Formula One - On and Off track week 25

Formula One - On and Off track week 25

Button wants his trophy, Father and son Prost at the Renault F1 Roadshow, Cosworth and Renault, and the Goodwood Festival of Speed Button wants his trophy Current world champion Jenson Button had some unfinished business with his previous ...


Button wants his trophy, Father and son Prost at the Renault F1 Roadshow, Cosworth and Renault, and the Goodwood Festival of Speed

Button wants his trophy

Current world champion Jenson Button had some unfinished business with his previous employer, the Brawn-Mercedes GP team. As a part of his contract (which also included a 50% salary cut), Button would get the BGP001 car if he would win the championship, but the team refused to give him the car which he drove to the 2009 victory. For Button, who described the car as 'one of the best he had ever driven', this unusual prize would have been the icing on the cake of his ten years of Formula One racing. Reportedly six BGP001's were produced for the 2009 season, and these high-tech carbon-fibre cars cost more than ?1million each to produce. In November 2009 the team was sold to Mercedes, a few days later Button decided to sign a contract with McLaren, but there was still no sign of his car.

Jemson Button and the title winning BGP001.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Apparently Mercedes, who also inherited the contractual obligations of Brawn GP, refused to hand over the car. The contract with Button reads: "In the event that the Driver wins the Driver Championship at any time during the term, the Company shall transfer ...ownership of one chassis of the type driven by the driver during that winning season." Seems pretty conclusive evidence, that's what Button and his management also thought, and they decided to sue Mercedes for failing to deliver him the car. Mercedes offered Button a replica of the car, which would be manufactured during the annual mandatory FIA close-down of the factory in Brackley, UK during July of this year, but Button insisted he wanted one of the cars he had driven himself in 2009.

The whole thing became public last week, but both parties have reached an agreement now, Button's spokesman, "We have arrived at an amicable resolution, and so there will no longer be any court action over this." Which means Button will get his ?1million Brawn GP car. A team giving a driver a real Formula One car as a gift is unusual, but in 2006 Michael Schumacher was handed his 2006 Ferrari as a retirement gift by Luca di Montezemolo. There are more drivers who have their winning Formula One car in the garage at home, and some of the past world champions have for sentimental reasons bought their winning car years after they had retired, 1979 champion Jody Scheckter keeps his Ferrari in a barn on his farm in South Africa, and recently has driven it to raise money for the Nelson Mandela charity event. And finally, Ron Dennis promised Lewis Hamilton he will give him a ?5million car if he would win three world championships.

Cosworth and Renault

The rumors Williams would want to switch to the Renault engine next year are still very persistent, Renault is lurking around the corner and would be more than happy to supply Williams in 2011. Cosworth experienced problems during their return to Formula One, the 2010 engine is an evolution of the 2006 engine, it has been made more reliable, more fuel efficient and is now the cheapest Formula one engine, although it still costs a team 5.5 million Euro for a one year lease. The biggest problem seems to be the performance at 14,000 rpm, which is especially a problem during the first stage of the race, when the fuel tanks are completely topped off. Another problem is the decreasing performance as the engine ages.

Patrick Head and Mark Gallagher.
Photo by xpb.cc.

Cosworth's Mark Gallagher insists that his company will remain Williams' engine supplier, "We have a three-year agreement, and there has been no evidence that that is going to change." Williams hasn't commented on the latest rumors. Meanwhile, Renault has stated they are about to close a deal with Williams, and also revealed the Red Bull team will stay with Renault in 2011. Renault admitted they want to add one or two teams to its customer engine program next year. Lotus has been linked with a Renault deal, and both Cosworth and Renault are also in a race to supply the 13th Formula One team with their engine.

Father and son Prost at the Renault F1 Roadshow

Nicolas Prost, son of four-time World Champion Alain Prost, has followed in his father's footsteps when he drove the 2010 Renault R29 during the Renault F1 Roadshow at the French Magny-Cours circuit. Alain Prost started his Formula One career with McLaren in 1980, but moved to Renault in 1981 and stayed with the French team until the end of 1983, when he moved back to McLaren again. In 1977 Renault surprised the Formula One world with its 1.5 liter turbo-charged Renault engine. The car earned the nickname "yellow teapot" because of its unreliability, but after a two years Renault won their first race, and other teams realized the potential of a turbo-charged engine and also started to build turbo engines, which led to the famous turbo era, which ended in 1989 when the FIA banned turbo-charged engines.

For Nicolas it was his first taste of the power of the Renault Formula One car, and although it rained during the morning, he was happy with his first run, "It was very nice to drive the car in front of all the people, obviously the weather conditions were not great this morning, but it gave me some experience to see how the car was in the wet." The track dried in the afternoon which gave Nicolas the chance to feel the extreme acceleration, grip and braking performance of a modern Formula One car. Nicolas was impressed by the R29, "It is a fantastic car, everything is working so well, the gearshift and the engine is very smooth, and the car is also very, very light, it's like a toy car when you are driving it."

Father Prost is proud of his son, but when asked he said he didn't give Nicolas any fatherly advice before he stepped into the Renault R29, "I didn't give him advice because I stopped my career in 1993, and that is already seventeen years ago, I do not pretend to know very well these kind of [Formula One] cars, so it's better to leave him [Nicolas] alone." Nicolas was very impressed by the Renault Roadshow event, "I must say, congratulations to Renault, because they are one of the best teams in motorsport right now, with a lot of people around it, and it is really like a good family atmosphere." Apart from Nicolas Prost, Dutch-Chinese Renault reserve driver Ho-Pin Tung and leader of the Renault World Series championship Russian Mikhail Aleshin also participated in the by now traditional Renault F1 Roadshow.

The Goodwood Festival of Speed

The annual Goodwood Festival of Speed is Europe's most celebrated motorsports meeting, and this year it will also celebrate 60 years of Formula One racing. The main theme of the festival this year is "Viva Veloce!, the passion of speed", and is all about Italy's passion for any form of motorsport. From Alfa Romeo to Ferrari and from Maserati to Lancia, from Tazio Nuvolari to Alberto Ascari, from Giacomo Augustini to Valentino Rossi, and from Monza to Maranello; Italy seems to have race blood running through its veins. Add famous historic races like the Targa Florio and the Mille Miglia and the picture is complete: Italy is motorsport.

Nico Hulkenberg at the 2009 Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Photo by Dave Dyer.

The organization describes this year's festival as "the largest motoring garden party in the world - a unique summer weekend that brings together an impossibly heady mix of cars, stars and motor sport 'royalty' to create the largest car culture event in the world." It will be the 17th edition of the festival, and is traditionally hosted on the Goodwood estate, owned by the Earl of March and Kinrara, motorsport enthusiast Charles Gordon-Lennox. The festival is now so popular that the organizers had to limit the number of spectators to 150,000.

The festival is not just a 'concours d'elegance' of historic cars and motorcycles, but there are also real races. There is Supercar Run, the traditional Hill Climb with this year no fewer than 300 cars, Motorcycle Mania with 40 motorcycles, an Off-road Driving Area, a Forest Rally Stage, designed with the help of 1983 rally champion Hannu Mikkola, where 50 cars of historic and present-day WRC teams will race, and there are also static displays of many historic racing cars and motorcycles. Five present-day Formula One teams will attend the festival, as will Formula One champions Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. The event will take place on July 2nd- 4th. Unfortunately this unique event was completely sold-out already months ago, but the organizers have a photo and video section on their website at: www.goodwood.co.uk

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


See also: Formula One - On and Off track week 24

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About this article
Series General , Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Alberto Ascari , Lewis Hamilton , Alain Prost , Patrick Head , Ho-Pin Tung , Jody Scheckter , Mikhail Aleshin , Nico Hulkenberg , Nicolas Prost , Hannu Mikkola , Tazio Nuvolari
Teams Williams , Brawn GP