Confusion about Kubica’s future

I have been reading interesting stories regarding Robert Kubica’s future or lack thereof with Renault for next season.

Renault have released statements saying that Kubica had contacted them and said that he could not commit to being ready for the beginning of the 2012 season. This would seem to indicate that they would now need to find a replacement driver for him alongside the likely incumbent of Roman Grosjean.

Kubica’s manager on the other hand, has come out and said that he doesn’t understand Renault saying that Robert said he could not race for 2012. And even bigger news is that according to him Kubica’s contract with Renault runs out at the end of 2011!

If this is indeed true, then it could be throwing some serious gasoline on the dimming fire that is the 2012 driver’s market. It is very likely that Kubica could get some kind of provisional deal with one of the big teams if they know that he would be available next season.

First one knocking on his door might be Ferrari. It is highly likely they could do a deal with him for 2013 to replace Massa. It would all be dependent on him being able to show his fitness and speed are still up to scratch of course.

But if he is able to test GP2 cars for instance early next year he would be a serious floater in the driver’s market. If Massa underperforms next year he could well be dropped for Kubica mid season. Kubica is highly rated by Alonso and pretty much anyone who knows about F1.

I am praying he makes a full comeback. He is an uncompromising, exciting talent who deserves a shot at a big team. His forthrightness in expressing himself to the media reminds of a certain Finn who I am also hoping makes a comeback in 2012 😉

McLaren cozying up to Honda for proposed engine deal?

I saw rumours over the weekend that McLaren are looking to join forces with Honda from 2014 when the new F1 engine regulations kick in.

Their deal for free Mercedes engines ends next year, and from 2013 they will become a Mercedes customer like Force India. No doubt they will be looking at engine alternatives to Mercedes and having a manufacturer all to yourself is an attractive proposition to any team.

McLaren and Honda’s last collaboration was hugely succesful when they had the services of Senna and Prost in their pomp.

I read an interesting post on James Allens blog however that seemed to pour cold water on this theory. The news from Japan where he contacted some sources is that Honda is in no financial position to consider an F1 return at this time.

Its a nice dream though, and being just an engine supplier is a lot cheaper than running an entire team as they did prior to their departure in 2008.

One thing is for sure, F1 needs another engine supplier or 2, and I think we will get them when the regulations change to the 1.6L Turbo engines in 2014. This will level the engine playing field as it will be new for all the manufacturers.

Lewis finally comes good and wins the Abu Dhabi GP

Lewis Hamilton finally caught a break and won his first race since the German GP. Fernando Alonso hounded him till the end and finished 2nd. Jenson Button ended up 3rd.

There is of course 1 illustrious name missing and that is Sebastian Vettel. After securing a stunning pole position on Saturday, after McLaren had been fastest in every session up till then, including practice and Q1 and Q2, Vettel somehow found something extra and took pole for Sunday.

At the start of the race itself, Seb got another great start and was leading going into turn 2, when he had a tyre failure and spun out. Till now nobody seems to know what caused the failure, its being put down to a set of freak circumstances.

With Vettel out of the way Hamilton had no real challengers. Alonso outdrove his car yet again to keep pressuring Hamilton but his Ferrari was not fast enough when it mattered, going into and coming out of pitstops.

Jenson Button had a good dice with Webber.  Button had KERS issues throughout the race but he drove round it brilliantly to keep Webber behind him.

The sad part is we will never know how close Lewis and Seb would have been in the race, my money was on Seb but Lewis was quickest in practice all weekend. Pity.

The rest of the field was the usual suspects, Massa, Rosberg, Schumi, 2 Force Indias and Kobayashi et al.

Here’s the final results:

1. Hamilton McLaren 1h37:11.886
2. Alonso Ferrari + 8.457
3. Button McLaren + 25.881
4. Webber Red Bull + 35.784
5. Massa Ferrari + 50.578
6. Rosberg Mercedes + 52.317
7. Schumacher Mercedes + 1:15.900
8. Sutil Force India + 1:17.100
9. Di Resta Force India + 1:40.000
10. Kobayashi Sauber + 1 lap
11. Perez Sauber + 1 lap
12. Barrichello Williams + 1 lap
13. Petrov Renault + 1 lap
14. Maldonado Williams + 1 lap
15. Alguersuari Toro Rosso + 1 lap
16. Senna Renault + 1 lap
17. Kovalainen Lotus + 1 lap
18. Trulli Lotus + 2 laps
19. Glock Virgin + 2 laps
20. Liuzzi HRT + 2 laps

Rosberg extends his Mercedes contract to beyond 2013

In one of those no-brainer moves, Nico Rosberg has extended his stay with Mercedes to beyond 2013. Michael Schumacher has also said that he intends to still be racing for Mercedes in 2013 as well.

Its one of those moves that benefit everybody. Mercedes have great continuity as they have 2 drivers who’s skill set is by now well known to them, and they can plan their future car development knowing what kind of setup their drivers like and want.

For Rosberg it was the obvious move, the 3 teams above Mercedes being Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren, all have their drivers confirmed for next season and beyond. So Mercedes was by far the strongest seat available.

There has been some rumbling that Rosberg has competed in 106 grand prix and hasn’t won one yet. This is very unfair criticism, he has never been in a front line car that was a race winner.

If you want an excellent example of someone grabbing his chance in a front running car, then you need look no further than Jenson Button. He won his first race at Hungary in 2006, on his 117th start. There can be no doubt that he has gone on from strength to strength since then.

I think its pretty clear that Rosberg is the future of the Mercedes team, the only way he could be usurped as the future is if they manage to somehow wangle Vettel from under Red Bull’s nose. That would be the future Mercedes dream combo.

Still no Kimi confirmation at Williams

The story about Kimi’s comeback seems to be dragging on much longer than I anticipated. Many in the media had speculated that the deal could be announced as early as the Indian GP, but that did not happen.

So now I am starting to think that they still haggling over details. What does seem like fact however, is that both parties are definitely talking, and Rubens himself has said he does not yet know what will happen with him for next year.

If it does not get announced this weekend at Abu Dhabi, then the only time we will probably hear about it is in the off season. I really doubt Williams would announce they dumping Rubens in his home race at the Brazilian GP.

So my prediction is if we don’t hear confirmation by this weekend, it may only come next year. It does seem almost certain that a deal will be done however.

3 F1 teams change their names for 2012

As has long been anticipated 3 teams will change their names from the 2012 season.

The name changes are:

Team Lotus will be known as Caterham after boss Tony Fernandes bought the Caterham motor car operation in 2011 as a strategy to diffuse the Lotus name row with Lotus Renault.

Lotus Renault which was the old works Renault team will now be called Lotus after they had a large stake bought in them by the Lotus car operation this year. And which led to the whole fiasco as to who owns the Lotus name as mentioned above.

Virgin Racing will be known as Marussia Racing as Richard Branson’s half arsed F1 attempt finally winds down to its inevitable conclusion. He makes a lot of noise and smoke but he never struck me as a true F1 man at heart. His F1 interest seems purely commercial, so goodbye to him

Strange that out of the 3 new teams HRT is the only one still bearing their original name! I am pretty amazed they still in F1 next season as I had tipped them to have disappeared off the grid by now.

Imperious Vettel wins inaugural Indian GP

Wow, I have truly run out of superlatives for Sebastian Vettel. His dominance of the Indian GP was so complete that he took every record the circuit had to offer, pole position- check, fastest lap of the race – check, led from lights to flag – check, summed up the 1st Indian GP and paid tribute to the Indian people in a genuine and humble way during the post race interview – check.

Jenson Button finished in a fighting second, and Alonso had a ding dong battle with Webber to finish in the final podium slot. Webbo finished in 4th, despite driving a hard race. My star of the race, besides Vettel, was Schumi. He finished in a best-of-the-rest 5th ahead of Rosberg who was 6th. It must make him wonder how much better his races could be if he didn’t get it wrong in qualifying all the time, he qualified 12th here. Yet again Schumacher got a blistering start and kept his nose clean to be running in 8th on the first lap just behind Rosberg where he stayed till the last round of pit stops when he put in a few blistering laps to leapfrog his young teammate. Vintage Schumi or what!

Hamilton finished in 7th after clashing with Massa yet again! This time it was Massa that got the drive through penalty after the stewards ajudged that he had turned into Hamilton. I couldn’t believe it when I saw them tangle yet again. Surely their teams have to get them together and make them understand that they have to stop tripping each other up. Its become embarrassing not only to Massa and Hamilton, but surely also to McLaren and Ferrari as well.

It also highlights how far ahead each drivers respective teammate is. You don’t see Alonso and Button tangling every race, and they are often around each other during the race too. They race not only on instinct, as Massa and Hamilton seem to do, but also with a clear head and a long term view. If you want to be champion, you must ensure that you finish every race. Felipe and Lewis seem to have forgotten that vital bit of racecraft.

Alguersari finished in a well deserved 8th place after recovering from a poor start. They were very quick and both cars made it into Q3 on Saturday due to their car being great on tracks with long straights.

I think the Indian GP was pretty splendid overall, and I was very happy to see the stands mostly full. Lets hope ticket prices remain reasonable so that the fans can fill it up again next year. I think the track layout is pretty special, that turn 11 reminds me of the lotus wheel in the Indian national flag.

Here’s the full race results:

Results
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h30:35.002
2. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 8.433
3. Alonso Ferrari + 24.301
4. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 25.529
5. Schumacher Mercedes + 1:05.421
6. Rosberg Mercedes + 1:06.851
7. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 1:24.183
8. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
9. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
10. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
11. Petrov Renault + 1 lap
12. Senna Renault + 1 lap
13. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
14. Kovalainen Lotus-Renault + 2 laps
15. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 2 laps
16. D’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
17. Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth + 3 laps
18. Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth + 3 laps
19. Trulli Lotus-Renault + 4 laps
Did Not Finish
Massa Ferrari 33
Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 25
Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 13
Glock Virgin-Cosworth 3
Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1