2 MARCH 14 2012 motorsport-news.co.uk
IN THIS ISSUE
THE VOICE OF BRITISH MOTORSPORT ISSUE JA2812
“There’s no reason we can’t win races”
P4 Brawn thinks Mercedes’ new car is on the right track
TANDY CLOSE TO PORSCHE
British ace seals deal with Manthey Racing Team
THAT IT CAN STILL FIGHT FOR
Wilson reckons Latvala’s crash won’t end his fight
EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT FORMULA ONE 2012
Every team and driver profiled in our full preview
Historic race and rally news
F1 PREVIEW:Paul di Resta
F1 PREVIEW:Sky vs BBC
F1 PREVIEW:Pirelli’s new goal 25 F1 PREVIEW:The Toro Rosso battle 26 F1 PREVIEW:Runners and riders 28 SUBSCRIBETOMOTORSPORTNEWS 30 F1 PREVIEW:Essentials 31 WRC:Rally Mexico report 32 Racing reports 36 Rally reports 37 Sporting Scene round-up 40 Karting round-up 42 Letters/Comment/What’s On 44 Wanted:One tenth of a second between the top ten in Australia...please?
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ByRob Ladbrook McLaren star Jenson Button reckons that this weekend’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix will be too close to call, and predicts a feast of overtaking to thrill fans.
Button andMcLaren head into the first race of the season confident of ending the domination of rival team Red Bull Racing and double world champion Sebastian Vettel. The Woking squad’s MP4-27 challenger has fared well during testing, but Button is keen not to read too closely into performances so far and insists that he expects an evenly matched field when the cars reach the grid at Albert Park. He said: “It’s been difficult to read people’s pace over the winter because a lot of teams have kept their cards close to their chests. I think it’s going to be extremely close and I can’t wait to see where we are in the pecking order.”
Button’s hope Button believes that McLaren starts this year on amuchmore secure footing than it did the last campaign.
The team struggled in Australia last year with an under-developed car, but managed to come away with a podium finish from a rapidly reworked MP4-26. That set it on the back foot against Red Bull, which dented McLaren’s chances of fighting for the title. McLaren has conducted more than 3000 miles of pre-season testing over all of the tests with its new car.
“I’m happy with our preparations,” said Button. “Ideally you’d always like to have more laps andmore time prior to the start of the year. But unlike 2011 we’ve had a very positive start to our pre-season this year.” Another promising factor for the race is the FIA’s decision to include two Drag Reduction System [DRS] overtaking zones around the 3.3mile circuit. The first zone will be placed along the start/finish straight. The FIA had yet to decide on the second zone asMotorsport Newsclosed for press, but sources suggested the high-speed section between Turns Ten [Fittipaldi] and 11[Waite] could be used.
Button said the prospect of double DRS is an exciting one for fans. “I think the new rules have definitely made it more competitive in Australia,” he added. “The potential of a second DRS zone will be a real benefit. Last year just having it run along the pit straight wasn’t quite enough for overtaking so I think we’ll get far better chances from the second zone.
“Finally the walls around Albert Park are close enough to keep your mind focused. I can’t remember a race there that hasn’t been eventful or surprising in some way. It’s the perfect place to start the season.”
Lewis refreshed This year is also a crucial one for Button’s team-mate, 2009 world for one crucial a also is year This world 2009 team-mate, Button’s
Button has enjoyed testing
Button wa s second to Se bastian Ve ttel in last ye ar’ s points champion Lewis Hamilton. Button was the first team-mate to outscore Hamilton during his F1 career last season in a troubling year that brought Hamilton his lowest-ever world championship finish of fifth. Although the Briton showed glimpses of returning to form by netting three wins, myriad personal problems and repeated on-track clashes cost him dearly. Hamilton says that he feels more like himself after the break. “I feel more relaxed and ready for this season than I think I’ve ever done in mycareer,” said the 27-year-old. “Everything has gone smoothly with the car so far, which is more than we can say for last year! It seems like we’ve got a far more responsive and reliable package. We ran the aero package that we’re planning to use in Australia during the final test and it felt really good.
time.” fast a optimistic be to plenty have we
“Of course we haven’t tested anything in competition so far but we have plenty to be optimistic about. It’s odd having driven the car for amonth and not really aimed for a fast time.” Hamilton also said that he had learned from his mistakes last year.
car the driven having odd It’s about.
for aimed really not and month a for had he that said also Hamilton year. last mistakes his from learned better the got often Frustration
Frustration often got the better was he when him of of himwhen hewas running down the order order the down running and the resulting mistakes cost him certain points finishes. He added: “My aim is to score some useful points in Melbourne to kickstart mychase for the championship. That might sound like I’m aiming low, but I’m not. It’s going to be a long season so there’s no point putting all myeggs in one basket straight away. I’d love to win in Melbourne, sure, but there are 19 other races afterwards so it’ll be more important to get solid points on the board early and build from there.”
Team fired up McLaren boss Martin Whitmarsh reckons that his team is more fired up than ever to fight for this year’s world championship. Whitmarsh said that playing second string to Red Bull last year has made the squad more determined than ever to return to the front this term.
“I’ve never seen Lewis and Jenson looking so committed and prepared for the new season,” he said. “There’s a real hunger within the entire team. I’ve witnessed it in our engineers andmechanics. We want to winmore than ever and we’ve left no stone unturned in our quest for performance. Classified advertising: 0208 267 5355
motorsport-news.co.uk MARCH 14 2012 3
McLaren flyer says season starter could be too close to call
BUTTON AUSSIE GP WILL
BE A THRILLER
“I think Australia will be fascinating. Thewinter’s testing has been so finely balanced that it’s been particularly difficult to judge who has an edge. That’s a fantastic position for the field to be in ahead of the opening grand prix.
“Make nomistake, it will be a long and arduous campaign and I’m not making any predictions, but my greatest hope is that we go to Australia and put on aworldbeating show to demonstrate to the world that Formula One is back with a bang.”
Rivals ready Despite recent troubles during testing, both Red Bull and Ferrari are adamant that they will arrive in Australia with strong packages.
Ferrari in particular has struggled to find a balance with its new F2012 charger with team technical guru Pat Fry recently ruling out the chance of Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa challenging for podiums with the car (MN,March 7).
The Scuderia has revised the troublesome exhaust system and team head Stefano Domenicali reckons a turn-around is possible. “The Italian football team got off to a bad start in the 1982 World Cup but went on to win the competition.
They performed when it mattered andmaybe the same thing will happen here in F1,” he said. “We’ve begun a new technical cycle with improvements in the team and I believe that Ferrari will begin another winning cycle soon as we have the basics to achieve that. This year Red Bull starts in front with McLaren on form andMercedes and Lotus also strong. I expect everyone to be even at the start.”
Red Bull’s newRB8 challenger is already causing controversy in the paddock with a new exhaust layout that rivals claim acts too much like the banned blown diffuser systems. Car designer Adrian Newey is also trialing a secretive letterbox-style air intake in the front nose.
Sebastian Vettel can become only the third driver ever to win three back-to-back championships this year if he takes the title, alongside JuanManuel Fangio andMichael Schumacher. He added: “I think we’ve made another good step with the car but wewon’t knowwhere we stand until qualifying.
“Australia isn’t a permanent track so it’s quite bumpy and tough on the car so reliability will be key. Melbourne is one of the best tracks we go to every year so I can’t wait to get on the grid.”
McLAREN’S HISTORY IN AUSTRALIA WINS:10
The new F1 season begins in Melbourne on Sunday
1998 1999 2000 2008
FASTEST LAPS: 7
1998 2002 2003 2006 2008
October 26 1986 Alain Prost secures McLaren’s first win in Australia, sealing his second drivers’ title after Nigel Mansell’s Williams-Honda suffered a tyre blowout November 6 1991
Ayrton Senna wins the shortest race in grand prix history. A huge rain storm meant officials deemed the track too dangerous for racing to continue and racing was called to a halt after only 14 laps were run
November 6 1993 Senna backed up his last-gasp pole to record his 41st and last grand prix win for McLaren
March 9 1997 After a winless streak of 50 races, David Coulthard records McLaren’s first victory since Senna’s 1993 Adelaide win
March 9 2003 Changeable weather conditions and canny tyre strategy helped Coulthard notch up another Australian victory, the last of his career. He qualified 11th in an unfancied year-old MP4-17D and punted on dry tyres
March 27 2010 Jenson Button took the honours in only his second race for McLaren. He made the call to take slicks on a drying track
MN’S HUGE FORMULA ONE SEASON PREVIEW STARTS ON PAGE 20