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Archive for November, 2009

Jenson Button signs for McLaren

November 18th, 2009 No comments

Jenson Button, Singapore, 2009Jenson Button has officially signed a multi-year deal to race at McLaren from 2010.

The pairing of Button and Hamilton will create a kind of British Dream Team that will see for the first time two British World Champions driving together since Graham Hill and Jim Clark at Lotus in 1968.

It seems that Brawn just couldn’t come up with the extra cash Button felt he was worth as a World Champion although the press release puts a slightly different spin on things. Button said:

It’s always a difficult decision to leave a team when you’ve been there for so long. But life is all about challenges – and, most important of all, it’s about challenging yourself. So, although I won the World Championship with Brawn GP last year, and I’ll never forget that, I was always adamant that I wanted to continue to set myself fresh challenges.

I don’t think it is just about money anyway. Although Brawn started 2009 miles ahead of any other team this was mostly down to a big head start in development and the fact that everyone was starting from a clean slate.

McLaren improved more than any other team this year and Button rightly feels they will have one of the most competitive cars on the track in 2010. And while McLaren might not have been around for as long as Ferrari, they are one of the most succesful teams in Formula One with their own distinguished history. After visiting the McLaren headquarters Button said:

McLaren is one of the greats of world sport, and its achievements and list of past champions read like a Who’s Who of Formula 1 – Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Mika Hakkinen and of course my new team-mate Lewis Hamilton. I’ve followed the McLaren team ever since I was a small boy, and it feels unbelievable to finally be a part of it.

When I visited the McLaren Technology Centre earlier this month, it wasn’t simply the technical resources and the incredible standards of excellence that impressed me. No, I was equally struck by the ambition, the motivation and the winning spirit that flow through everybody there. And then there’s the team’s epic history: put it this way, the trophy cabinets seem to stretch for miles.

Whether Button will integrate with the team more successfully than the 2006 World Champion did remains to be seen. Team boss Martin Whitmarsh said:

It has always been our policy to employ the two very best possible drivers – and, in Jenson and Lewis, we feel we not only have the fastest pairing on the 2010 grid, but also the two most complete, professional and dedicated drivers in Formula 1.

Moreover, I’m confident that we’ll be able to successfully balance and harness Jenson’s and Lewis’s complementary skill-sets.

This also means Hekki Kovalainen is now out of a job which is a shame. Heikki can be very quick and deserves to get a seat at another team. Could we see him partnering Kubica at Renault?

Categories: Drivers Tags: , ,

For Sale: Schumacher’s Benetton F1 Car (no time wasters)

November 12th, 2009 No comments

Michael Schumacher, Australia, 1994We have covered some rare and exotic racing cars for sale on f1buzz before but if you missed out on picking up Jenson Button’s old Honda here is another chance to buy some Formula One history.

Michael Schumacher’s old Benetton B194 that he drove to his first World Championship in 1994 is on eBay and the current bid is a bit over €2.5 million (+ €10,000 postage.)

The B194 was designed by Rory Byrne specifically to suit Michael Schumacher’s driving style although he would later comment that it was quite tricky to drive being prone to sudden unexpected oversteer.

1994 was one of the most controversial and tragic seasons in Formula One’s history. Like Jenson Button in 2009, Schumacher won six of the first seven races. The other teams were a bit suspicious of this and following an FIA investigation it was discovered that Benetton had illegal launch control software on the car but as it could not be proved it was ever used the team faced no punishment.

The eBay listing includes “a laptop with software for configuration of the race car” but it doesn’t mention anything about launch control…

Schumacher would later be disqualified from the British Grand Prix for ignoring a black flag and also stripped of his win in Belgium for excessive wear on the skid block but it is the final race of the season in Adelaide that this car is most remembered for. Schumacher’s infamous ramming of Damon Hill at the Flinders Street corner forced both drivers out of the race and sealed the Championship for Schumacher.

Image: Williams


Categories: Cars Tags: , ,

Toyota quits Formula One

November 4th, 2009 No comments

Jarno Trulli, Abu Dhabi, 2009It was always a bit worrying that Toyota wanted to wait until a November board meeting to confirm its Formula One involvement for 2010 but the team had recently been making noises about its possible driver lineup for next year so today’s announcement that Toyota are quitting the sport immediately comes as something of a surprise.

It comes a week after Bridgestone said it would be leaving the sport after 2010 and a few months after BMW’s exit announcement. At least BMW hadn’t signed the Concorde Agreement committing themselves to 2012. Toyota’s breach of that contract could leave them open to some kind of legal challenge from Bernie Ecclestone but, ironically, Toyota’s exit could smooth the way for the ex-BMW team to rejoin the grid next year.

The world’s largest car manufacturer revealed it had made its first ever loss of $4.74 billion last year and is predicting to lose almost double that amount this year. Ultimately this is the reason for Toyota’s announcement today.

In a statement, Toyota said that their time in F1 was an “irreplaceable experience that provided an opportunity to develop both human resources and its R&D operations,” but in a press conference Toyota President Akio Toyoda expressed his regret at not achieving the results they wanted:

Based on the current economic environment, we realise we have no choice but to withdraw. This has been a very painful decision. I offer my deepest apologies to Toyota’s many fans for not being able to achieve the results we had targeted.

Despite being one of the most well-funded teams in Formula One, Toyota never won a race and their best result was fourth in the 2005 Constructors’ Championship. This lack of success was surprising considering Toyota’s considerable achievements in Rallying, winning the World Rally Championship three times between 1993 and 1999.

So where does this leave the drivers? Both Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock were expected to move on anyway but team boss John Howett had hinted he might give Kamui Kobayashi a full-time seat next year.

Kobayashi will now be looking to one of the other teams for a job and I hope one of them picks him up. Based on his performance in the last two races I think he is the most exciting rookie of 2009.

Image: Toyota

Categories: Teams Tags:

2009 F1 Buzz Prediction Game Winners

November 3rd, 2009 3 comments

Brawn GP celebration, Brazil, 2009With the final Grand Prix of 2009 the innaugural F1 Buzz Prediction Game also draws to a close.

The 2009 Championship was another very close season with six drivers from four teams winning races. Brawn dominated the opening Grands Prix but McLaren made one of the biggest comebacks ever in the second half of the season.

All through the year there was the constant presence of Red Bull and the occasional threat of a Ferrari and even Force India.

All this meant that predicting who would win or even who would stand on the podium was a dificult task. In the end, the prediction game was even closer than the Championship with a single point separating second and third places.

Thanks to a lucky couple of weeks in the Far East I actually ended up with the most points but as I was just playing for fun and not prizes my score doesn’t really count. 🙂

This means that the 2009 Champion is Andrew with a score of 173, closely followed by Sergio with 172. Despite apparently knowing nothing, Kathryn came in third with 133.

As announced, first prize is a 1:43 scale Minichamps replica of Jenson Button’s Brawn GP BGP001. Second and third will each receive a copy of the 2009 Formula One Season Review DVD.

Congratulations to the winners (email me at david@f1buzz.net to let me know where to send your prize) and thanks to everyone for taking part. I hope you enjoyed it. A special thanks also goes out to Miguel for suggesting the idea!

Only four months until next time!

Image: Brawn GP

Categories: Prediction Game Tags:

Another Red Bull 1-2 in Abu Dhabi

November 2nd, 2009 No comments

Sebastian Vettel, Abu, Dhabi, 2009Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber secured Red Bull’s fourth 1-2 finish of the season in Abu Dhabi on Sunday.

After qualifying it looked like Lewis Hamilton would easily drive away from the two Red Bulls in the race but despite setting six consecutive fastest laps and opening a gap of two seconds on Vettel, a brake problem forced Hamilton to retire after 20 laps.

The billion dollar Yas Marina circuit looked spectacular as twilight faded into night and while there are some interesting sections to the track, including a pit exit tunnel, for the most part the race was pretty uneventful.

The most excitment came in the closing laps as Mark Webber came under attack from Jenson Button and only just managed to hold him off with some great defensive driving.

It’s hard to see how an old airfield in Northamptonshire can compete with a city that sits on one-tenth of the world’s oil reserves and whose citizens (not including foreign workers) are worth about $17 million each. But Sunday’s race showed that while money can buy spectacular, it can’t buy history and it can’t neccessarily buy good racing.

2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix Race Results

Pos Driver Team Grid Time Points
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 2 34:03.414 10
2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 3 34:21.271 8
3 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 5 34:21.881 6
4 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 4 34:26.149 5
5 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 8 34:29.667 4
6 Kamui Kobayashi Toyota 12 34:32.757 3
7 Jarno Trulli Toyota 6 34:37.780 2
8 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 10 34:44.708 1
9 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 9 34:49.355 0
10 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 7 34:51.594 0
11 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 18 34:56.212 0
12 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 11 34:57.731 0
13 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 13 35:03.253 0
14 Fernando Alonso Renault 15 35:13.014 0
15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 16 35:37.814 0
16 Giancarlo Fisichella Ferrari 20 lapped 0
17 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 17 lapped 0
18 Romain Grosjean Renault 19 lapped 0
RET Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1 retired, 20 laps 0
RET Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 14 retired, 18 laps 0

Image: Red Bull

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: ,
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