HAMILTON LEFT SURPRISED

The McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton has said that he is extremely surprised about the lack of pace shown by the McLaren car in the testing ahead of the Korean Grand Prix.

McLaren are expected to challenge for a top spot in this race. Anything other than a victory in the Korean Grand Prix would be extremely disastrous to the title aspirations of Lewis Hamilton. He still has an outside chance of winning the title, but in order to do that, he needs to win the Korean Grand Prix. However, the initial rounds of testing appeared to suggest that McLaren might not have the same pace as Red bull, who are currently the inform team at the moment.

Sebastian Vettel has managed to win the last two races, which have put him extremely close with the Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso. Many reckon that Sebastian Vettel will be able to get his third consecutive victory at the Korean Grand Prix. After the first practice session, Lewis Hamilton was surprised to see himself almost a second behind Sebastian Vettel. Even though McLaren were the fastest in the first session, they were unable to hold on to the lead as the day went by.

“We were quite quick in the first session but I don’t really know what happened in the second. We were struggling a bit, just trying different things, and for some reason I wasn’t able to get a good time. It was such a big difference from P1 to P2 and the car wasn’t really that different. Just a small change on the rear ride-height which is nothing. We just have to be calm and figure out which way to go. Jenson was not in a bad position so the car has some pace and we just need to extract it,” said Lewis Hamilton.

FOCUSSED ON WINNING

McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh has said that the team is focused on winning both the championships this season. He has said that the team has found an extraordinary amount of confidence following the victory for Lewis Hamilton at the Hungary Grand Prix.

After a number of tough races in the early part of the campaign, McLaren managed to get in a few updates for the Hungary Grand Prix. It worked exactly to plan after Lewis Hamilton dominated the grid throughout the race. The benefit of having the updates was quite clearly visible in the last few races, which was when the f1 betting odds made him favourite to win in 5 consecutive races!

Jensen Button finished in the second position at the German Grand Prix, which was followed by the victory for Lewis Hamilton in the Hungarian Grand Prix.

McLaren has had an uninterrupted operation for the upcoming Belgian Grand Prix. This will be a boost for the team according to Martin Whitmarsh. He has said that the team is focusing on winning both the titles this season. Even though Lewis Hamilton is more than 40 points behind the current leader Fernando Alonso, Whitmarsh has expressed his confidence that the Englishman will be able to close the gap in the second half of the campaign.

Martin Whitmarsh has also said that the team is still overjoyed from the victory achieved in Hungary, despite the significant gap between the two races. “Following the mandatory factory shutdown, we’re fortunate to have had two full weeks available to prepare ahead of the Belgian Grand Prix. As usual, we’re heading into this double-header hopeful of closing the gap to the leaders in both the drivers’ and constructors’ championships. Lewis’s victory in Hungary certainly provided further proof to us that we can take on the fight for both – and that remains our aim: to win both world championships,” Whitmarsh said.

Ferrari still Unsure about New Driver

Ferrari are facing quite a dilemma in finalizing a team mate for Fernando Alonso for the 2013 season of Formula 1 as they look to secure a new driver by the end of September.

Although there have been lots of names mentioned as possible targets and negotiations with drivers as well, the Italian team is yet to finalize who will take the place of Felipe Massa in the next season. Although there have not been any concrete decisions made by the team regarding the Brazilian, it is understood that he will not be retained.

Ferrari have held informal talks with Jenson Button of McLaren Mercedes but it is highly unlikely that he will make the switch and sources close to the team have also quickly dispelled rumors that they are looking at the Lotus F1 Team driver as a possible replacement for Massa. At this time, the favorites to win a place in the driver’s seat of the new Ferrari car look to be the Force India pair of Paul di Resta and also Nico Hulkenberg, alongside Mexican driver Sergio Perez of the Sauber F1 Team.

But according to the reports, The Prancing Horse is extremely eager for Jenson Button but the switch is extremely complicated as Button has a contact agreement with the British team. He is in just the first year of his ‘two plus one’ contract with McLaren which will end in 2013 and even after that, the team will have the option of retaining him.

Moreover, Ferrari also don’t want to give the Briton the 2 year contract he wants as they try to leave the option of getting Sebastian Vettel in from the 2014 season. And all these complications are threatening to push Ferrari’s search for a new number 2 driver to the level of desperation.

Button Confident Ahead of European GP

British Formula 1 driver Jenson Button is hopeful and confident that he will be able to bounce back at the European Grand Prix that takes place over the weekend at Valencia in Spain.

At the moment, the British driver is a whopping 43 points behind Lewis Hamilton, his team mate at McLaren F1 after he managed to score just two points in the last four races that took place. Button was even lapped by the younger British driver at the last race in Canada and as a result, he has reverted to the set-up of Hamilton’s car in Valencia.

Speaking about how the new set-up will affect him, Button stated that he had been on the simulator on this set-up and had done plenty of laps on tip and is hopeful that it wouldn’t take too long for him to get on top of it during the race. The lack of pace that had been attributed to Jenson Button in Canada was due to a different set-up in the rear suspension than the one used by Hamilton for the race and this set-up was responsible for wearing out his tires quickly.

However, this set-up was not used for the previous races in Monaco as well as Spain and there too, Button was extremely slow on the tracks. McLaren and Button have been working extremely hard over the last two weeks after the Canadian Grand Prix in order to find the problem but without any result whatsoever.

When asked how confident he felt about winning the race in Valencia, Jenson Button assured that he was 100% confident of winning and having 7 race winners in the 7 races so far this season has boosted his confidence as well and he is looking forward to burn some serious rubber on the track.

VETTEL ANSWERS CRITICS

As Vettel took 6th on the grid in Australia last weekend, the critics were already lining up to predict the fall of Red Bull and the end of the supremacy of both their car, and their top driver.

However, when Vettel snatched second place from Hamilton with some fortuitous timing of the safety car and maintained his position to the end of the race, there were signs that the German driver could still be considered the favourite for the title this season. Vettel himself was happy with the race, and thinks that the new RB8 that the Red Bull team have developed still has plenty more potential to unlock in the coming Grand Prixs.

The reigning world champion must have been shocked at finding himself so far down the starting order after his record breaking 19 pole positions last season, but it gave him the chance to show that he is perfectly able to overtake and race, rather than just lead from the front. The Malaysian Grand Prix looks as though it might favour Red Bull’s car with its fast sweeping corners, and Vettel thinks that a few more races are needed to perfect the RB8 setup.

“I think we need track time to really understand what is going on in the car,” said Vettel. “I don’t think we have a problem in the car as in we don’t understand what is going on, or the front end is weak or the rear is a disaster. It is fine tuning here and there. We have seen it in previous years that fine-tuning can make quite a difference if you know exactly what your car needs, to fine-tune it towards the race or qualifying or whatever you may need.”

Having enjoyed such dominancy over the previous two seasons, it is good to see Red Bull F1 again competing on a more even playing field with McLaren, and Vettel seems to be relishing the new challenge presented.

“I think we are motivated and hungry to make sure that McLaren doesn’t keep the upper hand but for now you have to accept that they had a very good weekend and a very good preparation in the winter, so we’ll see what happens this weekend.”

LOTUS LEAD THE WAY

Formula One team Lotus put behind all their last week’s troubles to go back to the top of the time table on the very first day of the final pre-season testing at the Circuit de Catalunya.

Just 9 days later after being pushed to abandon the 2nd test after few laps because of a huge mechanical defect. Their French driver Romain Grosjean finished a comfortable seventy-three laps at the circuit with his best set in 1 minute 23.252 seconds.

That was under a 2nd off the fastest from last week registered by Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber on Friday, even though on the super soft Pirelli tyres. The French driver ended almost a quarter of a second up on McLaren’s Jenson Button, followed by Sergio Perez (Sauber) and Red Bull of Mark Webber. The latter pair was more than a half second down. The Australian driver is already assuming a close run affair for the season opener grand prix race on his home soil.

Webber told that they are really to get to Melbourne and see where all of our work is. He thinks it is going to be really tight, with the racing between several teams.
Nico Rosberg added important mileage on to the brand new Mercedes with a high of hundred and twenty-eight laps, ending 0.740 seconds behind Romain, with Jean-Eric Vergne, the Toro Rosso rookie, almost a second behind at the 6th spot.

Paul di Resta is confident that his Force India car is on an upward slope following another perfect day, even though he was the 7th quickest with a lap over a second slower than Romain. The Scottish driver was slightly ahead of Felipe Massa of Ferrari. He managed hundred and five laps in a car which is proving tough to read after a disturbed start at Jerez.

BUEMI HEADS TO RED BULL

Following Sebastien Buemi’s dismissal by Toro Rosso at the end of the 2011 season, the Swiss driver has been taken on by their sister club Red Bull as the test and reserve driver, which he also served as in the 2008 season for the same team.

Buemi finished the championship in 15th position, and has since been replaced along with his former team mate Alguersuari, by the young duo of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo.

He has now found employment at Toro Rosso’s more prestigious sister club, albeit as the reserve as opposed to one of the main drivers. He will work closely with Vettel, Webber and the Red Bull team to test new parts and configurations for the car, and should either of the top drivers be unable to compete, Buemi would step up to replace him.

The 23-year old has expressed his enthusiasm for the post he will occupy this season, though he will undoubtedly be disappointed that he won’t be racing regularly. “It’s good to remain with Red Bull for another year and have this opportunity with the World Championship winning team,” Buemi said.

“I would prefer to be driving at the races of course, but working with Red Bull Racing on the development of their car and providing them with feedback throughout the season is the next best thing.”

Team Principal Christian Horner is delighted to have secured the services of a driver with recent experience, and will welcome back Buemi, who held the same position for the team in 2008.

“He already knows the team well from his time with us in 2008 and has gained significant race experience over the past three years,” said Horner. “He will complete important test and simulation work for us throughout the year and will be in attendance at each grand prix.”

Battle To Host The Spanish Grand Prix

For a while there weren’t that many F1 fans who expected the Valencia Street circuit to last long very in the grand prix calendar. The racing it has produced since arriving as host of the European Grand Prix in 2008 has been unspectacular, and the general opinion of the circuit has been lukewarm to say the least.

But in June of this year all that changed – Valencia had its contract renewed surprisingly renewed until 2021, and all eyes suddenly fell on its national rival – the circuit of Catalunya and the current host of the Spanish Grand Prix.

For Catalunya, it now seems that the honour of hosting that prestigious event, which it has enjoyed since 1991, could be jeopardised as early as 2013, if (as is rumoured) Bernie Ecclestone decides to let the axe fall on the circuit. The chief executive of Formula One apparently takes a very dim view of the fact that Spain currently hosts TWO Grand Prix of the F1 calendar, while other countries with much longer, richer racing traditions don’t even get a look in.

And with Ecclestone also looking to trim the season from 21 races to 20, and with the Paul Ricard circuit in France also making a strong claim for inclusion in the calendar, the future of the Catalan circuit at Montmeló isn’t looking too bright.

Money, unsurprisingly, is also playing an important role.

Because while no one in Catalunya is openly rejoicing at the thought of losing the worldwide publicity and attention that the Grand Prix brings to their region, local politicians have voiced concerns on more than one occasion about the huge costs involved with running it. And given the current crisis which has engulfed virtually all sectors of the Spanish economy, many now believe that saying ‘adios’ to a glamorous, but basically unprofitable event, may not be such a bad thing.

Of course, the average F1 fan may have a very different view. The Catalan circuit, though hardly the scene of any classic races itself in recent years, enjoys a prime location near the fashionable, cosmopolitan city of Barcelona, and the race is popular date in the calendar for visitors and TV viewers alike. A recent poll found it to be one of the most watched races of the season, lagging behind only the Grand Prix of Australia.

But Ecclestone is not a man renowned for his sentimentality and if the decision to axe Catalunya is confirmed, Spain will go back to hosting just one grand prix per season – the Spanish Grand Prix, meaning bye bye Barcelona and hola Valencia, and marking the end of one era in Spanish motorsport and the beginning of a new.

This is a guest post by Spanish F1 blogger Hector Diaz