I haven’t done a news round-up post in a while and thought today would be a good day to slide one in, catching up with some of the stories I missed in the last couple of weeks. The team launches pretty much dominated January, but now we only have Force India and Super Aguri to go. Scuderia Toro Rosso won’t be launching their car as they intend starting the 2008 season with a modified 2007 car. So, now the majority of launches are out of the way the teams have been heading around the world testing and tweaking their new motors. In the mean time, Renault have decided on their test driver for 2008, the Australian Grand Prix comes under fresh attacks from Ecclestone and Michael Schumacher becomes a team owner.
Sakon Yamamoto Finds Himself In A Renault
Japanese driver Sakon Yamamoto, a veteran of 14 starts with Super Aguri and Spyker has been named as Renault’s test driver for the upcoming 2008 season. It has also been said that Sakon will play a part in the teams roadshow, a mobile event that showcases Formula One in cities around the world.
We are delighted to welcome Sakon to the team for 2008. We plan a particularly aggressive development programme for the coming year, and his F1 experience will be useful to us in this context. Flavio Briatore.
Is 14 starts really that much experience? For sure Yamamoto would have done testing work for his respective teams, but I really don’t understand where this “experience” has come from. Olivier Panis, Pedro De La Rosa and Alex Wurz are experienced test/race drivers. Yamamoto? I’m just not so sure about that. However, the signing could be interesting on a different level. Since Renault brought out the Benetton team in 2000 they’ve tended to stay with European drivers. Primarily this is because that is where the bulk of the current stars come from, but in signing a Japanese driver to their team could be a way of opening doors to a wider range of sponsorship opportunities and promotional markets.
Furthermore, the ING Renault F1 Team is one of the most active in promoting Formula One around the world thanks to our unique Roadshow programme, and Sakon will boost our visibility in important markets. He will be an important asset for the team. Flavio Briatore.
Ecclestone Threatens Australian Grand Prix, Again
It seems each year another circuit receives threats from Formula One’s promotional chief, Bernie Ecclestone. Bernie holds the commercial rights to Formula One, and therefore gets a big say in where the sport goes. Although F1 has tended to be a European-centric sport, Ecclestone has managed in recent years to push the boundaries further afield. We now enjoy races in Malaysia, Bahrain and Turkey and will soon get to see the circus in Abu Dhabi, Korea and Singapore.
However, with Formula One entering evermore markets, the season length is starting to draw concerns from the teams and Bernie has stated he doesn’t want to push the season over 20 races. Thus, some existing venues are likely to feel the sharp brunt of Ecclestone with his business hat on. In other words, some countries may be about to lose their race.
The other reason why Bernie has added Melbourne to his list is that he wants the circuits in the Eastern timezones to hold their grands prix in a European time slot, ie. at night for lunchtime viewing in Europe. However, while Australian race organisers were initially promoting the idea of night racing last year, they now find the idea implausible.
Schumacher Becomes A Team Owner
Michael Schumacher has announced that along with two friends, he has started a kart team that will compete in the German championship. Schumacher has always enjoyed karting and never really gave it up, despite moving on to become of the most successful Formula One drivers in the sports history.
The team, co-owned by Peter Kaiser and Thomas Muchov, will be called KSM Motosport and they have already managed get a signature from Carlos Sainz Jr, the son of double rally champion Carlos Sainz.
I still drive karts with a passion, I grew up with them. Even when I was still a boy, and F1 was still very far away, I thought that one day I would have worked in karting. A team together with my friends, that’s exactly what I had imagined. Michael Schumacher.
Schumacher will continue working with Scuderia Ferrari, having been recently appointed to the role of developing their Formula One machines.