Month: November 2011

It’s Official: Kimi is Back!

As I reported just last night in my Formula One rumor mill, the talk of Kimi Raikkonen coming back to the F1 circus is true.  Kimi signed a two-year deal with Lotus Renault GP (next year known as Team Lotus).

SPEEDtv.com’s Adam Cooper has the story:

LRGP confirmed today that Kimi Raikkonen has signed a two-year deal with the team. The outfit that is set to change its name to Team Lotus thus has a World Champion on its hands.

Raikkonen said that racing in NASCAR gave him a taste for the wheel to wheel competition that he’d been missing in rallying.

The news was not unexpected after negotiations moved rapidly when Kimi’s talks with Williams broke down, and it became clear that Robert Kubica was out of the frame for the start of the season.

It remains to be seen who will partner the 2007 champion. Vitaly Petrov has a contract while both Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean are on standby. Against the odds there has also been contact with Adrian Sutil, despite the German’s issue with Eric Lux earlier in the year.

When he went to the WRC Kimi had ambitions to return with Red Bull Racing – something he openly admitted to this writer last year – but Mark Webber’s ongoing contract extensions put a stop that.

“I never really lost the passion in racing in F1, but maybe all the other things around it,” he said Raikkonen in a video interview. “But I did some NASCAR races this year in the States and I started to miss more and more the racing side, to race against each other, because in rallying it’s against the clock, really. That’s what I was missing.

“Then I got the call from certain people in Formula 1 and then also sorts of things happened and then in the end we managed to have a nice conversation with Lotus Renault, and ended up making a deal with them. So I’m very happy with that.

“There were two options. It was this team or Williams, and in the end everything worked out with Lotus Renault GP as we wanted, so that’s really the reason.”

Kimi insisted that there was no problem with his motivation: “I wouldn’t come back if I wouldn’t be motivated. There is always a lot of talk about the motivation, but nobody really knows what I do or what I think, apart from myself, so I don’t really care about what people say.

“I wouldn’t put my name in a contract if I wouldn’t think I would enjoy it. It will be interesting. It will be exciting to get back.”

Raikkonen said he would feel more at home in F1 after struggling to come to terms with the WRC.

“It’s been really nice in the last few years, trying to learn it. It’s been easier this year than it was last year, but still it’s a very difficult. But I’m really looking forward to coming back, at least F1 is something that I know how everything works.

“I’ve been there for many years. When I went to rallying I didn’t really know what would happen, and when I went to NASCAR I had no clue how it would be. In that way it should be much, much easier to come back. It should be pretty normal.”

Team owner Gerard Lopez added: “All year long, we kept saying that our team was at the start of a brand new cycle. Backstage we’ve been working hard to build the foundations of a successful structure and to ensure that we would soon be able to fight at the highest level. Kimi’s decision to come back to Formula 1 with us is the first step of several announcements which should turn us into an even more serious contender in the future.

“Of course, we are all looking forward to working with a world champion. On behalf of our staff, I’d like to welcome Kimi to Enstone, a setting that has always been known for its human approach to Formula 1.”

Now, I’ve always been a huge fan of the Iceman, as Kimi’s known.  He may not be the most well-spoken man in the history of motorsport, but he’s a damn good driver andhe’s Finnish – I have a love affair with all things Finland.  So here’s to having Kimi back, the boring one-word interview answers, the ease with which he can pilot a car quicker than everyone else, and the overall cool factor that is Kimi Raikkonen.

F1 Brazilian Grand Prix – The Season Finale

First off, sorry for my absence of late. Since I work in retail and am a senior in college I’ve been busier than a fly on a carcass…  -Cody

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After a long Formula One season of very much the same old thing, the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday provided us with a bit of a change of pace.

Sebastian Vettel aced qualifying as usual, so the weekend started out pretty much as usual. Oh, except for the record breaking that is. Coming into the Brazilian GP, Vettel had gone P1 in qualifying 14 times this year, tying the record set by Nigel Mansell in 1992. Seb remarked simply, “Just call me Nigel,” after winning his 15th and final pole of the year on Saturday at Interlagos.  And he said he didn’t care about records… Ha!

The race set off to notices sent by race director Charlie Whiting that rain was possible by half-distance.  Steve Matchett on the SPEEDtv broadcast also remarked that the various teams’ weathermen were Tweeting updates on the rain movement nearing the circuit just 10 or so laps in. The first round of pit stops , for most teams, was being delayed as long as it could so teams would only have to change from the soft tire to wets (by rule negating the need to run the Prime hard tire).

Ferrari Tweeted that rain was 10 minutes out, then Alonso promptly pitted and changed onto Primes. Matchett was rather humorously flustered at the boneheaded decision, but the strategy worked out for the Scuderia as the rain never came.

Drama played out throughout the race starting from only 5 laps in when Vettel’s gearbox quickly began to lose oil.  Seb nursed the car home, taking each corner a gear higher than normal and short-shifting.  He let 2nd placed teammate Mark Webber by going into turn 1 so as to not screw up Red Bull’s chances of a good race.

Webber went on to score his first and only win of the season.  Red Bull team boss Christian Horner remarked after the race that Vettel’s gearbox was actually completely out of oil by the time the race had ended.  No one knows how he made it work, but Vettel finished 2nd anyway.

The World Championship was wrapped up with 4 races left in the season, but the battle for the remaining positions went down to the wire.  The biggest win of the Brazilian GP was Team Lotus’ (next year “Team Caterham”) placement in 10th of the Constructors’ World Championship. Placing 10th means that Team Lotus/Caterham goes from receiving around $8 million to nearly $30 million in Championship payouts.

Final Driver Point Standings

Final Constructor Point Standings

In other F1 news, silly season has now kicked into high gear. TodayPatrick Head, co-founder of Williams GP announced his retirement from F1. He will now be focused on Williams’ Hybrid Power division of the company.  The rumor mill is going crazy about Kimi Raikkonen being close to signing a deal to come back to Formula One next year with either Williams or Lotus-Renault GP.  LRGP boss Eric Boullier said over the weekend that their final announcement is imminent.  Adrian Sutil is most likely headed out to pasture as his contract with Force India F1 is over.  Jerome D’Ambrisio is out at Marussia Virgin Racing as the team has signed Charles Pic to drive alongside veteran Timo Glock in 2012.  Rubens Barrichello is hell bent on driving for Williams again in 2012, but we’re waiting to see what will become of that.

Aussie V8 Sydney Telstra 500 Preview

This weekend’s Sydney Telstra 500 marks the final event of the 2011 V8 Supercar season.  The title is still up for grabs between Team Vodafone teammates Craig Lowndes and Jamie Whincup.

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Whincup enters the race with the advantage over Lowndsey, but the 888 Racing duo has never had much good luck around the challenging street circuit around Sydney Olympic Park.  Last year the top three contenders in the championship were running nose to tail when the rain began to pour in Sydney, and all three crashed at the same time, in the same corner, from the same overcooked-it-on-slicks mistake.  One of those drivers was Jamie Whincup, and the advantage going into that round was Dick Johnson Racing’s James Courtney who ended up taking the title in his battered Falcon.  Lowndes also had an incident in that fateful race for the second consecutive year.  Both Vodafone boys are hoping for better luck in Homebush this time round.

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Either man can take the title by the end of Sunday’s second 250 kilometer sprint race, and the gorgeous Sydney street circuit always pans out to be an exciting weekend of the world’s top touring car series.  Watch this space for updates as the weekend progresses.

On a side note: all month long the V8 Supercar circus has been supporting Movember, the growing of cheesy mustaches in honor of Breast Cancer awareness and research.  This photo of DJR’s Steven Johnson makes him look more like a redneck American at a tractor pull (I speak from experience; I love tractor pulling) than a proper Aussie racing driver.

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What really takes the cake, though, are the facial accessorizing done by Craig Lowndes and Ford Performance Racing’s Will Davison.  I couldn’t find any good photos of them for this article, but if you get a chance, please go watch any video clip either man has appeared in this past month.  Now those are some mustaches that must be seen to be believed!  Seriously, both drivers are sporting some wicked ’70s porn-’staches.  And if you think they aren’t overt porn-’staches then I don’t know what is!  These two men have always been rather cute (to me at least), but damn…  Turn OFF! (and I’m a bearded man myself, so that’s sayin’ something!)

Happy Thanksgiving

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Gobble Gobble people!  I hope you are all enjoying the time with family and friends this Thanksgiving.

I wanted to take a moment to express what I am grateful for.

Q4G Contributors: Huge gratitude for all the folks who contribute and help to make Queers4Gears such a fun site.  Troy Germain, Carla Page, Adam Lovelace, David Slater, Ross Bynum, Edward Ochoa, Cody Globig, Brent Summers and Jeff Wolf.  I hope I am not leaving anyone off the list – I can’t say how much I appreciate all of your efforts.

Track Folks:  I only get to attend the races out West and I want to say thanks to the folks at these tracks who have credentialed me and helped me bring live coverage to Q4G.  In particular – John Bisci and Jeff Motley at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Nicole Schieder, Paul Corliss and Jim Mascola at Phoenix International Raceway, John Cardnali and Hannah Philbin at Infineon Raceway and last but in NO way least – David Talley at Auto Club Speedway.  I appreciate the way these folks and their staff have welcomed Q4G at their tracks.

Media Friends:  ….talk about being afraid to leave someone off the list.  But there are a few folks that really have helped make my time in the media center special – and I am grateful for their friendships and advice.  Be it fiding out where the bath rooms are, where to get interviews or most imporantly; the best places to eat near the track – they are always willing to offer help.  Thank You: Lee Spencer, Reid Spencer, Lewis Franck, Jeff Gluck, Bob Pockrass, Jim Utter, Ryan McGee, Nicole Briscoe and The Speed Freaks – Crash and Kenny.

Most of all…. I am thankful for all of you – the readers.  Thanks for following along –  Happy Thanksgiving.

 

F1 and V8 News and Notes

by Cody Globig – Q4G F1 and V8 Contributor

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Indian GP:
Well, another brand new race in the FIA Formula One World Championship is under our belts. There were on track battles, some well-publicized skirmishes, and somewhere in the ungodly haze of New Delhi a race broke out.
I’m not going to go into an analysis of the race this time ‘round, because let’s face it, it’s an F1 race… They’re not all that exciting, and even I’ll admit that. I’m just too fascinated by the cars and engineering to look away (and it’s the same with LeMans each year too). Sadly, it was rather hard to look at the cars because one could barely see the length of the front straight through the awful haze that permeates that part of India. I think it’s great that a developing country like India has the opportunity to host a grand prix, but dayum! I couldn’t imagine breathing that air, let alone eating the food and risking “Delhi Belly”.
The excitement of the weekend once again involved a row between Felipe Massa and Lewis Hamilton. This time, Massa rather blatantly drove into the side of Hamilton as they were entering a corner, and driver-representative to the stewards Johnny Herbert agreed. Race control penalized him appropriately (in my opinion).
As per the usual par for the course, the media went crazy over the situation. Jenson Button was even questioned about this ongoing hate-fest between Massa and Hamilton; a story which you can read here, in which you can read Jenson’s reply of, “I don’t give a f***!” to the Massa/Hamilton question.
Oh yeah, remember that race that I mentioned? Reigning and this year’s World Champion Sebastian Vettle won again. And he set the fastest lap on the last lap (much to the political chagrin of his boss!).
V8 Supercar Silly Season Starts
Silly Season down under has swung into full gear with just a couple rounds left in the 2011 V8 Supercar season. It was announced the other day that Stone Brothers Racing has signed Lee Holdsworth away from Gary Rogers Motorsport. 2012 will mark the first year in the main game that Holdsworth will be in the Ford camp, piloting the IRWIN Tools Falcon seat vacated by Alex Davison. Davison, younger brother of Ford Performance Racing’s Will, is now looking for a ride for next year.