F1 GP at Silverstone Circuit, UK – 3-5 July 2015

On June 16, 2015 by

The British F1 GP is coming up soon – this year is from the 3rd to the 5th of July. If you are considering going to watch the race, check out this useful Silverstone Circuit Guide with transport options getting to Silverstone, hotel deals and tip tips to having an amazing experience at the races.

Stoddart reveals mixed feelings over F1 future

On December 9, 2008 by

The former owner of Minardi, Paul Stoddart, has revealed mixed feelings about the long-term prospects of Formula One. He was speaking publicly after the forced withdrawal of Honda as a result of the global financial crisis and, unfortunately for the world of motorsport, he believes that others may soon follow in the company’s footsteps.

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Honda quits F1

On December 8, 2008 by

Earlier this week, Honda announced some shocking news. The motor company has been forced to pull out of Formula One after the impact of the financial crisis left officials with no alternative.

In addition, Honda will be unable to supply engines to Formula One. A deadline of January has been set for Honda to find a buyer, a move which will allow them to stay in the sport but workers at the company’s base are expected to be made redundant prior to Christmas.

The shocking news was announced by the president of Honda, Takeo Fukui, who revealed that the decision had been extremely “difficult” to make. However, the “quickly deteriorating operating environment facing the global auto industry” and the manner in which global economies are suffering in general has left the company with no alternative.

Since Honda’s announcement, other teams have revealed that they will do everything possible not to follow in their footsteps. However, competing in Formula One is extremely expensive and teams have been forced to consider innovative cost-cutting steps during recent months.

Max Mosley, the president of the FIA, has been vocal for some time about the financial problems caused by the expensive nature of Formula One. Mosley wants to see changes made prior to 2010, including the controversial introduction of a standard engine.

Jenson Button has spoken of his personal shock at Honda’s decision. However, despite the pain brought by the move, Button seems determined to remain positive. He ended an emotional speech by revealing that “if it doesn’t kill us it’ll make us stronger”.

Donington delays put 2010 British GP in doubt

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During the 2008 season it was announced that the British Grand Prix will be moving from Silverstone to Donington after next season. However, this week the plans came into doubt as the local district council aired concerns about the environmental impact of the renovations, which include extensions to the track itself.

The British Grand Prix is currently set to return to its former home in Donington in a 10-year contract – the track previously hosted the British Grand Prix up until 1987. This move replaces fans’ favourite Silverstone, which, just like Magny Cours and Montreal, couldn’t afford the cost of Formula 1.

The standard of facilities expected at each Grand Prix is a controversial issue in F1, as there is no consistent benchmark for what each track needs. For example, Sao Paolo in Brazil is classed as one of the best races on the circuit yet its facilities are modest at best, whilst new tracks like Valencia may have all the facilities but when it comes down to race day, the on-track excitement doesn’t quite live up to expectations.

Donington’s fate will now wait until after the New Year, when the council will make a decision. Worryingly, with a deadline set for April 2010, this would give just 14 months for organisers to carry out improvements. And to add to the problems, Bernie Ecclestone stated with very little hesitation that the British race could be removed from the 2010 calendar altogether if the work is not complete.

This isn’t good news for Formula 1 in the UK, which looks set to rise in popularity from next year onwards, mostly thanks to home-grown Lewis Hamilton. In fact, since the world champion’s maiden title win, ticket sales for the final race at Silverstone in 2009 have sky-rocketed.

Donington still has a long way to go before 2010, undergoing millions of pounds worth of redevelopment before F1 arrives at its door. Let’s hope some of this £38 million pound spend will include enough for an extra pair of hands or two!

F1 Season Review Part III

On December 2, 2008 by

Exiting Europe and entering the unknown

The next race at Singapore was the first in a sequence of unpredictable races finishing off the 2008 season. It was the second of 2 new tracks this season and the first ever F1 Grand Prix to be held at night. The race was largely determined by the fortunes and misfortunes endured under the safety car, as many drivers fell foul to a 10-second penalty for pitting under the safety car.

Alonso was one of the few drivers that benefitted from the safety car. The Spaniard, who’d currently been on top form, then went on to win the race, his first win of the season. Previously his expectations for 2008 had not been met due partly to bad luck and mostly to a poorly performing Renault. Whilst it was a quiet race for McLaren, Ferrari brought more F1 drama. Raikkonen bizarrely crashed out near the end of the race, and a problem with a semi-automatic release system saw Massa waiting at the end of the pit lane for mechanics to remove the 15-foot of hose dragging behind him.

Race number 16 at Fuji, Japan was incident-packed. Alonso continued his fantastic form to win his second consecutive Grand Prix as both he and second place Kubica capitalised on the errors made at the front of the pack.

Hamilton, who was in the lead in the world championship took pole but had a poor start, and decided to go for broke at the start of the race. Hamilton braked late and heavily going into the first corner – cutting up both Kimi Raikkonen and team-mate Kovaleinen, flat spotting his tyres and incurring a drive-through penalty.

If Hamilton had not already thrown away his point-scoring chances, shortly after this first incident, Massa re-entered the track and crashed into Hamilton whilst battling with his rival. This sent Hamilton into a spin and put the final nail into the coffin for Hamilton’s race. The third controversy of the day was on Sebastien Bordais’ exit from the pitlane, when he came into contact with Massa who was going along at race pace – a controversial incident which didn’t do too much damage to either driver, and despite Charlie Whiting’s declaration that drivers exiting the pitlane have right of way, Bourdais was awarded a 25-second penalty after the race.

The Grand Prix at Shanghai, China was race number 17 and the penultimate race of 2008. After the constant drama and incidents of most of the season, this was a realatively serene race.

Hamilton got a much-needed clean get away off the grid from pole and went on to bag a solid win, which he desperately needed as it was his first win since Germany six races before. Raikkonen gave his second place to Massa to give his team-mate a boost in the championship fight.

The finale

Finally, and whilst remaining firmly off the band wagon of season finale-followers, my favourite race of the season was number 18, Brazil. This race was very much in keeping with the rest of the season – unpredictabile rain and a controversial result (although not so debateable).

Having dominated the weekend, Massa took pole and the win, followed by Alonso and Raikkonen. Both Vettel and Glock played their part in the Grand Prix – 2 outstanding drivers this season and totally unexpected form for both. David Coulthard crashed out on the first corner as did Piquet Jr, but there was no great drama until the end of this race when the rain almost put the fire out of Hamilton’s championship bid, but fortunately for him he capitalised on Glock’s final struggle on the wet last lap.

The lack of patterns and predictability this season makes it difficult to sum up in just a few words. There were so many factors contributing to the story: the lack of a dominant reigning world champion, the frequent wet weather conditions, younger drivers unexpectedly outperforming their cars, and the inconsistent and controversial stewards’ decisions are a few examples.

To add to this, the fact that both the tacticians and the drivers in the top teams (Ferrari and McLaren) made some huge errors this season meant that they had to relinquish some of their stranglehold on F1 (although they still had their hands all over the world and constructors’ championships).

The overhaul of rules next season will be the biggest change in Formula 1 for 20 years, revolutionising the sport. The smaller teams and younger drivers will be inspired by this season, and the hope is that the rule changes will equal the playing field.

Not only this, but the current front runners will have more to prove than ever next year – Massa still chasing his first title, Raikkonen re-establishing himself as Ferrari’s number 1, Alonso continuing his end-of-season form, Kubica back with a stronger car, and Hamilton trying to defend his first title will no doubt provide high-quality entertainment. Of course there’s also potential for a brand new audience – British television coverage will be returning to the BBC from advert-ridden ITV in 2009, and this might give F1 the platform it needs to captivate new viewers.

So it seems this season, one of the most exciting in recent times, is just the tip of the iceberg. 2008 has been full of firsts in F1 but this may merely be an indicator of what is to come.

Buemi set to make F1 debut

On by

The young driver from Switzerland, Sebastian Buemi, may make his debut in Formula One next season with the Toro Rosso team.

The driver tested for the junior team at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain last week, along with Sebastien Bourdais and Takuma Sato. Bourdais may not be kept by Toro Rosso after racing for the team last season, whilst his team mate Sebastian Vettel from Germany has earned a promotion to the senior Red Bull team.

Whilst the Japanese driver, Sato, who has previously raced for Honda and Jordan, set a faster time than both Buemi and Bourdais, the boss of Red Bull was impressed by the young Swiss driver. Dietrich Mateschitz revealed that Buemi remains “very likely” to become one of the drivers for Toro Rosso next season and stated that the final line-up will be finalised in the middle of December.

Buemi has spoken of his excitement at this potential inclusion but also believes that he still has a lot to learn. However, the Swiss driver revealed that his youth makes him a fast learner. Buemi also looked at past Formula One history to boost his confidence further. He mentioned the case of Renault, who teamed up Fernando Alonso with the relatively inexperienced Nelson Piquet Junior last season.

This mix of experience and youth is, according to the Swiss driver, something desired by most Formula One teams now. Furthermore, young drivers are starting to make a bigger impression in the world of motorsport, with Lewis Hamilton acting as a good example of this trend.

Points System under Fire, Again

On December 1, 2008 by

Bernie Ecclestone wants to scrap the conventional points scoring system used in F1 racing in favour of Olympic-style medals. Ecclestone, who is widely regarded as one of the most influential people in the sport, believes that the current system rewards consistency over victory and stifles competition between racers.

Under the new proposal, the driver who wins the most races (and by extension, obtains the most gold medals) will be crowned the overall victor of the championship.

Had the scheme been implemented a month ago, Lewis Hamilton would never have become the youngest champion in F1 history. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa, having won an additional race in Brazil, would have taken the crown for himself.

The current points system dictates that the top eight teams in a race are awarded points on a descending scale. Bernie Ecclestone’s scheme, however, will encourage drivers to race faster in order to achieve a position in the top three. Points will not be awarded for cars that finish in fourth place or below.

Ecclestone has said that most of the F1 racing teams are in agreement with him but the general public has voiced concerns about meddling with an established and functional points system. A large majority of F1 fans feel that Bernie Ecclestone has become detached from the sport and is implementing rules to appease a minority.

Consistency, not speed, has always been rewarded in F1 racing; removing the need for thoughtful driving may make a mockery of established etiquette.

The FIA and the Formula One Teams Association will meet to discuss the proposal in Monaco on December 12th.

F1 Season Review Part II

On November 26, 2008 by

So far the 2008 season had been fairly unpredictable – full of bizarre results and incidents, and the next round in Montreal was another, perfect example. Problems with the improved parts of the track caused the track to come away at turn 10 – amazingly this was still being fixed the night before the race.

The race itself contained yet another controversial incident and it was a pretty stupid one at that as Hamilton failed to stop at the red light at the end of the pitlane (red due to the safety car passing by). This ended his own and Raikkonen’s race – the Ferrari was already waiting at the lights in front of Hamilton.

This was pretty frustrating to watch, but it did leave the door open for BMW Sauber to take their first 1-2 of the season and Kubica’s first win. Adding to this, Massa’s race was hampered by fuelling problems whilst David Coulthard made his way onto the podium (for the first time since Monaco in 2006) in third.

Raikonnen’s poor luck continued with technical problems in France (race 8), handing the victory to Massa, although Raikkonen still claimed second. Hamilton started in 13th after receiving a very much deserved 10-place penalty for the pitlane incident in Canada.

To further damage his race chances, he also received a drive-through penalty for running off-track immediately after overtaking Vettel – again this was another not-so-black-and-white steward’s decision.

Halfway House

Marking the halfway point this season was race 9 at Silverstone, and along with Monaco, this was also one of the best Grand Prix of the season. Again it was a wet race in the 2008 season, and there was the usual carnage to go along with this.

A large number of cars on the grid found themselves facing backwards on the track at some point in the race. Once again Ferrari struggled: Massa span five times and the team botched the call over Kimi Raikkonen’s tyres to put out their victory chances.

This left room on the podium for Barrichello (his first podium since 2005 and Honda’s first since 2006) and Heidfeld – the only 2 drivers who were not lapped by the race winner, Hamilton. The Brit pulled off a satisfying, dominant and much-needed home win, keeping his place in the fight for the world championship.

Race 10 in Germany was another incident-packed stop on the F1 tour. Timo Glock’s right suspension caused a huge crash –launching his Toyota across the track and into the wall. Luckily he walked away from the wreckage but the impact had scattered debris all over the track, bringing out the safety car.

Pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton demonstrated his incredible ability to overtake as he battled it out with Filipe Massa, amongst others, to take the win. Massa finished the race in third, and was was joined by Nelson Piquet. The Brazilian had an incredible race (aided by the safety car), climbing from 17th to 2nd in his Toro Rosso to take his first F1 podium.

Hungary brought more F1 firsts: Kovaleinen took his first win in Formula 1 and made himself the 100th driver to win an F1 Grand Prix. The McLaren number 2 capitalised on the misfortunes of the front runners to take the win – Massa had an engine failure with 3 laps to go, Raikkonen had a mechanical problem in the closing stages and Hamilton came 5th due to an early puncture.

Still, with almost two thirds of the season already over, Kovaleinen had raised more than a few eyebrows having failed to cash-in on victory until now. Rookie driver Timo Glock also took this opportunity to get his first F1 podium, finishing in second place.

Race 12 was at the first of 2 new tracks in 2008, as the European Grand Prix, formerly at the Nürburgring, Germany, moved to its new home on the streets of Valencia, Spain.

The main excitement of the race actually took place in the pitlane, as Filipe Massa was released into the path of Adrian Sutil (after the race he was fined €10,000) and Kimi Raikkonen jumped the gun on his pit stop and set off with the fuel hose still attached, injuring a mechanic.

There was more bad luck for Kimi as he retired with engine failure just 2 laps later. The top 3 cars on the grid -Massa, Hamilton and Kubica – kept form and finished in order on the podium. After the Grand Prix, there was a lot of negative talk about the race, which faced criticism for its processional style. Many fans, even now, agreed this was the least exciting race of the season.

To turn the fortunes and refuel excitement in F1, the Belgian Grand Prix was another race in which unpredictable circumstances determined the outcome on the day.

It was wet or raining all weekend, and during the race inconsistent wet patches on track and a last minute shower reaped havoc. Most memorably, there was an incredible battle between Hamilton and Raikkonen for first place. Hamilton won the battle, and just 1 lap later Raikkonen crashed into a wall under heavy rain.

After the race Hamilton was stripped of his win for cutting a chicane during the fight, and 10 points were instead awarded to Filipe Massa.

The final European race of the season was race 14, in Italy. Although the race took place in September, there was heavy rain all weekend – so much so that the race started under the safety car.

Sebastian Vettel out-qualified his fellow competitors who were struggling in the wet (Hamilton, Raikkonen & Kubica all failed to make Q3) and went on to claim pole. He led the race for all but 3 laps and crossed the line to become the youngest ever race winner in F1 (taking the title away from Alonso).

This was Torro Rosso’s first ever win, the first German driver to win since Michael Schumacher in 2006 and the youngest ever podium – Vettel, Kovaleinen and Kubica had an average age of 23 years and 350 days.

Return to F1 in doubt as Webber breaks leg

On November 25, 2008 by

It’s almost too obvious to state, but F1 drivers are notorious for being adrenaline junkies. Mark Webber is one of them, and was taking part in an adventure bike challenge in Tasmania when he had a serious accident on the penultimate day of the event.

The 32-year-old was speeding down a steep hill when he collided with a 4×4 on a narrow gravel track, after which he needed to be airlifted to hospital. Webber was then taken immediately into surgery where he had to have pins placed into his right leg.

Ironically the race, called the Mark Webber Challenge, is not only named after the Red Bull driver but is well and truly his own project, as he foots a large portion of the bill.

After 6 seasons in Formula 1, Webber was one of the first to confirm his 2009 seat when he renewed his contract with Red Bull Racing. However, such is the demand for peak physical fitness in F1, and with such a serious injury, it has brought into question whether Webber will be able to recover in time.

A statement on his website said that Webber is expected to be back for the first race of the season – his home Grand Prix in Melbourne, which takes place in March. The injury does mean, however, that he will miss out on winter testing – a vital part of the F1 off-season for both the car and the driver.

One can only imagine, then, that the Aussie will surround himself with some of the world’s best doctors and physiotherapists to help speed up his rehabilitation and get him back in the driving seat as soon as possible.

BBC Announce F1 Team – Brundle & Kravitz move over from ITV

On November 24, 2008 by

Finally the biggest poorly kept secret in the history of TV is out in the open. Martin Brundle has agreed to leave ITV and sign with the BBC to reprise his current role with the new broadcaster of F1 in the UK.

When it was first announced that BBC was taking over the F1 TV deal from 2009 through 2013 inclusive, the first thing on everyone’s lips was whether Martin Brundle would come over with the rights. Brundle joined ITV when they snapped up the rights in 1997 and forged a terrific partnership with incumbent legend Murray Walker. When Walker stepped down, Brundle stayed and was joined by James Allen.

Brundle’s no nonsense approach made him very quickly a fans favourite and he has won the RTS Television Sports Award for best Sports Pundit on no fewer than four occasions. His grid walks have gone down as one of the best features in sports broadcasting and when he managed to grab Bernie Ecclestone as the now infamous 2005 US Grand Prix, he showed himself as a world class journalist as well as broadcaster.

He’ll be joined by his third lead commentator since he started in form of Jonathan Legard. The former Radio Five Live F1 correspondent joins the box in a move that will be welcomed around F1 circles.

In the pit-lane Lee McKensie will be joined by the only other member of ITV’s on-air team that is making the switch in the form of Ted Kravitz. This is arguably the only surprise in today’s announcement as Kravitz seemed like he knew he was leaving F1 at the Brazilian Grand Prix so you suspect this deal went down late.

In the studio we’ll see Eddie Jordan and David Coulthard joined by front man Jake Humphrey. The 30 year-old presenter has been groomed for big things by the corporation This is without a doubt the only appointment that has raised eyebrows around fans of the sport but I might be in the minority but I do think he can be a good presenter on the big stage.

So all in all I think I’m pretty happy with the team. Getting Martin Brundle and paying him whatever it took was the first (and only) priority for me. I’m happy that they have also included Murray Walker is some capacity as the 85 year-old will be part of BBC’s online team working for the BBC sport website.

Good start BBC.