone next weekend, in an interview with the Red Bull website Ricciardo said:

'I'm always optimistic going to Silverstone because I love the circuit but yes, it should be a circuit that suits us a little bit more, We've got to learn a few things about our performance here but once we do that, I think we'll be fighting in the top five and trying to get on the podium.'

Ricciardo went on to say:

'We've got to learn a few things about our performance here but once we do that, I think we'll be fighting in the top five and trying to get on the podium.'

Red Bull are currently second in the Constructors championship on 143 point's. 

© Ben Johnston 2014

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

De Silvestro completes another run in the Sauber

(Sauber F1 Team)

The Sauber F1 Team's affiliated driver Simona De Silvestro has completed more mileage for the Swiss based outfit. The Swiss driver who is working towards gaining her FIA Super Licence was in action today at the Valencia circuit.

Simona was once again behind the wheel of the Sauber C31 Formula One car following her previous run in the car earlier this season when she drove at Ferrari's Fiorano test track in Italy. The former IndyCar driver is hoping to gain an Formula One drive next season and with the help of the Sauber F1 Team it could be come a reality very soon as she continues to build up her experience behind the wheel of a Formula One car.

De Silvestro is not the only female driver in Formula One as Susie Wolff will drive Valtteri Bottas' Williams FW36 during Free Practice One for both the British Grand Prix next weekend and at the following race, the German Grand Prix.

Maria De Villota was also involved in Formula One with the Marussia F1 Team. The Spanish driver was involved in a testing accident in July 2012 and as a result lost her eye. Sadly the Spanish driver was found dead in a hotel room last October, up until her untimely death De Villota had been working as a pundit for the Spanish TV.

Silvestro has been attending Grand Prix with the Sauber F1 Team to see how a Grand Prix weekend operates.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Rosberg will continue to share data with Hamilton to a point

(Mercedes AMG F1 Team)

Formula One championship leader Nico Rosberg has stated that he is, for now happy to share data with team mate Lewis Hamilton continuing Mercedes policy of sharing data between both driver's. However the German, who heads to Silverstone next weekend with a 29 point advantage over Hamilton at the top of the championship will, if he finds it keep an advantage to himself.

Despite going on a winning streak of four straight victories Lewis Hamilton is behind his team mate in the championship following two retirements from the eight Grand Prix in 2014. He has had two second place finishes in Monte Carlo and last time out at the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.

Hamilton will be hoping for a victory in front of his home crowd at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone next weekend which would be his first win at the famous venue since his championship victory in 2008.

Rosberg was asked about the current situation within the Brackley based outfit to which he responded:

'It's all open - the data and everything is open, It's just that sometimes you're not going to put it on the table and say 'Look what I've done'. If I find a little bit of an advantage somewhere then I'm not going to tell everybody about it, I'll keep it to myself. It's little bits and pieces here and there.'

It is an extremely difficult situation for the Mercedes management team because their priority as a manufacturwoner is to win the Constructors championship as that is where the money is. But they also want one of their driver's to win the Driver's championship and to them, it doesn't matter which driver wins the title as long as he drives a Silver Arrows.

Rosberg went on to say:

'It's good to have the momentum on my side and I need to try to prolong it as much as possible. There will inevitably come a point when Lewis tries to pull it towards him again, and I just need to make the most of it for now, try to keep it for as long as possible and keep going. I'm on a good run at the moment.'

Rosberg heads to the British Grand Prix as the defending race winner having taken victory here so he will be hoping for a repeat performance next weekend.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Sauber seeking performance gain

(Sauber F1 Team)

Sauber F1 Team principal Monisha Keltenborn has urged her outfit to up their game in the coming Grand Prix as the Swiss based outfit have struggled so far this season. Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez have failed to score any point's in the opening eight Grand Prix while last season the team finished in 7th place in the Constructors championship on 57 point's.

The Swiss outfit now find themselves in 10th place just ahead of the Caterham F1 Team after the Marussia F1 Team scored two point's at the Monaco Grand Prix. 

The Sauber driver's have seven DNF's between them and Keltenborn is confident that the team will be in a position to challenge for point's in the coming Grand Prix. She said:

'It's very difficult to compare races because they're really very different in a way. "What we're seeing from the lap times is that the distance is still big to the teams ahead but it's maybe getting a bit smaller here and there.'

The team have struggled with the new brake by wire system which was introduced for this season, however Keltenborn feels that the team are now firmly moving in the right direction She went on to say that it will take a bit of time for the team to improve but that they know the area's where they need to improve the car.

Last time out at the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in 13th place for Adrian Sutil and 19th for Esteban Guiterrez who finished the race 2 lap's down.

© Ben Johnston 2014

McLaren/Honda partnership making steady progress

(McLaren Mercedes)

McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier has confirmed that his outfit's preparations for next season's switch to Honda power are 'on target'. Boullier said that the fact that they have year to get ready is an advantage but that the team already have engineers working with Honda in relation to next year's car.

Boullier also believes that with the new regulations in Formula One which were introduced ahead of this season team's need a 'works' engine deal so that they can work on the chassis and engine development alongside one another like the way the Mercedes AMG F1 team have this season. This allows engineers from both sides to work together on finding solutions for fitting the engine.

McLaren will have a 'works' relationship with Honda next season and with the Japanese manufacturer having a base in Milton Keynes it will be easier for McLaren and Honda to work closely together rather then if Honda were working solely from Japan. 

The fact that Honda have built a Formula One engine preparation facility in the UK just shows how committed the company is to their return to Formula One with McLaren next season. The company have yet to decide whether or not they will supply a second team from 2016 but for next year they will supply engine's exclusively to McLaren.

Speaking during a McLaren phone in with journalist's Boullier said:

'It takes months, even years, to build it up, so you have a clear schedule in place and some clear tiers to target, So far I think everything is in order and matching the fact that we have until next year to race.

Boullier also revealed that he has already seen a big improvement from the team and is certain that they will have a good car from next season:

'I do have the confidence that we will have a good car from next year, just because we addressed all the issues internally and I believe we made the right changes. We have seen already from Austria the first benefit of the changes we have done in the organisation and now we are heading in the right direction.'

McLaren head to their home race, the British Grand Prix in Silverstone having scored a fifth place finish for Jenson Button at the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Small steps in the right direction

Embedded image permalink
(Scuderia Ferrari SpA via Twitter)

Ferrari team boss Marco Mattiacci believes that his team are making steady progress as the Italian team attempt to bounce back from a difficult start to the 2014 Formula One season which has seen the outfit score just one podium finish which came at the Chinese Grand Prix in April which was Mattiacci's first Grand Prix in charge of the Italian team after replacing Stefano Domenicali.

Ferrari are currently third in the Constructors championship on 98 point's, just eleven ahead of the Sahara Force India F1 Team as the Formula One circus prepares to head to the British Grand Prix at Silverstone next weekend. 

Last time out at the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, Fernando Alonso finished the race in fifth place, 1.2 second's behind former team mate Williams Martini Racing's Felipe Massa after starting the Grand Prix from 4th place on the grid. Following the race the Spaniard told the media that he is now switching focus to 2015 as he is now 86 point's behind championship leader, Mercedes Nico Rosberg.

Kimi Raikkonen had a difficult weekend in the sister Ferrari as the Finn managed to finish the Grand Prix in 10th place and is down in 12th place in the Driver's championship on 19 point's following a difficult return to the Prancing Horse for the 2007 word champion. Following the Austrian Grand Prix the Iceman admitted to be frustrated with the lack of performance from the F14-T.

Speaking about the Austrian Grand Prix, Mattiacci said:

'Unfortunately, we were unable to demonstrate that [small step] with Kimi, who did not have an easy time on this circuit, but we are sure that with the progressive improvement of the car he too will be able to show what he's capable of.  Fernando could not have done any better today. He managed to maintain a great pace for the whole race, at times even quicker than the leaders and this must serve as an incentive to continue developing the F14 T. Overall the gaps are coming down and the number of teams fighting it out behind the frontrunners is increasing. So our aim is to exploit all our potential to be at the front of the pursuing group.'

© Ben Johnston 2014

Juncadella to drive for Force India during free practice one in Silverstone

(Sahara Force India F1 Team)

The Sahara Force India F1 Team confirmed this morning that test driver Daniel Juncadella will make his first appearance at a Grand Prix weekend at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone when he steps into the VJM07 during Friday morning's first practice session.

The Spaniard will drive Nico Hulkenberg's car. Speaking following the announcement, Juncadella said:

'I am delighted and ready and I'd like to thank Sahara Force India for this opportunity.

It will not be the first time that Juncadella will drive this year's Force India as he drove for the team during preseason testing. The Spaniard also drove for the team during the two day in season test following the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit De Catalunya Barcelona in May. 

Juncadella went on to say:

'This will be the first time I take part in an official Grand Prix weekend session, so it will be a very special day for me - I've been waiting for this moment for a very long time and it goes to show that hard work and determination can get you there! 

Since the start of the year back in Jerez, where I got my first chance to drive the car, I've been working very hard together with the team and I've definitely learned a lot. My second outing at the test in Barcelona and all the hours we've spent together on the simulator have given me plenty of confidence. They were also the perfect way to get to know the team better, something which I think is always essential in order to do well.'

Juncadella won't be the only reserve driver making his debut at an official Grand Prix weekend in Silverstone as Williams Martini Racing's Susie Wolff will also make her debut at the British Grand Prix.

Juncadella concluded by saying:

'This is also the team's local race, which makes a day I will never forget even more special.'

© Ben Johnston 2014

Vettel should leave Red Bull

(Bernard Asset DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

Former world champion Jacques Villeneuve has stated that believes that Sebastian Vettel 'is finished at Red Bull' and that he should move team's next season. 

The 1997 world champion believes that Red Bull have now switched focus to Daniel Ricciardo while the Canadian reckons that the Milton Keynes based outfit are now treating Vettel like they treated Mark Webber. Villeneuve said:

'Sebastian is a four-time World Champion who has earned the titles won, but now Red Bull Racing is treating him like they were Mark Webber. They seem to have decided to focus only on Daniel Ricciardo. Now they want to 'kill' Sebastian because the German is not able to give another image of Red Bull.'

Rumors surfaced yesterday that McLaren were looking into the possibility of rehiring Fernando Alonso for next season alongside Lewis Hamilton which would be a return to their 2007 driver lie-up. It is EXTREMELY unlikely that the team would opt for a return to this pairing for next season, however IF it was to happen it would leave a seat free at Ferrari which could see Vettel partner Raikkonen next year.

If Hamilton did leave Mercedes (Again EXTREMELY unlikely) it would free up at seat at Mercedes which would allow Jenson Button to move to Mercedes. 

Sebastian Vettel is currently locked into a long term contract with the Milton Keynes based outfit so it is unlikely that Vettel will leave Red Bull Racing in the short time. The German retired from the last race, the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring.

Vettel is currently in 5th place in the Driver's championship on 60 point's, 105 behind championship leader, Mercedes AMG F1 Team's Nico Rosberg.

The German will bounce back from his difficult start to the 2014 season, it is just going to take a little bit of time.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Could Mercedes supply another team?

(Mercedes AMG F1 Team)

Mercedes could be set to power an additional team in 2015. The German manufacturer who currently supply power units to Williams Martini Racing, Sahara Force India and McLaren aswell as running their own 'works' Formula One operation are set to lose a team in 2015. After 19 season's powered by the Silver Arrows, next season will see McLaren link up with Honda for the first time since 1992 in what has been described as a long term agreement with between the two parties.

With McLaren leaving the Mercedes stable it means that the German company has a free space from 2015 onwards with the company apparently keen to replace McLaren. It is possibly to soon to agree a deal with a team for next season however, it is plausible that the company could supply Lotus with rumors suggesting that the Enstone based outfit who have been with Renault since the Benetton could be on the lookout for a new supplier from next season.

It is also possible that Mercedes could use next year to work a deal with Gene Haas and his new Formula One team Haas Formula, who are set to make their Formula One debut in 2016, although it is more likely that Haas will opt for a supply of Ferrari power units for 2016. The American attended the Canadian Grand Prix earlier this season and was spotted in the Ferrari garage and had previously said that he was in talks with the Italian team over a power unit supply deal. It is believed that Haas is also looking for a technical partner.

Ferrari already supply the Marussia F1 Team along with the Sauber F1 Team. It is very possible that Sauber team could move to Mercedes power as the two parties were previously together when Mercedes power Sauber in 1994 before switching to McLaren in 1995.

So if Sauber were to switch to Mercedes that would free up Ferrari to power Haas Formula from 2016 onwards. This is all hypothetical as we will have to wait and see what happens over the next few months and whether or not Mercedes do indeed decide to supply an additional team next season.

There has also been a suggestion that McLaren could test the new Honda 1.6 litre V6 power unit at the end of the season, with there been limited winter testing available McLaren will want to go into next season as well prepared as they can be as they start a new chapter in their history with Honda power. 

© Ben Johnston 2014

Mercedes concerned by Williams outright pace

(Mercedes AMG F1 Team)

Mercedes AMG F1 Team's non executive chairman Niki Lauda has admitted that his team are concerned by strong race pace shown by the Williams Martini Racing Team at last weekend's Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring which saw the Grove based outfit become the first team to beat the Mercedes 'works' team to pole position this season.

Lauda believes that Williams performance at the weekend shows that Mercedes advantage over their rivals in shrinking. In an interview with the Austrian said:

'The alarm bells are ringing that the competition is coming closer, If the alarm bell rings in time then you can do something. If you sit back - which we don't try to do - you miss out. So what we are going to do is keep on developing the car.

Lauda went on to warn Lewis Hamilton, saying the 2008 world champion will be a serious disadvantage in the Driver's championship if he fails to achieve a strong result at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone. Hamilton heads to his home Grand Prix 29 point's behind Rosberg despite having four victories to his name compared with Rosberg who has taken three victories.

On the subject of motivation Lauda believes that Hamilton will be more motivated heading to Silverstone. 

© Ben Johnston 2014

Hamilton can still beat Rosberg

(Mercedes AMG F1 Team)

Lewis Hamilton is confident that he has speed advantage to overall his team Nico Rosberg at the top of the Driver's champion after falling to 29 point's behind Nico Rosberg in the championship standing's. Hamilton has suffered two retirement's this season after failing to finish the opening race in Australia , a Grand Prix which his team mate won and also failed to finish the Canadian Grand Prix where Rosberg finished in 2nd place behind Daniel Ricciardo.

Last time out in Austria, Hamilton finished the race in second place behind Rosberg. The 2008 world champion has secured four Grand Prix victories in a row from Malaysia to Spain, however he has seen a four point lead over Rosberg completed overhauled by Rosberg.

The Brackley based squad now head to their first home Grand Prix of the season, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone where, last year Nico Rosberg took victory while Lewis Hamilton finished the event in fourth place behind Red Bull's Mark Weebber and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso. Hamilton will be hoping to that he can be in a position to take the victory

Hamilton has won in Silverstone, he took victory here in a rain affected 2008 Grand Prix, the year he won the championship. He will be hoping for a similar result next weekend. Hamilton said:

'There's not much more I can do, I've got good pace, I just need to execute it, I will work hard to make sure I do that. 

Hamilton explained that he suffered a lose of power with his W05 during the Austrian Grand Prix. He said:

'I easily had the pace but my power was dropping and his wasn't, so I need to investigate what that was. We are always trying to manage power, so perhaps it could have been a bit more optimal.'

© Ben Johnston 2014

McLaren reportedly in talks with Hamilton

(Mercedes AMG F1 Team)

According to a report in today's Daily Telegraph McLaren have opened what have been described as 'tentative talks' with Lewis Hamilton about the possibility of the Mercedes driver returning to the team where he won the championship with next season should he lose out in this year's championship fight with Mercedes AMG F1 Team mate Nico Rosberg who currently holds a 29 point advantage over Hamilton at the top of the championship.

It is unclear whether Hamilton would want to return to McLaren even if he was to lose out in this year's championship as 2015 will be a transition year for the Woking based outfit due to the fact that they will be in the first season of their long term engine partnership with Japanese manufacturer Honda.

The report also suggested that the team could be looking into the possibility of rehiring Fernando Alonso from Ferrari, however this is an extremely unlikely scenario as the Spaniard is locked into a long standing contract with Ferrari. The Telegraph also stated that McLaren could be tempted by launching a bid to pry reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel away from Infiniti Red Bull Racing as the German has struggled to get to grips with the new RB10 and is currently fifth place in the championship on 60 point's, 23 behind team mate Daniel Ricciardo.

McLaren's Jenson Button is out of contract with the Woking based outfit and has yet to open talks with the team with regards to extending his deal with the team and has stated that he would like to stay on with the team next season when they enter their new era with Honda.

McLaren has also stated that they are currently in no hurry to decide on the their driver line-up for 2015. It has been suggested that the team could potentially replace both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen but the team have struggled with the MP4-29 so far this season so the team will be hoping for another step forward following Button's fourth place finish last time out at the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring last weekend.

© Ben Johnston 2014

McLaren hoping for big step forward with the arrival of Peter Prodromou from Red Bull

(McLaren Mercedes)

McLaren chairman Ron Dennis believes that the early arrival of Aerodynamicist Peter Prodromou who will join the Woking based outfit from rivals an reigning world champions Red Bull Racing will provide McLaren with 'a big step forward for 2015'. It was announced earlier this season that McLaren had managed to lure Prodromou to the team when his contract expired with Red Bull at the end of 2014 with him joining the team in January 2015.

However Dennis, who has return to the helm of the McLaren Formula One team working alongside Racing Director Eric Boullier has revealed that his team have struck a deal with Red Bull Racing that will see Prodromou join McLaren in September this year.

Dennis revealed:

'We've got Peter Prodromou joining us in September so that will be a big step. It will bolster our revitalised aero team, so I'm not concerned about aero performance next year, it will come right.

The McLaren chief that he expects the team to have a steep learning curve when they reunite with Honda from next season but is confident that in time their partnership with the Japanese manufacturer will yield results similar to the one's the pair achieved during their last time together from 1988 - 1992.

Dennis also revealed that despite the imminent arrival of Honda his team have not given up on their 2014 campaign despite their difficult start to the season. In the eight Grand Prix of the season the team have scored just two podium finishes which came at the first race of the season in Melbourne, Australia where Kevin Magnussen finished 2nd with Jenson Button finishing in third place.

The Woking team are now in 6th place in the Constructors championship following the Williams Martini Racing Team's 3rd and fourth place finish last time out at the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring. Dennis said:

'We never write anything off. We're going to fight until the last grand prix, that's in the nature of the team. It's certainly not a write off. I'm very much aware of what's coming down the road and we've just got to get developments on the car.'

The team will be hoping for a strong result at the next Grand Prix, the British Grand Prix in Silverstone which is the team's home event. Before Silverstone however, their is the small matter of the Goodwood Festival of Speed where McLaren driver Jenson Button will be action over the course of the weekend.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Raikkonen told to step up or quit

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(Scuderia Ferrari SpA via Twitter)

Former Formula One world championship Jacques Villeneuve has launched an attack on Ferrari driver Kimi Raikkonen telling the Finn he needs to 'step up or quit'. Raikkonen has struggled so far this season in comparison to his Ferrari team mate Fernando Alonso and has only managed to 19 point's from the opening eight Grand Prix of the season.

As a result, the Iceman is 60 point's behind Fernando Alonso who is in fourth place in the Driver's championship while Kimi Raikkonen is down in 12th place. 

Speaking to Villeneuve, who won the Driver's championship with the Williams team in 1997 said:

'Kimi does not know how to drive with finesse. For him, the gas is either fully on or nothing. This year he has had a lot of spins as if he was still in Formula 3. If he cannot get the job done in F1, he should go home. He is a very experienced driver and should not be making excuses at every race as if he was a young rookie. You should only need two or three races to change the way you drive and adapt and if he cannot, it means there is a problem.'

Villeneuve concluded by saying:

'You cannot go on like this and keep making excuses when you are a World Champion.'

Kimi Raikkonen is one of the most experienced driver's in Formula One today. Villeneuve is entitled to his opinion, but Ferrari would disagree with the Canadian's assertion as the Italian team are everything they can to help Raikkonen move forward. 

Raikkonen will be back to his best in no time at all and that could start at next weekend's British Grand Prix in Silverstone. The Finn has won here once during his championship winning year in 2007 and has had five podium finishes here.

A podium may not be on the cards next weekend but the Finn will have a strong Grand Prix weekend and will score a big haul of point's for Ferrari as the Italian team have steadily improved the car in recent Grand Prix.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Monday, 23 June 2014

Canary Wharf comes alive to the sound of Formula One

(Race Week London)

Canary Wharf roared to life on Sunday as the Lotus F1 Team's Marcus Sorensen sped around the roads to see what it would be like to a Formula One Grand Prix on the street's of the capital. The event also marked the start of the countdown to the Race Week London Festival which takes place at Artillery Gardens in London next Thursday 3rd July.

As part of the festival Formula One fan's will have the opportunity to see the Lotus F1 Team carry out burnout's and donuts. Seven time world champion Micheal Schumacher's Benetton B191B will be on display at the festival along with a number of other classic Formula One cars.

What would you think of having a Grand Prix around the street's of London? Here is what Formula One would look like on the street's of London.

For more information about Race Week London and for ticket's for the event log on to:

© Ben Johnston 2014

Williams not a one hit wonder

Title: Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria..Saturday 21 June 2014..Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, Williams F1, with Sir Frank Williams, Team Principal, Williams F1..World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic..ref: Digital Image _89P6501<br />Caption: Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria..Saturday 21 June 2014..Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, Williams F1, with Sir Frank Williams, Team Principal, Williams F1..World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic..ref: Digital Image _89P6501
(Williams Martini Racing)

Williams Martini Racing deputy team principal Claire Williams insists her team's performance over the weekend was not a flash in the pan. The Williams team scored their first podium in two season's following Valtteri Bottas' third place finish in day's Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring with team mate Felipe Massa finishing the race in fourth place. 

Massa started on pole position and after qualifying on Saturday team founder Sir Frank Williams admitted that he has been proven wrong about Felipe Massa as the Brazilian has exceeded his (Williams) expectations since he joined the Grove based outfit from Ferrari at the end of last season.

Speaking to the Press Association Sport after seeing her driver's finish third and fourth, Claire said:

'We said before the start of the race the opportunity to win probably wasn't there. So to come home third and fourth behind a Mercedes team in a class of their own at the moment was the objective, we met it, and we're really happy with that. It's been an amazing weekend for the team.'

Williams went on to say:

'And this is certainly not a flash in the pan, so the aim now is to maintain this level of consistency, this level of points scoring, and there is no reason why we can't do that. The car has the pace, we've shown that consistently throughout the previous races, but we've had a bit of bad luck and sometimes we've not made the best calls.'

Claire explained that she believes that it is now a realistic target for the team to look at climbing further up the order in the Constructors championship. 

The team are just two point's behind Sahara Force India who are in fourth place and 12 point's ahead of McLaren. 

Since the start of the European season at the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit De Catalunya, the Williams Martini Racing Team have scored a total of 49 point's which is more then Sahara Force India and Ferrari have scored during the same period and those two team's are ahead of the Grove based outfit.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Schumacher medical data stolen

(Mercedes AMG F1 Team)

Confidential medical data reportedly relating to Michael Schumacher have been offered for sale according the seven time world champions management team have said. In a statement, Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm said:

'For several days stolen documents and data are being offered for sale. The offerer claims them to be the medical file of Michael Schumacher. We cannot judge if these documents are authentic. However, the documents are clearly stolen. The theft has been reported.'

It was confirmed last week that Michael Schumacher had emerged from his medically induced coma following his skiing accident in France last year and released from the hospital in Grenoble where he was being treated. He has now been moved to rehabilitation facility in Switzerland. Kehm went on to say:

'We will therefore, in every single case, press for criminal charges and damages against any publication of the content or reference to the medical file'. 

© Ben Johnston 2014

What a difference a year makes

Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria..Sunday 22 June 2014..Valterri Bottas, Williams F1, 3rd Position, lifts his trophy on the podium..World Copyright: Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic..ref: Digital Image _R6T4793<br />Caption: Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Austria..Sunday 22 June 2014..Valterri Bottas, Williams F1, 3rd Position, lifts his trophy on the podium..World Copyright: Alastair Staley/LAT Photographic..ref: Digital Image _R6T4793
(Williams Martini Racing)

Turn the clock back 12 months, The Williams F1 Team were an outfit under immense pressure. The Grove based team headed to their home race, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone yet to score  point however fast forward to 2014, and the Grove based outfit have done an extremely good job. Felipe Massa secured his first pole position since 2008 while Valtteri Bottas started the race from the front row which was the Finn's best ever Formula One qualifying result. 

Come the race on Sunday, the did not disappoint. They scored a huge 27 point's to move ahead of McLaren Mercedes into fifth place in the Constructors championship while closing to within two point's of the Sahara Force India Formula One Team.

The team have continued the trend of scoring point's in ever race so far this season with Valtteri Bottas securing his first ever podium finish in Formula One with a fantastic drive to third place, finishing the race just ahead of team mate Felipe Massa who finished in fourth place. 

The result's that the team have achieved so far this are testament to the incredible work that Sir Frank, deputy team principal Claire Williams, Chief technical officer Pat Symonds and Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley have done so far this season and over the winter. The team also have a new part owner in American healthcare executive Brad Hollinger who was at the Austrian Grand Prix at the weekend. 

Claire Williams confirmed after the race that Hollinger has taken the five percent shareholding but has not come to the team as an investor.

The American feels that 'Formula One is on the cusp of an explosion on social media' and also the fact that Formula One has had an extremely successful return to the United States with the Circuit of the America's in Austin, Texas.

At last year's race in Silverstone, Pastor Maldonado finished the race just outside the point's in eleventh place just ahead of Valtteri Bottas in 12th.

The team have certainly showed what they can do with their new Mercedes power unit having showed exceptional straight line speed at the Austrian Grand Prix. The team have also secured a title sponsorship agreement with Martini, along with a major sponsorship and supply deal with Brazilian oil company Petrobas.

Following the team's performance at the Red Bull Ring over the weekend it is not a case of if they win a race this season but when they win a race in 2014 and that victory is just around the corner. The team will have their test and development driver in the car on Friday at both the British Grand Prix next weekend and at the following race, the German Grand Prix.

Scotland's Susie Wolff will drive Valtteri Bottas' FW36 in the opening Free Practice session next Friday. She becomes the first female driver in over 20 years to take part in an official FIA Formula One session. Wolff has already driven the FW36 as she was the first of Williams driver's to test car when Winter testing got underway. She also drove the car during the two day in season test at the Circuit De Catalunya Barcelona following the Spanish Grand Prix in May.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Ecclestone would have no complaints if some team's left F1


Formula One commercial rights holder Bernie Ecclestone has stated that he would have no complaints if some team's were to drop out of Formula One. There has been speculation surrounding both the Sauber and Caterham F1 Team's recently both of whom are yet to secure a championship point so far this season. There had been rumors that the Caterham F1 Team were for sale however, team owner Tony Fernandes took to Twitter recently to confirm that the Leafield based outfit is not for sale.

Ecclestone has said that team's should not be in F1 'if they can't afford it'. Ecclestone also stated that 'We have too many rules that are not necessary'.

Formula One is set to have two new team's on the grid from 2016 onwards which provided no current team's have any further financial issues will mean that there will 13 team's on the grid in 2016. 

The current structure in Formula One is that team's receive prize money on the basis of where they finish the previous year in the championship and that new team's have to wait three year's before they receive a share of the prize money fund.

Ecclestone's comments come as American Gene Haas prepares to enter Formula One from 2016. The NASCAR team owner has been granted entry into Formula One from next season but has postponed coming into Formula One until 2016 in order to properly prepare for entry into Formula One.

© Ben Johnston 2014

Alonso concentrating on 2015

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(Scuderia Ferrari SpA via Twitter)

Ferrari's Fernando Alonso has stated that he is getting frustrated with how the team is performing. The Spaniard finished yesterday's Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring in 5th place, 1.2s  behind former team mate, Williams Martini Racing's Felipe Massa who finished the race in fourth place. Speaking about his battle with the Brazilian, Alonso said:

'With Massa, I think he was just controlling the pace to be honest. I get close to him with ten or 11 s lap to go and then when I was in the DRS zone, he pull away another two seconds. So he was playing a little bit.'

The Spaniard went on to say that he feels that Ferrari are two far behind Mercedes at this point in the season and that he is hoping to be able to overall the Brackley based team in 2015. He said:

'It's been five years like this. There is always satisfaction that everyone believes you are always performing at your best. There's the respect from drivers, Team Principals and fans for the job that you do. But I prefer to have no respect and to win more trophies.'

Ferrari's 2014 season hasn't got off to the best start as the team have only managed to secure one podium finish this season when Alonso finished the Chinese Grand Prix in third place behind the two Mercedes albeit 23.6s behind the Silver Arrows.

Alonso is currently fourth in the Driver's championship on 79 point's, 86 behind championship leader, Mercedes Nico Rosberg.

Kimi Raikkonen said that the team still have a lot of work to do to get the balance of the car right. The Finn found it difficult to find the right balance for the F14-T all weekend and eventually finished the race in 10th place just ahead of McLaren's Jenson Button.

©Ben Johnston 2014

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Horner angered by Renault

(Bernard Asset DPPI for Renault Sport F1)

Infiniti Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner has heaped more criticism at the door of the reigning world champions engine supplier Renault following a yet another retirement for Sebastian Vettel. The reigning world champion lost power early in the race but regained soon afterwards however the Milton Keynes based squad opted for a strategic retirement for Vettel's RB10 rather then risk placing extra stress on car components that are at a critical point in their life.

Speaking to Sky Sports F1 following the team's home race Red Bull boss Christian Horner labelled Renault's performance as 'unacceptable'.

In an interview with Martin Brundle earlier this week, Red Bull's Motorsport director Dr Helmut Marko hinted that the team could potentially build their own engine's after 2015 however Horner has rejected this idea saying that the team have had a good relationship with Renault and that they have taken all of their Grand Prix victories with Renault power.

However, Horner did say that the issues that they have encountered this season:

'It’s been frustrating; we have had another issue today' But at the end of the day we have won four World Championships with Renault, we have won all our races with them. We’ve got to trust them to get on top of these issues.

While Vettel was forced to retire from the race, Daniel Ricciardo gave Red Bull some consolation by bringing his RB10 home in 8th place however the Australian can not be happy with that result having won the previous race in Canada which was his third podium in a row.

As a result of his retirement, Sebastian Vettel is now 23 point's behind Ricciardo in the championship as Red Bull head to their second home race at the British Grand Prix in Silverstone where they will be hoping for a better result. 

At the British Grand Prix last year, Sebastian Vettel retired from the race with a gearbox while Mark Webber who always went well there finished the race on the podium in second place behind race winner Nico Rosberg.

© Ben Johnston 2014