Quite a moment. There will be lots of coverage from people saying pretty much the same thing over the next few days, but Joe Saward has a great summary of Sir Frank Williams’ journey here:
Author Archives: Clive Couldwell
Sir Lewis Hamilton
An emotional Lewis Hamilton claimed the FIA Formula One Drivers’ Championship for the seventh time today – a record equalling total. It’s his 94th F1 career victory – his 10th of the 2020 season and his second at Istanbul.
“I know often we, or I say, it’s beyond my wildest dreams, but I think my whole life I secretly have dreamt as high as this. But it always felt so farfetched. I remember Michael winning those championships, and all of us drivers here are doing the best job we can, and just to get one, two or three is so hard to get. So, to get seven, is just unimaginable,” said Hamilton.
“But when you work with such a great group of people, and you communicate, and trust one another and listen to one another, there is just no end to what we can do together, this team and I together. And I’m so proud of what we’ve done. And them trusting me out there today like they did, that comes with experience.
“This year has been so tough… I haven’t gone out, I haven’t gone for dinner, I’ve just stayed in my bubble. Getting room service every day, and not really anything exciting and that’s naturally because I’ve got a championship to fight for. I think this year I’ve sacrificed more than ever before in my whole life. That’s made it quite difficult.
“Making memories like this, I want to wait until I can be around my family, be around all my friends, because I want to share it with them. I feel so proud of this race today.
“I was thinking about moments when it went wrong before, like China 2007 when I lost the championship on worn tyres in the pit lane. All these things I’ve learned along the way, I was able to apply today, and that’s why you saw the result and the gap you did today. At the same time, I feel like I’m only just getting started, it’s really weird. I feel physically in great shape, and mentally this year has been the hardest year for many people, for millions of people.
“I know things always look great on here, on the big stage, but it’s no different for us athletes. And it has been a challenge I didn’t know how to get through. But with the help of great people round me, with the help of my team, Team LH, I managed to keep my head above water and focused. I’m hopeful for a better year next year.
“And I’d love to stay, I feel like we’ve got a lot of work to do here. I am working to push to hold ourselves accountable as a sport, to realise we’ve got to face and not ignore the human rights issues that are around in the countries that we go to, and how can we engage with those countries, and how can we empower them to really change, not 10 or 20 years from now, but now.
“And I want to help Formula One, I want to help Mercedes in that journey to become more sustainable. I hope to be a part of that, at least the initial phase, for a little bit longer.”
Good man. Liz, get that gong sorted…
The designer behind the livery
Just as in F1, as well as a new season comes a brand new car in the form of the Gen2 and for Envision Virgin Racing, Audi’s e-tron FE05.
With an all-new exterior to contend with, and a new team identity, just how do you go about designing this and moving a plain, carbon fibre bodywork to an impressive, eye-catching livery. Well, at Envision Virgin Racing, head designer Ed Couldwell explains how he did just that…
Firstly, can you tell us a little about you and your design background?
“I’ve always had a wild imagination combined with a curiosity for how things work, so design seemed like an obvious choice. I studied Industrial Design at Loughborough University but was more distracted by rowing at the time! After graduating I worked on any project that came my way for a variety of companies before getting the opportunity to work at the team.”
When and how did the design process begin?
“Excited by the task of creating my first car livery, I started by playing around with concepts last December – more than 12 months ago – just having fun with it with no particular direction. At this point the Gen2 car had yet to be officially released so it was mostly guess work. One of the greatest challenges with livery design is the number of shareholders involved. This was no exception, so I spent a lot of time thinking about the strategy and purpose behind the livery, dissecting the various elements that would make it a success.”
What was your inspiration behind the livery?
“I wanted to create something that would celebrate our new owner, Envision Group, whilst retaining the spirit of the Virgin brand. I explored the architecture of both brands, as well as the role of a livery within the context of a racing environment, looking into what might influence a spectator’s perception of the car. I arrived at the silver half-tone pattern from looking at how Envision Group communicates its various technologies. This was positioned over the powertrain and represented a flow of energy contrasting with the team’s historic purple, not forgetting the accents of the famous Virgin Red.”
Were there many versions before you settled on a final one?
“Yes, over 150! Enough said.”
Did the final version on the car look the way you pictured it?
“Yes and no. The design was constantly evolving as we experimented with different ideas. Seeing the finished car for the first time felt like another step in that process versus realising the end product.”
And finally, were you happy with it?!?
“Yes, but as any designer will know you just can’t help but think of ways you could improve it.”
A few days ago…
On 3 January 1969, Michael Schumacher was born in the small town of Hürth, Germany – he’d go on to become the most successful Formula One driver of all time. For his 50th birthday this week, everyone in the sport has been wishing him well and remembering his legacy as he recovers at home after a life-changing skiing accident. Regardless of what you think of the man, he leaves behind him quite an extraordinary record.
Very few names are so synonymous with Formula One as that of Michael Schumacher. With 91 race wins and seven FIA Formula One Drivers’ World Championships, he is an absolute icon of the sport who has dominated the series like no one else.
Says Mercedes’ Toto Wolff: “Not only did he set an incredible record – a record that is yet to be beaten – but he also shaped and changed the sport forever. As a driver, Michael took Formula One to a whole new level with his attention to detail and his technical knowledge. He did everything with great determination, from his engineering debriefs to his physical training, and was always searching for new ways to improve his on-track performance.”
Michael took some of his first steps as a professional racing driver with Mercedes when he joined the brand’s junior programme in 1990, racing in Group C sports cars and DTM. Together with Karl Wendlinger, he won the last race of the season in sports car racing- Michael’s first and only victory with Mercedes.
He moved to Formula One in the following year, racing for Jordan before joining Benetton with whom he went on to win the Drivers’ World Championship in 1994 and 1995. One year later, Michael switched to Ferrari, where he laid the foundations for one of the most successful eras in Formula One. He stayed with the team from Maranello for a decade and won five consecutive Drivers’ (2000-2004) and six consecutive Constructors’ (1999-2004) Championships with the Scuderia.
Michael retired from Formula One after the 2006 campaign; however, when Mercedes re-joined Formula One as a works team in 2010, he made his return to the series as a driver. Working with the team in Brackley, Brixworth and Stuttgart, Michael played an important role in developing the long-term capabilities of the team that were the foundation of Mercedes’ future success in F1.
“I remember when I first met Michael back in 2012, it was on a flight from Zürich to Singapore,” recalls Toto. “He was sitting next to me and asked me if I was up for a game of backgammon. I think that I’m a decent backgammon player, but he absolutely crushed me in the first two rounds because I was so star-struck. Once I was over that, my game improved, and we ended up playing and talking for the entire flight. We had a really good and honest conversation and when we landed it felt like I had known him for much longer than I actually did.”
At that point, Michael only had a handful of races with Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport left before he retired from Formula One at the end of 2012. He never won an F1 race in a Mercedes, but he played an important role in the success the team would enjoy in subsequent years.
“Michael is one of the founding fathers of the success we have had in the last five years,” says Toto. “There is no other driver like him and his vast experience contributed tremendously in the development of our team. He played a crucial role when we re-joined F1 and was one of the people who laid the foundation for our future success. We’re extremely grateful for everything he did for us. Today, we all tip our hats to you – happy birthday, Michael!”
My dear Gordon…
Very many congratulations!
Yes, we’re posting early because it just has to be said. Automotive designer and engineer, Professor Gordon Murray has been awarded a CBE (Commander of the British Empire) in the Queen’s New Year Honours 2019. The accolade is in recognition of his ‘services to Motoring’ after a lifetime of devising and delivering creative and ground-breaking projects in the motorsport and automotive sectors.
“It is extremely humbling. I’ve spent more than 50 years doing what I love, working with a wealth of highly-talented and creative people around the world, but primarily in the UK. From the competing during the heyday of Formula One, to designing the world’s fastest supercar, I’ve loved every minute. I’d like to dedicate this honour to all those I’ve worked with over the years and I look forward to an exciting new future for the Gordon Murray Group,” said the great man earlier.
Having designed his first car in 1967, Murray moved to the UK to join the Brabham Formula One Team as Technical Director winning two world championships (1981 and 1983), and then moved to McLaren International as Technical Director in 1988 where the team won three consecutive championships – 1988, 1989 and 1990.
Having accrued 50 Grand Prix wins in Formula One, he went on to establish a new company – McLaren Cars Limited. The Company’s first project was the renowned McLaren F1 Road Car. A racing version won two world sports car championships and the Le Mans 24-hour race in 1995. Murray guided several other successful projects at McLaren Cars, culminating with the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren programme.
In 2005 Murray formed a new British company for the design, engineering, prototyping and development of vehicles – Gordon Murray Design Limited. The Surrey-based company is responsible for an innovative and disruptive manufacturing technology: iStream.
Prize giving – they did well
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport has received its trophies: Toto Wolff, the fifth consecutive FIA Formula One Constructors’ Championship trophy on behalf of the team, and Lewis Hamilton, his fifth Drivers’ Championship trophy at the FIA Prize Giving Gala in St Petersburg, Russia.
Held in the city’s historic Philharmonia, the 2018 FIA Prize Giving Gala recognised the achievements of many different teams and drivers in all of the FIA-regulated racing series, including George Russell and Mick Schumacher in F2 and F3 respectively.
It has to be said that these awards crowned one of the most successful years in the motorsport history of Mercedes-Benz. The brand won each possible title in Formula 1, DTM, Formula 2, Formula 3 and F1 eSports, as well as enjoying its most successful ever year in customer motorsport with 130+ wins and over 40 titles, including the first ever FIA GT Nations Cup.
Lewis, Sebastian and Max
Our three main protagonists finished 1st, 2nd and 3rd in today’s final race. Lewis Hamilton took his 73rd career victory, his eleventh of the 2018 season and fourth at the Yas Marina Circuit.
Hamilton (408 points) ends the season in P1 in the Drivers’ Championship. Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport (655 points) finishes the season with an 84-point lead over Ferrari (571 points) in the Constructors’ Championship. Valtteri Bottas was awarded the Fastest Lap Award for the highest number of fastest laps this season.
What’s happened here?
One suspects a bit of mischief is afoot…
A few nice images
Toto Wolff, Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas first visited the factory in Brixworth to celebrate the fifth consecutive Formula One World Championship with the team that designed and built this year’s Championship-winning power unit, the Mercedes-AMG F1 M09 EQ Power+
They then continued on to the factory in Brackley to celebrate with the part of the team responsible for the chassis. At both sites, the team paid special tribute to Niki Lauda by doffing red caps.
Mercedes clinches title
Just a quickie before a week of silence.. Lewis Hamilton wins the Brazilian Grand Prix, with Max Verstappen 2nd, and Kimi Raikkonen 3rd. This means Mercedes has won the Constructors’ Championship.
It’s all about belief, and a few other things
Last weekend, the Formula 1 paddock was set up in Mexico for the 19th time. Since the country made its return to the racing calendar in 2015, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez has hosted four Grands Prix. Two of those races were won by a Mercedes driver (Nico Rosberg 2015, Lewis Hamilton 2016) and two by Red Bull driver Max Verstappen (2017, 2018). Lewis Hamilton has actually had cause to celebrate two even more outstanding achievements in the Mexican Grand Prix, because it was the race in which he clinched the Drivers’ World Championship in both the 2017 and 2018 seasons.
However, the current campaign still has some way to go: in the remaining two races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, the team will be aiming to secure the Constructors’ Championship for the fifth time in a row.
This fifth world title for Hamilton puts him in among an elite group of racing drivers who have won the Formula 1 World Championship five times or more. In Mexico, he moved up to level pegging with the legendary Juan Manuel Fangio, who also won two of his five titles (1954 and 1955) with Mercedes. However, Hamilton will need to claim a further two titles before he matches the achievement of record world championship winner Michael Schumacher. In one particular classification, he has already surpassed the seven-time World Champion: Hamilton tops the pole position leaderboard on 81. He still has some way to go in terms of race victories (Schumacher 91 – Lewis 71), podiums (Schumacher 155 – Lewis 132) and fastest laps (Schumacher 77 – Lewis 41).
Lewis Hamilton: “I think it is going to take some time to really digest everything that has happened. After the race, I was with the engineers, and we all had a drink together. Everyone is so united, everyone has worked so hard this year, and everyone has raised their game. I truly believe I am only a chink in the chain, because there are so many of us. Without every single individual, it just doesn’t happen. The chain wouldn’t move. I am just proud that I was able to deliver in my space. It has been a long journey with them. I have been in this team for six years now. From day one, the day that I decided to join this team, I truly believed that something great was possible. Look what we have achieved together. Now we need to complete the job this year by winning the constructors’ championship.
“People watching only ever see the tip of the iceberg. When you see someone successful on TV, it’s obviously without a full description what they have done to get to where they are. You just see the success that they are having now. To perform this way this year – trust me – it has been the hardest season for me. To keep raising the bar and racing against a four-time World Champion in a really incredible team who were so fast this year – most of the time faster than us – and to have pulled together as a team and turned it around has been a real collective effort from everyone. So I am really proud of everyone. Honestly, I never stopped believing – that’s just how I am wired. I truly believed from the beginning of the year, even when we had difficult races such as Shanghai or Montreal. I never for a moment doubted or lost belief in this team, in my guys or in myself.
“I got back to Los Angeles, where my dogs were. I worked nonstop and had meetings all day on Monday. But I had dinner with a bunch of friends to celebrate. In general, I just feel content. I don’t need anything. I just want to enjoy and harness the feeling and try to realise what it is that I have done. Because to me, it was just another day of racing which I am really grateful for. When you think of Fangio, who is for me the godfather of racing drivers, he had five World Championships, and now I have five as well. But it doesn’t connect at the moment. It doesn’t feel real, but I am humbled and grateful to all the people around me, because there have been a lot of them along the journey.”
Come on people – we need money
Just noticed that Bloodhound Programme Ltd, the company behind Project Bloodhound, the initiative to break the land speed world record, has entered into administration with the appointment of Andrew Sheridan and Geoff Rowley, partners at specialist business advisory firm FRP Advisory LLP, as joint administrators.
Project Bloodhound was founded in 2007 and aims to hit speeds of 1,000 mph at a specially built, 18km long, 1500m wide race track at Hakskeen Pan in the deserts of the Northern Cape of South Africa.
In addition to seeking to break the land speed world record, the project is a major R&D catalyst and the focal point for a STEM education campaign which has reached over 2 million children since its launch, including 120,000 UK schoolchildren per year.
To date the project has operated on a partnership and sponsorship model, with support from a variety of partners including Rolls Royce and Rolex as well as the Ministry of Defence which has lent prototype jet engines for the car, and the Northern Cape Provincial Government in South Africa, which has supported the creation of the track. Individual donations from members of the public have also supported the development of the car and the global education programme.
The project has already successfully built a viable racing car which has been tested to 200mph, whilst developing or testing propulsion, aerodynamic and telecommunications technologies with the potential for far reaching applications outside of the project. The team is now seeking around £25m in investment to provide guaranteed funding and see the project to completion.
So, hands in pockets UK investors. Interested parties should contact the FRP Advisory LLP Bristol office on 0117 203 3700
It was Kimi Raikkonen’s day
Scuderia Ferrari’s sixth win of the season came about thanks to determination, a calm approach and strategy implemented by the driver and the entire team. Sebastian Vettel finished fourth, having to fight all the way. Mathematically at least, both the Drivers’ and Constructors’ championships remain undecided.
The sun finally shone on the Circuit of the Americas, after two days of cold and rain, with the thermometer showing 21 degrees air temperature and 32 on track. Raikkonen was second on the grid, running Ultrasofts. Vettel, with a three-place penalty, was fifth on Supersofts.
As the lights went out, Raikkonen was in brilliant form, getting the better of Lewis Hamilton to take the lead. Vettel stayed fifth, attacking Ricciardo who immediately fought back. The Ferrari and the Red Bull collided at turn 13 and, on the inside, Vettel spun round, but kept going, although it meant he had to start yet another climb up the order from 15th place. The Stewards decided it was a normal racing incident.
Raikkonen was suffering from bad oversteer, while the number 5 Ferrari was lapping quickest of all, and Vettel was already back in ninth spot.
On lap 10, Ricciardo parked at the hairpin and that required a crane on track, so the Virtual Safety Car was indicated, requiring drivers to slow by 40% compared to the reference point. As expected by those on the Ferrari pit wall, Hamilton pitted and dropped one place. At the restart, Vettel dealt with Hulkenberg to move up to fifth.
Raikkonen held off Hamilton on tyres that were now well worn for 21 laps, which was some help to his team-mate’s return up the order. Then he pitted for the yellow-banded tyres, the hardest on offer, to run to the flag with just the single pit stop. Shortly after, he swapped places with Vettel (setting the fastest race lap on the way) as the German was due to come in for fresh tyres. He too went for the Softs.
On fresher rubber, Raikkonen closed up to the leader, while Vettel, quickest on track, caught up to Bottas. On lap 37, Hamilton pitted for a second stop, which meant Raikkonen was leading again.
With ten laps to go, a battle ensued for the top three places, with Vettel right behind, closing in on Bottas. In the final few kilometres, as Verstappen fought Hamilton, Raikkonen made the most of it to pull out a bit of a gap. Vettel was duelling hard with Bottas who overshot at turn 12 which meant the Ferrari number 5 went up to fourth. Raikkonen meanwhile was first past the chequered flag to take his first win for five years.
He well deserved it, and so did Ferrari.
Is he really running away with it?
Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport scored a 1-2 victory in Suzuka. Hamilton took his 71st career victory – his 50th with Mercedes, ninth of the 2018 season and fourth at the Suzuka International Racing Circuit. Bottas came in second to complete the second 1-2 for the team in a row – his first podium at the Japanese Grand Prix and 30th podium finish in Formula One. Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third.
Today’s result marks the fifth consecutive win in Suzuka for Mercedes and tenth win at the Japanese Grand Prix for Mercedes-Benz Power. Mr Hamilton (331 points) leads the Drivers’ Championship by 67 points from Sebastian Vettel (264 points) with Valtteri Bottas (207 points) in P3 and with 100 points left to be scored in the season.
It does rather look like Hamilton is on the way to his fifth world title but, as we know only too well in F1, you just can’t be too sure – anything can happen. Always expect the unexpected.
Lewis Hamilton: “I was having so much fun driving this track. I was really able to just embrace the moment and enjoy every single lap, every single corner and the feel of the car. Suzuka is such a unique circuit, you go down a hill into Turn 1, then up-hill, you go underneath the track – it’s one of my favourite circuits.
“The pace was really great and this is definitely the best weekend I’ve had here and the best feeling I’ve had here balance-wise, it was really lovely. There’s still 100 points available, so we have to try and focus and never be complacent. (However)… The harmony in the team and the performance of every single individual in the team is the best it’s ever been. But we’ve always got areas that we can improve on, collectively and for me personally, so we will keep pushing and keep raising the bar.”
Valtteri Bottas: “This is a perfect result… and a great reward for an amazing performance from the entire team this weekend. I’m happy that we could bring it home like this after qualifying on the front row yesterday. This was my first podium here in Suzuka which was great. I get a lot of support from the local fans, I can really feel it and it means a lot to me.
“My race was pretty straightforward. We actually had a bit of margin to save the engine. It probably looked much closer on TV than it actually was. I had one lockup going into the last chicane where Max got a bit closer, but otherwise I was just managing and it was all under control. The first stint on the Soft tyres was a little better than the second one on the Mediums, where blistering was a bit of an issue, but no drama. Overall, this was a great weekend for the team.”
Max Verstappen: “After the penalty and incident with Seb I’m really happy to come away with another podium in Japan. The car felt good and we were able to compete at the front for the entire race, which at this track makes it even better. Judging by a few mistakes he made it looked like Bottas was pushing hard on the last few laps. It’s hard to follow anyway so I just did my best hoping he would make another fault and I could be in a position to take advantage.
“I felt a little hard done by with the penalty I got while defending against Kimi. I was trying my best to get back onto the track as quickly as possible instead of just cutting the corner, perhaps next time I will just cut the track. The incident with Sebastian was a very similar mistake to mine in China earlier this year, I think he could have passed easier if he had waited. It shows that even the most experienced drivers can make errors when under pressure. I’m now very excited to get to Austin, we have good performance and it’s a great place to visit.”
Mercedes 1-2 – the adventure continues
Lewis Hamilton scored his 70th career victory today in Formula One – his eighth of the 2018 season and third at the Sochi Autodromo. Valtteri Bottas finished the race in P2, with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in 3rd.
You had to feel sympathy for Bottas pulling over for Hamilton to go through half way through the race, but it was the right decision.
As Toto Wolff explained: “We are all racers at heart and what we want to see is out and out racing and may the quickest man win. But then we are a bunch of rational guys – we discuss things in the morning and then everything is different in the race… We discussed who to pit first and then we did it with Vatteri because that would protect his win. It was one lap too late with Lewis and he lost the position to Sebastian.
“This triggered this mess because Lewis came out behind Sebastian and then needed to attack. That caused the blister and we needed to protect when Sebastian was all over Lewis on damaged tyres… This is a harsh reality also that on such a day you can extend the lead by several points more in a Championship that has been very tough and very difficult at times. Sometimes you have to take it and this is what we did today. We finished 1-2, we have a 50 point advantage and that feels good on a day that has otherwise been very difficult.”
Lewis Hamilton: “Valtteri was an incredible gentleman today. Honestly, it’s the strangest day I can remember having in the sport in my career. I remember, we have crossed this situation and discussion before. It’s always felt super uncomfortable, I was like ‘Look, I want to win the right way’, that’s always how it is for me. I would say ‘Look, as racing drivers we exist to win, and if you tell us we can’t win, it’s like you are taking our air away, our life away’. It’s that deep. I would never wish it upon anyone else and would never ask for it, ever. I made sure when we were in a meeting before, I was like ‘Just so you know, I’ve never gone to Toto and those guys, this is not how I want to win’.
“Obviously, the team took the decision when they saw that my tyres were blistered and Vettel was charging from behind. There are stronger heads in the team who are like ‘We have to win, it’s all about the win. We have got to win both Championships, we don’t care who finishes ahead’. I think ultimately, it’s really important right this second to first acknowledge Valtteri, because as I said he was just the ultimate gentleman.
“It is very weird to feel down but we’ve also got to feel grateful to the guys back at the factory. So many people are working flat-out to make sure we have a 1-2 like this, the team have just done an incredible job this weekend. We have to really embrace the moment still, but it’s definitely a victory on my list of wins that I am least proud of.”
Valtteri Bottas: “It’s been a tough day. We got a good result for us as a team with maximum points, but for me personally it was a difficult race. Although I already understand the situation. If you put yourself in the team leader’s shoes, for them it doesn’t matter if it is me or Lewis winning, as long as we are 1-2 we get the maximum points.
“For the end of the year, it’s only Lewis fighting for the Championship, I am not. So, for the team, it is always better that Lewis wins – that’s how it goes. It is not ideal for me as an athlete and a person, but that is a fact. We are playing as a team and I am prepared to play as a team. I took one for the team today, I will take one for the team tomorrow. That’s how it goes, but I am also looking forward to next year, starting a new season.
“I know that today I was supposed to win and I could’ve won the race on equal terms. I know myself I am the winner of this weekend. I don’t have the trophy but it doesn’t matter. That’s how it is and I move on.”
Sebastian Vettel: “Today the feeling with the car was very good and I was able to push, but I just wasn’t as fast as the others. Obviously, today it was better than yesterday in terms of pace, but it wasn’t enough to put pressure on our competitors. We tried everything and I am happy that we got a podium finish, but obviously this is not the result we were looking for.
“My start was good, but there wasn’t much track space for me and I could go nowhere. After pit stop we were able to overcome Lewis, but he could pull ahead more than us and at the end there was nothing to do. We lost some points during the two last races and it doesn’t help, but we have our plan to follow and hopefully we can make some progress in the races to come.
“Maybe the next couple of tracks are better suited for us, we will know when we get there. We need to keep pushing and try; who knows what will happen in the next races.