eBay Motors extend WSR title sponsorship for 2013

image001 (1)

eBay Motors have today announced it will continue its title sponsorship of West Surrey Racing (WSR) for the 2013 British Touring Car Championship (BTCC). 2013 will be eBay Motors’ fourth season in the series, having been a WSR partner since 2010.

Having used a BMW 320si for the past six seasons, and running S2000 specifications, the team will move to a new car and NGTC for 2013. They are currently designing and building new BMW i125 cars, based on the M Sport version of the road car, to NGTC specification. The cars will be powered by 2-litre turbo engines in keeping with BTCC rules.

Dick Bennetts, Team Principal of WSR, was pleased with the news, commenting that “this is the fourth year we have worked together with eBay Motors and both parties are very focused on continuing the successes of previous seasons”. The team finished second in the 2012 Teams’ Championship with 14 podiums and three wins. He also explained the choice behind the new car.

“With the introduction of the new model BMW 125i M Sport, we are confident of being very competitive throughout the 2013 season. We chose the new 1- Series as we felt it was more suitable to the current BTCC regulations. The wheelbase is quite a lot shorter than the new 3- Series car, so it should perform well on the tight twist circuits that we race on in the UK.”

eBay Motors, which is the UK’s leading online automotive marketplace, were also enthusiastic about the new deal with eBay’s Head of Hard Goods, Andrew Hooks, stating that they are “excited by the prospect of a fourth BTCC season supporting the WSR team and the addition of the new BMW 1-Series.” In 2012 the team launched the Mechanics Challenge which saw Tom Onslow-Cole and Edd China breaking a Guinness World Record in a milk float, having used parts from eBay Motors. Andrew highlighted the benefits for eBay Motors commenting that “being part of the championship has given us the opportunity to share our passion for the world of motors and highlight our huge selection of parts, accessories and vehicles on our UK site. We look forward to a competitive and successful season as eBay Motors.”

The team will be announcing a new livery along with their driver line-up for 2013 in the near future so keep an eye on The H Duct and the @eBayMotorsBTCC Twitter account for all the news in the build up to the new season. The first race will take part on the 31st March at Brands Hatch.


Advertisements

New rules for 2013

The FIA have published amendments to the 2013 Technical and Sporting regulations after a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in Istanbul. Here is a brief outline of the most important ones. You can read the FIA announcement in full, which includes 2014 changes, on their website.

The car 

There will be more stringent front wing deflection tests, meaning teams will not be able to run flexible bodywork for aerodynamic gains.

There will be an increase in minimum car weight in order to compensate for the fact that tyres will weigh more in 2013.

The team 

While teams were previously allowed four curfew ‘jokers’ throughout the season, meaning they could break the six hour curfew which was put on place in the paddock, to work on their cars, it has been decreased to just two for 2013. As well as that the curfew will be extended from six hours to eight, meaning teams will have to be even more careful they don’t breaking it, as it could result in a penalty.

Previously when cars stopped out on track after qualifying, and therefore could not make it back to the pits under their own steam, teams were able to claim ‘force majeure’ – i.e. it was beyond their control. This allowance has been removed and from now on the FIA will determine how much fuel the car would have used to get back to the pit-lane and add it to the required one litre sample.

Rules

For 2013 the use of DRS will be restricted in practice and qualifying. In 2012 it could be used wherever the drivers wanted during practice and qualifying, but next year it will be restricted to use in the race DRS zones as indicated by the FIA ahead of the weekend.

 

 

FIA announce revised 2013 calendar

After the final 2012 meeting of the World Motor Sport Council (WMSC) in Istanbul, the FIA have announced a revised calendar for the 2013 Formula One season. Germany has been moved, with a date towards the end of July being reserved for another “F1 European event”, subject to approval by the relevant national sporting authorities (ASNs).  Bernie Ecclestone revealed earlier in the week that he was looking at getting the popular Istanbul circuit back on the calendar, with the track itself under new ownership, having recently  been bought by local businessman Varul Ak. While Turkey technically lies in ‘Eurasia’ it has always been thought of as a European event.

2013 calendar

17th March – Australian GP
24th March – Malaysian GP
14th April – Chinese GP
21st April – Bahrain GP
12th May – Spanish GP
26th May – Monaco GP
9th June – Canadian GP
30th June – British GP
7th July – German GP
21st July – TBC (European event)
28th July – Hungarian GP
25th August – Belgian GP
8th September – Italian GP
22nd September – Singapore GP
6th October – Korean GP
13th October – Japanese GP
27th October – Indian GP
3rd November – Abu Dhabi GP
17th November – US GP
24th November – Brazilian GP

Key Notes

  • The New Jersey GP was dropped from the calendar after being expected to make its debut in 2013 – it has been delayed until 2014
  • Bad news for Europe as the number of races will decrease from nine in 2012 to eight for 2013, which could have been seven had it not been for the late addition of extra European race
  • Valencia will not host a race in 2013
  • As in 2012, there will be seven back-to-back races
  • The summer break will be four weeks long and feature three weekends without racing – shorter than last year!

Give Sergio Perez a chance!

On 28th September 2012, after much speculation, Lewis Hamilton announced that he would be leaving McLaren and joining the Mercedes team for 2013. On that morning, McLaren made the jump first, confirming Sergio Perez on a multi-year deal. The news came as a bit of surprise, as Perez had been linked with a Ferrari move for some time due to his connections with the Ferrari Driver Academy and Sauber’s engine deal with Ferrari. It also caused some people to believe McLaren had jumped the gun, and made somewhat of an ‘impulse-signing’ after learning that Hamilton would be departing the team. Perez has said that his target is to “win titles with [McLaren] and to win the championship already next year” leading to further criticism for the Mexican driver as people believe he is setting his targets too high and he will not be able to live up to the expectations. I think, however, that we should give Checo a chance.

McLaren are a race winning team, and had it not been for too many reliability issues this year, they would have been up there fighting for both championships at the end of the season. Their last championship came in 2008, when Hamilton secured the Drivers’ title at a thrilling season finale in Brazil, with their last Constructors’ championship in 1998. They want to win again, and believe that by signing Perez to partner Jenson Button they can do that. Perez will have to hit the ground running, and being with a race winning team such as McLaren, it is not out of the question that he could be winning races and championships next year. He has taken three podiums this year and has impressed with his speed and ability to fight through the field, as demonstrated by his run from 12th to second in Italy. As he points out, however, “when you are doing well you are the hero and when you are doing bad you are the worst one”. In Formula One you can go from hero to zero just like that. Pastor Maldonado took his maiden victory at the Spanish GP, but has also been involved in a number of incidents leading to his driving being criticised, and for people to make comments such as “oh no, my favourite driver is starting beside/alongside/behind Maldonado”. Romain Grosjean has also been the subject of comments like this after his number of first lap accidents have gained him somewhat of a reputation, despite his obvious speed.

Look back to 2000 – Peter Sauber signed a relatively inexperienced driver, who had just 23 car races under his belt. Sauber was criticised, with leading figures such as Max Moseley opposing such an inexperienced racer being granted a superlicence, but the driver in question went on to finish sixth and pick up points on his Formula One debut. His name? Kimi Räikkönen. He too was linked to Ferrari but caught the eye of Ron Dennis, and despite being on a multi-year contract with Sauber, the Finn was poached and lined up as Mika Hakkinen’s replacement at McLaren. He failed to score in his final six races for Sauber, much like has happened to Perez, but went on to finish third in his debut race for McLaren and has had an impressive career since then. Sauber took a risk in signing Räikkönen, and if it had gone wrong, there would have been a lot of red faces. As it happened it turned out to be the right choice.

Formula One is about taking risks, and you could say McLaren have taken one in signing Perez. He may not have the raw speed or ability that Hamilton has, but that is not to say he will not do well at McLaren. He scored in his debut race (before Sauber were disqualified for a technical infringement) and has taken three podiums this season. Many say they would have preferred Paul di Resta or Nico Hulkenberg to get the seat, but who is to say they would have done any better? I don’t think it is fair to instantly write him off, and to criticise him for saying only what will be expected of him at McLaren. I think he is an exciting prospect for McLaren and am looking forward to what 2013 will bring. They have a solid foundation to build on from 2012, and if they can iron out the reliability problems and pit-stop issues which have plagued them throughout the season, well who knows what will happen. Bring on 2013!

BTCC: Changes for 2013

It has been three and a half weeks since the chequered flag fell on the last British Touring Car Championship race, on a weekend which saw Gordon Shedden become champion and Honda sweep the board with Matt Neal finishing second, the team taking team and constructors championship, and Pirtek Racing winning the Independent Teams’ championship along with their driver Andrew Jordan taking the Independent Drivers’ title. Recently a raft of changes have been announced as teams and drivers look ahead to 2013, including the Jack Sears Trophy for S2000 cars, revisions on the turbo boost adjustments, and a special soft tyre. Read on to find out more.

The Jack Sears Trophy

Jack Sears is a two time British Touring Car Champion, winning the inaugural championship in 1958 at the wheel of an Austin Westminster. Interesting fact: he tied at the end of the season with Tommy Sopwith, and after the idea of the champion being decided on the toss of a coin was disregarded, a five-lap shoot out was set up between the two. Marcus Chambers, a pioneer of post-war British motorsport and first ever manager of the British Motor Corporation, brought two of his Riley 1.5 rally cars to Brands Hatch and the pair took part in a shoot-out. The premise was this: the two cars differed in speed and performance and each driver would race five laps, stop, swap cars, then complete another five laps. An aggregate time would be taken and the champion would be the driver with the fastest aggregate time. To add to the drama it was wet, and after a coin toss, Sopwith got to use the fastest car first. They each won one race but in the end Sears was crowned champion after going faster, but only just, by 1.6s.

But I digress… in 2013 the top S2000 car in each race will be awarded a ‘cup’. With many teams migrating to New Generation Touring Cars (NGTC), and no parity between the two – NGTC will receive extra boost – it is important to have something for those teams who continue to run with S2000 cars. The driver with the most S2000 victories in 2013 will be awarded the Jack Sears Trophy with the man himself on hand at Brands Hatch to present it to the winning driver

New ‘soft compound’ tyres

In 2013 Dunlop will be introducing a new soft compound tyres for NGTC teams at nine of the ten championship rounds, the exception being Thruxton which, due to being the fastest circuit on the calendar, is already difficult for tyres. The new soft tyres will become part of the 16 set of tyres allocation, rather than being an additional set. Before qualifying drivers will nominate which of the three races they will use their soft compound tyres in, and this decision will be shrouded in mystery and not revealed to other teams or drivers. The idea behind nominating before qualifying is that, if a driver had a poor qualifying, then they can not just decide to use the soft compound tyres to gain a performance boost in the first race of the day. If, however, the nominated race is wet, then drivers will carry the soft tyres onto the next race (if applicable) but can not be carried event to event.

Another new tyre rule for 2013 will see teams no longer allowed to use a mixture of wet and dry tyres on their cars – they must all either be dry tyres or wet tyres. In the past it was not uncommon to see drivers mix and match if there were changeable conditions. Alan Gow commented that he the teams had been “enthusiastic” about these changes and that he thought spectators would “love this new element”. 

Tweaks to turbo boost adjustments

Turbo boost adjustments have always been a touchy subject in the paddock for some teams and drivers, some being more vocal about it than others. Currently the boost adjustments are calculated using lap times, and at every other event. While the basic principle remains the same there have been some tweaks to the process with the amount of boost adjustment, either increased or decreased, being reduced, the adjustments being applied to certain teams or drivers, rather than by car or chassis, and the frequency at which the boost adjustments are calculated. The details are expected to be finalised in the coming weeks.

‘Three strikes’ grid penalty

In the past the penalty system worked as follows: if a driver accumulated eight points on their licence through the season, then they would have up to a maximum of  eight championship points deducted. If they accumulated a total of 12 points on their licence then a maximum of 23 championship points could be deducted and the matter would be referred to the Administrator who could impose further penalties. At times this felt like some drivers were continuously being given points, but no visible action was being taken. It was difficult to see who was being punished and when.

Hence the new ‘three strike’ grid penalty. Now, if a driver receives three penalties for on-track behaviour – whether this be a verbal warning or points – they will automatically be relegated six places on the grid after their third offence (as well as any other penalties). This will hopefully help to sort out the driving standards in BTCC which seem to have gone downhill.

And those are some of the changes for 2013. What do you think? Do you agree or disagree with any of them? Have you got any suggestions on what the championship could change to improve it? Or do you think it is fine the way it is?