Category Archives: Mercedes GP

Is 2010 the most eagerly anticipated Formula 1 season ever?

I personally have been counting down the days till the start of the 2010 F1 season, and from the amount of people on Twitter, websites and other Formula 1 blogs, I’d say I’m not alone. The anticipation and almost lack of patience to get to the Bahrain Grand Prix seems to have Grand Prix Fever at an all time fever this year, but why is that? I don’t think it’s one thing, but many factors are contributing to people’s desire to see the season start.

The Brawn Dominance of 2009
Last year Brawn, and in fact Jenson Button himself, won 6 out of the first 7 Grands Prix.The extra months of development put in by Honda before the buyout gave them an insurmountable advantage and though Red Bull gave them a few tense moments towards the end, the season was almost over before the halfway point. As such fans never got much of a competition last year and after the nail biting climax of both the 2007 and 2008 seasons, they are desperate for a Formula 1 season with some exciting rivalries and championship battles.

The Return of Michael Schumacher
Love him or hate him there is no other driver in the history of Formula 1 who has made such an impact as Michael Schumacher. At 41 years old and after 3 years away from the sport as an active driver, he’s back. Just what effect will that have on the other drivers and the season as a whole? Speaking for myself, I am relatively new to Formula 1, at least as fan at the level where I watch everything, every week. That means I’ve never watched every race in a season where Schumacher has dominated, or at least been a factor in determining who would be champion. To have him on track at the same time as drivers like Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel is a mouth watering prospect, and has brought even more attention to an already fascinating 2010 season.

McLaren’s Poor 2009 Season
While the second half of the 2009 season was one of improvement and success, the first half was so bad that McLaren failed, at least by their standards. As a McLaren fan it was very disappointing not to be in the championship race, neither for the drivers or constrictor. Testing seems to have gone well for McLaren so I’m anticipating starting the 2010 season with a chance of victory from the very first race, and that alone is enough for any fan of McLaren to want to get the Bahrain Grand Prix weekend started as soon as possible. The sooner we see success in 2010, the sooner we can forget the mediocrity of 2009.

Most Competitive Season in Recent History
McLaren and Ferrari seem to have pulled themselves back from the doldrums of 2009, we have no reason to believe Red Bull have dropped performance from being the fastest car on the grid last year and Mercedes have taken over the championship winning car of last year and have had an off-season of development with a high level of funding. Add Williams and BMW Sauber Ferrari (wow, that’ll take some getting used to) into the mix and it’s looking like we are in for a season with more possible race winners than there has been for a long time. The first few races may tell a different story but on paper it would appear we are in for a very exciting season, and one which will see the championship race go right to the very end with no clear favourites right now.

New Teams and Drivers
Lotus, HRT and Virgin are brand new to 2010, while Sauber and Mercedes have been taken over fro the teams they were on 2009. Add in new names to Formula 1 like Bruno Senna, Vitaly Petrov and Nico Hulkenberg plus the likes of Pedro de la Rosa, Lucas di Grassi, Vitantonio Liuzzi & Kamui Kobayashi and the 2010 season has a grid that looks vastly different to 2009, both in quantity of cars n the grid and the number of new or returning names behind the wheel. While a lot of these drivers may not be vying for the lead themselves, what they do on track will inevitably affect those that are gunning for big points – remember Spa last year?

Rule Changes
There have been a multitude of rule changes for the upcoming season but the three that make the most difference, at least from my perspective, are:

  • No refuelling during the race – this means that the cars have to fuel up at the start of the race with a full tank, enough to last them the whole race. This has a massive effect on qualifying where we used to see cars fuel light for pole position but have to come into the pits early in the race for more fuel. Conversely, some cars would fuel a bit heavier hoping the extra laps they stayed out would be enough to keep them in the lead after their later pit stop.
  • Tyres at end of qualifying just be used for the start of the race which gives way to one of two strategies; 1) Choose soft tyres in order to get near the start of the grid, but suffer greater wear with a heavy fuel load at the start of the race, or 2) choose the harder tyre and maybe not qualify as well, but have less wear on the tyres from the race start and thus go longer and better on the first set of tyres.
  • New Points System – this is the big one, and has been put in place to encourage drivers to go for the win every time rather being satisfied with a 2nd place finish. Where 1st, 2nd and 3rd used to earn the drivers 10, 8 and 6 points respectively – those positions now get a driver 25, 18 and 15 points. This means that someone who has fallen behind in the points after a few races could see some successful car upgrades catapult him back up to the top of the leader board with a couple of wins. The points also go back to 10th place, that’s 2 more points winning places than the 2009 season.

All these factors are going to change qualifying, race strategies and driver motivation – at least that’s the theory!

Dream Teams
What started off as a media fuelled fantasy, soon became reality when 2009 champion Jenson Button joined 2008 champion Lewis Hamilton to form the British Dream Team at McLaren. Over at Ferrari, Fernando Alonso made his much anticipated move and joins Felipe Massa, who hasn’t raced since Hungary where he had the horrific accident. At Mercedes there is the returning Michael Schumacher and the ever promising Nico Rosberg, all under the watchful eye of Ross Brawn. At Red Bull we have Sebastian Vettel and Mark Weber, who on paper may not have the allure of these other 3 teams but let us not forget that this is a team that gave Brawn a run for their money in the championships last year. Had Brawn not had that developmental head start last year we’d probably be starting 2010 with Red Bull driving the 1 and 2 cars. It’s a fascinating prospect, not only seeing how these teams compete against each other but to see how and even if the drivers can co-exist.

The Rise of Social Networking / Blogs
In the past 12 months Twitter has exploded and if you are ever tweeting during a F1 race you’ll see online social interactivity taken to new levels. There have also been a huge rise in the number of websites and blogs dedicated to the great sport of Formula 1. It could well be that it just appears that there is more anticipation for the upcoming season because more people are visibly talking about it, though I’m pretty sure the anticipation is real, it is bigger than ever before and it’s because of the points discussed previously. It is great that the F1 community is able to grow on a global scale and bring fans together thanks to the internet.

So, the question was: Is 2010 the most eagerly anticipated Formula 1 season ever? The answer is yes, and this time next week the first practice session will be under way on Bahrain. I’m excited about the upcoming season like never before, are you?

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Filed under Bahrain, BMW Sauber Ferrari, Brawn GP, Bruno Senna, Constructors, Drivers, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Grand Prix, HRT, Jenson Button, Kamui Kobayashi, Lewis Hamilton, Lotus Racing, Lucas di Grassi, Mark Weber, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Michael Schumacher, Nico Hulkenberg, Nico Rosberg, Pedro de la Rosa, Red Bull, Sebastian Vettel, Virgin, Vitaly Petrov, Vitantonio Liuzzi

Hamilton will win the Championship in 2010

This is the opinion of the F1 Racing reader panel, the results of which were revealed in the March 2010 issue – a mini preview of which can be seen on their website.

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Lewis Hamilton topped the poll with 26.1%, narrowly beating Fernando Alonso into 2nd (25.4%) and Michael Schumacher in 3rd (20.9%). Sebastian Vettel wasn’t too far behind in 4th with 16.3%, and there was a bigger gap to Felipe Massa in 5th (6.0%) and Jenson Button in 6th (5.3%).

What’s interesting is that neither Schumacher nor Vettel’s team mates appear in the results of this voting, which as the results add up to 100% I can only assume that Rosberg and Weber weren’t offered as options to the panel. Though they will be driving the same car as their team mates, it seems that F1 Racing does not deem them in with a chance of winning the Championship. They are probably right but I’d have liked to have seen them included just to see what kind of an impact they made on the results.

As a McLaren fan I concur with Lewis Hamilton being the number 1 pick. When I started to support Hamilton in 2007 it wasn’t just because he was British it was due to him being a damn good driver, something he proved last year even more so than during his Championship winning season of 2008. Testing has looked a lot better this year for McLaren but we won’t really know where the teams stand until 2 weeks time in Bahrain. If the McLaren MP4-25 is competitive then Hamilton has to be one of the favourites to take the title.

Jenson Button didn’t fare as well in the poll and many still think he’s made a mistake going to a team which is built around and for Lewis Hamilton. Button has done very well in testing and appears to be fitting into the McLaren team very well, but only time will tell if he made the right decision to leave Brawn, now Mercedes GP.

Featured in the same issue of F1 Racing is an interview with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, conducted by ex F1 World Champion Damon Hill. A preview of the interview can be read here.

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Filed under Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Weber, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel

McLaren in the News – 20th November 2009

Mercedes war with McLaren over Jenson Button switch @ Mirror.co.uk Motorsport
Friday 20th November
Mercedes last night declared war on McLaren over Jenson Button’s switch.

The bad blood between the two teams spilled over less than 24 hours after his £12million move to Woking.

Furious at being dumped for McLaren, the Brackleybased operation has refused to allow Button to start work for his new bosses until after Christmas.(read more…)

New challenge drove Jenson @ Sky Sports Formula 1
Friday 20th November
Jenson Button insists that the challenge of driving with and against Lewis Hamilton as McLaren team-mates was the main reason behind his switch from Brawn.

Button left the team he won the World Championship with in order to move to Woking-based McLaren and complete a stellar all-British line-up with the last two F1 world champions at the same team.

A lot has been said after Button’s decision, with Brawn boss Nick Fry still feeling some bitterness at what he sees as a lack of loyalty from the driver towards a team that gave him a title-winning car. (read more…)

Hamilton/Button would be ‘excellent’ lineup – Massa @ MSN Formula One
Friday 20th November
Experts and pundits are questioning the wisdom of Jenson Button’s reportedly likely move from Brawn/Mercedes to McLaren for 2010.

Sir Jackie Stewart and David Coulthard have advised their British countryman to stay put rather than accept a bigger-money offer from McLaren, where 2008 world champion Lewis Hamilton is regarded the unofficial number 1 driver.

The Daily Telegraph said Button, 29, has been assured equal billing, but Martin Brundle – who drove for the team in 1994 – told BBC radio on Tuesday: “In the past they (McLaren) have had a history of really being able to only fully support one driver.” (read more…)

McLaren races back into the black thanks to Hamilton F1 win @ Evening Standard Business
Friday 20th November
Lewis Hamilton’s Formula One world championship victory last year drove his McLaren team from the red to a £14 million pre-tax profit according to its accounts to 31 December 2008.

It comes as good news for the outfit after Mercedes said on Monday that it is selling its 40% stake in McLaren to the team’s co-owners and investing in rival Brawn GP, which took the F1 title this year.

Mercedes is said to be annoyed at the scandals which have dogged McLaren over the past two years. In April the team was given a suspended three-race ban for misleading officials and in 2007 it was fined $100 million. (read more…)

Jenson Button will be pushed by Lewis Hamilton @ Mirror.co.uk Motorsport
Friday 20th November
Now Jenson Button has joined Lewis Hamilton at McLaren we have the prospect of two young Brits in the same car driving at speeds of up to 220mph, and for once the police won’t be in hot pursuit.

Button has been forced out of Brawn because Mercedes are taking over, and they want a wholly German team, preferably with blond hair, blue eyes and jackboots. After his world title win Button said to them: “Show me the money.” They replied: “Show me your papers.”

Button was so anxious to escape the German camp there were fears he’d end up on a motorbike wrapped in barbed wire. Last week he was spotted at McLaren HQ, where it’s rumoured playboy Button demanded the same pay as Hamilton, the same status as driver, and the same Pussycat Doll. (read more…)

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Filed under Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, In the news..., Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Mercedes GP

Jenson Button signs for McLaren, who announce it on Twitter!

As per the title, this is what was announced on the official McLaren F1 Twitter:

VODAFONE McLAREN MERCEDES SIGNS REIGNING WORLD CHAMPION JENSON BUTTON TO MULTI-YEAR DEAL

The full press release can be read over at the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes website, which at the time of writing is receiving so muich traffic that it won’t load up! Understandably. It’s the signing the Formula 1 world has been waiting for.

Subsequent tweets went as follows:

We wanted all you guys, our loyal Twitter followers, to be THE VERY FIRST to know!!!

Jenson: “I’ve followed the McLaren team ever since I was a small boy, and it feels unbelievable to finally be a part of it!”

Lewis: “I’m thrilled we’ll both be flying the flag for the United Kingdom. I’m already looking forward to Silverstone – it’ll be massive!”

Martin Whitmarsh: “We’re ambitious, we’re motivated and we’re hungrier than ever. We want to win both World Championships next year.”

It’s a great service to those of us who follow the McLaren Twitter feed to get the scoop on such an important piece of news. Some criticism has been thrown at the level of Twitter usage by the Mclaren team, but I’ve always found they go above and beyond to keep us fans informed and take it that extra mile.

Exciting times for McLaren, who start the 2010 with the number 1 and number 2 cars and the past 2 drivers world champions! I wonder if Mercedes GP / Brawn GP are the first constructor to start the season as reigning constructors champions and have neither of the drivers still with them that won them that championship?

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Filed under Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Mercedes GP

Kimi Raikkonen out of Formula 1 in 2010, Jenson Button to McLaren now just a formality

Kimi Raikkonen’s manager Steve Robertson has announced that the Finnish ex World Champion will be taking a sabbatical in 2010 after talks with McLaren broke down. Robertson was quoted as saying:

Kimi and McLaren were unable to reach an agreement, so he will not drive at the F1 level – at least not next year.

A gap year means nothing for Kimi. He is more interested in fighting for wins and the world championship. F1 will miss Kimi. He worked hard over the summer – doing things in a Ferrari that only the best drivers are capable of.

With the recent Mercedes acquisition of 75% of Brawn GP and the rumours of them wanting an all German team of Nick Heidfeld and Nico Rosberg, it was looking more and more likely that Jenson Button would be signing for McLaren, leaving Kimi Raikkonen without a competitive option in 2010.

For Kimi Raikkonen to have pulled have out of talks with McLaren is surely a clear indication that the official signing of Jenson Button is all but a formality now and will be happening sooner rather than later, possibly even today.

With an eye on the World Rally Championship in 2010, it’ll be interesting to see what Kimi Raikkonen’s options are for Formula 1 in 2011 and whether a race seat for a top team will be open to fight for.

For some great comments about the Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button situation I urge everyone to read the comments left by one of our valued readers here.

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Filed under Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg

The world reports Jenson Button has signed for McLaren, good for Mclaren but bad for Mercedes GP?

The latest news sweeping the online world is that Jenson Button has signed a 3 year deal with McLaren worth £6 million a year. I must stress that at this time this is not confirmed, but heavily suspected to be true. After yesterday’s news of Mercedes buying into Brawn GP, Jenson Button moving to McLaren seems more likely than ever. The signing of Jenson Button will save McLaren a fair few millions of pounds a year than if they’d signed Kimi Raikkonen.

Jenson Button – soon to be driving the #1 car for McLaren?
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I’ve had some feedback which suggests that I have been unfair when talking about Jenson Button and that he has far more fire in his belly than I have given him credit for. Admittedly my judgement of Jenson Button is only based on the past few seasons where before last season he was almost non-existent, and last year I was pretty unimpressed despite him winning the World Championship. I’m more than willing to be proven wrong and if I am, and this move to McLaren is actually happening, then that’ll mean more championship points for the team I love and more positive blogging to be done!

I can’t help thinking that Mercedes GP are making a mistake in letting Jenson Button go, because as much as I don’t see his apparent driving skills, he’s a better proposition than either Nick Heidlfeld or Nico Rosberg. The former is consistent but unspectacular and the latter is a wiz in qualifying but never seems to translate that to podium finishes. It’s all very well Mercedes wanting an all German line up of drivers but shouldn’t the potential to succeed be the bigger factor in signing a driver?

Mercedes have said they will announce their drivers for 2010 in the next week or so, but if Jesnon Button is announced as a McLaren driver before then I think Mercedes will be forced into bringing their announcement forward – it would be as obvious as the Ferrari signing of Fernando Alonso earlier in the year.

As for Kimi Raikkonen, well this leaves him taking that money spinning sabbatical that he has spoken about. He has maintained that he will only drive for the right team and with no competitive drive options left one can only assume that the 2007 world champion will not be on the grid in Bahrain next March.

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Filed under Bahrain, Brawn GP, Constructors, Drivers, Fernando Alonso, Ferrari, Grand Prix, Jenson Button, Kimi Raikkonen, McLaren, Mercedes GP, Nick Heidfeld, Nico Rosberg