Tag Archives: Piquet

F1Weekly podcast # 545


Dakar Rally, Arequipa

For its arrival in Peru, the Dakar 2012 saw Cyril Despres win his 4th stage of this year’s rally and gain extra time over Marc Coma, with a lead of now 2’22” in the general standings. More significantly, this 11th stage has genuinely proven that the confrontation between the two men is starting to resemble a chess match. Robby Gordon would have liked to play at this game right to the finish, but in the car race the American suffered mechanical problems and lost more than one hour today, leaving the way open for the general standings leader, Stephane Peterhansel, who won his 25th stage in a car on the Dakar.

Whilst the Dakar history books will note that Cyril Despres was the first rider to win in Peru, the 27th country to welcome the caravan of the world’s biggest rally-raid, the records of today’s stage will note that the Frenchman gained a bit of breathing space in the general standings between Ari ca and Arequipa. Indeed, by settling on catching up with Marc Coma, who set off just before him this morning, then following him all day, the Frenchman put in a strategically perfect performance to pick up his 30th stage victory on the Dakar and more significantly gain 2’01” over the Catalan.

He will definitely be needing it! This 11th special stage also saw a strategic battle from the Coma clan, who worked to place its leader in an ideal position in before the big special of dunes between Arequipa et Nasca. Catalan Gerard Farres Guell attacked all along the 478 km of special to finally achieve the 2nd best time of the day, 1’39” behind Despres. As a result, Farres Guell will start tomorrow in front of his friend Marc Coma, on the 12th stage, allowing Coma the possibility to “easily” regain 4 minutes over the Frenchman. Furthermore, another Gallic rider Johnny Aubert, promoted to water carrier for Coma after the withdrawal of Pedrero yesterday, also put in a superb performance to accomplish the 4th best time of t! he day a nd will now start the next stage just behind his leader.

However, for the moment, Cyril Despres has reinforced his position as general standings leader, with a lead that now stands at 2’22” over his best enemy. Behind them, Helder Rodrigues experienced a difficult day after stalling on a river crossing at the 21-km point of the special, which led to him losing 7’44” at the finishing line! The Portuguese rider is still well placed on the 3rd step of the provisional podium with a lead of 16’06” over fourth placed rider Jordi Viladoms.

In the car race, Robby Gordon has lost his chance of triumph on a day marked by a breakdown of his cardan suspension that stopped him for more than an hour of repairs, leaving the road open to the Minis for the final battle. In the inter-team duel that Stephane Peterhansel and Nani Roma are now involved in, the Frenchman took another step towards his 10th title, in all categories, by winning his 25th stage in a car on the Dakar, 3’44” ahead of his Catalan team-mate. In the general standings, “Peter” now boasts a lead of 22’49” over Roma. Benefitting from Gordon’s problems, South African Giniel de Villiers has climbed on to the third step of the provisional podium, admittedly 1 hour 11 minutes behind the leader, but still has a good chance of keeping this position until Lima.

In the quad race, the game seems to be up in light of the Patronelli brothers’ domination of their rivals. Alejandro, the title holder and category leader since the 7th stage, achieved his 10th stage victory on the Dakar and his 3rd in 2012, once again in front of his younger sibling, Marcos. Tomas Maffei, the only rider who is showing a fragment of resistance to the men from Las Flores, conceded more time today, finishing 18’57” behind, and seems to be resigned to the fact. This is not surprising, when in the general standings Alejandro Patronelli now boasts a lead of 1 hour and 20 minutes over Marcos and 1:55’43 over their countryman Maffei. In 4th, Ign! acio Cas ale trails the leader by more than 5 hours!


Motorsports Mondial

Romain Grosjean to race alongside Kimi Räikkönen in 2012

Lotus Renault GP and TOTAL are delighted to announce that Romain Grosjean will race alongside 2007 world champion Kimi Räikkönen next season. The two companies are also pleased to confirm that they have renewed their sponsorship agreement for another year.

The 2011 GP2 Series champion gained useful experience with the team throughout the year as LRGP’s third driver. As part of his role, Romain was rewarded with two practice session drives at the final two races of the season in both Abu Dhabi and Brazil.

Prior to claiming first prize for the DAMS team in this season’s GP2 Series, Romain was a title winner in F3 Euroseries and the GP2 Asia Series before graduating to the Renault F1 Team in 2008 as a test driver. Following this, he stepped up to a race seat for the second half of 2009.

The announcement of Romain as race driver signals the beginning of the Frenchman’s second spell at Enstone in such a capacity.

Romain Grosjean: “I am thrilled to be one of the team’s race drivers in 2012. There’s a big grin on my face at the prospect of getting behind the wheel of next year’s car, and I feel very privileged to be given this opportunity. To be racing alongside a former world champion and someone who is hungry and returning to Formula 1 will be a great experience, and I’m sure will help raise my level of performance too. I feel that my successful season in GP2 Series has helped me mature a lot, and I am a much more complete driver than I was last time I was competing in this sport. Returning to Enstone as a race driver feels like coming home. I will not disappoint and I wish to thank all the people without whom this return to F1 would not have been possible. Total, which supports me since 2006, and Gravity Sport Management, are first on this list.”

Jacques-Emmanuel Saulnier, Senior Vice-President Corporate Communications, Total: “Total is delighted to give the young talented French driver, Romain Grosjean, the opportunity to fulfill his dream by becoming an F1 driver with the Lotus Renault GP team. An overall mission of our company, as is LRGP’s, is to support young talented people and encourage them along the path to excellence and performance. The involvement of our Group in the highest category of motor sport alongside Romain Grosjean, with whom we’ve formed a relationship based on trust over more than six years, goes far beyond the purely communications aspect. It shows our determination to develop the performance of our fuels and lubricants with the aim of achieving optimal energetic efficiency to help our clients reduce and improve consumption. Formula 1 must embrace the perspective of clean technology and permanent evolution, and go back to its roots by becoming a laboratory for innovation once again.”

Eric Boullier, Team Principal & MD: “I’m delighted that Romain Grosjean will side Kimi next year. Romain has shown a lot of maturity in the past twelve months both through his GP2 Series victory and his development as third driver with us. We were impressed when he drove for us in the first practice sessions in Abu Dhabi and Brazil. We are confident that drafting him in to one of our driver’s seats will help us in our rebuilding process. I would like to thank Vitaly Petrov and Bruno Senna for their contribution to the team’s performance this year and I wish them all the best for the future.”

Gérard Lopez, Genii Capital, Chairman: “Only last week I reiterated that the team is at the start of a brand new cycle. Announcing Romain as our race driver alongside Kimi is great news and will help us achieve our aims of getting back to the very top. The announcements we made today and last week are exciting ones for our team and there is a real buzz surrounding us now.”

F1Weekly podcast # 527

Photo: f3esmedia

 F1weekly podcast number 527

Motorsports Mondial with Nasir Hameed

Tests for the best F3 Euro Series drivers

Since its creation back in 2003, the Formula 3 Euro Series has established as the ideal stepping stone for young racing drivers – and this tradition should be continued, this year. The champion and the vice-champion of the 2011 Euro Series Championship will be rewarded with a Formula Renault 3.5 test. In addition, the two best drivers powered by a Mercedes engine will be offered the opportunity to test an AMG Mercedes C-Class DTM, at the end of the season. While the two best Volkswagen drivers will be invited to test the Audi A4 DTM.

Quite a number of young racing drivers succeeded in using the Formula 3 Euro Series drivers as stepping stone to a successful career in the international motor-racing world, with Formula 1 World Champions Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel who learned their trade in the Euro Series representing prime examples of what a successful Euro Series driver can achieve. The Briton won the 2006 title in superior style, with a clear lead over the runner-up, Adrian Sutil. And in the following season, Sebastian Vettel finished runner-up behind Scotland’s Paul Di Resta. Di Resta, however, opted for another career path. He joined DTM and won the title in the touring-car series to be offered a GP-driver deal afterwards. Edoardo Mortara, the 2010 Euro Series Champion, also switched to DTM. The Italian convinced in the tests he was granted as reward for his title and since then, he has been demonstrating his skills in the cockpit of an Audi touring car. This weekend at Oschersleben, the rookie celebrated his second DTM podium. Currently, six former Euro Series drivers are competing in DTM and nine of the current Formula 1 regulars can look back on a Formula 3 Euro Series career.

It goes without saying that this year’s Euro Series drivers would love to follow the footsteps of drivers such as Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Paul Di Resta and Edoardo Mortara. In addition to the DTM tests, the two best placed drivers in the championship will be invited to a day of testing in the cockpits of Formula Renault 3.5 single-seaters. On 28th November, two of these 480bhp vehicles will wait for the champion and the runner-up in Spain, at the circuit of Aragon. Currently, Robert Wickens is demonstrating that Euro Series drivers are well prepared for delivering in a Formula Renault 3.5 vehicle, too. With just one more race weekend to go, the Canadian holds the lead in the Formula Renault 3.5 Drivers’ Championship, thus demonstrating in this series that the Euro Series represents the perfect preparation for the higher motor-racing categories.


Motorsports Mondial


Starting from 15th position, American Alexander Rossi produced a solid performance to finish 7th in race two of the World Series by Renault round at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium today.

After a difficult qualifying session this morning, where Rossi struggled with car set-up and admitted to not maximising his track time, Rossi lined up his Fortec Motorsport car in P15 on the grid for the afternoon’s race.

Once again Rossi made a great race start, keeping out of trouble when a first corner clash spun his team mate, Ramos, 360 degrees. Rossi moved up into P11 as the pack forged on to Eau Rouge and then he skilfully took Rosenzweig for 10th place on lap two where he ran until the pit stop window opened. His Fortec Motorsport team opted for an early stop strategy as they did in Aragon, and Rossi entered the pits as soon as the window opened on lap five. Re-joining the field in clean air, Rossi was soon able to capitalise on position gain and was running with good race pace in P7.

He then had to close the gap to Zampieri ahead, but with the leaders now running at similar speeds and due to his early pit stop, Rossi was struggling as his tyres dropped away in the closing stages, making it impossible for him to achieve a realistic challenge for P6.

Rossi took the chequered flag at the end of the 22-lap race in P7, as he did in race one, and picked up a further six Championship points to bring his tally to 55, with the Fortec Motorsport team now on 67 points. Rossi now sits in P3, only two points behind today’s race winner Jean-Eric Vergne, with his Fortec team in P2 in the World Series by Renault FR3.5 Championships.

Alexander Rossi commented; “We made a lot of changes overnight – some good, some not so good – but I did not maximise some of my laps in qualifying and probably could have found a few more tenths which cost us a few positions, but I will learn from that. My race start was good and after the pit stop we showed some genuine pace, which is really positive. As we stopped early though, my tyres were quite gone by the last few laps, so I could not improve on my times in the last stint. However, it was a good weekend for us and we will take away these experiences and move on. We cannot get too disappointed about our results this weekend, but we have to move forward significantly as the Championship is quite tight.”

Jamie Dye, Team Manager, Fortec Motorsport, added; “Our pace in the race was good and the lap times were there. Catching and passing the other cars is another thing, however, and that is what we have to work on again for our cars in the next race. If we were getting a tow in the fast parts of the track Alexander was able to pass, but we were losing out in the slow parts. We obviously have some fine tuning to do to get more out of the car, but Alexander drove a great race, and to finish 8 seconds behind the leader after starting P15 is a very good overall achievement. We have some small tweeks coming for Monza which will help, but the Carlin’s are doing a mega job, so we shall be working towards closing the gap technically as quickly as we can.”

Motorsports Mondial

Photo: Reuters

Star from Down Under Mark Webber is hoping to get his F1 season back on track. The season opener on home ground yielded the same best finish on home soil as his debut with Minardi. His young teammate, Sebastian Vettel, was on a different planet in Albert Park.

Webber set the pace on Friday. Vettel and McLaren boys will give him run for the pole and company in the race.

Sunday the simmering heat and humidity of Malaysia will take its toll. Rain may add more spice to the show. Michael Schumacher, the most successful driver in F1 and Sepang’s short history, has predicted it might be a “lottery.”

Red Bull and his young fellow German may still hold the winning number when the checkered flag falls on the Petronas Malaysian Grand Prix.

McLaren is being tipped as the most likely team to challenge Red Bull, at least in the first half of the season. With two world champions as teammates it will be interesting to see if Lewis can do to his teammate Button what he has always done to his teammates. To the surprise of many it was Button who grabbed two early season victories last year before Lewis landed his first win.

Ferrari, the prancing horse. The famous Italian stable may not be so stable for Felipe Massa, who has become Mark Webber of Maranello. Very good but with a teammate who is very good +, and then some.

Fernando Alonso, jockey du jour at prancing horse, missed out on his third championship last year in the final round due to a team blunder. He collected valuable points in Australia from his fourth place finish.

Renault’s Russian driver Vitaly Petrov is now back on earth after his historic orbit of the F1 podium in Albert Park. Nick Heidfeld was chosen to replace Robert Kubica, and was unable to demonstrate, due to damage suffered at the start in Australia, what he could do in a car good enough for Petrov to be on the podium.

Toro Rosso. The two young drivers in what was formerly known as Minardi, Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastien Buemi, are both looking to avoid the Speed/Liuzzi treatment by parent company’s motorsports matador, Dr Helmut Marko.

The Sepang track was designed by Hermann-the German-Tilke and hosted the inaugural Malaysian Grand Prix in 1999, victory was gifted to Eddie Irvine by his Ferrari teammate, Michael-the even more German-Schumacher.

— Nasir Hameed

Greetings and Grand Prix regards.

Motorsports Mondial


Saved by Zero

Black and round, the racing tires are, plain and simple. They have played a major part in the history of Formula 1 Grand Prix motor racing. From the one lap qualifying flyer of the eighties to the 21st century marvel; expanding during the race after passing the pre-race measurement, they have left their marks in more ways than ‘won.’

Photo: www.formulaworldshop.com

Ask Nando about Hungary 2003.

The global financial crisis not only saw the departure from F1 of the behemoths of Japanese auto industry, Honda and Toyota, but also heard the cry of ‘sayonara’ from F1’s sole tire supplier, Bridgestone.

The men from Clermont-Ferrand, home base of “Bibendum,” refused to bid on FIA’s tender sans competition. This opened the door for Pirelli, a magical name from the glorious past and rich heritage of Italian motor racing.

They carried Nino Farina into the history books as the winner of the inaugural Formula 1 race at Silverstone and the world championship in 1950.

Juan Manuel Fangio, the “Maestro” from Balcarce in Argentina, also rode on Pirelli tires to his maiden championship in 1951. His final and greatest triumph in the 1957 German Grand Prix driving the Maserati 250F was also accomplished on Pirelli tires.

Success was also achieved at Le Mans 24 Hours, 1951, and Sebring 12 Hours in 1957, the same year Pirelli stopped its activity in Formula 1.

Their first re-entry into F1 was in the early eighties. It was at Paul Ricard in 1985 that Nelson Piquet drove them to winner’s circle with Brabham team. Had it not been for the Michelin tire FIA-sco at the 2005 United States Grand Prix even the great Michael Schumacher would have gone winless for the season.

The tire wars are now history and Pirelli is back to the future, saved by P Zero.

The following season Gerhard Berger would score his first grand prix win on Pirelli tires in Mexico driving the United Colours of Benetton.

The same year his teammate Teo Fabio would give Pirelli their final pole position, of all the places at Monza Autodromo.

Back to Brazilian Piquet, he would score Pirelli’s final F1 victory in Montreal, 1991, as Mansell waved to the crowd on the final lap………

Fast forward two decades and as we ‘zero’ in on the 2011 season; Pirelli wants to spice up the show by giving rubber that may require up to three or four pit stops.

The civil unrest in Bahrain cast a ‘sand in the Vaseline’ for what was to be the season opener.

Now the wait is almost over. Fans are getting restless.

Can’t wait for the new calendar! Pirelli sure knows how to produce one.

— Nasir Hameed

Greetings and radial regards.