5th Place Fight the Only Race Left this Season?

Sorry for the lack of posting recently but life has been rather busy and i’ve been away from internet conenctions recently. But Sebastian Vettel has moved within one point of the World Championship which should see him pick up the gong in Japan in two weeks time. Moto GP could also be nailed up next weekend by Casey Stoner.

Looking at the Constructors Red Bull are a shoe-in along with McLaren now having secured 2nd place as Ferrari have fallen off the back of them into third. Mercedes haven’t really troubled the top teams (with the exception of Nico Rosberg’s Spa charge) but now seem secure in 4th place as Renault have fallen off the pace.

Therefore looking at the table Renault are under real pressure from Force India (who took thier best result of the season) and Sauber:

1 RBR-Renault 491
2 McLaren-Mercedes 353
3 Ferrari 268
4 Mercedes 114
5 Renault 70
6 Force India-Mercedes 48
7 Sauber-Ferrari 36
8 STR-Ferrari 29
9 Williams-Cosworth 5
10 Lotus-Renault 0
11 HRT-Cosworth 0
12 Virgin-Cosworth 0

(Formula1.com)

Renault are only 22 points in front of Force India who have out scored them by more than that over the last 5 races.

1 RBR-Renault 491
2 McLaren-Mercedes 353
3 Ferrari 268
4 Mercedes 114
5 Renault 70
6 Force India-Mercedes 48
7 Sauber-Ferrari 36
8 STR-Ferrari 29
9 Williams-Cosworth 5
10 Lotus-Renault 0
11 HRT-Cosworth 0
12 Virgin-Cosworth 0
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Double DRS in Monza could lead to Bonanza

The teams this year in Monza have another headache with setting up their cars for the unique low downforce circuit in Italy. The circuit is one of the oldest on the calendar (having first been run in 1922 pre-world championship) and has been at Monza every year (in the world championship era) with the exception of 1980 (where it was at Imola). The circuit only has 2 real corners (Parabolica and the Lesmos – maybe Ascarii) with the rest being long straights and chicanes. This leads the teams to running very low downforce to reduce drag as much as possible and the majority of teams bring a monza specific “skinny” wing to add to their low downforce set up.

The exception to this was last year Jenson Button ran with a regular wing thanks to the F-Duct innovation that stalled the rear wing and reduced drag on the straights. However with this years DRS the teams have a problem, since it can be used in Qualifying and in two places on race day. Running with a higher downforce setting could see you overtake easily in the pack due to the amount of drag you could shed using DRS however this is only allowed when following another car. It seems unlikely to be an option for most of the top teams but there is a great temptation to run with a little more wing than usual if you can afford it knowing you can overtake using the DRS on two sections of the track.

Furthermore Pirelli have reduced their reccomended camber limits after the issues many people faced at Spa two weeks ago, they are still allowing the teams to run whatever camber they wish but will investigate the tires after FP2 and decide whether the FIA should impose their limits on safety grounds. This camber limit could have an adverse effect on Red Bull who’ve never finished on the podium at Monza.

Whos Got The Money Leading Into Monza

Most of the news and rumours recently have been team related and their ownership. First up the Team Lotus Renault / Lotus Renault saga could finally be at an end with Tony Fernandes getting a chunk of Malaysia’s national air carrier and will concentrate it on the upper end of the market leaving his Air Asia brand to compete in the budget sector. This deal however is said to include him handing over the Team Lotus rights, which it makes very little sense for Fernandes to continue with. Group Lotus the car company need the heritage to promote their cars, the Lotus brand is great in F1 but it’s not the real Team Lotus after all.

However Fernandes is going to call his F1 team Team Caterham which has a nice synergy to it as Caterham cars came from Lotus originally and the F1 enthusiast market is the exact sector the small performance company aims at. This will leave the Renault team to re-name their chassis Lotus and still confuse everyone how Lotus shot up to the front of the grid. This has all been apparent for a while since the Team Lotus cars feature massive Caterham branding on their side and practically no Lotus branding what so ever.

Scuderia Torro Rosso have recived substantial investment from the UAE (you may have seen nova chemicals on their which they own part of) and their spanish owned oil arm will emblazen the cars this year. There has been conflicting reports about the team being bought out and becoming Team UAE with a development base at the Abu Dhabi Yas Marina island circuit. But the team are in the process of moving into an expensive new facility in Italy complete with wind tunnel and have made no hints that the team will be renamed. But if the team has been sold it does explain why Red Bull went looking for another development seat at HRT for Ricciardo rather than using their own development team.

HRT have been very quiet since being bought out by Thesan Capital other than dropping the Hispania tag for the rest of the year. I really hope they rename themselves to something other than Hormone Replacement Therapy because its a hilariously unfortunate name for a racing team in the English-speaking world. I’d expect the team to move to a permanent base in Spain (at least announce a move) and probably rename the team in the close season, but I reckon they’d do well to hold onto their driver line-up for next year if the funds are there. Furthermore they may need to find a new technical partner as Williams are moving to Renault power from next year but they may be able to use the Williams 2011 rear end package until the 2014 engine switch.

Marussia Virgin (who are possibly another team looking to re-brand the chassis) are introducing a large update this weekend at Monza which will be the first overseen in part by Pat Symonds. Its a comprehensive update for the team who have had little development since the team split with Nick Wirth due to poor results. Initially the update was discarded but once Symonds became familiar with the car and CFD it has been updated and produced. “It is engine cover, sidepods, exhaust, and rear floor. Obviously there will be a Monza wing as well, but this bodywork package will be on for the rest of the year. It will pull the whole back of the car in much tighter. ” – John Booth, Team Principle

Williams continue their slide into obscurity with the rumour that they are weighing up taking on a second pay driver instead of experienced Reubens Barrichello next season. And their number 2 paying driver has been going so well this year……

 

Next season there are very few seats available as Sauber, Team Lotus, Ferrari, Red Bull, McLaren and Merecedes are all expected to keep their driver line-ups intact. But the 10 big names looking for a drive next year are:

  1. Nico Hulkenberg – He should get a drive if there is a god but a lack of sponsorship from a German heavy grid could hold him back
  2. Romain Grosjean – Destroyed GP2 this year and has now won everything in the junior categories, he has attoned well for his failed attempt back in 2009
  3. Bruno Senna – Doing the same as Romain and sitting in for the second half of the season at Renault. However he already has 1 season under his belt and has secured a lot of Brazilian Reals to support his drive. So far so good after one weekend behind the wheel too
  4. Karun Chandok – The other doomed HRT driver has had one trip out in the Team Lotus car this year, which was a disaster. We expect to see him in India for the race but he better put in a better performance than last time.
  5. Giedo Van de Garde – A distant second to Grosjean but likely to take another season in GP2 with the reserve spot at Sauber held down
  6. Jules Bianchi – The Ferrari development driver hasn’t shone as much as the Scuderia would of probably liked. Has a face off with Sergio Perez soon in a 2009 Ferrari.
  7. Charles Pic – An abundance of Frenchmen this year on the grid and a decent campaign from Pic should put him in the spot for at least some form of reserve roll next year.
  8. Nick Heidfeld – Probably has had too many chances and there are rumours that his development work does not suit most other drivers. But if someone needs experience theres few others to turn to
  9. Esteban GutiĆ©rrez – Pick of the rookies in GP2 this year with a win in Valencia, one for the Future one would assume
  10. Sam Bird – Mercedes supported Britian has a battle on his hands with so many top pilots queing up for the Silver Arrows

Oh by the way

Yes racing returned properly last weekend as apparently did my hectic schedule despite the bank holiday in England.

Spa produced a real classic due in part to the teams getting no dry running before the race. Mark Webber (with that Eau Rouge overtake) and Michael Schumacher both drove their races of the season so far and despite a first corner mess up Bruno Senna seems to have real pace in the Renault. Unlike his HRT team mate from last year Bruno out paced the other permenant driver in a mid-season outing and will at least be in the car for Monza.

It could really prove a headache for Renault if Robert Kubica comes back and they have the high paying Petrov and the now well paying Senna (who seems to have the measure of his team mate). But at the end of the day its a nice problem to have.

Williams are being reported to be replacing Reubens next year with a pay driver from somewhere and since Pastor Maldonado isn’t mature enough to drive a cool down lap let alone lead a team it could be another year in the doldrums for Williams.

As we now expect the top 4 teams to keep their driver line-ups for next year (Webber as re-signed and everyone else looks pretty buttoned up but you’ve got to wonder how long Ferrari are going to keep hold of Massa for) the driver market is further down the grid. Nico Hulkenberg is surely deserving of a drive but with Sutil upping his game big time against the impressive rookie Paul DiResta, one would assume hes going to have to go elsewhere for the drive or wait another year until Mercedes put Paul in the main team.

On two wheels Stoner is marching towards the world title in Moto GP and Spies continues to impress this year. Its not been a vintage last year of the 880cc class by any stretch of the imagination, but can’t complain too much!