Saturday, 26 February 2011

Heidfeld Confirmed; Bahrain Cancelled; Williams Livery Revealed

Heidfeld Confirmed
After weeks of speculation, Nick Heidfeld was confirmed as Renault's super-sub in place of the injured Robert Kubica on 16th February. Personally, I feel it was probably the best decision to make for Eric Boullier - Renault team manager - as Heidfeld is recognised in the paddock as a steady but consistent and experienced hand. And with Petrov as a second driver, consistency is what Boullier needs...

Heidfeld has been welcomed at Renault
Of course, the length of Heidfeld's tenure all depends on how speedy Kubica's recovery is, and with him being moved out of intensive care recently, it looks like he may be in the car for a race or two at the latter end of the season if all goes to plan. However, if the Renault is really as fast as the testing stopwatch says it is, Heidfeld might have other things on his mind towards the end of the season, like winning races...

2011 Bahrain Grand Prix Cancelled
It came as no surprise the other day when the Crown Prince of Bahrain officially announced that the island state could no longer safely hold it's Grand Prix, the first of the season. It remains to be seen whether Bahrain will be able to slot back into the calendar at a later date, but with the second half of the year choc-a-bloc, it looks increasingly unlikely.

Bahrain may have to take a sabbatical from F1 in 2011
However, one thing is for sure: the 2011 Formula One World Championship will get underway in Melbourne on the 27th March, just like old times...

Williams unveil livery for FW33
With all the teams unveiling their 2011 challengers (although HRT's effort has only been seen in rendered form) the last big launch date took place on Thursday - the launch of the official livery in which drivers Rubens Barrichello and Pastor Maldonado will stake their claim to points and, if the team are to be believed, possibly even a race win or two.

A quiet revolution in F1 car design? 
Sam Michael, Williams' technical director, explained that the team had worked especially hard on their 'tight rear end' (even Michael himself sniggered at that one) which will contain their KERS , a package capable of providing a boost equal to about 80hp. The livery itself is a throwback to the Rothmans liveries of the 1990s, made famous by Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Damon Hill and Jacques Villeneuve's championships. So that's three retro liveries on the grid this season: Williams, Renault and Team Lotus' - if only McLaren went back to the Marlboro years...

You can find more pictures of the FW33 on F1Fanatic here.

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Saturday, 12 February 2011

Heidfeld to replace Kubica?

The team formally known as Renault are testing Nick Heidfeld at Jerez today, followed by the young Bruno Senna tomorrow in order to evaluate who will stand in for the injured Robert Kubica. However, the way I see it, speed will only be a small factor in the test - Renault need a team leader that they did have in Kubica and won't have in Petrov or Senna if he takes the drive. However, the best bet would have been Heidfeld and Senna - although this isn't possibly because of a certain pay driver.

Kubica and Heidfeld know each other well since their BMW days
Heidfeld can help develop a car with his experience - another aspect that Senna can't really bring to the team. However, 2010 did damage Bruno's reputation - he must be fast, that Ross Brawn considered taking him for a seat at his team in 2009. On that occasion, ironically, he was turned down because of a more experienced driver. Bad luck.

Image (c) AP

Saturday, 5 February 2011

McLaren use novel launch for new car

McLaren launched the MP4-26 on Friday - sort of. The carcass of the car was wheeled into Potsdamer Platz in Berlin while the rest of the parts were brought in by hand. The car itself features several interesting concepts, also - two strangely sculpted sidepods give the rear wing maximum amounts of air, whilst keeping the new KERS system cooled. However, did McLaren give anything away about the internals of their car? Apparently not: "Be warned, you haven't seen it all," said McLaren principal Martin Whitmarsh. "I think there are some really interesting bits on the car that you can see. But there are some bits we have hidden from you and our competition. The car also features a strange gill-like airbox - an evolution of the F-duct, perhaps? Or is it just for extra cooling, given the sidepods?

The new MP4-26.  Shiny.
Oh, and it just so happens that I've been to where the McLaren was launched before. I recognised it on the live feed - terrific place to unveil a Formula One car! If only they'd unleashed all that horsepower...

Image (c)