F1Weekly podcast # 522

F1weekly podcast number 522

Motorsports Mondial with and Nasir Hameed and

Lucien Byfieldt’s Historical F1 segment.

The Formula One World Championship restarts with one of the classic races on the calendar, the Belgian Grand Prix, held at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit: a 7.004km rollercoaster loop through the hills and forests of the Ardennes area. Over 70% of the circuit is taken at maximum throttle, making it a stiff challenge for drivers, but particularly for engines that need to deliver good top end power, driveability and responsiveness to negotiate the fast, flowing corners such as the famed Eau Rouge and Blanchimont and the tight Bus Stop chicane and La Source hairpin.

Belgian Grand Prix facts and figures

– Spa is longest circuit on the calendar by some margin – a lap is 7.004km; the next longest is Silverstone at 5.891km. Over 70% of the track is taken at full throttle, which equates to 4.903km – longer than the entire Circuit de Catalunya!

– Over one lap the engine will have a total wide open throttle time of 43secs. There are two principle ‘straights’ – the first from Turn One, the La Source hairpin, through Eau Rouge and up to Les Combes on the Kemmel Straight. The RS27 engine will be at maximum revs (18,000rpm) for 23secs on this section. The second long straight is 23secs from Stavelot to the Bus Stop chicane where the RS27 engine will be at max revs for 20secs

– The track goes downhill from La Source before climbing 80m through Eau Rouge to Les Combes. This is particularly tough for the RS27 engine as there are a lot of lateral G-forces, approx +3g to -4g and then 5g to -3g going over the crest of the hill. The pressure can affect the flow of lubricants through the hydraulic and lubricant systems

 – The La Source hairpin is the slowest part of the track where drivers drop to just 70kph and 8,700rpm. However the long straight afterwards requires the engine to pick up very quickly so Renault Sport F1 engineers create maps that enable the drivers to have smooth, but rapid, acceleration on the long straight

– The length of the circuit and its geographical location in the forest-clad hills means there are often microclimates over the course of a lap; it could be raining in one location but dry in another. Engine maps are therefore created to be a compromise to give as much flexibility as possible. Ironically the ban on changing engine maps between qualifying and the race is likely to have very little impact here as conditions can change so quickly

Mark Webber:

The Belgian Grand Prix is one of the toughest races of the year, but also one of the most enjoyable as it’s such a challenge to put together a perfect lap. You’ll tackle every sort of corner and weather condition over the weekend, which means you need to be on top of your game every single session. As a result you need to know that the engine is reliable and driveable so you can concentrate on getting the most from yourself. Top end power needs to be there so you can attack corners like Eau Rouge and Stavelot that you’ll be taking in top gear at maximum revs but responsiveness is also crucial to get the pick up out the slower corners such as the Bus Stop chicane and La Source. Good engine mapping and management can make a huge difference over such a long lap.’

Rémi Taffin:

Spa-Francorchamps is a circuit that gives us the ‘most’ of everything. It’s the longest, the most changeable weather conditions, but from an engineer’s perspective it’s the most enjoyable as it’s so much of a challenge. The driver will encounter every sort of corner possible so we, as engineers, have to consider how to get the RS27 to perform over all levels of torque and revs.

We need the engine to deliver a smooth power curve through the flowing corners like Blanchimont and Eau Rouge but also to be responsive out of the slower hairpins and chicanes. There are also two notable braking zones: the first corner hairpin, made more difficult by being downhill, and then the Bus Stop where the car brakes from 310kph to just 75kph – putting the engine internals under huge pressure. The long straights and long wide open throttle times also demand a good 7th gear ratio, essential for a good lap time, so you can see we need to be completely on top of every area of performance.

Getting the mapping right, while also allowing enough flexibility to deal with the changeable weather, means it’s one of the circuits we spend the most time on in the dyno; approx 4.5 hours and a further five hours calibration. In fact we use Spa as a control circuit to test an engine’s reliability as it puts so much strain on the internal parts. With such huge demands exerted, we’ll be using fresh engines for this race with each of our partners to give them as much power as possible.

Renault Sport F1 also observed the two week FOTA shutdown period. The Viry site was closed the middle week between the Hungarian and Belgian Grands Prix, with the 250 staff taking a further one week either before or after the closure.

Renault engines have won at the track on five occasions, the first coming in 1983 with Alain Prost (Renault). Ayrton Senna (Lotus-Renault) took the win in 1985 before Damon Hill won for Williams on consecutive years in 1993 and 1994 and Michael Schumacher in 1995 with Benetton.

Red Bull Racing-Renault’s Mark Webber took pole position last year and finished second in the race.

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Motorsports Mondial

   World Series by Wickens

 Photo. Gilles Levent/DPPI


Robert Wickens, the talented Toronto driver, is flying high this season in Formula Renault 3.5 Series, also known as World Series by Renault. Round seven took place over the weekend at Silverstone to a packed house; thanks to British propensity for anything motorsports colliding with a rare commodity in today’s (racing) world……

Free tickets can be downloaded from the series website and the weekend festivities also include support races featuring Renault Megane and Clio championships; and a Renault road-show of their vintage race and rally cars.

The main show of domination this weekend was provided by the 22-year old Canadian, who scored a perfect weekend despite arriving late for Sunday’s qualifying after getting stuck in traffic. The race crowd was estimated to be over 100,000.

In qualifying for the first race of the weekend on Saturday, Wickens grabbed his fifth pole of the season with a time of 1m 45.015s and stated his goal, “My aim this weekend is to retake the championship lead.”

Californian Alexander Rossi made it an all-North American front row by qualifying second. The Nevada City native was happy with his performance and was quoted on World Series by Renault website saying; “I like this circuit, the weather’s fine and there are a lot of people so everything’s sunshine and roses!”

It was an added pleasant surprise for pole-sitter Wickens when championship leader and Carlin teammate, Jean-Eric Verge, was unable to get away for the formation lap and had to start from the pit lane.  Wickens, after making a perfect start, along with Rossi and Daniel Ricciardo pulled away from the rest of the field.

Rossi, driving for Fortec Motorsports, was relentless in his pursuit of Wickens. The hunter, however, became the hunted late in the race when Ricciardo moved ahead to grab second in his ISR Team machine. The Aussie then began his own pursuit of Wickens but ran out of time despite setting the fastest lap of the race.

For Wickens it was win number three of the season and mission accomplished. Main rival Vergne put on a spirited drive but finished outside the points in 13th place, handing championship lead to his teammate.

The importance of which was not lost on Wickens; “It’s an important victory in terms of the rest of the championship. And it feels good.”

Sunday. Double the pleasure

Race winner from Saturday was missing from the first 15 minutes of qualifying on Sunday morning for the second race.

Wickens, “I didn’t expect so much traffic on the roads this morning. I was on time, but it took me an hour to do the final kilometers to the circuit. So I began practice with a strange feeling. It all turned out okay as Carlin again gave me a perfect car. All the ingredients are present for another good race!”

The ingredients were cooking in qualifying also; the new championship leader again set the fastest time and this time shared the front row with his teammate Vergne. Czech team ISR filled the second row with Frenchman Nathanaël Berthon and Ricciardo.

Wickens’ second victory of the weekend was secured over Rossi, the American racer charged up to second place from sixth on the grid only to run into post-race turbulence. Ricciardo was third. Vergne’s fifth place finish enabled Carlin Motorsports to clinch their first teams’ championship in the series.

Wickens now leads the championship with 198 points; Vergne is second on 164 points; and Ricciardo, despite missing some events due to F1 commitments, is third with 125 points.


Photo. World Series by Renault Media


Nutty situation

Both Fortec drivers, second place finisher Rossi and Cesar Ramos, were later disqualified for wheel nut infringement. The Daventry-based English team led by Richard Dutton is appealing.

Autosport.com is reporting that a Renault Sport spokesman said that the wheel nuts had been modified to improve the speed of the pit stops.

The series travels to south of France for the penultimate round at Circuit Paul Ricard on September 17-18. Barcelona will host the season finale, October 8-9.


— Nasir Hameed


   Greetings and Northants regards.


Motorsports Mondial

On the outside looking in

Winning the Official F1 feeder series is no guarantee for entry into ‘Piranha Club.’ Some champions are more equal than others. F1 Weekly looks at some GP2 drivers who may graduate to the top echelon in 2012

Photo. GP2 Media

Romain Grosjean The banker from Geneva is all set to win the GP2 crown this year. Now under new management. i.e. Gravity – free from the chain, chain, chain of Signor Briatore, Grosjean is being groomed by Eric Boullier to take a seat at Renault next year. He could be their main man if Kubica is unable to find his Krakow karma when he gets back in the cockpit of an F1 car.

Grosjean was very quick in his brief karting career, and has been very successful in every series he has raced in.

Photo. GP2 Media

Jules Bianchi Very impressive CV from the moment he started in Formula Renault. Has been under Nicholas Todt management for some years now. Won F3 Euro Series championship in dominating fashion.

Graduated to GP2 last year and did well in the shortened Asian series earlier this race. Much was expected this season in main GP2 series but the spotlight has been stolen by fellow Francaise Romain Grosjean.

Bianchi is part of Ferrari Driver Development programme and as recently as few weeks ago Stefano Domenichelli gave his blessing to Bianchi saying “he has the speed and it’s just a matter of putting the package together.” Rumors are now flying Bianchi may be seen at Williams replacing Rubinho.

Photo. GP2 Media

Sam Bird The 24-year old English chap is bloody quick, won a GP2 race in his maiden season last year, and is currently fifth in the 2011 championship. His previous race winning experience includes Formula BMW, Formula Renault and Formula 3 which includes a third place finish in Macau.

He is with Isport International and was on pole for the Monaco GP2 race but stalled at the start. Has the backing of Mercedes Benz and could be a star of the future.

Nico Hülkenberg Pole position in Sao Paulo in his rookie F1 season did not carry the weight of PDVSA’s petro dollars that came with his replacement at Williams. Hülkenberg made his name in the entry level Formula BMW Germany series where he won the championship in his rookie year. Like Grosjean, “The Hulk” has won every championship he has raced in before reaching the slippery slopes of Formula Uno. The GP 2 championship was won in his first attempt. He is no longer managed by Willi Weber and has been quoted recently saying he will look at all options for 2012 including Indy car racing. Chances are Dr Vijay Mallya may swap one German driver for another at Force India for 2012.


— Nasir Hameed


Greetings and Haa Pay Dos Regards!

Motorsports Mondial

Wickens shows no signs of jet lag

Carlins Robert Wickens only returned from Canada a few days ago, but he was back in the groove immediately at Silverstone and was the fastest man in collective testing for the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. The Canadian finished the day in front of Nick Yelloly (Pons Racing), who made a convincing debut in the discipline, and Jack Rosensweig (Mofaz Racing). Fortec Motorsports driver Alexander Rossi, meanwhile, was the best performer in the morning session. With more than half the field separated by less than one second, the qualifying sessions should once again be wide open.

After a summer break of several weeks, 26 drivers were present today for collective testing in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. Walter Grubmuller (P1 Motorsport) was making his comeback after recovering from his accident at the Nürburgring, while Nick Yelloly was appearing in the discipline for the very fist time.

It was Nelson Panciatici (KMP Racing) who set the early pace in the first collective testing session. However, the Frenchman only held his lead for a few short minutes, with Brendon Hartley, Daniel Ricciardo and then Alexander Rossi all replacing him in first place. Hartley, Ricciardo and Rossi all shared the lead, but it was Ricciardo promoted to first-choice driver for HRT F1 Team at the recent British Grand Prix who took control of the session with a time of 1:49.210.

Soon afterwards, Alexander Rossi turned up the heat by recording the days first time of below 1:49. The American set the tone, but he was soon outperformed by Jean-Eric Vergne and then Ricciardo. Daniel Zampieri (BVM Target) set a new benchmark with a lap of 1:47.956, before Ricciardo regained control of proceedings and subsequently ran off the track. The Australian did not improve any further after his off-track detour, leaving Vergne and Rossi with the chance to seize the initiative. It was Rossi who recorded the best time with a lap of 1:47.192, closely followed by Vergne, Ricciardo, Yelloly and ISRs Nathanaël Berthon.

The drivers took to the track with light aerodynamic configurations for the afternoon session. Brendon Hartley (Gravity-Charouz) set about recording the fastest lap right from the start, and he led for a large part of the session. Following behind was Robert Wickens, who had experienced throttle problems in the morning session, and Ricciardo. Rossi was the first driver to improve on his best time from the morning session, while Vergne in turn recorded the fastest lap with a time of 1:46.970. The session was then interrupted after Tech 1 Racings Arthur Pic went off the track.

When the green flag eventually came out, several drivers returned to the track on fresh tyres. The change appeared to boost Wickens, as he went on to set the fastest lap of the day with a time of 1:46.419. The Marussia Virgin Racing reserve driver finished the day on top, ahead of debutant Yelloly, Jack Rosenzweig, Ricciardo and Vergne.

Daniel Ricciardo: The most unsettling difference between Formula One and the Renault 3.5 Series is actually the driving position. In the FR 3.5 Series, I sit a lot lower than I do in F1, and it caused a few problems this morning. Im really happy to be back in the championship and back behind the wheel of this car. We have the same way of working and were high up in the pecking order. I like this circuit, and I need victories.

Daniel McKenzie: We did a good job today. You really have to find the right pace on this circuit, so we had to string laps together. Its always special to drive on home soil. Ill be welcoming a lot of professional partners and friends here this weekend, so I need to get good results.

Nick Yelloly: Those were my first laps in the Formula Renault 3.5 today. The first thing that struck me was the difference in speed along the straights compared with the GP3. After that, I had to get used to the cars strong downforce and the carbon brakes. Ill also have to learn about pitstops, so theres a lot to take in. Its fortunate that I know this circuit well.

F1Weekly podcast # 521

F1weekly podcast number 521

Motorsports Mondial with Nasir Hameed

Steve Falb takes over whilst Clark remains in France

No post-holiday hangover for Alex Lynn

Alex Lynn is the current leader in the Formula Renault 2.0 UK, and if his early form at Silverstone is anything go by, he could be in for a good weekend on home soil. The Fortec Motorsports man made an impressive start to the meeting, finishing as the day’s strongest performer ahead of Carlos Sainz Jr. (Koiranen Motorsport) and Robin Frijns (Josef Kaufmann Racing). Stoffel Vandoorne was the fastest man on the track in the morning session, and he will certainly be one of the drivers to watch this weekend.

In bright sunshine at Silverstone, it was down to the drivers in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 to kick off the weekend’s action. The famous track was still damp in places as the championship hopefuls set out for a day of collective testing. Several drivers were returning to action after their summer holidays, with Ed Jones (Fortec Motorsports) the only new face in the field. Jones, originally from Dubai, has already appeared in the Formula Renault 2.0 UK, but he was making his debut in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0.

The morning session was interrupted very early on, after Interwetten.com Junior Team driver Sandy Stuvik went off the track. The action resumed shortly after the incident, however, and Daniil Kvyat, Carlos Sainz Jr. and championship leader Robin Frijns wasted no time in making their presence felt. Frijns held the edge over the Koiranen Motorsport pair at the session’s mid-point with a flying lap of 2:09.995. Some impressive times were clocked thereafter, and it was Stoffel Vandoorne – buoyed by a successful summer in the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC – who took control of the session with a time of 2:09.773.

The drivers became stronger as the track surface improved, and the lead continued to change hands right into the last minutes of what was an action-packed session. Frijns was the first driver to record a time below 2:06, and he will no doubt have been confident of finishing the session on top. However, he found himself upstaged right at the end of the morning session, first by Sainz Jr and then by Vandoorne. It was Vandoorne, with a time of 2:04.557, who finished the first collective testing session on top, followed by Henrique Martins (Cram Compétition) and Oscar Andres Tunjo (Josef Kaufman Racing).

The pace picked up considerably at the start of the afternoon session. Sainz Jr. briefly held the fastest time of the day with a lap of 2:01.529, but this appeared to spark Frijns into life. Indeed, the Dutchman responded with a flying lap of 2:01.286. At this point, Formula Renault 2.0 UK leader Alex Lynn weighed in by setting the third fastest lap of the day. The British driver eclipsed Frijns’ effort with a lap of 2:00.972 and moved up into first, only to see Paul-Loup Chatin (Tech 1 Racing) come out with an even better time. Lynn left it until the dying stages of the session to make is final attempt, and recorded a time of 1:59.293 to finish the day in front, ahead of Frijns, Vandoorne, Kvyat and fellow Brit Will Stevens.

What they said:

Stoffel Vandoorne: “We did a good job over the two sessions and we’re in the mix. I didn’t really have a summer break, as we had two rounds of the Formula Renault 2.0 NEC to compete in. I managed three podium finishes in four races. I’ve already finished on the podium this season, and now I want to win.”

Will Stevens: “It’s a real pleasure to be driving on home soil, especially at Silverstone, which is my favourite circuit. We still have work to do and there’s still room to improve our car, but we’re on a good pace. After my performance in Hungary, I really need to score a lot of points. It was a bad weekend, but that’s the way it is. We now need to bounce back, and to do that we absolutely need two very good results here.”

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Motorsports Mondial


American racing driver Alexander Rossi heads to the newly re-developed Silverstone circuit in the UK this week ready to close in on the 2011 World Series by Renault Championship title.

The Fortec Motorsports driver is determined to qualify at the sharp end of the pack and score points once again as the series enters its final stages. With three rounds and six races remaining of the 2011 season, Alexander has everything to play for as he currently sits in fourth place in the Championship on 101 points, with his Fortec team in second place in the Constructors’ Championship.

Host to some of the world’s most prestigious sporting events, Silverstone circuit is considered by many drivers to be quick and challenging. With five track layouts now available, it is one of the most versatile circuits and is best known as the home of the ‘iconic’ British Grand Prix which it first hosted in 1948.
Alexander Rossi “Usually the longest amount of time that I find myself out of a race car is in the offseason, so this big gap in the season was something new for me and all I can say is that I am very excited to be back on track next weekend. We came off of Budapest with good momentum and it will be vital for us to carry this forward to Silverstone in search of our second win of the season. This is a very familiar circuit to me, especially the new Grand Prix version, so I have full confidence in our ability to be on pace in order to fight our way back into title contention. It’s similar to Spa in the sense that it continues to reward the brave as the corners are mostly high-speed in a rhythmic succession.  The team and I began our preparations last week and are working well to maximize every opportunity presented to us on and off track.”

 Jamie Dye, Team Manager, Fortec Motorsport “We got back into the swing last week by attending a semi private test at Snetterton. The test went really well; Alexander was as cool as always and helped conduct half a day of aero runs which we hope will optimise our Silverstone set up. He also got a chance to run two new sets of tyres and at the end of the day he was happy with everything. Further preparation will be a simulator day on Wednesday followed by some video and track walks on Thursday this week. Alexander has really put a lot of effort in to training this summer and we wish him all the best for the weekend. Fortec had the pole at Silverstone in 2010 and are confident we can do it again.”
World Series by Renault round seven takes place on 20th – 21st August 2011 at Silverstone circuit, UK.

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