Archive | April 2012

Chelsea FC and Sauber

After running ‘Out of the Blue’ and ‘True Blue’ on their engine cover for the previous two races, Sauber today finally announced a 3-4 year partnership with Chelsea Football Club.

The relationship will benefit both parties. Chelsea FC will have their logo on the car from the next race in Barcelona. The aim is to reach out to the larger markets in Asia and America that many teams in the English Premier League are attempting to do. Formula One does generate much higher global TV audience than the Barclays Premier League and so it is hoped that it will spread Chelsea’s name and brand further around the world. From a sporting point of view the deal will benefit both teams in regard to the sharing of knowledge in Sports Science and Sports Performance.

Chelsea Logo on the 2012 Sauber F1 car

Another aspect of the new partnership is business performance. This includes launching joint commercial initiatives, merchandising, events, marketing and linked sponsorship opportunities. The two are expected to tie up commercially to benefit both Sauber and Chelsea’s sponsors.

For Sauber, their name and logo will appear on the LED signs around the pitch at Stamford Bridge and on the interview wall.

Monisha Kaltenborn, CEO of Sauber said: ‘A partnership like this between Formula 1 and football has never existed before in this form, yet there are numerous commonalities and possible synergies. In either case we are talking about team sport at the highest – and international – level. The Sauber F1 Team and Chelsea FC are dealing with many of the same sporting and commercial topics and we want to strengthen each other in these areas.’

Chelsea are currently 6th in the Premier League with 3 games left to play of the 2011/12 season. They are also up against Liverpool in the FA Cup Final this weekend and Bayern Munich in the Champions League Final on the 19th of May.


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Silver Medal for Mclaren

Vodafone Mclaren Mercedes have been awarded a Silver Medal at the 2012 Edison Awards.

The awards recognise and honour innovation and business excellence. Named after the inventor Thomas Edison, the Edison Awards champions groundbreaking scientific achievement.

After earning their Carbon Neutral status from the Carbon Trust recently, Mclaren were nominated in the ‘Green Implementation’ category. Mclaren, as a company, managed to make savings of 1500 tonnes of CO2 every year, over a three year period.

Achieving the Edison silver medal is a reward that will be seen and recognised on a global scale and allows them to join a whole host of other international brand leaders.

Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh said: “I’m delighted that our ongoing efforts to manage and improve our carbon efficiency have been recognised by the Edison Awards judging panel. This is a fantastic achievement for the whole team.

“The nominees’ list at last night’s ceremony in New York read like a Who’s Who of the great and good in the world of inspirational technical innovation, and I’m immensely proud that our team has been recognised on that list.

“While our silver medal is further validation of the steps we’ve made, and certainly helps showcase our efforts on a global level, it is still merely the starting point for an ongoing and concerted mission to ensure that Vodafone McLaren Mercedes conducts its business in an environmentally conscious and responsible way.”

Volkswagen Group of America came in just ahead of them for the Gold Medal.

Kubica’s Rally Return – Video

We updated you a couple of weeks ago with pictures and reports to say that Robert Kubica had started racing go-karts again and even ran a test in a rally car. We have now gained footage of  the Polish driver racing his  bespoke Renault Clio S1600 Rally Car through the mountains of Italy earlier this month.

The former F1 Driver is continuing his rehabilitation program and is hoping to show his face at the Mugello test next week, in the hope of gaining a Formula One drive before the seasons end.

 

Right Race, Right Place

Formula One completed a race in Bahrain yesterday, after coming under international condemnation.

Since the Arab Spring in February last year, Bahrain has had to overcome mass protests from the Shia minority. The race, which had to pulled from the calendar in 2011, came under scrutiny from human rights campaigners.

Before this weekend’s proceedings Formula One was criticised for holding such an event, given as so many people have been injured and killed by the ruling regime in the country. On Saturday a protestor was killed after filming a protest.

Ed Miliband made a statement on Friday night saying that the race should not go ahead.

“Given the violence we have seen in Bahrain, given the human rights abuses, I don’t believe the Grand Prix should go ahead and I hope that the government will make its view clear and say the same.”

The Labour leaders calls were met with anger from the F1 paddock, as they believed the calls were too late. “Politicians in the UK were saying we should withdraw once we’d got here,” Mercedes GP Team Principal Ross Brawn said. “Why didn’t they say something beforehand?”

The McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh added: “I don’t think it’s helpful to wake up and hear we shouldn’t be here when we’re already here.”

Some have argued that the race was used by the Bahrain government as a propaganda tool to show the country in a good light around the world, as it aims to create a positive image of the country. This is further backed up by the country endorsing the F1 brand in the race slogan, ‘UniF1ed’.

Smoke outside the track during the race

The race did however go off without a hitch.

Pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel went on to win the race after overcoming a challenge for victory with Kimi Raikkonen, fellow Lotus driver Romain Grosjean rounded off the podium with 3rd place. Scottish driver Paul Di Resta had an impressive race to finish in 6th. It was a poor race from the Mclaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Hamilton had several poor pit stops and finished the race in a lowly 8th place, whilst Button was forced to retire from the race two laps before the end with a differential failure.

After the race it was announced that a number of Channel 4 journalists are to be deported on Monday after being arrested for entering and working in Bahrain on just a tourist visa.

Record Breaker in Bahrain

The Bahrain Grand Prix was a record breaker. No fewer than four cars stopped on the in-lap as soon as they had passed the chequered flag.

Sebastian Vettel, Nico Rosberg, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa all pulled up after they finished the race, instead of making it back round to the pits. The standard procedure directly after crossing the finish line is to travel around slowly trying to conserve fuel (more fuel means added ballast) and add debris-such as discarded rubber to the tyres (more discarded rubber means added ballast), then make it to the pit lane and Parc Ferme, where the driver can get out and celebrate (if he deems it necessary) and then get weighed. The cars will then be scrutinised to make sure they have not been breaking the rules throughout the race.

Vettel runs back to the pits after stopping in Bahrain

Of late however, many teams have asked their drivers to pull up and stop on the side of the track immediately. The possible reason for this is for reliability purposes, but the most likely explanation is due to the fact a team is running low on fuel, and thus, will not have enough fuel/weight in the car to pass the scrutineering, if it completes the ‘slow down lap’.

There is no rule in the FIA’s Sporting or Technical Regualtions for this whole procedure, but perhaps it is time there was. It has now become clear that teams will start the race lower on fuel, to gain an advantage throughout the race and then recoup their loses by pulling over as soon as the race is done.

A similar incident happened in Qualifying for the Canadian Grand Prix in 2010. Lewis Hamilton took Pole Position and then stopped his car half way back round to the pits, to save fuel, which they needed for regulation checks. The FIA promptly decided that stopping on a Qualifying in-lap was illegal and it has now been outlawed.

Hamilton pushes his car in Canada 2010

Is it correct for one driver or one team to run the race lighter in the knowledge they can just pull off straight after the chequered flag, whilst everyone else abides by the sporting ethics of the regulations? Should the FIA go one step further and punish those for not making it one extra lap at the end of the race, whilst everyone else seems to manage?

F1 2012 is incredibly close and highly competitive. All the teams should be on a level playing field. It would not be correct to have a rule for one whilst the rest abide by the code.

Links of Interest

FIA Sporting and Technical Regulations: http://www.fia.com/sport/Regulations/f1regs.html

Kubica’s Road to Recovery

Robert Kubica, remember him? Of course you do. The former Renault F1 driver has not raced since he suffered a broken shoulder, elbow, leg and partial amputation of his forearm in a horrific rally car accident last year-until recently.

At the ‘MyKart’ karting track in Montecanti, Italy, the Pole has begun his racing rehabilitation by taking to the track once more. Reports suggest that Robert has kept going back there to slowly get back into the racing groove. According to the karting circuit, he has since managed to lap four times in the fastest time for the circuit. He is using both his hands as well, which suggests that he is having no troubles with feeling through his hand or gripping the steering wheel.

Last Saturday, 7th April, 2012, Robert got back into driving a rally car once more not far away from where he crashed last year in Italy. The rally team Erreffe gave Kubica the option to run in either a Renault Clio S1600, a Skoda Fabia S2000 or a Citroen 207, it is believed he chose the Renault Clio to run in. He allegedly ran very competitively setting very good times.

Kubica on Track

With news of his racing comeback progressing, it is now expected that he could attend the Mugello test at the beginning of May, although not to test a car. There is a plan to have him back in an F1 style simulator by June or July. Either way we cannot discount or forget that Robert is on course to come back to Formula One racing, the question is, after severing ties with Lotus, what team could he possibly slot into on the grid now?

Kubica at the Kart track with friends

Photos courtesy of: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.225932677504274.46019.100002626315943&type=1

MyKart Website: http://www.mykart.it/

Why Bahrain should not happen

It may seem like an obvious statement, but with a little under three weeks until the Bahrain Grand Prix is due to start, its a statement yet to be resolved.

As of Monday 2nd April 2012, the Bahrain Grand Prix is still due to go ahead. Yet the issues in the country from last years ‘Arab Spring’ are still apparent. The politics surrounding Bahrain’s unrest are not for a sport such as Formula One to delve into.

Instead F1 now needs to take a look at what is happening and realise that the country is not just unsafe for drivers or people at the racetrack, but for all the corporate hospitality including team members, TV crews and journalists. Where are these people supposed to sleep or go about their work in a nation ravaged in conflict?

On Saturday a man was killed when he was open-fired upon, whilst filming protests. Another, Ahmed Amir (photo below) a 15 year old was photographed on Twitter lying in ICU. He was hit in head with a tear gas canister and suffered a serious skull fracture. There was also a harrowing statement from Twitter user @VendettaBH who posted:

“Dear #F1 driver, This man just got killed by regime’s thugs in #Bahrain with live rounds! U still feel safe?!” They then gave a link to a graphic photo.

Picture of 15 year old Ahmed Amir - Courtesy of Bahrain Human Rights Twitter page @BahrainRights

People in Bahrain have stated that they do not wish for F1 to take place in their country this year, with a petition (http://www.avaaz.org/en/f1_dont_race_bahrain_teams/?cl=1513814427&v=12046) in place to write to all the F1 teams and urge them to turn away and not to return until there are verifiable steps towards democracy.
“Do not tarnish the reputation of the respected auto sport with the blood of Bahrain victims,” was a warning from a Bahraini in an online video. The social-networking site Twitter has also become a place to campaign against the race, with people using these hash-tags to voice their opinion: #BloodyF1 #NoF1

'No F1' Banners in Bahrain, courtesy of @GrandPrixDiary

For Formula One, a decision will definitely be made by the Sunday evening of the Chinese Grand Prix, a little over 4 days until first practice at the Sakhir Circuit, although there may be an announcement as early as Thursday 12th April. Bernie Ecclestone is expected to fly to the country to deem whether it is feasible for the race to go ahead, but contingency plans are already in place if the answer appears negative. Most teams intend to fly to Abu Dhabi, where they can either head back to their European bases or continue to Bahrain, creating a logistical nightmare.
The worry is that team members and guests themselves may be subject to attack. It has been noted that some Mclaren members are concerned about going to a country, which owns 50% of their team, making them a vulnerable target for protest.
This is no simple matter to solve though. The race costs £25 million ($39 million) and whoever is first to blink essentially pays that cost. Last year, the Bahraini Government realised that it couldn’t hold the race, so cancelled the race themselves and payed the fee to Bernie. If Bernie should be the person to pull out of the deal, he does not get the money from the race organisers. It is a tough and costly call to make.
Formula One will not progress financially or as a sport by going to a country with such a massive unrest. F1 will be frowned upon if it is seen delving in such murky and bloody waters. Bernie Ecclestone said in November 2011: “We’ll be there [Bahrain], unless something terrible happens to stop us”. Well Bernie, something terrible is happening.
Links of Interest
Al Jazeera’s Bahrain Blog: http://blogs.aljazeera.net/liveblog/Bahrain
Bahrain Human Rights on Twitter: https://twitter.com/#!/BahrainRights