Motorsports Mondial

Photo: SaharaForceIndiaFormula1team

Sahara Force India F1 Team Academy drivers take their first step towards F1

The Sahara Force India F1 Team Academy stepped up a gear this month as the team’s three young Indian racers, Arjun Maini, Tarun Reddy and Jehan Daruvala began their European karting careers.

The three youngsters are competing in the British Super One Championship, Britain’s premier kart championship incorporating the KF3 Class MSA British Championships for juniors.

KF3 is an international CIK class using a medium power 125cc water-cooled engine with an electric self-starter and centrifugal clutch. With a standard chassis, single rear brake and bodywork, the karts are capable of producing speeds of up to 115km/h. It’s the ideal proving ground for aspiring racers and has helped produce numerous Formula One stars, including current Sahara Force India racer, Paul Di Resta.

Arjun, Tarun and Jehan’s 2012 KF3 Academy programme will be managed on behalf of Sahara Force India by Ricky Flynn with karts painted in the familiar colours of the Indian flag. They will have legendary kart champion, Terry Fullerton, as their mentor and driver coach, while Louis Di Resta, father of Paul, will help coordinate the project. Together they bring vast knowledge and experience of karting at the highest level.

As the winners of the One From A Billion hunt, Arjun, Tarun and Jehan all carry high expectations on their shoulders. The Academy initiative was designed to identify and nurture young Indian talent to prepare them for careers as future Formula One drivers. Having impressed the judges with their driving ability, fitness levels and media skills, the three teenagers now have the chance to race in one of the most competitive karting championships in Europe.

Dr Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director of Sahara Force India: “Last year we started the search across India and identified three extremely quick and hungry youngsters who now have a great opportunity ahead of them. With a comprehensive development programme mapped out, the Sahara Force India F1 Team Academy will continue to nurture their talent as they take the first steps on a journey that will hopefully lead to Formula One. I will watch their progress with great anticipation.”

Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India race driver: “I was one of the judges during the team’s talent hunt last year and saw the kids through every stage of the competition. All three have impressed me with their speed and commitment, so I think they have the potential to go a long way. I started out in karting when I was seven years old and I believe it is the best preparation for a career in single-seaters. The UK is well known for having some of the best karting championships around so it’s an ideal proving ground for the boys.”

Meet the Class of 2012

14-year-old Arjun Maini was the winner of the One From A Billion hunt last year. Originally from Bangalore, he has six years of karting experience under his belt having competed in India’s Rotax Championship. As a keen sportsman he also excels at table tennis.

Tarun Reddy is also 14 years old and lives in Chennai. Like Arjun, he has raced in the Rotax Kart Championship and enjoys keeping fit by playing sports including squash. Having impressed the judges with his speed and determination last year, he was selected as the first runner-up of the One From A Billion hunt.

Jehan Daruvala is the youngest of the three Academy racers at just 13 years of age. A resident of Mumbai, he has karted extensively over the last three years and raced in the CIK FIA World Championship last year. An impressive performance in the finals of the talent hunt saw the judges award him the position of second runner-up.

Round One

The first round of the season took place at PF International Circuit near Grantham in Lincolnshire last weekend. In mixed weather conditions the boys were unable to break into the top ten of the final, but gained valuable experience of racing in the wet – their first race in such conditions. The boys will look to deliver a more competitive showing in the remaining six rounds of the series, starting at Whilton Mill Circuit near Daventry, UK, on 12th of May.

Motorsports Mondial

 

Photo: Lotusf1

Four Renault-powered drivers finished in the top four of the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

Sebastian Vettel secured the first win of the season for Red Bull Racing-Renault, 3.3secs ahead of Lotus F1 Team-Renault’s Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean. Mark Webber secured fourth for Red Bull Racing-Renault, giving the RS27 a clean sweep of the top four; the first time Renault engines have done so since the 1997 Luxembourg GP when Jacques Villeneuve (Williams-Renault) finished ahead of Jean Alesi (Benetton-Renault), Heinz-Harald Frentzen (Williams) and Gerhard Berger (Benetton).

Caterham F1 Team finished with Vitaly Petrov 16th and Heikki Kovalainen 17th after the latter suffered a first lap puncture. Unfortunately, in the 150th race for the Williams-Renault partnership, both Bruno Senna and Pastor Maldonado retired. Bruno’s race came to an end on lap 54 due to a mechanical issue unrelated to the engine, while Pastor suffered a puncture on lap 25 that caused damage to the bodywork.

Sebastian’s win is the 28th for the Red Bull Racing-Renault package and takes Renault’s tally of wins in F1 to 143. Sebastian now leads the drivers’ championship from Lewis Hamilton and Mark Webber. Red Bull has also moved to the top of the constructors’ championship, with a nine point advantage over McLaren, while Lotus F1 Team has gained three positions to sit in third overall.

Rémi Taffin, Renault Sport F1 head of track operations

It was a fantastic race for Renault Sport F1, with the top four positions all taken by drivers powered by the Renault RS27 engine. It’s the first time we’ve had all three positions on the podium since the 2010 Monaco Grand Prix and the first time in 15 years that we’ve had the top four finishes.

The Bahrain International Circuit is a unique challenge; it’s dusty, very arid and tyre wear is high, meaning fuel consumption can be unpredictable. Today we also had weather conditions we hadn’t seen over the weekend and there was even some rain in the air before the start, which added in another variable.

This makes it one of the harder races of the year for engines and it’s a big testament to the hard work of everyone at Viry-Châtillon to have put in the hours to get this result, particularly after the tough start of the season. It is also a testament to the professionalism of our track teams to manage an internal ‘Renault’ battle so well.

Caterham again showed some good pace, with Vitaly fighting with the Toro Rossos. It was a shame Heikki could not take advantage of his excellent starting position, but the relative performance of the team is improving and we now go back to the more normal circuits of Europe with a few developments in the pipeline.

Unfortunately the 150th race for the Williams-Renault package didn’t go exactly to plan, but the race pace was again pretty good and if Pastor had not had the tyre failure we could have got another Renault-powered car into the points. We’ve now got a three week gap until Spain and a test in Mugello so there’s a lot of chance to keep this momentum going.

Motorsports Mondial

 

Vettel holds off Kimi’s Lotus for victory in Bahrain.

Sebastian Vettel:“It’s a very tight season, the cars are very close to each other and small things can make a huge difference on a Sunday.

I think we started the season saying that the McLaren is the fastest car by quite a bit and we’ve seen that on Sunday it can be a different picture. I think they still have one of the strongest packages.

But you need to get everything right, you need to have the right tyres, you need to treat them right, you need to find the right set-up through the course of the weekend, so a lot of things to look out for.” I am very happy we made it to victory here. We were not quite sure how competitive we would be.

I think China was a very good lesson for us to understand the weakness of the car a little bit more by driving with two different packages. Here we focused on the new package and pushing that forward. I’m just happy for now, I don’t really care what happens in the next race, at least not today. I think we will have a good time now and push harder so that we make sure we are there again next race”.

Kimi Räikkönen: “It’s a great result for the team and we deserve it as everyone has been working very hard. To be honest, I’m slightly disappointed we didn’t take the win because we had the pace. I only had one chance to overtake Sebastian (Vettel) and unfortunately I chose the wrong side to try and get past. If I hadn’t made a small mistake at the start and allowed Felipe (Massa) to get through then maybe it would have been a different story, as we spent quite a lot of time fighting with him. At the end of the day, it’s good to have both cars on the podium, especially after last race which didn’t go to plan, but I honestly think we could have taken the victory today.”

Romain Grosjean: “It’s a great feeling to get my first podium, and I’m really proud of the whole team for doing an incredible job today. We’ve known all season how quick the car can be, but with such a tight field any small mistakes can make a huge difference. Today I think we got everything right, and we’ve finally been able to prove how competitive we are. Last week I was aiming for my first points, this week I was hoping for top five, but here we are on the podium so who knows where we can go from here! We can be very happy with what we’ve achieved today; hopefully we can now head to the Mugello test and find that last bit of to push us right to the top.”

Pos Driver Team Time
 1.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault           1h35:10.990
 2.  Raikkonen     Lotus-Renault              +     3.300
 3.  Grosjean      Lotus-Renault              +    10.100
 4.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +    38.700
 5.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +    55.400
 6.  Di Resta      Force India-Mercedes       +    57.500
 7.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +    57.800
 8.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           +    58.900
 9.  Massa         Ferrari                    +  1:04.900
10.  Schumacher    Mercedes                   +  1:11.400
11.  Perez         Sauber-Ferrari             +  1:12.700
12.  Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes       +  1:16.500
13.  Vergne        Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +  1:30.300
14.  Kobayashi     Sauber-Ferrari             +  1:33.700
15.  Ricciardo     Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +     1 lap
16.  Petrov        Caterham-Renault           +     1 lap
17.  Kovalainen    Caterham-Renault           +     1 lap
18.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           +     1 lap
19.  Glock         Marussia-Cosworth          +    2 laps
20.  De la Rosa    HRT-Cosworth               +    2 laps
21.  Karthikeyan   HRT-Cosworth               +    2 laps
22.  Senna         Williams-Renault           +    3 laps

Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:36.379

Valsecchi wins dramatic Sprint Race in Bahrain

Perfect end to a perfect weekend for the DAMS driver

It was another good day at the office today for Davide Valsecchi: the DAMS ace pocketed a second consecutive win in Bahrain this Sunday in Bahrain, from P8 on the grid. The Italian spoiled Esteban Gutierrez’ race when he passed the Mexican on the last lap and dashed to the chequered flag. James Calado completed the podium.

Action-packed seemed to have been the key word again this morning as the twenty-six GP2 cars made their way to the grid for the Sprint Race. The start was aborted when Felipe Nasr who was last on the grid stopped a few meters away from his starting position. More drama occurred when Tom Dillmann stalled from P3 for the second formation lap. Both men were pushed back into the pitlane and had to settle for a start from there.

When the lights went off, Calado made the perfect gateway from P4 to take the lead. Fabio Leimer and Gutierrez also made their way to P2 and P3 respectively, but the Mexican quickly found a way round the Swiss and after just one lap into the race, both Lotus GP cars were in control of the rest of the pack. The teammates started a battle of their own with Gutierrez putting immense pressure on Calado. As they were busy fighting off each other, Leimer snuck past Gutierrez and then easily overtook the Brit for the lead on Lap 5.

Calado started to struggle and was unable to keep his teammate at bay. Gutierrez took P2 and tried to close in on Leimer, but the Racing Engineering driver maintained a good pace to build a comfortable gap. Behind the top three, Max Chilton set his sights on Calado. Valsecchi in sixth overtook Luiz Razia and started to pick up the pace. He first passed Chilton and then closed in on a slower Calado before overtaking him for P3.

Leimer was enjoying a 2.3s lead on Gutierrez when he was given a drive through penalty for ignoring yellow flags which handed the lead back to Gutierrez and put Calado on the podium. Further down the pack, the battle intensified between Chilton and Razia, the latter eventually getting rid of the feisty Brit for P4. At the front, Valsecchi reduced the gap from 2.4s to one second with Gutierrez, and on the last lap he inevitably got past the Mexican to cross the finish line just three tenths ahead of Gutierrez.

Calado managed to retain P3 ahead of Razia, Chilton, Nasr (who made an incredible come back from last), Jolyon Palmer and Simon Trummer. Valsecchi now leads the drivers’ standings on 70 points with Razia on 57. Gutierrez stands in third place six points ahead of his teammate Calado whilst Chilton is fifth on 35 points.

The third round of the 2012 GP2 Series will take place next week on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th of April at the Bahrain International Circuit.

Motorsports Mondial

 

Photo: gp2media

Valsecchi victorious in Bahrain Feature Race

Davide Valsecchi has once again proved his speed and skills at the Bahrain International Circuit: the DAMS ace dominated today’s feature race from start to finish in spite of a safety car period around mid-race. Valsecchi crossed the finish line 7.7s ahead of Luiz Razia. Esteban Gutiérrez snatched third place over Max Chilton on the last lap.

When the lights went out, Valsecchi made the perfect start and kept the lead from Gutiérrez. Further down, Johnny Cecotto made his way to P3 whilst Razia moved up from eighth on the grid to P5, sneaking in behind Felipe Nasr. From then on, Valsecchi pulled away and started to build up a gap that none of his closest rivals could ever reduce.

James Calado was the first of the top ten drivers to pit on Lap 8. On track, Razia was on a mission and passed Nasr for P4 at Turn 1. At the front, Valsecchi was already 6.4s ahead of Gutierrez, so the Mexican decided to pit and so did Razia, but a problem on the Lotus GP man’s rear right tyres meant that he when he rejoined the track he had dropped behind Calado, Razia and Chilton (who had pitted one lap earlier).

When Valsecchi pitted on lap 13, he handed the lead to Fabio Leimer, but the Italian was back in control of the pack a lap later when the Racing Engineering man re-entered the pits. Nathanaël Berthon then in P2 and who still had to observe his mandatory pitstop was much slower than his pursuers and Chilton – the closest one – was eager to pass him, but it was Calado who took advantage of the battle in front of him to sneak ahead of the pair.

The battle for P6 intensified and ended in tears for Nasr and Cecotto. The two cars collided and stopped on track calling for a safety car period. Valsecchi’s efforts to build a comfortable gap of 11.4s was reduced to nothing, and at the restart he pulled away again from Calado. The British rookie started to struggle on his tyres and it became more and more difficult to fend off Razia’s attacks. The Brazilian finally got through on Calado to claim P2. In response, Valsecchi pushed even harder and set the quickest laptime. Chilton and Gutierrez also overtook Calado and started a fight of their own for P3 that lasted until the last lap: the Carlin racer tried with all his might to block the Lotus man, but Gutierrez eventually passed him in a gutsy move to step onto the podium.

At the chequered flag, Valsecchi crossed the finish line ahead of Razia and Gutierrez. Chilton was fourth ahead of Calado. Tom Dillmann – back from P15 on the grid – was sixth and scored his first points in GP2, a just reward to a fantastic race from the French rookie. Leimer was seventh ahead of Fabio Onidi, Rio Haryanto and Brendon Hartley, the latter who had started from last on today’s grid. Onidi will start from tomorrow’s Sprint Race in reverse pole position.

Motorsports Mondial

 

The Finger is back as Vettel takes pole in Bahrain.

Sebastian Vettel: “Obviously it feels great and this one I will give to the team and the guys

It wasn’t an easy start to the season for us – surely a lot of expectations but more than anything it was what we expect from ourselves. It did not match our expectation.

We worked hard on the car, trimming here and there to find the right way forward. The boys did not have much sleep the last few races – a tough race in China and here a serious lack of sleep, so I’m happy to be on pole.

Both of us owe the result to the team. The car felt better all weekend. I did not have the best early part of qualifying in Q1 and Q2, but knew when I got lap in we could nail it – so I am very happy.

The balance I had in particular in the first two races, I was not happy [with], so we decided in China to go back and see where we were, and Mark wanted to carry on [with the newer package.

It was good to get a straight comparison. We found the new car and new package, and old package has its advantages. We ended up with the new car. I think it helped us going into this weekend, trying to set up the car, working with the tyres – which seems to be tricky this year.

So we have felt a bit happier all around.

I think it is always tough, the race here is long and a lot of things can happen. We are pretty aggressive and we should be better off in the race.

Race pace has proven to be pretty consistent in the last couple of races. At this one I am definitely happier with how the car feels.”

Pos Driver Team Time 
 1.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1m32.422s  
 2.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1m32.520s  +  0.098
 3.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1m32.637s  +  0.215
 4.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1m32.711s  +  0.289
 5.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1m32.821s  +  0.399
 6.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m32.912s  +  0.490
 7.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault          1m33.008s  +  0.586
 8.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1m33.394s  +  0.972
 9.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                No time
10.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   No time
11.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault          1m33.789s  +  1.367
12.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1m33.806s  +  1.384
13.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes   1m33.807s  +  1.385
14.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1m33.912s  +  1.490
15.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault       1m34.017s  +  1.595
16.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault       1m36.132s  +  3.710
17.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1m34.865s  +  2.443
18.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1m35.014s  +  2.592
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault       1m35.823s  +  3.401
20.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth      1m37.683s  +  5.261
21.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth           1m37.883s  +  5.461
22.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault       No time
23.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth      1m37.905s  +  5.483
24.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth           1m38.314s  +  5.892

F1Weekly podcast # 569

 

Photo: gp2media

Davide Valsecchi flies to Bahrain pole position

Davide Valsecchi was once again untouchable during today’s qualifying session at the Bahrain International Circuit: he put his DAMS car at the top of the timesheets early on and his laptime of 1:41.200 was never bettered. With this result, Valsecchi pockets his second pole position of the 2012 season. Esteban Gutiérrez and Felipe Nasr finished P2 and P3 respectively.

It was slightly cooler as the twenty-six GP2 cars fed onto the track. Johnny Cecotto set the early pace, but on his third lap and on Option Pirelli tyres, Valsecchi dipped under the 1m42s, setting the fastest first and second sectors. Gutiérrez on his third attempt as well was also able to break the 1m42s barrier but ended a tenth shy off the Italian. Rookie Stéphane Richelmi found his way to P3 ahead of Max Chilton, but the pair were pushed back when Nasr moved up to third.

Ten minutes into the session and Series leader Luiz Razia shot to P4, 0.6s behind Valsecchi. The Italian then improved by one tenth for good measure. The proceedings were red flagged following a small collision between Brendon Hartley and Giedo van der Garde. The Caterham racer overtook the Ocean man in the last corner. During the manoeuvre the two cars touched slightly and Hartley’s front wing came off. Debris was left on the track thus calling for a quick red flag. Along with the rest of the field, the Kiwi driver re-entered the pits to have his car fixed and was able resume his session.

At the restart, all eyes returned to the timesheets. Marcus Ericsson found some extra pace to move up to P5, but Fabio Leimer also improved and made his way to P4 ahead of Cecotto and Ericsson. No one however could match Valsecchi’s pace and with three minutes to spare, Gutiérrez, Nasr and Leimer re-entered the pits and chose to end their session early in order to save their tyres. Two minutes later, Ceccoto, Richelmi, Ericsson and Calado did the same.

At the chequered flag, Valsecchi enjoyed his new success while Gutiérrez and Nasr also celebrated their best qualifying ever. Leimer will start from P4 ahead of Cecotto, Richelmi, (Marcus Ericsson will be dropped ten places following a grid penalty picked up in Malaysia Sprint Race), James Calado, Razia, Chilton and Rio Haryanto.

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