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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: , ,

Is Kimi going back to McLaren?

September 20th, 2009 1 comment

Kimi Raikkonen, Australia, 2005According to an article in the Mirror, Kimi Raikkonen has already signed an agreement to race for McLaren next year — as long as Ferrari will pay him his £30m salary for 2010.

It seems certain that Fernando Alonso will drive for Ferrari in 2010 which means the Scuderia will have way more drivers than they need; 5 if you include Michael Schumacher and Giancarlo Fisichella (7 if you also include Badoer and Gene.)  The trouble for Ferrari is that Raikkonen still has another year left of his contract.

There are always lots of rumours this time of year and I wouldn’t necessarily place too much confidence in the Mirror, especially as the article says:

Paddock sources say the Finn, 29, has signed an outline agreement to return to the car he won the world title with in 2007.

Raikkonen did indeed win the Championship in 2007 but I seem to remember him driving a Red Car that year…

This tweet from McLaren’s FifthDriver seems to suggest no decision has been made so as usual we will just have to wait for official confirmation.

As much as I like Heikki and think he deserves to keep his seat for 2010 I can’t deny I would love to see Kimi back in one of the Silver Arrows.  He was criticised earlier in the year for an apparent lack of interest in F1, but since then he  has scored 5 podiums including a win in Belgium.  That doesn’t seem like someone suffering from a lack of commitment.

I also think the team of Kimi and Lewis would work.  Raikkonen clearly doesn’t care who his team mate is, he just gets in the car and drives fast. Some think that Hamilton needs to be number one but I’m not so sure.

Both Hamilton and Raikkonen are awesome talents.  They have each won a world Championship and I would love to see them pushing each other all the way through 2010.

Image: McLaren

Categories: Drivers Tags: , , ,

McLaren back on top

July 26th, 2009 No comments

Lewis Hamilton, Hungary, 2009The  Hungarian Grand Prix has been called Monaco without the glamour and, like Monaco, the twisty Hungaroring circuit has something of a reputation for processional races but on a weekend that had already seen a dramatic qualifying session the race proved anything but processional.

At the German Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton showed a hint of the performance improvements the McLaren engineers had made to his MP4-24 but his collision with Mark Webber ended any hopes for a podium Hamilton might have had.  Today there was nothing stopping him.

From fourth on the grid Hamilton used his KERS to charge past Kimi Raikkonen into the first corner and briefly take second from Mark Webber before ceding it again in the second corner.  A few laps later Hamilton had passed Webber and was hunting down a very lightly fueled Fernando Alonso.  When Alonso made his first stop, Hamilton had him.

After Alonso’s stop it soon became apparent that his Renault’s right front wheel wasn’t properly attached and a few corners into his out lap the wheel became completely detached and bounced off the track and into the Armco.

After Saturday’s incident in qualifying that put Felipe Massa in hospital, the stewards were obviously very sensitive about bits coming off cars and subsequently suspended Renault from the European Grand Prix at Valencia in four weeks time.  The stewards statement said:

[Renault] knowingly released car no. 7 from the pit stop position without one of the retaining devices for the wheel-nuts being securely in position, this being an indication that the wheel itself may not have been properly secured.

Renault have filed notice to appeal this decision.

It was the first win of the season for McLaren and Hamilton’s first victory since the Chinese Grand Prix in October last year.  Hamilton said:

It’s an incredible feeling to be back on the top spot after what feels like such a long time and such a struggle. This was one of my best races – I never gave up and, more importantly, neither did anyone in this team. I’m so proud of all the guys. We didn’t expect to win today – we didn’t think we quite had the overall pace – but the car was just perfect to drive, it felt fantastic for the entire race.

It was also the first victory for a KERS powered car.

With Mark Webber finishing third behind Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button finishing seventh, Button’s lead in the Championship has narrowed to 18.5 points and Red Bull have closed the Constructors’ gap to just 15.5 points.

2009 Hungarian Grand Prix Race Results

Pos Driver Team Grid Time Points
1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 4 1:38:23 10
2 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 7 1:38:34 8
3 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 3 1:38:39 6
4 Nico Rosberg Williams-Toyota 5 1:38:49 5
5 Heikki Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 6 1:38:57 4
6 Timo Glock Toyota 13 1:38:58 3
7 Jenson Button Brawn-Mercedes 8 1:39:18 2
8 Jarno Trulli Toyota 11 1:39:31 1
9 Kazuki Nakajima Williams-Toyota 9 1:39:31 0
10 Rubens Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 12 1:39:32 0
11 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber 15 1:39:33 0
12 Nelson Piquet Jr Renault 14 1:39:34 0
13 Robert Kubica BMW Sauber 18 1:39:37 0
14 Giancarlo Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 16 lapped 0
15 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 19 lapped 0
16 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 10 lapped 0
RET Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 2 retired, 29 laps 0
RET Fernando Alonso Renault 1 retired, 15 laps 0
RET Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 17 retired, 1 laps 0

Image: McLaren

Categories: 2009 Season Tags: , , , ,

Steve McQueen and Lewis Hamilton: The Duel – revealed!

June 30th, 2009 No comments

Tag Heuer MonacoTag Heuer have been running a competition where if you guess who will win a race between Steve McQueen and Lewis Hamilton you can win some really nice prizes.

First prize is a limited edition Tag Heuer Monaco watch.  Second prize is a (presumably replica) Lewis Hamilton helmet and third prize is a ‘private driving day in F1’, whatever that is.

The competition closed on 10th June and unfortunately I didn’t win. 🙁  But at least we now know who won ‘The Duel’.

We featured the teaser video in an earlier post about Formula One adverts, and now here is the final cut of Duel, ‘the cinematic road race between Steve McQueen and Lewis Hamilton’.

To be honest, you probably won’t be surprised who wins…

Categories: News Tags: , ,

Lewis and Jenson’s new lids

June 19th, 2009 2 comments

Lewis Hamilton's 2009 British GP helmetDespite all the off-track politics, we shouldn’t forget there is still a race on this weekend.

It could be the last British Grand Prix at Silverstone for some time and both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button will be wearing special helmet designs for their home Grand Prix.

It is the first time Lewis Hamilton has altered the design of his famous yellow crash helmet for his home race since starting his grand prix career in 2007.

The design shows the top of his helmet peeling away to reveal a British flag underneath.  Hamilton said:

I’m really proud to be a British driver in a British team racing in front of the British crowd. I wanted to choose a design that not only showed that I am a British sportsman but, more importantly, recognised all the support I get from the fans at Silverstone.

Jenson Button, on the other hand, has a tradition of wearing a different helmet design for the British Grand Prix.  This year’s design was the result of a competition to give Jenson’s fans the opportunity to design a helmet that incorporated a British theme and Bernie Zobl’s ‘Push The Button’ design was the one chosen by Jenson.

Button commented:

For the last few years, it has become something of a tradition for me to have a special British themed helmet and this year is no exception. I wanted my fans to be involved so we ran a competition on my website www.jensonbutton.com and chose the winning design by Bernie. What I loved about Bernie’s design was its unique take on the Union Jack flag and how he had incorporated it into my own Button logo. The helmet looks great and I can’t wait to wear it at Silverstone this weekend.

More pictures of Jenson Button’s helmet are below.

Images: McLaren, Brawn GP

Categories: Drivers Tags: , ,
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