Robert Kubica

March 22, 2010 by  
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Born in Kraków, Poland, on 7 December 1984, Robert Kubica has the distinction of being the first Polish driver to compete in Formula One racing. Kubica started his racing career by competing in the Italian Formula Renault 2000 and Formula Renault 200 Eurocup in 2001. He progressed to Formula Three and continued to build his reputation as a competitive and consistent driver, winning the Renault World Series in 2005.

The year 2006 proved to be a turning point in Kubica’s career as he was appointed as Formula One reserve driver with BMW Sauber. He went on to replace Jaques Villeneuve for the final six races of the season, thereby becoming the first Polish driver to compete in the sport. Claiming third place in the Italian Grand Prix, he became the first driver to finish on the podium within his first three F1 races since Villeneuve achieved this in 1996. It was confirmed at the end of the 2006 F1 season that Kubica would be driving for BMW Sauber for the 2007 season.

Kubica started off well in the 2007 season, consistently achieving point scoring finishes. However, at the Canadian Grand Prix Kubica had a serious accident, resulting in his car rolling across the track, striking a wall and landing on its side. Considering that he had been subjected to a peak G-force of 75G when his car hit the wall, he escaped with relatively minor injuries of a concussion and sprained ankle. It did, however, result in him being unable to compete at the 2007 US Grand Prix, where test driver Sebastian Vettel took the wheel. Kubica was back in action for the French Grand Prix where he finished in fourth place, going on to achieve a fourth place finish for the British Grand Prix as well.

Retained by BMW Sauber for the 2008 season, Kubica soon established himself as a serious contender for the title, taking the first pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix, and notching up second place finishes at both the Malaysian and Monaco events. It was on the June 8, at the 2008 Canadian Grand Prix that Kubica achieved his first F1 victory. Having started second on the grid, he soon passed Lewis Hamilton, who was in the lead. On leaving the pits after the first pit stop, Hamilton crashed into the back of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari, putting both cars out of the race and leaving the field open for Kubica who had been in the pits at the same time. Kubica won the race, joking that it had been his good fortune that Hamilton had not crashed into him seeing as he was alongside Raikkonen when the incident happened. Kubica finished the season fourth in the drivers’ championship.

Following the excitement and success of 2008, the 2009 season proved to be disappointing, with the new BMW Sauber F1.09 underperforming all the way. Robert Kubica managed to earn a second place in Brazil, which boosted his points, but he started to look for an alternative team for the 2010 season. With BMW announcing plans to withdraw from F1, Kubica signed with Renault in October 2009 for the 2010 season, with Russian driver Vitaly Petrov as his team-mate. No doubt fans will be watching the career of this talented young driver very closely as the 2010 season progresses.

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.

Vettel Wins Italian Grand Prix

September 17, 2008 by  
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21-year-old German driver Sebastien Vettel is a new face on the F1 scene, but he isn’t’ unknown altogether. He has spent the last year driving for BMW Sauber in the United States after Kubica suffered a devastating car crash. During that time he became the youngest driver to score a Formula One point when he finished eighth. He went on to replace Scott Speed for Torro Rosso for the final seven races of the year. Clearly this youngster has a lot of talent.

It comes as no surprise then that even though he’s still relatively new to the F1 scene, Vettel became the youngest driver to ever win a Formula One Grand Prix when he won the Italian Grand Prix at Monza on Sunday. Starting from pole position, he not only quickly managed to pull ahead of the pack, but he also kept his cool and came out tops on a wet racetrack. Vettel was driving for Scuderia Toro Rosso and displayed exceptional composure during the course of the weekend’s events. Not only did he race exceptionally well during the qualifying, finishing ahead of Ferrari, McLaren and BMW Sauber, but when it came to the big race he continued to keep his cool. By the time he made his first pit stop he had already gained a six-second lead over second-place finisher Heikki Kovalainen, who was racing for McLaren. Robert Kubica, who finished third, used a one-stop strategy to work his way up from his start at 11th on the grid.

During interviews with the press, Sebastien Vettel described his win on Sunday as being a somewhat unbelievable experience. He said: “It was difficult to realize what had happened. It was unbelievable seeing everybody going crazy all the way round the circuit. To see the people in the team, from my family, going mad and then to listen to my national anthem I started to cry.” It isn’t difficult to imagine what an emotional experience it must have been for the young and still relatively inexperienced driver to surpass other racing greats with inexplicable ease and take home the winner’s trophy. Hopefully this will mark the start of a long and illustrious career for Vettel who will be racing with Red Bull Racing next year.

2008 Canadian Grand Prix Review

June 11, 2008 by  
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After a surprise accident that put both Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen out of the race, Robert Kubica managed to make his way over the finish line in first place. Though he is a good driver that has placed second on more than one occasion, Kubica would likely not have been able to claim the victory were it not for the untimely mishap. The win is not only Kubica’s first Grand Prix win, but it is the first Grand Prix win by a polish driver and the first win for his BMW-Sauber team.

It all happened when Hamilton accidentally smashed his McLaren into the back of Kimi Raikkonen’s Ferrari. Raikkonen and Kubica had stopped side by side at the pit lane exit, waiting for the red light to change color before moving on. It is not exactly clear why this happened and fans are enraged about it. While mistakes do happen, they usually occur when the driver is piloting his vehicle around the racetrack at 300 km/h – not when he is cruising out the pit lane. The accident was so severe that both Hamilton and Raikkonen had to climb out of their wrecks and discontinue the race. Hamilton further seems to have been punished for his actions by being docked 10 positions on the starting grid at the next race in France. This means it will be virtually impossible for him to win.

Yet Kubica certainly doesn’t mind. In fact he thanked Lewis Hamilton for crashing into Kimi Raikkonen instead of his own vehicle. After the unfortunate incident, which he narrowly missed being a part of, he was able to drive on, regain his nerve and take the checkered flag. After the race he was seen flashing an ecstatic grin as he popped a bottle of champagne on the winner’s podium. However, not everyone is as happy as Kubica. Prior to the accident Hamilton was set to repeat his Montreal win, which would have allowed him to pull away at the top of the championship standings. He also ruined Raikkonen’s race, bumping him down to fourth place with 35 points when he was leading just two races ago. Hamilton publicly apologized to for ruining Kimi’s race but seemed reluctant to name the exact cause of the collision. Fans will now have to look forward to the next Grand Prix on June 22 to see how this sudden turn of events effects the final outcome of this year’s Grand Prix.

Hamilton wins Monaco Grand Prix

May 28, 2008 by  
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When the cars lined up at the starting grid at Monaco on a very wet Sunday morning, it was anyone’s guess who’d take the checkered flag. The grueling, wet, race conditions put everyone through their paces and a lot of accidents kept fans excited and put pressure on contenders to drive well in order to place. In the end it was 23-year-old Lewis Hamilton from Britain who managed to take first place in an altogether outstanding race.

Hamilton left the starting grid in third place and quickly made his way to second right from the start, but then it seemed as if he’d spoilt his chances of winning when he swiped the wall six laps in and almost lost his back tire. However a quick pit stop fixed the damage and gave him the chance to do a bit of refueling, getting him back on the racing circuit in record time. His luck further turned when pole sitter Felipe Massa slipped up, giving him the chance to overtake and win the race. This brief summary of events makes the victory sound easy, but it certainly wasn’t. Persistent rain during the morning ensured that the race was slippery and there were literally dozens of crashes during the course of the grand prix. In fact, there were so many accidents that race officials eventually decided to shorten the race to 76 laps. Hamilton himself nearly saw his victory slip away a second time when his 40 second advantage was destroyed on the final 17 laps as the safety car came out. In the end he still managed to limp over the finish line in first place despite the fact that his tire was punctured by the debris left behind after Nico Rosberg’s accident. He beat Robert Kubica by only three seconds, and his victory made him the first English driver to win the Monaco Grand Prix since 1969. Felipe Massa finished in third place 4.811 seconds behind.

After a wild pit lane celebration, an overjoyed Hamilton remarked that he was “absolutely over the moon.” He also noted that this was definitely his best win yet and that he’d worked hard at keeping his cool – especially near the end when he saw the possibility of having his victory slip away from him. Hamilton finished second to Fernando Alonso at Monaco last year, and so it may seem that the win was a natural progression for him. However, it was a grueling race the whole way through and this made his victory even more spectacular.