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Archive for December, 2008

Signing out for 2008

The F1 news has been slowing down, and now it’s come to a hault it must be that time of year again. 2008 provided an incredible year of F1 racing, but before we head into the unknown there’s just enough time to take a break from the otherwise non-stop sport.

As for work on the site, focus is currently on the 2008 season review, which is plenty to keep me going. I’ll get it out as soon as possible so attention can shift to the 2009 page. Hopefully F1 news won’t pick up for the next week or so, but I’ll be back to catch up on January 4th.

So Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all, and I’ll see you in 2009.

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Jarno Trulli in Toyota TF108 at Bahrain

Japanese car manufacturer Toyota is expecting to record it’s first ever loss at the end of the financial year in March. Following on from the initial prediction of a $6.7 billion profit, the corporation is now forecasting a loss of $1.7 billion in the wake of the global financial crisis which has hit the car market badly.

Despite this, Toyota’s F1 team have re-confirmed they are committed to the sport and will not be pulling out. This comes under three weeks since they last had to issue a statement confirming they would not pull out, following their Japanese rival Honda’s withdrawal from the sport. President of Toyota, Katsuaki Watanabe, said earlier today: “The change in the world economy is of a magnitude that comes once every hundred years. We are facing an unprecedented emergency.” But despite the strong words, he also said: “We continue F1 and other motorsport activities while cutting costs.” Toyota F1 president John Howett repeated the views of other F1 teams, saying he is more concerned about the 2009 regulations than the financial issues.

It may come as a surprise to many however, that despite Honda having a richer heritage in motor racing than Toyota, they feel the need end F1 participation to be seen taking action against the financial meltdown, which may weaken Toyota’s image outside the sport.

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Kazuki Nakajima in 2009 spec Williams at Jerez

The final testing day of 2008 took place on Wednesday at both Jerez and the new Algarve circuit, with all the teams in action developing or starting to develop their 2009 car in preparation for the first car launches next month.

At Jerez, Sebastian Vettel finally beat Sebastien Buemi to the fastest time for Red Bull, Buemi having sat at the top of the time sheets for 5 days. The German’s 1:16.617 lap was easily the fastest of the entire test, and beat Buemi’s time by 3 tenths of a second. Robert Kubica and Christian Klien continued their testing of the 2009 BMW and it’s KERS. Kubica’s best lap was marginally faster than Klien’s, who completed just 38 laps. Kazuki Nakajima had the most to do in his 2009 Williams spec car, three tenths of the pace of the BMWs.

Pedro de la Rosa continued at the top of the Algarve time sheets with a best lap of 1:28.993. Luca Badoer continued his duties for Ferrari as the only other man out on track. He finished the day over 1 second behind de la Rosa’s McLaren.

Formula 1 testing will now return in January at many different locations, as the teams begin to send their 2009 cars out for their first runs.

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Luca Badoer in F2008 at Algarve

Testing continued at both Jerez and the new Algarve circuit into Tuesday, with Red Bull and McLaren remaining on top as times improved from Monday.

Sebastien Buemi was once again on top in an RB4, setting a best lap of 1:17.029 during his extended running, after stepping in for the injured Mark Webber. He was joined by Sebastian Vettel, who had to settle for second behind the Red Bull tester by just under 0.3 seconds. Nick Heidfeld was a full 2 seconds further behind in his BMW fitted with slick tyres, whilst Robert Kubica drove to fourth with KERS. Kazuki Nakajima closed the gap to the BMWs, now three tenths behind.

McLaren and Ferrari continued their running at the Algarve circuit, with Pedro de la Rosa taking over from Gary Paffett. The Spaniard topped the time sheets in the cold conditions, with a 1:30.080, ahead of Ferrari testers Luca Badoer and Mark Gene.

Wednesday sees the final day of 2008 testing at both Jerez and the Algarve.

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Nick Heidfeld and Sebastien Buemi at Jerez

The final test session of 2008 got underway today, with teams split between the location of the last test, the Jerez ciruit in Spain and the Internacional do Algarve in Portugal. The Algarve circuit, which was completed in October, held it’s first ever F1 test day.

Only McLaren and Ferrari were in action at the new circuit, with Honda scheduled to join them before being forced to pull out due to it’s ongoing search for a buyer. The 2008 championship rivals experience limited running, with strong winds all day. Gary Paffett was out for McLaren and testing the 2009 front wing, while Felipe Massa could only complete 36 laps and was feeling ill. Paffett’s final time was a 1:31.788, 1.1 seconds faster than Massa’s.

Meanwhile in Jerez, Red Bull, BMW and Williams were all in action. Sebastien Buemi was now in a Red Bull RB4, but was still topping the time sheets. His lap of 1:17.704 was over 1.6 seconds faster than Brendon Hartley, who was also out for the Austrian team. Nick Heidfeld was once again out in a 2009 spec BMW, setting the second fastest time of 1:19.223. Christian Klien was 4 tenths behind in a KERS fitted BMW. Nico Hulkenburg completed the most laps for Williams, and rounded up the times in fifth place.

Testing continues at both circuits into tomorrow.

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David Coulthard and Sebastian Loeb on RoC Podium

Recently retired David Coulthard took second place yesterday at the 2008 Race of Champions in Wembley Stadium. Five time World Rally Champion Sebastian Loeb won the title ‘Champion of Champions’ by just 0.3 seconds from the Scot after a thrilling best-of-three heat final.

Other F1 drivers competing included Sebastian Vettel, who was defeated by Loeb in the Quarter Finals, and Jenson Button, who was knocked out of the first round by double Formula Drift champion Tanner Foust. One of the biggest shocks of the day was Michael Schumacher, one of the favourites to win, being defeated in the Quarters by NASCAR driver Carl Edwards. Despite this, Both Schumacher and Vettel successfully defended their nations cup win from last year as Team Germany.

Lewis Hamilton also made an appearance in his title winning McLaren MP4-23, and was scheduled to race British cyclist Chris Hoy in a warm-up event, before the race had to be cancelled due to slippery conditions. Hoy later went on to defeat Hamilton to the British ‘BBC Sports Personality of the Year’ Award.

Coulthard was unsurprisingly delighted to have raced in the RoC final in front of a home crowd, after his disappointing exit from F1 at the Brazilian Grand Prix. He said “The ROC is a totally unique event, and it’s always a pleasure to take part, even if you don’t win. I think there were some very exciting racing, and there’s nothing quite like being able to see the whole track.”

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Sebatien Buemi in STR3 at Jerez

Sebastien Buemi has given a boost to his campaign to land a Toro Rosso seat next year, by finishing fastest at all three days of the latest test at the Jerez circuit. The Toro Rossos were once again leading the time sheets, with their only slightly modified 2008 car, but Buemi shook off competition from Sebastien Bourdais and Takuma Sato to try and prove that he is ready for an F1 race seat.

Day one of the test saw only 6 teams make an appearance. The former Honda team were forced to pull out as they were too busy talking to buyers, with Force India, Toyota and Red Bull also missing. Kimi Raikkonen made his return to the wheel of an F1 car, following the season finale. His best time, 1:20.261, put him fifth behind McLaren test drivers Gary Paffett and Pedro de la Rosa. Everyone had their running affected by rain and fog, though. Buemi led with a 1:18.74, just over half a second faster than Bourdais.

Day two, and McLaren revealed their concept 2009 car. Heikki Kovalainen joined in, alongside de la Rosa, and drove his KERS-fitted McLaren to the sixth fastest time. Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa made their off-season testing debuts, and Bourdais and Sato shared their testing duties. Neither could beat Buemi though, with Sato six tenths off his best time, and Bourdais just behind in third.

The final day of the test saw Kovalainen as the fastest man not in a Toro Rosso. His time was 0.7 seconds ahead of Raikkonen, 1 second ahead of Massa, and a further 0.3 seconds ahead of Alonso. Meanwhile, Buemi completed his hat trick with a best time of 1:17.258, just under 0.3 seconds faster than Sato.

The final tests of the year start on December 15, with teams split between Jerez and the brand new Algarve circuit in Portugal.

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