Motorsports Mondial

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McLaren dominate in Sepang.

Lewis Hamilton: Yeah, it’s been a good weekend so far. I think it’s been a tough day to be honest with the changeable weather conditions and the temperatures climbing. Made some set up changes to the car, nonetheless we still managed to do some good times but obviously got these guys pushing very hard behind but the guys in the factory are doing a fantastic job.

I think everyone’s under the same amount of pressure. We all put a huge amount of pressure on ourselves and obviously a lot of partners and sponsors are relying on us as well, so it’s very intense and probably the most exciting part of the weekend but it’s something, at least speaking for myself, that I really enjoy.

Jenson Button: Yeah, I think it was a little bit more than that but qualifying has been pretty good to me the last two races so I can’t complain too much. I think it’s good for us as a team to be on the front row again. It’s always nice when your engineer keys-up and you can here all the mechanics in the background cheering because of a one-two. You obviously want it the other way around though but Lewis did a great lap at the start of Q3 and we edged closer but couldn’t quite get there. And you didn’t do too badly from second last week. There’s a long run down to Turn One, it could be quite an explosive start.

I think it’ll be an exciting start and not just for us two on the front row but the Mercedes is renowned, especially Michael, for getting good starts so it’s going to be a fun Turn One I think.

Michael Schumacher: No, I mean this was the maximum that was available. We managed to work the car very well over the whole weekend, we obviously showed potential in Australia, not so much in the race, so focus was obviously to try to find the best compromise and I guess we have achieved this. We’re third here, a very tight business if you look who is behind us, and how close everything is going, we can be more than happy about what we have achieved and look forward now for tomorrow. Is there a concern about the race given what happened in Australia last week?

I guess all of us have concerns because those temperatures are pretty new to us. We have had some preparation yesterday but I guess we have done a decent job. We have learned quite a lesson in Australia, we have reacted, the boys in the factory, and all the team have done a really superb job. I’m more than happy about the progress and how we understand the car and I look forward for tomorrow.

Lotus F1 believe pole was within their grasp.

Kimi Räikkönen set the fifth fastest time whilst Romain Grosjean was seventh quickest in qualifying for tomorrow’s Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang International Circuit. Kimi will start from tenth position on the grid for the race after a penalty for a gearbox change on his car. This moves Romain up to sixth place.

Kimi Räikkönen: “The car was working well today. Unfortunately, I made a couple of mistakes on my fastest lap which probably cost a couple of tenths. Without that, we were in with a shout for pole today. I got a little bit sideways at the exit of turn nine and we lost some time, but that’s how it goes sometimes. We had some issues with KERS yesterday, but there was no repeat today; the car worked exactly as it should and it felt good. It’s a shame we have a penalty on the grid but the car works well. Today was definitely a positive day. Tomorrow we start from tenth and will try to improve from there.”

Romain Grosjean: “It’s great to have both cars in Q3, and I’m really pleased to have been part of the top ten in both of my first two races. The team has done a great job to get the most out of the car, and we can be really pleased that we’re fighting for the top positions. It’s going to be an interesting race tomorrow, and hopefully we can move up even further. You never know what will happen with the weather here, our pace is not too far off the leaders and it will be a long race, so anything is possible. In these conditions managing the tyres is crucial. Qualifying is one thing, but the race will be a whole other matter. I’m looking forward to the race, if we can finish in the top five that would be great, but the most important thing is to get my first points of the season.”

Motorsports Mondial


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Luiz Razia flies to Sepang win

Arden driver dominates opening race of the 2012 season

Luiz Razia is a happy man: a perfect get away from the front row and a flawless drive meant he took a lights to flag win today in the Sepang Feature Race. It was also the first win for the Brazilian’s team Arden International, since Charles Pic in Barcelona Feature Race in 2010. Razia crossed the finish line an impressive 7.8s ahead of Davide Valsecchi. Max Chilton in third pocketed his and Carlin’s first GP2 podium.

It all happened at the start: poleman Valsecchi was slow to get away and dropped to fourth. It was Razia who took the lead entering into Turn 1 and he would never be seen again. Behind him, Fabio Leimer made a perfect start from P5 to pass Valsecchi, Chilton and Stefano Coletti, the Monegasque driver slotting into P3. The young Brazilian rapidly built a 2.3s gap to his closest rival. The battle for P2 commenced and Coletti made a move on Leimer only to make a small mistake which opened a gap for Valsecchi to pass him.

The DAMS ace had his eye on catching Leimer. Running on Option tyres, the Italian was one second faster than the Swiss and by Lap 6 he overtook him to take P2. Razia was by then 5.1s away. Although Valsecchi set the quickest laptime, the Arden man remained in control and maintained the gap. Further down, Leimer had a tough job defending his position to Coletti and Chilton whilst James Calado and Felipe Nasr weren’t lurking too far behind.

Coletti was the first one to pit, soon followed by Leimer and Nasr a lap later. Chilton and Calado also decided to observe their mandatory pistops after that. On Lap 12 Valsecchi pitted and handed P2 to Esteban Gutiérrez, who had  battled from P15 on the grid. Razia pitted from the lead on lap 14 and easily regained it a lap later ahead of Valsecchi who was by then 9.7s away.

Chilton made his way to P3 and spent the rest of the race trying to keep Leimer at bay, while Coletti, Nasr, Calado, Gutierrez, Giedo van der Garde and Fabrizio Crestani fought tooth and nail for the remaining points and tomorrow’s reversed pole position. Gutierrez got through on his teammate after the Brit went a bit too wide at Turn 15 for P7.

Rain started to fall at Turn 6 with four laps to go, but no one had to return to the pits for wet weather tyres and when the flag dropped Razia punched the air with joy, crossing the line 7.8s seconds ahead of Valsecchi, with Chilton, Leimer, Coletti, Nasr, Gutierrez and van der Garde following the front pair nose to tail for P3 to 9, and Crestani 1.7s seconds back for the final points position. Calado will start from pole position tomorrow with Gutiérrez next to him for a 100% Lotus GP front row.

F1Weekly podcast # 563

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F1weekly podcast number 563 Australian GP discussion

Byfieldt Bypass. Today’s edition of Byfieldt Bypass will see some nose scratching by our mate in Australia, Lucien Byfieldt.

This week’s interview is with Javier Garcia Vicente. One of the original listeners of F1Weekly since the beginning. Javier is from Viva Espana and currently residing in Holland. The music featured on the show today is his own composition. Please enjoy this conversation which was recorded minutes after the finish of the Australian GP last weekend.

On the GP2 Front:

Davide Valsecchi bags Sepang pole

DAMS ace quickest in closely fought qualifying session in Malaysia

Davide Valsecchi set the quickest laptime early in today’s qualifying session with a 1:45.494 on his third lap and was never bettered although his rivals came mighty close with the top five drivers finishing within the same tenth of a second. Luiz Razia and Max Chilton completed the top three.

The first qualifying of the 2012 season kicked off with Esteban Gutiérrez taking to the track first and setting the early pace, but his laptime was improved by one hundredth by Johnny Cecotto. Valsecchi claimed P1 and provisional pole in the first third of the session dipping under 1m46. His teammate Felipe Nasr moved up to P2, but only temporarily as a flying Fabio Leimer clocked a laptime good enough to edge out the Brazilian and close in on Valsecchi, a mere 0.09s slower than the Italian.

A yellow flag was given after Rodolfo Gonzalez went a bit too wide and when the track cleared, Chilton was free to push hard and slipped into P2, 0.06s away from Valsecchi’s best time. As most of the drivers re-entered the pits for some fresh rubbers, Stefano Coletti took advantage of a clear track to move up to P3.

The final ten minutes saw an intense battle for pole and it was Razia who was fastest in Sectors 2 and 3 and shot to P2 a shy 0.6s behind Valsecchi. The Italian, Razia, Chilton, Coletti and Leimer finished within the same tenth whilst the top nineteen drivers were covered by 0.9s. James Calado, Jolyon Palmer, Giedo van der Garde, Fabio Onidi and Nasr rounded up the top ten.

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Motorsports Mondial

More Malaysian Grand preview.

Renault Sport F1 will be looking to work with its four partner teams to build on their respective strong starts to the season. Red Bull Racing scored a podium with Sebastian Vettel in Melbourne, with Mark Webber fourth, while Lotus F1 Team secured seventh with Kimi Raikkonen. Williams F1 Team had a competitive start to the year, with Pastor Maldonado racing in the top ten for the duration of the race, while Caterham F1 Team continued to edge closer to the midfield.

• The Malaysian Grand Prix presents a challenge for engines on account of the high ambient temperatures and humidity. Along with Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, the temperatures can reach over 40°C, so engine cooling becomes crucial. The high water content in the atmosphere also displaces air that could otherwise be combusted, and slows the combustion process. These both act to reduce power output, but Renault Sport F1 recreates the climatic conditions on its test cells back at Viry-Châtillon to ensure the engine is fully-optimised for Sepang.

• Monza has the highest percentage of full throttle per lap at around 75% but Sepang features two long straights that are around 850m long. Although the drivers are at full throttle for around 60% of the lap in Malaysia, the race is relatively long in terms of time. As such, the total time spent at full throttle is actually equal, if not slightly more, than at Monza – weather conditions permitting…

• The two long straights run in opposite directions, which helps to dilute the effect of any change in wind direction. Seventh gear selection is also always a compromise between performance in the race and qualifying. Optimising 7th for qualifying will result in a gear that is too long at the start of a race, when the car has a full tank of fuel.

• Wet conditions always provide a tough test for the driveability of the engine. The RSF1 engineers will monitor the on-car torque sensor, to ensure the engine is always providing the torque requested by the driver. The driver can change pedal maps in wet conditions, to help him better modulate the torque application in slippery conditions.

• Keeping the fuel temperature under control is vital in Sepang. The high ambient temperatures can cause fuel to run over the recommended temperatures, meaning a lower grade fuel must be used by engine suppliers. Renault’s fuel partner, Total, produces two types of fuel for use with the RS27. Despite the high Malaysian ambient heat, Renault’s partners are still able to use the highest spec of fuel, as Total and its customers have made progress in understanding the chemical characteristics of the fuel, as well as fuel tank insulation.

• Engines enter the second race of their life cycle. The reliability and consistent performance of the RS27 means all Renault powered drivers will be re-using the Australian engines in Malaysia.

Heikki Kovalainen, Caterham F1 Team
As Malaysia’s one of our two home races we’re always given a very warm welcome when we come here and that’s extra motivation for the whole team to push on in what are clearly pretty tough conditions. As much as it’s challenging for us inside the cockpit, it’s also pretty hard on the car, with the two straights the only chance to relax through the lap. However, this year we’re running with KERS, so even that won’t be easy. We need the Renault engine to deliver responsiveness throughout the mid range, but power down those straights, plus of course the KERS to be on top form to make the most of any opportunities.

Head of Renault Sport F1 track operations Rémi Taffin gives his thoughts on Sepang
We are really looking forward to Malaysia after a competitive performance for all our partners in Australia. It’s not easy doing back to back races at such different tracks, but thanks to the support of the Viry factory and the work conducted on the dyno to optimise the RS27 for the unique Malaysian challenge, we feel very prepared.

Some 25% of the Sepang lap is comprised of straights linked by a hairpin. The straights are an average of 850m each, which means the engine will be at maximum 18,000 revs for approx 12.5 seconds of the average 1min 35sec lap. As a result, we need to deliver engines that have strong top end power. Additionally the straights also provide passing opportunities, so delivering fully functional KERS can be crucial to gaining places. In Australia we were disappointed that we had KERS issues with Red Bull and Caterham, but we have looked carefully at the reasons for the failures and feel we are on top of them now.

The corners either side of the two straights are largely fast and flowing, giving an average speed of 210kph, which also require RSF1 engineers to deliver driveability and responsiveness. This is typically one of the main features of the RS27 so we are quite confident going to this second round of the championship.

Motorsports Mondial

Photo: gp2media

GP2 Malaysia Race Preview

The newly rebranded Caterham Racing embark on the first race of the GP2 season this weekend in Malaysia, the first home race of the season for the Anglo-Malaysian team. The unique atmosphere around one of the most technical circuits of the calendar is a favourite amongst drivers, with the combination of long high-speed straights and tight twisting complexes making the track a tough challenge, but wide enough to create plenty of overtaking opportunities.

Following six days of testing in Jerez and Barcelona the series joins Formula One for the second Grand Prix of the year, with the team’s drivers Giedo van der Garde and Rodolfo Gonzalez both looking forward to the first race of the year in the sweltering Malaysian conditions.

Phill Spencer “I think the whole team is looking forward to getting back to racing. Winter testing went very well with Giedo on the pace straight away and Rodolfo and getting up to speed quickly. We have been working hard on all elements of our race weekends over the winter, in particular focusing on our pitstops, and we have a lot to look forward to in our second season. I feel more confident this time around. The organisation, procedures and the car are second nature to us and if we start this season as we did in 2011 we are in good shape and should be heading for podiums.”

Rodolfo Gonzalez “I am really excited to be in Malaysia for the first event of the season, particularly because the weather here is nice and warm, just like home! After the tests in Spain I have been focusing on all aspects of my race weekend and I am looking forward to putting it all into practice here – my driving, qualifying strategy, the set ups – we just have to get right and put it all together. We want to see progress this weekend and qualify as far up the grid as possible – that’s a reasonable goal and one that gives us something to aim for.

“The track here is good – there are some tough braking points and as the track temperature today was 48 degrees it will definitely be tough on the tyres. It will be interesting to see if people fall off the pace due to tyre degradation during the races this weekend and strategy will be even more important here, especially with the use of the new tyre compounds. Whatever happens, I am sure the competition is going to be as tough as ever and we’ll do the best job we can to fight, right from day one.”

Giedo van der Garde “I am feeling pretty confident and the team is too. We had six very good, productive days of testing and I feel happy with where we are at the moment. I raced here a long time ago and personally I think this is a nice track to compete on. The surface is very smooth and it’s pretty technical – a lot of the corners blend into one another and it doesn’t have a lot of the long straight / slow corner we see elsewhere, so it’s pretty different to the tracks we have been testing at. You have to be fit here because of the heat and humidity and this will have a big effect during the race, but I’m feeling really good – I’ve been training hard and I’m sure I’ll deal with the heat just fine. The most important thing now is to be at the front in qualifying and from there work hard on the race.”

Humphrey Corbett “I am really looking forward to this weekend. We have prepared for this race extremely well and I am very happy with how our cars are performing in both qualifying and race trim. We have done some very quick pit stops recently, but we need to be more consistent – every second counts so we have been working hard on making sure we can be the best in the pitlane at every aspect of a race weekend. The drivers seem happy in qualifying and race modes and it will be very interesting to see during races who has done their homework and who manages to look after their tyres well.  Many of the teams seemed to be doing a lot of qualifying runs in testing and not many long runs. We took the opposite approach so I am keen to see what happens here where managing the tyres will be key to successful races.

“Last season GP2 was very new to me, I have been here many times in the past with Formula One and know the track well, so now with a season under our belt I feel a lot more relaxed approaching this race. We have good people right across the team, two good drivers and a lot of reasons to be positive about the year ahead.”

F1Weekly podcast # 562

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F1weekly podcast number 562 Desiree’s 2012 F1 Grand Preview


The first Hermann Tilke-built Formula One track hosts its 14th Malaysian Grand Prix this year, and it’s endeared itself to the teams and drivers over that period. It has several quick corners, particularly turns 5 and 6, and a couple of long straights and the high ambient temperatures make it a real test of man and machine. Efficient downforce is vital at this track, so expect the best cars to stretch their legs at the front.

Mark Gillan: Chief Operations Engineer: The whole team are really buzzing after the good pace shown in both qualifying and in the race in Melbourne. We are now eager to capitalise on this performance and convert it into points in Malaysia. The Sepang track is a medium speed circuit, which is quite hard on the front tyres. With this in mind, Pirelli have specified both the hard and medium tyres. Despite the high ambient temperatures, humidity and chance of late afternoon rain the likelihood of a safety car is low, and indeed is the lowest of the entire season. Aerodynamically we shall be running a similar package to that in Australia, but will probably have to open up the cooling levels to allow for the increase in ambient temperature.

Pastor Maldonado: The next race in Malaysia will be a real challenge for all the teams due to the hot and humid conditions we find there. The team is feeling positive and our car looks competitive, so we’ll do our best to be in the top 10 again. I feel confident in the team and all the hard work we have done over the winter. I want to carry the momentum we had in Australia forward to get a good result in Malaysia.

Bruno Senna: It is a very tough track, very physical and the heat is a big issue in Malaysia. It will be important to get acclimatised to the heat ahead of the weekend and get a good car set-up for these conditions. We will then try to chip away and continue what we learnt in Australia. I’ve been to Sepang before so I know the track, and I’m looking forward to the race weekend.

Remi Taffin, Head of Renault Sport F1 Track Operations: Malaysia places a very different set of stresses on an engine from Australia. The heat and humidity can present stiff challenges for an engine’s cooling systems that may mean extra holes have to be put in the bodywork to diffuse heat. The safeguards Renault has put in place mean no such measures need to be taken with the RS27 so we can focus entirely on delivering the drivability needed for the flowing corners and those two long straights, which account for 25% of the lap, and building on the strong start in Melbourne.

Paul Hembrey, Pirelli Motorsport Director: For Malaysia we have nominated the P Zero Yellow soft tyre, which was used in Australia, and the P Zero White medium compound, making its debut this year. One of the biggest challenges of Sepang are the tropical conditions, which mean high temperatures, high humidity and the strong chance of a downpour. All these factors, along with quite an abrasive surface, place plenty of demand on the tyres. We have a new evolution of the intermediate and wet tyre – the Cinturato Green and Cinturato Blue – which could see action in Malaysia for the first time.

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The Premiere Motorsport Podcast