Sauber announces 2011 launch date, Marussia Motors, who are they, Silverstone earns its wings
Sauber announces 2011 launch date
The Swiss Sauber Formula One team was the first team to announce the launch of their 2011 car last week. The new Sauber C30-Ferrari will be presented to the media and public on January 31 at the Ricardo Tormo circuit in Valencia, just one day before the official pre-season testing will commence. Team owner Peter Sauber had lured James Key, former Force India technical director, to his Sauber team in April this season, and since then the Sauber has become more reliable and faster.
"Key took over as Technical Director and achieved a great deal in a short period of time. He and his team identified the weaknesses of the C29 and laid down a clear roadmap for improvements," Sauber commented. And added, "These ideas were quickly put into practice and had a positive effect." The Sauber team scored 44 points in the Constructors' Championship this season, not bad at all for a team that struggled to make it to the 2010 start grid and had a chronic lack of sponsors.
Sauber had already announced their driver line-up last week, Japanese driver Kamui Kobayashi and Mexican Sergio Perez will drive for the team in 2011. Although Kobayashi is very popular within the team, he will not be the number one driver. "There's no number one driver in our team; the drivers will be given equal treatment in every respect. But, of course, I'm expecting Kamui to bring his extra experience into play," said Sauber.
He also praised Kobayashi for his contribution to the team, "Kamui inspires us all within the team. His refreshing, attacking style really puts a smile on your face. You can tell from reactions in the stands that the Formula One fans love him too; his overtaking moves are always great to watch." But added, "However, it would be doing him an injustice to only focus on this aspect of his driving. Kamui is also a very clever driver and understands how to put a pre-defined strategy into action."
Perez brings in a major sponsor, the Mexican telecom giant Telmex, owned by Carlos Slim, the richest man on the planet. But Sauber has denied the rumors Telmex would have bought a stake in the Swiss team. "I own 100 percent of the team and there are at present no plans to sell the team or any part of it. Our partnership with Telmex, which will come into force on 1st January 2011, does not include any kind of stake holding and is purely a sponsoring agreement," Peter Sauber emphasized.
Sauber is also satisfied with the progress on the new 2011 contender, the C30, "The development of the Sauber C30-Ferrari is running according to plan. We're setting our sights high, and things are looking good so far. Key has proved in the past that he knows how to build fast cars."
And Key has a lot of work to do, next year the double diffuser and F-Duct will be banned, new tyre supplier Pirelli will replace Bridgestone, the FIA will introduce adjustable rear wings, and the famous, or if you will infamous, KERS energy recovery system will be reintroduced. Pre-season testing will start on February 1, 2011 in Valencia, and the final pre- season test will be on March 3-6 at the Bahrain International Circuit, one week before the season opener: the 2011 Bahrain Grand Prix.
Marussia Motors, who are they?
Last week Virgin Racing owner Sir Richard Branson announced the Russian Marrussia Motors car company will participate in the new Marussia Virgin Racing team in 2011. In contrary to Sauber, the Russians are not just a sponsor, but a full partner and shareholder in the now Russian-British team, and Brazilian Lucas di Grassi's future with the team hangs in the balance, as new Formula One hopeful Belgium Jerome d'Ambrosio is on the verge of striking a deal for a 2011 race seat. According to Belgium newspapers d'Ambrosio is waiting for the approval of the new Marussia shareholder, and a decision is expected just before Christmas.
Many sports car manufacturers have successfully and sometimes not successfully tried their luck in Formula One, Ferrari, Maserati, Lotus, Aston Martin, Bugatti, Lamborghini, and more recently, Jaguar and Spyker. Ferrari and Lotus have so far been the only sports car manufacturers who were successful in Formula One, both have dominated the sport for several decades and together they won dozens of championship titles.
So, who are Marussia Motors? Marussia Motors is the official name of the first ever Russian sports car manufacturer. The Moscow-based company was founded in 2007 by Nikolay Fomenko who is still the President of the Russian company. Nikolai Vladimirovich Fomenko was born on April 30, 1962 and is a multi-talented entrepreneur and entertainer. Apart from being President of Marussia Motors, he is also a musician, comic actor and motor racer. He started his career with the rock and roll band Secret, and enjoyed a lot of popularity in Russia during the mid 1980s. He hosted one season of the Russian TV game show 'The weakest link' and since 2008 he hosts the 'Top Gear Russia' TV show, a spin-off of the BBC Top Gear series.
Fomenko raced in the FIA GT Championship in 2000 and 2001 for Freisinger Motorsport with Russian co-pilot Alexey Vasilyev in a Porsche 996 GT3R. From 2002 to 2004 he raced for RWS and Cirtec Motorsport also in a Porsche 996 GT3R, and in 2005 he switched to the Russian Age Racing team, and piloted a Ferrari 550 Maranello. In 2003 he participated in the 24 Hours of Daytona, and in 2004 and 2005 in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
In 2008 Marussia Motors presented their first car, the Marussia B1. The B1 turned out to be a surprise, as the general consensus was that Russians could not design and build a super car. The B1 proved the critics were wrong, the B1 is a perfect fit for the European sports car market, and the sleek look of the state-of-the-art sports car is the result of the team work of the Russian designers and engineers.
Not only the exterior of the car has an exotic look, the interior is also unique, it includes a multi-media system with touch-screens, including TV, cinema and Internet, and was designed in-house by Marussia. The dashboard has three monitors on which the owner can display both the car's performance information and the entertaining information content. The car is also equipped with three video cameras, and according to Marussia, 'the record function of the cameras allows driver to recreate a scene of his swift movement in space'.
The Marussia B2 is another thoroughbred race car, and was introduced this year. Both cars can be equipped with a mid-mounted Cosworth 2.8 liter turbo engine, with a maximum of 420 bhp, or the Cosworth 3.5 liter 300 bph normally aspirated engine. Both cars weigh about 1,100 kg and depending on the engine type, can accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in just 3.8 seconds. The B1 and B2 have rear wheel drive and a 6-speed automatic gearbox.
Marussia has opened a showroom in Moscow and is looking to expand their business to the rest of Europe, Asia and the United States. There are plans to open factories in Belgium and Germany to expand their production capacity, and in 2011 Marussia will present seven new vehicles during the Frankfurt Motor Show in Germany. Marussia announced they will present a sport coupe, a sedan, a luxury SUV and a small city car.
Marussia already sponsored Virgin Racing in 2010, and are now, being full partners, looking to expand the popularity and the name of Marussia in Europe and beyond, and Formula One is the perfect platform to do this.
Silverstone earns its wings
The new Silverstone pit and paddock area has finally been christened after a competition in which the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) invited members of the public to name the new complex. The new building will from now on be known as 'The Silverstone Wing', and according to Richard Phillips, managing director of Silverstone Circuits Ltd, the new name not only connects to many of Silverstone's historical race venues, but also connects to Silverstone's aviation history. Silverstone was a former WW2 airport base, and the long back straight, 'Hangar Straight', is also a reminder of the circuit's past.
"The Silverstone Wing is a highly appropriate name", said Phillips. "Flight and velocity were key themes incorporated into the design brief, and the streamlined form of the new building conjures up the impression of speed, dynamic motion and the grace of a bird's wing in full flight." More than 4000 race fans entered the competition, and 'The Wing' was submitted by ten entrants. "Many of the competition entrants suggested names that included the word 'wing', or related to types of birds. After careful deliberation by the Silverstone team, the entries were whittled down to just 20 names, which were then presented to the BRDC board for discussion at the November board meeting," Phillips explained.
Ten of those twenty entrants will be rewarded with a VIP invitation for the official opening of The Silverstone Wing in May 2011, and an invitation for two for the 2011 Silverstone Formula One Grand Prix, and the 2011 British Motorcycle Grand Prix. On top of that, they will also receive a voucher which will allow them to take part in one of Silverstone's driver experiences.
The development of the circuit is still on schedule, and the circuit has improved many of the grandstands and spectators' areas. The grandstands at Club have been improved, and the grandstand at Becketts has been repositioned and elevated, it now provides a good view on Maggots, Becketts and Stowe, and it also overlooks the new section of the circuit, which starts at Farm Curve and extends to Brooklands where it rejoins the old track again. A new grandstand has been build on the new start and finish straight, which will provide an excellent view on the straight, as well as the pit lane entrance and the pit lane itself, and the new podium where drivers will celebrated their victory.
The tickets for the new International Pit Straight grandstand are already sold out, and there are only a limited number of tickets available for the grandstands at Abbey. Phillips about the renewed interest in Silverstone, "The 2010 F1 season has re-ignited people's passion for the sport. We are already looking forward to 2011 and another exciting season, and interest in the British Grand Prix has been high, with tickets selling well. There are still plenty of tickets available, but some of the more popular grandstands have already sold out, including International Pits Straight and one or two sections in the Copse and Stowe grandstands."
Join us again next week for the weekly "Formula One: On and off track"
See also: Formula One - On and Off track week 48