But this season’s circuit will have major developments for this elite sport whose popularity constantly attracts legions of followers.
Bridgestone ended its contract as the sole tyre supplier last year. Pirelli was chosen as the tyre supplier for the 2011 season at the FIA World Motor Sport Council meeting in Geneva, in June 2010. Pirelli have announced the compound allocations of their dry-weather PZero tyres for the first four rounds of the 2011 season. They report in their website that following 18,000 kilometres of private testing and three multi-team tests, they have chosen to take their hard and soft compounds to the would have been opening Bahrain (March 13), Australian (March 27), Malaysia (April 10) and Shanghai (April 17) races. India, one of the world’s largest automotive industrialised nations, has entered the elite club. A race is set to take place 40km south of New Delhi towards Agra on October 30.
Surinder Thathi, Executive Committee Member of Formula One governing body, FIA, and also a race steward, says India’s entry is a god-send to the lucrative circuit, which would have started in the Arabian Gulf on March 13 and ends in the South American idyllic city of Sao Paolo on November 27 after criss–crossing all the continents and having visited some of the most romantic metropolises. “India has a vibrant motor industry and will certainly do a good job in the circuit,” predicted Thathi, a former navigator. He said the first sight inspection was done early February by Charlie Whiting, the Formula One Race Director. The second inspection will be on June 30. Thathi said the circuit was designed and supervised by Herman Tilke, the German architect who built Singapore, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi circuits. He is working closely with Bernard Charles ‘Bernie’ Ecclestone, the British sports entrepreneur, president and CEO of Formula One Management .
“The prospects look pretty good and we have no doubt that India will deliver,” said Thathi on the $400million investment. Analysts say, with their own Force India Team finishing seventh in the 2010 season, won by Red Bull Racing team led by German driver Sebastian Vettel, there is every reason to believe India will not repeat the mistakes that made it a global laughing stock during the Commonwealth Games in Delhi last October.
The Renault team suffered a major blow with fears that Robert Kubica will not be racing, at least during the opening rounds. Instead, Nick Heidfeld has joined the team and already tested in Barcelona. The 33-year-old German is one of the most experienced drivers in Formula One, having started 172 races over the last 11 seasons.
The season promises fireworks with predictions of new sensational drivers and cars hoping to dominate the scene.
Red Bull Racing won its maiden Constructors’ Championship with a one-two finish in Brazil, while Sebastian Vettel won the Drivers’ championship, becaming the youngest Champion in the sport’s 60-year history. Force India is keen to change the Formula One landscape. Rumour mills say sensational driver Paul Di Resta could come on board. In an article titled Paul Di Resta – Formula One’s next rookie sensation, Formula One website reported:
“As the 2011 season draws ever closer, vacant slots on the Formula One grid are disappearing fast and Force India is one of the few teams still to confirm their line-up. Although 2010 drivers Adrian Sutil and Vitantonio Liuzzi remain strong contenders, the rumour in the media is that bright young talent (and the team’s third driver) Paul di Resta could make his F1 race debut in March.
“At just 24 years old, Di Resta may be young but he already boasts a strong CV for the job. The Scot recently clinched the 2010 DTM title, with three wins and a further four podiums, after his fourth season in the ultra-competitive German touring car series, fending off fellow F1 tester Gary Paffett.
“Di Resta may be best known for his tin top triumphs, but the West Lothian-born driver is no stranger to single-seater success either, having won the Formula Three EuroSeries in 2006, against a field that included reigning Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel. Indeed, he was singled out as a talent to watch some time ago, having clinched the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC Young Driver of the Year Award in 2004. He can even boast racing royalty in his family - three-time IndyCar champion Dario Franchitti is his cousin. And he is managed by none other than Lewis Hamilton’s father Anthony.
Di Resta has yet to prove his mettle in a Grand Prix but has plenty of test mileage under his belt - a valuable commodity for a rookie in these days of cost-cutting and limited track time. His first F1 opportunity came courtesy of McLaren towards the end of 2008.
Di Resta was thrilled with the opportunity, and Force India were just as impressed with his feedback. They quickly signed him up as the team’s test and reserve driver for the 2010 season.
Di Resta took part in eight Friday sessions over the course of the year. More often than not it was his first time driving at the tracks, but that didn’t stop him consistently getting close to the pace of Sutil and Liuzzi, even beating the latter on one occasion. More significantly, he made very few mistakes and racked up 179 laps in the VJM03 cockpit. He was even chosen to head up the team’s pre-Christmas track work, testing over four days and sampling the new Pirelli tyres for the first time.
Pre-season tests started in January and every team is confident of podium finishes this season.
Ferrari, the Italian team, were the first to take the wraps off their new car at their Maranello factory. Drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa attended.
BMW Sauber and Renault also did their unveiling ceremony at Spain’s Valencia track. Renault has already provided a sneak peek of their new black and gold livery, inspired by backers Group Lotus. Driver Vitaly Petrov was charged with taking the R31 out for its first run.
Lotus launched the TL11 online on January 31 before joining the Valencia test a day later than their rivals on February 2. Mercedes GP/Red Bull/Williams/Toro Rosso all launched in Valencia on February 1, McLaren launched in Berlin on February 4 while Virgin did theirs in London on February.
Force India Formula One Team Limited, trading as Force India F1, is a Formula One motor racing team. It was formed in October 2007 when a consortium led by Indian businessman Vijay Mallya and Michiel Mol bought the Spyker F1 team for 88 million. Force India F1 represents increased Indian participation within Formula One, with Delhi set to host the first Indian Grand Prix in 2011. The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile confirmed the change in name from Spyker to Force India on 24 October 2007.
After going through 29 races without scoring points, Force India won their first Formula One world championship points and podium place when Giancarlo Fisichella finished second in the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix. Force India scored points again in the following race when Adrian Sutil finished fourth, and set the team’s first fastest lap, at the Italian Grand Prix.
Jordan enjoyed many years in Formula One, winning four races and achieving third place in the 1999 constructors title. However, like many of the smaller teams in the 2000s, financial problems meant the team’s performance slowed down, and team owner Eddie Jordan sold to the Midland Group in 2005. The re-named Midland F1 Racing team spent two seasons at the back of the grid, before owner Alex Shnaider sold the team to Spyker Cars mid-way through the 2006 season.
By DEA SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT
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