AT&T Williams F1 Team

February 9, 2009 by  
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The AT&T Williams F1 team, was established by Sir Frank Williams, together with Patrick Head. It was known at that time as the Williams Grand Prix Engineering team, and has since then become one of the three top contenders in the world of Formula One. In its history of Formula One racing, the Williams Team has walked away with nine Constructor’s titles. Their first race was at the Spanish Grand Prix in 1977, with Clay Regazzoni (from Switzerland) securing the first win for the team in 1979 at the British Grand Prix. The Williams team’s 100th win was made possible by Jacques Villeneuve in 1997 at the Hungarian Grand Prix. Together with McLaren and Ferrari, the Williams team consistently features amongst the top contenders. The chassis for the Williams F1 team, always has a “FW” followed by a number, being the initials for the proud team owner, Frank Williams.

Frank Williams had tried his hand in Formula One racing twice before founding Williams F1 in 1977. He previously had been running two operations, namely Walter Wolf Racing and Frank Williams Racing Cars. But it was the Williams team that brought him success. Many famous drivers have been behind the wheel of a Williams car, and to name a few: Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Keke Rosberg and Ayrton Senna. In 1994, Patrick Head, Frank Williams and the Williams designer, Adrian Newey, faced manslaughter charges, after the tragic and fatal accident at the San Marino Grand Prix in 1994, that took Ayrton Senna’s life. The three men were cleared of all charges in 2005.

The Williams team did not only have different drivers contributing to their success, but also different engines. Williams was able to win five Constructor titles with a Renault engine. Frank Williams did not achieve the success he so desired with his Frank Williams Racing Cars operation. He established the Walter Wolf Racing outfit after many promises from the millionaire, but due to the uncompetitive cars and unfulfilled promises, Williams relocated to Didcot, and the birth of Williams F1 had started. Williams recruited Patrick Head as engineer of his new project and the “William-Head” partnership lasted throughout the years. The following years would see many successes and many disappointments and heartbreaking losses, but despite all the challenges of the changing times, Williams has always come through.

2007 was a year of changes for the Williams F1 Team – Toyota supplied the engines for the season; Alexander Wurz moved up from his position as test driver to the team’s second driver, thereby replacing Mark Webber; Kazuki Nakajima took the position of test driver; and AT&T became the primary official sponsor of the team, after having withdrawn its sponsorship of McLaren when they signed with competitor Vodafone. Nico Rosberg remained the number one driver of the team and tallied up a respectable number of points for the Williams F1 Team. Wurz did not perform as well and upon announcing his retirement, test driver Nakajima took over for the final race of the season in Brazil where he started near the back of the grid and managed to finish in tenth spot.

With Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima as principle drivers, the Williams F1 Team had its fair share of both successes and disappointments in 2008, finishing the season eighth in the constructions championship. Despite a disappointing 2008 season and rumblings of discontent from Rosberg, both drivers stayed on with Williams for the 2009 season. Towards the end of the 2009 season it was announced that the team would not be renewing its partnership with Toyota and would be looking for a new engine supplier for 2010. This turned out to be the UK-based private company Cosworth, an automotive engineering company specializing in auto racing engines that supplied the Cosworth CA2010 for the Williams FW32 cars. By the end of 2009 the Williams F1 Team had claimed 9 Constructors’ Championships, 7 Drivers’ Championships, 113 race victories, 125 pole positions and 130 fastest laps. Drivers for the 2010 season are Rubens Barrichello and Nico Hulkenberg, with Valtteri Bottas as test driver.

Toyota F1 Team

February 9, 2009 by  
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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.

Alain Prost

February 9, 2009 by  
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Alain Prost was born near Saint Chamond in the Loire region of central France on February 24, 1955. Although Alain was a physically small boy he had unlimited energy and would give his everything as he took part in many sporting activities including football where he broke his nose several times. At the age of 14 years he discovered kart racing on a family holiday and from then on he became obsessed with it, winning several karting championships. In 1974 he left school to take up racing full time and supported himself by becoming a kart distributor and tuning engines.

In 1975 he won the French senior karting championships and as a prize was given a season in Formula Renault where he won two driving titles and moved to Formula Three. During 1978 and 1979 he won both the European and French F3 championships, which made him wanted property by several Formula One teams. With much consideration he chose to sign up with McLaren for the 1980 season. His first Formula One season was inundated with accidents, breaking his wrist in one and suffering from concussion in another. One of the points of concern was that these accidents were caused mainly from mechanical failures and the other was Alain’s increasing loss of confidence in how the McLaren team was being run. With that he broke his two-year contract and moved over to Renault.

His first Formula One win came at the 1981 French Grand Prix at Dijon and from there on he kept up his winning streak with nine wins during his time with Renault. However, a change was inevitable, so Alain Prost and his wife Anne-Marie and their son Nicolas moved to Switzerland where Prost again joined the British-based team, McLaren in 1984. His six seasons with McLaren saw him win thirty races, three driving titles and runner-up twice. During 1985 and 1986 he became the first back-to-back French World Champion since Jack Brabham ten years ago. In 1987 he beat Jackie Stewart‘s 14-year-old record when he won his 28th Grand Prix.

In 1988 between Prost and Ayrton Senna they contributed a total of 15 victories to McLaren-Honda. From then on there was intense rivalry between the two, which drove the sport’s greatest drivers to heights of success and controversy unheard of before. McLaren continued to dominate throughout 1989 but with the Prost-Senna feud reaching the stage of out-right hatred, Prost decided to leave McLaren and join Ferrari. Prost won five races in his first year with Ferrari but lost the season end championship in Japan to fellow rival, Senna.

In 1991 Alain Prost failed to win a race and due to his public criticism of the team he was fired. The year 1992 saw him as a TV commentator but Prost returned to racing in 1993 and joined William-Renault where he won several races bringing his tally up to 51 wins. When faced with having Senna as his Williams team mate Prost decided to retire and instead become a TV commentator as well as working as an advisor and test driver for McLaren.

From 1997 to 2002, Alain Prost created and ran Prost Grand Prix. Since then he has regularly taken part in the Andros Ice Race series, as well as several bicycle races.

Ayrton Senna

February 9, 2009 by  
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On March 21, 1960, Ayrton Senna da Silva was born into a wealthy Brazilian family along with his brother and sister. Although he led a privileged life with all his needs and wants catered for, his love and inner need to race pushed him to go further and push racing to the extreme. This obsession began at an early age when his father first gave him a miniature go-kart at the age of four years. Ayrton Senna’s memories of his childhood are highlighted with Grand Prix mornings where he would sit down and watch intensely as his Formula One heroes competed. His turn to race took place at the age of thirteen years when he raced a kart for the first time and won.

Later he moved onto single-seater racing in Britain, where he proved himself a formidable force to be reckoned with by winning five championships in three years. His passion for racing continued and finally he made his Formula One debut with Toleman in 1984. In Monaco, Senna proved that he was more then just a driver but that he had phenomenal talent, when he came second to Alain Prost’s McLaren in torrential rain.

In 1985 Ayrton Senna bought out his contract with Toleman and moved to Lotus where he could further his ambitions as a Formula One driver. This is exactly what he did, within three seasons he began in pole position sixteen times and won a total of six races. Again he came to a standstill as to what he could achieve within Lotus and so decided to take the next step forward and move to McLaren in 1988. Here he stayed for a total of six seasons, winning altogether three world championships and 35 races, showing his domination as a driver. Then in time for the 1994-racing season Senna moved to Williams for that ill-fated year.

Senna put his heart and soul into his driving and life itself, that was the type of man he was. It could be seen time and again by all his fans just how committed he was to the sport and what a thrilling spectacle it was to see him lap after lap. This ambition did not go without condemnation from the critics and infact it was Prost who accused Senna of caring more for the win then life itself. Ayrton Senna even confessed that he at times went too far to the point of even frightening himself. Although he was quite taken up with racing this did not mean that he was too self-absorbed to recognise the suffering of his fellow man. By the time he died in 1994 he had given approximately $400 million to children and to the underprivileged in Brazil.

Senna had always seen living as putting ‘your everything’ into what ever you did and come the time that he could not, he would rather die instantly then carry on. This is exactly what happened on May 1, 1994, at the San Marino Grand Prix. He was racing in his leading Williams when he veered off the track and hit the concrete wall. Millions of his fans saw Senna come to his end on television. The world mourned the passing of this man who had captivated his audience right from the beginning. Among the mourners at Ayrton’s funeral was Frank Williams, who said, “Ayrton was no ordinary person. He was actually a greater man out of his car than in it.”

Turkish Grand Prix Review

May 15, 2008 by  
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The 2008 Turkish Grand Prix turned out to be just the fast-paced, action-packed event that fans and spectators were hoping for. Punctured tires, scary accidents and some brilliant driving kept pulses racing as Felipe Massa struggled to defend his position at the front of the pack. In the end Massa managed to take the winner’s trophy for the Turkish Grand Prix for the third time in a row.

As the cars lined up on the starting grid that day, massive clouds gathered above threatening rain. There was no telling what would happen. The drivers spent ages waiting for the lights to be switched on and there was an air of tension all around. When the lights finally signaled the start of the race, the scene erupted into chaos. But in seconds the main contenders for the trophy erupted from the mess: Brazilian Felipe Massa made a clean break from the rest of the pack while Hamilton managed to slot into second place. In his efforts to gain ground, Raikkonen’s front wing nudged Kovalainen’s rear tire, puncturing it and causing a major setback for him.

At the back it was a confusion as Fisichella drove into the back of Kazuki Nakajima’s Williams, causing both to end their race before it really started. Vettel and Sutil suffered sufficient damage from the collision to have to be sent to the pits for repair work, giving them little hope of ever reclaiming the ground lost. Meanwhile Raikkonen lost his position at third place to Fernando Alonso and Robert Kubica due to heavy braking, but he was determined to reclaim his spot and immediately put into practice the perfect strategy. By closely tailing Alonso, Raikkonen was able to slipstream his opponent, allowing him to pull out and overtake. The two struggled neck in neck for a nail-biting second before the Ferrari suddenly disappeared into the distance.

Things continued to prove interesting after driver Hamilton shot out of the pit stops into first place ahead of Massa. Massa seemed to yield to the position and didn’t fight it. The majority of drivers seemed to settle where they were and the race proceeded without much excitement for a while.

By the end of the race it seemed clear that Massa was back in the lead and no one would be challenging his position. However the battle for second and third was a tight one fought by Hamilton and Raikkonen. In the final round of stops Hamilton managed to change his tires and get back out on the track extremely fast, leaving him in second place with Raikkonen pushing to reclaim his position. Raikkonen continued to hassle Hamilton for the remaining 16 laps until at last he decided to settle for third instead of risking an accident. So in the end it was Massa who took first place, followed by Hamilton in second and Raikkonen in third. The three drivers were clearly driving much better than the rest of the field and deserved their prizes.

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