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Archive for the ‘Events’ Category

Red Bull RB5 Launch Photo

Red Bull Racing unveiled their 2009 car, the RB5, at Jerez on Monday, ahead of this week’s four day test at the circuit. Drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber, who has just about recovered from his broken leg, were present as Adrian Newey’s take on the 2009 regulations was presented to the media. The car features a typically narrower front nose, featured in many of Newey’s designs, and the front wing is higher of the ground then in previous seasons. The car, however, is missing the shark fin that Red Bull pioneered last year.

Along with many other teams this year, Red Bull’s hopes for ’09 are high. For the past 4 seasons the team have been steady midfielders, but having watched the Red Bull junior team take a win with their car last year, the team feels they are ready to take the top step of the podium themselves. One of the Austrian teams major problems in the past has been reliability, but 2008 saw a big improvement, and team boss Christian Horner is confident the improvement will continue into ’09. Speaking of the cost-cutting regulations, Horner said: “The changes caused few interruptions to our work flow and they will also assist the larger manufacturer teams in cutting costs, in terms of manpower. Over the past year, we had invested strategically, and therefore, with the rules as they now stand, we are in a good position to capitalise on them, as they present an opportunity for teams to compete on a more level playing field.”

Sebastian Vettel took the car out for it’s first runs but, perhaps rather worryingly, a gearbox problem, a frequent past issue for the team, stopped their running after just 14 laps.

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Robert Kubica in BMW F1.09 at Valencia

BMW Sauber became the sixth Formula 1 team to unveil their 2009 challenger on Tuesday. The F1.09, the fourth car BMW have built since their 2006 takeover of Sauber, was launched at the Valencia track in Spain with drivers Nick Heidfeld, Robert Kubica and Christian Klien present, and Kubica taking the car for it’s first few runs.

BMW head into 2009 aiming to become serious championship contenders, having dropped off the pace after a strong start to 2008 that saw them claim their first race win. Kubica, the main challenger for BMW in ’08, said at the launch: “Last year we saw that working together we can achieve good result. For the first half of the season, we were title contenders. We were leading the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships at certain points of the season. Everyone remembers how it finished, and we will try to repeat the first half of the season and finish better than last year.” Team boss Mario Theissen displayed lots of confidence in a press conference following the launch, saying that BMW, in a similar fashion to Toyota, have always had a four year plan in F1: “We set out a plan aiming at the first points in 2006, the first podium in 2007, to win in 2008, and we then stated that we want to fight for the championship from this year onwards. So far all targets have been met, so there is no reason to abandon the final and most important target. We want to fight for the title with the big two other teams and whoever else is up there.”

BMW plan to remain testing the new car in Valencia until Saturday.

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Nico Hulkenburg in Williams FW31 at Algarve

Williams rolled out their 2009 contender, the FW31, at the Algarve circuit in Portugal on Monday. The hugely low-key ‘launch’ saw the car parked outside it’s pit garage with third driver, Nico Hulkenburg, also present and taking the car out for it’s first runs later that day.

Williams are hoping for the best season possible with the resources and finances they have, with the FIA’s cost-cutting plans suggesting a brighter future ahead for the once successful British team, who haven’t won a championship since 1997 and a race since 2003. Team principal Frank Williams echoes the thoughts of the other team bosses, saying “It will be a very interesting year” and also that he hopes the team will make “a significantly large step forward” with the Fw31. Technical director Sam Michael is targeting a “respectable” season, saying: “Williams have won Grands Prix before, we’ve won championships before, and everyone in the company wants to return to that level. Our target is to do the best that we can with the resources that we have, and I’m sure that we can hold the team up in a good light.”

The FW31’s 2009 livery is yet to be revealed, with the team using a winter testing livery until February.

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Nelson Piquet Jr in Renault R29 at Algarve

Renault unveiled their 2009 car, the R29, ahead of this weeks test in Portugal. Both Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet Jr will continue their role as race drivers, with the Enstone-based team hoping to carry on where they left of in 2008, with Alonso claiming three podiums at the end of the season, two of which were race wins.

The R29 features a strikingly different livery to the previous two years, and a much chunkier front nose compared to the other ’09 cars we’ve seen so far. This, along with the many other visible changes made to all of this years challengers, make it a very big development in the appearance of the French team’s cars. The launch itself wasn’t exactly a massive event, with the two race drivers Alonso and Piquet Jr, third driver Romain Grosjean and team boss Flavio Briatore revealing outside their pit garage the car they hope will be able to challenge for the world championship.

Renault also revealed the members of their 2009 driver development scheme on Monday. Davide Valsecchi, competing in Formula Renault and Formula Ford drivers Charles Pic and Marco Sorensen. Renault will test their new car alongside McLaren, Toyota, Toro Rosso and Williams in Portugal this week.

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McLaren MP4-24 at Launch in Woking

McLaren became the third team to reveal their 2009 car on Friday. The MP4-24, which Lewis Hamilton will use to defend his drivers championship, was launched in a small press gathering at the teams headquarters in Woking, a contrast to McLaren’s large scale launch events at Valencia in 2007 and Stuttgart in 2008.

Having clinched the drivers championship in a nail-biting finish at the Brazilian Grand Prix last year, McLaren are confident their 2009 campaign will produce similar success, and hope to achieve their first constructors championship title since 1998. Speaking at the launch, Hamilton said: “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 number one. 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.” McLaren boss, Ron Dennis, spoke of the challenges faced with the new regulations, saying: “Extensive rule changes require extensive amount of work. These are the biggest rules changes we have seen in 15 years. That requires the technologists in our organisation, they are not just engineers but scientist with high qualifications, to go back to a plain piece of paper. As ever, we exist to win and our target remains the successful acquisition of both this year’s Drivers’ and Constructors’ world titles.”

The launch was somewhat overshadowed however, by the news that Dennis would step down from his team principal role before the season began. For many though, McLaren remain the favourites to lift the 2009 trophy at the end of the season. The team will begin their testing schedule of the new car on Monday at Portimao in Portugal.

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TF109 Launch Image

Toyota revealed their 2009 car, the TF109, for the first time on Thursday. The car was launched online with a short movie made in the style of a film trailer which featured drivers Jarno Trulli, Timo Glock and Kamui Kobayashi. Along with the rest of the 2009 cars, the TF109 looks strikingly different to last years racer, with the standard much higher rear wing and wider front wing the most noticeable changes.

Toyota have made clear their aim for 2009 is to achieve their maiden race win. Having competed in the sport for 7 years with the largest budget, some members of the team hinted that if success does not come soon, Toyota may lose interest in F1 and follow Honda out of the sport. Trulli talked about the Japanese manufacturer’s commitment to F1 saying: “Toyota’s message has been very clear: we carry on with F1, however we all have a great responsibility to try to bring home the maiden victory, which could be decisive for the future.” John Howett, the teams president, echoed Trulli’s sentiments, saying: “To put ourselves in the best possible position to fight for our first victory, we need to be consistently challenging for the podium and scoring big points regularly.” Team principal Tadashi Yamashina added: “When I took over as Chairman and Team Principal in 2007 I stated my task for the first year would be to observe, for the second year it would be to improve and for the third year and beyond it would be to succeed. This is my third season so it is very clear for me – I want to see us win a race”

The team are very confident for the future, though, with Howett believing there is no doubt about Toyota’s long-term involvement in the sport. This comes on the same day that Panasonic extended their title sponsorship deal with Toyota until 2012.

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Ferrari F60 at Launch in Mugello

Ferrari became the first to reveal their 2009 challenger, after launching the Ferrari F60 on Monday. The launch took place at Mugello, having been moved from Ferrari’s test track at Firoano due to poor weather conditions. The F60 is the first of the new generation of F1 cars launched, featuring a radically different design to last year as required by the 2009 FIA technical regulations designed to make racing more exciting.

Both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa were present at the launch, with the 2008 runner-up taking the F60 for it’s first few laps of Mugello. Team principle Stefano Domenicali said the season will be “stimulating from all points of view” and that the drivers will play a much bigger role in their success. He was quick to play down expectations of Ferrari though, saying their project for the upcoming season is very complicated and their aim is to stay among the top teams, citing McLaren, BMW and Renualt as their rivals. Technical director Aldo Costa spoke of the shift of development from 08 to 09 saying: “It’s a completely new car, starting from a white piece of paper. Fundamentally the biggest changes come from the new rules from an aerodynamic point of view and the introduction of new technology, which is the KERS system. Because of that we had to start work pretty early and to review the main concept of the car, so it was a very very intense and long job.” Massa has said that his last-lap failure to win the championship has only made him “more eager to win”, whilst Raikkonen said he has put 2008 behind him, and is heading into this season confidently and with the aim of winning a second world title.

Another change comes in the pattern of which Ferrari’s cars are named, with the title ‘F60’ adopted in recognition of the 60 years the Italian team have been competing for. Toyota are the next team to launch their new car, the TF109.

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