Porsche WEC

2015 LM24: Porsche claims win number 17

2015 24 Hours of Le Mans

If Porsche didn’t have such a proud history at Le Mans achieving a one-two result in its second year would be difficult to believe. But Porsche went about the business of returning to the LMP1 category with enormous respect for its competition and seeing Porsche dominate and indeed tame the Circuit de la Sarthe for 24 hours is what we’ve been trained to expect.

The victory is Porsche’s 17th Le Mans victory. Seventeen!

It’s true, in a perfect world, and keeping an eye on the World Endurance Championship title, Porsche might have preferred its #17 or #18 car to win the race. However, there can be no denying the win to the #19 car which won on merit and with blinding pace during the night session.

Earl Bamber, Nico Hulkenberg and Nick Tandy are an unlikely grouping, but they are now Le Mans winners. They will share a bond for life and nobody can ever take that away from them. Well done lads, well done!

Wolfgang Hatz, the Porsche R&D boss put it succinctly, while reminding us of the resources Porsche has thrown at its LMP1 return: “A one-two finish in what is only our second year is an amazing reward for the guts of our engineers regarding the 919 Hybrid’s concept, and the relentless efforts of our 230 team members.”

Porsche 919 Hybrid final placings

1st (395 laps) #19 – Bamber (NZ), Hulkenberg (GER), Tandy (GB)
2nd (-1 lap) #17 – Bernhard (GER), Hartley (NZ), Webber (AUS)
5th (-4 laps) #18 – Dumas (GER), Jani (SUI), Lieb (GER)

Porsche WEC

Porsche wins 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans

2015 24 Hours of Le Mans

The #19 Porsche 919 Hybrid (Bamber/Hulkenberg/Tandy) has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans and delivered Porsche its 17th win in the endurance epic.

The winning car led for more than half of the race and completed 395 laps (two off equalling the distance record) and finished one lap ahead of the #17 Porsche 919 (Bernhard/Hartley/Webber).

The final podium step in LMP1 was taken by the defending winners in the #7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro (Fässler/Lotterer/Tréluyer).

LMP2 was won by the #47 Oreca 05 Nissan (358 laps).

GTE Pro was won by the #64 Chevrolet Corvette C7R (337 laps).

GTE Am was won by the #72 Ferrari 458 Italia (332 laps).

A full listing of final placings can be found HERE.

Formula 1

2015 Force India VJM08 revealed

2015 Force India VJM08

Ugly anteater noses begone!

The first full reveal of a 2015 Formula 1 car has been and gone thanks to Force India. As you can see the laughable nose of the VJM07 has been scrapped and the VJM08 looks altogether more stylish.

Part of that, of course, is due to the new silver and black livery, which, oddly enough, gives the best hint yet that McLaren will be having a red and white scheme in 2015.

Force India retains its 2014 driver lineup of Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenberg. The team will run its 2014 car at the first test in Jerez (1–4 February), delaying the track debut of the VJM08 until the second round of testing, to be held in Barcelona (19–22 February).

A light and fluffy press release and more images are available after the break. More detail is available in the team’s 2015 press pack which can be downloaded below.

Formula 1 WEC

Porsche signs Nico Hulkenberg for Le Mans

Nico Hulkenberg

Force India Formula 1 driver Nico Hulkenberg is the first person named to drive the factory Porsche team’s third 919 Hybrid at the 6 Hours of Spa and 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015.

It’s both rare and welcomed to see an active F1 driver taking part in categories such as the World Endurance Championship. We hope the 27-year-old German does well.

“Porsche and Le Mans—this combination probably attracts every race driver,” Hulkenberg said. “I’ve been a Porsche fan for a long time and have been watching their return to the LMP1 class closely.

“The desire grew to drive that car at Le Mans. I am very pleased the 2015 Formula 1 calendar allows for it and I’m grateful to my Sahara Force India Formula 1 Team’s generosity to let me go for it. Now it’s up to me to work hard to satisfy both commitments.”

Team Principal Andreas Seidl explains Hulkenberg will have a steep learning curve in the short-term switch from F1 to WEC and shared sentiments of gratitude towards Force India.

“Having caught the interest of another world class driver like Nico is validation for the job the entire Porsche LMP1 crew had done in our first WEC season,” Seidl said. “Now we will prepare Nico for his new challenges such as dealing with the traffic of the slower GT cars and racing into the Le Mans night.

“We’re looking forward to working with Nico and we want to thank the Sahara Force India F1 Team and team principal Vijay Mallya for loaning him to us.”

Formula 1

Nico Hulkenberg will use the Force in 2015

2014 British Grand Prix

Force India has locked in Nico Hulkenberg for one more year, securing the 27-year-old German for the 2015 season.

“It’s good to confirm my plans for next season,” Hulkenberg said. “This is a team I know extremely well and we’ve enjoyed a great year together with some special results. The team has big ambitions and I believe we can have a competitive package once again next year.

“We have a strong partner in Mercedes and everyone in the team is motivated and hungry for more success. I have a good feeling for 2015 and there is a lot to be excited about as we try to build on the results we have achieved this year.”

Hulkenberg’s 2014 teammate, Sergio Perez, hopes to remain with Force India next year too, but nothing is confirmed at this stage.

Formula 1

F1 winter testing: Bahrain I day 1

Nico Hulkenberg, Force India VJM07

Nico Hulkenberg set the fastest time on the opening day of F1 pre-season testing in Bahrain overnight. It’s the first of two four-day blocks of testing at the Sakhir circuit and Mercedes-powered cars continued to dominate proceedings, following on from last month’s testing in Jerez.

Hulkenberg registered 78 timed laps in the Force India VJM07, his fastest was 1:36.880. That was one second quicker than Fernando Alonso (1:37.879) who completed 64 laps in the Ferrari F14 T. Lewis Hamilton (1:37.908) did 74 laps in the Mercedes AMG W05, while new boy Kevin Magnussen (1:38.295) racked up 81 laps in the McLaren MP4-29.

Sebastian Vettel (1:40.224) was fifth fastest overnight and will be elated that he managed to complete a timed lap in the Red Bull RB10. Yet the world champion team has new struggles after its woeful performance in Jerez. Vettel only managed 14 laps and said shared his thoughts afterwards.

“We sorted out the issues from Jerez and we were able to do some laps today,” Vettel said. “However, very often you fix one problem and another pops up, which is what happened. That’s testing. We all knew this year was a massive challenge and we knew it would be difficult. We obviously didn’t want this, but it is what it is and we are working flat out to solve the problems.”

Andy Damerum, Red Bull’s Race Engineering Co-ordinator tried to remain positive. “It’s been a very long two weeks for everyone back at the factory and I have to say that while it might not appear so on the surface there has been a big improvement since Jerez,” he explained. “We are obviously playing catch-up and for us this was very much like a first test, so we were sending the car out to do one lap, then two and trying to build from there.

“In that regard the laps completed were good. However, we were sidelined by a mechanical gremlin but one unrelated to the issues in Jerez.”

Sixth fastest was Adrian Sutil (1:40.443), who ran for 82 laps in the Ferrari-powered Sauber C33. The most laps completed by a Renault-powered driver was Robert Frijns (1:42.534) in the Caterham CT05 who notched up 64 laps.

However, the other Renault-powered cars didn’t fare quite so well. Daniil Kvyat (1:44.346) could only manage five laps in the Toro Rosso STR9, while Romain Grosjean (1:44.832) did just eight laps in the first outing for the Lotus E22.

Meanwhile, the Williams FW36 could not repeat its strong form from Jerez with Felipe Massa failing to record a lap time in any of his five laps. Similarly, Marussia driver Jules Bianchi completed only three laps and failed to record a time.

Formula 1

2014 Force India VJM07 revealed

2014 Force India VJM07

Force India has given its 2014 F1 car, the VJM07, its first public showing prior to taking to the track at Jerez tonight. The VJM07 was one of the first F1 cars we saw for the year and at the time the full horror of the front nose designs was yet to be revealed. And that is certainly the case for the Force India challenger.

As they say, once you go black, you can’t go back. And while the official Force India pics don’t yet show the full scale of its front nose we’ve added another pic below to show you what is actually quite a comical solution.

You have to laugh, really. There’s not much else you can do.

Formula 1

Nico Hulkenberg returns to Force India for 2014

Vijay Mallya and Nico Hulkenberg

It looks like 2014 is the year of the return. Kimi Raikkonen is returning to the scene of his 2007 world championship at Ferrari, while Nico Hulkenberg is returning to the scene of his, erm, fourth place with Force India.

Of coruse, the arrival of Hulkenberg to Force India means at least one of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil will be looking for work next year. Force India says their full driver line up will be announced in the fullness of time, or something.

Hulkenberg spent a year as a test driver with Force India in 2011 after his debut season with Williams. He managed to land full driver status with the team in 2012 before switching to Sauber this year.

Being described as a “multi-year deal” Hulkenberg will be hoping his second stint with Force India will bear fruit.

“The team is aiming high for next year and I believe that the experience I have gained over the years will help us achieve those goals,” he said. “I genuinely believe we can have a competitive package in 2014. I’ve heard a lot of positive things about the Mercedes engine as well, so I think there is a lot to be excited about for next year.”

Full statements and video from Force India can be found below. You know it’s funny, Formula 1 is all about massive budgets, innovation and total precision, so you’d think they’d be able to turn a mobile phone around…

Formula 1

Hulkenberg says no to Kimi’s sloppy seconds

2013 Korean Grand Prix

Kimi Raikkonen’s hurty back has given Lotus an empty racecar for the next two grands prix and word is the team has offered the drive to Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg. Despite being one of the favourites to replace Kimi on a full-time basis in 2014 Hulkenberg has turned down the chance to fill in for Raikkonen in the US and Brazil.

Hulkenberg’s manager, Werner Heinz, told Bild, “We had an offer from Lotus, are available and have discussed about it. But we decided that Nico will drive the last two races with Sauber.”

Isn’t it nice to see such loyalty in F1 these days. Let’s forget for a moment that Nico shares an empty wallet with Kimi, thanks to Sauber’s own financial plight and that contractual issues might have made a late season switch problematic for Hulkenberg.

What we do want to know, though, is can we now put a line through Hulkenberg’s name on the shortlist of drivers in the sights of the Lotus F1 Team for 2014?

And in a late development it looks like Caterham reserve driver and former F1 regular Heikki Kovalainen is willing to answer Lotus’ SOS and lap up Kimi’s sloppy seconds.

[Source: Adam Cooper | Pic: Sauber Motorsport AG]

Formula 1 Lotus

Romain Grosjean expected to take Lotus lead

2013 Japanese Grand Prix

Romain Grosjean’s late season form has impressed team bosses in the Lotus garage. It’s expected the team will take up its option to keep him on their roster for 2014, with the ongoing speculation about Lotus’ financial security the only barrier at this time.

Lotus Team Principal and head of Grosjean’s management team, Eric Boullier, says confirmation should come soon. “Romain already has a contract with us for next year, but it is not a fixed contract—Lotus has to take the option or not. We have to do it in a few days’ time, so we will see,” he said.

Boullier is also pleased with the development of the 27-year-old Frenchman, adding: “We first wanted him to establish himself like the driver he is now, but on top of this, since Kimi announced he is leaving, it was up to him to step up—and he is doing it.”

Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director, is also impressed with what he’s seeing from Grosjean. “He has that belief in himself that he can do it, and the Japanese GP will have done him the power of good,” Permane said. “To lead a race and pull away from Red Bulls and even to be mixing it with them is brilliant, especially when you look the fourth placed person is 30 seconds down the road.”

Assuming Lotus can get their seemingly ever precarious finances sorted out it’s expected Nico Hulkenberg will race alongside Grosjean in 2014, after Kimi Raikkonen’s return to Ferrari.

[Source: Autosport | Pic: Lotus F1 Team/LAT Photographic]

Formula 1 Red Bull Racing

2013 Italian GP: Qualifying report

2013 Intalian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel (1:23.755) claimed his 40th pole position in qualifying for the Italian Grand Prix last night. His Red Bull teammate, Mark Webber, was two tenths behind (1:23.968). While a surprise result from Nico Hulkenberg (1:24.065) in the Ferrari powered Sauber rounded out the top three.

Aside from the flying Red Bulls, it was a mixed session. Both McLarens and both Toro Rossos made the top 10, while both Lotus drivers didn’t make the cut and nor did Lewis Hamilton (1:24.803, Mercedes) who will start from a relatively lowly P12.

Hamilton was impeded by Adrian Sutil (Force India) who was handed a three-spot grid penalty, but afterwards Lewis admitted he didn’t think he had the pace to challenge the lead pair.

Daniel Ricciardo (1:24.209, Toro Rosso) might have hoped for more than P7 as he spent much of the first two sessions hovering around the top three. At least he didn’t run wide into the gravel exiting the Parabolica like teammate Jean-Eric Vergne (1:28.050), who will start from P10.

“We missed a little something in Q3, doing a two lap run, and with hindsight, maybe a one lap run with a lighter fuel load would have been better,” said Daniel. “But I am still happy with seventh. I dropped a wheel in the gravel at the second chicane which might have cost me some time. To have both cars in the top ten on merit on a dry track is a very good result.”

Ferrari sent out both cars close together in Q3. Felipe Massa went first, with Fernando Alonso behind. The aim was to provide a slip stream for Alonso, however Massa was too quick and the plan didn’t work. Massa (1:24.132) ended qualifying in P4, marginally ahead of Alonso (1:24.142) in P5.

One rumour doing the rounds is that Hulkenberg could replace Massa at Ferrari next season. It would seem that Felipe may be taking an every man for himself approach as he sets sights on finding a new employer.

The full transcript from the post-quali press conference can be read after the break.

[Pic: Red Bull/Getty Images]

Formula 1

Incredible performance puts The Hulk on pole in Brazil

2010 Brazilian Grand Prix, Nico Hulkenberg, pole position

A genuinely good news story emerged in the world of Formula One at the Brazilian Grand Prix early this morning when Williams driver Nico Hülkenberg claimed an incredible maiden pole position. It is the first time since the 2005 European Grand Prix at the Nürburging, exactly 100 races ago, that a Williams has started from first on the grid.

While all three qualifying sessions were affected by wet weather it was the final session that gave Hülkenberg the opportunity to shine. With around four and half minutes left in Q3 the Interlagos track was finally ready for slick tyres and all 10 participating drivers came in to change. Initially, the grip provided by the slicks left the drivers on a knife edge. But with each lap the line became drier and the times began to tumble.

So much so that with just 13 seconds of qualifying remaining it was Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso who held provisional pole (1:15.989). In the end his time was only good enough to secure fifth place on the grid, as Lewis Hamilton (McLaren – 1:15.747), Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing – 1:15.637), Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing – 1:15.519) and Hülkenberg all went quicker.

Hülkenberg, though, timed his run to perfection and effectively had one more lap than the rest of the field. With only four seconds left in the final session the young German posted the quickest time. A time unable to be beaten by the two Red Bulls following close behind. And with the track conditions on the improve The Hulk improved on his provisional pole time to register his best time of 1:14.470 to lead the field by over one second.

It’s great for F1 to see the emergence of a new talent and it must be remembered that Hülkenberg is in his rookie season fighting to secure a drive in 2011. Meanwhile, the potential unpredictability of having a first-timer on pole with five men behind him still in the hunt for the World Championship means this will be one race worth getting up at 3am for!

A press release from AT&T Williams can be read after the jump, along with the full text from the official FIA post-qualifying press conference.

[Pics: Williams/LAT]