Nancy Knapp Schilke
2012 test and launch plans
The Formula One teams are getting ready for the first FIA Formula One preseason test at the Jerez circuit on February 7-10. McLaren will unveil the MP4-27 before Jenson Button gets behind the wheel to turn laps on the first two days. Lewis Hamilton will then close out the test on the Spanish circuit for the British-based team’s new challenger.
The defending World Championship Red Bull team will have Mark Webber in the car first on Tuesday and Wednesday with the two-times World Champion, Sebastian Vettel taking the wheel on the final two days.
Lotus F1 Team will use the Internet to unveil their new car on Sunday, February 5th but the following morning in the Spanish paddock, they meet the media in a press conference. The official first two days of testing will be done by Kimi Raikkonen as he officially makes his return to Formula One. The 2007 World Champion recently completed a private test in the 2010 R30. Romain Grosjan on Thursday and Friday will take the wheel of the yet-to-be named 2012 powered by Renault car.
After his recent test, the Finn said, “Even though I was using a two year-old car and the Pirelli demonstration tyres, I learnt about working with the team and the engineers which means I can focus on the new car once we get to Jerez for the first official test. It was great to be driving an F1 car again and from that respect I feel very positive.”
Other teams that have indicated their launch dates and testing information includes the Sauber F1 Team as their drivers, Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Perez, will uncover their new C31-Ferrari on Mdonay, the 6th. Ferrari will show off their new challenger on February 3rd at the Fiorano track. Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were fitted for their new seats two days ago in Maranello so they have now had their first time seeing the new chassis.
HRT seems to be more concerned with making a move to Madrid and per a city spokesperson: “The team has approached the city with regards to relocating its headquarters to one of the spaces at the Caja Magica”. There is still no news on their plans to unveil the 2012 car.
What will be vital before the first Grand Prix are the new tires. However, Pirelli and FOTA appear to be at a standstill; mainly due to the fracture which exists in FOTA. Pirelli’s first year as the official tire for Formula One met with success after they spent time developing the new P-Zero tires. With the pullout of Toyota, Pirelli was using an updated version of 2009 Toyota F1 team’s car. Pirelli’s Motor Sport Director Paul Hembery recently indicated that “the TF109 has been sent back to Toyota's Cologne headquarters because it is now too old.”
According to the Finnish newspaper, Turun Sanomat, Hembery wants the teams to release a 2011-spec car in order to test before and during the season. He has to wait for the F1 Commission to meet in February. "We don't have an agreement yet," he said. "We do simulation (work) but to do the kind of development we need to do, we also need to drive quickly on a track."
Caterham expects points
The Tony Fernandes team was known as Lotus for the past two seasons, but now the team name is Caterham. Their goal this year is to score at least one point!
Per Brazil's Corride de Formula 1, the Malaysian team owner said, "We want to take steps forward in the right direction towards building long-term success. But the fact is that the only way to do that is to beat the teams that are ahead of us. All of them scored points in 2011.”
However, the first photos show that the 2012 car is green. Not once in the history of Formula One has a green color car earned even a single point! Yet Fernandes is confident in his wishes as he added, "So to beat them, we will at least have to score a point. That has to be the goal.”
More on the team’s launch which took place today via a magazine in Great Britain. The first photo showed that the new CT01 has a radical nose which is the result of the new FIA regulations dictating a lower front section for crash impact. All the new Formula One cars are expected to have the new “ugly” nose.
Fittipaldi makes prediction
Red Bull project counts on Adrian Newey, who is a genius.
One of the early predictions for the 2012 season came from the two times World Champion, Emerson Fittipaldi. The Brazilian is also the Chairman of Motorsport.com and he stays very involved in racing; including Formula One and the on-going developments. Fittipaldi keeps and keen eye also on the Grand Prix in his homeland.
"It seems that Sebastian Vettel will be the guy to beat again, since the strong Red Bull project counts on Adrian Newey, who is a genius," he told Globo.
However, Fittipaldi added, "But we can't forget that Ferrari and McLaren have very big and competent structures, and excellent drivers, with all the conditions to be at the top."
Fittipaldi was not alone in commenting on the 2012 filed of drivers. Pirelli’s Hembery noted that there are six world champions in the lineup for the new season. All are with teams and constructors that have won title. Michael Schumacher, Vettel, Hamilton, Alonso, Raikkonen and Button will be on the grid for the Australian Grand Prix in March.
"That is probably the highest level (of quality in F1) ever," Hembery is quoted as saying by Finland's Turun Sanomat, "particularly when you take into account that there are a lot of other very talented drivers who haven't won a title.”
Our F1 Correspondent, Berthold Bouman, is in a hospital recovering from pneumonia. He has a magical way of covering Formula One in his special commentary piece. However, we at Motorsport.com will do our best to continue his “On and Off Track” weekly report.
Join us again next week for another episode of “Formula One: On and Off Track”
Please see last week’s article: Formula One – On and Off Track, Week 3