McLaren confirm Kovalainen for 2009

Heikki KovalainenMcLaren have confirmed that Heikki Kovalainen will remain at the team alongside Lewis Hamilton for the 2009 season.

Speaking to Autosport, Martin Whitmarsh, CEO of McLaren, confirmed, “We welcomed Heikki on board at the start of the year. He is under contract to Vodafone McLaren Mercedes and will continue to race for us in the 2009 season.”

Kovalainen joined McLaren from Renault and has had a difficult year with the Woking-based team. In the ten races this season, he has managed just one podium finish when he managed third place in Malaysia, and trails his team-mate by 30 points in the drivers championship.

Mosley downplays KERS incidents

Max Mosley is adamant the new Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) which are set to be introduced into Formula One next season are safe, despite several incidents over the past few weeks.

Some have questioned the safety of KERS after two separate incidents. Red Bull Racing were forced to evacuate their factory when a fire alarm was activated after a battery experiment went wrong. A few days later a BMW-Sauber mechanic was given an electric shock during a test session after he touched one of the cars which had been fitted with a KERS device.

Despite these troubles, Mosley has downplayed the incidents and insisted KERS is an exciting new technology.

“For us there are two main areas,” he explained to Autosport. “There’s what we call the health and safety area, which is in the factory and basic precautions of the car, and then there’s the operating it – does it cause a danger to the drivers, the marshals, the mechanics and so on? And we’re interested in the operating it bit.”

“What happened with BMW was, on the face of it, very surprising because you would think they would either insulate the electrical system or they would earth the car. I don’t know what went wrong, so I can’t comment on it but these are very elementary problems.”

“With road cars I think a Toyota Lexus has a 600-volt system, but you don’t get a shock from it.”

“I haven’t seen a report [on the Red Bull incident], but what I suspect happened was they pushing the boundaries of the units to see what happened. Anyone who has ever been childish enough to operate a model plane that runs with lithium iron batteries will know that if you overcharge them you get better performance, but they also get very hot and start to bulge, and they’re only small, so you have to be careful.”

Some have suggested that teams are deliberately scaremongering to stop the introduction of the technology into F1, but Mosley does not believe this to be the case of BMW, who have always been very positive about the KERS devices.

“There is opposition to it, but BMW have always been very enthusiastic,” Mosley continued. “They put out a very positive press release saying it had directly fed into the road cars.”

“To me, the crucial thing about KERS is that its inconceivable that in 50 years time, when you put the brakes on in your car, the energy will just burn off in heat. That won’t happen.”

“But the first thing we need is a system that’s capable of absorbing all the energy when you put the brakes on. The next generation of Formula 1 cars will be like that. They’ll probably be able to absorb, we’re talking 300 kilowatts, and giving out 200 kilowatts. That’s a two-tonne car braking at 1G. F1 will make that very small and very light, and the things that will fit in next year, in ten year’s time, will look very primitive. But that’s Formula One.”

“We’ve seen it so often in areas, and those devices will be crucial for the roads because if a KERS system is really light and can absorb all the energy, with super capacitors or flywheels, whatever its going to be, that’s really for the road, and if we advance it by several years, then that’s extremely useful and that alone can justify Formula One, because it will make such a huge contribution to the motor industry.”

“If you imagine you could have a super-efficient KERS system, five to 10 years sooner than you would otherwise get it, then multiply it by the number of cars in the world, then Formula One (costs) will be a drop in the ocean.”

Schumacher involved in road traffic accident

Michael Schumacher has allegedly been involved in a road traffic accident in Kent, England. The ex-Ferrari ace was driving a white Fiat Ducato van, and whilst overtaking a slower car driven by an elderly woman, he clipped pedestrian Martin Kingham. Kingham was not seriously hurt in the accident, despite Schumacher s van suffering a smashed wing mirror.

In an interview with British newspaper the Mirror, Kingham claims Schumacher was angry about the accident and failed to apologise.

“I was putting the security bars up outside the garage before going home. I have to stand on the edge of the road and keep an eye on traffic,” Kingham explained.

“Out of nowhere I heard a bang from behind me. It spun me round and I was thrown forward on to my face, hitting the bonnet of a parked van. Then I saw a big blue van go by and realised they’d hit me. I thought I recognised the driver, but my head was spinning.”

“He was screaming, ‘What the f*****g hell were you doing in the road?’ He seemed cross, as if I was in the wrong. I called the police.”

“The officers asked me to wait in my office while they spoke to him. An officer came in and said ‘This guy’s claiming to be Michael Schumacher’. Then another told us she’d seen his ID and it was him.”

“He still didn’t apologise. The police realised I wasn’t too injured and told us to swap addresses, then he just got back in the van and drove off without even looking at me. He was arrogant.”

“The way I landed was lucky. My leg was aching, but I didn’t mention it to the police. The next day a big bruise came up below my knee.”

Schumacher s agent, Sabine Kehme confirmed, “There was a collision but nobody was injured. Michael cooperated with police. There is nothing else we wish to say.”

Sid Watkins: Life at the Limit – Triumph and Tragedy in F1

Sid Watkin's Book: Life at the Limit - Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One

Sid Watkins: Life at the Limit – Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One

‘Life at the Limit – Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One’ are the memoirs of on-track doctor, Professor Sid Watkins if there is a crash, it is he who must get there first.

Watkins is highly respected amongst those whom he works and has been a pivotal character in improving the safety in Formula One racing. His book houses vivid and moving collections of motor sport crashes between 1978 and 1994 including many where drivers have sadly lost their lives, treading a line between autobiography and documentary.

Despite the serious nature of the book, Watkins has retained a dry wit and sense of humour which is infused into his writing. Life in the Fast Lane is a touching yet informative book which provides a truly fascinating insight into Formula One and the evolution of safety and medical facilities within the sport.

Buy Sid Watkin’s Book: ‘Life at the Limit – Triumph and Tragedy in Formula One’ here

Steve Matchett: The Mechanic’s Tale

Steve Matchett: The Mechanic's Tale

Steve Matchett: The Mechanic’s Tale

The Mechanic s Tale is a follow-up to Matchett s book, Life in the Fast Lane. The book is well-written and entertaining throughout, telling of a young mechanic and his life from apprentice through to Ferrari mechanic and his later success with the Benetton F1 team.

There are plenty of eye-witness accounts of all the greats of the era from Michael Schumacher to Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost to Ayrton Senna. Matchett writes with wit and intelligence and provides an excellent overview to what life is like in the fast lane. Despite this, the book is not chronological or a collection of racing adventures it is semi-autobiographical so Matchett also takes us through some personal, non-F1 related memories such as an ill-fated ballooning trip.

Technology in F1 moves so quickly that the book is now slightly out-dated however even if you are not a Formula One fan, this book is an excellent read and comes highly recommended.

Buy Steve Matchett’s Book ‘The Mechanic’s Tale’ here

Maranello meet for F1 teams

F1 teams have agreed to setup a new body that will work in conjunction with the FIA and Formula One Management to thrash out a new Concorde Agreement including the commercial conditions and new rules. The new body has representatives from each Formula One team.

The body met up with Bernie Ecclestone and CVC s managing partner Donald McKenzie at Ferrari s HQ in Maranello, Italy, yesterday to discuss the future of F1 and Ferrari revealed that the talks had been very useful.

“All the Formula One teams met today in Maranello and held an extremely constructive meeting, in the presence of Bernie Ecclestone and Donald McKenzie,” Ferrari said in a statement.

“The teams have subsequently agreed unanimously that they will establish the new Formula One Teams Association to work with the FIA and FOM to agree upon regulations and commercial conditions which will provide a framework for a strong and dynamic sport.”

Briatore believes Alonso will stay at Renault

Fernando AlonsoFlavio Briatore believes that Fernando Alonso will stay with Renault for the 2009 season.

Over the past few weeks, there have been plenty of rumours surrounding the Spanish driver, his current contract with Renault, and whether he will move to a new team for the 2009 F1 season. The rumours are not helped by Alonso himself, who has made no secret of the fact he wants to drive another championship-winning car next year and if that means swapping teams, he will consider it. Despite this, Briatore believes that Alonso will remain at Renault.

“I think he will stay,” Briatore said to Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport. “He is racing very well although he has missed out on a lot ofpoints. We have less than we deserve.”

Coulthard races with same engine for third time

David CoulthardDavid Coulthard will be using the same engine at Hungary, meaning the engine will be run for three straight races in a row. The decision has been made to ensure he is on a different engine cycle to team-mate Mark Webber, and also so that he gets different engines in Belgium and Italy the two tracks are notorious for being two of the toughest tracks for engines on the racing calendar.

“First of all his V8 has not done too much running and we are not especially worried about its reliability,” Fabrice Lom, who looks after Renault s involvement at Red Bull Racing, explained.

“Plus, having our two drivers out of synch on the engine cycle means that we won’t be putting all our eggs in the same basket. This decision will also help us in the second half of the season in terms of the logistical challenge.

“And finally, it means that David will not have to use the same engine in Spa and Monza which are two of the toughest challenges on the calendar.”

Formtech buy Super Aguri assets

A German tool design and construction company have bought up the fixed assets of Super Aguri which were sold on by the liquidators of the F1 team. Formtech, who manufacture high-precision parts for the automotive and F1 industries, will be using the ex-Super Aguri centre in Leafield to expand into the composite manufacturer and supplier market. The company will also be employing several of the Super Aguri staff.

“Formtech is pleased to be able to take advantage of this unique business opportunity,” Formetch s managing director Franz Hilmer said.

“With our plans of company growth and manufacturing expansion, the location at the Leafield Technical Centre enables us to establish a presence in an important geographical area for motorsport engineering.

“We shall be employing a number of ex-Super Aguri staff who are experienced in the field of composite design and manufacturing and make full use of the sites spacious facilities and up-to-date machinery.

“A further goal of Formtech is to attract suitable individuals and companies with aspirations of running their own motorsport team to purchase the F1 race equipment from Formtech.”

Montoya: No regrets about moving to NASCAR

After two years away from the sport, Juan-Pablo Montoya appears to have no regrets about leaving. In 2006, Montoya chose to leave McLaren-Mercedes to pursue a NASCAR career.

“In Formula 1, they want you to be a robot,” Montoya explained to German newspaper Sport Bild. “If you have a strong personality, you will have difficulties. I don t regret anything about moving to NASCAR.

“Lots of people in F1 forget that it is a sport McLaren, for example, take it far too seriously. With BMW-Williams, I had the most fun with Patrick Head mostly. Patrick always said what he thinks, as do I. He always tried to be polite in every conversation but by the end, he could never keep it up it was funny!

“With Ron, you have a nice dinner with him one evening and that when you say hi the next day, he is a completely different person.”

Montoya also revealed that he is sympathetic to Alonso s difficulties last season. “He [Alonso] saw that the future of the team was in Lewis Hamilton, not Fernando Alonso,” Montoya said.

Montoya also revealed it was difficult to talk to current champion Kimi Raikkonen. “With Kimi it is not about whether you get along with him or not because he never says anything,” Montoya explained. “And it is difficult to know someone who doesn t talk, right?”

Montoya has also said he doesn t like the current crop of complainers in F1. “The complain about everything!”, he said. “Like at Monaco they complained about reflections in their rear-view mirrors when they went through the tunnel. Me? I think, just get on with it and drive!”