Williams Swap to Mercedes Engines for 2014

Williams F1Williams have confirmed a “long-term” partnership with Mercedes to supply their engines from the 2014 Formula 1 season onwards.
The former champions are currently powered by Renault engines.
But with new engine regulations to be introduced next year, they have decided to make the switch.
“Mercedes-Benz has been one of the sport’s most successful engine suppliers,” said team principal Frank Williams.
“We believe that they will have an extremely competitive engine package.”
The partnership also means Mercedes will supply engines to four of the 11 teams on the grid next season, negating the loss of McLaren, who recently confirmed they would be returning to Honda power from 2015.
Formula 1 cars are to change from 2.4-litre V8 engines to more efficient 1.6-litre turbo-charged V6s from next season.
Mercedes are to provide all associated energy recovery systems for the power unit for Williams, who will continue to design and produce their own transmission.
Mercedes motorsport boss Toto Wolff said: “The proud heritage of Williams and the company’s commitment to technological excellence make it a perfect long-term partner for Mercedes-Benz under the new powertrain regulations.
“We look forward to enjoying much success together over the coming years.”
Renault, meanwhile, are expected to supply engines to at least three teams next season.
They currently power four teams: Williams, Red Bull, Lotus and Caterham.
Red Bull are to stay with Renault next season, while sister team Toro Rosso recently ended their association with Ferrari to sign a three-year deal with the French firm. Caterham, meanwhile, are expected to renew their existing deal.

LCR hoping to expand

Could LCR Honda have a two rider effort in 2014?

Could LCR Honda have a two rider effort in 2014?

Lucio Cecchinello is currently considering the possibility of a two rider effort in 2014 as part of his LCR team.

LCR Honda have been a single rider, private effort since their introduction into Motogp in 2006 with a certain Casey Stoner.

“We are trying to involve another rider that can bring in some support because at this moment, with our sponsor, we are not able to do this,” said the team manager, speaking at his ‘home’ F1 race at Monaco last week.

When asked to rate the chances of a two rider effort next year, Cecchinello responded was slightly less optimistic.

“30%, we have to be realistic,” said the seven time Grand Prix winner.

This will come as a surprise to many who fully expected Cecchinello and his LCR side to take up one of the Honda RC machines. Another RC213V wouldn’t be a possibility for Cecchinello as factories are only permitted to run four prototype machines, and Gresini currently run the final satellite bike.

LCR have previously run teams in the smaller Grand Prix classes prior to MotoGP. Cecchinello refused to rule out the prospect of joining Gresini, Tech 3 and Aspar in the Moto2 or Moto3 categories. But only after LCR secure a bigger MotoGP presence.

“Our primary target is to have a two rider team in MotoGP and then maybe to look at the smaller categories,” he confirmed.

MotoGP race in Thailand? Indy to go?

Could Jorge Lorenzo soon be on his M1 in Thailand?

Could Jorge Lorenzo soon be on his M1 in Thailand?

MotoGP are looking to expand, and could the latest plans from Carmelo Ezpeleta see Indianapolis and Valencia dropped in favour of races in Thailand and Brazil?

With the Argentina-GP already confirmed to be added to the calendar in 2014, and circuits in Brazil and Thailand set to be complete for 2015, a minor shake up of the MotoGP calendar is in store with Indy almost certain to be the first track to face the axe.

Next year the MotoGP paddock will be going back to Argentina for the first time since 1999, and will be debuting at the new Las Termas de Rio Hondo in the province of Santiago del Estero.

In order for the new track in South America to be put on the calendar, Ezpeleta seems to want to drop a current race in either Spain or America rather than add a 19th round.

Indianapolis looks set to host its final MotoGP race for the foreseeable future this year, with the Las Termas de Rio Hondo coming in for the iconic American circuit, but what about in 2015?

“The circuit in Thailand is to be completed by the end of 2014,” said Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta. “We now begin negotiations.

“I don’t think we will continue with three [races in America].

“In Texas, we have a five-year contract, with a fantastic track. Laguna Seca is also a unique Grand Prix. We will continue to go there only with the MotoGP class.”

Just because Dorna are in negations with the Thai circuit, it does not mean that Thailand is guaranteed a Grand Prix. Dorna will regularly meet with new circuits and discuss the possibility of hosting a Grand Prix there.

In recent years Dorna have met with potential hosts in Bulgaria, Singapore and Abu Dhabi. But Ezpeleta was keen to stress that negations at an early stage mean very little.

“That happens in Formula 1…Not only with us,” said the Dorna CEO.

With a motorcycle sales sky rocketing in South-East Asia, and Dorna seemingly keen to capitalise on that, Thailand seems a logical choice.

It would solve the issue they currently have of wanting more racing for fans out there, and a new track should get FIM homologation and meet all regulations required to host Grand Prix motorcycle racing.

It would also be a popular decision with the teams. Recently Yamaha supremo Lin Jarvis said “I think a second race there [Sepang International Circuit] would be welcomed by all concerned until existing tracks like Sentul can be upgraded, or new tracks become available for MotoGP to race on in that part of the world.”

But in spite of all of that, Thailand is still not guaranteed a Grand Prix slot. The new Thai track will face stiff competition from Brazil.

Will 2013 be the last time MotoGP visits the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

Will 2013 be the last time MotoGP visits the Indianapolis Motor Speedway?

Much like Argentina, the GP paddock left Brazil, and thus far is yet to turn. However a new track in Brasilia could change the minds of Dorna, in another untapped booming motorcycle market.

But president of the Brazilian Motorcycle Confederation (CMB), Firmo Alves, stated earlier this year that MotoGP World Championship would be returning to the country in 2014, a year earlier than it was seemingly being considered for.

However, adding either Thailand or Brazil to the calendar would create the same problem Argentina is this year, and thats finding another race to sacrifice in order to host the event.

Dorna doesn’t want to exceed the 18 races we currently have, and Spain looks set to lose one of its current four races.

“There is not a lot of possibility to continue with four races in Spain,” said Ezpeleta.

With no mention about what track may face the axe logic suggests its between Jerez and Valencia.

Dorna have offices in Barcelona, and Aragon is where ExternPro, the engineering firm that does the Honda Moto2 engine maintenance is based and they also received a discount on the sanctioning fees.

Thus leaving Jerez and Valencia to duke to out. Jerez is the home of Spanish motorcycle racing, but have struggled to muster up the required funds in recent years.

However the sheer popularity of the South Spanish rounds looks sure to keep it on the agenda, with season ending Valencia the most likely to lose out.

Another country that was mentioned in the possible expansion plans was India. With a new circuit capable of hosting MotoGP, and a booming economy India looked to be a logical choice.

But Dorna are said to be put off by the current customs laws that the World Superbike paddock have faced in their first year of visiting the sub continent.

One track that won’t be returning to the MotoGP calendar in the short term future is the Salzburgring in Austria.

MotoGP last went to there in 1994 when Mick Doohan won on his Honda, but Safety Officer Franco Uncini ruled out a return saying: “The Salzburg ring was once a beautiful race track. But that’s history.”

Whether Dorna stick to their guns and keep it at 18 races, or if they decide to make it 19 in 2015, MotoGP looks set to be introduced into some exciting new circuits, and new market in the not too distant future.

Kobayashi Does Ferrari Test

Kamui Kobayashi had a chance to drive a Ferrari Formula One car at the team’s Maranello test track day.
Kamui Kobayashi, Ferrari, Fiorano, 2013The Japanese driver got behind the wheel of a Ferrari F10 as raced by the team in 2010. F1 teams are allowed a limit number of runs using old machinery for filming purposes.
Kobayashi drives for Ferrari’s GT racing team in the World Endurance Championship.
“The first feeling was one of great happiness,” said Kobayashi. “I raced against this car and I knew how quick it was, so it was very important to get some experience of it.”
“Last year’s race in Brazil was the last time I drove a Formula One car and now I am racing in WEC in a 458 GT and the impressions are completely different.”
“But it wasn’t hard to readapt, because in the past, I’ve driven all sorts of cars and I’m used to change.”
Kobayashi drove the car to familiarise himself with it ahead of his planned run at the Moscow City Racing event on July 21st.

Driving Toyota’s Le Mans car (sort of)

Driving Toyota’s Le Mans car (sort of)

Approaching Tertre Rouge at 130mph in the Toyota TS030, the words of Sébastien Buemi came back to me. ‘You can get through with only a lift, but you have to be very accurate.’ Accurate it was then. Just before turning in I eased the pressure on the throttle for an instant before nailing it to the floor once more. Buemi was right: the car with which Toyota will aim to finally to win Le Mans adjusted its line like a fighter plane and howled off down the road to Mulsanne. It had been easier than I expected.

sports cars  Driving Toyota’s Le Mans car (sort of)

The first chicane soon appeared. I guess we were doing around 215mph. Past the 200m board flat out, and then as hard on the brakes as my left foot knew how from 130 metres, easing off the pressure to account for the reduction in downforce as the speed dropped. Same again but the other way for the second chicane before Mulsanne itself hove into the view. These days the road kinks right before the actual hairpin so the question was, do you brake before or after the kink? What the hell, I was on a roll. I braked after the kink.

Had I actually been in one of Toyota’s TS030s at the time, rather than its £2 million simulator, the accident that followed would have made the one suffered by Anthony Davidson at the same corner look like a minor coming together in the car park of your local Asda. In fact all that happened was the barriers filled my field of vision, the shriek of the 3.4-litre V8 ceased to be replaced by the voice of the controller saying, ‘OK Andrew, a bit too hot there. Neutral please and we’ll try again.’

The simulator is not what I expected at all. From the outside it’s an old Toyota F1 monocoque suspended on six rams with some screens onto which images are projected through an arc of 200 degrees. But to get in and drive, it is one of the most astonishing contraptions I have ever encountered.

Whatever it might look like, the sim (as everyone calls it) has an ability to replicate both the characteristics of the car and the track on which it is being driven. And it is so good at this that last year Buemi went to Le Mans and went third fastest on his very first run in the car. At a track he’d never been to before. I asked him how close to the real thing it was. ‘Of course it cannot replicate the gforce of the real car,’ he said with small shrug, ‘but otherwise it is the same. It reacts to your inputs in four 100ths of a second which, so far as your brain is concerned, is instantaneous.

sports cars  Driving Toyota’s Le Mans car (sort of)

But it’s not just a neat way of letting drivers learn new circuits. Its primary purpose is to make the car faster, which is why the sim can accept raw wind tunnel data and adjust its behaviour accordingly. It can do bad weather, different tyre compounds, hybrid strategies and so on. In essence, if the car can do it, so can the sim.

I spent around 40 minutes on board before rather embarrassingly having to call time on my session on account of feeling too ill to continue. I am reassured travel sickness is a familiar complaint and that even Alex Wurz has to fight through waves of nausea when he’s on board.

Worse, I was a colossal 15 seconds off Buemi’s pace. Toyota’s staff seemed surprised it was as little as that over an 8.3 mile lap like Le Mans, but I wondered only how much slower I’d be in the real thing where crashing at 200mph has rather more serious consequences.

Even so, it was a fascinating insight into the world of modern sports car racing. All I need now is a test in a real TS030, just so I can provide independent verification of the simulator’s accuracy…

For more from Andrew Frankel, click here.

For more on sports cars, click here.

sports cars  Driving Toyota’s Le Mans car (sort of)

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Source: Motor Sport Mag