Jenson Button

March 23, 2010 by  
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Jenson Alexander Lyons Button is a British Formula One driver born in Frome on 19 January 1980. He hit the track at a young age, beginning with karting at eight years. In 1989, at 9 years of age, Jenson Button took first competed in the British Super Prix. He achieved many successes as a kart driver, including becoming the youngest driver to win the European Super A championship in 1997.

In 1998 Jenson Button began competing in the British Formula Ford championship, where you came in first with nine race wins. That same year he placed second in the European Formula Ford championship. At the end of the year he was awarded the McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver Award. 1999 was another successful year for Jenson Button as he entered the world of Formula Three racing. Coming in third overall, he ended the season as the top rookie driver.

Jenson Button entered the Formula One scene in 2000, racing for the Williams team. He ended his debut season with 12 points and came in eighth in the Drivers’ Championship. During the 2001 F1 season, Button drove for Benetton. It was a trying season, and Button only managed to rack up 2 points and came in 17th in the Drivers’ Championship. 2002 was a much better season for the talented driver. Benetton was now named Renault F1 and Jenson Button was racing alongside teammate Jarno Trulli. He certainly improved his standings, taking seventh place at the end of the season.

In 2003, Jenson Button moved to the BAR team, to race beside Jacques Villeneuve. It was a great season for Button, despite a bad crash at Monaco, and he took ninth in the standings with 17 points. Button met with great success in the 2004 F1 season, gaining 10 podium placings and finishing third overall with 85 points. The 2005 season started off dismally, but Button fought back in the second half of the season to come in ninth in the Drivers’ Championship, scoring 36 of 37 points for his team. He continued racing for BAR in 2006, which was now known as Honda Racing F1 Team. A great season, he outperformed his teammate Rubens Barrichello, gaining his first win at the Hungary Grand Prix and finishing sixth overall. Button described his 2007 F1 season as “a total disaster”, though he did manage to show off his talents in China, placing fifth in mixed conditions. The uncompetitive Honda RA 108, meant Button had another unsuccessful season in 2008.

Honda was bought out by Ross Brawn in 2009 and team renamed Brawn GP. Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello were to continue racing together. 2009 was Jenson Button’s year. He hit the ground running, winning six of his first seven races. Scoring throughout the season, Button took home the championship title.

In November 2009, Jenson Button announced that he would be moving to the McLaren team for the 2010 season, after signing a three-year contract with them. He stated that he was looking forward to competing head-to-head with teammate Lewis Hamilton.

Toro Rosso F1 Team

February 9, 2009 by  
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Austrian beverage company Red Bull is the owner of both Scuderia Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing. Having made its racing debut in the 2006 F1 season under the joint ownership of Red Bull’s owner Dietrich Mateschitz and former F1 driver Gerhard Berger, Red Bull became the sole owner of the team in November 2008. Scuderio Toro Rosso is considered to be Red Bull’s ‘B’ team, as it focuses on developing the skills and realizing the full potential of new young drivers, with a view to promoting them to the senior team, Red Bull Racing.

The new team’s very first point was scored by Vitantonio Luizzi at the 2006 US Grand Prix, with the first pole position and victory being scored by Sebastian Vettel at the Italian Grand Prix in 2008. Vettel had moved across from BMW Sauber, where he was third driver, in the middle of the 2007 F1 racing season. The other driver for Toro Rosso in 2008 was Sebastien Bourdais, winner of four Champ Car Championships. In the 2009 season Sebastien Buemi replaced Vettel, who had moved up to the Red Bull Racing Team. Bourdais was replaced by Jaime Alguersauri after the German Grand Prix, with poor performance being given as the reason for the parting of the ways with Bourdais.

Both Buemi and Alguersauri will continue driving for Toro Rosso in the 2010 season. Some have expressed surprise that such an inexperienced driver as Alguersauri was signed up for 2010, especially in light of the fact that he failed to score any points during the 2009 season. No doubt team officials, under the direction of team principal, Franz Tost, and technical director, Giorgio Ascanelli, have seen the potential in this young Spanish driver and are willing to give him the opportunity to prove himself. Certainly 2010 is set to write another interesting chapter in the history of F1’s youngest team – Scuderia Toro Rosso.

McLaren Mercedes

February 9, 2009 by  
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Bruce McLaren was the founder of the McLaren F1 Team. He was born on 30 August 1937, and started his interest in racing by competing in motorcycle races, before moving over to cars. It was the heritage he left behind after his death in 1970 that formed the platform for a world known racing team, and a name that is carried with pride.

The partnership between McLaren and Mercedes started in 1995. It was a year full of new beginnings that not only included Mercedes as their new engine partner, but new regulations as well. Mercedes was the fourth engine partner since the 1970’s and there was a lot on the line. The new Mercedes engine, which was designed and built according to the new regulations, was smaller than the engine McLaren had used previously. This made the car design teams’ life a lot simpler. Refinement details on the engine and chassis meant that the units were almost completely new, and McLaren Mercedes worked hard on the balancing problems that came to the forefront in 1996. The new engine was modified with regard to its mid-range torque, and McLaren Mercedes managed to make the unit lighter and increase its power by 5%. By 1999, McLaren Mercedes had become a force to be reckoned with on the racing track.

The new century kicked off with close rivalry between McLaren’s Mika Häkkinen and Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher. Following Häkkinen’s retirement from Formula One at the end of the 2001 season, Kimi Räikkönen stepped into his position on McLaren’s F1 Team. The 2003 F1 season started off well enough with teammates Coulthard and Räikkönen each claiming a victory for the first two races, but rival teams soon caught up. The unreliability of McLaren’s newly developed MP4-18 put the team at a disadvantage as they were forced to use the older MP4-17D model car. Nevertheless, Räikkönen proved his impressive driving skills by consistently finishing in the points, closing the season just two points short of victory. Car problems continued to plague McLaren during the 2004 season, but Räikkönen managed to clinch a victory at the 2004 Belgian Grand Prix breaking the winning streak of Michael Schumacher. 2005 saw Colombian driver Juan Pablo Montoya teaming up with Räikkönen for most of the season, but persistent car problems robbed Räikkönen of possible victories. The 2006 F1 season presented a number of challenges, including Montoya crashing into Räikkönen on the start line, putting them both out of the United States 2006 Grand Prix. This resulted in Montoyo parting company with the team. After the Italian Grand Prix that same year, Räikkönen signed with Ferrari to replace Michael Schumacher.

Dissent in the McLaren team during 2007, as well as a scandal regarding the team being found guilty of obtaining technical information of a rival team, were some of the setbacks to be dealt with, and at the end of the season, Fernando Alonso was released from his contract after just one season. Both the 2008 and 2009 season saw the McLaren F1 team recover to some extent, with Lewis Hamilton and Heikkii Kovalainen as drivers. At the end of the 2008 season, Hamilton became the youngest ever driver to win the Formula One Driver’s Championship. It was also the first time in nine years that McLaren had clinched this title.

For 2010, the McLaren F1 Team has a contract with Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, both world champions with promising careers ahead of them. This double champion driver line-up, the first for McLaren since the Senna/Prost partnership in 1989, along with the new MP4-25 car, promises great things for the coming year.

Renault F1 Team

February 9, 2009 by  
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In 1977 at the British Grand Prix, Renault made its debut in Formula One racing as well as introducing the first turbo engine to the sport. This was achieved through the Renault Sport subsidiary with Eu Gene Thor as manager of the team. The Renault F1 Team entered five races at the end of the season with Jean-Pierre Jabouille as driver in their one and only car. Two years later the team made its first win when Jabouille won the French Grand Prix in 1979.

In 1985 the Renault team stepped away from Formula One as a manufacturer, but continued to stay involved with the sport by providing engines to Lotus. It was not long after that, when the team withdrew completely from F1 racing for a while, coming back in 1989 to supply Williams with engines. Later on in the 90’s Renault engines began dominating the sport, powering the Williams team as well as the Benetton team in the World Constructors’ Championships. It was here that Renault had its first taste of success as a world champion. Renault again took a break from Formula One from 1996-2000, returning in 2000 when the Benetton team announced that they would be taken over by Renault in the beginning of the 2002 season. It was three years later in 2005, when they achieved their first championship as a constructor and won their first ever drivers’ championship with Fernando Alonso, a former Renault test driver.

For the 2006 racing season Renault F1 retained Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella, to drive their new R26 car featuring a titanium seven-speed gearbox. With a number of impressive points wins to its name, the team celebrated its 200th Grand Prix race at Silverstone, a race which was won by Alonso, making the occasion a double-celebration. Alonso went on to win the Canadian Grand Prix, finished fifth at the US Grand Prix, and took second place at the French Grand Prix. Renault took the construction championship title for the year.

Giancarlo Fisichella and Heikki Kovalainen were the race drivers for Renault F1 in 2007, with the livery of the new R27 being the corporate colors of sponsors ING. The season presented some challenges, one of which was a charge by the FIA that Renault F1 was in possession of technical information belonging to McLaren. The outcome of the case found Renault F1 in breach of an FIA rule, but the team was not penalized. Fernando Alonso and Nelson Piquet, Jr., were the drivers for Renault F1 in 2008, with Piquet securing a second place in the German Grand Prix, an accomplishment that signaled a turn in fortune for the team, as it went on to clock up a number of points-victories. Alonso took first place in the Singapore Grand Prix – the first to be held under lights. 2009 turned out to be a frustrating season, with a variety of car problems for Alonso, and lackluster performance by Piquet resulting in him parting ways with the Renault F1 Team.

For the 2010 F1 Championship season Renault sold a majority stake to Genii Capital, while retaining a 25% share in the Renault F1 Team. Robert Kubica replaced Alonso on the team, with Russian driver Vitaly Petrov signing up as the second driver. The new team principal is Eric Boullier, with Bob Bell returning to his former position of Technical Director. Loyal Renault F1 Team supporters will no doubt be watching with keen interest as the 2010 F1 season progresses.