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F1 2010 - The Official Thread


Rob.

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Time for a new thread methinks...

Toyota pulls out of Formula 1

Toyota has announced that it is to pull out of Formula 1 with immediate effect.

The Japanese car company revealed its surprise decision in a news conference in Tokyo today following an earlier board meeting. It said the current economic situation had prompted its departure.

"Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces it plans to withdraw from the FIA Formula 1 world championship at the end of the 2009 season," said a Toyota statement.

"TMC, which had viewed its participation in F1 as contributing to the prosperity of automotive culture, remained dedicated to competing at the pinnacle of motor sports even in the face of the abrupt economic changes that started last year.

"However, when considering TMC's motorsports actitives next year and beyond from a comprehensive mid-term viewpoint reflecting the current severe economic realities, TMC decided to withdraw from F1"

There had been doubts about Toyota's F1 future after the company reported its first ever operating loss in March, and given the departures of fellow manufacturers Honda and BMW. Toyota had also pulled its Fuji track, which hosted the 2007 and 2008 Japanese Grands Prix, from the calendar, and its customer team Williams decided to end its engine deal a year early.

But Toyota signed the new Concorde Agreement, committing it to the world championship through 2012, and team boss John Howett was adamant that the squad would be on the grid in 2010, although there were hints of a reduced budget.

The team had been pressing ahead with 2010 preparations - approaching big name drivers including Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica, and talking of signing impressive stand-in driver Kamui Kobayashi for next year as recently as last weekend. Current drivers Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock had already been expected to move on.

Toyota entered F1 in 2002, and was tipped to swiftly become a championship challenger given its huge budget and resources. But it failed to win a race and has just three pole positions, 13 podium finishes, and a best result of fourth in the 2005 constructors' standings to show for its 139 grands prix.

The departure of Toyota is set to throw the former BMW Sauber team a lifeline, as the Hinwil squad and its new owners had been relying on another team dropping out in order to claim the final spot in next season's expanded 26-car entry.

Renault is also holding an extraordinary board meeting to discuss its future plans today. Although the indications are that the French company is committed to F1, Toyota's decision to pull out could give Renault an opportunity to follow suit if it wished.

http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/80003

So....Honda leave (to become Brawn), BMW slink away (and may be resurrected in their old colours as Sauber) and now Toyota have gone. Do people think Renault are likely to leave as well? It seems like some manufacturers are seeing F1 as a burden rather than a blessing, especially as their road-car sales hvae dipped. I have to say, for a team with a backing as big as Toyota's, they underwhelmed spectacularly and it says a lot for their departure that the biggest regret I have is that we probably won't see Kobayashi in an F1 car again.

So, bye bye Toyota and BMW.

Hello USF1, Campos, Manor and Malaysian Lotus.

And welcome back Sauber?

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BIG news:

German car giant Mercedes has bought the Brawn Formula 1 team in a move that is likely to see Jenson Button join McLaren as Lewis Hamilton's team-mate

Mercedes will buy 75% of Brawn in partnership with an Abu Dhabi investment company but will continue as McLaren's engine partner until 2015.

Brawn, who won both world titles in their debut season in 2009, will be rebranded as Mercedes Grand Prix.

Nico Rosberg will be their lead driver, with Nick Heidfeld his likely partner.

Fellow German Timo Glock, who drove for Toyota last season, is also a possibility.

The team has not yet confirmed Rosberg, who drove for Williams in 2009, but he is widely known throughout F1 to have already signed for the Mercedes team.

As part of a deal that will see the McLaren Group buy back Mercedes's 40% shareholding by 2011, the German company will continue to supply free engines and sponsorship to the team for at least the next six years.

The team's official name will remain Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

McLaren chairman Ron Dennis described the deal as "a win-win situation, both for McLaren and Daimler".

Button, who won the drivers' title this year, has been trying to secure a pay-rise from his £3.5m salary but it seems Mercedes is not interested in keeping him on.

He and his manager Richard Goddard visited McLaren on Friday and Button is now expected to join the Woking-based team for a salary around double what Brawn were offering.

Button's decision is understood not to be solely about money - sources say he considers McLaren might have a more competitive car than Brawn in 2010.

Finn Kimi Raikkonen, who has been forced to leave Ferrari to make way for Fernando Alonso, remains an outside possibility for the seat alongside Hamilton.

Mercedes Sports boss Norbert Haug said on Sunday that he was trying to secure a drive for Heidfeld, a former Mercedes protege who has driven for BMW since 2006.

"We are speaking with Nick Heidfeld as well," Haug told the German news agency DPA.

"Mercedes-Benz supports the idea of signing an experienced and capable German driver. There is however no reason to finalise the driver situation too hastily."

Ross Brawn will stay on as team principal.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/motorsport...one/8362295.stm

So Team GB (Hamilton/Button) vs Team Deutschland (Rosberg/Heidfeld) is looking likely (although both are based in the UK and Team GB will have German engines for now)!

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Fascinating stuff. My thoughts:

I was big fan of Brawn in 09. I like Rubens, I like Jenson, I liked the independant feel to the team, I like Ross Brawn, I like an underdog, I liked the story, I liked the white car with no logos.

2010 - Mercedes Works Team, No Jenson, No Rubens, Lots sponsors, silver car, Ross still there so I will look out for Brawn and if Heidfeld gets in I like him too. But they won't be my number 1 team for 2010 as they were in 2009 I would think. I would have respected them a lot more if they had kept the Brawn as part of the name.

Interesting Mclaren have engines till 2015 and will still use the mercedes name and sponsors. Feels like Mercedes have two big team for the next few years.

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Well, I think Mercedes would have preferred to have pulled out of McLaren sooner, but in buying into Brawn they've broken an agreement with McLaren that they wouldn't go their own way in the sport. I think McLaren have driven a hard bargain in getting a further six years of engine supply from Mercedes, at no cost as I understand it, in return for letting Mercedes out of the partnership.

It'll be interesting to see how things shape up long term. McLaren are, from what I've been reading, trying to mould themselves very much into a "British Ferrari" - moving into the high-end sports car market much more and developing and designing their own engines (which they'll presumbly put in their F1 cars after 2015). In other words, they're going completely independent. With the extension of the Mercedes deal, they've got a lot of time to work these things out, and not being reliant on a manufacturer for engines could be a savvy move in the long term.

As for Mercedes GP, I expect them to be the third giant alongside McLaren and Ferrari in the next few years. They seem to be placing a huge amount of importance on cornering the German market by going after Rosberg and Heidfeld. There are also very strong rumours they'll try to get Vettel in 2011. I suppose since Schumacher's retirement there's a number of F1 fans in Germany who used to support Ferrari but no longer have an affinity with them. There's definitly a lot of potential sponsors for a 'German team' because of this, I'd have thought.

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Interesting point made in a BBC blog:

Complicating things further for Button is the fact that his and Hamilton's driving styles are diametrically opposed.

Unusually, Hamilton thrives on oversteer, using an unstable rear end to get his car quickly turned into the corner and pointing in the right direction for the exit - and the McLaren has been developed in that direction.

For Button, though, an oversteering car is anathema. He prefers a car that has a touch of understeer, which he can control with his delicate application of throttle and brakes.

It's not impossible for a single team's cars to be set up in two such contrasting ways, but development will generally take the car in a direction that suits one style or the other - and not both.

There will be days when Button will beat Hamilton - perhaps at Turkey, for example, where Hamilton's acrobatic style has caused him problems with excessive tyre wear in the past - but I am not alone in suspecting these are likely to be few and far between - unless Button is very much better than he is currently considered to be.

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Now, I tend to agree with the last few sentences. I think Hamilton will prove to be quicker than Button on the majority of tracks if they end up in the same team. But whether you agree or disagree with that, it's hard to argue with the fact that their driving styles are very different and developing a car to keep them both happy will be a hard thing to do. The fact that Hamilton's already there and the MP4-25 is well under development suggests it'll be Button who'll have to adapt, and I'm not convinced he's the driver we saw in the first half of 2009 in anything other than a car he's 100% happy with. Interesting times ahead methinks...

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It seems that Hamilton is a classic go-cart driver.

I read somethings about this issues as well with Prost discussing with Senna what his season would be like in 94. Prost said that the Williams were hard to drfifve because they were built for Mansell and that without the electronic controls, he felt that the car would not hold down. Unfortunately, Senna only raced on 3 occasions that year.

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Janson Button has agreed terms to join McLaren on a £6m-a-year deal and could sign his formal three-year contract to partner Lewis Hamilton in an all-British line-up within the next few days.

The Guardian understands that the world champion has turned his back on Brawn following protracted negotiations and will almost double his salary with the Woking-based team. The 29-year-old was given a guided tour of McLaren's factory last Friday and, although neither the team nor Button's management would confirm the deal tonight, sources close to McLaren hinted: "I think Jenson liked what he saw and they liked him too."

In switching to McLaren Button will be going against advice from Formula One grandees including Sir Stirling Moss, Sir Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda and Martin Brundle, all of whom feel he might be biting off more than he can chew taking on Hamilton on his home turf in equal cars.

But for Button the prospect of going head-to-head with a close friend and the man regarded by many in the pit lane as possibly the fastest of all will just be part of the challenge of defending his title. It is unlikely either Hamilton, who earns about £12m a year at McLaren, or his father Anthony, who has managed the 2008 world champion since his days as a teenage kart racer, will have been consulted on this beyond the normal deployment of good manners. McLaren have always had the resources and philosophy required to field two fully competitive cars and have always sought the strongest possible driver line-ups they could engage.

The decision by the newly crowned world champion to leave the team built from the ashes of Honda by Ross Brawn came on the day it was officially announced that Mercedes-Benz had switched allegiances from McLaren and purchased a controlling interest in Brawn GP. They will field their cars under the Mercedes banner in 2010.

It had been widely thought that Button would remain with the team alongside Nico Rosberg, the preferred Mercedes nominee, for 2010 following Rubens Barrichello's move to Williams. But there are suggestions that Button was never at the top of the Mercedes wish list. In fact, on Sunday Norbert Haug, the Mercedes motor sport vice-president, hinted that the company was already in talks to sign Nick Heidfeld from BMW, raising the possibility of two Germans going head-to-head with two Englishmen for next year's championship. Nick Fry, Brawn's chief executive, played down those rumours tonight, saying: "I can confidently say that [speculation] is totally incorrect – Mercedes is an international company. Clearly a German driver would be nice for them but we don't need two German drivers, that's not the intent."

He added: "I hope Jenson is still with us next season. We've been together for a good few years now and we have succeeded in winning the world championship together and we want Jenson to be with us. But we have to recognise that Formula One is not divorced from the rest of the world. We have worked within a budget [and] if we spend in one area then we cannot spend in another area."

The purchase of Brawn was funded by Mercedes' parent company, Daimler AG, who will own 45.1% of the team's equity, while Ross Brawn and the other senior management will hold 24.9% and the Abu Dhabi-based Aarbar investments will hold 30%. The team will continue to be run from its headquarters at Brackley in Oxfordshire.

Under the new arrangements finalised today McLaren will have the facility of using Mercedes engines through to 2015 if they wish to. "This is a win-win situation, for both McLaren and Daimler," said Ron Dennis, chairman of the McLaren group and the man who originally forged the team's alliance with Mercedes back in 1995. "I've often stated that it's my belief that in order to survive and thrive in 21st-century Formula One a team must become much more than merely a team. In order to develop and sustain the revenue streams required to compete and win grands prix and world championships companies that run Formula One teams must broaden the scope of their commercial activities.

"Nonetheless, all of our partners will of course continue to play a crucial role in our Formula One programme. For that reason, and because the engines they produce are very competitive, we're delighted that Mercedes-Benz has committed to continue not only as an engine supplier but also as a partner of ours until 2015 – and perhaps thereafter."

McLaren will not be disadvantaged by no longer being perceived as Mercedes-Benz's standard bearer in the Formula One front line. They and Mercedes have gone their separate ways because of conflicting interests in the high-performance road car arena. But out on the circuits McLaren remains potentially a consistently formidable winning machine. Button knows this and that is why he will be driving one of their cars next season.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/sport/2009/nov/1...claren-contract

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Assuming that Button to McLaren is confirmed in due course, then I can certainly understand the logic of the move. The McLaren was right up there in the second half of the season in a way the Brawn rarely was and you would expect them to be challenging for the championship if they carry that momentum into 2010. Similarly, McLaren, like Williams in their heyday, are well known for making two equal cars, regardless of the status of their drivers and I don't see the worries that some have voiced about McLaren being 'set up' around Hamilton. I think Button would probably end up having more problems on that front if he stayed where he was.

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I'm sorry that Kimi is out from F1 next year. :(

"HELSINKI (Reuters) - Kimi Raikkonen has decided to take at least a year off from Formula One after talks with McLaren fell through, the driver's manager told a Finnish newspaper.

"The alternatives on the F1-level for next season were McLaren or nothing. Kimi and McLaren did not reach an agreement, so he will not drive on F1-level at least during next year," Raikkonen's manager, Steve Robertson, was quoted as saying in Finnish regional daily Turun Sanomat Wednesday.

"Kimi still lives and breathes the ambition to drive. A year off in that sense does not mean anything.

"More significant is to find a place for Kimi where he can fight for victory and a world championship," Robertson added."

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If he was as committed as the likes of Alonso and Hamilton I'd say his talent was a huge loss to the sport. As it is, he will be missed but not as much as if Lewis or Fernando left.

Maybe we'll see him back in 2011 anyway. :)

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If he was as committed as the likes of Alonso and Hamilton I'd say his talent was a huge loss to the sport. As it is, he will be missed but not as much as if Lewis or Fernando left.

Maybe we'll see him back in 2011 anyway. :)

Well, just speaking for myself, if Alonso announces his retirement from the F1 tomorrow, I wouldn't mind at all...

He has been one of the most unsportsmanlike pilot of the history of the F1! :angry:

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So no finns in F1 next year - or do we expect Heikki to get a decent drive. He seems like such a nice bloke, and I get the impression Lewis not only likes him as a team mate but also really liked him as a mate.

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Would McLaren really spend the amount of money that Button would command if they didn't think he could?

I don't think it's that simple.

I'm sure they think he can push Hamilton and sometimes beat him, in the way Heikki could not.

But I think it's asking the near impossible to hire a driver who's capable of beating Lewis regularly in the same equipment. Alonso matched Lewis, but I think the Brit's a better driver than he was in his first season in the sport, and Alonso would never go back to McLaren anyway! The only other driver who I could see giving Lewis a run for his money is Kimi, and of course McLaren did try to get him before negotiations broke down.

So that leaves everyone else on the grid vying for the second McLaren seat, and none of them, I believe, would be able to outclass Hamilton in the same car.

Button, in truth, was probably the best option for McLaren. Don't forget, because of Ferrari's dominance in the early noughties, being disqualified in 2007, having a weak-link in the driver line up in 2008, and building a shite car in 2009, McLaren haven't won a World Constructor's title in years. If they build a quick car, Hamilton will be hot favourite for the WDC, but to win the WCC you need a consistent and fast 'second' driver with experience and quality; a man who rarely makes mistakes and picks up points regularly - have I not just described Jenson Button? The fact that McLaren's two drivers get on, and the sponsorship potential of an all-British line up is also fantastic.

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Raikkonen would consider Mercedes

By Jonathan Noble Thursday, November 19th 2009, 05:58 GMT

Kimi Raikkonen would be willing to consider a race seat at Mercedes Grand Prix next season - but only if the team could convince him it will be good enough to fight for race wins and the world championship.

Raikkonen is currently facing the prospect of taking a sabbatical from Formula 1 next year after he could not reach an agreement with his preferred option McLaren for a drive alongside Lewis Hamilton. With his talks there stalled, McLaren instead completed a deal with Jenson Button.

Although Raikkonen said recently that it was McLaren or nothing for him in F1 next year, Button's shock exit from the former Brawn GP team may have changed the situation.

Raikkonen's manager Steve Robertson said on Thursday that although a sabbatical remained the most likely outcome, the 2007 world champion would listen to any offer that Mercedes made if it was interested.

"This is Formula 1. If they can offer, or convince us, that they can provide Kimi an opportunity that Kimi is happy with, and that we are happy with, and he feels he can win races and the championship, then never say never," Robertson told AUTOSPORT about the situation with Mercedes GP. "There is always a possibility."

He added: "There are not that many teams that would appeal to Kimi because he is honest when he says he has got to have a car to win. He is not interested in the money.

"Of course, money is a part of it but he doesn't need the money. He wants a car where he can show his talent. He was very frustrated this year by the fact that he could not win more races and challenge for the championship.

"When you have been in F1 for nine years and been a world champion then you need challenges - and for Kimi the challenge is to win championships and races."

Robertson said that Raikkonen had the desire to compete at the top level in F1 and that even if he went off and did rallying for a year, he would definitely work hard to find a seat with a front-running F1 team for 2011.

When asked if Raikkonen had the hunger to get back into F1, Robertson said: "Yes. As far as Kimi is concerned he has unfinished business - if the opportunity is there to win races and another championship. That is his main goal.

"Now it looks like he is not doing F1 we will look at other options. Rallying, or something else – but there is nothing firmed up in that area yet because F1 has only just finished for us in the last few days. Now it is the time to discuss other things."

Raikkonen's potential switch to rallying for 2010 would most likely be in a Red Bull-backed Citroen C4 WRC in the World Championship, AUTOSPORT has learned.

It is understood that both full and partial WRC campaigns are under evaluation from Raikkonen's management.

A source told AUTOSPORT: "There have been quite a few meetings about this, there's certainly a desire to get Kimi in a car for next year and Citroen and Red Bull are in the discussions.

"Whether it will be a full, 13-round programme or a limited number of events, we don't know. From what we understand, Kimi is very keen to compete at the highest level of rallying."

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