F1Weekly podcast # 723

CLARK AND NASIR ARE SOOOO DELIGHTED WITH FERRARI’S WIN IN MELBOURNE AND CAN’T BELIEVE THE HONDA MCLAREN DISASTER NOW IN IT’S THIRD YEAR! TO CHEER UP FERNANDO WE HAVE A WONDERFUL CONVERSATION WITH FORMER FORMULA ONE DRIVER NICK HEIDFELD AND THE F1W GURU AT THE 12 HOURS OF SEBRING.

Nick Heidfeld was racing Motocross bikes with his brothers Tim and Sven before the age of five. He tried karting at a circuit near the Nurburgring and showed promise, and received his first kart when he was eight.

After eight years’ karting including European and World Championship competitions Heidfeld, aged 17, moved into the German Formula Ford championship. Eight wins from nine starts made him class champion in 1994. The following year he was International German Formula Ford champion and moved up to Formula Three.

He spent two years in the German F3 series with Opel Team BSR. The first season saw him take three wins and finish third overall, the title being won by future F1 driver Jarno Trulli Heidfeld returned in 1997 and went into the final two races at the Nurburgring three points behind Timo Scheider. But with a pair of wins Heidfeld snatched the title with 224 points to Scheider’s 218. He also won the Monaco Formula Three race.

He got his first Formula 1 test the same year with McLaren-Mercedes and moved up to Formula 3000 with the team’s support. Heidfeld finished runner-up to Juan Pablo Montoya in 1998, having won three times. The next year Heidfeld dominated the category, winning four of the first six races and comfortably beating Jason Watt to the title. He also made further testing appearances for McLaren and it was believed the team were grooming him for a race seat.

Prost

But when Heidfeld arrived in F1 in 2000 it was with Alain Prost’s team. It was a difficult debut with a slow, unreliable car and a very experienced team mate in Jean Alesi.

Heidfeld compared well with his team mate, but the pair collided in the Austrian Grand Prix when Alesi tried to pass him.

Sauber

The following season Heidfeld switched to Sauber where he partnered rookie Kimi Raikkonnen. Heidfeld scored his first podium on his third outing for the team and out-scored Raikkonen 12 points to nine, but McLaren were impressed by the young Finnish driver and signed him instead of Heidfeld to partner David Coulthard for 2002.

Heidfeld said: “It’s not a big disappointment especially because everyone has seen it coming over the last couple of weeks, but of course I was surprised. They should know what they are doing, but I don’t know – I don’t think I’ve done a lot wrong. I didn’t do a worse job than [Raikkonen].”

He stayed at Sauber for another two seasons, first with Felipe Massa as his team mate, then Heinz-Harald Frentzen. But the team were slipping down the field and Heidfeld found himself at Jordan in 2004. It was another team on the verge of being taken over but Heidfeld managed to claim a pair of points finishes.

Williams

That attracted the attention of Williams and engine partners BMW, who tested Heidfeld alongside Antonio Pizzonia for a 2005 race seat. Despite Pizzonia having driven for the team as a substitute in 2004, Heidfeld won the 2005 seat with support from BMW’s Mario Theissen.

Heidfeld quickly repaid their faith, scoring podiums at Sepang, Monte-Carlo (following a gutsy pass on Fernando Alonso) and the Nurburgring, having started from pole position at the latter. Late in the year he suffered a crash in testing at Monza and then a cycling accident, causing him to miss the final five rounds.

BMW

Jenson Button, Nick Heidfeld, 2008, Monte-Carlo, 470313

Williams and BMW went separate ways at the end of 2005, with BMW taking over Sauber to set up their own F1, team, and taking Heidfeld with them. He was comfortably quicker than Jacques Villeneuve in the first half of the season before the 1997 world champion was replaced by Robert Kubica.

Heidfeld got the new team on the podium at the Hungaroring but his rookie team mate was third at Monza. Heidfeld publicly admitted that Kubica had forced him to raise his game and as 2007 got under way it certainly looked as though he had.

With BMW comfortably the third quickest team Heidfeld was regularly chasing the McLarens and Ferraris and occasionally claiming a scalp – as when he passed Alonso at Bahrain to take fourth place off the McLaren driver. He ended the year fifth with 61 points to Kubica’s 39.

Heidfeld spent most of 2008 struggling to match Kubica’s pace, especially in qualifying. But he was extremely consistent, taking a classified finishing in every round and breaking Michael Schumacher’s record for most consecutive finishes. But he also extended his record for most second place finishes without a victory, while Kubica scored his and BMW’s maiden win at Montreal.

By the end of the year Heidfeld was back on terms with and even ahead of Kubica once again. The pair remained at BMW for 2009 but their new car was well off the pace and racing for wins was out of the question.

Heidfeld managed to out-score Kubica but with BMW quitting the sport both men moved on to new teams in 2010. Heidfeld joined the new Mercedes Grand Prix team as the reserve driver alongside race drivers Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.

Mercedes released Heidfeld halfway through 2010 so he could conduct tyre testing for new official F1 tyre suppliers Pirelli.

Sauber

Nick Heidfeld, Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Suzuka, 2010
Heidfeld reappeared at Sauber again in 2010 alongside Kamui Kobayashi

2010

Shortly afterwards he re-joined Sauber to replace Pedro de la Rosa for the final five races of the year.

However he was replaced by Sergio Perez at the end of the season.

Renault

Nick Heidfeld, Renault, Sepang, 2011
Heidfeld claimed a podium finish in Malaysia for Renault

2011

An opportunity to continue race in F1 presented itself when Kubica was badly injured in a rally accident in February.

Heidfeld was drafted in to take the Polish driver’s place at Renault from the start of the season.

His year got off to a promising start with a podium finish in Malaysia. But he tended to qualify behind junior team mate Vitaly Petrov and despite scoring most of the team’s points was dropped after 11 races.

[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/mp3.f1weekly.com/podcasts/03-27-17f1weekly723.mp3]

FORMULA 1

VETTEL BEATS LCH TOTO FREAKS OUT

Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton sat together in a picture of uneasy harmony. The German had swept into the press room in jubilation, almost lifting his manager, Britta Roeske, clean off her feet as he celebrated Ferrari’s restoration to their accustomed place at the summit of Formula One.

Beside him, Hamilton was respectful but pensive, as if recognising that his rival’s superbly-judged win here at Albert Park heralded a changing of the guard.

Toto Wolff knew it, too. When Vettel emerged on track ahead of Hamilton after the decisive pit-stop, the normally composed Mercedes team principal was caught on TV banging his fist hard on the desk, twice. “Yes, I need to work on my emotions during the race,” Wolff said, acidly. “Perhaps I need to see someone professionally about it.”

FORMULA 1

LCH BEATS VETTLE TO POLE IN MELBOURNE

In the buildup to the Formula One season-opener here in Melbourne, Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel had both gone to some effort to cast the other as favourite for the sport’s new era. As it transpired when they finally went head to head in the first properly competitive session of 2017, it was Hamilton and Mercedes who still had the advantage, having already enjoyed a remarkable period of dominance in winning the drivers’ and constructors’ championships for the past three years.

But while Hamilton and the Silver Arrows taking pole in Albert Park – his sixth at the circuit – was a clear sign the team have not dropped the ball in adapting to the new regulations, it was heartening that Vettel pushed him so hard and better still that the German was optimistic that there was more to come on race day.

FORMULA 1

RED BULL RACING ON FRIDAY PRACTICE IN MELBOURNE

DANIEL RICCIARDO
First Practice Session: 1:24.886, Position: 3, Laps: 19
Second Practice Session: 1:24.650, Position: 5, Laps: 27
“We looked pretty strong this morning and then we tried a few things this afternoon but I don’t think they worked in our favour. I’d like to learn a bit more from this afternoon’s session and then if we could pull all of that together with the strength of this morning I’ll be happy. Mercedes sure is quick but it’s more Lewis at the moment than Valtteri, who looks like he’s more in the group of Ferrari. I think we can be there as well. Pole might be a stretch but I think we can be in that next little group with the right set-up and the right lap in quali. If Lewis does the perfect lap then that’ll be a challenge to take the pole away from him but we’re not too far off. You certainly feel more traction with the new tyres. I thought the times would have been quicker though; this morning I felt a big chunk of grip but I was expecting low twenties. There is still time to improve tomorrow. I think the wind changes so that’ll make a quicker lap time but the traction is nice. It felt awesome to be out on the track this morning, I just felt I was back in my happy place and it was cool to already see so many fans on a Friday. It’s also a circuit I enjoy because it’s a fun layout. I think we can have a very good weekend from here.”

MAX VERSTAPPEN
First Practice Session: 1:25.246, Position: 4, Laps: 19
Second Practice Session: 1:25.013, Position: 6, Laps: 8
“Today was about trying to find and improve the balance of the car after getting out on track for the first Friday practice of the year. We are about where I expected us to be, we have some work to do overnight to make sure we are in a good position for tomorrow and can get the best out of the car. It was nice to try the RB13 for the first time here at Albert Park, it definitely felt faster and a bit more enjoyable through the corners, being a street circuit it will improve by qualifying quite a lot which means more fun for us. I ran wide and ended up on the grass which unfortunately damaged the floor and cut short the second session for me. Mercedes seem quick once again so they are the target to beat but we must also do some work overnight to be ahead of Ferrari who also look strong. Hopefully we will have a good start on Sunday, then we are at the front and can make it hard to overtake.”

F1Weekly podcast # 722

NASIR BRINGS BACK MORE INTERVIEWS FROM THE INDYCAR SERIES OPENER IN ST. PETERBURG FLORIDA AND THE 12 HOURS OF SEBRING. ON THIS EPISODE WE FEATURE AN INTERVEW WITH INDYCAR OWNER DALE COYNE AND…HERE ARE SOME WORDS FROM PADDY LOWE ON THE F1 SEASON OPENER DOWN UNDER.

Paddy Lowe:
It is an exciting time of year for everyone in Formula One including the huge number of fans around the world, as we head to Australia for the first race of the season. This year is particularly exciting as the regulations have changed substantially concerning the bodywork of the cars and the dimensions of the tyres, so we expect to see quicker cars and far more challenging racing for the drivers.

Coming back to the paddock has that feeling of being “back to school” after our winter away: everybody energised for the new season ahead, meeting friends again and welcoming new faces. I always feel that the first qualifying session of the year is the most intense and interesting hour in the entire Formula One calendar, as that is the point when all the smoke and mirrors of winter testing must stop and the real pace is finally put on the table. It is only then that we will see how the cars and drivers perform and get our first true indication of the season which will unfold.

The race itself is always eventful with more than the usual degree of incident and car failure as the cars and drivers engage in their first competition of the year. And the spectators bring extra enthusiasm to Albert Park, many of them having come from all over the world to see this first race of the F1 season. From a technical point of view, the tyres for this year’s race are not only wider but also softer – having the ultrasoft in play at Melbourne for the first time – so we will without doubt see some record breaking lap times this weekend and perhaps more evidence of driver fatigue in the race than we have seen in recent years.

For me personally, I’m very happy to be back at Williams, the team where I started my Formula One career. We have a very talented group of people here and two great drivers with whom I haven’t worked before, so I’m looking forward to stepping into the paddock with them in Melbourne to start the 2017 season.

[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/mp3.f1weekly.com/podcasts/03-20-17f1weekly722.mp3]

GP3

GP3 SEASON OPENS WITH ESTORIL TEST

Portugal circuit hosts first action of 2017

The 2017 GP3 Series season opens this week with the first pre-season test, to be held at the Circuito de Estoril on 22-23 March. The teams and drivers will use the 2 day test to start preparations for the opening race of the season, at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on 12-14 May.

Reigning champions ART Grand Prix carry car numbers 1-4, with Jack Aitken given the honour of carrying #1: the Anglo-Korean driver moves to ART this year after a strong debut season last year, and will hope to build on the race-winning experience he picked up with DAMS. Nirei Fukuzumi returns with the French squad to prove that the promise he showed can bear fruit, while Mercedes junior George Russell and FFSA member Anthoine Hubert step up to make their series’ debuts with the squad.

Arden International will be looking to build on their successful 2016 with a mixture of experience and speed: Red Bull junior Niko Kari has signed with the British outfit for his debut season, as has young Italian charger Leonardo Pulcini, while Steijn Schothurst carries the hopes of the Netherlands as he moves across to Arden following a learning season last year with Campos.

Over at Trident the Italian team will host the experienced line up of Kevin Joerg (who moves to Trident after racing last year with DAMS) and Giuliano Alesi (who returns with his Italian hosts once again). Joining the pair for this test will be American Ryan Tveter and Frenchman Dorian Boccolacci, who will be hoping to impress their hosts as they look to organise their seasons.

DAMS are also combining experience with fresh blood, as Haas F1 tester Santino Ferrucci returns to lead their driver line-up, with newly announced Sauber test driver Tatiana Calderón moving across for her tilt at the title. Joining the pair will be rookie Bruno Baptista, who will be leaning on the experience picked up last year by his new teammates and the squad.
Jenzer will play host to signings Alessio Lorandi, who is new to the series this year, and returnee Arjun Maini, who will be looking to build on the relationship he built with the Swiss squad last season. Unfortunately Korainen GP will not be in the garage next to them, as they are not taking part in the test.

Finally Campos will host Julien Falchero as he has his first taste of GP3, and the Frenchman will be hoping to get plenty of miles under his belt across the two day test. Joining him for the test will be South African Raoul Hyman and Italian F4 champion Marcos Siebert from Argentina, who will be looking to show their worth to their hosts.

The teams will be using the Drag Reduction System (DRS) for the first time in preparation for the coming season, and will be restricted to use only within the 2 nominated DRS zones, as is usual in FIA Formula 2 and F1. With respect to tyres, all drivers will be allowed 7 sets of Pirelli’s medium compound for the test, and 3 sets of wets.

The sessions will start each day at 09:00 local time and run until 12:00: on Wednesday the afternoon session will run from 14:00 to 17:00, while on Thursday this will be pushed forward an hour to 13:00 before closing at 16:00.

GP3 Series – Estoril Test Session: Drivers’ Entry List

ART Grand Prix
1. Jack Aitken
2. Nirei Fukuzumi
3. George Russell
4. Anthoine Hubert

Arden International
5. Niko Kari
6. Leonardo Pulcini
7. Steijn Schothurst

Trident
8. Kevin Joerg
9. Giuliano Alesi
10. Ryan Tveter
11. Dorian Boccolacci

DAMS
14. Santino Ferrucci
15. Tatiana Calderón
16. Bruno Baptista

Jenzer Motorsport
22. Alessio Lorandi
24. Arjun Maini

Campos Racing
26. Julien Falchero
27. Raoul Hyman
28. Marcos Seibert