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Friday, January 29, 2010

Silver Arrows F1 car, MGP W01, livery launch 2009 Brawn GP

We’ve been waiting for this! The Mercedes GP Petronas team has revealed its 2010 livery at a launch ceremony at the Shining Silver Star’s museum in Stuttgart, also showing off the team drivers in their new outfit. We’re of course talking about seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher and compatriot Nico Rosberg. Another German, ex-Sauber driver Nick Heidfeld is reported to be the reserve and test driver.

Compared to the official renderings shown when the Petronas deal was signed, the real design features less of the green accents which I thought looked good as a contrast to the silver/black theme. There’s sort of an “unfinished metal” look going on, which I think is quite unusual but cool.

Beneath the livery is a 2009 Brawn BGP001 racer. The proper MGP W01 2010 car with the new livery will break cover once official pre-season testing starts next month.

pic 1: Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP Petronas Helmet
pic 2: Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP Petronas Helmet

pic 1: Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP Petronas team reveal 2010 livery at the Shining Silver Star’s museum Stuttgart
pic 2: Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP Petronas team reveal 2010 livery at the Shining Silver Star’s museum Stuttgart

pic 1: Michael Schumacher and his wife Corinna Mercedes GP Petronas team reveal 2010 livery at the Shining Silver Star’s museum Stuttgart
pic 2: Mercedes Gp Petronas

pic 1: Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP Petronas team reveal 2010 livery at the Shining Silver Star’s museum Stuttgart
pic 2: Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP Petronas team reveal 2010 livery at the Shining Silver Star’s museum Stuttgart

pic 1: Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP Petronas team reveal 2010 livery at the Shining Silver Star’s museum Stuttgart
pic 2: Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP Petronas team reveal 2010 livery at the Shining Silver Star’s museum Stuttgart

pic 1: Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP Petronas team reveal 2010 livery at the Shining Silver Star’s museum Stuttgart
pic 2: Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP Petronas team reveal 2010 livery at the Shining Silver Star’s museum Stuttgart

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Michael Schumacher, Mercedes GP, Testing on GP2 Series car


Michael Schumacher

Formula One returnee Michael Schumacher finished his three-day session in the GP2 Series development car by logging some decent mileage as conditions improved over the course of the day.

He ran 130 laps on the Jerez circuit in Spain on Thursday, the first 23 of which were on wet tires on a damp track in the morning. He then focused on 20-lap runs that presumably gave his neck a good workout. Schumacher recorded a best lap of 1 minute, 24.621 seconds; however, it is hard to draw any meaningful conclusions regarding his ultimate pace because the series does not race at Jerez and the main point of the test was to try new parts.

Intriguingly, Schumacher's Mercedes GP race engineer Andrew Shovlin--who won the title last year while working with Jenson Button--attended the test with a team colleague to get to know his new driver a little better.

"I could really drive a lot on this last day of testing and it worked out perfectly," Schumacher said. "I am very happy with the way testing went here. We worked well, times and consistency were well, we could do everything we had scheduled to do. I feel fit, I felt comfortable immediately back in the car--hey, let's go for it!"

GP2 Series organizer Bruno Michel said that the series gained a lot from Schumacher's input.

"This has been a fantastic opportunity for the GP2 Series and everyone involved in the competition," he commented. "Michael Schumacher's analysis and feedback was fantastic and the GP2 technical staff who has been working with him this week is positive that what has been learned from this development test will provide us with an even better car in 2011.

"We are very happy that Michael chose our car to get his sensations back at the wheel of a high-performance machine and that he stated that it was the closest thing to a current Formula One car."

pic 1: Michael Schumacher GP2 Test at Jerez Spain 12 1 2010
pic 2: Michael Schumacher GP2 Test at Jerez Spain 12 1 2010

pic 1: Michael Schumacher GP2 Test at Jerez Spain 12 1 2010
pic 2: Michael Schumacher GP2 Test at Jerez Spain 12 1 2010

pic 1: Michael Schumacher GP2 Test at Jerez Spain 12 1 2010
pic 2: Michael Schumacher GP2 Test at Jerez Spain 12 1 2010

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Michael Schumacher comeback, BBC interview, on 2009.12.23


Michael Schumacher, Seven World Titles, Back In Formula 1

Michael Schumacher, the most successful driver in motor racing history, announced Wednesday that he will return to race in Formula One next year after three seasons in retirement.

The German, who turns 41 next month, who won seven world drivers’ titles in a career spanning 16 years and 249 races, has signed to drive for the new Mercedes Grand Prix team in a three-year deal.

“I was tired of F1 by the end of 2006,” Schumacher said Wednesday. “But in three years of absence I got back all the energy that I am feeling right now. I played around with motorbikes and I feel ready for some serious stuff now.”

Schumacher had been consulting for the Ferrari team, where he raced from 1996 to 2006. Last summer, when the team needed a replacement for its injured driver, Felipe Massa, Schumacher considered returning, but a neck injury from a motorcycle racing accident had not yet healed.

“The failed comeback attempt last summer gave me reason to reconsider my situation,” Schumacher said.

He said that he believed he and the Mercedes team would have a chance to win the title in 2010. He said he is returning because he was given an offer he never expected and that it came from two important sources, Ross Brawn, the director of the team, and Mercedes.

Brawn was the technical director and strategist at the Benetton team and guided Schumacher on to win his first two titles, in 1994 and 1995. Both Brawn and Schumacher then moved to Ferrari, winning a further five titles together from 2000 to 2004.

Schumacher drove for Mercedes in sports cars before entering Formula One. The manufacturer had paid for his move to Formula One at the Jordan team in 1991.

Mercedes went on to become a minority-owner of the McLaren team. But last month the company announced that it was leaving McLaren and buying a controlling interest in the Brawn team, which won both the drivers’ and constructors’ titles this year.

Schumacher will race alongside another German, Nico Rosberg, who is 15 years younger.

Schumacher will be the oldest driver since Nigel Mansell raced in Formula One in 1995, also at age 41.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if Michael challenged for another world championship,” Mansell said last weekend. Mansell won his last race, the Australian Grand Prix, at 41 in 1994.

Schumacher period of domination, before he retired in 2006 was like none before. No other driver comes close to his 91 victories, Alain Prost is second with 51 and Ayrton Senna the third, with 41.

Schumacher equaled Juan Fangio’s 45-year-old record of five titles in 2002 and went on to win two more titles in the following two years. Prost is third with four titles.

In a recent poll of 217 drivers by Autosport Magazine Senna, who earned three world titles before he died in a crash at Imola in 1994, was voted greatest driver. Schumacher came in second. Fangio was third.

Fangio, who was 46 when he won his last title, won titles with four different manufacturers.

Schumacher is now joining the team that won the title last year, but his move to Ferrari in 1996 was far bolder. Ferrari, had become synonymous with failure, and then helped turn it into a dominant winning machine.

“Schumacher reshaped the mold for the 21st-century racing driver,” the Autosport editors wrote, “combining incredible fitness with technical brilliance and good old-fashioned speed.”

But Schumacher also has a dark side. In 1997, with a single point advantage over his rival for the title, Jacques Villeneuve at Williams, the German tried to knock the Canadian off the track at Jerez, Spain, to take a short cut to the crown.

The move backfired. Schumacher’s car fell out of the race, while Villeneuve limped on to the finish and scored the points he needed to take the title. Schumacher was stripped of all his points for that season. He had won his first title, in 1994, after a collision that knocked out his nearest rival, Damon Hill, also in the last race.

In his last year in the series, under pressure from the rising star, Fernando Alonso at Renault, Schumacher tried another trick in qualifying for the Monaco Grand Prix. Desperate to score pole position, he parked his car in the last corner to prevent anyone from completing their last lap. He was punished, sent to the back of the grid.

Yet his natural driving talent was matched by his strength as a team player and his understanding of how to improve the cars he drove. When things were not going well within his team or with his car, he never blamed others. He always worked to find solutions to the problems.

Schumacher is a trained mechanic and his engineers said that his input helped to improve the cars.

“To have a car in your hands, a team working with you with which you maximize your performance, and driving finally this car at the track, and just knowing and feeling that this is the maximum that you can achieve, that has been such a thrill for all those years,” he said in an interview last year. “I always was hungry for this.”

Bernard Dudot, the head of the Renault engine program in the 1980s and 1990s, and who had also worked with Prost and Senna, said Schumacher was superior to both in this area.

“We did things on the engine at that time that we would never have done — or never have developed — had it not been him,” said Dudot in an interview in 2006.

This is certainly going to help next year in a Formula One where car testing between races has been banned to cut costs. Schumacher’s input during race weekends will therefore be extremely valuable to the team to develop the car.

His public personality was not one to attract fans the way the charismatic Senna did. On television, the German can look arrogant, angry and cold.

Yet in person he is a warm, almost modest individual, aware of his failings.

“He’s the best judge of what he can do and I trust him implicitly, and he told me he can do it so I’m very confident,” Brawn said of his return. “He’s always been his own best critic.”

Published: December 23, 2009
In NYTimes

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Flavio Briatore says he was betrayed, over scandal

Former Renault Formula One team manager Flavio Briatore could lose out on at least $9.1 million a year after resigning because of a cheating scandal, company accounts show.

The 59-year-old Italian was banned for life from the auto racing series on Sept. 21 for conspiring to fix a race. He collected $7.6 million in consultancy fees from selling series television rights in Spain in 2007 on top of his $1.5 million salary. He also benefited from management contracts with drivers including Red Bull’s Mark Webber and McLaren’s Heikki Kovalainen. The team escaped with a suspended ban.

“They’ve isolated him,” Mark Borkowski, a public relations consultant in London, said in an interview. “His brand is damaged: He’s got an uncertain future.”

Briatore’s troubles extend to his other holdings. He may face a ban from co-owning English soccer’s Queens Park Rangers under league rules. He denies wrongdoing, according to Formula One’s ruling body, Federation Internationale de l’Automobile, which says he has 14 days to appeal.

This weekend is this year’s Singapore Grand Prix, the race where Briatore and Renault team engineering chief Pat Symonds conspired with driver Nelson Piquet Jr. for him to crash last year to help teammate Fernando Alonso win, according to the FIA. Piquet Jr., dropped by the team in August, and a whistleblower dubbed “Witness X” gave evidence about the plot, the FIA said.

Briatore left his post last week. The FIA then ruled drivers managed by Briatore must end their contracts with him and he will be denied access to races for life. He also manages Renault’s Romain Grosjean.

Left Without Means

“He has been left without his means to earn a living,” Carlos Gracia, president of the Spanish motor racing federation, told the newspaper As. Briatore may sue the FIA because there was no clear evidence to incriminate him and he didn’t have a chance to defend himself, Gracia added.

Briatore couldn’t be reached for comment for this story.

Renault’s removal of Briatore and Symonds helped mitigate its sanction, the FIA said. The FIA also took into account an apology by Renault and a “significant” contribution it agreed to make to FIA road safety projects.

Briatore, who entered Formula One in 1989 as commercial director of Benetton SpA’s team, has multiple interests in Formula One, some of them stemming from his friendship with series Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ecclestone, former Minardi team manager Paul Stoddart said.

Tied at Hip

“Flavio and Bernie are inextricably tied at the hip,” Stoddart said.

Ecclestone ceded Briatore the television rights to Formula races in Spain, the Italian said in an interview in 2006. The rights are exploited via Stacourt Ltd., a unit of Briatore’s Formula FB Business, which is based in the British Virgin Islands. In 2007, Briatore received 4.7 million pounds ($7.6 million) in consultancy fees, company filings of Stacourt in London show.

Ecclestone, 78, didn’t immediately respond to an e-mail sent to his London office seeking comment and an FIA official didn’t return an e-mail seeking comment about whether the deals were affected.

Ecclestone and Briatore in 2003 set up the GP2 series, which runs on Formula One race weekends, with the Italian’s associate Bruno Michel. The series was sold to CVC Capital Partners Ltd. in 2007 for an undisclosed amount. The private equity firm bought Formula One a year earlier after taking out $2.5 billion in loans.

Soccer Issues

In soccer, Briatore and Ecclestone bought second-tier Queens Park Rangers for 14 million pounds in 2007. Steel billionaire Lakshmi Mittal bought a 20 percent stake four months later. Earlier this month, league officials asked the FIA for documentation about Briatore’s case. League rules say team owners or directors should be barred if subject to a ban from a sports governing body.

Neither Ecclestone nor Mittal has condemned Briatore and the possibility of repairing his public image isn’t out of the question, Borkowski said.

“He has a lot of powerful friends and Formula One is one of the most unpredictable sports,” Borkowski said.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Schumacher back in Formula One as Massa's replacement!!!

After several days of speculation, Ferrari announced on Wednesday that seven-time Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher will indeed replace the injured Felipe Massa in next month's European Grand Prix in Valencia, Spain.

An announcement on Ferrari's Web site said that Schumacher, 40, will begin training immediately to make sure he is in shape for his comeback and that he is ready to go. Schumacher suffered some injuries during the winter after crashing a racing motorcycle, and the team needs to be sure he is fit. Regardless, the news comes as a strange contradiction to what the 40-year-old German's manager, Willi Weber, told the Daily Mail in comments published Tuesday. Webber said that he was "200 percent" sure that Schumacher would not fill the vacant seat. However, AutoWeek reported on Sunday that Schumacher topped the list of candidates for the job.

Sorry, Willi.

"The most important thing first: Thanks God, all news concerning Felipe are positive. I wish him all the best again," the most successful F1 driver of all time said.

"I was meeting this afternoon with [team boss] Stefano Domenicali and [Ferrari president] Luca di Montezemolo and together we decided that I will prepare myself to take the place of Felipe.

"Though it is true that the chapter Formula One has been closed for me since long and completely, it is also true that for loyalty reasons to the team, I cannot ignore that unfortunate situation. But as the competitor I am, I also very much look forward to facing this challenge."

The European Grand Prix on Aug. 23 will mark the first time that Schumacher races alongside Ferrari's Kimi Raïkkönen, and it will be the first time that he experiences F1's new slick tires and kinetic-energy-recovery system. In his favor, upcoming races take place at tracks known to be among Schumacher's favorites: Spa-Francorchamps, Monza and Suzuka. Schumacher has not raced at Valencia, Singapore or Abu Dhabi, which also are among the upcoming events.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Talks Breakdown Puts F1 Future ‘In Jeopardy’ Again,

The threat of a Formula One breakaway was revived after eight teams walked out of talks with the sport’s governing body and said the future of the racing series was again at risk.

The Formula One Teams Association said its members left yesterday’s discussion on next year’s rules after being told by the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile that they hadn’t entered the 2010 championship and therefore had no voting rights on technical and sporting regulations.

Ferrari, McLaren, BMW Sauber, Renault, Toyota, Red Bull Racing, Toro Rosso and Brawn GP -- who had threatened a rival series before reaching an agreement on a unified championship June 24 -- said their lack of say left them with “no option other than to terminate their participation” in the discussion at Germany’s Nurburgring circuit.

All eight FOTA members “were included on the ‘accepted’ entry list as endorsed by the World Motor Sport Council and communicated by FIA press statement on June 24,” the association said in a statement. “To subsequently go against the will of the WMSC and the detail of the Paris agreement puts the future of Formula One in jeopardy.”

The standoff over planned budgetary and technical changes looked to have been resolved last month when the FIA agreed to scrap its proposed budget cap of 40 million pounds ($64.3 million), which would have given smaller teams more engine and design freedom. FOTA members said the plan would have resulted in a two-tier championship.

Mosley U-Turn

The teams won concessions on rule changes and governance, while FIA President Max Mosley agreed not to stand for re- election in October. Mosley has since reconsidered because of what he said were misleading statements made by FOTA to the media, the U.K.’s Daily Telegraph reported.

Yesterday’s meeting before the July 12 German Grand Prix was attended by the Williams and Force India teams, who are suspended from FOTA after submitting unconditional entries to race next year before an agreement was reached. The new Campos Grand Prix, Manor and US F1 teams were also present.

The FIA said the aim of the meeting had been to agree changes to 2010 regulations in line with last month’s decision to revert to the sporting and technical rules in place before April 29 this year.

“Unfortunately, no discussion was possible because FOTA walked out of the meeting,” the FIA said in a statement.

Press Release
2010 FIA Formula One World Championship

Following the decision of the World Council on 24 June to revert to the pre-29 April version of the 2010 F1 Sporting and Technical Regulations, the FIA today met the teams which have entered the 2010 Championship to seek their agreement to these changes.

All changes have now been agreed subject only to the maintenance of the minimum weight at 620 kg and the signing of a legally binding agreement between all the teams competing in 2010 to reduce costs to the level of the early 1990s within two years, as promised by the FOTA representative in Paris on 24 June.

The eight FOTA teams were invited to attend the meeting to discuss their further proposals for 2010. Unfortunately no discussion was possible because FOTA walked out of the meeting.

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