Tag Archives: Hülkenberg

When The Going Gets Cool – 24 Hours Of Le Mans

This years Le Mans 24 Hours race was probably won when someone at Porsche decided that this years 919 Hybrid challenger needed to be upgraded from last years 6MJ class to run in the 8MJ class, evidence of this was first hinted at by the 919’s performance on the Hangar Straight at Silverstone earlier in the year.

Le Mans 2015

Qualifying this year was a simple affair, the three Porsche 919 Hybrids locked out the first three places with the #18 car of Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas and Neel Jani on pole after setting a blistering pace with a time of 3m 16.887s in the opening qualifying session, next came the three Audi R18 e-tron quattro’s with the #8 driven by Loïc Duval, Lucas di Grassi and Oliver Jarvis starting 4th followed by the two Toyota TS040 Hybrid’s who’s #2 driven by Alexander Wurz, Stéphane Sarrazin and Mike Conway started 7th, the first seven cars are seen above taking the prompt 3pm start of the race.

Ferrari 458 Italia GT2, Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, Jeff Segal, Le Mans,

The American entered Scuderia Corsa #62 Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 of Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell and Jeff Segal looked set for a fourth place finish in the GTE Am class at it’s final pit stop seen above. Then with less than an hour to go long time GTE Am leader and class pole starter Paul Dalla Lana inexplicably shot across the kitty litter at the Ford Chicane and hit the wall so hard as to retire his #98 Aston Martin Vantage V8 from the race instantly, fortunately without injury to the driver, all of which promoted all those behind him up one place in class meaning the #62 finished third in GTE Am, and 24th overall from 51st on the grid.

Porsche 911 RSR, Patrick Dempsey, Patrick Long, Marco Seefried, Le Mans,

A popular second in the GTE Am class after fending off the #62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari was the #77 Dempsey-Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR driven by Patrick “Grey’s Anatomy” Dempsey, Patrick Long and Marco Seefried seen approaching the Porsche curves above on it’s way to a 22nd place overall finish from 47th on the grid.

Ferrari 458 Italia GT2, Viktor Shaitar, Aleksey Basov, Andrea Bertolini, Le Mans,

After the retirement of the #98 Aston Martin the #72 Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 shared by Viktor Shaitar, Aleksey Basov and Andrea Bertolini only had to avoid beaching itself in the gravel as it had done at Indianapolis earlier in the race to score a first Le Mans class win for a Russian entrant, the SMP Racing #72 Ferrari is seen at the Dunlop Chicane on the Saturday evening as it headed for a 20th place finish overall from 43rd on the grid.

GT Pro, Le Mans

5 hours into the race the three leading GTE Pro runners were still racing nose to tail, above the #64 Corvette CR.7 is seen above being chased by the #97 Aston Martin and #51 Ferrari through the Chapel Descent.

Ferrari 458 Italia GT2, Gianmaria Bruni, Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander, Le Mans,

Unfortunately the #97 Aston Martin shared by Darren Turner, Stefan Mücke and Rob Bell retired after the latter damaged the oil feed on a kerb after completing 110 laps, this left the AF Corse #51 Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 shared by Gianmaria Bruni, Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander to recover from a fifth hour puncture and challenge the #64 Corvette with 2 hours to go. An hour later the #51, seen above at Dunlop Chicane, pitted with a gearbox problem and returned to the track after a 30 minute break to hold on to a third in GTE Pro and 25th place overall from 35th on the grid.

Ferrari 458 Italia GT2, Davide Rigon, James Calado, Olivier Beretta, Le Mans,

Davide Rigon, James Calado and Olivier Beretta finished 2nd in the GTE Pro class, 21st overall, from 54th on the grid after a qualifying penalty was applied, having dropped out of contention for the class lead when the alternator on the #71 AF Course Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 was replaced at the cost of four laps.

Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Jordan Taylor, Le Mans,

Despite being the slowest GTE Pro car to qualify and starting from 43rd on the grid the works Corvette Racing-GM C7.R driven by Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor came through to win the class and finish 17th overall 5 laps ahead of it nearest rival. The car proved to be bullet proof reliable and comfortable enough to drive at a pace that always kept it in contention if not ahead of the GTE Pro pack.

Ligier JS P2, Roman Rusinov, Julien Canal, Sam Bird, Le Mans,

Starting from 12th on the grid, 2nd in the LMP2 class, the last thing Sam Bird needed on his first pit stop was for his G-Drive Racing #26 Nissan powered Ligier JS P2 to catch fire along with the gloves of one of his mechanics as seen above. After the fires were quelled without injury, Sam with team mates Roman Rusinov and Julien Canal ran 2nd in class until they were demoted to 3rd in LMP2 during the 23rd hour of the race, where they remained finishing 11th overall.

Gibson 015S, Simon Dolan, Oliver Turvey, Mitch Evans, Le Mans,

Fastest LMP2 car in the race belonged to the Jota Sport, who’s Gibson 015S, formerly known as a Zytek when it won the LMP2 class last year, driven by Simon Dolan, Oliver Turvey and Mitch Evans, lost three laps to a sensor change before the trio completed the come back drive of the race to finish, just 48 seconds adrift of this years LMP2 winners, in 10th place overall from 14th on the grid.

Oreca 05, Matthew Howson, Richard Bradley, Nicolas Lapierre, Le Mans,

Similarly Nissan powered as the 2nd and 3rd place LMP2 class finishers the Hong Kong based KCMG team’s new #47 Oreca 05 coupé is built to the LMP2 regulations mandated for 2017, drivers Matthew Howson, Richard Bradley and Nicolas Lapierre started from class pole and 11th on the grid. Apart from a drive through penalty for a pit lane infringement, a stop to fix a dicky illuminated number the car should have comfortably won it’s class, but two kitty litter excursions at the Mulsanne and Indianapolis corners on Sunday meant the three top LMP2 cars all completed 358 laps, with the #47 9th overall.

Audi R18 e-tron quattro, André Lotterer, Marcel Fässler, Benoît Tréluyer, Le Mans,

From fifth on the grid André Lotterer showed his hand early by passing two Porsche 919’s for the lead on the same lap after the first safety car period, however in the third hour team mate Benoît Tréluyer suffered a puncture and then glanced the barriers at Tetre Rouge handing the advantage back to the two leading Porsche’s. Further troubles for the Audi Sport Team Joest #7 Audi R18 e-tron quattro manifested themselves when a part of the rear body work flew off, as seen above, when Marcel Fässler was at the wheel 16 hours into the race four hours before the car received a drive through penalty for a slow zone misdemeanor. Then 21 hours from the start André set the fastest race lap, 3m 17.475s, and thereafter unscheduled stops for more bodywork repairs and oil were insufficient to prevent the car from finishing on the third, just two laps down on the winning car.

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber, Le Mans

The #17 Porsche 919 Hybrid driven by Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber starting from second on the grid was the early leader of the race and despite giving up the lead temporarily to André Lotterer’s Audi it maintained the advantage if not always in the lead until midnight when the car was penalised for slow zone misdemeanor by Brendon Hartley with a stop go penalty that handed the advantage to the sister #19 919 Hybrid. The #17 could not keep pace with it’s sister through the night and eventually finished 1 lap down in 2nd place at the finish despite spending the least amount of time, 29m 42.060s, in the pits of any competitor.

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Earl Bamber, Nick Tandy, Nico Hülkenberg, Le Mans,

Starting from third on the grid the #19 driven by Le Mans novices Earl Bamber and Nico Hülkenberg sharing with two time LMP2 Le Mans starter Nick Tandy, performed better than all the others during the cooler night time conditions so that, even with a 10 second delay due to an overcrowded pit and a brief visit to the garage during a safety car period to repair some damage incurred by Nico after he tapped a back marker, the #19 was able to comfortably lead the #17 over the finish line just three laps short of setting a record distance for the event.

Porsche 919 Hybrid, Earl Bamber, Nick Tandy, Nico Hülkenberg, Le Mans,

The decision to run in the 8 MJ class benefited Porsche not only with consistently better top speeds on the long Mulsanne Straight, but also with a superior fuel consumption that over the 24 hours was estimated to have handed Porsche a 2 and half minute advantage over Audi thanks to four seconds saved per fuel stop.

Le Mans LMP1 Podium, Ickx, Tréluyer, Lötterer, Fässler, Tandy, Bamber, Hülkenberg, Webber, Hartley, Bernhard,

By winning this race Porsche, who last won the race in 1998, can now claim a record 17 Le Mans wins, four more than Audi, but more importantly the victory has proved the technology which sits in it’s 918 Spyder road cars that cost upwards of UK£750,000 / US$850,000.

Special thanks to my school friend Tom for getting me to the race for the first time since 1992.

Thanks for joining me on this “When The Going Gets Cool” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a US Le Mans challenger. Don’t forget to come back now.


Equalled Best Season – Force India Mercedes VJM06

Force India’s story begins with a plucky Irishman called Eddie Jordan who 1991 burst on to the Formula One scene with one of the most attractive Formula One cars ever built, a fist full of Pepsi Co sponsorship dollars to fly the 7 Up flag and an Italian called Andrea de Cesaris, who had a reputation for crashing and under achieving, as their lead driver.

Force India Mercedes VJM06, Young Driver Test, Silverstone

Against the odds Jordan finished a highly creditable 6th in their first season of competition. When Jordan’s second driver, Bertrand Gachot, was incarcerated for an incident involving pepper spray and a cab driver in London, Eddie introduced Micheal Schumacher to Formula one at the 1991 Belgian Grand Prix, but failed to keep him beyond his debut race, from which retired with clutch failure on the first lap, for which he qualified an impressive seventh.

Force India Mercedes VJM06, Young Driver Test, Silverstone

Jordan’s highlight season came in 1999 when with cast off Mugnen tuned Honda V10 motors the team finsihed 3rd in the constructors championship behind only Ferrari and McLaren Mercedes. Jordan’s lead driver Heinz-Harald Frentzen also came third in the World Drivers Championship with 2 victories.

Force India Mercedes VJM06, Sutil, British Grand Prix, P2, Silverstone

In 2005 Eddie sold out to Alex Shnaider who rebranded the team Midland F1 which became the first F1 entry. Midland F1 achieved nothing in 2006, unless you count two top ten non points paying finishes, and Alex sold the team on to late season Dutch sponsor Spyker before the 2006 season had ended.

Force India Mercedes VJM06, Sutil, British Grand Prix, P2, Silverstone

Spyker F1, like Midland F1, only lasted for a single season during which Adrian Sutil scored a single world championship point for an 8th place finish in the Japanese Grand Prix. Before the 2007 season has ended Spyker F1 was sold to a consortium led by Vijay Mallya an was rebranded Force India for the 2008 season.

Force India Mercedes VJM06, Sutil, Young Driver Test, Silverstone

With the aid of some financial stability the team progressed from scoring no points with their Ferrari powered car in 2008 to becoming 6th place finishers in the 2011 constructors championship.

Force India Mercedes VJM06, di Resta, British Grand Prix, P2, Silverstone

During that time Giancarlo Fisichella, who scored Jordan’s last Formula One win in 2002, scored Force India best ever result a 2nd place in the 2009 Belgian Grand Prix with the now Mercedes powered VJM02, a result that led Giancarlo to join Ferrari as a replacement for the injured Felipe Massa for the remainder of 2009.

Force India Mercedes VJM06, Sutil, Young Driver Test, Silverstone

In 2012 Adrian Sutil sat out the season to focus on a legal issue and Paul di Resta was joined by another German Nico Hülkenberg at Force India. Both drivers scored season high 4th place finishes but the team still only finished the season 7th in the constructors championship.

Force India Mercedes VJM06, Young Driver Test, Silverstone

With half an eye on a possible drive at Ferrari as an eventual replacement for Felipe Massa, Nico Hülkenberg Force India’s top scorer in 2012 left to join the Ferrari powered Sauber team for 2013 and Adrian Sutil rejoined Force India.

Force India Mercedes VJM06, Sutil, Young Driver Test, Silverstone

The design of the VJM 06 featured today was over seen by Technical Director Andrew Green, the all new carbon fibre chassis is powered by a 2.4 litre / 146 cui Mercedes Benz FO 108F motor with a mandated maximum 18,000 rpm limit and a Mercedes AMG Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). The transmission is 7 speed semi automatic built by McLaren Racing.

Force India Mercedes VJM06, di Resta, British Grand Prix, P2, Silverstone

Paul di Resta seen above managed 9 points paying finishes in 2013 with a season high 4th in Bahrain to finish 12th in the Drivers Championship. His services will not be retained in 2014 when Paul is expected to return to the German DTM Touring Car championship.

Force India Mercedes VJM06, Sutil, Young Driver Test, Silverstone

Adrian Sutil, seen above, managed eight points scoring finishes but with a season high of ‘only’ 5th in Monaco on his way to finishing 13th in the drivers championship. With Ferrari opting to re employ Kimi Raikkönen Nico Hülkenberg decided to leave Sauber and rejoin Force India for 2014 while Adrian move the other way to join Esteban Gutiérrez at Sauber.

After equaling their best Constructors Championship finish with another 6th place finish in 2013 Nico will be joined at Force India by Mexican hot shot Sergio Pérez for 2014 when the teams VJM07 cars will be again be powered by Mercedes.

You can follow Force India’s progress on their website linked here, Facebook page linked here and Twitter feed linked here.

Thanks for joining me on this “Equalled Best Season” edition of “Gettin a li’l psycho on tyres”, I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at an Edwardian Mercer Raceacout. Don’t forget to come back now !river


The Steady Swiss – Sauber Ferrari C32

With nothing much but a top end niche motor industry as exemplified by the likes of the enigmatic Monteverdi, and no circuit motor racing since the fatal accident at Le Mans since 1955 Peter Sauber would have been hard pressed to find a less conducive environment in which to found a motor racing team that would build a succession of sportscars that competed first in the Swiss Hill Climb Championships and later with the backing of Mercedes win at Le Mans in 1989 and then the World Sports Car Championship in 1990 beating works teams from Jaguar, Nissan and Toyota.

Gutiérrez, Sauber Ferrari C32, Young Driver Test, Silverstone

In 1993, with a little back door funding from Mercedes Benz, Sauber entered Formula One with a V10 Ilmor motor branded as a Mercedes Benz. This arrangement lasted for two years until Mercedes Benz decided to increase their involvement with McLaren as their partner. Sauber continued with Ford Motors in 1995 and 1996 and after four years has a reputation for being regular points finishers.

Gutiérrez, Sauber Ferrari C32, Young Driver Test, Silverstone

Form 1997 to 2005 a Sauber subsidiary built Ferrari motors and gearboxes under licence for his Formula one team, under this arrangement the team finished a best 4th in the championship with Nick Heidfeld and rookie Kimi Räikkönen sharing the driving duties.

Hülkenberg, Sauber Ferrari C32, British Grand Prix P1, Silverstone

In 2006 BMW bought the Sauber team and called the shots until they sold it back to Peter Sauber in 2009 when the economic crisis precipitated by the credit crunch hit Formula One. Under BMW’s stewardship Sauber finished 2nd in the constructors championship in 2007 following McLarens exclusion. The following year they finished 3rd and Robert Kubica scored the team’s only win in Canada, ahead of team mate Nick Heidfeld.

Hülkenberg, Sauber Ferrari C32, British Grand Prix P2, Silverstone

Since 2010 Sauber has returned to running with Ferrari motors, now built in Maranello. Last year Nico Hülkenberg, red helmet, joined the team from Force India and was joined by Mexican rookie Esteban Gutiérrez, yellow helmet, who had been the teams driver since 2011, to drive the Sauber C 32 designed under the direction of Matt Norris.

Hülkenberg, Sauber Ferrari C32, British Grand Prix P2, Silverstone

The highly rated Nico recorded ten points scoring finishes from 18 starts including the teams season high 4th place finish at the Korean Grand Prix. At the following Japanese Grand Prix Esteban came home 7th behind team mate Nico to record his only points finish. Sauber finished the year 7th in the championship.

Gutiérrez, Sauber Ferrari C32, Young Driver Test, Silverstone

For much of 2013 Nico was touted as a possible replacement for Felipe Massa at Ferrari, however as things began to unravel for Kimi Räikkönen at Lotus and Fernando Alonso committed the ultimate crime for any Ferrari driver, to suggest he wanted “another car”, i.e. built by another manufacturer, for his birthday, Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo took exception to the comments and took the opportunity to wake Alonso up by signing up the man whom Alonso had replaced at Ferrari !

A disgruntled Hülkenberg took the only route available to him offering any hope of career advancement and rejoined the Mercedes Benz powered Force India Team. Esteban will be joined in 2014 by Force India refugee Adrian Sutil with a well financed young Russian prodigy Sergey Sirotkin doing the testing duties. The Ferrari powered C33 was launched a couple of days ago on the Sauber teams website and it’s progress can be followed on the team’s Facebook page.

Thanks for joining me on this “Steady Swiss” edition of “Gettin’ a li’l psycho on tyres” I hope you will join me again tomorrow when I’ll be looking at a US built Edwardian vehicle. Don’t forget to come back now !