The 2008 Prediction Game Update – Raikkonen the early favourite

I took a short weekend break from F1 Wolf but now I am back with the update on the 2008 Prediction Game.

Join 2008 F1 Prediction Game

As you may already know, there are few changes in the rules. The main two are:

1) You can predict the 2008 champion anytime before March 13, 2008. If you already placed your prediction you can still change it anytime and as many times as you want, as long as it is done on/before March 13, 2008.

2) Unlike in 2007, the deadline for race result predictions will not be before start of each race but before start of the qualifying. Why ? Because this year we are also predicting the pole position.

The complete rules are here.

So, how does it look so far ?

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2008 Formula 1 Season Countdown – 50 Days To Go

50 days

Only 50 days left and the Aussie GP will be on the way. To mark the occassion I started a poll on the left sidebar – vote for your 2008 F1 Champion. If you haven’t done so, make sure you also join the 2008 F1 Wolf Prediction Game.

In the past 10 days we had some official and some unoficial car launches. First Red Bull launched in a low key way their RB4 in Jerez. Williams and Renault rolled out their new F1 cars in Valencia, with Renault planning the official launch for next week. Right after them Rubens Barrichello took the new Honda RA108 for a spin.

Drivers are slowly beginning to show they new lids, you can follow the new 2008 driver helmets here. Fernando Alonso is settling in Renault again, and seems to be reminding himslef of the good old times with his new helmet too.

There were Super Aguri sale rumours circulating, but if anything has been sold to Alejandro Agag, Super Aguri team is not aware of it. The team is the last one yet to officially confirm both drivers and the only one that did not test in Valencia.

The Valencia test attracted most of the F1 attention this week, Ferrari, McLaren and Williams doing pretty well. Heikki Kovalainen seems to have get used to McLaren car very quickly and very well.

The season haven’t even started and there are already claims that some teams may have found a way around the TC ban. FIA was also in action. Max Mosley is ready to introduce and confident to police a budget cap as early as from 2009 season. Slight change in the rules is on the way for 2008 season – teams will be allowed one penalty free engine change per car per season.

Kimi F1 RacingMax Mosley can’t seem to able to stop mumbling about the spy gate. He warned that the next team caught spying faces exclusion.

F1 Racing magazine finally devoted the cover to Kimi Raikkonen, few months after he won his F1 title. ING signed up as a sponsor of the beloved Hungarian GP. Lewis Hamilton signed up with McLaren until the end of 2012 season, and no doubt Ron Dennis added something to Hamilton’s paycheck too.

Nigel Stepney came out and said he never thougt that him passing Ferrari data to McLaren will result in McLaren using them, or something along those lines.

And finally, Lewis Hamilton revealed he knows how not to behave, and it was no one other than Fernando Alonso who taught him the lesson:

“He showed me just how not to behave as an F1 driver. He was (the leader) at the beginning, wasn’t he, but it changed. Well, he thought he was at the beginning,. But I don’t think that should be the case, we should be a team. It should be equal.”

Valencia Test – Review

Yesterday was the final day of the four day test at Circuito Ricardo Tormo in Valencia. The teams are in very different stages of their 2008 car development so no conclusions should be made yet, but there are already some signs of what may come.

Ferrari Valencia January 2008

Ferrari seems to be ready to mount another title challenge. Both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa had good runs in the new Ferrari. Massa was fastest on Tuesday, Raikkonen on Thursday. It can be said that Ferrari is the fastest car at the moment.

McLaren Valencia January 2008

McLaren did not do too bad either. Heikki Kovalainen is settling in the car pretty well and he even managed to set the new lap record on this F1 test track. He later disclosed it was on very low fuel, but nevertheless the combination of Heikki Kovalainen and McLaren car looks impressive. Lewis Hamilton was in the car on Wednesday and Thursday only, both time outpaced by his team mate. It may mean that Heikki will be formidable opponent, it may also mean each of the McLaren drivers had different test duties.

Williams Valencia January 2008

Williams, the pleasant surprise. At this stage of the testing season clearly the third fastest car, no matter whether driven by Rosberg or Nakajima. They however have to keep up their job, because there are several teams right behind them … Considering that they only came out with the new car this week in Valencia, the performance of Williams is very impressive.

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Illegal electronic aids – new troubles in sight ?

smoking tyresJarno Trulli expressed suspicion that some teams may have found a way around the new standard ECU developed and supplied by McLaren Electronic Systems.

“I’m not going to name any names, but I think that some teams have already found a way to automate the starting procedure and reduce to the minimum the chance of spinning the wheels under acceleration. I’m not saying someone’s cheating, even though we’ve received some conflicting information at Toyota. But having analysed the behaviour on the track both now and in the tests in December, the changes between them are many – and in several cases suspicious.”

Autosport also reports some “Paddock sources” saying that some cars did sound different under heavy acceleration during last week tests in Jerez. Only Honda and BMW did not run in Jerez last week, so if what Trulli says is true, there are quite a few suspects. The teams would be stupid to use something outright illegal, but pushing the limits to the edge of legality is common in the competitive world of F1. Remember BAR and their fuel tank in 2005 (banned for 2 races), Renault and their mass dampers in 2006, Ferrari and their flexi floor in Melbourne 2007…

The implementation of the standard ECU, was one of the reasons why it was possible to ban the traction control. It has been banned before, but quickly everybody found a way around it somewhere deep inside the car electronics and FIA had no other way than to make the TC legal again. Standard ECU should have been (among other things) a solution to the problem policing the TC ban.

If some of the teams indeed found a way around the standard ECU after only few months of working with it, than the TC ban might be shortlived again. It would be interesting to see what action (if any) will FIA take. Trulli may be right or he may be wrong. But in any case I hope that FIA goes ahead and investigates Trulli’s suspicions now. If there are to be any rulings on legality of any cars, FIA better make them before the racing begins. It would be nice if the 2008 Formula 1 season can start without a controversy.

New Honda RA108 makes the track debut

A week ahead of the official launch Honda’s 2008 car, RA108 made the track debut. Rubens Barrichello took the car around the Valencia test track today.

Honda RA108

As the new livery is expected to be revealed only at the official launch next week, all we can see is the all white car (last year they used all black livery during winter). A quick look reveals several similarities – the engine cover, sidepods … Hopefully the car is different from its predecessor, the doomed RA107, where it needs to be. Unlike many other teams, new Honda does not feature the front wing bridge (yet).

Rubens seems to be sticking to his traditional helmet design …

Honda RA108

Here is the 2007 Honda F1 Screensaver to remind you of the 2007 Honda car with the Earth livery.

What will the new Honda livery be like ?

2008 F1 Drivers Helmets

The teams keep rolling out their new cars and the F1 drivers are coming up with their 2008 helmet design. Here they are:

Kimi Raikkonen 2008 Helmet Helmet Felipe Massa 2008
Raikkonen, Massa

Lewis Hamilton 2008 Helmet McLaren Heikki Kovalainen 2008 Helmet McLaren
Hamilton, Kovalainen

Heidfeld 2008 Helmet Kubica 2008 Helmet
Heidfeld, Kubica

Alonso new 2008 Helmet Nelson Piquet 2008 Helmet
Alonso, Piquet

Nico Rosber 2008 Helmet Williams Kazuki Nakajima 2008 Helmet Williams
Rosberg, Nakajima

Mark Webber 2008 Helmet Red Bull David Coulthard 2008 Helmet Red Bull
Webber, Coulthard

Glock 2008 Helmet Trulli 2008 Helmet
Glock, Trulli

Barrichello 2008 Helmet Button 2008 Helmet
Barrichello, Button

Bourdais 2008 Helmet Vettel 2008 Helmet
Bourdais, Vettel

Adrian Sutil 2008 Force India Helmet Giancarlo Fisichella 2008 Force India Helmet
Sutil, Fisichella

Helmet Sato 2008 Helmet Davidson 2008
Sato, Davidson

Fernando Alonso seems to be getting away from McLaren days and returning to Renault even with his helmet design. Jarno Trulli reduced the shiny silver surface with more red colour over it. Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica keep the designs very close to their 2007 styles.

Kimi Raikkonen’s new 2008 helmet (click here) is very similar to his 2007 one, but the white front has been replaced with some sort of “tribal” drawing. Anyone knows what it means ?

Lewis Hamilton keeps his yellow helmet pretty much unchanged. Heikki Kovalainen had to make changes to accomodate new sponsors the result is Alonso 2007 like helmet. Bourdais keeps his Champ Car yellow and blue with the addition of Red Bull brand.

Both Honda and Red Bull drivers keep the same designs as in 2007. Sutil’s helmet does not look too different from his 2007 one as well. Fisichella is another guy sticking with his traditional colours.

Please check back for updates to this post with more on 2008 F1 driver helmets. It happened before that drivers used different design for the winter testing and came up with brand new one when the season started, so these may not yet be the definite 2008 helmets.

If you come across good pictures of new 2008 F1 driver helmets that are not yet displayed here, let me know. I will add them here !

To see what the drivers were wearing in 2007, check here

Williams and Renault roll out their 2008 cars

Two teams used the Valencia test track (not the one to host the F1 race this year) to roll out their 2008 cars.
Renault R28
Although Renault plan their new car launch for January 31, 2008, Fernando Alonso took the new R28 around the track week or so ahead of the official launch. The bridge over the front wing follows the suit of several other teams. Besides the move from V keel to Zero keel there are not too many other technical details available yet, but I must say the car looks quite different from last year’s Renault. Simply said the car looks more rough, more like 2007 Honda than 2007 Renault. It had to be expected the team would opt for brand new approach after disapointing 2007 season but the similarity to 2007 Honda is scary :-) The car (with Alonso behind the wheel) was quite quick on its first day out, about one and half second faster than new Williams (driven by Nico Hulkenberg). The times however should not be taken too seriously. This was the first time for the new cars on the track and the weather was far from ideal.
Renault R28

Williams also rolled out their 2008 car, FW30.
Williams FW30
Unlike Renault they have no plans for official launch. We can again see the front wing bridge but otherwise the new Williams seems to be an evolution of their successful 2007 car – FW29. I hope they got the car right. It would be nice to see this efficient team to fight it again with the big guys. Williams ran another of their interim winter liveries, this time dedicated to all their staff, sponsors and partners for the past 30 years and all the fans. Please, keep the dark blue only livery beyond the winter testing season this time …
Williams FW30

Stake in Super Aguri sold ?

The German magazine AutoBild reports that Aguri Suzuki has sold 50% stake in the Super Aguri F1 team to Spanish billionaire Alejandro Agag. The GP2 team owner Agag has been linked with purchase of Super Aguri shares for quite some time.

Anthony Davidson

Super Aguri run into financial difficulties after their sponsor SS United defaulted on the sponsorship payments during the 2007 season. They managed to secure few smaller sponsors before the 2007 Japanese GP at Fuji but still had to rely on massive support from Honda to keep on going.

The entry of Alejandro Agag into the Super Aguri would definitelly be good news for the Japanese team. Whether it is also good news for Super Aguri drivers Sato and Davidson is a different story. Sato is probably safe but not so Anthony Davidson. Super Aguri repeatedly stated they would prefer both their 2007 drivers to continue, but haven’t confirmed them yet mainly because of the uncertainties about team’s future. Now when Agag may be on board I would not be surprised if his own favourite (whoever it may be) enters the picture.

What puzzles me a bit is that why would a deal like this be done before the customer car arbitration is over and the issue what cars can and can’t race in 2008 is settled. Fifty percent stake in F1 team does not come cheap. Why would someone splash out the cash before knowing if the team actualy has a legitimate car to race with ? Or do Agag and Suzuki already know something we don’t ?

Update: Audetto, Managing Director of Super Aguri has denied the sale report:

“We have had no recent dialogue or an ongoing relationship with Agag.”

Budget Cap and Penalty Free Engine Change

FIA has been in action again. Max Mosley seems to be on track to impose the budget caps from season 2009 already.

“Starting in 2009, there will be a cap on expenditure for all Formula One costs other than engines, drivers and expenditure exclusively for promotion and marketing. Because of the variety of arrangements, particularly shareholdings, team principals’ remuneration will not be included in the cap.”

The budget cap figure for 2009 and perhaps for 2010 and 2011 is expected to be set after a meeting between FIA technical advisor Tony Purnell and financial representatives of the teams on January 31 in Paris. The Financial Working Group is expected to finalize the details of the regulations before June 2008. Mosley warns of different action should not sufficient progress be made by then:

“If the Financial Working Group are unable to devise a satisfactory method of checking expenditure or if a majority of the competing teams do not agree the proposals by 30 June 2008, the cost reduction measures voted by the World Motor Sport Council on 7 December 2007 will be adopted for 2009 in their entirety.”

That would be the radical measures like the wind tunnel limits advertised by Max Mosley few weeks ago. While I think that limiting the massive spending is the step in the right direction I am not that sure it will work. Teams will be looking for the ways how to get around this especially those in a need to catch up during the season. Mosley is clearly aware of that, therefore the warning. I really want to see how is he going to police the budget cap. Especially when 3 costly areas are left out…

The FIA and the team bosses came up also with sensible proposal not to penalize one engine change per car per season. That would mean that the first 2008 engine change for a driver will not be followed by the 10 place grid penalty. This proposal needs get an approval of the World Motorsport Council and the vote is expected soon.  A rare voice of reason :-)

Fernando Alonso and his new 2008 helmet

2008 Fernando Alonso HelmetSometime the helmets the drivers use during the testing season are not the same than those they enter the season with, but this one looks like a keeper. Alonso’s new helmet is a return to his previous Renault design and an obvious escape from his McLaren days helmet.

It also displays 2 ace cards on the back to mark his 2 world titles.

Fernando Alonso Helmet 2008, Back Aces

And here is the updated version as seen at the Renault R28 launch, sporting logos of his new sponsor:

Alonso new 2008 Helmet

I like this Alonso’s new helmet more that his 2007 one.

Red Bull RB4 launched in Jerez

Red Bull team unveiled their second Renault powered car – RB4 – in Jerez, Spain. Same as its predecessor RB3 it has been designed by Adrian Newey.

Red Bull RB4

As it became a trend in F1, it features the bridge wing, similar to what the team used towards the end of the 2007 season. It seems that Red Bull truly gives you the extra wings :-)

Red Bull RB4 nose

The car is quite similar to the RB4. The main changes very likely took part under the chassis. Let’s hope the team has found some cure for their reliability issues.

To remember how the RB3 looked like, here is the 2007 Red Bull F1 Screensaver

Red Bull also yesterday confirmed Sebastien Buemi as their reserve driver.

Toro Rosso team will be starting the 2008 season with their old car.

2007 BMW Sauber F1 Screensaver

Nick HeidfeldI am out of reach of the internet today, so for the regular visitors a pre-recorded message :-)

The best of the rest, third fastest team on the 2007 F1 grid, second place in the constructors table (after McLaren’s exclusion). BMW Sauber suprised many in 2007. Here is the BMW Sauber 2007 screensaver to remeber the so far best ever season for the Swiss based former Sauber team.

You can download the screensaver here: 2007 BMW Sauber F1 Screensaver

Please check the screensaver tag for more F1 screensavers.

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2014 Teams and Drivers

Red Bull
Sebastian VETTEL
Daniel RICCIARDO
Ferrari
Fernando ALONSO
Kimi RAIKKONEN
McLaren
Jenson BUTTON
Kevin MAGNUSSEN
Lotus
Romain GROSJEAN
Pastor MALDONADO
Mercedes
Nico ROSBERG
Lewis HAMILTON
Sauber
Adrian SUTIL
Esteban GUTIEREZ
Force India
Nico HULKENBERG
Sergio PEREZ
Williams
Felipe MASSA
Valtteri BOTTAS
Toro Rosso
Daniil KVYAT
Jean Eric VERGNE
Caterham
Marcus ERICSSON
Kamui KOBAYASHI
Marussia
Jules BIANCHI
Max CHILTON

2014 F1 Calendar

14-16 March - Australia
28-30 March - Malaysia
4-6 April - Bahrain
18-20 April - China
9-11 May - Spain
22-25 May - Monaco
6-8 June - Canada
20-22 June - Austria
4-6 July - Great Britain
18-20 July - Germany
25-27 July - Hungary
22-24 August - Belgium
5-7 September - Italy
19-21 September - Singapore
3-5 October - Japan
10-12 October - Russia
31 October-2 November - USA
7-9 November - Brazil
21-23 November - Abu Dhabi

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