Monthly Archives: January 2015

Toro Rosso launch their 2015 car; the STR10

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This afternoon, the Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team launched their 2015 car; the STR10 at Jerez at 5pm CET (4pm UK time).

The Renault-powered machine will be driven by all-rookie line-up Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen, following Daniil Kvyat’s promotion to Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s decision not to retain Jean-Eric Vergne.

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The Renault-powered machine will be driven by all-rookie line-up Carlos Sainz Jr and Max Verstappen, following Daniil Kvyat’s promotion to Red Bull and Toro Rosso’s decision not to retain Jean-Eric Vergne. Toro Rosso’s rookie drivers Verstappen and Sainz Jr. were on hand to unveil the new car, which features a revised nose design from 2014.

At the launch of the STR10 this afternoon, Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost stated the following about the STR10 as follows:-

‘The launch of the new STR10 car today here in Jerez de la Frontera marks the start of a new and hopefully thrilling F1 season. The 2015 season is a new challenge for all of us. We’ve put a lot of work into the STR10 and we are convinced that we will have a successful year. Our objective is to finish fifth in the constructors championship and we are ready to do our best to achieve it.

‘Our engine partner Renault has also worked very hard to come up with new modifications and I’m sure that our joint effort will give us a package which will certainly be very competitive. All in all, we have a much stronger team as well as a very competitive STR10 and fast drivers; it’s a great combination.’

The STR10 on track at a filming day.

The STR10 on track at a filming day.

My first thoughts of the STR10 (see picture above) is that it looks a very packaged car that they have clearly worked hard on throughout the winter to evolve it and the nose is significantly better than last year’s “penis” noses. However, I do not like the yellow on the nose itself and I am wondering why that it has been painted like that, but at the end of the day it is just part of the livery.

From what Tost has stated in his interview today, it is clear that he appears confident that the STR10 will be successful this season with their aim of finishing fifth in the Constructors Championship. However, I feel that might be out of reach for the Toro Rosso team unless they have created a really competitive car that can beat their rivals such as McLaren and Force India.

Tost is also confident that engine supplier Renault will be able to be more competitive this season after learning valuable lessons from last season. As we have seen over the winter, Renault Sport during their interviews with the media believe that they have learnt from last season and feel that the changes they have made will benefit their customers and their performance on the track which is the most important thing at the end of the day.

In regards to their driver line up, Verstappen’s rise to F1 has been a controversial one. He has beaten the current record for being the sport’s youngest ever driver in Australia, making his debut at the age of 17. However, Red Bull clearly believes that the son of ex-F1 driver Jos Verstappen has what it takes to race with the very best.

With Sainz Jnr, he has been close to F1 many times in the past, but only secured a seat with Toro Rosso following Sebastian Vettel’s decision to leave Red Bull and this therefore prompted Daniil Kvyat’s promotion to Red Bull Racing. The Formula Renault 3.5 champion also has a famous racing father, with Carlos Sainz being a legend of the rally world.

As the Red Bull junior team enters its tenth season of racing in 2015 after having evolved from Minardi for the 2006 season, It has produced three full-time Red Bull drivers in that time, with four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel being the most notable graduate. Vettel also claimed the team’s only race win at the 2008 Italian Grand Prix.

But overall with an all-rookie line-up for this season, Toro Rosso’s hopes of breaking into the top five in 2015 may seem ambitious, but both Verstappen and Sainz have proven themselves in junior formulae, hence why they are racing for the team this season.

However, if Renault has fixed the problems that blighted its engines in 2014, the team could yet put itself in the fight with the likes of McLaren and Force India this year; provided that the STR10 is as competitive as Tost believes that it is and gives the two drivers the opportunity to perform on the track.

But only time will tell if Tost is proven correct or not when the STR10 goes into the first race of the season in Australia in March.

Toro Rosso signs a sponsorship agreement with Estrella Galicia

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This afternoon the Scuderia Toro Rosso F1 Team has signed a sponsorship agreement with Spanish brewery Estrella Galicia, which comes into immediate effect.

The Estrella Galicia 0,0 logo features prominently on the drivers’ Max Verstappen and Carlos Sainz race suits, as well as on the team personnel’s clothing. In addition, it will be displayed on all the team’s branding and communication platforms.

In an interview to the media today, Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost stated the following about the new partnership secured with Estella Galicia as follows:-

‘We are very happy to welcome our latest sponsor, the well-known brewery Estrella Galicia. As it is a Spanish company, it is very appropriate that its logo will be visible for the first time at today’s launch of our new car, the STR10, here in Jerez de la Frontera. Scuderia Toro Rosso already has one major Spanish sponsor and this year, for the second time in our ten year history, we will also have a Spanish driver.

‘Therefore I am sure we will both benefit from this cooperation and it will help our team to continue moving forward. New sponsors are the lifeblood not just of our team, but also of the sport of Formula 1 in general, so it is particularly pleasing to bring a new sponsor into our sport, as it shows that it is still the perfect arena for companies to increase awareness of their products on a global scale.’

From what Tost has stated in his interview today, it is clear that he is delighted with the new partnership that he has secured for the team. In order to make sure the partnership starts well, the logo will be included on the STR10 at the launch in Jerez this afternoon that reflects already an existing sponsorship with another Spanish company alongside Carlos Sainz Jr driving for the team this season.

To secure this sponsorship in this economic climate is amazing and shows that Formula One can still attract sponsors if they have the capital to do so. The benefits of this partnership will be crucial to promote the two parties in the fastest motorsport in the world and also they will be able to explore the Spanish market by using each other’s experience and expertise by working alongside each other this season.

In his own interview with the media, the CEO of Hijos de Rivera Ignacio Rivera stated about the new partnership with Toro Rosso as follows:-

‘We know that the world of top-level sport is tremendously demanding, and that’s why we like surrounding ourselves with the very best sportsmen, those who make us feel passionate about sport, who make a 120% effort to achieve their dreams, which is just the way we feel about our beer.

‘So we’re sponsoring two of the best new faces in the Formula 1 world championships – Carlos Sainz and Max Verstappen – and we’re delighted to be debuting alongside them in the top category of motor racing.

‘For Estrella Galicia 0.0 and for our company as a whole, this sponsorship deal is a further step forward in our national and international expansion strategy, which is achieving really great results. Taking this step together with a team like Scuderia Toro Rosso is a dream that was difficult to imagine 2 years ago, when we started out with Carlos Sainz, but which has finally taken shape today with our presence alongside two great racing drivers like Carlos and Max.’

It is clear that Riveria is delighted to have secured a sponsorship agreement with Toro Rosso for the 2015 season. Riveria understands that this sponsorship will be seen by many people who watch the sport regularly and it is the perfect exposure for them to advertise and promote the brand in a public arena.

And how else to do this by sponsorship the Toro Rosso team who have signed Carlos Sainz Jr for this season who is also Spanish and this will be good for both parties especially leading up to the Spanish Grand Prix where they could take advantage of the marketing opportunities that could be made available to them to expand and grow as a company.

Overall, it is clear that both parties are delighted with the arrangement and both are looking forward to working together to promote each other and their brands in as many ways as possible. With both parties using their expertise and marketing individually and collectively, Formula One is the best platform for them to show to the world just what they are all about and I wish them the best for the future.

Countdown to the first 2015 F1 pre-season test in Jerez

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Tomorrow sees the return of Formula One after a long winter with the first pre-season test in Jerez in Spain. Fernando Alonso will herald the start of the new McLaren-Honda era in earnest when he takes the MP4-30 for its maiden outing on Day One of the Jerez test on Sunday. Then Jenson Button will also be in action on Day Two of the test, replacing Alonso in the McLaren-Honda.

The four-day meeting which is the first of three pre-season tests this winter, will also mark Sebastian Vettel’s official debut as a Ferrari driver following his transfer from Red Bull as Alonso’s replacement.

Nearly two decades after their partnership dominated the sport, McLaren and Honda are reuniting for 2015 and will start the year as the dark horses to end Mercedes’ record-breaking run of success in the wake of the sport’s ‘rules revolution’ 12 months ago.

World champions Mercedes will unveil their 2015 contender the W06, on Sunday morning in the Jerez pitlane before immediately getting down to business on track. Nico Rosberg will drive the new W06 with Lewis Hamilton scheduled to make his first on-track appearance since winning his second world title in Abu Dhabi two months ago on Monday.

Valtteri Bottas will be on duty for Williams on Day One, while Daniel Ricciardo will be behind the wheel of Red Bull’s RB11. Along with Mercedes, Red Bull will unveil their 2015 challenger just before the session begins at 8am UK Time.

Although the lap times set during testing are notoriously unreliable and not reflective of the performance expected during the season by the teams, it was immediately apparent a year ago at Jerez that Mercedes were poised to usurp Red Bull as the sport’s dominant force.

While Hamilton was first out of the blocks, Red Bull didn’t make it out of their garage until the final hour of the day’s session and completed just 21 laps in total over the four days as the fatal flaws of their under-powered and uncooperative Renault engine became instantly clear.

Now twelve months on and with the sport’s technical regulations between seasons largely unchanged, less upheaval is expected this year and bookmakers have installed Mercedes and Hamilton as the odds-on favourites to retain their titles.

Day One line-ups

Mercedes: Nico Rosberg, Red Bull: Daniel Ricciardo, Williams: Valtteri Bottas, Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel, McLaren: Fernando Alonso, Force India: Not attending, Toro Rosso: Carlos Sainz Jnr, Lotus: Pastor Maldonado, Sauber: Marcus Ericsson

Day Two line-ups

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull: Daniil Kvyat, Williams: Valtteri Bottas, Ferrari: Sebastian Vettel, McLaren: Jenson Button, Force India: Not attending, Toro Rosso: Max Verstappen, Lotus: Romain Grosjean, Sauber: Felipe Nasr

Day Three line-ups

Mercedes: Nico Rosberg, Red Bull: Daniel Ricciardo, Williams: Felipe Massa, Ferrari: Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren: Fernando Alonso, Force India: Not attending, Toro Rosso: Carlos Sainz Jnr, Lotus: Pastor Maldonado, Sauber: Felipe Nasr

Day Four line-ups

Mercedes: Lewis Hamilton, Red Bull: Daniil Kvyat, Williams: Felipe Massa, Ferrari: Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren: Jenson Button, Force India: Not attending, Toro Rosso: Max Verstappen, Lotus: Romain Grosjean, Sauber: Marcus Ericsson

Jones on F1 will be covering the test session at Jerez in a complete four day review that will be published straight after the last day of testing at the circuit.

Ricciardo to debut the RB11 at the first day of the Jerez test

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It was announced this morning that Daniel Ricciardo will be the first to run Red Bull’s 2015 challenger, the RB11, on the opening day of the first pre-season test in Jerez.

The new car, after being labelled ‘a late build’ by the team and had not previously had an official launch date scheduled due to the fact that the team had not passed the FIA crash tests recently.

But it is likely that Ricciardo and new team mate Daniil Kvyat will unveil the RB11 in the pitlane on Sunday morning.

Ricciardo will be on action on the first and third days of the test, with Kvyat running on the second and fourth days.

Ferrari launch their 2015 car; the SF15-T

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This morning, the Scuderia Ferrari F1 team launched their 2015 car; the SF15-T via an online launch.

After a disappointing season on the track, this then promoted the Ferrari team to undertake an overhaul of personnel and management. Ferrari now believe as a result of these changes that they will be able to get back to the front of the grid once again.

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The SF15-T (see picture above) which is designed by Technical Director James Allison features a long protruding nose and an aggressive side pod concept.

My first thoughts of the SF15-T was that it has evolved from last season and looks more like a polished and refined car especially with the nose that wasn’t liked by many fans last year.

But Ferrari hope that their 2015 power unit is significantly better than the previous season. They hope to achieve this by taking a comprehensive overhaul of the engine that will close the gap to their rivals Mercedes.

As well as the new management in place at the team, Ferrari has changed their driver line up for this season by signing Sebastian Vettel from Red Bull to partner alongside Kimi Raikkonen.

Vettel is due to give the SF15-T it’s official debut at the first pre-season test at Jerez on Sunday and the spotlight will be firmly upon Vettel and Ferrari to see how they perform on the track and also if the car is likely to be competitive this season.

For me, 2015 is an important year for Ferrari and there are no excuses left for the team if they fail to deliver this season; they simply have to by any means necessary.

Sauber launch their 2015 car; the C34

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This morning, the Sauber F1 Team are the next team to have launched their 2015 car via an online launch.

On the back of a disappointing 2014 F1 campaign, where it failed to score a single world championship point, the Swiss-based outfit is hoping it can rediscover the form that had it fighting for podiums in previous seasons.

Sauber has opted for a bold new look for the season ahead, with its colour scheme switching from white and grey to blue and yellow.

The Ferrari-powered car also has a striking nose design – featuring a more rounded front edge than seen on the other 2015 cars so far.

Sauber’s design team has focused on three areas for improvement over last year’s car: better performance in slow-speed corners, weight reduction and improved braking stability.

The car features slimmer sidepods compared to the C33, and the team has overhauled its radiator concept and now mounted them horizontally.

Packaging around the rear of the car is much tighter, and Sauber’s quest to get under the weight limit to allow maximum ballast has been boosted by the raising of F1’s minimum weight limit to 702kg.

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My first impressions of the C34 (see picture above) is that it seems like a nice and packaged car with the nose improving from last season. However, I do think that their switch to a more brighter livery this season compared to last season firstly for me is that we will be able to see them on the track more!

But on a serious note, I think that it is a brave move to switch to a bright livery but rumours are speculating in the paddock that the livery could be down to Sauber’s contractual arrangements with their sponsors this season, but nothing has been clarified on this matter at present.

The Sauber team also has an all-new driver line-up for 2015, as Marcus Ericsson joins F1 rookie Felipe Nasr in place of Adrian Sutil and Esteban Gutierrez. Ericsson will be the first man to drive the car when he takes to the track at Jerez on Sunday.

At this present time, Sauber plans to use an interim version of the car for the first test, which will include some parts still from the C33. These will be replaced with bespoke 2015 components ahead of the season.

Mercedes unveil first official pictures of the W06

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This evening,  the Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 team released the first official pictures of the W06 after a filming day at Silverstone.

The W06 is set to be officially launched on the first day of pre-season testing at Jerez on Sunday but the team offered first glimpses of the car via Twitter with teaser videos and pictures.

The Mercedes W06 is the favourite for this years championship after their dominance of the championship last season.

Nico Rosberg will be driving the W06 on the first and third days of pre-season testing and Lewis Hamilton will be driving the W06 on the second and fourth days of the Jerez test this weekend.

McLaren-Honda launch their 2015 car; the MP4-30

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At midday today, McLaren-Honda’s hotly-anticipated MP4-30 was revealed to the world via an online launch today ahead of the new car’s first test in Jerez next week (see link below).

The MP4-30 marks a new era for McLaren as it returns to Honda power and welcomes Fernando Alonso back to the team. The exclusive engine deal will see McLaren go its own way with Honda power after 20 years of working with Mercedes and carries the hopes of future championship success for both Alonso and Jenson Button.

The car will test for the first time on Sunday, February 1 as the 2015 pre-season gets underway at Jerez. After a tricky two-day test in Abu Dhabi with Honda power at the end of last season, McLaren will be keen to get testing mileage under its belt.

The team hopes that progress in its design structure, as well as its new relationship with Honda, can help Jenson Button and Fernando Alonso in their push to get the team back to the front of the grid.

The MP4-30 has been heavily influenced by chief engineer Peter Prodromou, who arrived at McLaren from Red Bull last September.

The silver, red and black car features a long low nose without the thumb extension seen on the Williams – and a tightly packaged rear end around the new power unit. It also features a split roll-hoop inlet.

Honda is returning to F1 after a six-year absence, and is renewing a relationship with McLaren that delivered multiple wins and world titles from 1988 to 1992.

Honda’s motorsport chief Yasuhira Arai said that the design of the new car was one of no-compromise as the Japanese manufacturer bid to make a success of its F1 return. Arai stated the following in an interview today:-

‘As you can see with the new MP4-30, we’ve dedicated ourselves as one team with McLaren to creating a new car that compromises on nothing – either power or aerodynamics.

‘Yet, in the midst of the excitement, both myself and our engineers are 100 per cent focused in both Sakura and Milton Keynes to prepare for Jerez and beyond. We’re confident that the technology is there, and I’m looking forward to see how it will perform.

‘We’re about to commence a long season, with numerous challenges, but Honda is determined to face them head-on. After all, we’re here to drive Formula 1’s technology forward and give our fans a thrilling ride.’

As Arai has stated in his interview, it is clear that while everyone has been excited to see the launch of the MP4-30 today (me included) and on social media, the response to the new car has been very positive and everyone is liking the direction McLaren and Honda have taken with this year’s car.

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My first thoughts on seeing the MP4-30 (see picture above) was that it is a very beautiful car, the livery is very striking and strong and shows both McLaren and Honda within it and also the car is beautiful packaged compared to last season’s car. And I am very happy with the car and how it looks and it was well worth the wait to see the pictures surface online.

But as Arai says McLaren and Honda have a long season ahead of them and there will be challenges along the way, but both parties are confident in each other and their abilities to get through whatever faces them in their first season back in partnership with each other. Both parties have the experience and the expertise to fix and correct any teething problems that will occur before the start of the season in Melbourne in March.

And that will be ever important as McLaren and Honda go into the first pre-season test at Jerez. But it is clear that McLaren and Honda have made a beautiful looking car for this season and I hope just like most McLaren fans (I am a McLaren fan incase you didn’t know) that the car will be as competitive as it can be on the track; which is ultimately what matters to McLaren and Honda.

Force India to miss opening test in Jerez

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It was announced this morning that the Force India team has confirmed it will miss the opening test of the season in Jerez altogether as it sets its sights on the remaining two tests in Barcelona for its 2015 debut.

The team had planned to run the 2014 car in Jerez as it continued to develop the new VJM08 for its debut in Barcelona, but just four days before the opening test gets underway it revealed it would take no part in the running whatsoever.

The team launched its new livery in Mexico last week along with its interpretation of the 2015 nose regulations, but the fully developed car will not run until February 19. In recent years several teams have opted to skip the first test in order to continue development, although it was common for them to run the previous year’s car at the opening test to gather data on the latest generation of tyres and trial new parts.

After hearing this news, you could argue that this could be of two things. Firstly, I believe it could be that they want to continue development on this year’s car in order to get themselves in the best possible position that they can be in. That is very understandable but this also puts them on the back foot in regards to how much they can learn about the new car which puts them at a disadvantage over their rivals.

Secondly, I believe that it could be that the team may not have the funds to run at the first test which has been speculating around the paddock this week. Even though Force India haven’t answered this speculation, the chance of this being the case would be extremely unlikely and I do firmly believe that they just want more time developing their car just like Lotus did last season with the E22.

But overall, many pundits and fans have been slightly surprised with Force India missing the first test in Jerez for whatever reason it might be. But for me, it is clear that Force India believe they can gain more by taking the time to develop and improve the car more ready for the second pre-season tests in Barcelona at the end of the month.

But will this decision pay off for Force India this season? Only time will tell.

GP3 Champion Lynn secures a development role with Williams for 2015

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Today it was announced that GP3 champion Alex Lynn has been snapped up by Williams to work as its development driver this year and will test the car following the Spanish Grand Prix in May.

Lynn was a Red Bull development driver until the end of the season, but was dropped despite his title-winning year in GP3. At the end of 2014 he tested for Lotus and has also been snapped up by DAMS for a GP2 campaign in 2015.

Lynn effectively takes over from Susie Wolff after her promotion to test driver, and alongside simulator work will get behind the wheel of the FW37 during the in-season test in Barcelona. In his interview with the media today, Lynn stated the following on securing a development role with the Williams team:-

‘I am extremely excited to be joining Williams, a team with such incredible history and amazing potential. Over the past year the team has made huge strides forward and it’s clear to see their determination to fight for more success in the future.

‘I hope that with a strong year in GP2, while also helping to develop the F1 car throughout this season, I can follow in the footsteps of Valtteri Bottas who joined the Williams team in exactly the same development driver role. Through hard work and determination, he has gone from winning the GP3 title to earning his place as a Williams F1 race driver.

‘Working with people like Sir Frank Williams and Pat Symonds is an incredible opportunity for me. There is so much experience here at Williams and I hope to be able to use the knowledge gained from these people to further develop my skills as a racing driver and respected member of this team.

‘Everyone has been incredibly welcoming from the outset, we have hit the ground running and I am very excited about the challenges this role offers – particularly my on track activities driving the FW37 in a few months time.’

It is clear for all to see that Lynn is delighted with securing a development role with the Williams team, a team which has so much history and prestige and also a proven track record of developing young talent such as Valtteri Bottas as Lynn points out in his interview.

With this knowledge in the back of his mind, Lynn understands that this is a great opportunity to acquire and develop experience in Formula One that will ultimately help him as a driver improve and this could be very handy if a call to a race seat in the sport comes available in the near future.

But Lynn for me personally is showing the correct attitude to the role and will be doing everything he can do to show what he can do on the track and help the Williams team build upon what they have achieved in the past two seasons and also develop the FW37 even further.

In her own interview with the media today, Williams Deputy team principal Claire Williams added the following:-

‘Williams has a strong track record in bringing young talent though the ranks and our development driver position is designed to fully immerse new recruits into the inner workings of a Formula One team.

‘As a British team we are always on the lookout for emerging home-grown talent and Alex has caught our eye with his impressive performances in GP3. He has been chosen on merit and we are confident that alongside Felipe [Massa], Valtteri [Bottas] and Susie, Alex will help play an important role in making sure that the FW37 shows continuous improvement over the course of the 2015 season.’

As Williams points out in her interview today, Lynn has been selected based on his own achievements he has acquired in his motorsport career so far especially in GP3 and they believe as a team that he has massive potential for the future. It is clear that she also feels that Lynn will fit into the team perfectly with the range of talented drivers they have presently and will able to improve the FW37 over the course of the year to a very high standard.

But Williams and Lynn in their interviews sum it up for me nicely. As we all know, Williams have a proven track record of developing young driver talent through their programme and their most successful example is Valtteri Bottas who is now their current race driver.

And that will be a solid example and platform for Lynn to aspire to, knowing that Bottas achieved his race seat as a result of his hard work and determination. Lynn for me understands just how important this role for him with the Williams team alongside his GP2 commitments will be this season for him to gain more racing experience on the track while also gaining experience in Formula One that most young drivers in his position would jump at the chance at.

This opportunity could be the most important for Lynn to not only gain Formula One experience with a top team such as Williams, but also present his case as to why he should be given a race seat in the sport in the near future based on his talent and performances in his career.

But all Lynn can do is show what he can do in GP2 and in his role with Williams this season with everything that he has. And for me, there is no question that he will do that to the best of his ability.