Sunday, 20 March 2011

2011 Preview: The 'New' Teams

Part one of our 2011 preview focuses on the three teams which were new to the grid in 2010.

These three teams were also the only three on the grid unable to score a single World Championship point, and their positions were decided based on their highest results. This did not come as a surprise to many, however, as their inclusion in the Championship was only confirmed shortly before testing began, giving the teams minimal time to design and build their cars.

These teams will be looking to improve in 2011, and will be aiming to score at least a point, particularly with Bernie Ecclestone repeatedly claiming that the Championship only requires ten teams.

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Starting with Marussia Virgin Racing. Classified 12th last season, the Cosworth-powered team founded by entrepreneur Richard Branson will be looking for an improved run of results this year.

The experienced Timo Glock will once again be the team's number one driver, despite technically finishing lower down the order last season than rookie Lucas di Grassi. Glock will certainly feel he has a point to prove now, even though he has admitted that the new car is probably still not quick enough to challenge the midfield runners.
Glock does not appear to be someone who is happy just making up the numbers at the back of the field. He will be encouraging his team and engineers to provide him with a good car, with which he can compete with the established teams.

The second driver for this season is Jerome D'Ambrosio, who is believed to have brought additional sponsorship to the team which aided his ascension to a first team drive. The young Belgian will want to show that he is worthy of competing at the pinacle of motorsport and will certainly keep Glock on his toes.

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The next team to look at is Colin Kolles' HRT F1 Team (Hispania). This Cosworth-Powered team are certainly not the richest team in the sport, with many suggesting they would not last an entire season. However, last it they did, and they're back again in 2011. They even managed to finish in the rankings above Virgin last year, despite using four different drivers over the course of the season, and missing pre-season testing in it's entirety.
The 2011 car is probably not too dissimilar to it's predecessor, and will have been based around the 2010 model with a few modifications. Unfortunately, due to circumstances beyond the team's control, they missed all of the 2011 pre-season tests again.

Vitantonio Liuzzi was the final driver announcement for the year, having been relieved of his position as Force India driver at the end of last year. The often outspoken Italian is fighting to keep his Formula One career alive. It will be interesting to see how he copes with life at the back of the grid, and how he copes if he is expected to lead the team.

Liuzzi's team mate is Indian Narain Karthikeyan, who formerly competed in Formula One for Jordan, among others, but spent last season competing in the NASCAR Trucks series. He is a hard working and committed driver, who recently admitted that he spent all of his savings that he earned in the States on securing this drive.

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Finally, we have Team Lotus. Definitely the most competitive of the new teams, and the team that came closest to the ellusive World Championship point. This will certainly be an interesting season for the team, both on the track and off, as they have got at least two court dates booked due to ongoing disputes regarding the use of the Lotus name. On track, however, they will certainly be looking to catch the midfield runners, as they have signed a deal with Red Bull Technology for their transmission package and will use Renault engines in an effort to acheive their goals.

Driver one for the team is Jarno Trulli. Trulli is one of the most experienced drivers in the field, having first competed in Formula One back in 1997. The Italian was outperformed by team mate Heikki Kovalainen for much of last season and will want to correct that this year.
He knows, however, that he is in the Autumn of his Formula One career, and will need a stong season to ensure he is offered a drive in 2012.

Heikki Kovalainen once again partners Trulli. The Finn had a strong season last year, and was only a few positions from scoring points on a number of occassions. However, Kovalainen's season will perhaps be best remembered for his fireman antics in the Singapore Grand Prix, singlehandedly extinguishing the flames from his burning car.
Kovalained will want to return to the front of the field, where he was when competing in the number 2 McLaren in 2009.

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It will be interesting to see whether any of these teams can score points in 2011, or whether their lack of budget, KERS and DRS (adjustable rear wing) will mean they will have to be content just racing each other.

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