Renault are another team to launch their 2009 car today. They joined Williams and revealed their 2009 challenger – R29 – also at Portimao test track. Same as all the other 2009 cars the new Renault sports the massive front wing and tiny tall rear wing. Unlike others however new Renault keeps the 2008 shark fin. There is also small livery change. The addition of Total branding resulted in new colour in the mix – red. I must say the car looks a bit better than the previous pure ING white orange blue yellow combo.
When Autosport runs a story it usually turns out to be true. So this may be more than just a rumour. Cosworth is about to return to Formula 1 with a bang – powering half of the F1 grid.
It looks like Max Mosley got all the signatures he needed for go ahead with the Cosworth standard engine program. He needed at least 4 teams to sign up for three-year Cosworth engine deal. The reports are he got five.
We expect some big changes in the look of the Formula 1 cars in 2009 but as the season progresses the cars change even without new rules. Let’s have a look how the 2008 F1 cars looked in Melbourne and compare them with their look in Brazil:
Ferrari – Melbourne
ING Renault F1 team made their 2009 drivers line up announcement today. As widely expected Fernando Alonso will stay on after agreeing 2 year extension to his deal with the Enstone team. In Alonso’s case it was more about the driver wanting to stay than the team wanting to retain him. But with all the other potentially competitive seats occupied and Renault steadily progressing towards the front of the grid there was very little doubt about Alonso staying on.
After the 2007 wash out we had this year an opportunity to see what kind of racing can the new Fuji Speedway offer in dry weather. With “regular” although rather cold conditions few would have expected cars other than McLarens and Ferraris in the front. Even Fernando Alonso said ahead of the race that the race start will be for him more about defending his position then tryin to gain some places. But Raikkonen, Hamilton and Kovalainen had other ideas. Raikkonen had the best start but late breaking into the corner by probably both Hamilton and Kovalainen made the race interesting. Raikkonen went straight instead of turning right, Kubica and Alonso squeezed ahead of Kovalainen. And Hamilton somehow managed to drop back behind Massa. The TV followed the corner 1 chaos for a while and by the time the director switched back to the race Kubica and Alonso were comfortably leading the race with Heikki Kovalainen 3rd.
Against all the odds Fernando Alonso won his second race in row after the title contenders got it all wrong. Alonso now has as many wins as Kimi Raikkonen this year … Robert Kubica finished second, Kimi Raikkonen returned to the podium in third place. Kubica keeps himself in the title fight but Kimi is now officially out. Nelson Piquet seems to serious about keeping his Renault F1 drive after finishing 4th. Felipe Massa claimed one point for 8th (pending stewards investigation for the Massa vs Bourdais incident). Lewis Hamilton just aboyt outlapped himself on the last lap and scored zero. As it stands 6 points separate Hamilton and Massa. The drive through penalties for Hamilton and Massa will however probably be the main talking points of this race (videos of the incidents involving Massa and Hamilton at the bottom of this post) …
Update: Sebastien Bourdais was given 25 seconds penalty for his out-of-the-pitlane tussle with Felipe Massa. As a result Bourdais dropped to 10th place, Massa was elevated to 7th and Mark Webber to 8th, Heidfeld to 9th. The gap between Massa and Hamilton is now only 5 points … Yet another talking point …
2008 Japanese F1 GP Result:
Last Sunday Reanult took their F1 cars to the streets of Ukrainian capital Kiev. Estimated 60,000 people turned out to watch the Formula 1 cars for the first time ever in Ukraine. Renault’s test drivers Sakond Yamamoto and Romain Grosjean were behind the wheel. Check out the high resolution photogallery (inside this post) !
When the FIA first announced the plans to freeze the engine development back in 2006 the first thing that came to my mind was – “How can that be ?” The logic of saving huge money by not having to spend millions only to gain few horsepowers more than the theguys in the next garage made some sense. But, if some engine was superior in 2006 that would mean the same engine being superior for the whole of 2007 … Hm … Well, somehow the teams managed to get their powerplants on sort of equal level, the 19,000 rpm limit probably also having something to do with that. But how about if someone has reliability issues ? Will they be for a year(s) stuck with engines that blow up in every race ? No, they wwould not. For this reason there was a provison made allowing manufacturers to change parts at the FIA’s discretion if it reduces costs or improves reliability (creating the future loophole).
Then however came end of the 2007 season and FIA announced that the engine freeze would last for 10 years. What ? The pinnacle of motorsport stuck with the same engines for the entire decade ? That did not make much sense to me and I think few believed this would seriously happen. It is not happening, the freeze has been to reduced to 5 years only. Now it looks that the freeze is not really a freeze …
Is that possible ? If the words in F1 paddock and speculations are to be believed it is not only possible but dead certain.
Word in Monaco paddock back in May was that Fernando Alonso inked a deal with Ferrari that would see the double world champion racing in the red car from 2010. Whom would he replace was not said that time. Just for the record, Felipe Massa will still be under contract with Ferrari in 2010, Kimi Raikkonen will not, unless he signs some extension.
The speculations that emerged shortly after the Belgian GP claim that Fernando Alonso just signed three years deal with BMW Sauber and would partner his buddy Robert Kubica from 2009. (There were almost immediately also speculations sending Nick Heidfeld to Renault but that is another story). Official announcement is to come after Monza race.
So, it is BMW Sauber in 2009 and then both BMW Sauber and Ferrari from 2010 for Fernando Alonso. Who would have predicted that .
However unlikely it might have looked few weeks ago there may be some (not much but some) Honda logic behind Alonso to Honda move. But as it has become Fernando’s habit, he keeps sending out very conflicting signals or whatever he says is twisted and edited by the media. As a result his mind is very difficult to read. On Monday it looked like the Honda move is very possible, after but then I read his latest comments to Cadena Ser radio on Renault and their chances in 2009:
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:
Teams do have their good years and their bad years. Seeing McLaren winning races and fighting for titles in 2007 and 2008 it is easy to forget that they haven’t won any titles since the days of Mika Hakkinen, haven’t won a single race in 2006 and finished distant 5th in constructors table in 2005.
– BAR Honda 2nd, 11 podiums, 119 pts
– Renault 3rd, 5 podiums, 105 pts