Clark and Nasir review the 2013 season and…
CATERHAM F1 ANNOUNCES 2014 F1 DRIVER LINE UP—
Caterham F1 Team and Caterham Racing have confirmed their 2014 driver line-ups with the announcement that Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson will race in Formula One in the forthcoming season, with Robin Frijns and Alexander Rossi as F1 team Reserve Drivers. In addition, Alexander and Rio Haryanto will contest the 2014 GP2 honours with Caterham Racing.
Kobayashi joins the UK-based team after one season out of F1, rejoining the sport as it heads towards a new era in F1 history with all-new rules for the season ahead. The popular Japanese driver joins F1 rookie Marcus Ericsson in an exciting, dynamic line-up that will push the team to achieve its targets throughout the season ahead while giving, for the second year running, an opportunity for a leading GP2 driver to make the step up to F1, demonstrating the logic of Caterham’s direct involvement in that F1 feeder Championship. Supporting them at all non-GP2 races as Reserve Driver will be Robin Frijns, one of motorsport’s most highly-rated young drivers.
Alexander Rossi renews his GP2 challenge with Caterham Racing and, after finishing the 2013 season as best rookie, he will start the new season as a serious championship contender. He will combine his GP2 commitments with another year as a Reserve Driver for Caterham F1 Team at all non-GP2 race weekends, continuing his development towards an ultimate race drive in Formula One. Alexander is joined by Rio Haryanto, the Indonesian driver who has progressed in GP2 since his first season in the series in 2012 and who, with Alexander, makes one of the strongest driver pairings in the championship.
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal and CEO, Caterham F1 Team: “I’m very pleased we can finally unveil our F1 and GP2 drivers for the year ahead. The process may have taken longer than we’d have liked, but we didn’t want or need to be rushed into such important decisions, and we have been in the happy position of having a wide range of drivers to choose from for both series. I believe that we have exciting, dynamic talents in both F1 and GP2 and I know just how excited everyone in the F1 team and Caterham Racing are about working with all five drivers.
“In F1, I’m delighted that we’ve been able to bring Kamui back. He is a very popular driver and it’s very good for the whole team that we’ve been able to attract such an exciting driver to join us at a critical point in our development. His pace speaks for itself and his extensive experience of developing cars, particularly in his years with Toyota, will be incredibly important for us as we tackle one of the most challenging seasons F1 has ever embarked upon.
“Alongside him is Marcus who will be racing in his debut F1 season, but as a driver who has prepared perfectly for the step up with his graduation through the ranks. He started his single-seater career by winning Formula BMW UK in 2007 and rose through the ranks to GP2, where last year he won in Germany, scored two poles, three fastest laps and five podiums. He’s physically and mentally prepared for what lies ahead, and he will have all the support we can give him across the team to help him fulfil his obvious potential in Formula One.
“Robin is another new addition to our driver roster and he comes to us as one of the most highly-rated talents around – just look at how he dominated the two Renault-backed series he competed in during the 2012 and 2013 seasons for clear evidence of that. He won Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 in 2011, recording five wins that year, and then he won Formula Renault 3.5 in 2012, putting three more victories on the board. He has raw pace and impressed our engineers enormously with the sessions he’s completed in our simulator – put simply, he has the talent to go right to the top of our sport. He will be our Reserve at all races where Alexander is focused on GP2 and he will have a number of F1 runs throughout the year, immersing him in the F1 team and helping him develop his understanding of what it takes to operate at the top level.
“In GP2, we want to be competing for race wins and titles from the first race. Alexander showed last year that he’s ready to make a push for the championship, and we’re continuing his F1 development in 2014 by combining his GP2 commitments with another year as an F1 team Reserve Driver. I firmly believe he has the talent to achieve the ambitious targets we are setting him and I’m excited about seeing him fulfil his potential in GP2 this year.
“Rio joins the team with two years of GP2 already under his belt and he and Alexander make a formidable pairing – we’re all excited about seeing them and the team add to Caterham Racing’s already crowded trophy cabinet and use that as a benchmark for the F1 team!
“By any measure, we have an exciting range of drivers across F1 and GP2 who will make headlines for both teams throughout the year – sometimes because they’re pushing a bit too hard, but, on balance, that’s what motor racing needs. Our F1 team will benefit enormously from having Kamui and Marcus spearhead our challenge in 2014 – they provide powerful motivation for us to renew our efforts to succeed throughout the season ahead and demonstrate that our shareholders and senior management know what it takes to progress.
“Overall, I’m pleased that we’re able to give all five of the drivers we’ll work with in F1 and GP2 the platform to show what they can do on a global stage and I’m excited about seeing all of them develop in green throughout the year ahead.”
Caterham F1 Team
Kamui Kobayashi: “It’s a great feeling to be back as an F1 race driver and I’m really pleased it’s with Caterham F1 Team. We’ve been talking to Cyril and Tony since last year about driving for the team for 2014 and beyond. Throughout all our discussions I’ve been very impressed with where they want to take the team and how much investment has been made already to help them achieve their goals. For me, it’s a great honour that the team hired me based on the value I bring in racing terms and the experience I have. I am so happy that I am able to make this announcement today. I will do my very best to lead the team and work as hard as possible to achieve our targets
“I also want to give special thanks to all the fans who have made donations to KAMUI SUPPORT. Their donations and gestures gave me extra strength to come back fighting and I am very pleased that the money they raised not only helped me but will now go to helping Caterham progress this year. Every single one of you who helped with KAMUI SUPPORT will race with me in 2014 and that makes me very proud.
“I first visited the factory in Leafield just before Christmas and it’s clear how hungry the whole team is to make progress. Last year was a tough season but the new rules this year mean that everyone in F1 is starting again and, that means everybody has a chance to improve. From what I’ve seen, Caterham now has everything in place to progress this year and for many seasons to come.
“We’re all realistic about what we can actually achieve this year and until we’ve run the car properly at the tests it’s still too early to see where we are compared to the other teams, but whatever happens we have to move forwards this year. For me, it’s a chance to start again with a new team but one that’s serious about progressing. For the team, 2014 is the first chance to show what they can do with all the people and infrastructure they’ve built up in Leafield since moving there in 2012.
“I can’t wait to start work again. One of the benefits of making this announcement so close to the start of the tests means I only have a few days to wait to get back on track! Before then I’ll be at the factory as much as possible, working in the simulator and with everyone there to prepare as much as we can for the tests in Jerez and Bahrain. Physically and mentally I’m fully prepared, now I just want to get back to work!”
Marcus Ericsson: “This is a very proud day for me and everyone who has helped make my F1 dream come true. I’ll be making the step up to F1 with Caterham F1 Team in 2014 and I’m already excited about the season ahead, and the first race in Australia in particular
“It’s obviously great for Sweden that we’ll have a Swedish driver back on the grid in 2014. This is what I’ve been working for since I first started racing karts back when I was nine years old, and now I know I’m ready for the step up to F1. Caterham is a young team and together we can take on the challenges the new rules will present in 2014 – learning together and continuing to develop as the season progresses.
“After a good break at home over Christmas, the hard work has already started. My physical fitness has always been good but I’ve been working even more on that since the discussions with Caterham began. I’m going to be in the factory in Leafield as much as I can before and during the tests in Spain and Bahrain so I can play an active role in helping understand the 2014 car, and what we need to do to unlock its performance. We have a big task in front of us but it’s an exciting one, and one both the team and I are ready for.”
Robin Frijns: “I am more than happy that Caterham and Renault have given me the chance to be in Formula One in 2014. Nowadays it’s rare to find an F1 team that will put so much trust in a young driver like me, but during the negotiations I had a very strong feeling that the team really believes in me, which I couldn’t appreciate more! This was one of the main reasons why Caterham has been my number one priority for quite a while and I am so thankful that it worked out.
“There are many good reasons to believe that Caterham will be moving up the grid in the next few years and I feel that every member of the team is strongly committed and really working hard to make that happen. Also, when I visited the factory for the first time, I saw that the working atmosphere in Leafield is very positive, which gave me a good feeling right away. My personal goal for this season is to help the team as much I can and also gain valuable experience to make sure that I can establish myself in the team and in F1. I am sure that we will have many great years together.”
AN ENTRY OF FIVE FACTORY RENAULT R8 GORDINI’S FOR THE 17TH RALLYE MONTE-CARLO HISTORIQUE—
To mark the 50th anniversary of the car which is remembered by many for its blue livery and two white stripes, Team Renault Classic has entered a fleet of five Renault 8 Gordinis for this year’s Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique.
- The five crews will head for the French Riviera from the start venue in Reims, northeast France, on January 24, while the event is scheduled to finish in Monaco on the night of January 28-29.
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the launch of one of France’s most emblematic models in fitting style, Renault Classic has entered no fewer than five Renault 8 Gordinis for the 17th Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique.
The five crews are:
- N°8: Jean Ragnotti will have the car he drove on his first rally in 1967 (Rallye du Vaucluse). His co-driver will be Michel Duvernay, a former Renault 4L Cross and Renault 5 GT Turbo Trophy winner.
- N°12: former Alpine test driver Alain Serpaggi will have Jean-Pierre Prevost sitting alongside.
- N°17: Michel Leclère, winner of the ‘Premier Pas Dunlop Coupe Gordini’ in 1969, has teamed up with journalist Vincent Roussel.
- N°19: Thierry Chancel and François Forgeoux are both Rallye Monte-Carlo Historique regulars and will share a reasonably rare 1,100cc version of the car.
- N°22: Gilles Zaffini, a Renault agent and motorsport fan from Bron, near Lyon, and his navigator Serge Mollar.
The rally begins on January 24, and Team Renault Classic has chosen to start this year’s event from Reims, northeast France. The end is scheduled for the night of January 28-29, in Monaco.
FERRARI TO LAUNCH NEW CAR JANUARY 25—
Ferrari will follow McLaren in the F1 2014 launch calendar, with the news the Scuderia is set for an online launch on January 25. The team announced that news on Wednesday.
Back in December, Ferrari opened up the name of the car to be voted on by the fans. The fans can make their pick from five selections announced today: F14 T, F14 Maranello, F14 Scuderia, F166 Turbo and F616, with the result to be revealed on January 24, the day before the car reveal. Here’s a link to the site to where you can vote.
Kimi Raikkonen is already back to work at Ferrari and this launch will, of course, mark the first time we officially see him and Fernando Alonso as teammates.
McLaren leads off the launch calendar at the moment on Jan. 24, and three teams, Mercedes, Caterham and Williams, are set to launch their cars on Jan. 28 on the first day of the Jerez preseason test.
MONTOYA, DIXON, CASTRONEVES, KANAAN TALK ABOUT THE 500—
JUAN PABLO MONTOYA (Team Penske): “Every year you came here and you’re not in an Indy car, it’s cool, but you want to come to the Museum to see the Indy cars. It’s not the same. The Brickyard is a big deal, but it’s not the Indy 500. I never thought I’d be back here to try to get another win. I’m excited and to race here for Team Penske is a hell of a chance (to win).”
(What’s it like to be back at Indianapolis Motor Speedway?): “It’s pretty exciting. I really haven’t thought about it too much. I’m more of a guy who goes, ‘What’s next? Are we testing? Are we doing this or are we doing that? I try not to think about it too much. Once we need to come to Indy, I’ll worry about Indy and not before. Still it’s exciting. If you think about it, I’m 1-for-1 here and it would be cool to be 2-for-2.”
SCOTT DIXON (Target Chip Ganassi Racing): For a driver, and anyone involved with the Indy 500, the Speedway is a really special place. The history and everything about it. Coming from New Zealand this is pretty spectacular and I think you can say that about anybody. The way the year works out, you can break it down into two goals. You can try to win the Indianapolis 500 and then try to win the championship. It’s always an exciting time. To try to get everything right in just a three hour time is nearly impossible.”
(Can Juan Pablo Montoya step in and be competitive at the top level?): “Yes. Absolutely. As they just said, he’s won in every kind of formula that he’s ever been in. It’s going to be a learning curve, but it’s not something that he’s not done before. Yes, the past six or seven years have been a totally different kind of car, but this year with some of the changes in testing, it’s opened it up a bit. There’s 18 days in total now, which seems like more than what we’ve had recently. That’s good for him, but the addition of being in a really strong team and having really strong teammates will definitely quicken that process up. Say he comes in a little slow; it won’t take long if he does. I expect him to be quick straight out of the box and having the possibility of going for race wins straight on.”
(Has the manufacturer switch affected the team’s preparation for the upcoming season?): “In some ways, change is enlightening. Over a two year period – if you look at the previous four or five years with Honda it wasn’t the same because there was no competition – the last two years was a short time, but it was relationships you’d be working on for quite some time. The change is what it is, but it makes it interesting, too. The engine is totally different, even though they are very close and competitive on track. The ways they have reached that power and drivability from different directions and that’s quite exciting.”
HELIO CASTRONEVES (Team Penske): “Being in Indianapolis is always incredible. Winning three times and being so close to winning four. I’m sure these other guys feel the opposite. But if I get four, I’ll be able to join Rick Mears, who I work with and is my mentor and hero. It would be amazing and a dream come true to be in the same group as Rick, A.J. Foyt and Al Unser Sr. I know it’s a big task, but I have big dreams as well.”
TONY KANAAN (Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “Now I know why these guys enjoyed winning the Indy 500 so much. You get to celebrate for a year. It’s January and tomorrow I go to Detroit to finally get my Baby Borg. I don’t have my ring yet, which I’m waiting for quite anxiously. A lot of things have happened since (May). But I have to say, all the good things that happened was because of the win.”
(About his transition to Target Chip Ganassi Racing): “It’s been pretty smooth. We did a test in December, but I was in the 8 car… I haven’t driven the 10 car yet, but we’ll see what that’s like on Friday.
(About communicating with Dario Franchitti): “I’ve been with him all day, yesterday. We had dinner last night. We’re having dinner tonight. We’ve been talking. It’s funny. I expected that we were going to be talking more, even if he was still racing, because we are in the same team. Since his retirement, we’ve been talking every day. More than ever. He’s still part of the team, so for me, it’s still hard for me to see that he’s not going to be around driving the car. Not a lot of things have changed. We’re not going to bang wheels on the track but we still talk a lot.”
82ND RALLYE AUTOMOBILE MONTE-CARLO (14-19/01/2014) – PREVIEW
CITROËN RACING OPENS ITS SEASON AT THE RALLYE MONTE-CARLO—
- Citroën Racing gets its sporting season underway at the Rallye Monte-Carlo, the first round of the 2014 FIA World Rally Championship.
- Two DS3 WRCs are competing on behalf of the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team. They will be driven by the crews Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle (no.3) and Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson (no.4).
- For the first time since it began competing in the WRC, Citroën Racing has completely changed its driver line-up from one season to the next.
- Starting with the ID19 in 1959 and most recently in the DS3 WRC in 2013, Citroën has won in Monaco nine times.
CITROËN AND THE RALLYE MONTE-CARLO: A SHORT HISTORY LESSON…
Among its record number of WRC wins (93 victories since 2001), Monte-Carlo has a very special place in Citroën’s sporting and media history.
André Citroën was a big fan of marketing and therefore had no hesitation in entering his latest model at the 1934 rally. This was in spite of the fact the new car, the T45, was a pre-production vehicle, driven by a dozen or so crew members and finished the race 98th overall!
In 1959, the Brand won the rally for the first time in a Citroën ID 19 driven by Paul Coltelloni and Pierre Alexandre. Seven years later, Pauli Toivonen and Ensio Mikander secured a more unexpected win for the DS 21. Since it entered the WRC as a works team at the start of the last decade, Citroën has scored a series of wins in the Principality. In 2002, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena dominated the event, but came away as runners-up. The Franco-Monegasque pair then went on to win seven out of the next eight rallies in a Xsara WRC, C4 WRC and DS3 WRC. The 2003 rally even saw an all-Citroën podium made up of Sébastien Loeb/Daniel Elena, Colin McRae/Derek Ringer and Carlos Sainz/Marc Marti.
Last year, Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena once again proved unbeatable, dominating the event after managing to negotiate the tricky road conditions created by the weather.
VERY SPECIFIC PREPARATION FOR AN EVENT LIKE NO OTHER
A winter rally held in the hills between the Alps and the Mediterranean, the Rallye Monte-Carlo is reputed for its highly varied, testing road conditions. The tarmac can be dry or wet, covered in ice or snow: the road surface changes over time, varies in different parts of the stages and as more cars come through.
To prepare for this testing rally, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team organised several test sessions in the south east of France, close to the route of the rally.
Chief Operations Engineer for the DS3 WRCs, Didier Clément detailed the method applied by the team: “Our test campaign was split into two stages. Before Christmas, both crews spent two days in the Alpes-Maritimes department. They were able to get used to driving the Citroën DS3 WRC on roads without any tricky sections. Then, a few days ahead of the rally, we made things more difficult for them. They had to drive with studded tyres on dry roads and slick tyres on the snow. We also tested the intermediate configurations, with combined tyre set-ups. Kris and Mads had to get to grips with these kinds of situations, which can easily arise at some point or another in the rally.”
By trying to cover as many different situations as possible in testing, the team was therefore able to boost its already very extensive knowledge base. “During the rally, it’ll be a question of making the best – or the least bad – tyre choice. You have to anticipate the conditions, comparing the information provided by the gravel crews with data from our weather experts and from Météo France,” explained Didier Clément. “Using all this information, as well as our experience and feedback from testing, we recommend a tyre choice to the crews. However, it is always the driver who has the final say, because he must feel confident in the car to be able to push.”
For this rally, each driver will be able to use a maximum of 45 tyres. Within the Michelin range, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi World Rally Team works crews will choose between soft and super-soft slick tyres, as well as studded and non-studded winter tyres.
KRIS MEEKE’S SIXTH OUTING AT MONTE-CARLO, BUT HIS FIRST IN THE WRC!
Kris Meeke has plenty of experience of competing at Monte-Carlo, having raced here five times already: “My favourite memory goes back to 2005. It was my first rally in a Citroën; I was competing in the Junior WRC in a C2 Super 1600. The conditions were difficult, as ever, with snow and ice. I remember that year in particular, as I took the JWRC category win!”
From experience, Kris knows that Monte-Carlo can be decided by minor details: “Understanding the road – being able to read the surface conditions and reacting accordingly – is the best way to do well here. It is pointless aiming for a particular result. The goal is to be consistent, not make any mistakes and focus on the main priority, which is to make it to the finish. If everything goes well, your efforts will be rewarded by a good result.”
“Testing allowed me to get used to the handling of the DS3 WRC in particularly demanding conditions,” continued the British driver. “On the snow or ice, it’s essential to be confident in yourself and in the car. The work we did helped me to learn and improve. Now we’ll just have to wait and see what sort of weather we get in the race!”
MADS ØSTBERG IS HOPING FOR SNOW!
Reflecting on his first outing at the rally in 2013, Mads Østberg particularly remembered the legendary Col du Turini stages: “I thought I had lost several minutes, because I was struggling to find any grip. I was fighting in the car, but had the impression I was totally powerless. At the end of the stage, I was so frustrated that I took off my helmet and put my head in my hands… And then someone told me that I had actually just set the fastest time so far. I was ahead of all of the leaders!”
Like all Scandinavian drivers, Mads is especially comfortable in slippery, low-grip conditions. The Norwegian would therefore not be averse to facing genuinely wintry conditions: “Monte-Carlo is a real challenge for the first race of the season. I haven’t done a lot of miles in the car as yet, but I had a good feeling in testing. I feel that the Citroën DS3 WRC is a really steady car, with a very powerful engine. Testing gave me the chance to experience just about everything that might be thrown at us during the rally. I thought that I fared pretty well with slick tyres on the snow, although it was sometimes more a question of survival than of racing… In any case, if I could choose the weather, I’d ask for as much snow as possible!”
CLASSIC STAGES RETURN TO MONTE-CARLO
Based in Valence in recent years, the rally looks very different this year, with over 90% of the route changed compared with last year. The 82nd edition of the rally gets underway in Gap on Thursday, 16 January. The race will start with two runs on a loop of three stages, in the morning and then in the afternoon: Orpierre – Saint André de Rosans (25.49km), Rosans – Sainte Marie – La Charce (17.98km) and Montauban sur l’Ouvèze – Col du Perty – Laborel (19.34km).
On Friday, 17 January, the crews will complete another loop around Gap with Vitrolles – Col d’Espreaux – Faye (49.03km) and Selonnet – Col des Garcinets – Bréziers (22.68km). After the midday break, the cars will head for Monaco with a second run on Vitrolles – Col d’Espreaux – Faye followed by the Sisteron – Col de Fontbelle – Thoard stage (36.85km). A regroup at Digne-les-Bains will enable the teams to change tyres, before the crews tackle the Clumanc – Col du Défend – Lambruisse stage (20.77km) after nightfall.
Meanwhile, the teams will dismantle the service structures installed near to the aquatics centre in Gap. They will be reinstalled overnight on the port of Monaco, the nerve centre for Saturday’s final leg. The final day’s action will revolve around the Col du Turini with two loops of two stages, made up of La Bollène Vésubie – Col de Turini – Moulinet (23.40km) and Sospel – Col de Brouis – Breil sur Roya (16.55km). The rally is scheduled to finish at 10.41pm.