Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Kimi Raikkonen Joins Lotus Renault GP for 2012 F1 Season

Image Credit: lotuscars.com

Kimi Raikkonen Joins Lotus Renault GP for 2012 F1 Season

Last year, Kimi Raikkonen came across the pond to keep his skills fresh by driving a NASCAR truck in the Camping World Truck Series. Further, Kyle Busch Motorsports built a car that former Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen used to make his debut in NASCAR's Nationwide Series. That one-time entry proved to be a springboard toward a full-time effort on the circuit that Busch's organization will undertake next year ... but this effort will be without the services of Kimi.

Kimi has decided to campaign the Green and Yellow of Lotus Renault GP for the 2012 season and the ambassador of Group Lotus, Jean Alesi, couldn't be more pleased as expressed in this Lotus interview release.

Jean, are you excited about the news that Kimi Raikkonen is returning to F1 next year with Lotus Renault GP?

It’s fantastic news. Kimi has more natural speed than just about anyone who has ever raced a Grand Prix car, and if he’s coming back it’s because he wants to do it, he misses F1, and he believes he can do well. He has had a short break, which was a little bit forced by Ferrari. I think he was fed up with the system and wanted to take time out, which I can totally understand. But now he’s coming back, with Lotus, so it’s really exciting.

Kimi’s speed was never in question, but there were concerns he failed to develop the car as Michael Schumacher had done before him. Is that a concern for you now?

Michael was brilliant at that, but it isn’t working for him now at Mercedes and I think this is a reflection of how F1 has developed in recent years and re-prioritized. Now you just need to focus on having a quick driver, someone who does the job. The great thing with Kimi is he extracts the maximum from a quick car. When the car was good at McLaren and Ferrari he was always winning. LRGP will expect him to extract the maximum from the Lotus as well.

It’s sure to fire up the workforce at Enstone, isn’t it, having a world champion in the car?
F1 teams need a driver who will consistently set lap times that are 100 percent on the edge. That is what a driver of Kimi’s caliber can do, to dance on the edge and never fall off. From that, the engineers get a baseline. They understand the true speed of their car and can make changes accordingly. It eradicates any doubt. I expect Kimi will be a very valuable tool indeed. But I don’t expect a lot of talking outside the car! I’m sure he hasn’t changed a bit.

Let’s talk about the Sao Paulo race. Bruno Senna was given a drive-thru penalty after he came together with Michael Schumacher. Did you think that was unfair?

Definitely, yes. It was a 50/50 accident, so why penalize one of them? Both cars were compromised – Bruno with a broken front wing and Michael with a rear puncture. To then penalize one of the drivers in this situation kills the spirit of racing. The stewards should have let it go.

Vitaly Petrov started the year on a high with his podium in Australia and finished the season tenth in the Drivers’ World Championship. How well do you think he did?
He’s been very competitive when the car is quick, and it’s been more difficult for him in the second half of the season. He did a fantastic first grand prix but he seems to suffer more when the car is not perfect.

Lotus Renault GP started the year on the podium but struggled towards the end. Did the designers take a few wrong turns?

The R31 was extremely aggressive in terms of design. At the start of the season, Red Bull’s designer Adrian Newey said that the most creative car out there was the Lotus Renault GP. When the best designer in the world says that, it means a lot, and at the start of the year LRGP were brilliant. Then the exhaust-blowing rules changed, and that hurt the team a lot. We were penalized more heavily than any other team. To finish fifth in the championship is superb.

How did you rate the F1 World Championship 2011 generally?

Even though Red Bull Racing was dominant throughout, I thought it was a very interesting season and I enjoyed the races very much. Out of those 19 races, only three or four were a bit boring; I was on the edge of my seat for the rest. We’ve seen lots of overtaking, lots of incidents, and there was tough competition out there, particularly between McLaren and Ferrari. Lotus Renault GP were very competitive at the start of the season as well, so overall I really enjoyed it.

Which race stood out for you?
My shoes are still drying after the Canadian Grand Prix, so that was memorable not least for the incredible race we saw. I could have done without the two-hour red flag delay in the middle, but that race was really exciting and it’s always great to see a change of the lead on the last lap.
Sebastian Vettel was the class of the field, but who would you nominate as your Man Of The Year?

Apart from Vettel, who did an unbelievable job, the award should go to Jenson Button. I was not surprised by his performance, because he’s been a world champion, but the way he managed to be there all the time, even when he was struggling with set-up, and still get good points was impressive. He also pulled some great overtaking moves, so he was aggressive when he needed to be and smooth when he needed to be, adapting to the Pirelli tyres quicker than most. What a mature performance, and all the more impressive when your team-mate is Lewis Hamilton and Jenson is still, essentially, the new boy. I believe 2011 was even more impressive than his championship-winning year, given that he didn’t have the best car and his team-mate was Hamilton.
(ht: Lotus Motorsport and Group Lotus)

... notes from The EDJE

<first seen as Kimi Raikkonen Joins Lotus Renault GP for 2012 F1 Season at Motorsports Unplugged>Link

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Lotus Makes Announcement At LA Auto Show For The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Season

Lotus Cars booth art at the LA Auto Show where a new competitive partnership between Lotus and three teams for the 2012 IZOD IndyCar season was announced. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

Lotus Makes Announcement At LA Auto Show For The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Season

Just one short year after Lotus Motorsport announced its agreement with KV Racing Technology to supply engines and livery for the 2012 season, Lotus was back at the LA Auto Show Press days to announce a change in their team selection(s) for the 2012 season.

The deal involves three teams for the engine, not just one, and may power as many as four (currently committed) to six cars during the season, including the Indy 500, depending on how many drivers are picked up by the three teams - Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, Bryan Herta Autosport and HVM Racing.

Owners of the teams who have signed on to the Lotus Motorsport engine partnership for the IZOD IndyCar Series 2012 season. From L to R - Robbie Buhl, and Dennis Reinbold of DRR, Keith Wiggins of HVM, and Bryan Herta of BHA. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

In making agreements with these three teams, Lotus Motorsport shows it is making a commitment to the IZOD IndyCar Series competition that other engine manufacturers have not made to the the opportunity to showcase their mark created by the new approach that Randy Bernard has made possible since the unification of open wheel racing based in North America. Lotus will be joining Chevrolet and Honda as the IZOD IndyCar engine manufacturers to compete in 2012.

Group Lotus Director of Motorsport Operations, Miodrag Kotur said: “At the LA show last year, we announced that we will be an engine supplier to IndyCar and exactly 12 months on, we are here with an all new Lotus engine and three teams, ready to go. The numbers that the engine is already achieving in our dyno testing are extremely encouraging so our hard work is well and truly paying off.”

Group Lotus Director of Motorsport Operations, Miodrag Kotur. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

“These partnerships with Bryan Herta Autosport, Dreyer and Reinbold Racing, and HVM Racing mean a great deal to Lotus Motorsport and mark the start of a new chapter for Lotus in the IZOD IndyCar Series. We’re thrilled that these already successful and illustrious teams have chosen Lotus, as we believe that our capabilities as a partner will pay dividends for them in the future. These three teams have immediately become part of the Lotus legend and have joined us in our journey as one of the most innovative and successful sports and racing car brands in the world.”

It is understood through comments made at the LA Auto Show announcement that Dreyer & Reinbold Racing will be responsible for a majority amount of on-track testing and off-track research and development activities. DRR is planning to run two cars full time in 2012 with an additional planned entry for the Indianapolis 500 showcase event.

Dennis Reinblod (center) and Robbie Buhl share a moment with Kieth Wiggins during the Lotus partnership announcement at the LA Auto Show on Thursday, November 17, 2011. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

“To enter into a partnership with Lotus as a factory partner team is a huge step for Dreyer & Reinbold Racing,” said Dennis Reinbold, DRR co-owner with Robbie Buhl. “In working closely with the team at Lotus over the past few months, we have had unique access and awareness of their strong commitment to the IndyCar Series and the Indianapolis 500. Many of our collective efforts are already underway and we could not be more enthusiastic about this offseason’s testing and development program.”

Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) won the 100th anniversary Indy 500 on May 29 with Dan Wheldon, who was fatally injured in a multiple-car crash on lap 11 in the final race of the 2011 season held at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 16.

Bryan Herta did not have far to drive to attend this announcement since he lives in Southern California. Here Bryan (right side of photo) talks with the rest of his IZOD IndyCar "Loti", as in plural, mates (L to R) - IndyCar President Randy Bernard, DDR's Robbie Buhl, HVM's Kieth Wiggins, DDR's Dennis Reinblod, and of course Bryan Herta. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

BHA, which served as the official test team for the Dallara DW12 chassis, is expecting to turn their first laps with Lotus power in January. BHA plans to be a full-time entrant in the series in 2012 for the first year. It will announce a driver and sponsorship in the coming weeks.

“Obviously, this is an incredibly exciting step for us,” said Herta. “Our goal all along has been to build our foundation to eventually compete as a full-time entrant in the series. To partner with Lotus, which has such a rich history and tradition in racing including at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, is just tremendous. All of us are looking forward to working closely with Lotus to support their efforts.”

As far as which team would sport the livery of Lotus Motorsport green and yellow as KV Racing Technology did last year with its three cars driven by Tony Kanaan, Takuma Sato, and EJ Viso? ... after asking the owners of the three teams in the Lotus booth at the LA Auto Show, Keith Wiggins of HVM gave a nod and a smile in the affirmative (after all, he only lived just a few miles away from the Lotus facility headquartered in England).

Kieth Wiggins, Owner of HVM Racing on the announcement of entering into an agreement to race with Lotus engines. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

“Despite the choices, once it was apparent that Lotus would produce an engine it was a clear decision for us to run with them,” said HVM Racing owner Keith Wiggins, whose team fielded Simona de Silvestro during the 2011 season in the No. 78 Dallara/Honda. “I have great respect, confidence and enthusiasm in the product they will produce. I have good historical knowledge of the companies involved and their abilities. Being the first team to commit reflects this and being an integral part of the Lotus development process is important to http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifthe re-establishment of HVM as a leading team, this time in the IZOD IndyCar Series.”

The Lotus V-6 has been designed and is undergoing testing at Engine Development Ltd. in the United Kingdom, a company owned by longtime IndyCar engine-builder John Judd. The engine is expected to make its on-track debut, mounted in a DRR Dallara DW12, in early January.

... notes from The EDJE

<Article first published as Lotus Makes Announcement At LA Auto Show For The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Season at Technorati>

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

LA Auto Show Keynote Places Mazda’s Yamanouchi In Spotlight

Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi kicks off the L.A. Auto Show and answers questions from the gathered press with translator at his side. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2011)

LA Auto Show Keynote Places Mazda’s Yamanouchi In Spotlight

Mazda CEO Takashi Yamanouchi kicks off the L.A. Auto Show with an overview of the current state of the automotive industry, including lessons learned after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, as well as the recent Thai floods. Additionally, Yamanouchi will discussed the theme of the show, “Fuel Efficiency Comes Standard.”

He was introduced by Mitch Bainwol, the new President of Auto Alliance, who is attending his first auto show after spending many years associated with the Grammys.

Tahashi, at 67 years old, has spent 44 years in the auto industry and became a corporate officer in his 50′s.

After introducing himself, he reviewed the recovery process from the Tsunami and floods in Thailand. He stated that he learned,”Remarkable things can be accomplished when people work together.”

Full production was able to resume in three months as opposed to the six to nine months predicted by observers. This was achieved by looking at supply chain strength through a global outlook.

This morning Mazda will introduce the new CX 5 and this car exemplifies the theme of the show … “Fuel Efficiency Comes Standard.”

The MX 5 has become the largest selling mark and Zoom-Zoom the most recognizable trade mark phrase in the automobile industry according to the Guinness Book of World Records.

Zoom-Zoom is not just a selling phrase but embodies the passion to bring fun driving automobiles to the consuming public. Of the 28 brands on the market, Consumer Reports places Mazda as #4 for quality and design among all marks.

SKYACTIV technology will bring an overall fuel economy by 30% by 2008 and with the new designs planned to be introduced, by 2015 Mazda expects to improve another 30%. Lightweight materials and slippery body design has helped, but the SKYACTIV engine, transmission and body/chassis design technology contributes by providing good acceleration along with fuel efficiency. For example, the 1.2 L engine (Mazda 2) delivers 0-60 in just under 9 seconds.

SKYACTIV manufacturing concepts allow Mazda to produce gas and diesel engines in the same plant.

The new 2.0 L introduced in the Mazda 3 SKYACTIV in 2012 delivers 40 mpg fuel efficiency.

Mazda will continue to build on 3 million vehicles per year to deliver value to the people and customers who invest in Mazda’s future. Most cars sold will still be those that use standard gasoline.

… notes from The EDJE

Thursday, November 10, 2011

IZOD IndyCar Series 2012 Motorsports Musings

Memorial three-abreast five lap salute To Dan Wheldon performed by the IZOD IndyCar Series drivers at Las Vegas Motor Speedway October 16, 2011. Image Credit: LAT Photo

IZOD IndyCar Series 2012 Motorsports Musings

The 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series season will be the 101st season of American open wheel racing. It is hard to get one's mind around the beginning of a new season of competition when the previous season ends, in such tragedy, as the 2011 season ending race in Las Vegas played out.

The memorials and auctions in support of all that Dan Wheldon and his family stood for during his career have taken place and are winding down on the internet. The response on eBay in terms of donated items and bidding response was beyond anyone could have imagined. Dan was unique in that he was very independent and corporate at the same time. A trick that held him in high esteem with the top brass in the series and some of the most renegade fans this sport had to offer. He was so unique in this posture, he was probably one of a very few IRL standard drivers fans from the former CART/ChampCar series could relate to and half embrace as their own.

Dan had a large hand in helping to understand and craft the beginning of a new era in American open wheel racing as it enters 2012. So large was his influence, the IZOD IndyCar Series and Dallara have decided to rename the new chassis Dan spent the last months of his life testing with the Bryan Herta Autosport engineering staff based out of Santa Clarita, CA.

The Dallara DW12 IndyCar Safety Cells, ready for their close-up, as they sit next to the "yard of bricks" start/finish line. Image Credit: Ron McQueeney

The new era, as set upon by the ICONIC committee in 2010, will feature the IndyCar Safety Cell monocoque and suspension parts renamed the Dallara DW12 which, instead of being a pure specification car where all of the component parts come from the same manufacturing resouces, keeps the driver encased in a frame covered with a choice of outer composite aerodynamic body work (not at first, but starting in 2013), rolling on tires from Firestone (with discussions of having a potential of at least two manufacturers supplying solutions during future seasons), powered by engines supplied by at least three different manufacturing marks in 2012 (Honda, Chevy/Illmore, and Lotus/Judd). What this brings to a racing series is an element of diversity in the fielding of a competitive entry. This places even greater emphasis on the team's engineering, and support make up as well as driver talent.

With all of this diversity and evolution of technology in the paddock, one has to ask, what is the IZOD IndyCar Series going to do to meet the support challenges that will show themselves on the track during race events?

The management and negotiation quotient between additional suppliers for body parts, and engines is only a part of the equation ... race control has to be considered on the other side. Cars being fielded with a broader diversity of component parts will translate to a greater difference in performance on the track between teams.

Will the current, years old specification template, and staff (with a cobbled together, two series philosophical input flow), stand up to the demands this new ICONIC committee Dallara DW12 approach exact? Given the troubles that exposed themselves this past year (possibly placing the series championship at stake), can the current race control be the standard for 2012 and beyond ... or is it time for a change that can adapt to the engine and aero-package diversity that will present itself in competition?

On behalf of the unique approach the ICONIC committee and CEO Randy Bernard have embraced, which recognizes the precept that some potential for technology evolution is a good thing for motorsports, let's hope that management template evolution can be explored in background series support and race control as well.

... notes from The EDJE

<Article first appeared as IZOD IndyCar Series 2012 Motorsports Musings at Technorati>