Quesnel drops Raikkonen-Citroen WRC hints

Kimi RaikkonenCitroen Sport director Olivier Quesnel has hinted that Kimi Raikkonen could be racing in the WRC in his year out from Formula One.

When news broke that Kimi Raikkonen was to take a one year sabbatical from the sport, many believed that Raikkonen would use his year out to pursue other racing interests – more specifically rallying thanks to his impressive debut in the WRC earlier in the year.

Although Raikkonen has yet to confirm what his plans are for 2010, in an interview with Radio station Radio-France, Quesnel hinted that WRC was the Finn’s most likely destination.

Quesnel explained that the rumours surrounding Raikkonen’s 2010 WRC plans are more than just a rumour and are a real possibility, although he did admit that he has yet to speak to Raikkonen and he doesn’t believe a deal has been signed yet.

During the interview, he also praised Raikkonen calling him an “incredible driver” who did an amazing job in his WRC debut earlier this year.

He also revealed that it Raikkonen did join Citroen’s WRC team, he would not be racing alongside Sebastien Loeb in the official team – rather, he would be racing in the junior team although he would still be driving a fully specced Citroen C4.

Whitmarsh: Button-Hamilton pairing will be good for the team

martin-whitmarshMcLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh is confident that having two champions in the same team will be a positive rather than a negative. Earlier this month, McLaren announced that they had persuaded current world champion Jenson Button to join the team and partner last year’s world champion Lewis Hamilton.

However some F1 fans have their doubts about the pairing, voicing concerns that there could be fierce rows within the team – a concern that McLaren will be all too familiar with thanks to their pairing of Alonso and Hamilton in 2007, and Senna and Prost in the 1980s.

However Whitmarsh believes that the new driver pairing will be good for the team.

We feel confident that, as an organisation, we’ll be able to manage the demands and expectations of our drivers,” he commented to British newspaper the Independent.

“Lewis and Jenson are both world champions, they know what it takes to win, and I’m sure they’ll both be very motivated to push each other to deliver even greater results.

“It’s my job to positively harness that competitiveness for the greater benefit of the team.

“It’s a proposition that some teams might find troubling, but which we are absolutely relishing – it’s a very nice problem to have! We have two fiercely competitive individuals who both fully understand the benefit of teamwork. They are phenomenal team players.

“My job is to manage that racer’s instinct: they are there to race each other – and the only instruction they’ll receive from me is to respect each other on the track. But that’s it – other than that, they’re free to race.

“We’ve always traditionally involved our drivers in the development of the car, and the most important thing we can do in the early days of our relationship is to get Jenson to look at what we do, evaluate it and to ask questions and make suggestions,” said Whitmarsh.

“Preparation is everything: with Lewis at the start of 2007, he showed just how much could be achieved with a combination of rock-solid preparation and solid hard work.

“One of the most important tasks will be to get Jenson familiarised with our procedures: how we work at McLaren and how we go racing. He’ll need to start putting names to faces, of course, but it should all be a very straightforward job for someone of his experience.”

Force India confirms Liuzzi & Sutil for 2010

Force India have confirmed that Adrian Sutil and Tonio Liuzzi will be driving for them in the 2010 season.

2010 will be the fourth year that Sutil drives for the squash, whilst it is the first race-seat Liuzzi has won since 2007. Liuzzi, who has been Force India’s reserve and test driver for the last two years, is replacing fellow Italian race driver Giancarlo Fisichella.

“We are very pleased to retain the services of both Adrian and Tonio for another season,” team boss Vijay Mallya commented.

“We have always maintained that consistency is key at this stage in the team’s development and for the first time in many years we will have the continuity of not only the same drivers, but also the same engine and senior management.

“With this stability now in place I truly believe we have an excellent platform to build on and move forward on our strong 2009 performance.

“I am sure we have one of the most dynamic line-ups on the grid and I hope this will stand us in good stead in what we all hope will be a transitional year for the team.”

Mario Theissen leaves F1

Mario TheissenBMW motorsport director Mario Theissen has revealed that he will no longer be involved in F1 – leaving Peter Sauber in control.

Theissen first entered the world of Formula One in 2000 with BMW and became team boss in 2006. In previous interviews, he had hinted that he might stay with Sauber however he has now confirmed that he will be relinquishing all his F1 duties following BMW’s withdrawal from the sport.

“I will be responsible for future BMW motorsport activities,” he explained to Swiss newspaper Blick. “Peter Saaber now takes control and will lead the team. For me, it is an end – and a new era begins.”

It is rumoured that BMW are now looking into the possibility of expanding into other racing arenas with many believing that they may look to compete at Le Mans in 2010.

VW considering becoming an F1 engine supplier

VW LogoWith new power regulations due in F1 for 2012, it has emerged that Volkswagen are seriously considering becoming an engine supplier to the sport.

Despite the fact that three manufacturers – Honda, BMW and Toyota – have all left the sport recently, VW believes that the new rules being introduced are paving the way to making F1 more attractive.

VW representative Hans-Joachim Stuck has stated that they would not be interested in partnering an F1 team however they are seriously looking at becoming an engine supplier.

“If you’re the world’s largest manufacturer is natural that we’re thinking about [Formula 1], but not before 2012,” Stuck explained in an interview with Autosport.

“We’re looking for innovative things, and Formula 1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. Two years ago there was some talk that Volkswagen is going to buy the Red Bull F1 team, which we didn’t need to buy.

“Why should we stick with one team if we can give our engines to more teams?

“If you buy Red Bull and Adrian Newey wants to go flying or fishing, the team is not successful any more.

“Look at BMW. They bought this multi-million dollar wind tunnel and a supercomputer and they now close the doors. Building an engine and providing it to a team is the best way.”

“Now it’s amazing; Formula 1 goes the right way. Many manufacturers have pulled out, which I think is a great deal, because we have manufacturers that we don’t know for how long they will do it.

“They should become engine manufacturers and then lease the engine, sell the engine or give it to somebody. Then you lose all the hassle with teams, wind tunnels, engineers, you know.

“It’s like Formula 1 in my days. We had March, we had Lotus, and we had Ford engines. Then Renault came in as engine manufacturer, with a formidable engine. This was perfect.

“I followed Formula 1 for the last seven years with BMW and I always asked myself on the grid, with only 20 cars, what if we could have 30 cars? Now we’re getting back to this.

“We have three more teams next year, 26 cars, and by having a global engine, which is good in cost and reliable, we can have 30 cars on the grid.”

FOTA approves Lotus & Manor membership

The Formula One Teams’ Association (FOTA) have approved membership of newcomers Lotus and Manor. The inclusion of these two teams means that every team on the 2010 grid is now a member of FOTA.

According to Autosport, membership for the pair was unanimously approved and means that FOTA now comprises 14 teams (Toyota is still a member despite pulling out of F1) and is the first time since Williams were suspended earlier in the year that the organisation features every team on the current grid.

De la Rosa hoping for a 2010 race seat

Pedro de la Rosa has revealed he is hoping for an F1 race seat next season. De la Rosa is currently McLaren’s test driver and has not had a regular race seat since 2002 however he is hoping that one of the new F1 teams may offer him a job.

“It is still early,” he commented to Spanish news agency EFE. “There is no hurry to make a decision.

“It is true that USF1 and the Motorland (Aragon) have reached an agreement, but personally I do not know what is going to happen.

“I would be very happy to be at McLaren Mercedes as the reserve driver and arrange my work to go and race in another team as well, or simply go to another team to race.

“I don’t know – that is the answer,”

Campos Meta 1’s car homologated by FIA

Campos Meta 1’s car has been homologated by the FIA after a series of test carried out last week. The homologation process for the Campos car was carried out in Parma, Italy, at Italian manufacturer Dallara’s base.

“The homologation of the cockpit is a critical point that defines the status and quality of a Formula 1 car,” Campos’ technical director Toni Cuquerella explained.

“The fact of having our cockpit completely homologised puts us in a privileged position and allows us to keep on developing the car.

“Dallara has done a great job in order to have everything on time and pass all the tests on the first attempt. We still have to pass the homologation of the rear structure which follows the same process and has already passed our previous internal tests.”

“It’s a great satisfaction to pass these homologation FIA tests,” team boss Adrian Campos commented. “It shows the technical strength of the partners and suppliers we have gathered for our entry in the Formula 1.

“I want to thank Dallara for the compromise shown in the task of fulfilling the original schedule.

“We still have a long journey in front of us but at this stage we are confident that we will be able to cover all the steps needed to make it with guarantees to the inaugural weekend of the season in Bahrain”.

Klien eyes F1 return

Christian Klien has revealed that he is hoping to return to the 2010 Formula One grid and has yet to sign a contract with Peugeot for the Le Mans 24 hour race because of his F1 negotiations.

Klien, who has competed in 48 F1 races for Jaguar and Red Bull Racing, was BMW Sauber’s reserve driver last season and is hoping that he can return to a race-seat for 2010. The Le Mans 2010 race clashes with the F1 Canadian Grand Pix therefore he has admitted he has not signed for Peugeot yet as his priority is F1 and until he understands his position, he is unable to commit fully.

“At the moment I am focusing all my options on F1,” he explained to GMM. “Therefore right now I cannot commit to Peugeot for Le Mans 2010 because of the June 13 date conflict with the Canadian Grand Prix.”

It is understood that Klien’s best chances of a race seat next season remain with Sauber, however he may also get a look in with new teams Lotus, Manor or USF1.

Hildebrand & Di Resta to test for Force India

Force India has confirmed that Paul di Resta and JR Hildebrand will be testing for them at the Jerez young drivers test session next week. Both drivers were picked for the test session after impressive performance in the team’s simulator last month.

Team principal Vijay Mallya commented, “We are delighted to have Paul and JR join us for the young driver test.

“Both of their showings in the simulator were excellent and we had no hesitations in offering them some valuable testing. We will be looking at their performance on track very closely and should they perform well, as we are confident they will, we will look at a permanent role for one within the team in 2010, potentially as a test and reserve driver.

“As a young team we are looking for drivers who can grow with us. As we’ve always said, nationality isn’t the primary selection criteria – it’s talent and dedication to the cause and we have seen enough to know that these two have both.”

Di Resta has recently been racing in DTM, the German Touring Car Series, finishing the season in third with one win. He is no stranger to F1 having also tested for McLaren at the end of last year. The Scottish driver was also linked with a race seat within Force India last year, although the team eventually plumped for Fisichella and Sutil. American driver JR Hildebrand is current Indy Lights champion.

The pair are expected to get a full day’s running each, with the drivers alternating between morning and afternoon sessions on the first two days.