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.”

Mercedes Continuing to Improve

May 16, 2011

Nico Rosberg – Mercedes W01

Ros Brawn is looking to maintain the cars’ pace consistently. “The last two races in Turkey and China have proved that we can be quick in certain conditions, but we need to focus on achieving that level of performance consistently over the entire race weekend.

“We will have an aerodynamic development package for the Spanish Grand Prix, along with refinements to our suspension package, which should help to find the consistency in the car that we are looking for.

“The Circuit de Catalunya is such a familiar venue to the teams that we should be able to maximise our practice time to focus on this, and I hope to see another step forward and a positive weekend.”

Nico Rosberg believes that Mercedes is now  serious contender. “Our upward trend is clear for all to see, even though we still have a little more progress to make in race configuration compared to qualifying.

“I’m looking forward to Barcelona, where we will also be introducing an update package for the car, and I’m excited to see how it works.

“We showed a good level of performance at the final winter test on this circuit, and hopefully we can translate that into a strong result this weekend.”

Michael Schumacher, however, has not had the return to Formula 1 that he had hoped for, and many of his followers expected, being overshadowed by his younger team mate.  “While I was not happy with my weekend in Turkey, there have been clear signs of improvements for us as a team, which obviously push and re-boost my motivation even more.

“It’s more than encouraging to see that the hard work of the team is starting to pay off. We are all determined to make progress.”

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.”

Ferrari Relieved with Third Place but it is Not Good Enough

May 11, 2011

Fernando Alonso Ferrari F10

Fernando Alonso compares this season with last. “You know I like playing with numbers – and as I travelled backwards and forwards between home, Maranello and Turkey, I made a comparison between my first four races of last year and those of this year in the corresponding grands prix.

“What came out of this little game was that compared to 2010 I’m eight points short (49 versus 41) but in the same four races, this year I’ve brought home 13 more points compared to last year (41 versus 28).

“It’s true that my current gap to the top of the drivers’ championship is much greater (52 points) compared to what I had after Shanghai 2010 (11 points) but I well recall that after Silverstone we were 47 points away and we only had eight races left.

“Today we still have 15 grands prix to come. This shows that you can look at the same thing in two different, even completely opposite ways. What matters are results and we’ve started to make the podium. We must do that regularly and if so I’m convinced that we will again be able to fight for the title.

“Third place was also important for the morale of the team. We were all unhappy with a start to the season that did not live up to expectations and we know how much good it does to see that the efforts expended every day are paying off but we certainly can’t be happy with a third place and what matters most is that we must be much more competitive in qualifying. If we always start from the third row or lower it’s a struggle to fight for the podium.

“We have a lot of irons in the fire and we hope that as early as next week in Barcelona we will have new parts that allow us to take an important step forward in qualifying as well.”

Force India Qualifying Turkish Grand Prix 2011

May 7, 2011

2011 Turkish Grand Prix Qualifying and Final Free Practice Report – 7 May

It was another encouraging afternoon for Force India as Adrian and Paul qualified in P12 and P13 respectively for tomorrow’s Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul Park.

Adrian Sutil (car 14, VJM04/04)
FP3: P13,  1:27.318 (19 laps)
Q1: P7,  1:27.397 (8 laps)
Q2: P12, 1:27.027 (6 laps)

Paul Di Resta (car 15, VJM04/02)
FP3: P16,  1:27.644 (18 laps)
Q1: P12,  1:27.652 (8 laps)
Q2: P13, 1:27.145 (3 laps)

Adrian Sutil (car 14)
It was quite a straightforward session for me with no major issues. I think we used the tyres well, there were no problems with traffic and it was a great team effort. But we should remember that the races so far this year have shown that qualifying is not as important as it used to be and it’s more important to have a good car for the race. I’m pretty happy with my set-up for tomorrow and feel more comfortable with the car than I did at the last race. In terms of the tyres, the hard seemed to perform very well yesterday, but the softs are looking good in the higher temperatures so it will be interesting to see how that develops in the race.

Paul Di Resta (car 15)
I think it was another great team performance today and we are roughly where we expected to be. There were no problems in Q1, and in Q2 I only did one run because we thought it would optimise our race strategy and save a set of tyres. I’m happy with my set-up for the race and I think we’ve sacrificed a bit more today to have a better car tomorrow. Hopefully that will put us in a reasonable position to fight the cars ahead of us and pick up some more points.

Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal
A pretty good day overall. Starting in P12 and P13 puts us in a great position to race strongly and hopefully challenge for more points. It was a shame that we just missed out on getting ahead of Barrichello, but ultimately Williams were just a little quicker today. For the race I think we can expect more of what we saw in China with lots of action throughout the field. It will be interesting to see how the tyres hold up, especially with the demands of turn eight, and we know there are some good overtaking opportunities in the lap which should make for some exciting racing.

McLaren Qualifying Turkish Grand Prix 2011

May 7, 2011

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2011 TURKISH GRAND PRIX – QUALIFYING

“DEFINITELY IN THE FIGHT AND PUSHING ALL THE WAY”

Istanbul Park, Saturday May 7

LEWIS HAMILTON

MP4-26A-03

P3

6th 1m26.726s (+0.689s) 14 laps

Qualifying

Q1 4th 1m27.091s (on Primes)

Q2 3rd 1m26.066s (on Options)

Q3 4th overall                1m25.595s (on Options)

“We’re starting on the dirty side of the grid – so our biggest challenge tomorrow could be getting off the line. Every year here I’ve started on the dirty side here!

“Mercedes GP and Ferrari have picked up their pace, and it might be hard to overtake the Mercedes GP because they’re very fast on the straights; so if it pans out like that, the Red Bulls could edge away from us.

“We don’t have an extra set of [unused] tyres, but you never know what the weather will do tomorrow. We’re definitely in the fight and I’ll be pushing all the way – just as we did last year.

“So I’ll try to get a good start tomorrow – fingers crossed we can gain some places that way. I’m looking forward to driving a strong grand prix – it’s a long race here and there should be opportunities to overtake.”

JENSON BUTTON

MP4-26A-04

P3

5th 1m26.578s (+0.541s) 17 laps

Qualifying

Q1 6th 1m27.374s (on Primes)

Q2 8th 1m26.485s (on Options)

Q3 6th overall                1m25.982s (on Options)

“Sixth position isn’t great, but we can still do well: Mark Webber had a good race from 18th in China, so we can definitely have a good race from sixth.

“Maybe I should have just done a single run for Q3 because my second run wasn’t any faster than my first – and you tend to lose time if you push these tyres too hard. But to be honest I couldn’t get a really good balance in qualifying.

“It’s difficult to know people’s overall pace from Friday running because the changeable weather has mixed everything up. I’d hoped for more but we’ll see what happens.

“It’s a pity that I’m on the dirty side of the track – it might cause a few problems with the getaway into Turn One tomorrow – but we’re competitive. We’ll be in the running tomorrow.”

MARTIN WHITMARSH

Team principal, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

“Only six cars managed to beat the 1m26s barrier in Q3 here at Istanbul Park today, and I’m glad to say that Lewis and Jenson were both among that sextet.

“It’s very tight, very competitive, at the sharp end of the grid this year – and it’s worth noting that, had Lewis managed to string together his three best sector times in a single lap, he’d have been second-quickest. As things turned out, he was fourth-quickest, and Jenson was sixth-quickest, but they’re both fantastic racers and they’ll approach tomorrow’s race with all the controlled aggression that we’ve come to expect from them over the years.”

McLaren Aiming for Pole at Istanbul

May 5, 2011

Pirelli P Zeros on the McLaren MP4-26

McLaren will be attempting to qualify in pole position for this weekend’s Turkish Grand Prix at Istanbul rather than qualifying lower down the grid in order to save new tyres for the race. Phil Prew, their Principal Race Engineer commented: “The tyre degradation is going to be large factor in Turkey, and I think that will certainly be pending towards a three-stop race.

“There are some benefits of having new tyres available to you. However, I think the competitiveness of the field will force you pretty much to run your ultimate new tyres through qualifying. Our position would always be to take qualifying position over the new tyres in the race.

“I am not discounting what we did with Lewis in China, for example, but we were fortunate to get through Q1 and Q2 with a single set of option tyres, which allowed us to save one set of options but I don’t think not competing in Q3 for tyre saving is the right thing to do.

“There have been continual improvements in pretty much all areas, from the lessons learned through winter testing and the early races, as well as continued work to improve our tyre utilisation. We are obviously hoping to close the gap.

“We don’t have the fastest car at the moment, and Red Bull Racing are still the team that we are aiming to close the gap to. We are adding upgrades to the car in Turkey which will hopefully help us close that gap but as we have seen over the first three races, the difference between cars varies from track to track.

“Turkey should be a reasonably strong track for us, and developments deliver performance if we utilise performance. We are also conscious everyone else is aiming to improve the car at the same time. As always we hope we have done enough and more than other people.”

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.”

Sauber Need Sponsors to Fund Development

April 27, 2011

Sauber C-29

Peter Sauber is looking to attract more sponsorship in order to build on the success that the team has already achieved. “The situation as a whole for our team already looks a lot healthier than it did 12 months ago. 2010 was a very difficult year for us. The transformation from a works team back to a private set-up used up a lot of our energy, and at the start of the season in particular, our results on the track were extremely poor.

“From this position it was also virtually impossible to find sponsors for 2011. However, our car is no longer all white and we can be proud of that. Inevitably in a team of our size – where the engineers’ ideas outweigh the resources available to them – additional financial resources are reflected directly in performance. We are therefore continuing our search for sponsors.

“I would like to underline that the Sauber C30-Ferrari is the first car for which James Key has been responsible. It is now a year since he joined us, and he has done a lot of very good things. On the one hand, there are the structural changes he has implemented. Equally, the car is meeting the aims he set out for it.

“With the C29 the main problems concerned driveability on uneven circuits and over kerbs, which could not be alleviated by mechanical adjustments to the car set-up. The C30 gives us significantly greater flexibility in terms of ride height and also has good aerodynamic efficiency.

“To sum up, I can say that the overall development of the Sauber F1 Team is progressing positively, but that we have to continue to work very efficiently and with great dedication against a backdrop of limited resources in order to achieve our goals for the season.

“This season we wanted to have a car that would be both competitive and reliable from the outset – and we have clearly achieved this initial aim. If it hadn’t been for the oversight with the rear wings in Melbourne, our points total would be excellent; as it is, seven points is still okay.

“The important thing is that in each race we have been in a position to fight for world championship points on merit. However, the race in Shanghai also showed that the competition is getting tougher. It will therefore now be even more important to continue making improvements.

“Several teams have announced they will be bringing extensive development packages to the next race in Istanbul, and that could certainly shake up the order once again. We have a larger update scheduled for the race in Barcelona.”

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