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Archive for February, 2009

Force India VJM02 pictures

February 28th, 2009 No comments

Force IndiaForce India’s 2009 challenger, the VJM02, is due to be launched at Jerez on Sunday but pictures of the new car have been posted on the Force India website.

The car has a new paint scheme for 2009 that uses the saffron, white and green colours of the Indian Flag.

The sidepods have an interesting squarish shape and the wing mirrors look like they have been sculpted into little aerofoils.  Force India have decided not to carry over the shark fin from the VJM01.

The McLaren powered car will take to the track for the first time at Jerez on Sunday.

Pictures of the new car are below:

Categories: Cars Tags: ,

Shark fins, skate fins and the new Williams paint job

February 27th, 2009 No comments

Trulli testing the TF109 in BahrainIt seems like fins may be making a return to Formula One in 2009.

Renault’s R29 was launched with an elongated ‘shark fin’ engine cover and Toyota, despite launching their TF109 without it, have been using one in testing.

Now, at the launch of their final high-tech livery for 2009, Williams’s FW31 has grown a pair of ‘skate fins’ either side of the cockpit.

Red Bull was the first team to introduce a fin-shaped engine cover on their RB4 in pre-season testing at Barcelona last year and by the end of 2008 almost all the teams were using some kind of elongated engine cover.  Williams tested a shark fin but never raced it.

The shark and skate fins are intended to improve the quality of airflow over the rear wing.  This increases downforce and so allows the teams to run a lower rear wing angle, thereby increasing top speed.  It should also provide enhanced rear-end stability under braking.

Given the reduction in downforce levels for 2009 it is perhaps surprising that only Toyota and Renault have chosen to carry over the full-blown shark fin from last year and Adrian Newey, the man who first introduced it to F1, has shrunk the fin on the new Red Bull RB5 to a pointy little spike (stingray barb?)

The new aerodynamic regulations for 2009 have forced the car designers to go back to the drawing board and I expect we will see other teams finding holes in the regulations that they can exploit as the season progresses.

Pictures of the new Williams FW31 livery are below:

Categories: Cars Tags: , , , ,

Honda to test in Spain

February 26th, 2009 No comments

Jenson Button, Brazilian GP 2008The BBC is reporting that Honda is planning to test in Spain in the next fortnight. Although there has been no official announcement, the BBC’s source said that team members have been told the deal is done and they should prepare to go to Melbourne. There is still no new information on who the buyer might be but despite Sir Richard Branson nosing around last week it still seems a management buyout is the most likely outcome. It is understood the new car will be fitted with a Mercedes-Benz engine which, if true, would seem to confirm the sale will go ahead.  Mercedes-Benz wanted assurances that Honda could compete seriously throughout the season before committing to supplying engines for the team.

But even if Honda are saved, can they possibly be competitive this season?  Last year Ross Brawn was talking about getting podium finishes in 2009. While it’s true they have missed the first two group tests, so have Force India and Toro Rosso’s new car hasn’t been seen yet (although it will be based on the Red Bull RB5.)  So as long as the team have been developing the car I don’t think they are necessarily doomed to spend 2009 at the back of the grid.

Another question is who will be driving?  Jenson Button is assured a seat but will we see the young Bruno Senna or will Rubens Barrichello get another drive?  While Senna was producing good lap times in testing last year, with their late start to 2009 Honda might be wise to have the experienced Barrichello in the second seat.

Categories: Teams Tags: , , , ,

More hills = more fun

February 25th, 2009 No comments

Ricardo Zonta launching the TF106 through the corkscrewPeter Wahl, a partner of Hermann Tilke, has said that the changes being made to Donnington will make the track demanding and exciting with more opportunities for overtaking.

The Donnington Park grand prix circuit is undergoing a major upgrade to bring it up to Formula One standard before it takes over the British Grand Prix from Silverstone in 2010.  The last Formula One race at the circuit was in 1993 when Ayrton Senna won the European Grand Prix in spectacular fashion by lapping the entire field except for one car and finishing over a minute ahead of Damon Hill in second place.

According to Peter Wahl the modifications to the circuit will introduce a hilly new infield loop:

There is the new piece on the circuit infield, and that will be demanding and exciting.  It goes downhill steeply and into a left-hander – the drivers will feel the high pressure there, and then they will have to accelerate back uphill.

I’m starting to look forward to Donnington.  I don’t think there have been enough hills on the new circuits introduced to Formula One recently.  When you think about the great circuits of the world, the ones the drivers and fans love, a lot of them have quite significant changes in elevation; Spa, Laguna Seca, Bathurst and Monte Carlo all have hilly bits and the new Circuito Potrero de los Funes in San Luis, Argentina looks spectacular.

I know there are limits to the elevation a Formula One car can handle and we’re unlikely to see a McLaren screaming round Mount Panorama or a Ferrari lapping an Argentinian volcanic lake but in 2006 Ricardo Zonta broke the lap record at Laguna Seca in a Toyota TF106.  Wouldn’t it be great to see a US Grand Prix there if F1 ever returns to North America?

And for those of you who aren’t familiar with the Bathurst circuit (technically a street circuit), here’s Peter Brock flying round the Mountain in 1991.

Categories: Circuits Tags: , , ,

USF1 is official

February 24th, 2009 No comments

USF1Officially announced, that is. The much-rumoured new American Formula One team, USF1, was announced today at a press conference on speedtv.com.

There wasn’t much new information to be had and the team is obviously at a very early stage but it definitely looks like it’s going to happen. They have a budget and everything!

Despite earlier rumours, they haven’t made any decision on drivers yet but do intend to have an all American line up even if they would be “relatively inexperienced and rusty”. Two names that were mentioned were Marco Andretti and Graham Rahal. In fact they got Mario Andretti on the phone to plug his grandson Marco saying he would love to see him in an F1 car.

On being based in Charlotte, the team don’t see it as a problem. As Ken Anderson said, a lot of the technology that is used in NASCAR can be directly applied to F1; a wind tunnel doesn’t know if it being used for NASCAR or Formula One and not having a home race shouldn’t be a problem either as they plan to “take the US to F1” rather than try to convert millions of Americans to F1.

As for engines, the team plan to send a proposal to all the manufacturers currently in Formula One with no preference for a particular engine supplier. This seems to go slightly against the all-American, made in USA theme.

So USF1 is here. In name, at least. Now all they need to sort out are drivers, engines and sponsors…

The speedtv videos are embedded below.

USF1 Announcement

USF1 Q&A 1

USF1 Q&A 2

Categories: Teams Tags: ,
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