Saturday, January 31, 2009

Dennis: Suggesting I was pushed is idiotic

Friday 30th January 2009

Ron Dennis has slammed suggestions that he jumped before being pushed out of the job as McLaren team boss as "fatuous."

The last few years of Dennis's reign as McLaren team boss have been marred with as many lows as highs and plenty of rumours of his impending retirement.

The rumours began in 2004 when he was accused by many in F1 of taking his eye off the track by devoting his attention to McLaren's £250m technical centre, Paragon, when he should have been focusing on much-needed results.

The Brit's situation worsened three years later when his team was accused and found guilty by the FIA of being in unauthorised possession of Ferrari's secret technical data.

It was a low point in the 61-year-old's career with the team boss later admitting to being the one who ratted McLaren out to FIA President Max Mosley. McLaren were handed a record $100 million fine by motorsport's governing body and once again questions were raised about Dennis's future.

However, it wasn't until January this year that the rumours finally became fact as he announced that he would be standing down as McLaren team boss on March 1st.

And despite leaving the team on a high-note after Lewis Hamilton's triumph in last year's Drivers' Championship questions are still being asked.

Interviewed by the official F1 website, Dennis was asked: 'When did you come to the decision that 2008 would be your last season as team principal? Or, to ask you directly, was it a case of jumping before you were pushed?'

And the McLaren shareholder clearly wasn't too happy about it.

"With respect, the second part of your question is fatuous: I'm a shareholder in the McLaren Group, I'm not an employee," he said.

"Besides, I'm glad to say that, as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, I enjoy the full support of every other McLaren Group shareholder - which is to say, Daimler, the Bahraini Mumtalakat Holding Company, and my business partner and friend of many years, Mansour Ojjeh.

"And, for the avoidance of doubt, I forewarned those shareholders of my intention to pass the team principal position down to Martin in advance of making it public on January 16.

"It's well known that in early 2007 I'd privately decided to pass the team principal position down to Martin at the end of that year - but, because of some of the off-track difficulties we experienced that year, I changed my mind.

"I changed my mind for the simple reason that the situation had changed and it wouldn't therefore have been the right time to do it.

"But, after the triumphs of our 2008 season - which saw not only Lewis Hamilton being crowned world champion but also the inauguration of (Formula One Teams Association) FOTA, in which organisation McLaren and Ferrari have been working extremely closely together - I felt that the time was right.

"That being the case, I felt the best time to announce my decision was at the launch of our 2009 car, in front of the cream of the world's motorsport journalists, many of whom I've known personally for many years and some of whom I count as good friends."

Thursday, January 29, 2009

BMW Sauber opts to join Bahrain test

BMW are smart. Like Toyota and Ferrari, I think McLaren better do the same as in season testing is banned and there is not enough time to test properly the new changes, don't even talk of wasting time in the rain.

Technical briefing with Charlie Whiting 2009

Charlie has given a briefing on the rule changes for 2009 to make it clear to all especially us fans so that we can understand and enjoy the sport better. But I hope this is for real as we've seen how much weight Charlie's words carry in 2008.

I hope after this briefing, the FIA (FIAt) won't change or bend the rules to suit some people or to change the results of races. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and one eye on the outcome of all races in 2009. You never know.


Wednesday 28th January 2009

At the beginning of each Formula One season it takes a while to get used to the teams' new liveries. Then there's the new boys on the grid plus the latest graphics on the TV coverage you have to adapt to.

But coming into the 2009 season there is a mind-boggling variety of changes, so many that fans ought to be issued with a new F1 Users' Manual. In case you missed any of them

New Tech: The tiny rear wings and the wide front wings will be the most conspicuous change to the cars' visual appearance, along with an absence of intricate bargeboards and midwings.

F1 Calendar: There'll be no race in Canada as the Montreal organisers failed to agree a race fee that (they say) will allow them to break even. This means that scandalously, there is no race in North America.

F1 Calendar: Ditto France and the French GP at Magny Cours, though there's not quite the same heartfelt desire to return to Nevers.

GP Weekend: With the advent of KERS marshals will have to receive specialist training on how to handle the vehicles after accidents and what's more they'll be equipped with gloves capable of resisting a charge of 1000 volts.

New Tech: Gone are the grooves, all race tyres will be slick and Lewis Hamilton will have to be careful he doesn't eat his up with a slidy rear end.

F1 Calendar: Brazil won't be the last race of the season in 2009.

GP Weekend: Now that testing throughout the season is banned there'll be a much greater use of track time on Fridays at GPs. Great news for spectators.

New Tech: KERS technology makes its debut with energy stored in batteries or by electro-mechanical means. The theory is that it will give the cars a surge of energy to increase overtaking action and so there'll be some speed differentials generated.

F1 Calendar: Race start times will change in Australia and Malaysia with both races breaking with tradition and stating at 1700 local time.

New Tech: Bridgestone have been asked to increase the gap between their "soft" and "hard' tyres after it was felt that in 2008 there wasn't a big enough gap. Instead of a variance of 0.2 seconds Race Director Charlie Whiting is looking for at least 0.5. And they'll need to demonstrate which tyre is which without the convenient white stripe in one of the grooves.

GP Weekend: The much-criticised Safety Car procedure, which necessitated the closure of the pitlane immediately after an on-track incident is gone. In its place the FIA are introducing a system trialled in 2008. They are confident that through the cars' common ECU they can impose a Minimum-Time-BackTo-The-Pits.

F1 Calendar: Another season, another new race circuit, this time in Abu Dhabi and the chance to have a real "new rival" to Monaco. Valencia just didn't cut it.

GP Weekend: There'll be a new qualifying system for 2009 but the teams have yet to agree on the exact format. The idea has been raised that there could be a last-man-standing process, where the slowest driver on every lap gets sent back to the pits.

GP Weekend: Medals? Bernie wants them, the teams think they suck and it could stir up far more team orders controversies into the bargain.

Source : Planet F1

Late start for the Malaysian GP

Wednesday 28th January 2009

The start to this season's Malaysian GP has been delayed to 5pm local time, according to the FIA.

There had been talk last year about Malaysia joining Singapore in hosting a night race, however, the Sepang bosses were against the idea due to the cost of setting up the lighting system.

Instead a compromise has been reach whereby the race will start at 5pm local time, which means the grand prix will begin at 9am GMT.

2009 Calendar & Starting Times
All times are local
29/03 Australia 17:00
05/04 Malaysia 17:00
19/04 China 15:00
26/04 Bahrain 15:00
10/05 Spain 14:00
24/05 Monaco 14:00
07/06 Turkey 15:00
21/06 Great Britain 13:00
12/07 Germany 14:00
26/07 Hungary 14:00
23/08 Europe 14:00
30/08 Belgium 14:00
13/09 Italy 14:00
27/09 Singapore 20:00
04/10 Japan 14:00
18/10 Brazil 14:00
01/11 Abu Dhabi 15:00

Source : Planet F1

Friday, January 23, 2009

De la Rosa: 2009 cars as quick as last year's

Thursday 22nd January 2009

McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa says he has been surprised that the pace of this year's cars compares favourably with last year's models.

De la Rosa has been testing McLaren's 2009 MP4-24 at the Algarve circuit this past week, finishing his two days of action in second place behind a 2008 car that was driven by Toro Rosso's Sebastien Buemi.

And although the Spaniard failed to match Buemi's lap times by a few seconds, he reckons this year's cars, which feature new aero packages and slick tyres, can match the pace of their predecessors.

"I'm surprised how little difference the slick tyres and the aero package have made," de la Rosa told Autosport.

"The car has more grip at low speed, so we are definitely gaining time, but then losing a little bit in the high speed corners.

"I think that the lap times will be very similar. What you lose on the high-speed corners you get back on the low-speed corners.

"The car has a little bit more grip at the front end generally and it is very responsive to steering.

"You have to put everything together - if you put these tyres onto last year's car, we would be three seconds a lap faster."

Source : Planet F1

Hamilton happy to be back in action

Wednesday 21st January 2009

Lewis Hamilton has given a thumbs-up to his first return to the track in two months.

Hamilton's outing in testing at Portimao was his first since winning the World Championship, in rather nailbiting style, back in November. One notable difference from last year is that his new charger, the MP4-24, carries the number one on its nose, but for Hamilton the significance of the day was simply getting behind the wheel again.

"It was good to be back working with the team - it felt like I'd hardly been away because it was easy to slip back into the routine," Hamilton told Autosport.

"It's amazing to think that, while I've been to Woking throughout the winter, I haven't properly driven a Formula One car since the Brazilian Grand Prix two months ago, but everything very quickly felt normal today."

It was, though, just a fleeting return to action for Hamilton with team-mate Heikki Kovalainen scheduled to drive the MP4-24 on Thursday.

The 24-year-old managed to get 81 laps under is belt during the test, clocking a fastest lap of 01:30.242, nearly three seconds slower than Sebastien Buemi, the quickest man on the day.

Hamilton, though, wasn't at all fazed about not finishing at the top of the timesheets.

"This first test was all about getting used to the new car and the new regulations and about giving my feedback to the engineers," he told the Daily Mail.

"It wasn't about setting a fast time. I'm pleased to report the car feels good, but it's going to be an extremely busy winter.

"I've only been in the car for a day and our job list is already enormous. With the limitations on testing this will be an intense time and absolutely critical for every team."

For the pictures, click here.

Source : Planet F1

Final day at Algarve is a washout

Thursday 22nd January 2009

Heavy rain showers throughout Thursday saw the final day of testing at the Algarve circuit washed-out.

Three of the five F1 teams present at the track, Toro Rosso, Williams and Toyota, all ventured out during the first half an hour of running this morning, however, they were soon heading back to their respective garages due to the rain.

33 minutes into the day's action and the session was red-flagged due to the poor weather conditions restricting the medical helicopter from being able to take off.

Under F1 regulations the helicopter has to be able to fly in order for the drivers to be allowed out on the track.

And although there were hopes of the action getting underway later in the day it didn't pan out that way due to the adverse conditions.

As such the Portuguese test came to a premature end at 16:15 local time with no lap times being set and with two teams, McLaren and Renault, not getting any running under their belts.

'Testing today in Portugal was a complete washout with heavy rain all day. As such we had no further running with the FW31,' said Williams tech director Sam Michael.

Gallery of pictures are here.

Source : Planet F1

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


How dumb can you get? Or is Piquet dreaming? With Alonso there is no such thing as parity. I laughed when I read in the same article Piquet saying he will get the same treatment as Alonso while Alonso said that he chose to drive on another day and he got what he wanted.

"The team asked which days I wanted to drive and I said day three and four because normally the first two days the car has a lot of problems."

Alonso hails 'not-best-friend' Dennis

Tuesday 20th January 2009

Fernando Alonso has put to one side past acrimony with Ron Dennis by hailing the impact the McLaren boss has had on Formula One.

Dennis caused a stir at the launch of his team's new car on Friday by announcing his intention to step down as team principal as of March 1, with second-in-command Martin Whitmarsh assuming the role.

The 61-year-old was at pains to point out he is not retiring, that he will instead be diversifying his duties, and that he will continue to attend grands prix.

And although Dennis will remain in the background, his decision to give up a position he has held since 1981 nevertheless represents a significant changing of the guard at McLaren.

As for Alonso, who suffered an ignominious fall-out with Dennis during an ill-fated season with McLaren in 2007, his comments also represent a considerable thawing of previously frosty relations.

"We are not best friends, but there is respect for each other," said Alonso, speaking yesterday at the launch at the Algarve Motor Park of Renault's new car for the forthcoming campaign.

"It wasn't a perfect end to our relationship, but I know how much he has done for Formula One, and there are not many people like Ron any more.

"Now we have teams with rich people who have come in and bought them, or we have big manufacturers.

"But Ron is a throwback to the old days - one guy developing the team and growing up with them, turning them into a success, winning Championships.

"So I wish him all the best for his new life.

"After so many years in Formula One with a successful team, at the top, it is not easy to cope with the pressure."

Flavio Briatore, who has on many occasions been at loggerheads with Dennis, echoed Alonso's sentiments.

"Ninety per cent of the time we have not agreed because we have had different views about Formula One," said the flamboyant 58-year-old Italian.

"But over the last 20 years he has built up an incredible company.

"You don't have to be friends, but I've a lot of respect for what he has done, in particular in the last six to seven months.

"McLaren have given up a lot. Within FOTA (Formula One Teams' Association) we've a few teams who have done an incredible job.

"Ron Dennis has been one of the biggest supporters of FOTA, one of the big players, completely changing the position of McLaren.

"So my respect over the last few months has grown for him even more because if one person has stepped back in the interests of Formula One, it has been Ron Dennis."

Source : Planet F1

Alonso: The pressure is firmly off Lewis

Tuesday 20th January 2009

Fernando Alonso feels the pressure is off Lewis Hamilton this year, but has warned the Briton he potentially faces a tough task to retain his F1 crown.

Double World Champion Alonso was on hand at the Algarve Motor Park on Monday to unwrap Renault's car for the 2009 season, although he will only get behind the wheel for the first time on Wednesday.

Alonso, who won more points in the final six races of last season than any other driver, is incredibly upbeat about his prospects of a third World title.

That might not bode well for old adversary Hamilton, but the 27-year-old is convinced the McLaren driver will feel more at ease after winning his maiden Championship.

"I think there's less pressure on Lewis this year," said Alonso, who won back-to-back titles with Renault in 2005 and 2006.

"When you win a Championship you are a Formula One World Champion forever, and it means you can enjoy your racing.

"If you make a mistake in one race you are experienced enough to know the Championship is long and you have time to recover.

"But when you are waiting for that first championship there is more stress because you don't want to waste any opportunity.

"But once you have that first title, then there is less pressure."

However, the wide-ranging regulation changes, notably relating to aerodynamics, the much-derided introduction of KERS and the return of slick tyres, means teams began the design of this year's car with a blank sheet of paper.

Alonso feels that could count against Hamilton and McLaren if they are not up to speed from the opening race in Australia, especially given the ban on in-season testing.

"Maybe it will be more difficult because all the cars will be mixed after starting from zero," added Alonso.

"If you use the same regulations for two or three years, it is normally difficult for the cars that win Championships to lose their advantage.

"That advantage is maintained for years, so maybe it is easier to win back-to-back Championships when the regulations stay the same."

Conversely, Alonso appreciates McLaren could be the team that hits the ground running.

"If some team discovers something different compared to the others, maybe they win three or four races in a row and the championship becomes much easier," added the Spaniard.

"If this is the case with McLaren, it may be an easier Championship for Lewis compared to last year.

"But you never know. We need to wait and see. Anything is possible this year."


3 cars were launched in 2 days. Wow talk about when it rains... Renault, Williams and BMW all launched their 2009 challengers these past 2 days and it has been tough keeping up with the news and pictures as I'm working on the 4am shift.

My impressions of the cars so far? Well, quite a surprise. The Williams looked good actually, with all the curves and the front wing was not so ugly. It's still in the launch livery though, so we'll have to wait until the race livery comes out. But the overall shape is nice, it works. Pictures are here.

The BMW car was launched yesterday and it looks like what we saw late last year, not much change. Maybe the nose is a bit more rounded and dips lower but overall it doesn't look that good with the front wing being huge and just straight without any sexy curves like the McLaren. The livery is funny though with the red line running from the nose and cutting across the sidepods. Pictures are here. But I do have a feeling that BMW will do well this year as their confidence is very strong coupled with their enthusiasm for their working KERS. And they are known for being efficient and patient improvers.

The Renault - what can I say. Damn ugly! The R29 has got to be the ugliest car so far and probably will be the ugliest car of 2009. I just can't understand that design, the nose is huge, the front wing is just flat, the shark fin engine cover is huge and the worst part is the livery. Now there is another additional colour - red, but what's worse is the design of the livery. It's just ugly with straight lines with sharp corners. It's like a square peg in a round hole. Urrggghh! Pictures are here.

In the meantime, the other teams are testing their cars though all of them are disrupted by the weather. McLaren is doing well being the fastest so far as the STR times are useless as they are using the 2008 car. Report here.

BMW introduce the F1.09 and welcome KERS

Tuesday 20th January 2009

BMW unveiled their new F1.09 at Valencia on Tuesday and went against the grain by welcoming the introduction of KERS into Formula One.

The German outfit, who finished third in last year's Championship, are hoping to find themselves in a position to challenge for this year's World title.

Last season Canadian GP winner Robert Kubica was in the running right up until the penultimate round of the Championship, however, the Polish driver eventually finished the season in fourth place.

This year, though, BMW reckon they can fight for the titles. "We have set ourselves the task of further improving our performance relative to the rest of the field," said team boss Mario Theissen.

"The 1-2 in Canada and a total of eleven podium finishes in 2008 set an exacting standard.

"In 2009 we are looking to maintain our first-class reliability record while at the same time enhancing our performance levels so that we can be at the front of the pack on a consistent basis.

"We are aware that we are aiming extremely high. This is the final step in our development, and that's generally the hardest one to take."

As for the new Kinetic Energy Recovery System, KERS, Theissen has welcomed its introduction into F1 despite rival teams expressing their concerns over the device.

"The development of KERS will see Formula One take on a pioneering role for series production technologies going forward," said Theissen.

"F1 will give a baptism of fire to innovative concepts whose service life and reliability have not yet reached the level required for series production vehicles, and their development will be driven forward at full speed.

"At BMW we have always used the Formula One project as a technology laboratory for series production. With KERS this approach takes on a whole new dimension.

"Formula One will reposition itself and undergo a change of image, allowing the sport to take significant strides forward in terms of public acceptance."

Speaking about the development of the new car in the wake of the new regulations, tech director Willy Rampf spoke of his excitement.

"Developing a new Formula One car is always exciting, but this time there was something even more special about it. We really were starting from scratch," he said.

"First and foremost, the switch from grooved tyres to slicks means more grip, of course, but it also moves the balance of forces further forward: removing the grooves gives the front tyres proportionally a greater contact area and more grip than the rear tyres.

"Because the car differs so significantly from its predecessor, we already started work on the first concept studies in February - two months earlier than normal and before the F1.08 had even started its first race.

"Our aim was to build a car with high aerodynamic efficiency and in so doing claw back as much of the downforce as possible, which the new regulations had taken away."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Old trumps new in Algarve test

Monday 19th January 2009

After weeks of relative silence the sound of F1 engines reverberated for the first time today in earnest as testing got underway at the Algarve circuit.

In a mix of old and new it was Sebastien Buemi in last year's Toro Rosso who set the pace in the rather wet conditions.

The rain hampered play for part of the day with a heavy downpour in the afternoon curtailing the running.

However, the wet weather didn't stop Buemi who completed 65 laps in the STR3, clocking a best time of 1:41.528.

That put the Swiss driver almost five seconds ahead of second placed Pedro de la Rosa.

The Spaniard drove an interim McLaren MP4-24, which at various stages of the day was fitted with either the new 2009 front wing and last year's rear or an old front and a new rear.

Meanwhile Nico Hulkenberg, putting the new Williams FW31 through its paces for the first time, posted the third fastest time, a quarter of a second off de la Rosa's pace.

However, the German's first run wasn't without problems as he aquaplaned off the track, damaging the front nose of the newly-launched car.

Nelson Piquet Jr, also driving his team's 2009 challenger for the first time, finished in fourth place ahead of Toyota test driver Kamui Kobayashi.

"Today has gone well and I am happy with the new car," said Kobayashi, who previously tested the car on Sunday.

"It has been an interesting experience to drive with KERS for the first time and we are understanding more about the system all the time.

"This is my first time driving at this track and I have to say I am very impressed; the lay-out is really exciting and quite challenging for a driver.

"The weather was far from ideal, especially in the afternoon, so that meant we could not spend as much time on track as we planned."

1 S. Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:41.528 65 laps
2 P. de la Rosa McLaren 1:46.076 28 laps
3 N. Hulkenberg Williams 1:46.335 28 laps
4 N. Piquet jr. Renault 1:48.989 33 laps
5 K. Kobayashi Toyota 1:50.989 46 laps

source : Planet F1

Williams launch their new FW31

Monday 19th January 2009

Williams unveiled their new 2009 challenger, the FW31, at the Algarve circuit in Portugal on Monday.

Decked out in their winter test livery, the new car features the expected low, long front wing and short, high rear wing in keeping with this year's regulation changes.

KERS, the Kinetic Energy Recovery System, has also been fitted to the car, which test driver Nico Hulkenberg is set to drive for the first time later today.

Williams, whose form has slumped in recent seasons, are hoping the new car will be another step forward up the order. Last year they finished eighth in the Constructors' Championship.

Source : Planet F1

Renault present the R29

Monday 19th January 2009

Renault's R29, and its slightly changed livery, were presented to the world at the Algarve circuit on Monday morning.

The Anglo/French squad opted for a low-key launch at the track where the team will be testing later this week.

Drivers Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr were both in attendance along with team boss Flavio Briatore as the R29 made its debut.

The new car, like those displayed before it, is designed in accordance to the new 2009 regulations. This means the wing at the front is low and wide while the rear is short and high.

The sidepods meanwhile are shaped aggresively at the radiator air inlets but feature no barge boards or sidepod panels.

The car also features the shark fin engine cover that Renault used last season.

As for the livery, there is a slight change with more red included as Renault have signed French oil company Total to their sponsorship mix.

Source : Planet F1

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hamilton: McLaren will survive

Saturday 17th January 2009

Lewis Hamilton is confident the McLaren team will prosper despite Ron Dennis's decision to step down as team boss.

Dennis announced at Friday's launch of McLaren's new MP4-24 that he would be handing over the daily running of the team to McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh.

And although the decision was expected, there are some questions about whether McLaren will suffer a result.

Hamilton, though, is confident Dennis's departure won't affect his chances of retaining the World title and paid homeage to the man he has known for over a decade.

"Ron is a huge part of the team," remarked Hamilton.

"He has racing in his blood, so he will never leave. He will always play a part, and I will always remain close to him.

"I've known him since I was 10. We have a great relationship, and he has made a huge impact on my life - and he still does today - and we are great friends.

"But the great thing is we have great people in the team. It is a huge team, and we are very powerful together.

"It is not as if we are going to struggle. We are very fortunate that we will stay a strong team."

Source : Planet F1

15 Facts About Ron Dennis

Saturday 17th January 2009

Ron Dennis, the man who built a F1 dynasty from the McLaren team, announced on Friday that he is stepping down from his role as McLaren team boss. PF1 brings you the facts behind the man...

1. Dennis' career in motorsports started out when he was 16 years old and began working as an apprentice mechanic for the Thomson & Taylor garage at Weybridge.

2. He entered F1 in 1966 when he became a mechanic for the Cooper Formula One team where the lead driver was Jochen Rindt., who took Dennis with him to Brabham in 1968.

3. Prior to being asked to take operational control of McLaren, Dennis was in fact trying to raise funds for a Formula One team of his own - he had previously owned the Rondel Racing team in the 1970s. At the time Dennis owned a Formula 2 team, called Project 4, which was merged with McLaren to create the current McLaren F1 team.

4. The MP4 in the name of all subsequent McLaren F1 cars stands for McLaren - Project 4 - the combined names of McLaren and Dennis' own team.

5. Dennis's first big move as McLaren boss was the hiring of designer John Barnard who began work on the team's revolutionary new carbon fibre composite chassis, the MP4/1.

6. Despite not winning a single race that season, Dennis pressed on with the chassis built from carbon-fibre composite, a move that many other teams tried to follow without much success. It soon, though, yielded wins for McLaren with John Watson taking the honour of being the first McLaren driver under Dennis to win a grand prix - it was the 1981 British GP.

7. Dennis also bought out the other McLaren shareholders, Teddy Mayer and Tyler Alexander, in 1981, although today he only owns 15% of the McLaren group having sold shares to Mansour Ojjeh and then a 40% stake to Mercedes in 2000 for a reputed £200m.

8. Dennis was responsible for coaxing Niki Lauda out of retirement. The Austrian went on to win the 1984 World title with McLaren.

9. Lauda's victory was the first of ten Drivers' titles that McLaren would win with Dennis at the helm with the latest coming in 2008 when Lewis Hamilton bagged the crown. They also won seven Constructors' titles under Dennis.

10. However, with success also came controversy. Dennis was the driving force behind Paragon, McLaren's £250m technical centre near Woking. It opened in 2004 with some accusing Dennis of taking his eye off the F1 team in order to devote his attention to the new centre. The opening of Paragon largely marked the start of the rumours regarding Ron's retirement.

11. Three years later and the rumours gathered momentum in the face of the Stepneygate spy scandal that rocked F1. Dennis's team was accused and found guilty of the FIA of being in unauthorised possession of Ferrari's secret technical data. It was a low point in Dennis's career with the team boss later admitting to being the one who ratted McLaren out to FIA President Max Mosley. McLaren were handed a record $100 million fine by the FIA.

12. Dennis was, in 2000, made a Commander of the British Empire. However, subsequently a petition has been established on the British Government's Downing Street Website to ask her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II to grant a knighthood to Ron for his services to motor sport, business and technology.

13. Dennis was placed at number 648 in the Sunday Times Rich List 2006 with a net worth of £90 million.

14. On February 15 2008, Dennis announced his intention to separate from his wife of 22 years, Lisa, with whom he has three children. Lisa is the author of a series of illustrated children's books during the 1990s; they followed the Formula One adventures of main characters "Mac" and "Lauren".

15. On January 16 2009 2008 Ron Dennis announced he was stepping down as McLaren team boss and handing the reigns over to CEO Martin Whitmarsh.

'Excited' Hamilton: It's an emotional moment

Friday 16th January 2009

Reigning World Champ Lewis Hamilton is gearing up for an exciting 2009 season as he prepares to defend his crown in the wake of new regulations.

This year's Championship promises to offer an interesting mix as new rules have changed Formula One as we know it. Not only do the 2009 cars feature drastic changes to the aerodynamic packages but there's the introduction of KERS and a return to slick tyres.

Speaking at Friday's launch of McLaren's new MP4-24, Hamilton hailed the day as an emotional one and for more than one reason.

"The arrival of a new car is always an emotional moment for any racing driver - and the unveiling of MP4-24 is even more special for me, not only because the car looks absolutely stunning but also because it carries the World Champion's number one," he said.

The Brit's car carries the number '1' after he won last year's World title in a thrilling showdown at the season-ending Brazilian GP.

Hamilton eventually won the title by one point ahead of Ferrari's Felipe Massa and says that this year he expects much of the same.

"I believe this year's World Championship is open, given the new rule changes and that's a great prospect for every Formula 1 fan.

"Personally, I'm hoping for another successful season and the chance to once again fight for the title - until the final race if necessary, but preferably before!"

However, the team is taking nothing for granted as McLaren team boss Ron Dennis concedes that just because they won the crown last year it doesn't mean they will have an easy run to the title this season.

"Despite our victory in the 2008 Drivers' World Championship we have taken nothing for granted in our preparations for the season ahead," said Dennis.

"Indeed, if anything, our efforts to fully understand this period of huge regulatory change have been more thorough and concerted than ever before.

"And while the scale of the technical changes makes it difficult to accurately assess the true competitive outlook of the year ahead, as a team we can feel proud of our efforts and look forward to another close season of Formula One motor racing.

"As ever, we exist to win and our target remains the successful acquisition of both this year's Drivers' and Constructors' World titles."

Friday, January 16, 2009


Finally, McLaren have launched their car with which Lewis Hamilton will defend his title. And it looks stunning with the silver really standing out. The colour really hits you when you first look at it. It doesn't have that metallic finish like the Mp4-22 or Mp4-23 but it still looks good. It does look a bit matte as the pic show at Pitpass here, maybe it's just the angle.

For the Pitpass launch gallery, click here. The car doesn't have that "dolphin" nose anymore, it's quite big now and the way the front wing connects to the nose is pretty simple, I must admit. The way the Ferrari's front wing connects to the nose is much cooler. Toyota is quite common as it used to look a few years ago circa 2002, 2003.

And sadly, after many years as the face and spirit of McLaren, Ron Dennis has decided to step down as team principal to be replaced by martin Whitmarsh. I hope this does not jeopardise the McLaren strength to fight Ferrari.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Toyota launched it's 2009 contender, the TF109 today. It looks good so far. Click here for images of the car. The sides of the front wings are curved, I'm wondering is that allowed? Looks good though. I'm also a bit worried at the lack of sponsor stickers on the car. What does that say?

But since the new regulations has made the field more level (we hope), Toyota and Jarno Trulli are confident they can get their first ever win in F1 after 7 seasons in the sport. Good luck to them.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Mercedes open to Honda engine supply

Mercedes motorsport boss Norbert Haug has said the marque could supply the former Honda team with engines in 2009, provided any takeover leaves the team on a sound financial footing.

Although Mercedes has already committed to supplying a customer team for the first time, with Force India using its engines in 2009, Haug said that it could be possible to offer a deal to Honda.

"If there is a feasible solution with an investor for that team, we would be prepared to discuss it," Haug told "But the financial background needs to be there.

"You cannot give any presents at this time and in this (financial) climate, but we would like to help for the sake of Formula One. Ross Brawn and Nick Fry and their guys have done a good job so far, so if we could be in a position to help we certainly could try to do so.

"But the financial feasibility is very important. It needs to be 100 per cent bulletproof."

Haug says that a potential extra customer engine deal would not impinge on Mercedes's current operations, despite the challenges of adapting its power plant to last for three races and the introduction of Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS).

"This is not ideal timing," said Haug. "We have lots to do with KERS and the new rev limit and so on, which is a really big task.

"You have to do longer runs with the engines to prove they are ready. The guys in Brixworth are working flat out like never before. Even when we changed to V8 there was not as much to do as there is now."

Ferrari this week ruled themselves out as a potential engine supplier for the team despite former Scuderia technical director Ross Brawn, now Honda team principal, having reportedly spoken with the team about a deal.

Source : Autosport

Honda in the mix in 2009 entry list

Tuesday 13th January 2009

Despite being up for sale Honda have not cancelled their entry for the 2009 F1 World Championship, according to the FIA.

Motorsport's governing body as released the list of entries for this year's campaign including drivers with only three slots still open, one at Toro Rosso and two at Honda.

Toro Rosso are still looking for a team-mate to Seb Buemi and are believed to be waiting on whether Honda will make the grid as they are keen to sign Jenson Button.

However, should the Brit remain with his team, Takuma Sato and Seb Bourdais are the two most likely candidates to partner Buemi.

Honda, meanwhile, are still looking for a new buyer before announcing their line-up with Button, Bruno Senna and Rubens Barrichello all keen on racing for the new owners.

2009 Entry List
1 Lewis HAMILTON (GB) McLaren
2 Heikki KOVALAINEN (FIN) McLaren

3 Kimi RAIKKONEN (FIN) Ferrari
4 Felipe MASSA (BR) Ferrari

5 Robert KUBICA (PL) BMW

7 Fernando ALONSO (E) Renault
8 Nelson PIQUET (BR) Renault

9 Jarno TRULLI (I) Toyota
10 Timo GLOCK (D) TOyota

11 Sebastien BUEMI (CH) Scuderia Toro Rosso
12 TBA Scuderia Toro Rosso

14 Mark WEBBER (AUS) Red Bull Racing
15 Sebastian VETTEL (D) Red Bull Racing

16 Nico ROSBERG (D) Williams
17 Kazuki NAKAJIMA (J) Williams

18 TBA Honda *
19 TBA Honda *

20 Adrian SUTIL (D) Force India
21 Giancarlo FISICHELLA (I) Force India

The official list from Formula 1 is here.

* The Honda Motor Company announced their withdrawal from Formula One on December 5th, 2008. The Honda Racing team has not withdrawn its entry from the 2009 Formula One World Championship. The FIA understands the team is now for sale.

Source : Planet F1

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ferrari unveil their 2009 car, the F60

Monday 12th January 2009

Ferrari became the first team to unveil their 2009 challenger when they launched the F60 at Maranello on Monday.

The Scuderia, who will be keen to wrestle back the World title from McLaren this season, put the new car on display, revealing many of the new odd looking 2009 regulations.

In keeping with the rules the 2009 contender features a long front wing with a short, high rear one as well as sidepod mounted mirrors. The slick Bridgestone tyres are also in evidence.

The F60 has also been fitted with Ferrari's Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS), which has been developed in conjunction with electronics supplier Magneti Marelli.

A new Brembo designed brake system is also another feature on the car as well as a longitudinally-mounted gearbox.

The car will be shaken down by Ferrari's runner up in the 2008 Championship, Felipe Massa, later today.

PF1 will bring you all the news from the day's happenings. For the gallery, click here.

Source : Planet F1

Dennis hails McLaren duo

Sunday 11th January 2009

McLaren team boss Ron Dennis has paid tribute to Lewis Hamilton and Heikki Kovalainen.

Hamilton has been part of the McLaren family since 1995 and he became Formula One's youngest-ever World Champion last year after narrowly missing out on the F1 crown in 2007.

Dennis insists Hamilton is very much a "feet-on-the-ground guy" and believes the support he receives is key to his success.

"I think the results speak for themselves," he told Autosport. "He is a very balanced feet-on-the-ground guy. He has a phenomenal family, he has had tremendous support and continues to receive tremendous support from his father.

"Obviously also from a lot of people at McLaren who believe in him and believe in Heikki."

Kovailainen joined McLaren at the end of the 2007 season, and Dennis revealed the Finn was "mentally destroyed" when he signed up, but he bounced back strongly at the back end of last season.

"We are very much behind the drivers and when they perform it just makes it very gratifying. It is a privilege to have been part of that, but I get almost as much satisfaction from a situation where Heikki was very much mentally destroyed and not in the best physical condition when he came to McLaren.

"So I look at what he has achieved, with his physical condition and his mental approach, and his ability. It is so easy for his performance to be overshadowed by Lewis, but if you start fuel correcting their qualifying performances, then Heikki did a fantastic job last year and will do a great job this year."

Source : Planet F1

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hamilton: MBE a 'massive honour'

Congrats to Lewis on his conferment of the MBE.

Wednesday 31st December 2008

Lewis Hamilton felt "humbled" to have received an MBE in the New Year Honours and declared: "It has been quite a year".

Having come so close to claiming the Formula One World Drivers' Championship in his maiden season last time around, the Stevenage-born racer became the youngest winner of the prestigious title on the final corner of a dramatic Brazil Grand Prix in November.

Hamilton, who turns 24 next month and now lives in Switzerland, paid tribute to the support which helped him reach the very top of motor racing.

"It is a massive honour and incredible privilege for me to receive an MBE from Her Majesty the Queen," Hamilton said.

"It is the most amazing culmination to what has been quite a year for me.

"The support I have received from the UK as a whole has been fantastic and a huge motivation, it is something I am very appreciative of.

"This is not just a proud moment for me, but also for my family and every single person involved with the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team. I could not have achieved any of this without them."

Hamilton added: "I am also very humbled to be included on the Honours list alongside all the members of the general public who have been recognised for their tireless work in such varied and worthwhile arenas.

"It has been an outstanding year for British sport as a whole, and it is great to see so many fellow sportsmen and women being honoured today."

Few other sportsmen have enjoyed such a rapid rise as Hamilton, who at the age of 10 cheekily strode over to McLaren team principal Ron Dennis at an awards dinner and calmly mentioned he would one day like to drive for his team.

Hamilton was signed up by McLaren and Mercedes-Benz to their young driver support programme and never looked back as he claimed the British Formula Renault, European Formula Three and GP2 Championship titles.

In 2007, Hamilton established another landmark when he became the first black driver in Formula One and would go onto to come within a point of securing the Championship.

Following the drama of Brazil almost two months ago, where he secured the fifth place needed to pip local hero Felipe Massa to the F1 crown, the Queen herself took the time to personally write a note of congratulations to Hamilton.

And it was only the remarkable achievements in Beijing of cyclist Chris Hoy - who receives a knighthood - which kept the 23-year-old off the top of the podium again at the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of the Year awards night.

Hamilton hopes his efforts can help inspire a new generation.

He said: "I am very fortunate to have been awarded for achieving my dream, it has required a lot of hard work and dedication, however it has been worth every single minute and I only hope that I can inspire young kids to do the same, whatever their dream may be."

Source : Planet F1