Virgin Racing’s Spanish Grand Prix 2011

May 22, 2011

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“Marussia Virgin Racing achieved another double finish today to add to its tally at the fifth race of the 2011 Formula One season, the Spanish Grand Prix at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona.

“The grandstands were full in honour of local hero Fernando Alonso and they were rewarded with sunshine and an air temperature of 27°C. The track had been warmed to 41°C and a major concern was to save the tyres in order to optimise the pit-stop strategy.

“The race got off to a clean start, and both Timo and Jérôme followed a three pitstop strategy, using the Hard Pirelli P-Zero tyres only for the last stint. They ran at a similar pace throughout the race and the two cars performed reliably, allowing Timo Glock and Jérôme D’Ambrosio to cross the finish line in 19th and 20th position respectively. “

Timo Glock

“I had a reasonable race – although it was a bit of a struggle going into turn one. Liuzzi got past me as he had a better line but I got past him after the first pitstop, which was good as it meant that we could then go at our own pace.

“In general I think we got the best out of the car today and we had a good strategy in terms of managing the traffic, so overall I’m quite happy with my day.”

Jérôme D’Ambrosio

“I think it was a pretty good race for me – better than qualifying yesterday. I had a pretty good first stint but of course when we hit the traffic it turns into a completely different race.

“Here you lose a lot of time, more than in Turkey, China or Malaysia, but for us it was a good race. We need to look at a small issue with the brakes but apart from that everything went smoothly. The team did a great job again with the strategy. I had some good stints with not too much traffic so overall I’m quite pleased.”

John Booth, Team Principal

“Timo got a particularly good start on the run down to turn one, but unfortunately Liuzzi got past on the outside. He struggled in the first stint with a set of tyres which had a small vibration issue. We picked this up after qualifying but since we needed to run all three sets of our Option tyres today, we elected to use that set in the stint which we thought would be most plagued by traffic.

“It looks in general that our pace was a little bit better than we thought compared to the front-runners and we also didn’t see the traffic we expected in the first stint. After stopping for a new set of Option tyres Timo made light work of getting past Liuzzi and was able to run at his true pace for the rest of the race.

“Jérôme struggled a bit with his braking stability throughout the weekend and this seems to have harmed his pace in the race relative to Timo. However, overall, he completed his objective of moving ahead of the Hispanias.

“In terms of the team performance, another strong weekend in which we have completed the first five-race cycle on the gearbox, which is a huge improvement compared to last year. Now we have our reliability issues behind us, we need to focus on performance developments for the car.”

Vettel Has Not Underestimated the Competition

May 14, 2011

Sebastian Vettel – Red Bull RB6

Sebastian Vettel is not over confident even though he has won three of the first four races. “I think the day you start to think you are unbeatable is the day you get beaten. There is always someone at some point who will teach you a lesson and beat you.

“We are racing at the highest level. Of course I’m very happy with today and with the start of the season, and I’m very happy with how we work together as a team and pull together in one direction, but there is never time to relax.

“Okay we’ve had four races now, but every single team has had their highs and lows. I’m very happy because we’ve been very competitive in all four races. Sometimes it was quite comfortable, like in Australia, but other times it was very close – like on the Saturday in Malaysia we were not sure to beat McLaren in qualifying.

“Yesterday Mercedes were very quick, and I’ve heard that many teams will bring a lot of updates to Barcelona. That will be the story of the next couple of races – everyone keeps pushing and you have to take everything you can at the time.

“I had a very good start (in Istanbul), which was crucial, and then I was able to pull a gap right in the first stint, which was important because then we could afford to stay out a lap longer, wait to see what the others were doing in terms of strategy and then just react.

“It makes our life a bit easier to find out which strategy works and which doesn’t. It was very much in control. I’m very happy with how we communicated during the race and how we reacted so all in all I’m very, very pleased.

“I think since China we have definitely made a step forward, so we have learned our lesson and we have to make sure that we keep this momentum going.

“I have to say that when I walked in on Saturday morning, every little worry was gone immediately because the mechanics and the whole team gave me the impression that nothing happened, nothing’s wrong, and we will continue as usual.

“Obviously this helps a lot, because people in the paddock I see from time to time, but I’m working with people in the garage all year long and it means a lot if people that are close to you [reassure you] that there is nothing to worry about and make you feel comfortable.”

Mercedes Preview the Turkish Grand Prix 2011

May 1, 2011

Michael Schumacher – Mercedes W01

Michael Schumacher

“It is always exciting when the calendar returns to Europe and the racing schedule becomes more intense. After returning from the first three races, I have enjoyed spending some time with my family in the short break, and I am now really looking forward to the action getting underway again.

“The venue for our next race, Istanbul Park, is a great track and provides a good challenge for the drivers. It’s anti-clockwise, has a lot of gradient changes and different corner layouts, so it’s quite nice to drive.

“I know that the team have been working very hard to continue the progress that we made during the last race weekend in China and, with the help of some developments planned for Istanbul, I am confident that we can enjoy an equally positive weekend.”

Nico Rosberg

“We had a more difficult start to 2011 than we had expected, and the first three races felt a little like a rollercoaster of emotions.

“We were all disappointed in Melbourne and Malaysia but, after leading the race in Shanghai, we have confirmed the potential of our car. The team did a very good job to take a step forward and we learned a lot from the weekend.

“Hopefully we can now make a further step for Turkey and produce another positive performance. After spending time with my family during Easter, I am really looking forward to the race at Istanbul Park. Turn Eight is one of the most challenging corners of the year: it’s taken at full throttle for over eight seconds, with forces of up to 5G.

“If I had to create a fantasy Formula One circuit, this corner would definitely be included.”

Mercedes Aiming to Challenge the Leaders

April 29, 2011

Michael Schumacher Mercedes W01

Michael Schumacher is hoping for a good race at Istanbul: I know that the team have been working very hard to continue the progress that we made during the last race weekend in China and, with the help of some developments planned for Istanbul, I am confident that we can enjoy an equally positive weekend.

Nico Rosberg knows that the car has potential: “We had a more difficult start to 2011 than we had expected, and the first three races felt a little like a rollercoaster of emotions.

“We were all disappointed in Melbourne and Malaysia but, after leading the race in Shanghai, we have confirmed the potential of our car. The team did a very good job to take a step forward and we learned a lot from the weekend.”

Ross Brawn was pleased that the car headed the field in China for some laps but more work is needed to take the fight to the leading teams:  “The team and drivers have worked extremely hard in the short break before the European season begins to ensure that we continue to move forward.

“We have a fundamentally good car and we need to achieve its full potential in the races to come. The Chinese Grand Prix reminded everyone at the team what it is like to fight for a race. We didn’t succeed on that occasion but it’s a feeling that we would like to experience more often.

“When the car is working properly, we can be more competitive and the solutions we are bringing to Turkey will help us achieve this level more consistently. However, we also know that we need to push for more performance if we want to fight regularly at the front. The first three races have been a challenge but we have pulled together and will continue working hard to make progress.”

 

How Important is a Good Qualifying Grid Position?

April 27, 2011

Mark Webber – Red Bull RB6

Mark Webber’s storming drive from 18th on the grid to 3rd place at the Chinese Grand Prix in Shanghai has caused team principals to re-assess their race strategy.

Generally, teams try to qualify as near to the front of the grid as possible. To achieve this they need to use a  set of new soft tyres in each qualifying session. The remaining ten cars that reach the third and final qualifying session will usually have used three sets of new soft tyres which then compromises their race strategy as they have fewer sets of the faster tyres for the race.

Mark Webber did not use a set of soft tyres during the first qualifying session, believing that his car was quick enough to progress to the second session with the slower tyres. This was not the case, and he qualified only 18th, however, he had extra sets of soft tyres for the race which enabled him to lap faster and claim third place.

Christian Horner, Red Bull’s Team Principal, commented: “It makes you question the value of qualifying. Now the cars can overtake, and with such a big difference between old and new tyres, we are going to have to reasess at each track, how important it is to get at the front of the grid. Our strategists will look at how we should be structuring our race weekends.

“According to the characteristics of the track and the tyres at any given weekend, you may want to tilt the whole thing in favour of having fast, new tyres at key parts of the race, maybe at the expense of qualifying.

“You have to do a lot of overtaking to make it work, but Mark showed it can be done. You could say he needed a couple more laps to have won. With two laps less, we could have won with Sebastian, using a conventional strategy, based on good grid position.”

Renault’s Technical Director, James Allison agreed: That’s feasible but the calculations can only ever be estimates. Tyre behaviour is influenced by all sorts of variables.”

Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren’s Team Principal, is pleased with the current format. “We have had two races at circuits that historically, without rain, have not generated excitement (Malaysia and China) and have had two cracking races.

“We are in a good place for F1. With a combination of the tyres, DRS and KERS, it’s mixed things up. You are on a knife edge trying to determine strategy. Get it wrong and you really suffer. The tyres are a challenge for the teams,engineers and drivers, and that is a healthy thing.”

Pirelli Encouraged by Tyres’ Performance

April 26, 2011

Pirelli PZero

Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s Motorsport Director, was delighted with way that his tyres performed at Shanghai and the strategy employed by the teams: “The races just seem to keep on getting better and better this year! I think nobody watching really knew how it was going to finish until the very end, which is exactly what we wanted to achieve when we started our Formula One project.

“We saw an interesting split of strategies, with McLaren managing to make three stops work for Hamilton but Red Bull coming very close to winning with just two. Compared to Malaysia we experienced a lot less degradation, with some drivers managing to get 20 laps or more out of the hard tyre.

“We didn’t experience an excessive amount of the toffee-like ‘marbles’ out on track and it was clear that this race was won and lost on tyre strategy. The end result was that all the leading runners were very close together at the finish, and the people who had looked after their tyres best took the top results.

“It’s hard to imagine how we can top this at the next grand prix in Turkey, but we’re certainly going to try to have something just as good.

“We have carefully considered all of the circuits, to help provide all the exciting races as we have seen so far. In particular, we look forward to racing in Monaco, where for the first time we will see action in the supersoft compound. This is a tyre quite different from the rest of the range and should be very effective on the streets of Monte Carlo.”

 

 

Button Reflects on Chinese Grand Prix

April 21, 2011

Jenson Button

Jenson is still learning the characteristics of the new Pirelli tyres: “I think all the teams are learning about this new style of racing in 2011. I think it’ll get more straightforward as we start to see more of a convergence of strategies and ideas over the next couple of races.

“Obviously, it’s the tyres that everyone needs to get a better handle on. I think all the teams will be looking closely at the most successful strategies and also at what didn’t particularly work.”

“I had a really strong final stint on the Primes in Malaysia, but in China I just couldn’t get the rear-end to work. I’m sure we can start to understand why and that’s definitely something we’ll be looking into at next week’s technical review. Hopefully, we can head into Turkey with an even stronger package and with some of our weak spots improved and our strengths increased.”

“I got a great start on Sunday. We’ve worked on that since the beginning of the season, so it was good to get in front off the start. I got a pretty perfect getaway and I think Seb’s wasn’t perfect, but it’s still something we’ll be working on to improve.

“We know that Red Bull’s qualifying is still extremely impressive, so if we can have the best starts in Formula 1 then we can make up a fair bit of that advantage. We want to have the best start system, and I’m sure it’s something the engineers will be looking to improve upon over the next few races.”

“On a personal level, I’ve also been really pleased with my qualifying pace. Before the season, I said it was one of my aims to improve that, and I’ve been pretty satisfied with how things have worked out over the first three races.

“Apart from Mark’s race in China, I think we’ve seen that it’s difficult to make up ground if you’re not right at the front because you’re really at the mercy of a lot of other cars and their strategies. So getting quali right is crucial, and we seem to be heading in the right direction.”

 

 

McLaren’s 2011 Chinese Grand Prix Preview

April 14, 2011

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McLaren MP4-26

2011 CHINESE GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

Lewis Hamilton

“It’s always best to put a disappointing weekend behind you, and, as always, I’ll make a positive of the experience in Malaysia and learn from it. With China only a few days away, it’s the best possible way to move on: I’m already throwing myself into my preparations – I’ll spend a few days training and come back feeling fresh for Shanghai.

“What’s been most encouraging is that our pace is still extremely strong: Jenson drove a fantastic race and was able to narrow the gap to Sebastian during the closing laps, and I think we have the pace to continue taking the battle to Red Bull this weekend.

“In both races, we’ve seen that Red Bull hasn’t been able to achieve its full potential, and I think it’s important that we keep applying the pressure to make sure they can’t afford to make mistakes.

“I’ve also been told by someone on the team that, of all the drivers in Formula 1 to have only driven for one team, I’m now the driver who’s raced in the most grands prix. I’m told that Jim Clark drove 72 races for Lotus, and Malaysia was my 73rd race with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

“And it also makes me feel very humble – I never saw Jim Clark race, but I know that he’ll always be remembered as one of the greats, and as a loyal Lotus driver. Loyalty’s extremely important and I’m proud to be mentioned in the same breath as him.

“It only gives me even more determination to bounce back stronger than ever.”

Jenson Button

“I really love the Shanghai circuit and the city itself. Unfortunately, I’m only visiting for a couple of days, but the city has a great vibe – there are a lot of fantastic restaurants. Although I won’t get to see too much, I’m really looking forward to China.

“As for the track, it’s a good modern circuit with a couple of interesting touches. The first corner is quite unique: you enter it at full-throttle in seventh gear, then come down through the gears as the corner continually tightens. It’s a very long corner – it’s all about being patient – and there’s a little bump right on the entry, which can make it quite tricky too.

“Along the massive back straight, even without DRS, I still think there’ll be plenty of opportunity for overtaking – especially if we see the same sort of close racing as we witnessed in Malaysia. If that’s where they put the DRS zone for the race, then I think we’ll see some spectacular passing – and possibly even re-passing – down that back straight.

“Off the back of two successive podium finishes for the team, we’re not only hopeful of maintaining our finishing record, but of improving it too. We’ve made no secret of our desire to take the fight to Red Bull, and we’re fully aware that stronger opposition will make it harder for them to have a smooth and uninterrupted weekend.

“As we expected, Malaysia showed that the sharp-end of the grid is incredibly competitive, and that there are at least four teams that can expect to fight for the podium this weekend.

Martin Whitmarsh

Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“Coming just a week after Malaysia, it’s essential that we maintain the thrust of our development programme in order to further close the gap to the front.

“To achieve that, we’ll be spending Friday evaluating a number of new components alongside our regular tyre and set-up programmes. We have a number of new parts that we want to evaluate on Friday – either for potential incorporation into our programme for the Shanghai race, or as part of longer-term development strategy.

“The development race is where this year’s world championship will be won or lost.

“But, equally, we ought to take nothing for granted: I’m extremely pleased that we’ve managed to achieve 100 per cent reliability in both Australia and Malaysia, and that our KERS Hybrid system, engineered so well by everyone at Mercedes-Benz High Performance Engines, has worked faultlessly during the first two grands prix.

“For this race, we know we have to step up the pressure: we’re looking to hit the ground running on Friday, maintain that momentum through Saturday, and be in with the best possible chance of taking victory on Sunday.”

Alonso Admits that Vettel’s Red Bulls is Out of Reach

April 13, 2011

Fernando Alonso Ferrari F10

Fernando Alonso confirms that Ferrari can not compete with Sebastian Vettel in the Red Bulls at the moment: “As we had already seen in Australia, once again in Malaysia, our race pace was much better than that in qualifying.

“In Sepang, both Felipe and I were running at a pace good enough to get to the podium and that was an important indication, even if we did not end up getting all we could have done.

“Clearly, I would like to always be fighting for the win but, at the moment, one car, Vettel’s Red Bull, seems to be out of reach.

“I was disappointed not to get to the podium in Malaysia, as it was within my reach and it would have been a great result. It would also have been useful in terms of being a nice morale booster.

“Unfortunately, things did not work out the way we wanted and we paid a very heavy price for the failure on the system that runs the moveable rear wing.

“I know that the engineers, with whom I’ve been in touch a lot over these past days, have discovered the problem and fixed it. If the system had worked, I could comfortably have got past Hamilton on the pit straight and I would not have found myself having to fight him wheel to wheel and taking risks.

“What happened is part of racing and you have to accept it: I was quicker than him and so I had to try and pass, otherwise I would have been caught by those behind us. As for the penalty I was given, I already said on Sunday night in Sepang, I don’t want to talk about it because it changes nothing.

“Our aim in this grand prix will be similar to the one in Malaysia, which means to make the best of qualifying and try to exploit any opportunity that comes our way during the race.”

 

 

KERS Problems Delay Webber at Start of Malaysian Grand Prix

April 13, 2011

Mark Webber RB6

Christian Horner was impressed with Mark Webber’s drive in Malaysia following a KERS malfunction at the start of the race: “I have no doubts his time will come this season, absolutely. In difficult weekends he has picked up a fifth and a fourth place, and they will all count at the end of the day.

“Mark’s old enough to know how long the season is, and his points are invaluable.

“He was 10th at the end of  the first lap, so we decided to go aggressive with him, and went with a four-stop strategy. He needed to make it work, and his drive was a great recovery.

“A combination of strategy and performance nearly got him back on to the podium. Obviously he’ll be disappointed with the start, but I’ve spoken with him and he takes a lot of heart out of his performance. To only just miss out on a podium after the first lap, he had a great drive. I was really pleased.

“He was unlucky at the start. He sort of had the worst of all worlds. The Kers went into safe mode, an electrical issue we haven’t seen before. So he had the combination of a bad start and no Kers at the second-longest run to the first corner and not a great first lap where he lost another place to Kobayashi.”

 

 

 

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