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Ramez Azza.

 Ramez Azzam


Montreal Canadien finds Motorsports in Middle East.

By Nasir Hameed

Ramez Azzam is competing in this year’s Formula Renault WEC Championship.
He also raced against Jean Alesi and Johnny Herbert in Speed Car Series.

Hameed: Your racing career started in Middle East, what is the level of interest among local youngsters in motorsports?

Azzam: It is still relatively low. The number of youngsters in the national karting championship is always increasing. I think when the Formula 1 comes to Abu Dhabi there will be a lot more interest in motorsport for the younger generation which should hopefully encourage them to start karting.

Hameed: How long were you in karting?

Azzam: I didn’t do much serious karting at all. I started in rental karts in February 2005 and that’s pretty much all I did till the end of 2006. Then my dad bought me and my older brother racing karts and I participated in one round before going off to do Formula Campus.

Hameed: You attended Autosport Academy in France, what did that experience teach you in race craft?

Azzam: It was a good opportunity to do the Autosport Academy as a start into motorsport in Europe. I think I learnt a lot about competitiveness in this year and that you can never let a tenth go because it matters!

Hameed: Who is guiding and managing your career?

Azzam: The person who really got me into motorsport is David Terrien, an ex-karting world champion and he is currently managing the karting track in Dubai. He takes care of the driving side of things. For everything else my manager Marco Zecchi handles!

Hameed: You raced in Formula Renault in 2008, was the learning curve in a more competitive environment and new tracks wider than you expected?

Azzam: I was always going into the season as one of the most, if not the most inexperienced driver. I knew from the start it was going to be a tough season and it turned out to be even more competitive than I had expected!

Hameed: Where do you see the biggest improvement in you as a driver compared to your rookie year in single seaters?

Azzam: The biggest improvement is probably confidence within the car. When I jump into a single seater now I feel more in control of the car no matter what the weather conditions are like. In my rookie season in cars it was very difficult to adapt to different track and weather conditions as I live in the U.A.E where it was either dry or sandy!

Also being with a strong team helps my driving and confidence a lot. I have built a strong relationship with my engineers and mechanics and this helps a lot with confidence on track.


Hameed: You have started the 2009 season with a podium finish at Nogaro, what is your goal for this season?

Azzam: My goal for the season is to improve race by race and become more competitive. Podium finishes is a goal that I will aim for in the early part of the season before hopefully improving and starting to go for the top step


Hameed: Earlier in February you took part in the Speed Car race in Dubai, how did this deal come about and what was it like racing against ex-Grand Prix drivers?

Azzam: The deal came in unfortunate circumstances. A relative of the original driver Hasher Al Maktoum passed away, so he was unable to participate in race two. I had my dad waking me up on the Saturday morning telling me I was racing so it was a big surprise!

It was a real experience racing against the likes of Johnny Herbert and Jean Alesi, not many 17 year olds can say they raced against the greats of motorsport so I am proud of having that!

Hameed: What part of Canada are you from and where is home base during the racing season?

Azzam: I lived in Montreal in Canada. My home base during last season was in United Arab Emirates, but this year I am moving to Milton Keynes in the UK.

Hameed: How do you find drivers in junior category in terms of friendliness, are some already displaying cut-throat mentality that motor racing is famous for?

Azzam: A lot of us get on quite well as friends off the track, but on track it is a war whether you are teammates or in rival teams. Sometimes the arguments on track continue off the track but I like to mind my own business and do my talking on track!

Hameed: What is the Azzam Agenda for the next few years?

Azzam: Well we are still in the very early stages of the 2009 season, so we must see how the first half of this year goes before starting to plan the next two years. The next ideal step is a Formula 3 championship or possibly Formula Master.

Hameed: Any interest in Indy or Nascar racing in future?

Azzam: It’s a completely different type of racing but I wouldn’t rule it out in the future!

Spanish domination.



Lime away: A greasy win it may have been but Jenson Button is now looking well dressed for the 2009 World Championship. The British driver took win # 4 in round 5 at Barcelona on Sunday. Teammate Rubens Barrichello is feeling the squeeze after mid-race strategy change from three to two pit stops allowed Button to grab the lead while the Brazilian had to settle for second. Memories of Maranello at Montmelo!


Where have all the power gone? The Battle of Britons, Button vs Hamilton, is being fought with German power, Mercedes-Benz. While Button is having the season of his career, Hamilton, the defending world champion, finds himself diffused and confused. McLaren’s child prodigy is hopeful that he will have a competitive package by the time of his home Grand Prix—if there is one.


Running on empty: Scuderia Ferrari is an uneasy stable this season. In qualifying Kimi Raikkonen aired issues with the team and in the late stages of the race Felipe Massa, above, took his time in heeding to team’s instructions to “let it go” and finish the race as not enough fuel went into his car during his final pit stop.


Making his Mark: Exactly fifty years to the day after Jack Brabham became the first Australian to win a Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monte-Carlo, Mark Webber equaled his career best finish by taking the final podium spot in Montmelo. Finishing ahead of teammate Sebastian Vettel must have given Webber a boomerang feeling


Car ahead and behind is a Toyota: The Trulli Train was de-railed on the opening lap. Teammate Timo Glock ran behind schedule and completed the journey pointless, a lap down in tenth. The Japanese giant is now threatening to pull out over FIA’s proposed new technical regulations.


Lion that roared: Local lad Fernando Alonso delighted fellow hombres when he passed the Ferrari of Felipe Massa late in the race to grab fifth place. Caught out by the new regulations like McLaren, days of thunder and podium prancing are now a painful and distant memory.



F1weekly podcast # 346



Podcast number 346 Clark and Steve give you the Barcelona review.

Brawn GP continue their domination of the 2009 season with Button taking the checkered flag.

Rubens Barrichello surprised to have not taken the victory in Barcelona.

Red Bull’s Mark Webber with great pit stop strategy takes the final podium position.

Ferrari telling Felipe to conserve fuel allows Vettel and Alonso through for fourth and fifth.

More trouble for Max Mosley as more teams join the budget cap protest.

Rubens Barrichello on Sunday made clear I’m not playing number two again.


The Spanish Grand Prix
Circuit de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain;
66 laps; 307.104km;


Pos Driver Team Time
1. Button Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) 1h37:19.202
2. Barrichello Brawn GP-Mercedes (B) + 13.056
3. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) + 13.924
4. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) + 18.941
5. Alonso Renault (B) + 43.166
6. Massa Ferrari (B) + 50.827
7. Heidfeld BMW Sauber (B) + 52.312
8. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) + 1:05.211
9. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) + 1 lap
10. Glock Toyota (B) + 1 lap
11. Kubica BMW Sauber (B) + 1 lap
12. Piquet Renault (B) + 1 lap
13. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) + 1 lap
14. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) + 1 lap

Fastest lap: Barrichello, 1:22.762

Not classified/retirements:

Driver Team On lap
Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 18
Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 8
Trulli Toyota (B) 1
Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1
Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1
Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1

Brawn GP on pole.


Jenson Button with a second remaining takes pole with a terrific final lap.

Sebastian Vettel continues to pressure Jenson with a front row start.

Rubens Barrichello keeps the Brawn domination alive with P3.

Kimi Raikkonen out in Q1 due to more Ferrari mistakes.

Toyota leaning towards leaving Formula One in 2010.

Lewis clearly not happy with McLaren upgrades for Barcelona.


Pos Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3
1. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:20.707 1:20.192 1:20.527
2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:20.715 1:20.220 1:20.660
3. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:20.808 1:19.954 1:20.762
4. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:20.484 1:20.149 1:20.934
5. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:20.689 1:20.007 1:21.049
6. Glock Toyota (B) 1:20.877 1:20.107 1:21.247
7. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:21.189 1:20.420 1:21.254
8. Alonso Renault (B) 1:21.186 1:20.509 1:21.392
9. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:20.745 1:20.256 1:22.558
10. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:20.931 1:20.408 1:22.685
11. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:20.818 1:20.531
12. Piquet Renault (B) 1:21.128 1:20.604
13. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:21.095 1:20.676
14. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:20.991 1:20.805
15. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:21.033 1:21.067
16. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:21.291
17. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:21.300
18. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:21.675
19. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:21.742
20. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:22.204


 Pos Driver Team Weight (kg)
1. Jenson Button Brawn Mercedes 646.0
2. Sebastian Vettel RBR Renault 651.5
3. Rubens Barrichello Brawn Mercedes 649.5
4. Felipe Massa Ferrari 655.0
5. Mark Webber RBR Renault 651.5
6. Timo Glock Toyota 646.5
7. Jarno Trulli Toyota 655.5
8. Fernando Alonso Renault 645.0
9. Nico Rosberg Williams Toyota 668.0
10. Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 660.0
11. Kazuki Nakajima Williams Toyota 676.6*
12. Nelson Piquet Renault 677.4*
13. Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 676.3*
14. Lewis Hamilton McLaren Mercedes 683.0*
15. Sébastien Buemi STR Ferrari 678.0*
16. Kimi Räikkönen Ferrari 673.0*
17. Sébastien Bourdais STR Ferrari 669.0*
18. Heikki Kovalainen McLaren Mercedes 657.0*
19. Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes 675.0*
20. Giancarlo Fisichella Force India Mercedes 656.0*

F1weekly podcast # 345




Press on regardless: Very few drivers have remained in the hearts of racing fans worldwide as Gilles Villeneuve. The French speaking Canadian was making waves in Formula Atlantic series in North America when he was noticed by a fellow competitor, James Hunt, who recommended Gilles to his team boss, Teddy Mayer.

Spins and off-track excursions, which remained the hallmark of his exciting career, marked his debut in the 1977 British Grand Prix. But what was not lost on that day at Silverstone was the fact he out qualified his teammate, McLaren’s regular number two driver Jochen Mass. Ironically, it would be the same driver who would touch his career on that tragic day at Zolder, 27 years ago today.

Gilles Villeneuve came from humble backgrounds and, in the words of famous Ferrari engineer, Mauro Forghieri, “had a rage to win”.

Villeneuve’s maiden win came in Montreal in 1978. His final victory was an epic struggle against numerous competitors in the 1981 Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama.

But nothing will ever eclipse the spirit of car # 27 and its little driver than the giant duel at Dijon in which he battled and exchanged second place position again and again with Rene Arnoux in the closing stages of the 1979 French Grand Prix.

The battle for second place even eclipsed the historic first turbo-win in Formula 1 by Arnoux’s Renault teammate Jean-Pierre Jabouille.


The Circuit de Catalunya: built in 1991 and is often referred to as ‘Barcelona’ in the racing community, despite the fact that it is located in Montmeló. The Circuit de Catalunya should not be confused with the Montjuïc circuit, which hosted the Spanish Grand Prix four times between 1969 and 1975 and, unlike the Circuit de Catalunya, is actually located within the city of Barcelona.

Because so much testing is done at this circuit, Formula One drivers and mechanics are extremely familiar with it. This has led to criticism that drivers and mechanics are too familiar with Catalunya, reducing the amount of on-track action.

When first used, overtaking was frequent as cars could follow closely through the last two corners and slipstream down the long straight. As aerodynamic balance became more critical, this overtaking method ceased as the cars were unable to follow each other through the fast final corner due to turbulence created by the leading car. This made it almost impossible for a car to get close enough to the car in front of it to attempt a pass at the first turn, which is the only obvious overtaking point on the circuit. The 2007 F1 Season saw the 1st of the 2 final sweepers replaced with a slow chicane in an effort to improve overtaking. However, the redisign did not noticeably increase the amount of overtaking.

Podcast number 345 in Post production.

Vettel focused on fighting for the world championship.

Brawn GP to promote the new Terminator Salvation film in Barcelona.

Rosberg and Nakajima give Williams a one-two in second free practice.

Scuderia Toro Rosso to become a full constructor in 2010.

Motorsports Mondial with Nasir Hameed.


Friday second practice.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps
1. Rosberg Williams-Toyota (B) 1:21.588 43
2. Nakajima Williams-Toyota (B) 1:21.740 + 0.152 40
3. Alonso Renault (B) 1:21.781 + 0.193 36
4. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:21.843 + 0.255 39
5. Webber Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:22.027 + 0.439 37
6. Button Brawn-Mercedes (B) 1:22.052 + 0.464 35
7. Vettel Red Bull-Renault (B) 1:22.082 + 0.494 45
8. Piquet Renault (B) 1:22.349 + 0.761 26
9. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:22.571 + 0.983 17
10. Raikkonen Ferrari (B) 1:22.599 + 1.011 40
11. Bourdais Toro Rosso-Ferrari (B) 1:22.615 + 1.027 30
12. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes (B) 1:22.670 + 1.082 32
13. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:22.809 + 1.221 31
14. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes (B) 1:22.876 + 1.288 29
15. Massa Ferrari (B) 1:22.878 + 1.290 35
16. Kubica BMW-Sauber (B) 1:22.948 + 1.360 40
17. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber (B) 1:23.173 + 1.585 39
18. Glock Toyota (B) 1:23.360 + 1.772 46
19. Trulli Toyota (B) 1:23.623 + 2.035 47
20. Sutil Force India-Mercedes (B)


Alexander Rossi.

Alexander Rossi charts European campaign

Czechs out Brno, Hungary for more.



Alexander Rossi, the 2008 Formula BMW Americas and World Finals Champion, had a busy month in April testing the waters of cut-throat European racing scene at four classic European venues. And quite a splash he made across the pond.

First stop in preparation for the 2009 International Formula Master series was Imola. Rossi tested with Trident racing in the heart of Italian motor racing country.

Next stop was Silverstone with Hi Tech Racing, a newcomer to Formula Master this year but established player in the British F3 championship.

The final two pre-season test sessions were held at Brno, the Czech Republic, and the Hungaroring.

Brno. Czech this!

Rossi was the top rookie on the opening day, April 20th, at Brno, setting an impressive pace which was only .31s off the fastest time and ahead of several experienced drivers.

An elated Rossi said, “Day 1 at Brno was very good for the entire team as it was our first test together and immediately in the morning we were P3, and ended the day P4 overall.”

Second day of testing on April 21st. saw Rossi again finished both the morning and afternoon sessions in the top half of the field.
Rossi explained, “We lost a little bit of pace on Day 2 as we were learning about the life span of the tire and we were not able to fully optimize the ‘miracle lap’ if you will. With that said we made a lot of progress on car set up and balance and were confident that we would be very competitive the following week in Hungary."

Danube delight.

"Arriving at the Hungaroring, the team and I were full of confidence after a very successful first test, but we also had the pressure of needing to back up the results of our initial pace,” cautioned Rossi.
Mechanical goulash sidelined Rossi on the first day of testing, April 27th, at Hungaroring, which is home to the only F1 race in Eastern Europe.
“On day 1 we struggled quite a bit with constant oversteer and as you know this is quite difficult to deal with, especially at a track full of long duration and high speed corners. We ended the day P11, but we put our heads down as a team and made some pretty radical changes overnight.”
On the second day, April 28th, Rossi was within striking distance of the fastest time, recording fourth fastest time at 1:37:551 which was less than half a second of the fastest time but again ahead of several second year drivers.
Rossi, “Coming out of the box in day 2 we were able to show what the rookie team HiTech Junior is really made of as we immediately leaped to P4, only 4 tenths off the leader. We ended the two days fourth overall and as we continue to sort through some technical issues we are learning every time the car goes out on track and at this point our progress is exponential.”

Good to go at Pau.

“I cannot wait to see what we can put together at the first event in Pau as we are making more large changes to the car; I am sure we will be very competitive."
With over 40% win ratio and two championships in last three years, Rossi is driving the American dream to his ultimate destination, Formula 1. The 2009 International Formula Master Championship starts this month in streets of historic Pau in southern France.

Please visit for more information on this genuine home grown world class racing talent.