Mercedes buys Brawn GP, Button joins McLaren and Raikkonen takes a break from F1

The last couple of days in the Formula One world have reveal several major changes to the new 2010 season.

The first news story is Mercedes purchasing a 75.1 per cent share of Ross Brawn’s racing team. Following the success of winning the championship double, the German car manufacturer has latched onto the Brawn GP outfit and has rebranded the team as Mercedes GP for the following season.

Nico Rosberg is expected to drive for the Silver Arrows with a possibility of running Nick Heidfeld as the second German driver.

This takeover maybe one of the reason (other than pay) that has forced Jenson Button to look for a new drive elsewhere. Though there are stories that his manager was asking for more money from Ross Brawn since Button is the current Formula One world champion.

Following the buyout of Brawn GP, the focus shifted to Kimi Raikkonen. Where would the Iceman end up next season? With Fernando Alonso joining the Scuderia in 2010, the Finn was on his way out after three years representing the Prancing Horse.

There were two teams available to Kimi, his old former team McLaren and the massively financially-backed Toyota racing organisation. Unfortunately, the Japanese manufacturer pulled out with immediate effect blaming the current economical crisis, so the only place to go was McLaren.

But the amount of money Raikkonen’s management was asking for to drive the McLaren was way too much and without a race-winning car available, the Finn announced that he was taking a sabbatical from the sport.

This paved way for Jenson Button. The 2009 world champion couldn’t reach an agreement with Ross Brawn/Nick Fry over an increase in pay after winning the title, so the only option was to take the seat alongside Lewis Hamilton.

By having two British champions at McLaren-Mercedes, it brings a sense of excitement to motor racing fans. It will be interesting how these two great drivers will work with one another but one thing is certain, it marks the strongest pairing since Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost back in the late 80s and early 90s.

Whether Button can cope with the new pressure environment at McLaren or his extremely fast team-mate remains to be seen. Sir Jackie Stewart has commented that he has made an unwise decision to switch teams. But what can be said is that Formula One 2010 is shaping up to be a classic.

Jack Bauer’s new eighth day

Jack Bauer’s new eighth day
Season eight of the award-winning real-time drama 24 will be premier early next year and after watching this short teaser trailer, it certainly lives up to its reputation with more action and thrills in the company of Jack Bauer.
The new eighth day will start at 4.00 pm in a new location, New York City. After six seasons in Los Angeles and the previous season in Washington DC, the latest terrorist threat has shifted to the Big Apple.
The story arc will involve Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) contending with assassination threats made during a peace conference between President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) of the United States and President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor) of the fictional Islamic Republic of Kamistan.
In a recent interview with the star Kiefer Sutherland confirmed that Season eight will take place within very close proximity to the closing events of Season seven, and is likely to be the show’s final season. He stated “there’s only so much you can do to Jack (Bauer) before you lose realism. I think a movie would be a good way to end this story.”

Season eight of the award-winning real-time drama 24 will be premiering early next year and after watching this short teaser trailer (YouTube video below), it certainly lives up to its reputation with more action and thrills in the company of Jack Bauer.

The new eighth day will start at 4.00 pm in a new location, New York City. After six seasons in Los Angeles and the previous season in Washington DC, the latest terrorist threat has shifted to the Big Apple.

The story arc will involve Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) contending with assassination threats made during a peace conference between President Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones) of the United States and President Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor) of the fictional Islamic Republic of Kamistan.

In a recent interview with the star Kiefer Sutherland confirmed that season eight will take place within very close proximity to the closing events of season seven, and is likely to be the show’s final season. He stated “there’s only so much you can do to Jack (Bauer) before you lose realism. I think a movie would be a good way to end this story.”

SPOILER ALERT! DETAIL-BY-DETAIL ACCOUNT ON SEASON EIGHT FROM FOX. DO NOT CLICK MORE TO AVOID THE UPCOMING SEASON OF 24.

(more…)

Toyota withdraws from Formula One

Formula One has lost its third team in less than 12 months with the news that Toyota will quit the sport with immediate effect.

The Japanese car company revealed the decision during a news conference in Tokyo. It said the current economic situation had prompted its departure.

“Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC) announces it plans to withdraw from the FIA Formula 1 world championship at the end of the 2009 season,” said a Toyota statement.

“TMC, which had viewed its participation in F1 as contributing to the prosperity of automotive culture, remained dedicated to competing at the pinnacle of motor sports even in the face of the abrupt economic changes that started last year.

“However, when considering TMC’s motorsports actitives next year and beyond from a comprehensive mid-term viewpoint reflecting the current severe economic realities, TMC decided to withdraw from F1”

The team’s Formula One future had been widely doubted since Honda withdrew at the end of last season. Toyota originally entered the sport in 2002 to compete with its rival, which had returned as an engine supplier two years earlier.

Toyota had also pulled its Fuji Speedway racing circuit, which hosted the 2007 and 2008 Japanese Grands Prix, blaming the worldwide financial problems.

However Toyota did signed a new Concorde Agreement, committing it to the world championship through 2012, and team boss John Howett was adamant that the squad would be on the grid next year although there were hints of a reduced budget.

The team had been pressing ahead with its 2010 preparations including the possibility of signing big name drivers like Kimi Raikkonen and Robert Kubica. There was even talks of signing impressive stand-in Japanese racer Kamui Kobayashi for next year as recently as last weekend.

Toyota’s current drivers, Jarno Trulli and Timo Glock, had already been expected to move on.

“TMC also wants to express its heartfelt gratitude to all Panasonic Toyota Racing drivers to date and to all Toyota Motorsport GmbH employees who have helped make the team’s achievements possible,” said the statement.

“TMC intends to do its best to find a solution for those parties who will be affected by any inconvenience this decision may cause.”

Toyota entered Formula One in 2002, and was tipped to swiftly become a championship challenger given its massive budget and resources. But the team has yet to win a race and has just three pole positions, 13 podium finishes, and a best result of fourth in the 2005 constructors’ standings to show for its 139 grands prix.

The departure of Toyota is set to throw the former BMW Sauber team a lifeline, as the Hinwil squad and its new owners had been relying on another team dropping out in order to claim the final spot in next season’s expanded 26-car entry.

Toyota added that it would continue to use its Formula One experience in “developing exciting production vehicles” and that it would remain involved in motor racing, albeit at a lower level.

“In motorsports, [Toyota] will not only race in various categories, but will also actively contribute to further development of motorsports by supporting grassroots races and planning events in which it is easy for people to participate.”

Vettel leads Red Bull one-two at Abu Dhabi

Sebastian Vettel took his fourth victory of the season leading his Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber to a one-two finish in the inaugural Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

This result also confirmed Vettel as championship runner-up behind Jenson Button. The 2009 world champion came home in third behind the victorious Red Bulls though he did had an opportunity to snatch second with a late-race duel with Webber. It was a thrilling contest to see the pair fighting over the position but at the chequered flag, the Australian just managed to hold off the Briton.

Despite that Button has ended his championship season with a podium finish, his first since the Italian Grand Prix, while his Brawn GP team-mate Rubens Barrichello survived a clash with Webber’s Red Bull on the opening lap which broke part of the front wing endplate to finish in fourth.

Competing in BMW Sauber’s final race, Nick Heidfeld recorded a solid fifth place (a nice send-off for the team) while the impressive Kamui Kobayashi scored his first championship points for Toyota in only his second appearance as a Grand Prix driver. Team-mate Jarno Trulli was seventh with Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi taking the final point with eighth.

As for the race favourite, Lewis Hamilton, who started the twilight Grand Prix in pole position, the McLaren driver was forced to retire with a rear brake issue. It was a shame as he was the quickest all weekend and this non-finish was a disappointment, though the development of the MP4-24 in the late stages of this season has given optimism for Lewis into next year.

Just finishing outside the points was Nico Rosberg, racing for the last time at Williams, followed by Robert Kubica (BMW Sabuer), Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) and Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari).

After a poor qualifying session, Fernando Alonso was unable to recover from a low grid position and to finish in P14 was not the ideal way to end his seven-year stint at Renault.

The same can be said to Giancarlo Fisichella. Representing the Scuderia for the last time and potentially racing in his final race in Formula One, the Italian finished in a disappointing P16. Speeding in the pit lane didn’t help matters for Giancarlo…

And so ends the 2009 Formula One World Championship. Red Bull Racing might have missed out on the championship honours, but scoring a hat-trick of wins is an impressive achievement for the outfit. Can Vettel and the Red Bull team challenge Button and Brawn GP next year for title honours? Let’s wait and see when the new season commences in Bahrain in March 2010.

Race results from the Yas Marina circuit, 55 laps:

1.  Vettel        Red Bull-Renault      1h34:03.314
2.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault      +17.857
3.  Button        Brawn-Mercedes        +18.467
4.  Barrichello   Brawn-Mercedes        +22.735
5.  Heidfeld      BMW Sauber            +26.253
6.  Kobayashi     Toyota                +28.343
7.  Trulli        Toyota                +34.366
8.  Buemi         Toro Rosso-Ferrari    +41.294
9.  Rosberg       Williams-Toyota       +45.941
10. Kubica        BMW Sauber            +48.180
11. Kovalainen    McLaren-Mercedes      +52.798
12. Raikkonen     Ferrari               +54.317
13. Nakajima      Williams-Toyota       +59.839
14. Alonso        Renault               +1:09.687
15. Liuzzi        Force India-Mercedes  +1:34.450
16. Grosjean      Renault               +1 lap
17. Fisichella    Ferrari               +1 lap
18. Sutil         Force India-Mercedes  +1 lap

Fastest lap: Vettel, 1:40.279

Not classified/retirements:

Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes      21 laps
Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari    19 laps

World Championship standings, round 17:

Drivers:

1.  Button        95
2.  Vettel        84
3.  Barrichello   77
4.  Webber        69.5
5.  Hamilton      49
6.  Raikkonen     48
7.  Rosberg       34.5
8.  Trulli        32.5
9.  Alonso        26
10. Glock         24
11. Kovalainen    22
12. Massa         22
13. Heidfeld      19
14. Kubica        17
15. Fisichella     8
16. Buemi          6
17. Sutil          5
18. Kobayashi      3
19. Bourdais       2

Constructors:

1.  Brawn-Mercedes        172
2.  Red Bull-Renault      153.5
3.  McLaren-Mercedes       71
4.  Ferrari                70
5.  Toyota                 59.5
6.  BMW Sauber             36
7.  Williams-Toyota        34.5
8.  Renault                26
9.  Force India-Mercedes   13
10.  Toro Rosso-Ferrari     8