Lotus Racing and CNN International have today announced a partnership deal that sees the Lotus team entering into a long-term agreement with the world’s leading news network. CNN’s logo will feature on the T127 race cars, the drivers’ overalls and on all team clothing.
The new F1 team Lotus Racing unveiled today the first Lotus branded F1 car since 1994 – its 2010 challenger, the Lotus Cosworth T127. The green/yellow Lotus Racing T127 is powered by Cosworth V8 engine and will use an Xtrac gearbox and as all 2010 teams, will be running on Bridgestone tyres. The car will be driven by Jarno Trulli and Heikki Kovalainen with Fairuz Fauzy taking on the third and reserve driver duties.
The news yesterday were full of Heikki Kovalainen’s remarks in the interview to Motorsport Aktuell. I wonder how many people actually have read the interview. Even the Motorpsort Aktuell website only talks about that interview, that probably is for its printed version. But let’s assume that excerpts from the interview were accurate.
Here is what Heikki Kovalainen is said to have said:
My prediction for 2009 drivers line up does not expect many changes except some shuffle in Red Bull / Toro Rosso following Coulthard’s retirement and Vettel’s move to Red Bull proper and perhaps some refreshment over in Force India.
After McLaren confirmed Heikki Kovalainen last week Toyota guys also seem to agree with me . Following Timo Glock’s maiden podium the team has announced they intend to keep both their drivers for 2009 season. This does not come as a big surprise. This move by Toyota would very likely also mean that Kazuki Nakajima will continue at Williams.
It however looks like Honda and Renault may be out to spoil my 2009 drivers prediction. Honda are either desperate to get Alonso on board no matter what or confident that their 2009 package will be so good that Alonso will stop dreaming his 2010 Ferrari dream. Ross Brawn gave Honda’s intentions revealing answer to Autosport when asked about the Alonso situation:
2008 Hungarian GP was not as dull as it often is. Unfortunately most of the excitement came in form of refueling fire and technical problems of the front runners. The only real racing for positions I could see (except the race start) was between Barrichello and Button in the very early stages of the race. Other than that all went according to usual Hungarian GP recipe, places were lost and gained in pitlane or to misfortune.
Heikki Kovalainen finaly scored his maiden win. I would not say it was the best race of his career. But unlike Massa and Hamilton he managed to bring the car to the finish line in one piece. At the end, that is what counts. If you want to finish first, first you have to finish … He did just that.
It all went Massa’s way until 3 laps to go. After overtaking both McLarens at the start of the race Massa controlled the Hungarian GP. Hamilton’s tyre failure seemed to have sealed Massa’s win. The unusual Ferrari engine failure with 3 laps to however handed the race win to Heikki Kovalainen. Same as Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button in the recent past, Kovalainen became yet another driver to score his maiden win at the Hungaroring. Timo Glock fended off late challenge from Kimi Raikkonen and held on to fully deserved 2nd place and his own maiden F1 podium. Kimi Raikkonen spent most of the race stuck behind Fernando Alonso but managed to get ahead of him after the last pit stop. He closed down on Timo Glock but after Massa’s engine went in fumes Kimi backed down and cruised to the finish line in 3rd.
The talking point of the race however will likely be several fiery refueling incidents. Barrichello, Nakajima and Bourdais all had their pit stops spiced up by flames and even one of Glock’s pit stops was delayed because problems with the refueling rig …
2008 Hungarian GP Race Result:
It had to be expected that there willl be lots of talk about the 2007 Hungaroring events ahead of this weekend race. So it is no surprise that this topic has been touched also during the press conference yesterday. And this is what Alonso had to say when asking about his feelings one year on:
Much happier this year for sure. Last year again it is true that I had a possibility to fight for the championship and it was okay. I knew that this year it was not possible any more. But if I was racing for McLaren now at this moment maybe I would be in the same position as I am now without the possibility to win. So at least I am happy to be with Renault with the full support of the team and knowing that everybody is working night and day to give me the best car possible. One day we will be seventh, one day we will be fifth and hopefully one day we will be on the podium and everybody on the podium will be there with some excitement.
This seems to me to be the strongest hint yet from Alonso on the “equal” treatment the McLaren drivers get. He has done a good job so far not talking about the details of his 1 year stint with McLaren but it looks like he may be ready to start leaking some bits and pieces .
I do not believe the claims that the drivers at McLaren are equal. I have no problems with any team having number one and number two, I have problems with being told all the time that it is not the case … We only need to look back to Hockenheim to see one example. And if that is not enough, then check the interview Felipe Massa gave to Autosport (Jonathan Noble) yesterday…
My 2009 driver line up prediction is doing well. I expect not much to change and McLaren are the first to agree with me . Martin Whitmarsh to Autosport:
“We welcomed Heikki on board at the start of the year. He is under contract to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, and will continue to race for us in the 2009 season.”
After having as many as 8 different drivers racing for them since 2004 season it looks like Ron Dennis and co. are finally happy with the line up they have.
It looked way too easy when Hamilton passed his team mate after his second pit stop. The presenters at the Star TV studio were rather ironic after the race saying that there are “no team orders in F1″ , the whole bar where I was watching the race was full of boos. So were there team orders or is Hamilton that much better than Kovalainen that he simply made that look that easy ? At the end, it did not take him that long to overtake Felipe Massa …
So were there team orders or not ?
Photo: Daimler Media
Heikki Kovalainen was fastest in the final practice session at Hockenheim, 0.07s ahead of Felipe Massa. As usual BMW Saubers did not show much speed in this session, Robert Kubica however seems to have had some technical problems. He did not run at all in final 10 minutes. This final practice session was dry but there are chances of rain for qualifying. You can follow the weather conditions at the track via this webcam.
Saturday Free Practice Times:
Heikki Kovalainen will start from pole position for the first time in his career. Mark Webber is another suprising name on the front row. Kimi Raikkonen and not too happy Lewis Hamilton will line up behind them. Great qualifying for Vettel – P8 !
The top 2 in drivers standings – Massa and Kubica will have to fight from back. Massa only managed P9, Kubica P10 after suffering some damage to his car during his first Q3 run. Looks like fun race tomorrow .
Both Honda and Force India cars and Nico Rosberg were eliminated in Q1, both Toyotas, Coulthard, Nakajima and Bourdais ended their day in Q2.
2008 British GP Qualifying Results:
McLaren Mercedes team are currently at worst the 2nd best team on the grid. The last French GP did nothing to make me feel otherwise. Heikki Kovalainen finished 4th after starting from 10th (following his 5 place grid penalty). Without the drive through penatly Lewis Hamilton would not have finished too far from podium either despite starting from P13…
But yet despite their strength the team lies at 3rd place in constructor standings, 16 points behind 2nd BMW Sauber and 33 points behind Ferrari. Their drivers are currently at 4th and 6th place. Compare it with their standings after 8 races last year. Top 2 drivers at the table, the team leading the constructors table by 25 points ahead of Ferrari…
The car is good, the car is reliable (only 2 retirements, both due to accidents, see the 2008 season stats here), so where is the problem ?