Formula One: On and off track - week 20

Formula One: On and off track - week 20

HRT needs assistance, Two more Formula One applicants, Hate mail for Damon Hill, and a Foxtrot for Hamilton HRT needs assistance Like Virgin and Lotus, HRT is struggling to find speed, but is apparently also struggling for survival. After ...


HRT needs assistance, Two more Formula One applicants, Hate mail for Damon Hill, and a Foxtrot for Hamilton

HRT needs assistance

Like Virgin and Lotus, HRT is struggling to find speed, but is apparently also struggling for survival. After Bernie Ecclestone told a British newspaper he was helping the HRT team, the rumors became stronger. It seems it is not a financial problem, but because HRT have ended their relation with the Italian chassis builder Dallara, they are running out of spare parts for their car. HRT driver Bruno Senna admitted he was driving a damaged car in Monaco, and without any technical assistance or spare parts, his car can not be fixed. Without any help it is expected the team will run out of spare parts by the end of June.

Technical assistance for the HRT team.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Yesterday team principal Colin Kolles finally admitted Ecclestone is helping the team with its plans for the future, but denied the team would not survive this season. Kolles stated, "The team will complete the season and we are already planning for the next one." Ecclestone will now help the team to solve the spare parts problem, and assist the team to get a development program on its way for building their own car for the 2011 season. HRT expects a decision will be made before the Canadian GP, and also expects to close a deal with a wind tunnel facility, to further develop the heavily criticized Dallara.

Two more Formula One applicants

Last week news emerged there are more applicants for the 2011 besides the Spanish Epsilon Euskadi, the Italian Durango, and the Serbian Stefan Grand Prix outfits. The French ART Grand Prix team is now also a candidate for the 13th slot. The team is led by Frederic Vasseur and the son of FIA president Jean Todt, Nicolas Todt. They are currently active in the Formula Three and the GP2 and GP3 series, and F1 drivers Lewis Hamilton, Nico Hulkenberg, Nico Rosberg, Lucas di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi have all driven for the highly successful ART GP2 team before they promoted to F1.

Team principal Vasseur about the late announcement: "The application had to be made before 15 April and the FIA should get back to us by no later than 1 July; but before that, we will have to complete a technical and financial information file - that's why we hadn't communicated over the matter yet." Vasseur also indicated the team has good relations with Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes, and although he stressed the team hasn't made a choice yet, it's safe to assume one of those three will supply ART with a F1 engine. The French team also has a very good relationship with Dallara who supplies the team with chassis' for all championships ART is active in, which could indicate Dallara would be their chassis builder of choice.

There's also an American group that lodged an entry for 2011 under the name The Cypher Group. The wannabe team has submitted a letter of interest to the FIA for the 2011 season on April 13, 2010. But who is behind this mysterious team, and who are participating in the new American F1 adventure? Although Cypher hasn't given any information about the people involved in the project, there are rumors that the Cypher team is the old US F1 team, minus Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson. Whether YouTube founder Chad Hurley is still involved in the project is unknown, neither is there any information about possible technical partners or sponsors. On their website they describe themselves as a group of engineers, designers and businessmen. They also stress they haven't lodged a full application for 2011: "We will only place an entry to compete in the 2011 F1 World Championship should we achieve fully, the budget we believe is necessary to do this properly."

The FIA has indicated that full applications will have to be submitted before the end of June 2010, and a decision is expected in July 2010. That would mean a team has 6-7 months time to design, build and test a complete Formula One car for the 2011 season.

ART GP scored a podium finish in Monaco.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Ever since the French ART team has admitted to be interested in F1, people have raised their eyebrows. Without a doubt, the word 'favoritism' will be mentioned when ART GP would be the lucky winner. For FIA president Todt it will be very difficult to convince the F1 world there was no conflict of interests or favoritism involved, and the decision was solely based upon, as the FIA refers to it, 'thorough due diligence'. So far the FIA has neither confirmed, nor denied they have received the applications of the aforementioned teams, and if they would issue such a statement, it will surely not be before the end of June.

Hate mail for Damon Hill

Damon Hill, who assisted the stewards during the Monaco GP, has received hate mail from angry German fans, after the FIA Stewards Panel decided to penalize Michael Schumacher for his illegal overtaking action on Fernando Alonso during the final moments of the race in Monaco. Schumacher and Hill have been rivals during the 1990s, which led to the famous crash of both drivers during the 1994 Australian GP, when Schumacher didn't 'see' Hill and slammed his car into the Williams. Both retired from the race, but Schumacher won the championship, and German fans have now suggested the 20-second penalty was Hill's revenge for the incident in 1994.

But that is of course rubbish, Hill is part of the Stewards Panel and of course has a vote, but he could never have made that decision on his own, the decision was a democratic decision made by the four members of the panel and based upon the interpretation of the rules, and not based upon revenge. Hill commented about the acquisitions, "I know that most people would believe me when I say I acted entirely properly, but I already received some of the inevitable stinging e-mails accusing me of prejudice."

Schumacher himself is also laughing about the matter, and said, "I know Damon. He is a good guy." And Mercedes, who decided not to appeal the decision, hastily issued a statement in which they made it clear that they "fully support the inclusion of past drivers on the stewards' panel and are completely satisfied that the Monaco Grand Prix stewards acted professionally, impartially and properly in this matter." Case closed.

Foxtrot for Hamilton

Nicole Scherzinger's absence in Hamilton's McLaren garage during the first few races of this season fueled rumors that the pair had broken up, but they have been spotted together during numerous occasions. Apparently she was very busy with the preparations for her participation in the TV show "Dancing with the Stars", and Hamilton has traveled thousands of miles to be with his favorite feline girlfriend. While Hamilton is currently contemplating about how to stop the unstoppable Red Bull team, his girlfriend also seems to be unstoppable when it comes to her part in the US version of the popular TV dance challenge. After Red Bull cruised to the victory in Monaco, Scherzinger now seems to be cruising towards the victory of the dance show.

Nicole Scherzinger, Singer in the Pussycat Dolls and girlfriend of Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes and Lewis Hamilton, McLaren Mercedes.
Photo by xpb.cc.

And there are some similarities regarding both contests. US viewers think Scherzinger has an unfair advantage because she dances on stage when performing with the Pussycat Dolls but the contest is based on ballroom dancing and like the other stars, she spends hours learning the technique for each dance from her assigned professional partner (Derek Hough). Whereas McLaren initially thought Red Bull had an unfair advantage because they allegedly had an illegal ride-height system. Scherzinger has scored the maximum number of points during the last episodes of DWTS, and Red Bull has scored the maximum number of points last weekend during the Monaco Grand Prix.

Both Scherzinger and Red Bull are the favorites for the title, viewers in the US are asking themselves if it is even possible the unstoppable Scherzinger and her dance partner could ever lose the dance contest. In Formula One fans are wondering the same about the Red Bull team, it seems inevitable they will win the championship. And both Red Bull and Scherzinger give poor Hamilton a headache, he has no idea how to stop Red Bull, and recently there were rumors his girlfriend had an affair with her dance partner Hough. The UK based News of the World published an article about the alleged love affair, but Scherzinger denies everything and said: "He [Hough] is like a little brother to me. Everyone knows how in love and committed I am to Lewis. I tango with Derek ...but I only foxtrot with Lewis."

Join us again next week for the weekly "Formula One: On and off track".


See also: Formula One: On and off track - week 19

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About this article
Series General , Formula 1
Drivers Michael Schumacher , Lewis Hamilton , Damon Hill , Nico Rosberg , Lucas di Grassi , Bruno Senna , Sébastien Buemi , Jean Todt , Colin Kolles , Frederic Vasseur , Bernie Ecclestone , Nicolas Todt
Teams Williams , ART Grand Prix