Motorsports Mondial

Nico Müller

Photo: GP3 Media

Swiss Timing

In the Nic-o times. The talented Mister Müller continues the tradition of fast Nicos in racing. First we had Nico Rosberg, then equally quick fellow German and namesake, Mister Hülkenberg.

Meet Nico Müller. Still German speaking but from the other side of the border. The Swiss side. The talented 18-year old surprised many last year with his precision performance in talent-laden GP3 series.

Q: Number 3 in 2010 GP3. Congratulations! Was the result above expectations in the inaugural season of the series?

A: Thanks a lot! 2010 was a great season for me, the best in my career so far and above all expectations. I started off the season with the goal of finishing the championship in the top-10. To in the end finish in the top three was just great!

Q: How is the GP3 car in performance and driving compared to Formula Renault?

A: The car is bigger, heavier, has got more power and a lot more downforce. The step was quite big for me, but the GP3 is a nice car to drive and it didn’t take me too much time to adapt to it. The biggest differences are the grip level and the engine power, you just feel like driving a big car which is really nice!

Q: What were the season’s highs and lows for you?

A: The weekend in Hungary was obviously my best during the 2010 season. Fastest in free practice, pole position, race one win…that was really great!

In Hockenheim I had my worst weekend of the season. I came to that race with a lot of confidence and motivation, as Hockenheim nearly is a home track for Swiss drivers. To then be involved into crashes in both races (after a mistake in qualy) was just very disappointing.

Photo: GP3 Media

Q: What was more satisfying; first win in Valencia in sprint race or the feature race win from pole?

A: “I have to say it was the win in Valencia sprint race, although putting the car on pole in Hungary was as satisfying! The victory just came so unexpected; also for me…that feeling was so amazing!”

Q: GP3 car is a turbo-powered machine, how quickly were you able to adjust to that?

A: “I have to say that the Renault GP3 engine is a very friendly one. It’s not very hard to adapt to.”

Q: Is the driving technique much different in a turbo-powered car?

A: “Concerning the GP3 car I’d say there are nearly no differences in the technique of driving which would be caused by its type of engine.”

Q: GP3 races with F1 and GP2, do you feel any extra pressure because of this?

A: “I wouldn’t say you feel more pressure; it gives you even more motivation to show these people what you’re capable of. It is just a great opportunity GP3 drivers have!”

Q: Your favorite track and city on the GP3 circuit?

A: “Only looking at the tracks I have to say that Spa and Silverstone are just amazing. But there is something very special about racing in Monza. The whole atmosphere in the “parco” is just amazing!”

Q: If you were a team owner in GP3 past season who would you pick as your top two drivers?

A: “I’m not a hundred percent sure who’s looking into doing another year in GP3…but I’d say that Nigel Melker and Rio Haryanto would be good choices.”

Q: Who is guiding and managing your career?

A: “At the moment I’m doing nearly all of it by myself. I have a few people who are helping me with raising the money and also give me advices…but in the end it’s me who decides.”

Q: What did you learn in karting that was most helpful in racing cars?

A: “Just to know how to behave in races, how to overtake, prepare a tactic or push the other drivers into a mistake.”

Q: What is your goal for the 2011 season?

A: “As you know, I’m staying in GP3 for another season. The reason for that is, that I want get more experienced and mature before making the jump into a category like GP2.

My goal for 2011 is to fight for the title in the GP3 championship. It will be very tough, considering that there are drivers like Valtteri Bottas, James Calado and so on…but I’m working very hard to reach my goal and I’m very confident!”

Q: Last Grand Prix win by a Swiss driver, Clay Regazzoni, was at Long Beach in 1976, when will Nico Müller change that?

A: “I think it’s too early to think about things like that. For sure, Formula One is my ultimate goal, but I’m taking everything step by step and concentrate on what I’m doing now.”

Q: Your home girl Simona de Silvestro is doing a good job on the American racing landscape, do you have any desire to race in the United States, especially the Indy 500?

A: “Yes, Simona is really doing very well. The Indy 500 is a great series and you never know…for sure it would be a great experience!”

Drawing courtesy of Sarah Sahadin/Malaysia

Q: Please tell us something about Nico Müller, the young man not the race car driver? Your taste in music, food and what other sports do you enjoy watching?

A: “Ok. I’m very interested in languages and love to visit other countries. I love Italian food, but sometimes after a long stay away from home I also enjoy a nice typical Swiss dish. During summer I follow and practice a lot of road cycling, in the winter it’s cross country skiing that I like to watch and do myself.”

F1weekly would like to thank Nico for taking the time to answer our questions, and wish him every success in his racing career.

Please visit his website for more information.

-         Nasir Hameed

Greetings and TAG-Heuer regards.

Motorsports Mondial

Le Dubai 24-Hours


What do Schumacher, Mansell and Waltrip have in common? They were all racing in the Dubai 24-Hours; Cora, Greg and Michael that is, respectively. Ralf’s lady was in a Mini, as in Cooper, and finished 29th. The Mansell munchkins, Greg and Leo, were classified 22nd in their Lotus Evora.

Nascar star Michael Waltrip, entered in a Ferrari F430, did not suffer a ‘tar’ fire but had an engine flame-out during warm-up.


Lambo Field. Departure for the Dunlop 24-Hours of Dubai. A field of over 80 cars took the start in the sixth running of the Arabian endurance event. Leading the way from the front row was a pair of Lamborghinis. The inaugural event in 2006 was won by BMW; among the drivers were Hans-Joachim Stuck, who once drove for Bernie-owned Brabham F1 team, and Christian “Toto” Wolf, Austrian businessman, part investor in Williams F1 team and boyfriend of Scottish racer Susie Stoddard.

Photo: BMW Motorsport

BMW. The ultimate winning machine

It took a Swede, Brazilian, American and a German lady to end Porsche’s run of three successive victories in Dubai. The BMW Z4 entered by Need For Speed Team Schubert was driven by Edward Sandström, Augusto Farfus, Tommy Milner and Claudia Hürtgen.

Ferrari F430 of AF Corse and driven by Eppe Perazzini, Michal Broniszewski, Lorenzo Case and Marco Cioci was second. Final podium spot was grabbed by Black Falcon’s Mercedes SLS AMG driven by Thomas Jäger, Kenneth Hayer, Jan Seyffarth and Sean Paul Breslin.

Photo: Luca Cima

F1weekly friend on Lap 57

Umair Khan, a friend of F1weekly residing in Dubai, raced Honda Civic entered by Lap 57 team. They qualified second in their category and were close to a podium finish in their class when the engine quit.

The team is named as a tribute to the inaugural Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix, the first in the Arabian Gulf region which was contested over 57 laps.


Gulf. The Spirit of John Wyer Racing


Dubai’s version of Falcon and Snowman


Belly dancing. Outsourced to Manila Bay

– Nasir Hameed

Warm greetings and Burj Khalifa regards.

Motorsports Mondial

Sacré bleu!

(Reuters) – The Renault Formula One team slapped a silencer on the French national anthem on Thursday after announcing they will race under a British licence this season.

With no active French F1 drivers, and no French grand prix since 2008, Renault were the last ones flying the flag for a country whose heritage and language permeates the sport from chassis to grand prix and on to parc ferme.

British-based sportscar company Lotus, owned by Malaysian carmaker Proton, have joined as title sponsor and significant stakeholder this season after Renault sold their shares in a team that retains their name.

“Lotus is an English manufacturer,” team principal Eric Boullier told after a launch of the team’s new livery at the Autosport International show in Birmingham with their Russian driver Vitaly Petrov.

“I have not announced this before, but we will be running under a British licence now,” added the Frenchman, whose team factory is at Enstone in central England.

“It means that if we win, we will play the British national anthem. And that is important for everybody inside the team. We are rebranding everything inside the company now.”

Renault, world champion constructors in 2005 and 2006, last won a race in 2008 with Spain’s Fernando Alonso, now with Ferrari.

The team’s 2011 line-up partners Petrov with highly-rated Pole Robert Kubica.

The French company also provides engines for Austrian-owned champions Red Bull and the rival Malaysian-backed Team Lotus operation.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin; Editing by Justin Palmer; To query or comment on this story

Motorsports Mondial

Red Bull set to secure Audi engine contract

Back in November it looked very likely that the Volkswagen group were going to enter F1 with the Williams team. This new found interest in Formula One revolved around rumours that the FIA was set to announce new environmentally friendly engine regulations in time for the 2013 season. Since then the FIA has confirmed the new regulations and Volkswagen appears to have changed allegiance.

The 2013 regulations

The major change for to the technical regulations for the 2013 season is the engine regulations, with plans to reduce engine size from the current 2.4 litre V8 engines to 1.6 litre four cylinder turbo engines. These new engines will produce 650bhp which is 100bhp less than the current V8 engines. However, this power deficiency will be recovered using an increased capacity KERS device.

The main reason behind these changes is to make the sport more relevant to the road car industry which is becoming increasingly focused on being environmentally friendly on the back of rising fuel prices and the fact that it is claimed by that the environmental impact of a vehicle is a consideration of car insurance firms.

Formula One’s lack of relevance to the road car industry was a big part of the reason behind Honda and BMW’s withdrawal from the sport in 2008 and 2009 respectively as both manufacturers felt that the sport had become too preoccupied with aerodynamic refinement rather than improving fuel efficiency. It is felt that what is learned from F1 with the regulations in terms of improving fuel efficiency and power output from small capacity engines will therefore be far more likely to be transferable to road car engines.

The Williams approach

Porsche chairman Matthias Mueller announced at the Paris Motor Show in October 2010 that it made no sense for his company to compete against its sister firm Audi in the sports car arena. He therefore publicly advised parent company Volkswagen to place one of the brands in Formula One instead.

Williams were the first to take advantage of this declared interest and it is rumoured that Williams CEO Adam Parr missed the season ending Abu Dhabi grand prix in order to meet VW board members in Qatar in an attempt to persuade them to enter with his team. However, Williams hasn’t won a race in over six years and it appears that Volkswagen felt that the team didn’t meet its required criteria of enabling them to enter a new category and begin winning races straight away. A number of negative comments were uttered by Volkswagen board members about the possibility of entering F1 and it therefore appeared that Volkswagen’s plans to enter F1 would once again be placed on a back burner.

The Red Bull approach

Red Bull had a hugely successful 2010 season, taking both championships with Sebastian Vettel at the wheel. However, the team have been critical of engine partner Renault’s performance over the past two years with claims that the engine is both down on power and unreliable. It is therefore believed that Red Bull opened negotiations with Volkswagen once it became clear that the company’s negotiations with Williams had fallen through.

Red Bull were capable of giving Volkswagen what it wants in that they will be able to enter the sport and have a chance of winning straight away given that Red Bull are the reigning champions; and additionally Volkswagen would have access to the fast young German Sebastian Vettel. Team Boss Christian Horner recently refused to rule out the Volkswagen deal, simply stating that anything was possible and that the team had exciting plans for the future. It should be remembered that Red Bull already has an existing relationship with Volkswagen on the back of joint campaigns in junior motor racing categories F3 and DTM.

The Vettel factor

One thing which could disrupt the whole deal is Sebastian Vettel’s contract. The 2010 World Champion is likely to be a key factor in the attractiveness of Red Bull to the German car manufacturer and if he is no longer part of the deal it could throw the possibility of a deal into doubt. Mercedes GP is believed to be interested in securing Vettel for its team in 2013 as replacement for Michael Schumacher at the end of his three year contract, while Ferrari has also stated an interested in acquiring the services of the young German. Sebastian Vettel could therefore hold the answer as to whether of not Volkswagen will finally enter F1 in 2013.

Mark Martin

F1weekly podcast # 481

Photo: Ben Daniels

Podcast number 481

Motorsports Mondial with Nasir Hameed and

Special repeat interview Nigel Mansell part two.

Lotus Renault GP presentation of the R31 in Valencia Lotus  Renault  GP is  pleased  to  announce  that  the  media  presentation  of  the  team’s  new challenger,  the  R31,  will  take  place  on  Monday  31st  of  January  at  the  Circuit  de  la  Comunitat Valenciana Ricardo Tormo. Lotus Renault GP will then commence its first winter test session on Tuesday 1st of February and will remain in Valencia until Thursday 3rd of February. The schedule for the presentation is as follows:

Monday 31st January 12h00: Car  reveal  and  photo  call  in  front  of  team  garage  with  presentation  of  drivers Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov, Gérard Lopez and Eric Boullier. 13h00 – 14h00:

Interviews by language groups with the drivers and Team Principal Eric Boullier. Briefing with Technical Director James Allison and Rob White, Deputy Managing Director Technical for Renault Sport F1

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Motorsports Mondial

Photo: DPPI

Carlos Sainz takes stage five in Dakar Rally

“I’m happy with my day, especially since dunes, desert and off-track terrain aren’t my favourite type,” said Sainz. “We drove a good special. After 100 km we caught up with then overtook Nasser.

“He had a puncture, but afterwards he clawed back a bit of time on us. Tomorrow it will be me opening the way and the roles will be reversed.”

Sainz is still in second place in the standings, three minutes and 18 seconds behind the Qatari driver, second today ahead of the third Volkswagen of 2009 winner Giniel de Villiers.

“We had a puncture and we lost time, but afterwards we came back again and caught Carlos, finishing in front of him,” Al-Attiyah said. “I’m quite happy to finish today without any problems.

“The car is working very well. Tomorrow it will be very interesting because we start in second position. As the first car, you always lose time. I am sure tomorrow will be better for us and we will try our best. We’ll follow Carlos, just follow…”

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast