Archive — Motorsport
I have been using these calendar files for years. It’s a great way of keeping on top of things. There’s a calendar for almost every motorsport series you can think of. Add them to your calendar app for a simple way of knowing who’s racing when.
It may be a 52 minute read, but every word is worth it. An honest, and at times hilariously funny, piece about the reality of working as a western woman to cover a motorsport event in Saudi Arabia.
Drivers had expressed doubts over the new constructions after testing the during the first practice session for the United States Grand Prix in November. They were given the chance to test the new compounds alongside the 2019 rubber at Yas Marina last week.
However that failed to ease concerns over the 2020 tyres. Following the test Romain Grosjean said the new tyres were not a clear improvement over the ones used this year.
How many more stories like this do there need to be before people start concluding that Pirelli simply aren’t up to the job of supplying tyres to Formula 1?
What might lead Lewis Hamilton to drive to Ferrari, and the pros and cons of doing so.
If Mercedes pull out of Formula 1 next year, moving to Ferrari would possibly be his only chance of surpassing Michael Schumacher as the most successful F1 driver of all time. But could he really bring himself to break his equally incredible record of racing with Mercedes power throughout his entire career?
Every race he has ever run has been with a three-pointed star on the car’s nose, which shows incredible loyalty. And he is very conscious of his future earnings.
He wants to continue bringing in eight figures a year. If he retires in a Mercedes he will be an ambassador for life, a lucrative deal I call ‘Fangio Plus’.
This article was written in the immediate aftermath of the 2002 Austrian Grand Prix, which was ruined by the most flagrant and offensive display of team orders in history. Rubens Barrichello, having had the upper-hand over Michael Schumacher for the entire weekend, ceded the victory to his team-mate literally at the finish line.
As you would expect from Clive James, this is a brilliant piece of writing. He really got to the appeal of motorsport like few could.
But seeing this article float through my Twitter timeline in the aftermath of Clive James’s death this week, it’s got me thinking.
Did Clive James stay true to his word? Did he never watch an F1 race again? I’m not aware of any contributions of his, beyond this moment. Am I wrong?
The first in-depth interview with Juan Manuel Correa since his tragic accident at Spa-Francorchamps. It’s an emotional read.
It’s strange that I didn’t lose consciousness in the crash, it was an impact of 70 g, when I told doctors that I hadn’t lost consciousness they didn’t believe me. Before I crashed I put my muscles hard and I held on tight, that helped me too. I wanted to get out of the car myself, I was conscious throughout the whole accident.
Interview with Sílvia Bellot, who will become the race director for Formula 2 and FIA Formula 3 next year. At the age of just 34, she becomes the first woman to hold this important role.
Motor racing is still overwhelmingly dominated by men on and off the track and Bellot is more than aware of the importance of her achievements. “I feel I have an extra responsibility because I am a role model for young women,” she says. “In the FIA Women in Motorsport Commission we believe the best way is to show we have the women already in the sport. If I can do it, it proves someone else can do it. I know it could impact on other women’s lives.”
Note — 2019-11-15
For years certain people have been telling us not to criticise Pirelli’s high degradation tyres on the basis that “they were only delivering what the FIA asked”. Now, so many years on, and with so many different tyre degradation philosophies supposedly having been pursued, the question is unavoidable. Are Pirelli truly equipped enough to supply tyres to Formula 1, which is supposed to showcase the pinnacle of motorsport technology?
This story isn’t quite as juicy as the headline suggests. Essentially Ron Dennis asked Nick Fry for Brawn GP’s chassis performance figures to help him benchmark the performance of the McLaren.
But it’s still an extraordinary revelation. And one quote in particular made me think of much more recent events.
According to Fry, Dennis told him McLaren’s MP4-24 chassis “is totally under-performing, as you have no doubt noticed, but my engineers say our aerodynamic package is on the money. The thing is I just don’t believe them.”
McLaren’s engineering director at the time was Paddy Lowe, whose recent spell at Williams appeared to be… under-performing.
Meanwhile, the denial at McLaren about their chassis performance continued up until last year. Then, it became crystal clear that blaming all their problems on Honda engines wasn’t going to wash.
I’ve written many times about how McLaren’s (and Williams’) problems go back many years. This new insight gives us a clue that senior figures were beginning to cotton onto that as early as 2009.
The best bit about this is the fact that they are apologising in advance for the inevitably poor quality of coverage in Singapore…
…we have to really convey what the city is like, this amazing skyline and these fantastic buildings.
How about no?
I’m sure it’s in the contract with the Singapore Grand Prix race promoters, that they must allot a certain amount of the broadcast to showing the city, and not the race. The same goes with Abu Dhabi and that ridiculous vibrator-shaped hotel.
And the Russian Grand Prix. Every year, without fail, they have cut away from the live action to broadcast footage of Vladimir Putin arriving by helicopter about a third of the way through the race. Then some laps later they show him gormlessly sitting next to Bernie Ecclestone in a near-empty grandstand, looking about as interested in the race as some lichen would. Every year. Watch it this year and take a drink when it happens.
The sooner F1 becomes less reliant on these ridiculous publicity-hungry governments, and goes back to real racing on proper circuits, the better. But then, it will be harder to excuse the bad TV coverage.
A very frank, in-depth interview with Daniel Riccardo talking about the aftermath of Anthoine Hubert’s death and how he got back into the cockpit to start the race less than 24 hours later.
I found his description of going through Raidillon for the first time particularly powerful:
I told myself: ‘Go full throttle, and just don’t over-think this corner, don’t over-think any of it.’ Out of the pits… held it full. That was a relief but it felt good to get out there and do that. And that also told me that I was ready to go.
I think if I was, big lift and scared, then that would be a sign that maybe I shouldn’t be on the track right now. I guess I wanted to do that to test myself and then it all felt right.
In the wake of Johann Zarco’s request to be released from his contract with KTM, Mat Oxley uncovers a side of MotoGP riders not often talked about.
Do MotoGP riders — surely some of the strongest people on Earth — get depressed? Of course they do! Motorcycle racing may be a macho game, but machismo never stopped anyone getting depressed, quite the opposite, in fact.
It’s also fascinating to see Valentino Rossi talking so openly about his mental health issues when he raced for Ducati.
At this stage, I wonder how Helmut Marko gets away with this. His driver/vanity programme is a monumental failure. Pierre Gasly’s demotion to Toro Rosso after only 12 races is just the latest in a trail of destruction wreaked upon drivers ever since Red Bull Junior Team’s inception.
At Toro Rosso he joins Daniil Kvyat, who has also been rejected by Red Bull’s programme multiple times, only to be invited back due to the scheme’s utter dearth of talent.
Meanwhile, Red Bull lack the patience required to build their drivers’ confidence and skill.
Luke Smith’s tweet sums it up neatly:
This means a driver once dropped by Red Bull's junior programme replaces a driver dropped by Red Bull, who himself becomes teammates with a driver dropped by Red Bull's team and programme before being re-signed by Red Bull's programme #F1
— Luke Smith (@LukeSmithF1) August 12, 2019
I fear the writing is on the wall for Valtteri Bottas. It was bad enough that Toto Wolff has now explicitly said he’s considering replacing Bottas with Esteban Ocon.
But when even Bottas himself is talking about having a plan B and plan C, surely the game is up. It’s not just the fact that he’s considering it. That’s only sensible for anyone to do.
But in talking about it, he is exposing his weakness. A more driven individual (even if he is talking to other teams behind the scenes) would surely still say he is fully committed to Mercedes and, determined to retain his drive, and not thinking about anything else.
Talking like this just makes Bottas seem like he’s already thrown in the towel.
In all seriousness, I’m impressed at the effort Mercedes have put in to celebrating 125 years in motorsport and their 200th F1 race.
While having all the team personnel (including mechanics!) dressed up in 1950s-style outfits looks fun, it surely must be distracting. Watching the mechanics working on the cars in the garage with their baggy overalls dangling all over the place, I had to think some of these mechanics must find it all annoying.
Lewis Hamilton certainly seemed to find his special gloves annoying during free practice 3 yesterday when he tetchily requested his normal gloves as the session was about to start.
As for the livery, Toto Wolff said:
“I can tell you it’s definitely not making the car lighter… In all the briefing sheets prior to this weekend the engineers pointed out ‘too heavy stickers’…”
I’m sure it’s a small thing, but I’ve always wondered if thick stickers have an effect on aerodynamics. If you look at the photos on the RaceFans article, you can actually see how thick some of the decals are.
I’m sure they wouldn’t do it if it was a problem. But surely thick stickers would be more of a factor than matt paint?
Note — 2019-07-15
I just watched the British Grand Prix. 😱 Sebastian Vettel needs to retire as soon as possible, before he does any further damage to his reputation. So sad to see a once great driver reduced to this.
It’s good to see this issue getting some more attention, from none other than Dieter Rencken. I’ve been saying this for years.
If the aim of the Junior programme is to develop F1 drivers such situations point to something seriously amiss with the selection process. In 20 years and over 350 grands prix, just three alumni – Sebastian Vettel, Daniel Ricciardo and Verstappen – won grands prix. Of these only Ricciardo can be considered a fully ‘homegrown’ product of Red Bull’s system, the other two having been schooled elsewhere.
Dan Ticktum’s meltdown was seemingly brought about by the high-pressure environment of Red Bull’s driver programme. But this just the latest in a very long line of failures.
It’s easy to say this from the outside, but if I was a driver with some talent I would steer well clear of the Red Bull programme. The list of unnecessarily ruined careers is far, far longer than the successes.
As usual, Christian Horner seems to be talking bull.
On the one hand, he’s bemoaning the damage being caused to cars by the kerbs. On the other hand, he’s saying they are “too inviting”. It can’t be both.
Horner believes they are “too inviting” for drivers. “They know they’re there, I just think the angle that they’re at, I think that’s what they really need to look at.”…
“It needs something either more substantial that is a real deterrent because the invitation is there for the drivers to try to use it.”
Damaging your front wing isn’t a deterrent enough?
Given this, and other recent events in Canada and France, I’m starting to wonder if F1’s biggest problem is that drivers have formed a sense of entitlement that they should be allowed to leave the circuit without consequence.
Photo — 2019-06-16
Watching the 24 Hours of Le Mans = having the big cafetiere to myself.
I’ll be honest — I thought Formula E already was a world championship. I’m a motorsport geek and I never even noticed Formula E didn’t have world championship status. Which makes me wonder what’s in it for Formula E.
Formula E seems to be doing well enough as it is without world championship status. It certainly seems to have a higher profile than, for instance, the World Rallycross Championship. And it’s definitely bigger than the FIA GT World Championship was, when that was a thing.
I’m no expert, but it seems to me as if there’s more in this for the FIA than for Formula E. I’m just surprised it hasn’t happened before.
I’m a bit concerned. The Hanoi Street Circuit rather looks like a cross between the Valencia Street Circuit and Korea International Circuit — two stinkers of circuits also designed by Tilke. As things stand, my hopes aren’t too high for Liberty Media’s first new circuit for F1.
At this weekend’s Rome E-Prix, Formula E saw its seventh different driver, for a seventh different team, win the seventh race of the season. While on paper this sort of unpredictability is a good thing, there comes a point where it lacks credibility. Formula E is reaching that point. Read full article1 comment
Note — 2019-03-14
I was sorry to hear about the death of Charlie Whiting, Formula 1’s race director, less than 24 hours before he was due to oversee the first session of the season.
Charlie Whiting has been one person in the FIA I have always respected. It was very difficult to question his judgement, and you rarely heard anyone ever seriously question it.
We saw Charlie Whiting addressing fans when we went to the Belgian Grand Prix last year, and he seemed happy to be speaking to fans and telling them more about the sport and his job.
It has seemed, from my distant vantage point, that the FIA have had trouble finding a successor to Charlie Whiting in the role of race director. He has held the job since 1997. I couldn’t tell you who was the race director before him, and it’s difficult to imagine who it will be after him. They are big shoes to fill.
An excellent analysis setting the decline of Williams into a historical context. Dieter Rencken traces the decline back to 1998, the commencement of the first Concorde Agreement following Bernie Ecclestone’s acquisition of Formula 1’s commercial rights. This is when Bernie Ecclestone began acting in his own interests, and not that of the teams.
That certainly explains why the number of independent teams has decreased since then. The remaining teams, as Dieter Rencken notes, have changed their business models to adapt to the modern commercial realities of the sport.
Williams’s dogged determination to stick to the same business model it had in the 1980s and 1990s may be seen as noble by some. But increasingly it’s being shown to be foolhardy.
Claire Williams may refuse to allow Williams to be a B-team. But let’s not forget that Frank Williams first entered F1 with a customer chassis. Why should they continue to tie their own hands?
See also: Williams have hit a new Lowe
It would have been an embarrassing start to the year by anyone’s standards. But for a team like Williams, it has been utterly mortifying. Formerly known as Williams Grand Prix Engineering, this team has always taken a great pride in its engineering excellence. In the past couple of years, that reputation has been shattered. Read full article6 comments
The 2019 Formula One World Championship will see two of the most historical brands in motorsport – Sauber and Alfa Romeo – return to circuits across the globe with 2007 World Champion Kimi Räikkönen and the young Italian Antonio Giovinazzi driving for Alfa Romeo Racing, formerly referred to as the Alfa Romeo Sauber F1 Team.
It’s a bit of a shame to see the Sauber name disappear. Even when BMW owned the team they kept Sauber in the name.
Michael Schumacher’s son progresses to bring hope in tragic F1 tale — Richard Williams, the Guardian
As always, Richard Williams is well worth reading. This time, a sensitive piece on the mixed feelings some people have about Michael Schumacher, five years on from his skiing accident, as his son Mick prepares to make the step up to Formula 2.
The centrepiece of this article is an interview with Damon Hill, one of Schumacher’s fiercest rivals. As usual, Hill is thoughtful when reflecting back.
Today, everyone with any direct relationship to Michael Schumacher, past or present, chooses their words with extreme care when discussing his life since the accident. “To even contemplate it is frightening,” Hill says. “Whatever my feeling was about Michael and the way he went about his career became irrelevant. From a human point of view, it was so upsetting.”
Success ballast? In the World Endurance Championship? FFS… Will the last motorsport that’s still actually a sport please turn out the lights?
Slow LMP1s: you asked for it
Hazel Southwell explains why hybrid technology is the future, and why reverting back to old-fashioned V8s wouldn’t solve anything, by looking at how the current LMP1 regulations are panning out.
…the privateer P1s do not go as fast because they are not as good [as the hybrids]…
When a combustion-only car storms up the Le Mans pit straight and then brakes into the curve of turn one, all the energy and fuel burnt through to accelerate turns to heat in the brakes – and is gone. When it gears up the torque to get up the hill to Dunlop, the heat the engine fires up disappears into the night as nothing, fumes out of the exhaust that don’t move the car forwards.