Digesting Nico’s training regime, panic on the streets of Woking and Yen

Posted: March 23, 2011 in Formula 1
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Ever wondered exactly how a top-line racing driver prepares himself for the season ahead?  Some focus on the gym, others go out and about for some running and biking.  Nico Rosberg does all of these, but he also rides a unicycle while juggling tennis balls:

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These words are being written 27 hours before the first free practice session of the year gets underway in Melbourne.  For the drivers, it’s time for the first round of pre-race media interviews and public appearances.  Jenson Button has already carried out a car swap with V8 Supercars star Craig Lowndes at Bathurst, while Sebastian Vettel has sheared a sheep on behalf of Red Bull.  For the teams, today is an opportunity to have the garages prepared and organised ready for action tomorrow, making sure all the little detail upgrades the mechanics brought over as hand luggage have been accounted for.

Detail upgrades are all you’ll bring to the first fly-away events, unless you’re in major trouble and need to redesign half the car before the season has even begun.  McLaren’s MP4/26 will feature an all-new exhaust system along with a new floor, neither of which have featured on the car during pre-season testing.  The last sentence contains a fact, reported with complete neutrality as if framed by a camera filming the scene, which you’re free to interpret in any way you’d like to.

The way McLaren CEO Martin Whitmarsh interprets it is that, “I was not satisfied with where the car was from a reliability or performance point of view. We have made some dramatic changes to the car. There is some risk, but we hope that it pays off and the car is more competitive.  The changes are aimed at making the car over a second quicker than it was in the tests.”

As we mentioned a little while ago, one of this year’s design keys involves blowing exhaust gases onto various aerodynamic parts to generate greater downforce and grip.  McLaren’s work in this area had, we’re told, led them to come up with a complex, extreme interpretation of the concept which has now been abandoned in favour of a simpler approach.  “I think the car fundamentally isn’t a bad car.  We need to unlock the exhaust blowing potential and we had some very creative ideas, some of which could have worked spectacularly well, but in order to do that they had to be durable and raceable and frankly some of our solutions weren’t.  That’s why we had to go back and in doing so we found some interesting performance.”

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Nothing says, “What do you mean, you have shown me our entire sponsor portfolio?” more than hiring Sakon Yamamoto and his wallet as your reserve driver.  Virgin Racing are this year’s wearers of the I’m With Slowcoach t-shirt.

Elsewhere in the paddock, Team Lotus (that’s the team whose cars are called Lotus, not the one whose cars have Lotus written on them) have hired proper racing driver Karun Chandhok to be their reserve driver for 2011, presumably with a view to a race seat in 2012.  Lotus now have no fewer than 6 drivers on their books, but predictably Renault (that’s the team whose cars have Lotus written on them) have managed to top that.  The team from Enstone have announced that they’ll be calling on the services of Nicolas Prost, son of quadruple world champion Alain, to drive at PR events and filming days whenever Nick Heidfeld, Vitaly Petrov, Bruno Senna, Jan Charouz, Fairuz Fauzy, Romain Grosjean and Ho-Pin Tung are all double-booked at the same time.

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