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Archive for November, 2008

Gerhard Berger in Monaco

Red Bull owner, Dietrich Mateschitz, has bought back the 50% stake in Toro Rosso that he sold to Gerhard Berger in 2006. The deal means that Mateschitz and Red Bull now have complete control over Toro Rosso. The move goes against the Austrian’s former plans for the team, where he intended to sell his stake in STR.

Toro Rosso had a very successful 2008 season, with both pole position and a win at their home Grand Prix being the highlight of a year where they finished above the senior Red Bull team. Despite the success, the team’s future was in doubt, with the ban on customer cars in 2010 and ever-increasing costs. If a buyer could not be found, it looked as if they may be forced to drop out, meaning, in Max Mosley’s words, that F1 would “cease to have a credible grid.” The recent success of the Italian outfit is likely to have prompted Mateschitz into the move.

Gerhard Berger has said “I am very happy that I can support Didi, who has committed himself to Formula 1 with so much dedication with the reorganisation of the team and in this process to make use of my knowledge so effectively.”

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Mark Webber in Montreal

Red Bull Racing’s first driver, Mark Webber, has broken his leg in a cycling accident whilst taking part in his own charity event, The Mark Webber Pure Tasmania Challenge.

Webber was involved in one of the cycling activities as part of the five-day event when he collided head-on with a car. The Australian was airlifted to hospital where he had surgery to insert a pin in his leg. The driver has no further injuries and has begun his recovery. The event director, Geoff Donohue, said “The surgery is complete. Mark’s in good spirits. The broken leg is the injury, and beyond that, he’s in really good shape. He’ll be in hospital for at least three days, for sure under a week. I was speaking to him before the operation, and he was already thinking about his rehabilitation.”

The Red Bull driver will now miss all winter testing until the new year. His new teammate, Sebastian Vettel, has said he will miss Webber and hopes he gets well soon. He has also said the team will have to work extra hard at the next test without their first driver. Webber will also sit out of the race of champions, where he was scheduled to represent Australia along with motorcycle racer, Troy Bayliss.

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David Coulthard in Bahrain

The BBC have confirmed the line-up for their coverage of Formula 1 in 2009. The announcement puts to rest speculation about who would be involved in the deal since ITV lost the rights to broadcast F1 in the UK from next season onwards.

BBC Radio 5 Live presenter Jonathan Legard will take up a commentating role alongside former F1 driver Martin Brundle, who has been providing commentary on ITV for the last 12 years. Former Jordan F1 boss Eddie Jordan and recently retired David Coulthard, who became a father this week, will be pundits, with the coverage fronted by BBC Sport presenter Jake Humphrey. Ted Kravitz makes a surprise move from ITV to retain his role as a pit lane reporter along with Lee McKenzie, the daughter of motorsport journalist Bob McKenzie. Legendary F1 commentator, Murray Walker, will also make a return as part of the online coverage.

Further details of the BBC coverage are expected towards the end of December, with many online and interactive services likely to be available to UK residents.

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Sebastian Vettel in Red Bull RB4 at Barcelona

The first winter test in the build up to the 2009 season came to an end on Wednesday, with Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull remaining on top of the time sheets. His best lap, a 1:19.295, was half a second fastest than the Toro Rosso’s, which once again sat among the fastest times of the day in the battle for race seats.

Takuma Sato did not take part in the third day of the STR battle, which saw Sebastien Bourdais lap three tenths faster than Sebastien Buemi. McLaren tester, Gary Paffett, was fourth fastest with KERS on board ahead of Honda’s Jenson Button. Christian Klien and Nick Heidfeld were evenly matched in the 2009 concept BMW’s, with Klien just coming out on top when the day drew to a close. Bruno Senna was back behind the wheel of a Honda and finished eighth fastest in only his second day in F1 car. Nelson Piquet Jr was out for Renault and lapped faster than Nico Hulkenburg’s Williams and Luca Badoer’s Ferrari. Force India were also out, with Giancarlo Fisichella one tenth of a second faster Pedro de la Rosa, who completed his second day of testing duties for the Indian outfit after 88 laps of running.

It was only a three day test, but we’ve seen glimpses as to what we can expect next season. Radical new cars as part of the 2009 technical regulations and talent, both new and old, in evaluation for race seats next year. Winter testing continues at Jerez on December 9th.

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The second day of the Barcelona test concluded on Tuesday with Sebastian Vettel breaking into the 1:19s and setting the fastest time. He was the only man out for his new team, Red Bull, and led both Toro Rosso’s which sat in second, third and fourth.

It was the battle for race seats that fueled the Toro Rosso’s to the front of the time sheets for the second day in a row. Once again, Takuma Sato led that charge by the smallest of margins, 0.021 seconds, from the best lap of the Italian team’s second driver, Sebastien Bourdais. The other hopeful, Sebastien Buemi, was a further 0.2 seconds adrift. Gary Paffett was out for McLaren and fifth fastest ahead of Robert Kubica, Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button in his return to the wheel of a Honda, and he was joined by Renault test driver, Lucas di Grassi. The Brazilian was half a second slower than Button in his evaluation for a race seat. Once again Luca Badoer and Mark Gene were out for Ferrari and Giedo van de Garde for Renault, while McLaren third driver, Pedro de la Rosa, was in a Force India as part of the Force India-Mercedes deal.

The first multi-team winter test at the Circuit de Catalunya concludes on Wednesday.

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Takuma Sato in STR3 at Barcelona

The first test since the conclusion of the 2008 season got underway on Monday, with all but one team present. It was Toyota that sat out whilst the rest of the pack started their preparations for the 2009 season, by testing new regulations and evaluating new drivers at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona

Toro Rosso’s fight for race seats was brought to the front of the time sheets and Takuma Sato set the fastest time of the day, a 1:20.763, three tenths faster than Sebastien Buemi in the sister STR. The Italian team will continue their driver evaluation into tomorrow, where Sebastien Bourdais will join the battle. Alex Wurz was in a modified RA108, and set the third fastest time for Honda ahead of the McLaren test drivers, Pedro de la Rosa and Gary Paffett. Robert Kubica and Christian Klien set the sixth and ninth fastest time in a radical concept BMW F1.09 car. Five-time rally champion, Sebastien Loeb, took the to wheel of the Red Bull RB3, and finished seventh fastest. Test drivers Luca Badoer and Mark Gene were out for Ferrari and tried out their KERS and former test driver for Spyker, Giedo van de Garde, was driving for Renault. Bruno Senna finally made his first appearance in an F1 car, sharing the Honda RA1O8 with fellow Brazilian and Renault test driver, Lucas di Grassi.

Testing continues into Tuesday at the Circuit de Catalunya.

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Racing at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix

It has been announced today that negotiations with Bernie Ecclestone over next years Canadian Grand Prix have come to an end. After a shock move in October, the Montreal race was dropped off the second provisional calendar, despite the huge fan base in Canada.  A glimmer of hope for the event was offered following the withdrawal of the French Grand Prix, but the local government could not afford the amount Ecclestone was demanding for the race.

The Mayor of Montreal, Gerald Tremblay, released a statement saying: “Despite our endeavours and those of the business community, the unreasonable demands of Formula One exceeded the taxpayer’s ability to pay.” The local minister of tourism added: “We worked very hard over the past few weeks to ensure there would be a grand prix in Montreal, while staying fiscally responsible. We cannot meet Mr. Ecclestone’s unworkable demands.”

This move leaves no races in North America for the 2009 season and, providing no more events drop out before the final calendar is released in December, just 17 rounds of the world championship.

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