The Badger news round-up: where fact x importance = NEWS.
It’s been another fairly slow week in F1 news, with the summer break finally coming to an end and the drivers returning from their fortnight in Blackpool. But, as ever, there are some stories worth talking about, and we’ve chosen a few of them for this week’s Badger news round-up. This is the news!
Heidfeld Tyres Of Mercedes Role.
Excuse the awful pun in the headline. The biggest driver-move-news this week was that Nick Heidfeld has been released from his contract with Mercedes to become Pirelli’s development driver. Nick has been a Mercedes employee since January, but with the testing ban rules he’s never actually driven the car. With that in mind we couldn’t be happier for him and his new role, as it’s a basic requirement of the racing driver to drive cars. Nick began testing a 2009 Toyota, shod with Pirellis, at Mugello this week, as the Italian manufacterer prepare to replace Bridgestone as F1’s sole tyre supplier in 2011.
There was also news that Kimi Raikkonen had been offered the chance to test the tyres, but it would seem the Finn turned it down. Not too surprising really considering Kimi has a World Rally Championship event coming up this weekend. After all, that is his job now.
Back to Nick, whose new position could cause a problem: what if he’s offered a drive, as a racer or tester, for 2011? Would that not be very unfair, what with the masses of knowledge he’ll have of the Pirelli tyres? Early 2011 will see all F1 teams scrambling to get the best from their new rubber, and anyone with Nick on board would have a definite headstart. What’s more Nick will naturally steer development towards his own preferences, making some very Heidfeld-freidnly tyres. We did have a laugh though that the suggestion that Mercedes had released Heidfeld to Pirelli with a ‘lengthy wish list’ from Michael Schumacher. As we stroll through this land of paranoia…
Back to Basics in Bahrain.
Also in the news was Bahrain’s decision to revert to the ‘classic’ track layout at the Gulf circuit for next year, as mentioned in yesterday’s Podium or Pits. Apparently the aptly named ‘endurance circuit’ used this year- which produced what we can all agree was the dullest race of an otherwise great 2010- was a one-off, intended only to be raced on once to celebrate the 60th anniversary of F1. Was that the plan all along, or have the Bahrain circuit management just come up with a convenient excuse to return to the more engaging layout? We’ll let you make up your own minds on that.
Déjà vu moment as government-backed Argentine seeks F1 seat.
It’s that time of the year when rumours about who’ll go where for next season ramp up to crazy levels- hence Badger running a two part feature on who’ll go where for 2011– and in the last few days another potential move has emerged, thought it sounds rather farmilair to one we heard last winter.
This week Argentine Esteban Guerrieri, a junior series journeyman with a long C.V, has been talking up his chances of an F1 driver for next year. Guerrieri has spent much of the last decade racing in lower European championships, but funding issues have meant he’s never had a proper crack at the whip. However when he has found a seat he’s always been quick- usually won races in fact- and Badger reckons he could do a good job in F1 if given decent machinery.
Why the sudden change of financial luck? Well, the Argentine government is apparently backing Esteban’s bid to land an F1 seat. There’s form for this, as last year they were footing much of the bill for Jose Maria Lopez’s drive with the ill-fated USF1 project, and are clearly very keen to put one of their boys in an F1 car.
“I think the time is right to try F1,” Guerrieri said this week. “We’re working on it, because in principle to get a seat we need to have about 8 million dollars. There should be developments in September, and the limit [to find a drive] would be November.”
Is he really heading to F1, or is young Esteban just publicity hunting to find fresh sponsors? If it’s the latter it’s certainly worked.
Force India’s Big Bill.
Hot off the press (as in we only got the press release this morning) is news that Force India have been ordered to pay over one million Euros to Aerolab, an Italian aerodynamics company who they’ve spent much of this year trying to sue.
If you haven’t heard already here’s the story: Aerolab provide scale model windtunnel testing, and used to count both Force India and Lotus among their customers. But late last year Force India terminated their contract and launched legal action against Aerolab, who they believe passed their data to Lotus. Mike Gascoyne and Lotus’ parent companies have also had legal action brought against them by Vijay Mallya’s team.
The 1 million Force India have been ordered to pay is thought to be fees they owed Aerolab from when the contract was broken. The team have now launched a counter action, meaning the whole messy thing is likely to rumble on still further. Hardly ideal as the team prepare for 2011.
Interestingly, Aerolab mention in their release that Force India’s assets will come under Italian jurisdiction at next month’s Italian Grand Prix. There’s a possibility that, should they fail to pay up, their equipment could be impounded. The cut-throat world of international motorsport, aye?
Yamamoto continues at Hispania
On to another announcement that’s just been made: Sakon Yamamoto will continue in the Hispania car for next weekend’s Belgian Grand Prix. The Japanese racer, who first competed for the team at Silverstone in place of Bruno Senna, ran in both Hungary and Germany in place of Karun Chandhok, and will continue to replace the Indian at Spa. A bit of a shame this, as Karun took his first GP2 win at the Belgian track in 2007, suggesting he’s got a good head for the place.
And finally the obligatory F-Duct news. Renault will introduce the McLaren-pioneered device next weekend, hoping to get maximum use from it on Spa’s long straights. With the super-fast Monza circuit following Spa on the calender they’ve certainly picked the right time to bring the ‘blown rear-wing’ in. Following McLaren’s introduction of the device at the season opener Ferrari, Red Bull, Mercedes, Force India and Williams have all brought in their own variations of the F-Duct.