Hamilton awarded MBE

Lewis Japan2Lewis Hamilton has been awarded an MBE in the British New Years Honours list after becoming the youngest ever Formula One world champion this year.

Hamilton was delighted to receive the award and commented:

“It is a massive honour and incredible privilege for me to receive an MBE from Her Majesty The Queen. It is the most amazing culmination to what has been quite a year for me. The support I have received from the UK as a whole has been fantastic and a huge motivation, it is something I am very appreciative of.

“This is not just a proud moment for me, but also for my family and every single person involved with the McLaren Mercedes Formula 1 team. I could not have achieved any of this without them.

“It has been an outstanding year for British sport as a whole, and it is great to see so many fellow sportsmen and women being honoured today.

“I am also very humbled to be included on the Honours list alongside all the members of the general public who have been recognised for their tireless work in such varied and worthwhile arenas.

“I am very fortunate to have been awarded for achieving my dream, it has required a lot of hard work and dedication, however it has been worth every single minute and I only hope that I can inspire young kids to do the same, whatever their dream may be.”

The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire is a British order of chivalry established on 4 June 1917 by King George V.

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2008 F1 Season Review

The 2008 Formula One World Championship had it all: four rain-soaked thrillers, controversy and penalties galore, the first ever night race, and one of the most nail-biting title conclusions in the sport’s history.

Hugh Podmore reflects on a year which will never be forgotten, not least by Lewis Hamilton who steps into the history books as the youngest ever world champion – just.

There can be no doubt that Formula One enjoyed one of its most tense and exciting seasons of recent years in 2008. It had everything off track and on track controversy, penalties, wonderful wheel-to-wheel racing, new races and, remarkably, seven different Grand Prix winners. Lewis Hamilton capped a wonderful second season in the sport by taking the World Championship at the last corner on the last lap of the last Grand Prix, a feat which will surely go down in history as one of those epic sporting events that occur all too rarely.

Lewis Hamilton celebrates after winning the world championship in Brazil

The season began with bad feeling hanging over the sport, after the McLaren Spygate affair and Fernando Alonso s acrimonious season with the same team. Lots of questions remained to be answered. Would Kimi s natural speed ruin Felipe Massa s career? Would BMW be fighting for wins? Would the hefty fine McLaren received have compromised the development of the MP4-23? How would Sebastien Bourdais fare in the cauldron of Formula One?

The season provided answers to all of the questions, bit by bit. The early part of the season saw a return to the alternating dominance of McLaren and Ferrari respectively, but it was as we reached the middle point of the campaign that certain themes became evident. One was the susceptibility of Hamilton to pressure; another was the mysterious inability of Raikkonen to wake up until halfway through a race; and another the diminishing number of mistakes made by Felipe Massa. You couldn t forget the others, though…Alonso single-handedly remoulding the Renault team around himself and dragging them up to winning levels by season s end; the first ever night race in Singapore; Honda s capitulation to another season of disappointment; BMW s speed resulting in a historic win for Kubica in Canada; the bizarre shenanigans surrounding Max Mosley; and of course the strange stewarding decisions (Hamilton in France, Bourdais in Japan, Hamilton in Belgium) that led many to cry foul.

Alonso steals the spotlight at Formula One’s first ever night race in Singapore

For many observers the season provided some fantastic entertainment, but often for the wrong reasons. Ferrari s F2008 failing to cope with wet-weather conditions and their traffic light system failing in Singapore were both highly amusing for McLaren fans and conversely, Hamilton s failure to see the red light in Canada probably gets a few laughs when re-shown in Maranello. Fans amusement sometimes turned to anger and bemusement when faced with the stewards assertion that Hamilton hadn t allowed Kimi to completely repass him in Spa, for example. But it s such discussion points that render our sport such an exciting one in the first place, and besides, to feel aggrieved sometimes is part of the deal when you re a sports fan.

Some suppositions were made by blunt, irascible armchair enthusiasts. Nelson Piquet Jnr is clearly not cut out to be a racing driver, so Fernando must have been involved in Renault s decision to retain him and not put a fast rookie (Di Grassi) in the car next to him for 2009. Felipe Massa is clearly a lot better than everyone thought he was, so those who thought him rubbish should eat their words. Rob Smedley is a gifted man manager as well as a race engineer. BMW should have kept developing their car. Honda and Toyota spent too much money without results. Again. Bourdais should go back to America. Vettel, meanwhile, is the best thing since sliced brot (which means Michael Schumacher).

More seriously, the sport has been rocked in recent weeks by the departure of Honda and the cost-cutting moves. It was high time, frankly. 2009 promises to be a wonderful year, with KERS and slicks arriving. If it s half as entertaining as 2008 it ll be worth watching.

Fry, Brawn and Slim himself deny Honda buy-out deal

Nick Fry and Ross Brawn have dismissed as “pure speculation” rumours that Mexican Billionaire Carlos Slim has bought Honda Racing, with Slim himself also denying the claims.

It had been claimed by Italian newspaper La Stampa that Slim, whose Telmex company is linked to Honda via its sponsorship of Bruno Senna, had signed a deal to take-over the beleaguered Brackley outfit.

However, Honda Racing’s Technical Director Ross Brawn has denied that any such deal is in place.

“We would love it if it were true, but it’s pure speculation from various members of the media,” Brawn told The Daily Telegraph. It’s just been one of those rumours which has developed a life of its own.”

“There has been a huge amount of interest. It’s now got to the stage where we need to filter out the serious from the not so serious. We’re all hopeful that something will happen and we’re anxious to turn up the wick again in the new year.”

Honda CEO Nick Fry has also rubbished the claims.

Slim himself issued a statement via his Telmex company dismissing not only the deal itself but also that any negotiations had taken place with Honda.

“Escuderia Telmex informs that Carlos Slim Helu has not acquired nor has any negotiations for this aim with the Honda Formula One team. All the information on this subject lacks foundation and is completely false.”

Alonso linked to Ferrari from 2011 in secret deal

Speculation linking Fernando Alonso to Ferrari has been renewed amid claims by Italian sports daily La Gazzetta dello Sport that the Spaniard has a secret agreement with the Italian team.

The double world champion has made clear his desire race for the Scuderia in the future and he looked poised to do so earlier in 2008 at the height of a disappointing string of results for Renault.

But with Kimi Raikkonen taking up the option to extend his contract, allied to Renault’s turnaround in performance and Felipe Massa’s sterling championship effort, Alonso elected to remain at Renault, extending his contract for a further two years.

However La Gazzetta dello Sport claims that Alonso has a four year deal in place with Ferrari from 2011 with additional get-out clauses – both in the contract itself as well as in his existing deal with Renault.

A Ferrari spokesman refused to comment on the report but told Reuters: “We can only repeat that we have two drivers signed to the end of 2010.”

Mexican billionaire enters the frame to buy Honda

Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim is believed to have the edge on at least three other potential buyers to take over Honda Racing.

Although a deal has yet to be announced and is unlikely before the new year autosport.com has reported that Slim, owner of telecommunications company Telmex, has emerged as a leading buyer for the up-for-sale Brackley outfit following Honda’s exit from Formula One earlier in the year.

It had initially been reported that Slim had actually penned a deal with Honda, with Italian newspaper La Stampa saying that the team “has been saved and the drivers will be Jenson Button and rookie Bruno Senna (who will) replace Rubens Barrichello.”

However autosport.com has learned that a deal has not yet been signed with Slim joining Prodrive boss David Richards, Kuwait-based Investment Dar Company (TID), Greek shipping magnate Achilleas Kallakis and an unidentified Swiss group as a front-running, candidate.

Slim first became linked to Honda Racing at the end of last season via a potential sponsorship deal. The talks were triggered by the team’s interest in Bruno Senna who is sponsored by Embratel, a Brazilian subsidiary of Telmex.

With Honda deciding to pull out of grand prix racing, the sponsorship deal was believed to materialise into buy-out talks with Slim visiting Honda Racing’s Brackley headquarters just before Christmas.

Credit – autosport.com

2009 F1 Launch Dates

With Formula One feeling the pinch of the global credit crisis, next year’s car launches are expected to be a no-thrills affair. But that won’t detract from the level of interest in the teams’ response to sweeping regulation changes.

Expect the cars to look simpler and ‘blockier’ as downforce is slashed by 50 per cent and ugly aero attachments such as a deflectors, winglets, flip ups and chimney s are banished.

The hybrid 2009-spec cars have already caused a stir in testing with some outlandishly weird wing and aero setups. Things will look better proportioned when the cars are unveiled in full, but in general the rear wings will be smaller and higher while the front wings will be wider to reduce the loss of downforce when following another car.

For the first time in the sport s history the front wings will also be adjustable by the driver while racing to help retain the balance of the cars in the turbulent air while also providing the driver with a tool to help overtake or defend his position.

Slick tyres make their first appearance since 1997 and will increase mechanical grip, offsetting the loss of downforce, while all the teams are expected to experience teething difficulties with the new Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS).

Launch dates

Ferrari are expected to launch their 2009 challenger, the F2009 on January 15, the same day that Toyota is scheduled to reveal images of its TF109.

On the following day, the new McLaren will be launched at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking.

Williams and Renault will unveil their cars at the first major test of the new year in Portugal at the new Al Garve circuit on January 19.

On January 20, BMW-Sauber s F1.09 will run for the first time at Valencia s Ricardo Tormo circuit. Red Bull does not plan to begin testing its RB5 until February, and Force India will wait until March.


2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss

2009 MercedesBenz SLRMcLarenStirlingMoss1Mercedes-Benz and McLaren are adding the crowning glory to the model family of their highly successful SLR super sports car with a new, uncompromisingly spectacular car. There is neither a roof nor a windscreen to separate the driver and passenger from the outside world; they enjoy unadulterated high-speed excitement with all the attributes of a speedster.

The new SLR Stirling Moss is also characterised by the most sophisticated technology and a breathtaking design which reinterprets the SLR legend. With 478 kW/650 hp the SLR Stirling Moss accelerates its V8 supercharged engine from standstill to 100 km/h in less than 3.5 seconds, and has a top speed of 350 km/h no other series-production car is at the same time so open and so fast. This extreme concept makes the new high-performance sports car a legitimate bearer of the name of the British motor racing legend and Mille Miglia record-holder Stirling Moss, who drove the legendary Mercedes-Benz SLR racing cars from victory to victory during the 1950s.

2009 MercedesBenz SLRMcLarenStirlingMoss2

The exclusive SLR Stirling Moss rounds off the current SLR family and is limited to 75 units. It is priced at 750,000 euros. The SLR Roadster will cease to be manufactured at the end of May 2009 as planned, and production of the SLR Stirling Moss will commence in June 2009.

Three letters are all it takes to make car fans’ hearts beat faster: SLR. In the 1950s the Mercedes-Benz SLR 300 celebrated victory after victory. It won the Mille Miglia and the Targa Florio as well as the Tourist Trophy. It was driven by the stars of the time: Juan Manual Fangio and Karl Kling and, first and foremost, by the British racing driver Stirling Moss. At ten hours, seven minutes and 48 seconds he still holds the Mille Miglia record.

This is why the modern-day version of the legendary SLR carries the additional words “Stirling Moss” in its name. As the new SLR Stirling Moss unites the character of the current SLR models with the fascination of the SLR of 1955. The core values of both the historical and the present-day SLR models include an exciting new design, innovative technology, high-class materials displaying perfect craftsmanship, and, above all: a unique driving experience for all the senses.

Whilst the 300 SLR earned its spurs on racing circuits the world over, the new member of the SLR family is not designed for the racetrack. Although it sets new standards in terms of technology, performance and excitement just like its forebears it is aimed at individuals who have exquisite requirements and nurture very special dreams.

Highly puristic concept without a roof or a windscreen

Remaining totally true to the specifications of the 300 SLR, the new Silver Arrow’s equipment is extremely sophisticated and yet at the same time decidedly spartan, doing without both a roof and side windows. There are just two wind deflectors a couple of centimetres in height to protect the driver and passenger from the airflow. Two air scoops integrated into the bodywork serve as roll-over bars. With this extreme concept the new SLR Stirling Moss is visually very different from all the other vehicles which belong to the elite sports car class.

Just like the legendary racing vehicles of yesteryear, the SLR Stirling Moss dazzles with its superlative performance. Accelerating from zero to 100 km/h in less than 3.5 seconds and with a top speed of 350 km/h this puristic high-performance sports car denotes completely new dimensions in open-top driving. And not just because of the impressive performance figures; every time drivers take to the wheel of the SLR Stirling Moss their senses are addressed with a previously unheard of intensity, conveying a driving experience in its purest and most sensual form. This automotive thoroughbred thus facilitates the kind of open-air feeling that is utterly unique for a road-going vehicle.

Exciting design reminiscent of the SLR racing cars

The SLR Stirling Moss, its entire bodywork made of fine lightweight carbon fibre, represents a stand-alone design concept. Whilst the Mercedes-Benz designers were working on the body of the new SLR Stirling Moss, they were fully aware every single moment that they were creating a vehicle with a top speed of 350 km/h. At the same time this supreme athlete is highly reminiscent of the SLR racing cars from the 1950s, whose design idiom still never fails to impress to this day.

The SLR Stirling Moss sports an exciting, pronounced arrow-shaped form and is characterised by an elongated bonnet and a compact, muscular rear. As there is no windscreen, the exterior and interior flow smoothly into one. The bonnet also stretches from its striking tip right down into the interior, giving the vehicle body a distinctly sleek air. Even when standing still, the sports car radiates such dynamism that the observer immediately falls under its spell.

Further eye-catching features include two air scoops behind the driver and passenger. They carry additional roll-over bars, also uniting the traditional and the modern. The wings are powerfully contoured. Black-painted ventilation “gills” sitting facet-like on the sides and on the bonnet also cite the legend. A thrilling interplay of light and shadow ensues through the expressive lines, underlining the dynamic overall impression. Exactly as they were on the shining historical example, the side skirts on the new SLR Stirling Moss are also very high. This prompted the designers’ decision in favour of folding swing-wing doors which open forwards.

The vehicle can be closed by two tonneau covers which are carried in the boot. When both tonneau covers and the doors are closed the SLR Stirling Moss resembles a sculpture.

In keeping with the puristic exterior of the vehicle, the interior is also reduced to the bare essentials. Surfaces penetrating each other in the instrument panel and doors make for an exciting atmosphere and resonate perfectionism. A mixture of high-class authentic materials such as carbon fibre, aluminium and fine-quality leather sets the style here. An aluminium plate carries the engraved signature of Stirling Moss and covers the area around the shift lever.

Innovative technology and polished aerodynamic concept

Developers working on the Stirling Moss were able to fall back on a wealth of experience gathered when producing the SLR Coupé and Roadster, in particular where the technical base was concerned, with its extravagant carbon-fibre design, high-performance suspension and throaty V8 engine. The common denominator uniting the Stirling Moss with the other members of the SLR family is the aerodynamic concept with a closed underbody and a diffuser in the rear bumper for maximum possible downforce at the rear axle with one difference: the diffuser here is considerably larger than that on the coupé and roadster.

Thanks to the high-precision work carried out in the wind tunnel, the SLR Stirling Moss always generates sufficient downforce for extremely safe handling. But the driver can also manually operate the AIRBRAKE in order to increase the contact pressure further, during particularly sporty driving, for example. The AIRBRAKE is also raised during powerful braking at speeds above 120 km/h, so as to stabilise the vehicle even more in such situations, thus facilitating maximum possible deceleration.

Limited to 75 units the SLR models’ crowning glory

The new SLR Stirling Moss is the kind of high-calibre speedster coveted by the sporting gentry and enthusiasts alike. At the same time it is a collector’s item which marks the pinnacle of an era and, for the foreseeable future, at least, the final curtain for the SLR. In May 2009 production of the SLR models will cease; only a total of 75 units of the Stirling Moss will be manufactured between June and December 2009, bearing chassis numbers from 1 to 75. Not only does this exclusive vehicle represent the conclusion of the current SLR family; it also serves as a very special thank you to the most loyal of SLR customers, for they are the only ones able to acquire a Stirling Moss.

Source: Daimler AG

Massa questions value of wage cuts

2006 Massa Press PhotoFelipe Massa says that slashing drivers’ salaries to reduce spending in Formula One would have little effect.

With growing pressure on the teams to reduce costs amid the global economic crisis it has been muted that driver wages could be first in line for the chop.

However, Ferrari driver Felipe Massa has questioned the impact this would have given that the salaries make up a relatively small proportion of the teams’ overall budgets.

When asked at a press conference for UNICEF in Sao Paulo about whether he supported the move to cut wages, Massa said, according to autosport.com: “I’m not inclined to it.

“In a competitive sport like this (F1), the driver plays a fundamental part, and the cost of the drivers are small compared to the total budget of the teams. The more people work to reduce costs, the better it is going to be for everybody.”

The Brazilian also dismissed the idea of introducing a standard engine in Formula One.

“I do not find this idea interesting,” he said. The fight to diminish costs is important, but a standard engine gets away from what F1 is all about – and it cannot happen. A Ferrari running with another engine – that is not a Ferrari. It is the same for Mercedes, Toyota or Renault.”

Montezemolo: KERS is a mistake

tt 2006ferrarichallenge 36lgFOTA president and Ferrari boss Luca di Montezemolo has warned against introducing Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) in Formula One arguing that the technology will not be suitable for road cars.

The Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS), which harness waste energy under braking and turn it into additional power for the driver via a boost button , will be introduced next year, and although the devices are not mandatory the leading teams are well advanced in their development programmes and are expected to use the technology.

Ferrari, however, are known to be behind schedule and over budget with their KERS programme.

That has triggered a warning from Luca di Montezemolo who says that Formula One is not yet ready for new devices, calling for more time to develop the technology.

“It’s not possible in one night to do everything. It’s a process. Year on year. The KERS is a mistake,” said the Ferrari boss. “Whatever we discover there is nothing in common between F1’s KERS and road car KERS.

“But for 2012 KERS can be an important part of a new package that addresses properly the environmental concerns. KERS is the biggest part of F1 spending for 2009.

“I’m not against the principle of KERS – it’s very important to put in front of the teams research that benefits the environment – but the way it is at the moment is a mistake. It has to be a package looking ahead and we have three or four years to work on the whole engine/KERS package.”

Di Montezemolo is not the first team boss to have expressed concerns about KERS, but his comments at this stage in the development process are significant and reinforce the expectations of teething difficulties in the first few races.

Renault s Flavio Briatore tried to delay the introduction of the systems earlier in the year on the grounds of safety and cost. The concerns came after a BMW Sauber mechanic received an electric shock and a battery fire at Red Bull Racing s Milton Keynes Factory.

Honda s Nick Fry however is adamant that KERS is necessary to secure the future of Formula One and has criticised those teams who want to post-pone its introduction.

“KERS is key to the future of Formula One, and unless we take major steps to make the sport more environmentally sensitive, then there is no future,” he told Forumula1.com earlier in the year.

“I think that the teams that are arguing against KERS have got their heads stuck in the sand because it is the future, and unless Formula One adapts we re going to be in very serious difficulties.”

Responding to criticism that the systems will be too expensive to implement Fry added that teams need to balance their priorities if Formula One is to become more affordable for smaller teams:

“We ve got to re-orientate our expenditure to things which are useful like KERS, but away from things which are less useful such as the more obscure aerodynamic components that we spend huge amounts of time and money on.”

Some critics have argued that KERS, and its related costs, will damage the racing spectacle by promoting a gap between teams that can afford to develop the technology and tailor it to their own cars, and the smaller teams who will have to become customers of the system.

There is also a fear that some teams may not be able to afford to run their cars with the technology at all which would compromise their drivers in the race and lead to a greater field spread.

“I think KERS will improve the spectacle,” contends Fry. “From what we ve seen with our drivers they ve rather enjoyed using KERS because it does give very noticeable boost when you hit the button and will improve the entertainment value of the sport.”

“Even though some people are obviously less keen with KERS, I believe all the teams are genius enough to develop their own systems, and whilst there will be a bit of settling down at the beginning of the season, I m confident that everyone will come up with their own solution.”

“This technical diversity of different solutions is at the heart of Formula One; it really is the essence of the sport to encourage technical innovation and that s something we must not lose.”

Karthikeyan hits back at Mallya

Responding to criticism from Vijay Mallya that he does not deserve to be in Formula One, Indian driver Narain Karthikeyan has hit back at the Force India boss, saying that he has no desire to drive for a “pedestrian team”.

Mallya is keen to have an Indian driver at the wheel of his car in time for the first Indian Grand Prix planned for 2011, but the Force India boss dismissed Karthikeyan – India’s only Formula One driver with 19 race starts for Jordan – saying that he didn’t fit his criteria. The Indian billionaire also ruled out GP2 star Karun Chandhok, against the opinion of Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone.

“In my F1 context, [Karthikeyan] doesn’t fit in,” Mallya told the Hindustan Times, “[Chandhok] is like my son, but I have not broken the professional rules of Force India F1 and announced in respect of Karun only because of my personal relationship.”

“The team is totally professional – whatever the team needs is going to be done, simple and straightforward. There is no compulsion to put an Indian driver for the sake of putting an Indian driver. On the contrary, I would love to have an Indian driver.

Karthikeyan was angered by the comments and has hit back at Mallya saying that he has no desire to make his comeback for a minnow.

“I spent a frustrating time with Jordan, where I had a car that just could not perform, [while] Spyker offered me a drive in August 2007, but I declined as the team was going nowhere,” he said.

“I have no desire to be with another pedestrian team that’s low on performance and loud on talk. I never even approached Mallya. The vibes from the camp have been extremely negative and I want to make it clear that I am not interested in driving for Force India.”