The Mercedes GP Petronas Formula One Team made its re-launch debut at the 2010 F1 Gulf Air Bahrain Grand Prix, with both of its drivers scoring points for the fledgling team. Nico Rosberg finished the race in fifth place, scoring 10 points, with seven-time World Champion Michael Schumacher hot on his heels in sixth place, scoring 8 points.
Having competed in Grand Prix motor racing in the 1930s, Mercedes-Benz first entered the F1 racing scene back in 1954. The team enjoyed a measure of success that season, as well as the following season, after which it withdrew from the sport, although Mercedes continued with part ownerships and supplied engines through the 1990s and into the new century.
The team is based in Brackley, Northamptonshire, UK. The CEO of the team is Nick Fry, with Ross Brawn (of former Brawn GP – winner of the 2009 Constructors championship) and Norbert Haug as team principals. The legendary Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg are the team’s drivers, with Nick Heidfeld as test driver. Interestingly, all three drivers are German.
Certainly, with the wealth of talent in the team, and the excellence of the Mercedes product, there is plenty of excitement ahead for the Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team as the Formula One Championships progress.
The Formula One race-track, Hungaroring, is situated close to Budapest and is home to the Hungarian Grand Prix. In 1986 it was the scene of the first Formula 1 Grand Prix to take place behind the Iron Curtain. It was Bernie Ecclestone who envisioned a city track based on the same concept as the Circuit de Monaco, and was advised by a friend to turn his attention to Budapest. Instead of having a race-track within the city limits, the communist government moved to outside the city and built and entirely new track. After 20 years it is still the track that was constructed in the shortest space of time, being completed in eight months.
The Hungaroring track is very hot and extremely dusty, with races being held according to the Grand Prix calendar, placing the event in the middle of the central European summer. The dust that is found on the track is attributed to the fact that the track is not in use throughout the racing season. However, its location, in a valley in close proximity to Budapest is a contributing factor, as it acts as a magnet for the dust and litter that originates from the city. In addition, the track is built on extremely sandy soil, and therefore if a car’s wheel moves off the track, it causes a massive and blinding dust cloud. Usually as a track rubbers in it will gradually become faster. This is not so in Hungaroring’s case, as the track remains scattered with dust, so running late during qualifying can sometimes work to a drivers’ advantage.
Despite what so may view as obstacles, Hungaroring has been the scene of some spectacular moments, such as in 1987 when Nigel Mansell lost his wheel, or the famous duels between Ayrton Senna and Nelson Piquet. Not forgetting the year of 1997, an Arrows car and a talented driver named Damon Hill. And there are many more of these moments to look back on.
In its 20 year history, the Hungaroring race track has managed to crown two very talented drivers, namely Nigel Mansell and Michael Schumacher, who during their individual careers both managed to clinch the title of the World Championship very early in the racing season. Two drivers who made their debut into F1 on this track were Zsolt Baumgartner of Hungary and Robert Kubica of Poland. The Constructors Championship was won by the Williams F1 Team in 1996 at the Hungaroring Race Track. Many drivers are divided in opinion when asked about the track, and a few minor changes have been made to the track over the years, but due to some of the most exciting moments in F1 having taken place here, their contract has been extended to 2011.
Toyota has withdrawn from F1 racing, with its last race being the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Japanese vehicle manufacturer, Toyota, is based in Cologne (Germany) and runs the Formula One team, Toyota F1. The Toyota team is also known as Panasonic Toyota Racing. The racing life of the Toyota team started in 1972. Ove Anderson, a Swedish driver, represented Toyota in the RAC Rally of Great Britain. Their original name was Toyota Team Europe that would later become Toyota Motorsport. Together with drivers Didier Auriol and Carlos Sainz, Toyota Motorsport secured a few Drivers’ titles, but was banned from the FIA in 1995. They were banned due to running on illegal parts, and their struggle with rival teams started to increase. They failed twice, in winning the Le Mans 24 Hours, and decided to end their Rally efforts.
Toyota F1 then turned their attention to the Formula One circuit. Instead of teaming up with legendary outfits such as McLaren or Williams, Toyota F1 chose to build up their own team. They managed to secure a 12th entry in the Formula One Championship for the year 2002. In their debut season, Toyota F1, had drivers Mika Salo and Allan McNish but only managed to score two points throughout the year. Even though both drivers did outstanding jobs for the Toyota teams’ debut year, they were not offered positions for 2003. Instead, the Toyota team recruited Cristiano da Matta and Oliver Panis. During the 2003 season, Toyota did secure a few points finishes and managed to increase their two points, from the previous season, to sixteen. On the Constructors Championship, they ended in 8th position.
In 2004, Toyota was once again in trouble with the running of illegal parts, and was disqualified from the Canadian Grand Prix race. Matta left the Toyota Team, after the German Grand Prix. Ricardo Zonta replaced Matta, but was replaced by Jarno Trulli after four rounds. Oliver Panis decided that it was time to retire from racing, and Zonta completed the final race of the season. More controversy hit the team, as it was accused of industrial espionage, after complaints that the Toyota TF04 was very similar to the Ferrari F2003-GA. Strangely enough, during investigations, Toyota refused to send information to Italy, in fear the Ferrari might take advantage of their data that they had mixed together with Ferrari’s data.
Jarno Trulli remained with the Toyota F1 team for the 2005 season, but Ralf Schumacher replaced Ricardo Zonta. Even though the season started well, Toyota soon saw themselves falling by the way side, unable to remain at the same pace, as the ever developing rivals. Despite the set backs, it still remained a successful year for the Toyota Team.
The Toyota F1 team changed from Michelin to Bridgestone tyres in 2006. It was thought that the early release of their new car would give them a head start on the rival teams, but the car did not perform as expected. They did still manage to secure thirty-five points and a 6th place position.
Both Jarno Trulli and Schumacher will remain with the Toyota team for the 2007 season. Toyota will also be supplying the William team with engines, replacing the Cosworth engines that the Williams team was running with in 2006.
The first Hungarian Grand Prix was held in 1936 at a track in Nepliget near central Budapest, and it was well supported by both constructors and fans. Unfortunately, it was the last Grand Prix that the country would see for fifty years. Political upheaval and subsequent war meant that the attention of the Hungarian public and government were turned elsewhere and that it was unsafe to hold a Grand Prix in the country during that time. Despite the untimely start of the Hungarian Grand Prix, it has been a favourite on the Hungarian calendar since 1986 during which time it was noted for being the first race to take place behind the Iron Curtain. It has been held at the twisting Hungaroring track near Budapest ever since being re-established that year, and is today one of the main features on the racing calendar.
The 4.38 kilometre (2.72 mile) track is very narrow and twisty. It is generally used during the dry season and the Hungarian Grand Prix has only had rain on one occasion, in 2006. Because it is often under-utilized, the track tends to be dusty which further adds to its difficulty. Drivers often end up stuck behind one another with little opportunity to pass. Because of this, a good race strategy is key to winning, although some drivers have managed to overtake during the course of some races. Efforts were made to increase the width of the track in 2003 so that more overtaking was possible but the track continues to be an interesting challenge for most Formula One drivers. Because of its relatively short distance, it is lapped 70 times which results in an overall race length of 306.66 kilometres (190.55 miles).
The current track wins record holder is Michael Schumacher who has four Hungarian Grand Prix wins under his belt. The constructor with the most wins is Williams which has enjoyed 7 successes at the track. The track has been the location of a number of notable occasions, including Jenson Button taking first place for Honda, moving up from 14th place on the grid in 2006.
Subsequent wins have been: Lewis Hamilton (2007 and 2009); and Heikki Kovalainen (2008) – both driving for McLaren-Mercedes. The 2010 Hungarian Grand Prix is set to take place from 30 July to 1 August, and it has also been confirmed that this world-class racing facility plans to be part of the F1 racing calendar at least until 2016.
The Malaysian Grand Prix has been part of the Formula One World Championship circuit since 1999. It is currently held at the Sepang International Circuit, situated at Sepang near Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. The circuit is known for its innovative features and for its temperamental climatic changes. The Sepang International Circuit is 5.54 kilometres (3.44 miles) in length, a distance which is lapped 56 times during the course of the race resulting in an overall race length of 310.41 km (192.88 miles). Out of the first eight Malaysian Grand Prix races which have been held on the track, Ferrari has won the most with four wins.
At the track’s inaugural event the scene was set for a spectacular comeback from Michael Schumacher who was returning to the sport after sustaining a broken leg earlier that year. He dominated the race and at the last moment handed the victory to his teammate Eddie Irvine. The crowds went wild and it seemed that the decision was final – that was until both Ferraris were disqualified due to a technical irregularity. Suddenly the winner’s cup was placed in the hands of Mika Hakkinen and Ferrari was out of the picture. The racing world was abuzz with controversy and Ferrari was outraged, until finally the steward’s decision was over-ruled and the cup was returned to Eddie Irvine.
The unpredictable weather patterns of the country often results in additional excitement at the Malaysian Grand Prix. For example, in 2001 a heavy rainstorm suddenly broke out in the middle of the race. Conditions became so bad that both Ferraris in the race spun off at the same corner of the race at almost the same time. Amazingly enough, both recovered to score a first and second in that year’s race. Thus far the Malaysian Grand Prix has been won by Eddie Irvine, Michael Schumacher (3 times), Ralf Schumacher, Kimi Raikkonen, Fernando Alonso and Giancarlo Fisichella. Starting in 2002, the Malaysian Grand Prix was moved from the end of the Grand Prix schedule to the beginning where it continued to play an interesting role in the world of Formula One racing.
Michael Schumacher has clocked up the most wins for the Malaysian Grand Prix, being 2000, 2001 and 2004, with Fernando Alonso taking 2005 and 2007, and Kimi Raikkonen winning in 2003 and 2008. The 2010 Malaysian Grand Prix will take place on 2-4 April, promising once again to provide plenty of excitement for teams and spectators alike.