Mike Stevens | Apr 28, 2011

Team Lotus announced its anticipated tie-up with specialist British sports car maker Caterham Cars on Wednesday, but a change of name has yet to be confirmed.

Caterham managing director Ansar Ali said Wednesday's news was the "first step", with a "full branding and platform" to be laid out "in due course".

"I think it will excite all the staff at Caterham, and all the fans of Caterham Cars," he added.

Team Lotus boss and new Caterham owner Tony Fernandes said the move is to give his formula one team a "commercial arm" in the sports car world.

It has been said the tie-up could be a neat move for Fernandes away from his bitter F1 naming dispute with Group Lotus, who as Renault title sponsor now want to be the only 'Lotus' in F1.

"This isn't being done just in case we lose the case," he insisted to Reuters.

"I and the shareholders want to wait and see what happens with the court case and then we'll make plans from there," added Fernandes, referring to the High Court verdict that is due in the coming weeks.

(GMM)

 

Pole No Longer Crucial In 2011: Horner

Pole position is less important in 2011 than in previous years, according to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

Sebastian Vettel secured a clean sweep of poles so far this season in China recently, but was beaten to the chequered flag by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, who focused conservatively all weekend on his tyre strategy for the race.

Similarly, Vettel's teammate Mark Webber bowed out in Q1 in Shanghai, but with his cache of fresh tyres was able to scythe through the field and finish on the podium and within sight of the pole-sitting sister RB7.

"Maybe that's the best way to do it all the time," joked the Australian.

Jokes aside, with overtaking more common now and Pirelli's tyres needing to be changed multiple times per race, the best qualifying strategy in 2011 arguably involves a much firmer focus on the grand prix.

"Mark's race demonstrates that, given the marked difference between new and used tyres and the greater ability to overtake, qualifying position is not as crucial," Horner is quoted in Italian by Tuttosport.

He added: "With a few more laps (in China) Mark would have won, and with a few laps less Sebastian would have won from pole.

"We will have to see, race by race, what will be the right approach," said Horner.

(GMM)

 

Rosberg Plots Mercedes Victory

Nico Rosberg drowned his sorrows with a double-cheeseburger in China, albeit mindful that Mercedes may now be on the right track to victory.

The German was reportedly angry after the Shanghai race when, with potentially race-winning pace in the W02 for the first time, the team asked him to drive slowly to avoid running out of fuel.

According to Bild am Sonntag newspaper, 25-year-old Rosberg swallowed his frustration with a post-race visit to a fast food outlet for a burger, fries and large milkshake.

"I have nothing against pizzas either," he smiled. "I think after this I won't eat anything for two days!"

As for his anger, Rosberg clarified: "Quite honestly, it's something I've never experienced before. I was totally exhausted and not angry but so disappointed that I felt like crying.

"I was not first but fifth and I had to be alone for a few minutes afterwards," admitted Rosberg.

On the bright side, the Brackley based team seemed to turn a corner in China and Rosberg thinks more podium tilts in the near future are likely.

"The first two races were not easy at all. After the tests we thought we would keep up with the best and now after Shanghai I believe it again," said Rosberg.

He said Mercedes went back to basics with the W02 after Melbourne and Sepang, concentrating on the setup and ensuring that Rosberg will no longer have to describe it as a "cucumber".

"You could say that," Rosberg smiled. "The car has winning potential now. I remember in China seeing Sebastian Vettel in the mirrors and thinking that in two laps he would put me behind. But he didn't.

"The team has done a great job, but falling into euphoria now would be wrong. Sebastian doesn't have to worry too much yet. In Quali we still lack too much -- almost a second, but hopefully we can improve that."

(GMM)

 

Haug Happy With Power Over Efficiency

The Renault might be more efficient but Norbert Haug says he is happy with the perception that Mercedes' is the most powerful engine in F1.

Renault Sport F1, powering the Renault team as well as Red Bull and Team Lotus, claimed recently that the RS27 is "extremely good" in the area of consumption, saving 10 per cent more fuel than usual to burn through customer teams' blown exhausts.

The boast was a counter to the general perception in F1, pressed by Red Bull who have in the past coveted the German power, that it is Mercedes' V8 that is the best on the grid overall.

"I don't know the numbers of our competitors," said the Stuttgart marque's motor racing chief Norbert Haug, "but our engine as well as our KERS are repeatedly referred to as the yardstick in the industry.

"We haven't claimed this ourselves, but many have argued it," he told Auto Motor und Sport.

"That our competitors do highly competent work, whether they are called Ferrari, Renault or Cosworth, there is no doubt," he said.

But Haug then moved to counter Renault's claim that it is the most efficient engine that might be described as the best in F1.

"Using less fuel than your competitor is generally because you have less power.

"I think that in specific consumption, we look very good. In absolute consumption, for the reason I gave, maybe I prefer if we are not the very best," he insisted.

(GMM)

 

Teams Using 'Kickdown' Approach To Trigger KERS: Report

Four teams are using an innovative method to maximise the driver's ability to efficiently deploy KERS in 2011.

That is the claim of Germany's Auto Motor und Sport, describing the novel method as 'kickdown'.

'Kickdown' refers to the additional pressure that a driver must deploy beyond full throttle to activate the KERS power-boost.

It means the driver, who is already at full throttle when he needs to use KERS, must do nothing other than press even harder on the right-foot pedal to trigger the energy-recovery system.

Nick Heidfeld confirmed that he made the 'kickdown' suggestion for KERS when he joined Renault this season.

"I had the idea to use kickdown when we had traction control," the German is also quoted as saying. "We did that at BMW."

Another clever innovation in 2011 is in the Mercedes footwell, where Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg rest their foot on a third pedal to the left of the brake to activate the DRS rear wing.

(GMM)

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