Cypher Group abandons F1 plans, who is Kamui Kobayashi?, Formula One world slams Schumacher
Cypher Group abandons F1 plans
After the French ART GP team led by Nicolas Todt, son of FIA President Jean Todt, announced they had revoked their bid for the 2011 season, the American based Cypher Group has also thrown in the towel. In a surprise announcement the American outfit from North Carolina stated they had officially withdrawn its candidature to become the 13th team in the 2011 Championship. The statement further read: "We remain completely committed to developing a credible and viable Formula One team and were able to raise a considerable amount of sponsorship and interest in recent months. However after much deliberation we have decided that the budget we have is not sufficient to allow us to pursue the project in a manner befitting the series. It was not an easy decision, but one made out of respect for the FIA Formula One World Championship and our loyal supporters."
After the US F1 debacle, again a big disappointment for the American Formula One fans. But what is going here? ART GP were considered to be the leading contender for the 13th slot in 2011, but in their announcement they mentioned the outfit "could not gather the necessary guarantees to ensure the stability of the project in the long term", and blamed the current "unfavorable economic conditions" for the lack of funding.
But there is more to it than meets they eye. Some leading figures in Formula One have mocked and ridiculed the newcomers HRT, Lotus and Virgin, and have criticized them about their lack of speed, development and funding. A new 2011 team will probably get the same treatment, which is not a very nice prospect, neither is it a good start. But all the negative comments have achieved the opposite: many fans are now supporting the new teams and feel the established teams should help them, instead of patronizing them.
Bernie Ecclestone recently said he expects at least two teams will not make it to the end of the season, which puts them under even more pressure, not to mention that such negative comments from a man who is in charge of the commercial side of the sport, could scare off potential sponsors, which could indeed be the definitive end for a team. After former FIA President Max Mosley successfully scared off strong candidates like Prodrive and Lola, Ecclestone now also wants the new 2011 team to pay a 19 million Euro bond.
If the FIA waits for another four or five weeks, the remaining contenders could also throw in the towel, afraid they will end up with a multi-million dollar debt before they have even delivered a drawing of the car. But unlike Ecclestone, who said ten teams would be enough for 2011, the fans do want fresh blood in Formula One and one can therefore only hope the remaining contenders Stefan GP, Epsilon Euskadi and the new Villeneuve-Durango teams will not give up, and Ecclestone will drop the 19 million Euro deposit.
Who is Kamui Kobayashi?
Kamui Kobayashi has impressed many people ever since his first race for Toyota in 2009, when he replaced the injured Timo Glock during the Brazilian Grand Prix. During that race the talented Japanese driver, who was running in sixth position, made life very difficult for Jenson Button, who was on his way to win the 2009 championship, and had huge problems overtaking him. Kobayashi fiercely defended his position, and it took Button four laps to get past him. Last weekend in Hungary Kobayashi again excelled with a stellar performance, he started in 23rd position and finished 9th. He overtook six cars during the first lap, and another two cars during the next three laps. So who is this talented driver who never ceases to amaze and impress everyone in Formula One?
Kobayashi was born on September 13, 1986 in Amagasaki, a town near Kobe in Japan. He started his race career in 1996 in karting, and became third in his first year of competition. The next seven years he won four kart championships, and in 2003 he joined the Toyota Driver Academy and won the Formula Toyota series that same year. In 2004 Kobayashi already showed his ambitions, he participated in the Italian, Dutch, German and Asian Formula Renault 2000 series. In 2005 he won the Formula Renault Eurocup and the Italian Formula Renault 2000 championship. He participated in the 2006 Formula Three Euroseries alongside Sebastian Vettel, Giedo van der Garde and Paul di Resta. He competed in the same series in 2007 and ended fourth in the Drivers' Championship.
In 2008 and 2009 he competed in the GP2 and GP2 Asia series, and won the 2009 GP2 Asia Drivers' Championship for the French DAMS team. In 2007 Toyota had already confirmed Kobayashi would replace Franck Montagny as third Toyota driver, and when Timo Glock was injured during the 2009 Japanese Grand Prix, Toyota decided to put him in the cockpit for the Brazilian Grand Prix. He did not disappoint them, he qualified 11th and finished ninth behind the Brawn of local hero Rubens Barrichello. His first race was impressive, but his second race in Abu Dhabi was even more impressive, he qualified 12th and finished sixth and scored his first World Championship points. Toyota was also impressed and were thinking of giving him a seat for 2010, but the Toyota mother company decided to quit Formula One, and Kobayashi faced an uncertain future. He was mentioned as a possible driver for one of the new 2010 teams, but in December 2009 Peter Sauber confirmed Kobayashi would be racing for the resurrected BMW-Sauber team.
But it was a tough start of the season for Sauber, both Kobayashi and his team colleague Spaniard Pedro de la Rosa retired from the first race of the season at Bahrain due to hydraulic problems. In Australia Kobayashi retired during the first lap after he missed his breaking point and T-boned the Williams of Nico Hulkenberg. In Malaysia he qualified in ninth position, but both Sauber drivers retired from the race after a problem with the Ferrari engine. During the race in China Kobayashi was again involved in an accident and retired, a few laps later De la Rosa retired due to technical problems. During the race in Spain Kobayashi again showed his talents, he qualified in 10th position, and finished in 12th position.
He didn't finish the race in Monaco, but in Turkey he again scored one point with his 10th position, in Canada he retired after a collision on the first lap. During the European Grand Prix he again made his Sauber fly, and he scored six points by finishing in seventh position. At Silverstone he again upped his performance by finishing in sixth place, scoring another eight points, leaving Williams, Ferrari, Renault and Mercedes far behind him. By then the Sauber had become faster and more reliable, and in Germany Kobayashi finished in 11th position.
Although he was involved in a number of crashes at the start of the season, he is still very quick, he is truly a thoroughbred racer, never gives up and is totally dedicated to Formula One. BBC commentator and F1 pundit Eddie Jordan said he would have hired Kobayashi on the spot if he still would own a Formula One team. And it is true, many teams are impressed by the Japanese driver, Renault is very interested in hiring him, but Peter Sauber wants to keep him for 2011. Kobayashi himself is not thinking about the future at all, he's just concentrating on the remaining seven races of the season, and he can't wait until the summer break is over, then he will climb back into the cockpit of his Sauber, hopefully to surprise us once again.
Formula One world slams Schumacher
Formula One was less impressed by Michael Schumacher after he almost squeezed Rubens Barrichello into the pit wall during the Hungarian Grand Prix. He was handed a ten-place grid penalty for 'impeding', but his dangerous and unsportsman-like conduct also provoked the wrath of the media and fans.
One of the FIA Stewards was Briton Derek Warwick, who revealed the stewards almost disqualified the German from the race. Warwick was disappointed about Schumacher, "We interviewed Rubens and Michael and it was kind of disappointing how Michael handled it, and we had no option but to give him a 10-place penalty." Warwick also said Schumacher wasn't disqualified from the race because there was simply not enough time to view the video evidence during those last laps of the race.
Three-time World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart was upset by the dangerous move and said in an interview with the UK Express, "We are never more than a millimetre away from something awful happening, and for Schumacher to do what he did with Barrichello, is just inviting disaster." And added, "It was one of the most blatant abuses of another driver that I have seen. It is a terrible example from a man who has seven world titles, bully-boy tactics. The punishment was the minimum they could do."
Also three-time World Champion Niki Lauda wasn't happy either, "To endanger another competitor in such a way is totally unnecessary. I cannot understand why he does those things." Ex-Ferrari driver Eddie Irvine about his former team mate, "It was an idiotic maneuver that was extremely dangerous. He wasn't thinking. It was pure arrogance that he thought he could put another driver into the wall."
Lotus team principal Mike Gascoyne thinks Schumacher acted under pressure, "The guy is under extreme pressure to get results, look how far behind his team-mate he is. He has got to drive to his ability and fairly but you have to question whether he is doing that."
David Coulthard in his weekly column for the UK Telegraph, "There is no doubt that he screwed up badly on Sunday, apology or no apology. It is no exaggeration to say that at that speed, contact might have been fatal. When wheels touch, cars can go airborne and once that happens you are to some extent in the lap of the gods."
The only man who defended Schumacher was Mercedes team principal Ross Brawn, "I don't think for a moment that Michael was trying to put Rubens in the wall, but he was trying to discourage him from coming down the inside because he thought that was where he would be vulnerable."
And Barrichello? He doesn't want to talk with his former team mate, and commented, "You know Michael, you talk to him and he will always feel that he is right. He has been out of the sport for three years and he is still the same guy. If he wants to go to heaven -- in the event he is going to heaven -- I don't want to go before him." Barrichello, who is now the most experienced driver in Formula One ever, will be starting his 300th Grand Prix later this season.
Join us again next week for the weekly "Formula One: On and off track".
See also: Formula One - On and Off track week 30