The huge 2014 grid lines up for the Season Launch at Donington Park

BTCC


The huge 2014 grid lines up for the Season Launch at Donington Park

The huge 2014 grid lines up for the Season Launch at Donington Park

BTCC confirms huge grid for 2014 season

Seven champions spearhead impressive racing line-up

The Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship has today (18 March) confirmed a huge 31-car grid for the forthcoming 2014 season. Announced at its annual Season Launch at Donington Park, all BTCC machines will run to NGTC (Next Generation Touring Car) specifications for the very first time.

Allocation of the newly introduced TOCA BTCC licences (TBLs), required for teams in order to guarantee participation for the next three seasons, has exceeded the original allowance of 30, with TOCA approving 31 entries for the new season. All TBL holders are obliged to contest every round while TOCA has retained one final TBL, which it may loan to a suitable entry at any stage during the year.

As noted above, the entry list is completely made up of NGTC cars, which completes the planned final transition to the new specification machines since the introduction of the regulations in 2011. Not only does this year’s grid boast incredible strength in numbers, but the NGTC rules have also significantly aided the diversity of cars now seen on the entry list. 14 models from 11 different manufacturers will be represented in 2014, with the total number of cars on-track expected to be the largest in the series’ 2-litre history.

Adding to the impressive numbers and variety in the 2014 line-up, a quality field has also been further enhanced with seven champions making the grid, and a further five drivers having already won BTCC races.

Stability and longevity among its partners and sponsors also remains a key asset to the BTCC with all of its major ongoing commercial partners cemented for multi-year deals. For example, Dunlop has extended its title sponsorship and tyre supply term and ITV will continue to broadcast live coverage of every event until at least the end of the 2016 season. The Haymarket Consumer Media group has also joined the BTCC’s family of partners after inking a three-year deal to provide extensive and in-depth BTCC content across all of its major publications, with Autocar, WhatCar? and PistonHeads.com at the forefront of the agreement.

This year’s Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship will again comprise of 30 races across ten events at nine venues around the UK, with the season commencing at Brands Hatch on 30/31 March and concluding on the legendary Grand Prix circuit at the same venue on 10/11 October.

Magnificent Seven

The BTCC field will include an unprecedented seven champions in its ranks, headed by reigning supremo Andrew Jordan who took his maiden title during an unforgettable 2013 season. Jordan fended off four former champions last season and the 24-year-old will defend his title in the Pirtek Racing Honda Civic.

2012 champ Gordon Shedden fell short of retaining the crown by just seven points last season. The Scotsman and his three-time champion team-mate Matt Neal both remain with Honda Yuasa Racing in 2014, but the duo will be piloting the all-new Civic Tourer model.

Jason Plato has won more BTCC races than any other driver in history and despite the MG driver coming close in 2013, he has just one goal for the year ahead: to win a hat-trick of championships.

Colin Turkington returned to the BTCC in 2013 after a three-year hiatus and produced a stunning effort. The Ulsterman remained in title contention until the final day of the campaign, despite his BMW 125i M Sport only breaking cover on the eve of the season. His eBay Motors squad has a year with the car under its belt and a strong pre-season behind them, so Turkington is confident of contending again.

The two biggest announcements in the off-season proved to be the return of two double-champions in Alain Menu and Fabrizio Giovanardi. Menu, a legend of the much loved Super Touring-era will be driving a VW Passat for Team BMR this time around, whilst Giovanardi will be spearheading the challenge from Airwaves Racing.

Variety is the spice of life

The NGTC rules were first introduced in 2011 with the intention to provide greater competition at a reduced cost. The plan was to phase in the new specification cars into the series over a three-year period and that programme is now complete with all cars running to NGTC spec.

The BTCC has one of the most varied grids of any major motor sport championship in the world, with some 14 models from 11 different marques making up the class of 2014.

Official manufacturer entries from Honda Yuasa Racing and MG KX Clubcard Fuel Save are joined by a host of other independent teams entering cars from Audi (AlcoSense Breathalysers Racing, Exocet Racing, Rotek Racing), BMW (eBay Motors), Chevrolet (Laser Tools Racing, Power Maxed Racing), Ford (Airwaves Racing, AmD Tuning.com, Crabbie’s Racing), Honda (Pirtek Racing), Mercedes (WIX Racing), MG (Quantel BiFold Racing), Proton (STP Racing with Sopp + Sopp), Toyota (Handy Motorsport, Houseman Racing, United Autosports, Speedworks), Vauxhall (RCIB Insurance Racing) and Volkswagen (Chrome Edition Restart Racing).

Dunlop extensions and enhancements

The Goodyear Dunlop group has provided title sponsorship and official tyre supplier to the BTCC for a decade, and has further extended its partnership in both areas during the off-season.

The new multi-year deal continues Dunlop’s association with the series since its inception in 1958.

Such a strong partnership does not mean a simple continuation of service, however, as Dunlop continue to develop tyre technology in the BTCC. This year will see the introduction of an all-new compound across all of its Sport Maxx range, which is based on a new construction to offer improved driver feedback and confidence.

As per 2013, every driver will have to nominate one of the three races on each weekend (except Thruxton) in which to run the soft compound instead of the medium construction.

In a new development Dunlop will now reveal each driver’s tyre choice via its social media feeds at 10am on race days, whereas previously spectators and competitors would not find out until the cars had reached the grid. In a joint decision with TOCA, it’s believed that this introduction will provide fans with yet more talking points ahead of the action.

Lights, Camera, Action

ITV will continue to screen around seven hours of live free-to-air coverage from each event on both its ITV4 and ITV4 HD channels as well as the itv.com website. Adding to the coverage are 60-minute edited race highlights repeated three times after each event on ITV and ITV4 as well as their respective HD channels and ‘simulcast’ on itv.com. In total more than 230 hours of the BTCC will be broadcast across the ITV network each season until at least 2017.

Commentators David Addison and Tim Harvey have signed new three-year deals with the broadcaster, as have presenters Steve Rider and Louise Goodman.

The BTCC will also enjoy greater coverage in major print and online publications thanks to its new media partnership with Haymarket.

Autocar, What Car? and PistonHeads logos will feature on the BTCC cars throughout the 2014, 2015 and 2016 seasons, as well as on official interview and podium backdrops, as the group provides extensive coverage of Britain’s premier motor sport series.

BTCC Series Director Alan Gow said: “Our huge entry list is a clear demonstration of the success of the championship and the NGTC regulations. 31 cars on the grid is a modern-day BTCC record and the quality of the field, including seven champions, is also at a real high. That calibre of driver wouldn’t be here if they didn’t see that the championship is in rude health, but we also have to remember that many of those have the BTCC to thank for making them household names in the first place.

“The long-term value of the NGTC cars, as well as our new TBL system, is also proven. Adam Morgan’s Mercedes for example is made up mainly of internal parts that came from his car last season, whilst Lea Wood will now be using the Toyota shell previously raced by Morgan. This car and its parts originated from one of the first NGTC machines used in 2011, which is testament to the way the rules have allowed some teams to join the championship that wouldn’t have been able to previously. Such has been the success in fact that from this point onwards the term NGTC will no longer be a factor in the BTCC, because the next generation of touring cars are here now.

“Our major partnerships have either been renewed or consolidated over the off-season too. Dunlop has recommitted for a further multi-year term and ITV has re-signed its BTCC commentary and presenter team until at least 2017. The TV audiences and trackside audiences continue to grow, which is yet more evidence why the BTCC is Britain’s biggest and most successful series.

“I have no doubt that 2014 will prove to be one of the most exciting and competitive season’s in the illustrious history of the BTCC.”

Australian GP 2014

THE POINT… BY GIAN CARLO MINARDI


Australian GP 2014

In Melbourne it happened just the opposite of what we could expect. In fifteen days, Formula 1 has been capable to overturn any kind of forecast.

We saw a podium made of three pilots belonging to as many teams: Mercedes, Red Bull and McLaren. The only confirmation came just from Mercedes – as a team and engine manufacturer – which affirmed itself to the top.

The W05 of Hamilton and Rosberg confirmed the supremacy both in the single qualifying lap and in the long run, and – much to the benefit of the others – with some reliability lacks. Otherwise they would have scored a double-declutch.

Great comeback for Red Bull, which reveals as the car with the best aerodynamic downforce, even if it suffers the handicap related to the Renault power-unit. Jenson Button’s words during the first tests in Bahrain have been validated by facts. Once the engine issues are overcome, it will be hard to hold them back. On the other hand, the World Champion Sebastian Vettel was let down by that control unit that was able to make the difference just last year.

A rebirth for Mclaren, which perhaps has found in Kevin Magnussen the new Hamilton, with a podium on the day of his debut and a fourth place for Button. A hint of bad luck kept Williams away from a good result: at the green lights Felipe Massa was hit from Kobayashi, at his return in F1, whereas Bottas made a mistake probably caused by an excessive strength in transmitting the power to the road.

Toro Rosso deserves to be praised, as they were able to have both cars scoring points. A great result, if we consider that it sprang not from others’ faults but, on the contrary, has been well achieved on the race track.  Good performance also for Force India with Hulkenberg, a little worse with Perez: Nico is a great pilot, no doubt.

Now it can be useful to analyse the lap times to have a better understanding of the real gap separating the teams’ performance.  Rosberg’s Mercedes has been steadily around 1’32’’-1’33’’ low, whereas all other pilots drove around 1’34’’. Just towards the end Fernando Alonso (fifth at finish) drove around 1’32’’ low, getting close to the fastest race lap set by Rosberg (1’32’’478). Surely an encouraging result, even though a correct interpretation is not straightforward: we should know the data about fuel consumption and strategies too. In the current season the learning curve of teams will be very high: therefore, after each race, we can expect substantial evolutions and important adjustments.

Even Lotus, after closing the first race of the season with two retirements, has been able to gain an experience thanks to the number of driven kilometres during the whole week-end, gathering important data to investigate and find a solution to the problems annoying the transalpine power-unit and the E22.

Mercedes plays the fox of the race, while Ferrari, both as car and engine, is the second force. When RB fully exploits the Renault power, it will be hard to keep the pace. The season kick-start has proved how hard is the dialogue of the 15 control units, but the progresses of the teams with a Renault engine show that these operations can be done indoor as well. The Gap can thus be reduced. Important note: this analysis has been done straight after the finish of the race

Nico Rosberg podium Oz 2014

Formula 1


Nico Rosberg podium Oz 2014

NICO ROSBERG WINS IN AUSTRALIA RICCIARDO IS DISQUALIFIED-

The MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team entered the new era of Formula One with a composed victory for Nico Rosberg from P3 on the grid at the Australian Grand Prix.

• Nico claimed first place off the line and led every lap of the race to win by 24 seconds at the chequered flag

• He made two pit stops on laps 12 and 38, running a tyre strategy of option/option/prime, and set the fastest lap on lap 19

• Nico’s win marks the 100th F1 victory for a Mercedes-Benz engine, with the first achieved by Juan Manuel Fangio in 1954

Nico Rosberg
That was an incredible day for us. To start the season with a win is unbelievable and I have to say a big thank you to everybody who was involved in building our car over the winter. I always dreamed of having such a strong Silver Arrow and now it seems we are there. In the race, everything went perfectly for me. My start was great and I was able to push from there until the end, with our fuel consumption well under control. However, despite our success today, we also know that there is still some work to do. We saw over the weekend that reliability is still a concern and it prevented us from having a strong two-car finish. We have two weeks to improve that. I am very much looking forward to Malaysia and I would love to race again tomorrow!

RED BULL

Following the decision of the FIA that Infiniti Red Bull Racing is in breach of Article 3.2 of the FIA Formula One Sporting Regulations and Article 5.1.4 of the FIA Formula One Technical Regulations with Car 3, the Team has notified the FIA of its intention to appeal with immediate effect.
 
Inconsistencies with the FIA fuel flow meter have been prevalent all weekend up and down the pit lane. The Team and Renault are confident the fuel supplied to the engine is in full compliance with the regulations.

 

 
Hamilton pole Oz 2014

Formula 1


Hamilton pole Oz 2014

2014 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING-

HAMILTON ON POLE RICCIARDO P2 AND ROSBERG P3-

• Lewis scored the 100th pole position for Mercedes-Benz power in Formula One, a record dating back to 1954 

• It was also the 32nd pole of Lewis´ career, putting him equal with Nigel Mansell and one behind Jim Clark 

• Nico qualified in third place, just five-hundredths behind the second placed car of Daniel Ricciardo 

Lewis Hamilton 
It´s been an interesting weekend so far here in Melbourne. Qualifying was a lot harder for everyone with the tricky conditions and it was a real challenge out there today. We were on the edge with the tyres and it was difficult to know which way to go at times. It´s the first time I´ve driven the car on the limit in the wet, but it felt great and I´m so happy with the job the team has done. To be on pole here today is a fantastic result for us. It was great fun and I´m really looking forward to the race tomorrow. It´s going to be tough, but we´ll do our best and see what happens. I am very proud to have scored pole number 100 for Mercedes-Benz in Formula One. I have only driven with Mercedes power since my debut in 2007 and the whole Mercedes team has done an incredible job meeting the challenge of these new rules. It´s just as special to equal Nigel´s record of pole positions for a British driver. I owe it to the great people I´ve worked with throughout my career. 

DANIEL RICCIARDO
“It was exciting out there – the weather definitely added to the mix and the whole session went well. Q1 looked like it was going okay for us and then, when the rain fell, it’s the first time we’ve driven these cars on the limit in wet conditions. It was tricky, but at the same time a lot of fun and it was nice to always be up there. The engineer was always on the radio saying the pace was good and that we were P1, P2 P3 and in the battle for the pole position, so it was definitely a really nice first qualifying session with the team. I’m happy for us to have a front row start – it wasn’t looking like this a few weeks ago, so I’m pretty pleased right now.”

Nico Rosberg 
That was a really tricky qualifying session out there this evening. Starting from third place on the grid is not the optimum but okay for me. I know that I have a good race car and that makes me quite confident. With a good start, I should have a nice chance of scoring a strong result. It will be a very interesting race because fuel consumption and tyre wear will be on the edge. So there might be some surprises tomorrow. 

Toto Wolff 
That was the kind of qualifying session where mistakes are so easy to make – and the team delivered. We got the cars on track at the right time and coped well with the changing weather conditions. For the final run in Q3, both drivers chose to run full wet tyres as we were not sure how quickly the circuit was drying. Lewis did a great job to claim pole position with his final lap, while Nico was also P1 when he crossed the line at the end of his last run, although he finished up P3. After so much hard work to reach this point, it´s good that we have come through a tricky session safely and in strong starting positions. We are also proud to have taken the 100th pole for Mercedes-Benz power in Formula One, which is a nice milestone. But the points are won on Sunday and we know that it will be a tough race in terms of fuel consumption and reliability. We will leave no stone unturned overnight to make sure we are in the best possible situation for tomorrow. 

LCH Australia 2014

Formula 1


LCH Australia 2014

LEWIS HAMILTON PUTS THE MERC ON TOP IN FP2, LOTUS F1 IN TROUBLE, RED BULL IMPROVING, JUST ONE LAP FOR CATERHAM-

Lewis Hamilton : It really was a day of two halves today. While it was disappointing to not get any track time this morning, these little hiccups are going to happen with the new cars and we´ll have to get used to that. It felt like I was on the back foot from there but then we got up to pace quite quickly in P2 and found the balance relatively fast. I feel quite comfortable in the car so overall it´s a positive start but we need to look at the data now and understand where we are. We got a nice foundation for the weekend in the second session today so hopefully we can build on that in P3 tomorrow afternoon and then see where we are in qualifying. 

Nico Rosberg : It was so great to be back in the car today and I´m very pleased with the progress that we made. As always on a Friday, we don´t really know where we are in terms of pace yet and how much fuel everyone else was running in comparison to our programme. It´s definitely going to be very tough on fuel here, as we expected. The screen on my steering wheel shows the fuel target for each lap and we´re going to have to be very disciplined in the race. It´s a pretty good start for us overall and I´m looking forward to the rest of the weekend. 

Romain Grosjean“If we take the positives we can say that we’ve completed a few practice starts, and we’ve proven that Renault have done a good job from the laps we completed. It’s certain that we have a lot of work ahead and we still need to learn the tyres, the brakes and find a good setup. We’re taking a few steps every time we go out in the car and for sure we’ll get where we want to be.” 
 
Pastor Maldonado“I’m feeling really ready for tomorrow. I spent a lot of today waiting to get in the car as we had some problems, which I think are still normal to have so early in the season with these new cars. It was clear that we’re not the only ones to suffer on track and we have to work very hard, and maybe harder than the others, to try to catch up and be ready for tomorrow. We need to sit down with the engineers and re-plan our strategy for free practice.”

SEBASTIAN VETTEL : “In a way it’s a relief today, the fact that we were running, we didn’t have any problems, the balance was good and the performance looked alright. In the end Friday times are not worth a lot, but it’s better to be close to the top rather than somewhere towards the back, so I’m very happy with that. We will do what we can to prepare for tomorrow and Sunday, but let’s see where we are then – the most important thing is that we finish.”
 
DANIEL RICCIARDO“I knew the guys were doing everything they could since testing but still, we didn’t expect to do that many laps today, so I’m really happy and pleased for them. I think we have to be pretty positive with where we ended up today. We expected Mercedes to be quickest, but we were within a second of them today so that’s a lot better than we thought. Let’s see if it’s the same story after qualifying tomorrow, but for today we’re pleased.”
 

Marcus Ericsson: “That was a more difficult start to my first full Grand Prix weekend than I’d have liked, but hopefully that means we’ve got all the problems out of the way on day one! This morning it was an electrical issue with the engine that meant I only did one lap – out on the main straight the power suddenly dropped but I was still able to get the car back to the pits and when we had a look at it we found it was an electrical problem so that was fixed over lunch. In the afternoon we were back out at the start of FP2 but this time, when I boxed, there was a hydraulics leak. A bit like with Kamui’s car, fixing anything like this under the engine cover takes a lot longer than it used to with the old engines, so that was the end of the session for me and more work for the boys.
 
“Despite that I’m still very positive. Even with the good reliability we built up in Bahrain, we still came here knowing it could be a difficult weekend and I know I have to just stay focused on doing the best job I can when the car’s running as it should. There’s a lot of work ahead of us but we’ll do whatever we can to be back on track tomorrow and when it’s all fixed I’m ready.”
 
Kamui Kobayashi: “One lap in both practice sessions is obviously not a good way to start the season, particularly after our reliability had been good in the Bahrain tests, but we know what the problems are on side and we’re all working very hard to fix them for tomorrow. The problem on my car was to do with the fuel system – it was fine on the installation lap but when I boxed we had a small fire under the engine cover which came from a fuel system leak. The fire was out immediately but when we’d found the problem we knew it couldn’t be fixed in time to run in FP2 so made the decision to remove the Power Unit so we could fix the issue and aim to run properly tomorrow.
 
“Despite how the weekend has started I’m still pretty positive about what could happen tomorrow and on Sunday. We might be a small team but everyone works as hard as anyone else in the pitlane and if we can get back to the Bahrain test reliability levels I think we can still have a good weekend.”

Pos  Driver             Team/Car              Time       Gap      Laps
 1.  Lewis Hamilton     Mercedes              1m29.625s           37
 2.  Nico Rosberg       Mercedes              1m29.782s  +0.157s  31
 3.  Fernando Alonso    Ferrari               1m30.132s  +0.507s  28
 4.  Sebastian Vettel   Red Bull-Renault      1m30.381s  +0.756s  41
 5.  Jenson Button      McLaren-Mercedes      1m30.510s  +0.885s  33
 6.  Daniel Ricciardo   Red Bull-Renault      1m30.538s  +0.913s  38
 7.  Kimi Raikkonen     Ferrari               1m30.898s  +1.273s  32
 8.  Valtteri Bottas    Williams-Mercedes     1m30.920s  +1.295s  38
 9.  Kevin Magnussen    McLaren-Mercedes      1m31.031s  +1.406s  34
10.  Nico Hulkenberg    Force India-Mercedes  1m31.054s  +1.429s  33
11.  Jean-Eric Vergne   Toro Rosso-Renault    1m31.060s  +1.435s  35
12.  Felipe Massa       Williams-Mercedes     1m31.119s  +1.494s  31
13.  Sergio Perez       Force India-Mercedes  1m31.283s  +1.658s  36
14.  Adrian Sutil       Sauber-Ferrari        1m32.355s  +2.730s  36
15.  Esteban Gutierrez  Sauber-Ferrari        1m32.468s  +2.843s  26
16.  Daniil Kvyat       Toro Rosso-Renault    1m32.495s  +2.870s  36
17.  Jules Bianchi      Marussia-Ferrari      1m33.486s  +3.861s  29
18.  Romain Grosjean    Lotus-Renault         1m33.646s  +4.021s  12
19.  Max Chilton        Marussia-Ferrari      1m34.757s  +5.132s  29
20.  Marcus Ericsson    Caterham-Renault                          1
21.  Pastor Maldonado   Lotus-Renault
22.  Kamui Kobayashi    Caterham-Renault
Kamui Kobayashi Bahrain

F1Weekly podcast # 650


Kamui Kobayashi Bahrain

Clark and Nasir share their final thoughts on where the teams stand after testing and what should we expect from the Australian Grand Prix. Special interview this week is with Grandprixphoto.com founder Peter Nygaard.

Please enjoy these thoughts from Kamui Kobayashi.

Kamui Kobayashi : “We start the season in Melbourne and I’m excited about getting back to racing F1 cars again! Last time I raced in Melbourne (in 2012 with Sauber) I was sixth and while I don’t think that’s a realistic target for us this year, I think the race will be very interesting. There could be reliability problems for lots of teams, us as well obviously, but by the end of the tests our reliability was ok, certainly better than a few other teams, and that could be very important on Sunday in Melbourne.

“Obviously for me this is my first race back, and I’m really pleased it’s with Caterham. I guarantee that they are working as hard as anyone else to have a good year in 2014 and I’ve been very impressed with how determined they are to succeed. They have a very good base to work from in Leafield, so there’s no reason we can’t have a good year, particularly with what we have planned to improve the car as the season goes on.

“We still don’t know exactly where we are on performance, partly because you never do in tests because you don’t know what everyone else is doing, but also because we didn’t really have a chance to do a proper quali sim in Bahrain. We have some new parts coming to Australia, including some revisions to the front wing, so we’ll be working on them on Friday and Saturday morning and know more about where we are when qualifying’s finished on Saturday.”

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The Premiere Motorsport Podcast