Ho-Pin Tung will drive Renault in Friday practice, Formula One and movable wings again, US F1 banned and fined by WMSC
Ho-Pin Tung will drive Renault in Friday practice
Last week Dutch-Chinese Renault test driver Ho-Pin Tung was granted a probationary FIA Super License, which has opened the door for Tung to drive the Renault RE30 during Friday practice. According to the Sporting Regulations, all drivers competing in Formula One must have a Super License, which will be granted after accumulating sufficient mileage (300 km/186 miles), or will be granted based upon past achievements, for instance winning the British or German Formula Three Championship. Tung has been granted a license based on his GP2 results and his Formula One testing lap times. The Super License will become fully valid when no questionable incidents take place during the first four races.
Tung joins test drivers Fairuz Fauzy (Lotus), Paul di Resta (Force India) and Christian Klien (HRT). He will be the first Chinese driver ever to participate in a Formula One event. The 27-year old driver was born in Velp, the Netherlands, has a dual nationality and drives with a Chinese license. Tung started his career in kart racing in 1997 in the Netherlands, before he moved on to single-seater racing. In 2003 he won the Formula BMW Asia series, and was invited to test for the Williams Formula One team. He joined the German ATS Formel 3 Cup in 2004, and won the series in 2007, when he won 9 races and scored 4 pole positions. In 2006/2007 Tung also represented China in the A1GP series. Tung also participated in the GP2 and GP2 Asia series and the Superleague Formula, this year as part of the Renault deal, he drives for the French Dams GP2 team together with Belgium Jerome d'Ambrosio, who is also a Renault test driver.
He already tested for the Renault team in 2009, and is also active during the Renault F1 Roadshows. During the Renault team presentation at the beginning of this year, the team introduced Tung as their test and reserve driver. Tung explained during the presentation, "Since the day I started racing, Formula One has always been my objective. So to reach the pinnacle of motorsport and become part of such a famous team as Renault is an amazing opportunity. It's really a dream come true for me, but it's also the start of a new adventure." Renault team principal Eric Boullier was also happy with his new test and reserve driver, "When he tested for the team in December, he immediately impressed with his speed and feedback, which convinced us that he was ready to become part of the team." The French Renault team now employs a Polish, Russian, Dutch-Chinese and Belgium driver.
Formula One and movable wings again
Formula One is still on a quest to improve overtaking, and will introduce an adjustable rear wing system for the 2011 season. The adjustable wing, officially baptized as the 'proximity wing', will replace the F-Duct, which will be banned in 2011. The new rear wing will simply reduce drag when the flaps are adjusted, and the FOTA, who came up with the idea of the adjustable wing, believes it will give a driver about 15 km/h more straight line speed, more than enough to overtake. The wing can not be used during the start and the first two laps of the race, and drivers are not allowed to use it for defensive purposes. However, McLaren engineering director Paddy Lowe has stated the wing can be used during qualifying without any restrictions, the driver can deploy the device anywhere, anytime, and as often as he wants.
While the FOTA is happy with their latest overtaking device, the drivers are very skeptic. One of the non-believers is Renault driver Robert Kubica, who thinks Formula One is exiting enough this year, and still doesn't understand why the sport is so focused on overtaking. Kubica, "Why is it only now that people are noticing that overtaking is difficult? I watched my first Formula One race in 1997, and there was not much overtaking then." Other drivers agree with Kubica, and also question whether the proximity wing will bring the kind of overtaking the fans want to see, the wing will only assist overtaking on the straights, and it is doubtful whether fans are interested in straight-forward overtaking maneuvers on long straights. The wing is electronically controlled by the FIA, and can only be activated by a driver when he is within one second of its predecessor, and only on by the FIA designated sections of the circuit.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who is also chairman of the FOTA, has warned drivers to wait before they pass their judgment on the proximity wing. However, he thinks the regulations regarding the deployment of the wing could be fine-tuned in the future and also noted that the FOTA will be fair in their final judgment, if it gives the desired results, they will keep it, if not, the device will disappear again. In 2005 the FIA introduced the Centerline Downwash Generating (CDG) Wing, a wing that didn't even make it to the track, after wind tunnel testing the FIA found the concept of the wing did not meet their expectations, and the adjustable front wing flaps introduced in 2009 also seem to be a failure, since its introduction no driver has ever claimed he was able to overtake after he had adjusted his front wing flaps.
US F1 banned and fined by WMSC
Although American fans still had some hope about the return of US F1 in 2011, the FIA World Motor Sport Council has now made an definitive end to the aspirations of the all-American Formula One team. The US F1 team had now been banned from Formula One and was fined 309,000 Euro for failing to compete in this year's championship. The fine equals the entry fee the team had to pay in 2009, so in fact, they don't have to pay anything, they simply don't get their entry fee back. The by Ken Anderson and Peter Windsor led team had in February send a letter to FIA President Jean Todt and FOM boss Bernie Ecclestone, in which they indicated they would not participate in Formula One this year, and requested to postpone their debut to 2011.
In March 2010 the team received a letter from the FIA Secretary General for Sport, Mr. de Coninck, stating it was not possible to held the US F1 entry open until 2011. The US F1 team was absent at the Grand Prix of Bahrain two weeks later. At the end of March Todt initiated an official disciplinary procedure against the team. They were charged of 'failing to participate in each and every Event of the Championship'; and 'to adhere to the terms of the ISC (International Sporting Code) and the Regulations. According to the FIA, the US F1 team had also breached the 2009 Concorde agreement the team had signed, in particular Article 4, which also says a team has to participate in every event of the championship.
US F1 responded to the charges and claimed the cost cap proposed by the FIA caused 'adverse reactions among teams', which led to long negotiations of the 2009 Concorde Agreement which was finally signed in July 2009. US F1 also defended their position by claiming they did have sufficient sponsorship after the Concorde Agreement was signed, and payments were due for January 2011, but according to US F1, "repeated press stories from parties affiliated with FOM had cast doubt about US F1's participation in the Championship.", and therefore US F1 sponsors had held back their payments. They also argued the late signing of the Agreement was also the reason why US F1 was not able to design and produce its cars in time for the 2010 season.
The final Disciplinary Hearing was on June 23, 2010 and was attended by Anderson and legal representatives of the US F1 team, on the same day the decision was made public, a 309,000 Euro fine, a ban from Formula one, and the team also has to pay the costs for the WMSC investigation and hearing. The US F1 team has seven days to appeal the decision (until July 1, 2010), but it is expected the team, now also hunted by their creditors who already have seized their properties, will not appeal. One thing is certain, the US F1 team is history, and after this debacle it will be very difficult for future US based teams to find the resources and sponsors they need to get into Formula One. There is only one last chance this year, at the end of July the FIA will announce the 13th team for 2011, and amongst the 15 new applications is an American venture, the US Cypher Group...
Join us again next week for the weekly "Formula One: On and off track".
See also: Formula One - On and Off track week 25