McLaren and Virgin Racing Partnership

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Marussia Motors, a Russian sports car manufacturer, bought interests in the Virgin Racing team last year. Virgin Racing made the move to buy out Nick Wirth’s Formula 1 division of Wirth Research Technologies, but after experiencing a very disappointing start to their Formula 1 season, for a second time, Virgin Racing decided to move away from Wirth. Wirth was instrumental in designing and developing the team’s car, as well being leaders in the formulation of computational fluid dynamics, but the team believes they have a greater chance of success with McLaren.

McLaren and Virgin Racing have agreed to a technical partnership that will be a great advantage for Virgin Racing, as they will have access to various McLaren facilities, such as their test rigs, wind tunnel and even their driver simulator. Production staff and the McLaren management team will be working closely with Virgin Racing, assisting them in every technology related issue.

Andy Webb, chief executive of Virgin Racing, is confident that the technical agreement between them and McLaren will allow his team the opportunity to make the necessary changes to their car to improve their performances. This will also hopefully permit Virgin Racing to move forward in the sport. Martin Whitmarsh, McLaren’s team boss, has no doubt that Virgin Racing will only benefit from their agreement.

Another component to Virgin’s bid to improve and gain knowledge is Pat Symonds, who will be acting as a consultant, assisting them with technical advice, bringing them closer to their ambitions. Symonds was engineering director for Renault until his suspension in 2008.

Whitmarsh also went on to say that McLaren recognizes that the Virgin Racing Team is extremely serious about racing and developing their team to the point where they are able to be formidable Formula 1 competitors. Even though Virgin Racing will be learning from the technical advances of McLaren, they have confirmed that they will not be replacing the Cosworth engines that are presently in their cars.

Lewis Hamilton

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Lewis Carl Davidson Hamilton is a British Formula One driver, born in Stevenage on 7 January 1985. His love for racing began at a young age with remote-controlled cars. He then moved onto karting at the age of 8.Lewis Hamilton quickly rose through the ranks, winning the British Championships twice and was signed to the McLaren driver development program by Ron Dennis.

In 2001 Lewis Hamilton took part in the British Formula Renault Winter Series, where he finished fifth overall. He then joined Manor Motorsport in 2002 to compete in the full Formula Renault UK series, coming in third place overall. The next year he won the Formula Renault title, with a total of 10 race victories, 11 pole positions and 9 fastest laps.

Lewis Hamilton moved on to the Formula Three Euroseries in 2004. He came in fifth place overall during that season. In typical Hamilton style he won the Formula Three Euroseries the very next year, with 15 wins, 13 pole positions and 10 fastest laps. Continuing his success, he went on to race for the GP2 team ART Grand Prix in 2006. A remarkable driver, he won the GP2 championship in his debut season.

Hamilton’s F1 career began in 2007 when he was signed with McLaren to drive alongside Fernando Alonso. Lewis Hamilton quickly showed that he was a force to be reckoned with, with errors in the final two rounds putting him in second place for the championship title, which went to Kimi Raikkonen. 2008 was a year to be remembered, as Lewis Hamilton became the youngest Formula One world champion at the age of 23.

Hamilton come in 5th place in the 2009 season, with 49 points. Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button (the 2009 championship winner) are McLaren teammates for the 2010 season.

Heikki Kovalainen

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Heikki Johannes Kovalainen was born in Suomussalmi, Finland, on 19 October 1981. The talented driver began his career in auto racing with kart racing from 1991. In 1999 Kovalainen took the runner-up position in the Finnish Karting Formula A championship. Then in 2000 he was named Finnish Kart Driver of the Year after winning the Nordic championship, the Paris-Bercy Elf Masters and various other achievements.

2001 saw Heikki Kovalainen beginning his single-seater racing career. During the year he took 4th place in the Formula Renault British Championship, 8th in the Macau Formula Three Grand Prix and was named Rookie of the Year by the Finnish Automobile Sports Federation. 2002 was another successful year, with Kovalainen coming in third overall in the British Formula Three Series with Fortec Motorsport. His five wins, three fastest laps and three pole positions meant he was once again Rookie of the Year. He also placed second at the Macau Grand Prix and fourth in the Zandvoort Marlboro Masters.

Kovalainen began competing in the World Series by Nissan in 2003, where he came in second in the standings. That same year he test drove for Renault R23 and Minardi F1 Team. He moved to Pons Racing for the 2004 World Series by Nissan and won the championship with six wins, ten fastest laps and nine poles. Renault F1 also appointed him their second test driver in 2004. Heikki Kovalainen’s success continued into 2005 as he finished the GP2 Series championship in runner-up position, as well as becoming an official Renault F1 test driver.

It was in 2006 that his F1 career really began to take off. That year he was Renault’s 3rd driver, during which he gained extensive experience. Kovalainen made his F1 debut in 2007, gaining his maiden podium with a second place finish in the Japanese Grand Prix. He took seventh place overall that season. For the 2008 F1 season, Kovalainen joined the McLaren team. The season saw him gaining his first fastest lap, first pole position and first win, placing 7th overall with 51 points. 2009 was a more challenging year for this fantastic driver, who managed to finish in 12th position with 22 points.

On 14 December 2009, it was announced that Heikki Kovalainen would join the Lotus Racing team for the 2010 F1 season.

Pedro de la Rosa

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Born on 24 February 1971 in Barcelona, in the beautiful Catalonia region of Spain, Pedro Martínez de la Rosa made his entry into F1 racing for the Arrow Team on 7 March 1999 at the Australian Grand Prix, scoring one point on that occasion, which is quite a rare achievement. Prior to his memorable F1 debut, Pedro de la Rosa claimed the title of Champion in the Spanish Formula Ford 1600 Championship in 1990, as well as earning two podiums out of six races in the British Formula Ford 1600 championship that year. He came fourth in the 1991 Spanish Formula Renault Championship, notching up three podium finishes, and following this by winning both the British and European Formula Renault in 1992. The following two years were somewhat mediocre for de la Rosa, but in 1995, he earned the title of champion in the Japanese Formula Three series, as well as claiming a third in the Macau Grand Prix. After moderate success in 1996, de la Rosa was back on form in 1997, winning the Formula Nippon F3000 and the Japan All GT Champion.

De la Rosa moved into F1 racing as a test driver for Jordan in 1998, joining Arrows in 1999 and making his debut, as mentioned at the outset. In 2000 he scored a point at both Nürburgring and Hockenheim for Arrows. The next two years were spent with Jaguar, where de la Rosa scored three points in 2001, but failed to score in 2002, resulting in a parting of the ways from this particular team. In 2003 de la Rosa signed on as a test driver for McLaren, making a points-scoring debut for the team when he replaced injured Pablo Montoya at the 2005 Bahrain Grand Prix. Continuing as test driver for McLaren in 2006, de la Rosa once again stepped in to replace Montoya (who left rather abruptly to join NASCAR) and claimed second place in the 2006 Hungarian Grand Prix. From 2007 to 2009 de la Rosa continued in his role as test driver for McLaren, and was elected as the chairman of the Grand Prix Drivers’ Association (GPDA) in 2008, replacing Ralf Schumacher who retired from the position.

Pedro de la Rosa has signed to drive with the Sauber team, which is making a come-back to F1 racing, for the 2010 season, alongside Kamui Kobayashi as team-mate. With quite a number of changes having taken place with drivers and the teams they are associated with, auto racing fans have plenty to look forward to for the 2010 F1 Championship series.

Rolex makes Magic with Rolex Moments in Time Display

Every year at the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races, attendees look forward to indulging in Rolex’s award-winning Rolex Moments in Time display, which honors six different historic racing cars and their most significant achievements. This year, for the 36th edition of the famous Rolex Monterey Historics, which run from Friday, August 14 through Sunday, August 16 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the museum-quality exhibit will be more dramatic than ever, theatrically staging amazing cars from the 1960s and 1970s within the context of the history they made.

Perhaps most extraordinary will be the inclusion of the Gulf Ford GT 40 and the 908LH Porsche that famously exchanged leads in the 1969 24 Hours of Le Mans until the GT-40 prevailed, with only four seconds to spare, marking the closest margin of victory ever at Le Mans. Porsche had made an all out effort to win that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans with its 917. However, both 917s retired with clutch problems, and it was the Championship leading Porsche 908 driven by Hans Herrman and Gerard Larrousse that battled with the Ford GT-40 driven by Jackie Ickx and Jackie Oliver for the win.

1970 looked to be “The Year of the Titans” as horsepower and extreme speed became the necessary ingredients to win races. Porsche and its incredible 917 were to be challenged by Ferrari and its new 512S, both cars putting out over 550 horsepower. While the two cars were very close in performance, the 917 dominated the Championship. The 512 was always a threat but never able to rise to the level of the Porsche in the hands of the John Wyer Gulf Team.

Harkening back to that time, the Gulf 917K that will be displayed in the Rolex Moments in Time display is the car driven by Pedro Rodriguez in the 1970 1000 km race at Spa, Belgium, where it led until it retired. The Gulf’s stablemate, driven by Brian Redman and Jo Siffert, won at the amazing average of 149 mph. The Ferrari 512S that also will be in the display is the car driven by Jacky Ickx at the opening round at Daytona and Nino Vaccarella at Monza and Targa Florio where it finished 2nd and 3rd, respectively.

“The cars were as purposeful as their designers and drivers were determined and courageous,” said Steve Earle of General Racing, Ltd., which owns and organizes the Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races. “The Rolex Moments in Time exhibit brings to life past eras of racing in a way that lets you feel the presence of these cars and their achievements.”

Rounding out the display will be the 1972 McLaren M20 (on loan from the National Auto Museum, Reno, NV), Team McLaren’s last challenger in the Can-Am Series that the team dominated for seven years, and the 1976 Porsche 936/81, winner at Le Mans in 1977, second place in 1978 and 12th in 1981. This car was the first of the three Porsche 936 cars built and the only one to compete in five Le Mans races. It was driven variously by Jurgen Barth, Reinhold Joest, Hurley Haywood and Vern Schuppan, all of whom will be at the Rolex Monterey Historics.

Autograph sessions with some of history’s greatest names in automobile racing will be held at the Rolex Moments in Time display on Friday morning, Saturday morning and afternoon, and Sunday morning. Instructions for picking up first-come, first-serve tickets to participate will be announced daily.

Porsche is the Featured Marque for the 2009 Rolex Monterey Historic Automobile Races. Of the 450 vintage cars that will be racing at the event, 145 are Porsches.

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