Hulkenberg hoping for Force India drive in 2011

F1 Fanatic round-up

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Nico Hulkenberg, Williams, Bahrain, 2010

Nico Hulkenberg joins the list of drivers vying for a seat at Foce India:


Nico Hulkenberg Q&A: Force India my best shot (Formula 1)

Force India is our best shot, but it is also no secret that quite a few drivers are trying to land a seat there. We are talking to them and let’s wait and see what develops.”

David Hunt: Group Lotus in the wrong over F1 move (Eastern Daily Press)

"Given Renault still have a suspended sentence tied to them after bringing the sport into disrepute in 2008, are they doing so again by deliberately and willfully confusing the public over the Lotus brand?"

Q&A with Lotus Renault GP chiefs (Daily Telegraph)

Dany Bahar: “We will try to continue to act and behave like a professional company. And if this is not liked by the public there is not much we can do.”

Group Lotus hints at full team takeover (Autosport)

Gerard Lopez: “There is the opportunity for the partnership to evolve in the future. To discuss, even between ourselves, what the world is going to look like in five years is really difficult.”

Unique F1 Driver Ratings, 2010 (The Race Driver)

A highly original approach to rating driver performance from Peter Windsor.

Venezuela F1 driver flies flag for socialist Chavez (Reuters)

“State oil company PDVSA, whose oil revenues have financed Chavez’s decade-long ’21st century socialism’ experiment in the South American nation, is Maldonado’s main local sponsor. ‘We’re backing Pastor Maldonado and his team via PDVSA, so he can race round the world and show what he’s made of,’ the sports-loving Chavez said this week, recalling that he approved funding for the driver early on his career.”

Comment of the day

While the furore over Lotus rages on, the gradual disappearance of Renault from F1 is not being overlooked either. Here’s what Todfod had to say:

Its kind of sad to see Renault sell their team and exit. But I guess it was just a matter of time.

They looked very keen to bow out after the whole crashgate scandal, and after Fernando left they were just focusing on finding a suitable replacement and getting the team into better shape to make a profitable exit.

Bahar just showed up at the right time for them but the sale looked inevitable at the end of last year.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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51 comments on “Hulkenberg hoping for Force India drive in 2011”

  1. There’s a WMSC meeting on today, isn’t there? I believe they’re set to discuss new engine regulations for 2013. I’m also predicting that they may pas verdict on the Lotus/Lotus situation.

    1. It would be nice if they settled Lotus-gate before it gets too far. Bahar seems to be on a media blitz tour to portray himself as the sheep, when in reality he’s the wolf in sheep’s clothing.

      1. If it’s going to be settled, then I think it’s going to be settled in favour of Lotus Renault. They have, after all, purchased a 50% stake in Renault F1, and that’s a sizeable investment. If the WMSC were to rule in favour of Fernandes and Lotus Cars were forced to withdraw, then it could jeopardise the future of the team as there would be no other buyer to pick up the slack. Fernandes, on the other hand, could probably survive without the Lotus name since he’s already established and Team Lotus technically doesn’t exist outside the name. That’s its only asset. If I were the WMSC, I’d push through a decree telling both teams that if they want to use the Lotus name, they can – but they have to have something unique to identify them, like “Fernandes Lotus Racing” and “Lotus Gravity GP”.

        1. Between 25-50% was what I’ve read, not that that matters. I see your point about the name. Honestly though I think the FIA will stay out of it for the time being. Bernie may try and bust some heads behind the scenes to keep it from getting too messy. I expect ultimately though it’ll probably end up hinging on the high court ruling. The FIA won’t want to make some decision on the matter only to have the courts rule that decision illegal as with the Briatore ban…

          1. And Lotus Cars haven’t technically done anything wrong. They just bought the title sponsorship rights to the team, and the FIA can’t deny them that just as surely as they cannot deny Fernandes the rights to a name he owns (assuming the High Court rules in his favour). That’s why the teams either need an identifier, or have someone relent in their pursuit of the name.

        2. Bahar is doing a lot of back tracking and it’s becoming apparent from lots of Blogs and articles that there is little to settle other than in the High Court. In the Telegraph article Behar states that the cars next year will just run as Renault’s (i.e. not Lotus Renaults) because the chassis constructor is Renault.

          Nothing is actually said about changing the entrant name from Renault F1 Team to Lotus Renault GP, but they can only do that with the approval of the FIA, and all the other teams…including Fernandes! They also couldn’t change it to Lotus Renault GP anyway because that clashes with an established team which is against the FIA rules. The only way they could do that is if Team Lotus drop the Lotus bit either voluntarily or because the court tells them to. There is no sign Tony is going to back down voluntarily (although he could still be pressured by the Malaysian government) and most seem to think that the high court action will be after the start of the season and it will probably drag on through appeals for a long time anyway.

          The company can be called Lotus Renault GP, Lotus can be slapped all over it as there is no restrictions on sponsors names being on multiple teams, but for 2011 at least unless something exceptional happens, the official team name will be the Renault F1 Team and the cars Renault’s, that’s what will appear in on the screen and on the FIA stats.

          1. I believe the F1 team can be called Lotus Renault on the strength of Group Lotus becoming the title sponsor. The chassis constructor will remain Renault.

            I have yet to see anything confirming that Group Lotus/Proton has taken an equity stake in the outfit, although there has been lots of talk about taking 25% now and eventually majority ownership. What will be interesting to see is how Group Lotus/Proton will finance it, as they are not in great shape financially.

    2. Legard: ‘here comes the black and gold lotus renault on a charge in the sunshine, here we go! he’s making a pass on the team lotus renault car! what an overtake from the lotus driver! can lotus renault beat the black and gold cars of team lotus renault this season?’

      1. Fernandes has already publicly toyed with the idea of retaining the green livery for the sake of identifying the cars visually.

        If anything, we’re going to have to put up with Legard reminding us that Lotus Renault GP and Team Lotus are not the same at least once a weekend.

        1. Fernandes has already publicly toyed with the idea of retaining the green livery for the sake of identifying the cars visually.

          yes i know that too… for the sake of the joke both teams use the same colour. (which could still happen…) legard will go on and on about this, he’ll love the confusion! ha

          1. It was actually Mike Gascoyne. He ran a poll regarding it with 77% wanting them to keep the 2010 livery.

        2. I would fear we have to hear him explaining that at least once in every session and a minimal 3 times during the race. :-(

        3. There was a small piece in the Guardian yesterday saying that there was a good chance Legard won’t be back next year. Nothing we haven’t heard before but if newspapers are picking it up…here’s hoping ;)

  2. Vettel’s now in the hall of fame on

    love reading these.

    1. Well, he is the 32nd World Champion, so he automatically gets entry.

      1. yeah I knew that…

  3. Aaah, another positivist system that is hoping to explain something that is beyond its grasp ;).

    1. But it is does at least have the merit of being relatively simple in concept, so that we can easily understand what is not taken into account, and what is. In the 2010 season, I would guess it overestimates the Red Bull, due to Ferrari and McLaren in general having a race pace that was closer than their qualifying pace.

      Likewise, I guess putting Ferrari and McLaren roughly at equal pace leaves out differences in execution (strategy, speed of pit stop etc), reliablility, and team orders, not to mention luck.

  4. Some more photos of the Renault R30 gussied up in the Lotus Renault livery. It doesn’t actually look that bad (though I feel the gold lines are a little too thick):

    And since the red endplates are getting a bit of criticism, I’ve also found this one – a mock-up of the Lotus Renault livery with black endplates:

    Which also looks pretty good. You know, as much as I’m not keen on the Lotus Renault deal, I wouldn’t object to seeing them run this livery and Tony Fernandes’ Team Lotus keeping their green one. Both will look equally awesome and I think a lot of the grid will be hard-pressed to match them.

    1. The black endplates work well, indeed – although “Total” should also be in gold then.

      I think I agree with you that it looks okay, apart from the gold being too thick and blunt. But only when seen from the side and especially the back. What it doesn’t look like, unlike the JPS livery, is refined and elegant.

      The front looks wrong, that nose is a blunt blob with a gob of gold and an oversized yellow logo, and the strips of gold on the front wing look like useless bling.

      It could look better on a differently shaped R30, and I hope it does, but with such a well working livery for 2010, and having the set of JPS liveries available as inspiration, this is rather dissapointing.

    2. That’s a vast improvement just removing the red. I can’t imagine that it has to be red for Total. Total also shows up on the Red Bulls and it’s not bright red there…

    3. It’s nicer in those pictures, but it’s not a re-creation of the old livery is it? It’s artistically similar. Which is worth squat all in my opinion.

  5. Good luck to Hülkenberg. He’ll need it. Even if Norbert Haug does want him at Mercedes in the future, is he going to leverage Force India to get him a race seat there? Haug’s reportedly already been pushing for Di Resta to get a seat there, and surely Mallya won’t let Merc dictate who BOTH of their drivers are.

  6. so, it was Lotus Renault GP the ones with the JPS idea and then the other took it??

    1. Nope, other way around – Tony Fernandes announced plans for a JPS-inspired livery and asked fans to come up with the design. Dany Bahar claims they had already planned it, but Fernandes announced his plans three days earlier. It’s entirely possible that they both came up with the idea independently, though.

      1. but Gerard Lopez said the idea of running black and gold was up there when they were starting the partnership, and then it got leaked.

        Not sure who are the ones to believe, but I’m sure I’ll stay in the Renault side :P

        1. According to Will Buxton a French journalist had blogged about the rumoured JPS livery for Renault 3 days before Fernandes and Co. announced their plans to use it. Whether or not they were aware of that blog will remain a mystery.

          1. I would suspect Tony did hear of it and made great use of it.
            The competition installed to get everyone interested and the poll to decide weather they would not rather retain the BRG livery to provide an excellent exit strategy.
            And it helped make Group Lotus look even worse then they are.

          2. To be honest, It looks lik a rush job anyway. How that Renault-Lotus livery took someone 2 months to come up with, I’ll never know. Some of the Lotus Racing competition entries are a million times better.

            Maybe if they do revert to the yellow and green, they could still use the winning design and perform a palette swap.

  7. Jos Verstappen says Petrov was the worst driver of the year:

    The only problem is, he’s Jos Verstappen! He drove for a different team each year. He failed to score a World Championship point three times eight years. In 107 races, he retired from over half of them and he only score points in seven races.

    Someone call the leg warehouse. Jos doesn’t have anything to stand on.

    1. Well you seem to have an opinion on everything, how many points have you scored?

      1. Prisoner Monkeys is OK, can be condescending at times but I think thats more to do with how the internet operates then he himself.

        He’s no Ned, Steph, Hairs or even yourself Hamish but I’m glad he scoops up all this info because I don’t have enough time myself.

        He’s kinda like the living embodiment of an RSS feed, which is pretty cool.

        1. Let us compare:
          Petrov: Made his debut at Renault, did ok on some occasions, also made a lot of rookie mistakes, failed to live up to his teammate, although kubica is seen as one of the best there is
          Verstappen: Made his debut at Benetton (=Renault), did ok on some occasions, also made a lot of rookie mistakes, failed to live up to his teammate, although schumacher was seen as one of the best there is.

          Could almost copy/paste the thing:P.

          1. This is the same Verstappen that Schumacher once praised as one of the best wet weather drivers he’d ever seen.

            Truth is Verstappen was thrust into a top team against a top driver far too early and his career never recovered. Some of his performances for Arrows and Minardi were brilliant.

            I do disagree at the Petrov was the worst driver of the year though. Most underachieving? Perhaps, but certainly not the worst.

          2. If you look at Windsor’s ranking system, Petrov is one of the worst of the year. Leaving only the HRT drivers and diGrassi behind.

            So it’s not strange to say he’s the worst. Even if you were a driver with a similar start to your career, or a F1Fanatic who never has driven an F1 car for real.

            I tried to find a full table with O’Briens rating system… To see where Verstappen is positioned overall. Could not find it.

            Sometimes I’m still wondering how Verstappen would have done in other circumstances. But I guess Verstappen is a bit of a hothead.

            If Max (Verstappen) just has a little more restraint, we will see a Verstappen on the prodium in F1 again.

          3. Actually, Benetton/ Renault have always been quite a bit of a one car team. Think back through the last 15 years or so, they’ve almost always had one driver completely outclass his team mate.

            In fact, since 1993 there have been 11 seasons in which one of their drivers has scored at least twice the amount of points of his team mate: 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010.

            This sheds more light on Petrov’s performance in 2010, no?

  8. I do believe that Renault did find a replacement for Alonso in 2010 but if they could have made their car better then many know what potential Kubica have,selling the team to Lotus won’t make the team any better I think.

    1. They dont want to own a team. And if they are getting a price higher than people were bidding for at the end of 2009, they would willingly sell their team.

      P.S. Thanks Keith for putting my comment as comment of the day.. I was kind of feeling like Luca Badoer… thousands of posts yet none of them made it to the comment of the day

      1. But I think it was a very telling one. You were te first to comment on this and a lot of us agree, it is sad to see them go when they were on the upturn.

        As far as Luca is concerned. I think he deserves a lot of respect for the work in building that all conquering Ferrari for them to win all those titles.

  9. UneedAFinn2Win
    10th December 2010, 7:26

    HRT won’t make it ?
    Any espanoles around who read Diario AS ?

    1. Hispania is in trouble?

      I guess that means it’s Friday.

      1. Why don’t we all pool our money together and buy HRT, rebrand it as F1 Fanatics and have Karun as a driver and Stirling Moss as the team principal?.

        I propose we put “crumpets” on the rear wing.

        And take the Virgin’s all digital route one step further and design our car using undiluted internet opinions, we might get a few swear words on the chassis but still, take the good with the bad, the plucky souls that we are.

        1. Do we have a MS paint expert in the house?!:P

        2. I like that idea, but surely Keith should be the principal. Sterling Moss could be the Helmut Marko.

  10. Dany Bahar: “We will try to continue to act and behave like a professional company. And if this is not liked by the public there is not much we can do.”

    I wouldnt say that acting like a baby, and copying another companys product is very professional?

  11. You could try looking at the Lotus-Lotus issue from another angle. Ferrari is actually the most common surname in Italy, there are literally thousands of businesses in Italy that are called Ferrari and red is the Italian national colour. If Ferrari the Italian confectioner sponsored or even bought outright an existing F1 team would they be able to call the team Ferrari and paint the cars red……I think not.

  12. Ignoring for the moment the clash between the Lotus names, I take my hat off to Dany Bahar. The man has pulled off a piece of marketing that is pretty much brilliance incarnate.

    Consider this:

    Lotus Cars are currently looking to enter motorsport. But rather than do this in the shape of establishing expensive teams, they are doing deals for title sponsorship. They now lend their name to Renault in Formula 1, ART Grand Prix in GP2, GP2 Asia and GP3 and KV Racing Technology in Indycar, with a view to developing an aerodynamic kit and rebranding a Cosworth engine for the ICONIC project. They are also looking to enter the GT1 World Championship and possibly the GT2 and GT4 series by having their cars homologated and run by independent teams. And they have talked about building a Le Mans Prototype, or at least sponsoring one.

    Normally, this would be an incredibly expensive undertaking. In order to establish a Formula 1 team, you’re looking at spending at least forty million dollars (Virgin’s total budget for 2010). If you want to be competitive, you’re probably spending two or three times that amount (Renault F1 had a budget of a hundred and fifty million this year). But title sponsorship is being sold for about fifteen million dollars at the most. And that’s just for Formula 1 – smaller racing series will cost you even less than that. What Bahar has effectively done here is get maximum exposure in as many as nine major international racing series for less than the cost of establishing a Formula 1 team.

    Anyway you want to look at it, that’s absolutely brilliant. Bahar gets maximum exposure for minimum input, and the money goes straight to people who know how to use it better than the suits running Group Lotus. I might not like what he’s doing to Fernandes, but credit where credit is due.

    1. VERY cheep!


      All the money is coming from Group Lotus funds (who are currently not making a profit) ‘It’s spending on F1 will come from a portion of it’s marketing budget of between 15 and 20 million per annum’ I presume that’s dollars so it’s a pittance!

    2. But are people going to call Renault ‘Lotus’ simply because they are the title sponsor? That is the acid test

      1. The other teams on the grid would be Marlboro, Vodafone, Petronas, and AT&T.

  13. Just saw Autosport magazine advert on their web site – whats with that title on the cover: “The REAL Lotus is back”? Is Autosport on Bahar side then?

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