Those Mercedes wheel rims… an update

The Mercedes wheel rim and apparent wheel nut.
Image used with kind permission of XPB.CC

I’ve just been shown the FIA regulations regarding wheel rims and they make for interesting reading.

Here they are:

12.8.1 The only parts which may be physically attached to the wheel in addition to the tyre are surface treatments for appearance and protection, valves for filling and discharging the tyre, balance weights, drive pegs, tyre pressure and temperature monitoring devices and spacers on the inboard mounting face of identical specification on all wheels for the same axle.

12.8.2 The wheel must be attached to the car with a single fastener. The outer diameter of the fastener must not exceed 105mm and the axial length must not exceed 75mm. The wheel fastener may not attach or mount any part to the car except the wheel assembly described in Article 12.8.1.

What is interesting is that wheel fasteners / wheel nuts are not included in the list in 12.8.1 of things that are allowed to be attached to the wheel assembly / rim. And yet in Article 12.8.2 it states that a wheel fastener may not be attached to any part of the car other than those very same wheel assemblies.

So what does this mean?

Right now, not a lot as I don’t have clarification yet from Mercedes of what I saw. Similarly, we have no idea if what I saw will be or was ever intended to be raced.

It was pitstop practice. Just like in a practice match of soccer, you can play 16 men and use your hands if you really want to, so in a pitstop practice the team doesn’t have to use the very same devices it will use in race conditions.

But from the way the regulations are worded, could there be space for a loophole? And if so, could this be something Mercedes are thinking about exploiting? Because from the image above, it certainly looks that way.

Watch this space.

Mercedes to use NASCAR pitstop tech?

MercedesGP in the pits, Malaysia 2011.

I was walking the pitlane this morning while MercedesGP was conducting pitstop practice, and a photographer pointed something out to me that I had not seen before.

The tyres waiting to be changed onto the car already had what looked to be the wheel nuts attached to the wheel rims. Similarly, those that were taken off the car still appeared to have the nuts attached. The guns did not appear to pull a nut off nor put one on, merely to unscrew the existing one and then tighten the replacement.

This kind of technology is nothing new to fans of NASCAR. In that series, each wheel rim features five wheel nuts (or “lug nuts” as they are termed Stateside), which are attached to the rim with an adhesive. When a car comes into the box, those five nuts are loosened and the wheel removed with the nuts still attached, before the new wheel is placed on the car and the five attached nuts tightened.

The importance of this is that it speeds up the pitstop process and eliminates the chances of a wheel nut falling onto the floor or the thread becoming crossed.

In 2010 Mercedes topped the average pitstop time, recording the fastest stop in (if memory serves and I’m sure someone will correct me if I am wrong) eight races, although world champions Red Bull racing recorded the actual fastest stop of the season.

From what I could see this morning it did not appear that all spare tyres had the nuts already attached to the rims, but there could be two reasons for this. First, that the team is still experimenting with the system before rolling it out at a later date. Or secondly, that there are only so many of these new nuts to go around and that they have only been attached to the rims to be used in practice, before being switched onto the rims for the race.

Now I could be barking up completely the wrong tree, so I requested confirmation from the team once practice was over. I’ve also put in a quick request to the FIA just to double check there’s nothing prohibiting this kind of thing, as it seems like a fairly simple and obvious solution to the wheel nut issue and one which we surely would have seen by now unless it is banned. I’m not suggesting MercedesGP would be doing anything illegal, but as colleagues and I have agreed this morning, it seems like such a simple and effective idea that for only one team to have suddenly stumbled across it would seem odd.

As soon as I get word from either avenue, I will update.

If I’m right and this is what Mercedes are doing, and if it is a success, we could probably expect to see something similar appearing at the other teams over the next few races as I don’t believe, and again do correct me if I’m wrong, that any other team is doing something similar.

Wing Regs in a nutshell

Here is a very simple guide to how the new DRS wings will be used this weekend in Australia.

DRS can only be used if car A is within a second of car B at the timing beam on the run in to Turn 14, which is noted by a line across the track.

Between Turn 14 and the beginning of the overtaking / activation zone at Turn 16, the driver of car A will be notified that he can use the DRS in the overtaking zone.

If car A is within a second of car B at the timing zone, but driver B pulls into the pits at the end of the lap, the driver of car A can still use DRS in the overtaking zone.

If car A has been lapped by the driver of car B, but car A is still within a second of car B at the timing zone, the driver of car A can use the DRS in the overtaking zone.

If the track is declared wet, the DRS cannot be used.

DRS can be used at any point around the track in all practice sessions (including qualifying) unless otherwise stated by race control.

For reference, the detection point for the gap between drivers is 13 metres before Turn 14, and the activation point for DRS is on turn in for Turn 16, 867 metres before Turn 1.

An unfortunate question

Robert Kubica’s accident yesterday has left the Formula 1 world in a genuine state of shock. Robert is a lovely bloke and a bloody fast racing driver, and after spending time with him in Valencia just a few days ago and listening to his thoughts on the positive steps his Renault team had taken for 2011, to learn that he is in such a bad way has hit everyone for six.

With the news that Robert may be forced to sit the majority of the 2011 season out, there is thus a natural but unfortunate question which will be asked and will no doubt be poured upon over the coming days. Who will step into his seat?

The problem for Renault is that Robert is an absolute number 1. His natural instincts and feeling inside the car make him a phenomenal car developer and the team will miss his input and directional lead at this most critical period of development. With just three test sessions left, Renault needs every piece of insight and feedback to develop what could be an excellent racing car into a race winner.

There were a few raised eyebrows when Renault launched with five reserve drivers, but their role could now become all important to the team. Naturally, all of the talk right now is centering around the two most experienced reserve drivers, and the team’s two official third drivers, Bruno Senna and Romain Grosjean.

In Valencia, Eric Boullier said that should a reserve driver be needed it would most likely be Senna who received the call as Romain Grosjean has commitments in the GP2 and GP2 Asia championships, the latter of which begins racing next week. Grosjean has just half a season of F1 under his belt and that was over a year ago. Senna meanwhile has an entire campaign (bar one race) of racing in F1, albeit at HRT who put no updates on their car in 2010.

I rate Senna highly and a promotion to a race seat could very much be a case of “cometh the hour, cometh the man.” But will the team take the risk, or will they, as has been suggested, look to a more experienced driver to lead the team in 2011, for while Vitaly Petrov has shown class and speed he is not yet close to being a team leader.

Nick Heidfeld and Tonio Liuzzi are two names which have already been mentioned. Both are unemployed and both are highly regarded, with much experience in Formula 1. For Liuzzi, it could be the shot he’s been waiting his entire career for and an opportunity to finally show the potential that his numerous fans have awaited since he made his debut back in 2005. For Nick Heidfeld, his vast experience could prove to be the key, and “Quick Nick” would be keen to show he can still mix it with the youngsters.

Anthony Davidson is a name which has not yet been mentioned but which I believe should be. Rarely has there been a better car developer than Davidson. His work at BAR Honda was incredibly highly valued, and he made something of a name for himself as a Friday driver. He has recent and relevant racing experience for Super Aguri in F1, regular simulator sessions over at Mercedes have kept him sharp, and racing for Peugeot at Le Mans hasn’t done him any harm either. Could he lead the team? You bet. Could he take a good car and turn it into a race winner? Absolutely. He is, perhaps, the very best driver to do so in these circumstances.

Clever, technically gifted, a wonderful development driver, a proper bloke and a team player, Davidson would be a perfect fit.

And what of Giorgio Pantano? The 2008 GP2 champion is the only GP2 champion not to have gained promotion back to Formula 1 and for many this is a baffling fact. Pantano is now into his 30s and he is a very different driver to the youngster who made his F1 debut in 2004. He is fast in everything he ever steps into, and if he was to be afforded a shot at an F1 drive you can guarantee he would give it everything. He has recently been praised for his technical diligence by such big hitters as Chip Ganassi and his GP2 team boss Alfonso de Orleans Borbon who claimed that Pantano, along with Sebastian Vettel, was the best driver he had ever run. Eric Boullier knows Pantano well given both of their long shared careers in F3000 and GP2, and will also be well aware of the very close relationship between Pantano and Vitaly Petrov given that it was in 2007 when, as Pantano’s team-mate, Petrov made perhaps his greatest strides as a driver before being paired with Robert Kubica at Renault last season. Would Renault take the risk on a man who still, for some reason, has question marks hanging over him? It would certainly be a bold move. But would favour fortune the bold? And yes he had an F1 shot in 2004 and didn’t make the most of it, but anybody who read my piece on Giorgio in last month’s F1 Racing mag will hopefully see why he deserves a second shot.

Of course there are others. Nico Hulkenberg has moved to Force India as a tester and has been mentioned as a possible replacement, but again if you bypass Senna on the sole basis of his inexperience then that counts out Hulkenberg too. The same is true of Lucas di Grassi, who is a magnificent car developer. Sebastien Bourdais might feel that F1 is unfinished business for him, and there has even been talk that Kimi Raikkonen could step into the void.

It all seems far too early to be talking about any of this, but sadly while nobody wanted to be in this situation and while our thoughts and prayers will rest with Robert and what everyone hopes will be a swift recovery, this is a question which will be asked and must be asked because there are just three test sessions left until the season begins, and the next one starts in just three days’ time.

What can be in no doubt, however, is that everyone in this sport hopes that whatever replacement is made is but a temporary change, and that we see Robert back in a racing car soon. Mieć odwagę Robert.

F1 to Watch – Alice Powell

Alice Powell - c/o Alice Powell

Time to resurrect a feature I used to write for Formula 1 Magazine back in the day… F1 to Watch. The concept is simple enough: every now and then I’ll bring you a profile or an interview with an up and coming racer who I reckon has something that little bit special. Back in the F1 Mag days our hit rate was pretty good – Alan van de Merwe went on to play a big role at BAR Honda and now drives the FIA Medical car, Ryan Briscoe may never have raced in F1 but has been hugely succesful in the States, Christian Klien got a good run at Jaguar and Red Bull before becoming a tester and then moving to HRT this season, and Tonio Liuzzi went on to smash the F3000 crown and then make his mark in F1.

So to bring this feature back to life, I can’t think of anybody better than the 2010 Formula Renault BARC champion Alice Powell. I first met Alice last year when she was in the middle of her debut single-seater season in Formula Renault UK and I was immediately impressed with her maturity and outstanding racecraft.

She moved from karts into Ginetta Juniors in the winter of 2007, coming fifth in the winter series before taking part in the full Junior championship in 2008 in which she recorded four podium finishes. In 2009 Alice moved into single seaters and the Formula Renault UK championship which launched the careers of the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen, joining the hugely succesful Manor Competition as team-mate to eventual champion Dean Smith.

This season Alice moved across with Manor to Formula Renault BARC and became the first female driver to win not only races but also the championship.

Still aged just 17, Alice Powell has already announced herself to the single seater fraternity and is a talent I can’t wait to see develop and grow over the coming seasons.

Winning at Silverstone c/o Alice Powell

Will Buxton: Congratulations on winning the championship. Talk us through this season.

Alice Powell: At the start of the year I didn’t know if I was racing but we managed to get some money together at the last minute. The season started off well and I was able to keep consistent which I think ended up being the key to the championship. The wins I collected combined with regular podiums is what made the difference.

WB: How much did your experience of the car from the year before help?

AP: It was the same chassis and car just with a restrictor plate, so I think that helped a lot. But I missed out on quite a lot of testing. When I finished the season in 2009 I didn’t step back into the car until March, while all my rivals had been testing every week through the winter. It took me a while at the first round stepping back in. I took two fifths though, and by the next round at Silverstone I made the jump and took pole. The season just rolled from there. It was a great year.

WB: You’ve come to a championship very fast. It was only three years ago that you made your car racing debut in the Ginetta Junior series. Why did you decide to begin your life outside karting in Ginettas rather than Formula Ford or Formula BMW?

AP: It was to learn the circuits mainly. It was on the TOCA package and I went to one of the TOCA rounds in 2007 and I saw what it was about and how much pressure you get, how the TV coverage made up part of the package… and the crowds too, there were loads of people there so that got us excited. So in 2008 I did Ginetta Juniors and I got to learn the tracks, but the step up to Formula Renault in 2008 was huge. I was still 15 so I couldn’t test over the winter and I had a short amount of running before the testing ban came into effect. The biggest lesson was learning about using slicks and wings, jumping from treaded tyres to slicks and trusting how much grip the cars had and how much downforce you have was a big challenge.

But Ginettas are great fun and I managed to do five rounds this year alongside my Formula Renault championship.

WB: 2009 saw you alongside some pretty strong opposition like Dean Stoneman, Lewis Williamson and Dean Smith, guys who have gone on to some good things this year. But they’re all about five years older than you… how did you find it, stepping into Formula Renault, aged 15, getting used to slicks and wings and being that much younger than all your male rivals?

AP: It was tough but I was very lucky to have Dean Smith as my team-mate. It was his third year in Formula Renault and he’d done a year in Formula BMW so I learnt a lot from him. I learnt so much that year from a racing perspective, and I was studying for my GCSEs too, so it was pretty hectic. Racing against those guys though was a great school and we got some great press from getting some good results.

WB: And being with Manor too must have been a big boost – they’re a team that have done it all in Formula Renault and Formula 3 and now of course they have a GP3 and Formula 1 team, too. How much did their experience help you?

AP: They’re a great team and their help was fantastic both in my rookie season in Formula Renault UK and of course this year in Formula Renault BARC. My engineer Sarah and I get on brilliantly and I learn something new from her every single weekend. She’s done Formula Renault since I don’t even know how long and Formula Vauxhall before that so she knows the ins and outs of the car and she’s worked with some great drivers and she was pleased with my performances this year.

WB: So it was only your second season in single seaters, you missed most of pre-season testing and didn’t even know you’d be racing. Could you even have hoped to have been fighting for the title at the start of the year?

AP: In January I wasn’t even thinking about winning a championship. I just wanted to get out and race in whatever I could. When we got the money together and I looked at the competition I thought, ‘Well, these guys have done a hell of a lot of testing so it’s going to be a tough year.’ But once I got the first win under my belt at Silverstone it all turned around. I was second in the championship, 25 points behind, and it sort of stayed like that for most of the season with me chipping away. We got to the final round and I was 16 points behind and I really just got my head down, stayed consistent, kept a cool head and it all paid off.

No, boys don't take getting beaten by a girl at all badly c/o Alice Powell

WB: This is bound to be a question you’re asked a million times, but as a girl in a predominantly male world, how do you find you are treated? When you beat the boys are they a little bit more upset than if a boy had beaten them? When the helmet goes on are you just another racing driver or is there some kind of novelty in the fact you’re a girl?

AP: When I started karting at the age of eight and a half I think I was the only girl in the championship I was in and I remember being very conscious of that. It felt strange. For the first four years of karting I remember still feeling that, much more than I ever have done since switching to cars. Now… now that I’ve won a championship, and even before that, it simply doesn’t play on my mind. I just get on with it… I don’t want to say I’m one of the lads, but you know what I mean. I’m a racing driver. And I’m a champion, so after this year I hope their questions, if they had any, have been answered.

WB: Now, sponsorship and money are crucial in this world. Does the fact you’re a female racer help you at all?

AP: It is definitely a help as some of the companies we speak to will ask how many other girls are in my championship and right now I can tell them I am the only one. It’s a great USP and it can attract them. So from that perspective yes being a girl is something that can help, but it all comes down to results and I’ve got to do the job on track.

WB: Let’s go back to basics then… what got you into motorsport?

AP: Ever since I was young my Grandad used to go to F1 races, and I remember looking out for him in the grandstands. I think that’s when I caught the bug. I used to drive around the garden on my bike pretending I was Michael Schumacher. I’ve always enjoyed it and I guess my family might say the biggest mistake they ever made was taking me to a kart track for the first time. It started as a hobby but now its my life.

WB: So who were your heroes?

AP: When I was younger it was Michael Schumacher. I had a little set of red overalls I’d wear on my bike and a red helmet. I was a huge Schumacher fan.

Alice races for the Virgin F1 affiliated Manor Competition

WB: Now looking to the future, you have a championship under your belt. What is the next step?

AP: Given that there was a new Formula Renault car in 2010 and they’re making some developments on it for 2011, allied to the fact it is on the Touring Car package and has good fan attendance and TV coverage, Formula Renault UK is the aim for the budget I have. After that I would love to move up to GP3, then hopefully GP2.

WB: And that Manor link could be crucial. I mean so many young drivers now depend on teams or backers to pull them through. Sebastian Vettel for example has been nurtured by Red Bull for his entire career. Are you hoping to stick with Manor because there is a link all the way to F1?

AP: I think it is important and I’m sure a lot of people would automatically point at staying with Manor because of the Virgin F1 link, but that’s not the reason. The thing is that Manor are a great team. They are always there for me, be it on track or off track. They give me advice and try to help and they’re always on the end of the phone. Sure the F1 link is great, but the reason that I love racing for Manor is that I feel a part of a family, and it is a family that knows how to win. Again though, you need results above everything else, and with Manor I know I can get results.

WB: So I guess the absolute objective is Formula 1?

AP: Definitely. It sounds, sitting here right now, a long way away but you have got to be positive about it and take it step by step.

WB: And you’re still so young. This year in F1 we saw the youngest ever F1 champion crowned and I was just wondering how much pressure there is on young drivers these days to rise through the ranks so quickly?

AP: I think that young drivers of course aspire to be like Lewis Hamilton or Sebastian Vettel, Fernando Alonso, but you’ve got to remember how hard they work. It’s not just going to happen for you because you’re young. You have got to work hard in the gym, in debrief working on data… it doesn’t just fall into your lap. But there is a lot of pressure because champions are getting younger. But I do think that is a good thing because it could get more people into the sport. But seeing Jenson Button win the title last year in his late 20s and the fact that after so many years in GP2 Pastor Maldonado has made it to F1 is also really positive. It’s a good time for Formula 1, and hopefully in a few years time I’ll be there too.

F1 bound? Alice Powell is one to watch.

The Man Who Formula 1 Forgot

“When I arrived in go karts at the top level, racing in World and European championships, he was winning all of them. I thought that the guy was a really incredible talent.”

Fernando Alonso is not a man who hands out plaudits to rivals on a whim. A double F1 world champion and one of the hardest racers of his era, only a truly special driver could merit such words from a man recently voted as the best driver in the sport by his fellow drivers. But the man he’s speaking about is not a Hamilton, a Raikkonen nor even a Schumacher.

The man who Fernando Alonso once referred to as “invincible,” is Giorgio Pantano.

Want to find out why Giorgio Pantano is, to many people in Formula 1, the greatest lost talent of his generation? Then get yourself down to the newsagent! Giorgio’s story is one of the most heartbreaking in modern motorsport and the only place you can read it, and find out why so many people rate him so highly, is in my article in the January 2011 issue of F1 Racing magazine, which is out today!

Brave the snow and get thee to a newsagent!

When is a Lotus a Lotus?

Confusion reigns over which Lotus is Lotus.
A Buxton photoshop job

So it is official. Lotus will return to Formula 1 next year.

What do you mean aren’t they already in F1? Haven’t you been paying attention?

It’s all just such a mess, isn’t it? Even working within the sport it is testing my patience and confusing the hell out of me so goodness knows how this situation is supposed to translate to the wider world outside the gated confines of the F1 paddock. I guess like most things F1, it will appear to be a big squabble over relatively little by a bunch of rich people who really should know better.

The fact is that as things stand we’re set to have two teams in F1 next season known as Lotus Renault.

One of them is the team who entered Formula 1 in 2010 as Lotus Racing but who will next season become known as Team Lotus and will use Renault engines.

The other is a team which started its life in 1981 as Toleman, became Benetton, then Renault and is now still Renault although Renault no longer owns the team which is now instead owned in the most part by Genii Capital and in a minority by Group Lotus. Group Lotus will become the team’s title sponsor in 2011 thus creating Lotus Renault.

It seems pretty simple but it has led to much confusion, especially as both teams are expected to run the same livery next season. The announcement of Renault (Genii)’s link up with Group Lotus was made with an image of how their car will look next season, paying homage to the classic JPS Lotus livery of the 1970s and 1980s. And here came the first stink… because Lotus Racing / Team Lotus had already said they’d be switching to the Black and Gold colour scheme next year and has now apparently been beaten to the punch.

I’ve been a big fan of Lotus Racing / Team Lotus from the outset and so I immediately thought this was a bit of a petty move by Group Lotus. However it is worth noting that on November 6th, respected French journalist Jean-Louis Moncet reported on his blog that: “I add today, 6 November, at 15h42, a story that will change the hearts of lovers of beautiful Formula 1. One of my very good friends called me and said: “Jean-Louis, everything you say about Renault, Genii Capital, of Renault in 2011, and Lotus is true, but one thing … What? “You’ve got the wrong color, it will not be green, but black and gold. -To recall JPS? “Of course.” What emotion!”

Lotus Racing then announced on November 11th that it would be switching from Green and Yellow to Black and Gold in 2011. So you’ve got to ask the question, who was trying to out-do who?

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that Lotus Racing wasn’t aware of Moncet’s blog or Renault and Group Lotus’ plans to switch to Black and Gold… it would have made sense for Lotus Racing to switch to the Black and Gold as Lotus Group in its sponsorship of Takuma Sato in Indycar, and in its proposed livery for ART in GP2 and GP3 used the Green and Yellow utilised by Lotus Racing in F1 in 2010. Why, then, would Group Lotus choose anything other than the Green and Yellow for F1? A switch to Black and Gold by Lotus Racing, as another classic Lotus livery, would have been a way to keep everyone happy. Now we have two teams due to run the same livery.

Another classic Lotus livery

Frankly I wouldn’t be surprised if Lotus Racing / Team Lotus keeps its Green and Yellow, but then that’ll just confuse everyone who watches GP2 and GP3 as they’ll think the ART cars are Team Lotus when in fact they’re Group Lotus. Of course it does mean that DAMS, who this year ran the Renault F1 livery, can keep the Renault F1 livery and then we’ll have two Lotus liveries in GP2 – ART in Green and Yellow and DAMS in Black and Gold. Add in the fact that Team Lotus boss Tony Fernandes will be running his Air Asia team in GP2 next season, and I reckon he should field a Yellow and Blue livery reminiscent of the old Camel Lotus, and then we’ll have three Lotus liveries in GP2! Huzzah! He could even field Bruno Senna and Kazuki Nakajima if he wanted to bring the Camel Lotus and 1987 line-up back.

Back to F1 though… and here’s where it all gets a bit confusing.

Lotus Renault, as in Lotus Racing / Team Lotus, will continue to have its cars classified as Lotus in Formula 1 results. Lotus Renault, as in Group Lotus, will continue to have its cars classified as Renault in Formula 1 results.

Group Lotus has said that it has formed its alliance with Genii Capital and Renault because it wants to be successful in Formula 1 to help sell cars on the road, and that it does not see the point in making the expense of struggling from the back of the grid to the front. It wants immediate success.

But its concept is flawed, because as of right now and despite its 25% stake in the team, the results will show as Renault results, not Lotus. Lotus, at the Enstone-based team, is a title sponsor. It is not a constructor. The right, in F1 terms at least, to represent the Lotus name rests with Tony Fernandes’ team, and in Fernandes’ team sits the ultimate philosophy of Colin Chapman that success comes from hard graft. There remains a nagging cynicism towards the Group Lotus method of ponying off the results of an already successful team and expecting the world to believe it is anything other than what it is.

Group Lotus has admitted that its link up with Renault is the first part of a greater involvement in the sport, but it is when Group Lotus wishes to have the team into which it has invested show up as Lotus that we are going to have the biggest mess of all. It can’t switch its name from Renault without unanimous approval from the other teams under the current Concorde Agreement, and for as long as Tony Fernandes is present in Formula 1 that unanimous vote needed for the team to switch its name from Renault to Lotus simply isn’t going to happen. Perhaps that’s what Fernandes is counting on, either from the perspective of keeping his team name and forcing Dany Bahar and Group Lotus back out of the sport, or in succeeding in where some voices within the sport believe his intentions have laid from the start – namely to force Group Lotus into either selling to him, or into paying him over the odds for claiming back the Lotus name in F1.

Bahar and Group Lotus have also insisted that their link up with the Renault F1 team is proof that their view of Formula 1 is one of progression and of the future. But to that I simply ask this? Why then all this silliness with a retro livery? If you want to look to the future, then why dwell in the past?

And cynics will ask why the Union flag? It is Renault, a French team, which has been bought out in the majority by a Luxembourg company and in the minority by a Malaysian company…

However I feel that Union flag is justified, for if there is one sure thing in all of this it is in the capabilities of the team we used to call Renault. The team based at Enstone. The team which started its life as Toleman.

What the boys at Enstone have proved year on year is that it really doesn’t matter what they’re called, they’ve always done the job. As Toleman, Senna took the team to some remarkable highs. As Benetton they won championships. As Renault they won championships. Now whatever they are called, there seems little doubt they will be successful.

Perhaps the team should be called Genii. Perhaps it should be called, as was suggested to me today, Scuderia Enstone. I like that idea, to be honest with you. Because it is the boys and girls at Enstone that have stuck with it all through thick and thin. They are the constant and this deal has secured much needed funding and a growing and vital commitment for the team’s future. It is the staff at Enstone who make the team and they will be the ones to take the team back to the top, regardless of the name above the door.