Monthly Archives: August 2015

Nico Rosberg becomes a father for the first time

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It has been announced this morning that Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg and his wife Vivian have become parents for the first time after welcoming their new baby girl into the world on Sunday afternoon.

Rosberg broke the news over Twitter, saying he and Vivian were “overwhelmed and totally in love” (see Nico’s Tweet below).

A week ago, the Mercedes driver had made special plans to leave the Belgian Grand Prix as quickly as possible if necessary and revealed he had spent most of the August break preparing for the new arrival.

Rosberg will be racing this weekend at the Italian Grand Prix in Monza and will want to celebrate his new arrival to the family in style.

But a massive congratulations to Nico, Vivan and both of their families on the arrival of their baby daughter. Hope everyone is doing well and I wish you every luck in the future with your little girl.

Classic #jonesonf1: The 1995 Argentine Grand Prix

The most iconic picture of the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix.

The most iconic picture of the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix.

The Argentine Grand Prix: Round 2 of 17 in the 1995 Formula One World Championship. Heading into the race, Benetton driver Michael Schumacher leading the Drivers’ Championship by 10 points ahead of Williams driver David Coulthard in second place with 6 points ahead of Ferrari driver Gerhard Berger who was in third place with 4 points.

The race marked the return to the Formula One calendar for Argentina after being off the calendar since 1981. The race was removed from the calendar originally due to the retirement of former F1 driver Carlos Reutemann and Argentina’s invasion of the Falkland Islands.

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Carlos Reutemann driving the 1994 Ferrari 412 T1 before the 1995 Argentine GP.

It was reinstated following President Carlos Menem’s rise into power in 1989.To celebrate its return to the calendar, Reutemann drove a demonstration lap aboard the 1994 Ferrari 412 T1 car around the wet Autodromo Oscar Galvez circuit on the Thursday afternoon before the race.

The track, however, was criticised due to its “dirtiness”. The track was held on the “No.6” configuration, the previous Argentine Grands Prix were all held at Oscar Galvez, but on the “No.9” and the fast and rather dangerous “No.15” configurations.

During the break between the Brazilian Grand Prix and the Argentine Grand Prix, the FIA rescinded the rule requiring that holes be cut in the airboxes; consequently, all the cars arrived at the circuit with their airbox holes filled.

Qualifying for the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix was split into two one-hour sessions; the first was held on Friday afternoon with the second held on Saturday afternoon.

Qualifying was packed with incident as car after car gyrated into the lush green grass or the claggy red earth sandtraps. Thursday was bad and Friday was just awful. On Friday, there were a few minutes at the end of the first qualifying session of the weekend when the track was vaguely dry and David Coulthard took provisional pole position.

But if the Williams-Renaults seemed to take the wet in their stride, the Benettons were dreadful, both spinning several times and ending the day ninth and tenth.

The weather on Saturday was not much better and final qualifying began in the middle of a torrential downpour. It was only in the final 10 minutes of the session that the track suddenly became as quick as it had been the previous day. There was a rush as cars came out and three days of practice were condensed into 10 frantic minutes.

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David Coulthard claims his first Pole Position of his career at the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix. All rights reserved to Getty Images.

Coulthard confirmed his promise and claimed his first F1 pole position ahead of his team mate Damon Hill in second place and Michael Schumacher in third place. Eddie Irvine qualified in fourth place ahead of Mika Hakkinen in fifth place, Jean Alesi in sixth place and Mika Salo in seventh place. Gerhard Berger qualified in eighth place ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen in ninth place and Rubens Barrichello who rounded off the top ten finishers of the session.

Jean Alesi spun his Ferrari on the first start of the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

Jean Alesi spun his Ferrari on the first start of the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix. All rights reserved to Sutton Images.

On race day on Sunday, the race was stopped on the first lap after accidents in the first three corners. Ferrari driver Jean Alesi spun on the inside of the first corner, causing Mika Salo to brake sharply and be hit from behind by Luca Badoer.

The first lap incident at the 1995 Argentine GP between Olivier Panis, Luca Badoer, Mika Salo, Rubens Barrichello and Ukyo Kataymama. All rights reserved to Getty Images and AFP.

The first lap incident at the 1995 Argentine GP between Olivier Panis, Luca Badoer, Mika Salo, Rubens Barrichello and Ukyo Kataymama. All rights reserved to Getty Images and AFP.

The resulting jam of cars caused Olivier Panis to hit the back of Pierluigi Martini and slide into the gravel on the outside of the corner. Salo’s ailing Tyrrell then tangled with Johnny Herbert on the exit of the corner. At Turn 3, Barrichello was knocked from behind by Herbert and slid to a halt, only to be rammed by the damaged Minardi of Badoer. Ukyo Katayama’s Tyrrell was also damaged in the accident.

Alesi, Panis and Barrichello returned to the pits on foot for their spare cars while Badoer was left without a car as teammate Martini was given the Minardi spare. Herbert and Katayama had managed to drive back to the pits for their spare cars while Salo’s car was repaired on the grid.

The start of the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix.

The start of the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix.

On the second formation lap, Sauber driver Karl Wendlinger stalled and started at the back alongside Barrichello who was late coming out of the pits. At the second start, Coulthard led from Schumacher and Hill.

Mika Hakkinen retiring from the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix

Mika Hakkinen retiring from the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix after a left rear puncture. All rights reserved to Getty Images and Mike Hewitt.

McLaren driver Mika Hakkinen and Jordan-Peugeot driver Eddie Irvine touched on the run down to the first corner, with Häkkinen’s left rear tyre punctured which caused him to spin off.

Further back, Wendlinger managed to tangle with both the Pacific cars of Bertrand Gachot and Andrea Montermini at the first corner, putting all three out. Irvine made it back to the pits for a replacement nose.

David Coulthard leading the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix in the early stages.

David Coulthard leading the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix in the early stages.

Coulthard was leading when his throttle failed and restarted; thereby dropping him to third place. Hill passed Schumacher for the lead on lap 11 and built a lead of 12 seconds before pitting on lap 16, when Schumacher was then passed by the recovering Coulthard for the lead.

Jean Alesi is in front of Michael Schumacher

Jean Alesi is in front of Michael Schumacher after their first pitstops on Lap 27 of the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix. All rights reserved to Getty Images and AFP.

One lap later, Coulthard stopped with throttle problems; this time permanently and retired from the race. Alesi who was using a 2-stop strategy, took the lead after Hill and Schumacher’s pit stops and held it until pitting on lap 26. Alesi was able to rejoin just in front of Schumacher for second, 26 seconds behind Hill.

Damon Hill leads the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix in the latter stages.

Damon Hill leads the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix in the latter stages.

Hill and Schumacher made their second stops near the half-way point, with Schumacher getting delayed about 7 seconds by a refueling problem. Hill then led by 9 seconds from Alesi, with Schumacher another 30 seconds behind. Alesi then closed on Hill, getting the gap down to 4 seconds by around lap 50 when the top three all made their final stops.

Damon Hill wins the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix ahead of Jean Alesi in second place and Michael Schumacher in third place.

Damon Hill wins the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix ahead of Jean Alesi in second place and Michael Schumacher in third place.

Hill was then able to pull away from Alesi again, getting the gap up to 12 seconds and winning the 1995 Argentine Grand Prix. Jean Alesi finished the race in second place but on his last set of tyres, Schumacher was able to close on Alesi and set the fastest lap of the race; but was much too far behind to challenge for second place and finished in third place behind Alesi.

Johnny Herbert finished in fourth place ahead of Heinz-Harald Frentzen in fifth place and Gerhard Berger in sixth place. This put him in the championship lead briefly before Coulthard and Schumacher’s points from Brazil were restored on appeal. Olivier Panis finished the race just out of the points in seventh place ahead of Ukyo Katayama in eighth place ahead of Mimmo Schiattarella in ninth place.

The 1995 Argentine Grand Prix saw Damon Hill achieve his tenth win in Formula One which is a fantastic achievement. Hill drove a good race and showed the world once again that when he has the car underneath him, he can deliver and he showed this when he finally won the world championship in 1996 at the Japanese Grand Prix.

This race will always be remembered for Bertrand Gachot’s 75th Grand Prix start, Mark Blundell’s and Ukyo Katayama’s 50th Grand Prix starts and also the 100th Grand Prix starts for Ligier Gitanes Blondes and Mugen-Honda. But also we saw in this race David Coulthard in his tenth Formula One race claiming his first Pole Position of his career and also Williams’ 75th Pole Position in their history in the sport.

However, this race will also be remembered for Tyrrell driver Mika Salo was running 5th (and catching 4th placed Johnny Herbert) when he collided with the lapped Aguri Suzuki. A pitlane punch-up followed, and Salo later told the BBC that “drivers like Suzuki should not be in Formula One.”

And as the 1995 World Championship leaded towards the next round in Italy at the San Marino Circuit, Schumacher was leading the Driver’s Championship by 14 points ahead of Hill with 10 points and also ahead of Alesi who had 8 points in third place.

Former F1 driver Justin Wilson dies after IndyCar crash

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I am sad to report that on Monday night, Former Formula 1 driver Justin Wilson passed away on  following an freak accident at the ABC Supply 500 IndyCar race at the Pocono Raceway.

The 37-year-old, who drove for Minardi/Jaguar Racing during the 2003 F1 season, scoring a single point thanks to an eighth place finish at the United States Grand Prix, was struck on the head by a piece of debris from a rivals car.

The leader of the race rookie Sage Karam span as he entered Turn 1 on lap 179, hitting the barriers and causing debris to fly into the path of Wilson. He was then transferred to hospital where he was reportedly in a coma, until his death on Monday.

In an statement to the media on Monday, Mark Miles CEO IndyCar’s parent company stated the following regarding Wilson’s tragic passing as follows:-

‘This is a monumentally sad day for IndyCar and the motorsports community as a whole. Justin’s elite ability to drive a race car was matched by his unwavering kindness, character and humility — which is what made him one of the most respected members of the paddock.

‘As we know, the racing industry is one big family, and our efforts moving forward will be focused on rallying around Justin’s family to ensure they get the support they need during this unbelievably difficult time.’

Also in a statement to the media, Wilson’s family thanked all the fans and the hospital staff for their support and well-wishes as follows:-

‘The family would like to thank the staff at the Lehigh Valley Health Network Cedar Crest Hospital,  Pocono Raceway, Andretti Autosport, and the Verizon IndyCar Series as well as the entire racing community for the amazing outpouring of support from fans around the world.’

Justin has had an amazing career in racing and whatever he competed in; he did it with all of his heart and gave 110% to it as well. Most recently, Wilson also competed in a single Formule E race for the Andretti Autosport team, scoring a single point at the Moscow ePrix which is a fantastic achievement.

Even though it is extremely sad to lose an amazing gentlemen, husband, father, friend or colleague in this tragic way; Justin is now at peace and is not in any pain. But it is clear that we all miss him for the person that he was and he has left a legacy that will always be remembered.

The F1 Family and the Motorsport family will always remember him and is now a big shining star in the sky that will be truly missed. My thoughts and prayers are with Justin’s family and friends at this sad and difficult time. #RIPJustin #PrayersforJustin

Renault interested in buying Force India

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According to Autosport, Renault has held talks with Force India in regards to purchasing a majority stake in the Formula One team.

As we know, Renault are currently looking to return as a full-works manufacturer with Lotus, Force India or Toro Rosso arising as the most likely teams they are interested in.

According to reports circulating in the paddock, Force India boss Vijay Mallya spoke to Renault consultant and four-time Formula One world champion Alain Prost on Friday evening.

When asked about this in his interview with Autosport this afternoon, Mallya stated the following on the subject as follows:-

‘Yesterday was a conversation from their side to update me on the fact no decision has been taken, they haven’t made a proposal about the board of Renault.  Secondly, he wanted to know how I would feel about shareholding. Would we be willing to consider being a minority. If so, what would be our aspirations.

‘We didn’t talk about engine supply at all. We talked generally about their interest in about potentially becoming a constructor, that they are talking to multiple teams and about what is my vision and what is possible and not possible.

‘They asked me: ‘Would you be prepared to part with a majority stake?’ If I said no, maybe it would have been end of conversation. I said it has to be considered, in light of a potential offer, and secondly I asked what are the minority protection rights you offer? There is no deal on the table. They have not made a decision about their plans. It’s very preliminary.’

From what Mallya has stated in his interview this afternoon, he has not denied that he has spoken to Renault about them buying out or even buying into the team and what their goals, dreams and aspirations would be if they were successful. Mallya has made it quite clear that there wasn’t any talk of engine supply and that having a stake in the team wouldn’t be beneficial for him and that nothing has been decided as a result of these talks either.

In case you didn’t know Force India’s board consists of three parties, Mallya, the Sahara Group and the Mol family, all of whom will have to agree to any potential deal. As Mallya confirmed  in his interview today, Renault are interested in purchasing other teams including Lotus, who are the most likely at this current stage.

But even though Mallya has spoken with Renault regarding their interest into buying out the team completely or buying a stake in the team, nothing has been decided and as he says, Renault at the moment are looking into every viable option they have in order to secure their future in the sport.

Personally, I would be surprised if these talks went further and if the situation was right for Mallya and the board in charge of the Force India team; it could happen. But as the legendary Murray Walker says “anything can happen in F1 and it usually does” and all we can do is see what Renault decide in the next few weeks regarding their plans for the 2016 season.

Red Bull will await Renault’s announcement of their 2016 plans

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It has been announced this afternoon that the Red Bull team are waiting on Renault to make a decision about their future in Formula 1 from 2016 onwards.

The Red Bull and Renault partnership beyond 2016 has been in serious doubt for some time, with the former world champions having frequently fired criticism at Renault due to the performance and reliability of their power unit this season.

At this present time, Renault has been weighing up its options in the sport also, with the French manufacturer being linked to a takeover of Toro Rosso and more recently the Lotus team.

In an interview with the media this afternoon, Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has implied that there was a possibility of the team cutting their ties a year before their contract expires as per speculation of performance clauses existing in the contract, and the links of Renault buying a majority stake in the Lotus team growing stronger. Horner has stated the following about the situation as follows:-

‘The bigger question is what are Renault’s plans for the future – and hopefully that will be forthcoming in the next few weeks.

‘That [Red Bull’s plans] depends on Renault. We have an agreement with Renault until the end of 2016 and anything more than that is speculative.’

“Our aim is to be as competitive as we can as quickly as we can and first of all we want to understand what the situation is with Renault and what commitment they have to reducing the deficit.’

It is clear for all to see that Red Bull are not announcing anything about their 2016 plans until Renault have decided what their plans will be which you can understand but it is also annoying as well. Even though both parties have a contract that is binding for next season, we all know that there is a performance clause in the contract that could be used if things continue to deteriorate between them.

I can see Horner’s perspective of wanting Red Bull to be as competitive as possible and if Renault can show them that they are working hard to try and catch up to their rivals, things could be salvaged between them until their contract runs out.

As we all know, Red Bull are contracted to use Renault power units until the end of next year, although Horner suggests further on in his interview today that there needs to be more investment in Renault’s resources for F1 to be able to honour the agreement fully. Horner added the following:-

‘We have a contract with Renault and there are obligations on both parties. It needs a root-and-branch review. There are some very capable people at Renault but it feels under-resourced. There is no silver bullet – it is probably an element of everything: equipment, personnel, and obviously finance is required for that.’

As Horner rightly says, there is a legally binding contract with Renault in place for next year and it could be tricky for them to try and get out without the other perusing legal action against either side; even with a performance clause in the contract. I would agree with Horner slightly that Renault needs to fully investigate and analyse why they aren’t competitive and see if they can put together  a plan to try to get back to the level of competitiveness that we know they can achieve.

Renault have a great history of success in the sport and have everything at their disposal to be competitive again; just like Red Bull have and they must not forget that fact. Things aren’t so great between them right now, but what will Red Bull do if Renault decide to buy Lotus? You’ll be thinking Sarah, they will go to Mercedes?

I understand the reasons why many would think that but will Mercedes, their biggest rivals want to give them the best engine on the grid and have competition firmly in their own ball park? Think again.

Overall, things between Red Bull and Renault still remain unclear and there’s probably a lot more to this situation than we realise. But personally, if I was in the Red Bull team or Renault, I would refrain from saying anything more about the situation anymore as you never know what could happen in the next few weeks and what will happen if either party says something they regret and could have implications in the future? That is something they both need to think about before they speak to the media.

Hulkenberg: This weekend has been a real shame for us

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In an interview with the media after the race this afternoon, Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg was disappointed when his Belgian GP came to an end before it had even begun.

The Force India driver had hoped for a strong showing at Spa on Sunday but it all came to naught before the lights even went out.

His VJM08 lost power on the formation lap and although he took his place on the grid, his car was soon being pushed back into the pits by the marshals.

In an interview with the media this afternoon, Hulkenberg is disappointed not to have raced today but understands that these things happen. He goes on to explain further that he suffered a loss of power and the team did their best to fix the problem but it didn’t work. Hulkenberg stated the following:-

‘It’s disappointing to finish your race before it’s even started, but sometimes these things happen in racing. On the way to the grid I just felt a loss of power. We tried to understand and fix the problem on the grid, but it came back during the formation lap.

‘There were a few moments when the power returned, but it disappeared again just before the start and I had to retire.’

You can understand why Hulkenberg is disappointed not to have raced today, but there was nothing that he nor the Force India could have done to fix the power issue they encountered. It is a shame for them especially given what his team mate Sergio Perez has achieved this weekend and Hulkenberg showed a lot of promise over the weekend as well.

Hulkenberg’s disappointment was compounded by the fact that Force India had a good car at Spa, which allowed his team-mate Sergio Perez to claim fifth place. Further on in his interview, Hulkenberg believes that this weekend saw them being competitive and could have scored points as a result. Hulkenberg added the following:-

‘It’s a real shame because the car has been very quick this weekend and we had a good opportunity to score some important points.’

Overall, I’d have to agree with Hulkenberg and I feel that if he could have raced today, he certainly would have been battling for points. This weekend, Hulkenberg has shown that he had the pace and was very unlucky with what happened in qualifying and also in the race as well. But all Hulkenberg can do is just use the data and the performances he had shown over the weekend to good use in Monza in a few weeks time and I hope that is the case for him as he deserves it.

Tyre mix up for Bottas cost him fifth place at Spa today

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At the Belgian Grand Prix today, the Williams pit crew got things horribly wrong and in an interview with the media after the race; Valtteri Bottas believes it cost him fifth place.

Bottas found himself in the mix for P5 during the early stages of the race at Spa before he made his first visit the pits, but he lost quite a bit of pace after he re-emerged on track.

It all became clear within a few laps why he lost pace as the Williams team had fitted one medium tyre and three soft tyres on his FW37 and he was handed a drive-through penalty for the mistake.

He eventually finished ninth, but in his interview with the media after the race; Bottas he feels he missed out on a good haul of points. Bottas stated the following:-

‘I was told that just maybe there was a mistake with the tyre pressure or something. The car wasn’t too bad, it felt a bit strange. Then I heard the wrong tyre was in there. Looking back at our pace, we lost about fifth place I think.’

It is clear that Bottas felt that it was strange that this happened to him and feels that as a result of this incident he lost fifth place today which could have been very handy for him and the Williams team to catch Ferrari in the Constructors Championship.

Although the Finn started the race in third place, Bottas believes further on in his interview with the media that he didn’t get off the line quick enough and got sucked into the battle for fifth place. But he also believes that the car needs more work in order to be competitive. Bottas added the following:-

‘My main problem was tyre warm up. I had a lot of wheelspin at the start, the first two laps were slow and it just felt slippery. The cars around me seemed better with tyre warmup.. The pace today wasn’t top three either. The day has turned out a lot worse than I thought.

‘We still need a more efficient car aero-wise. If we added more downforce for the middle sector, we lost out a bit in the first and third sectors so we never really found the ideal compromise.’

From what Bottas has stated in his interview after the race today, it is clear that he feels that the tyres were not up to the temperature that they needed to be and this didn’t help him at all and contributed to a disappointing day for him and also for the Williams team.

I would agree with Bottas and I feel that Williams have a lot of hard work ahead of them to get the car more competitive for the rest of the season ahead; especially if they want to try and catch Ferrari in the Constructors Championship. Overall, even though the tyre mix up affected Bottas’ race; Williams simply wasn’t competitive enough this weekend to their rivals and all they can do is learn their lessons from this weekend and look forward to Monza in two weeks time.