Several current as well as hopeful Formula 1 tracks made the news these few days, here is a recap:
Bahrain – The organizers rubbished the reports they are planning to stage the GP as a night race in the future. One wonders where these reports came from. Why would they need to run the race in the night with only 2 (or 3? ) hours time difference from most of the European tracks ?
Sepang – The Malaysian organizers however confirmed they are considering night race – Dato Mokhzani Mahatir, chairman of the Sepang circuit:
“We have actually been talking aboug a night race with Bernie Ecclestone since September 2006. Since then he has spoken with Singapore and Melbourne as he’d like to see the F1 broadcast from here in Europe at a more decent hour. Having a race in Asia at night makes sense for that. Singapore and Melbourne are temporary street circuits whereas we are a permanent facility. Putting up lighting systems would allow us to hire the circuit out more.”
Melbourne – Here it looks unlikely the night race will happen, although Mark Webber has been quoted saying this to Adelaide’s Sunday Mail:
“We should try to make night work. It could be exactly what the event needs — who knows? We should fight to have a night race.”
and on Bernie Ecclestone hard line attitude:
“You can’t constantly keep having the same toys in the sand pit. He’s (Ecclestone) certainly got his head screwed on and he will do what is best for the sport.”
In the meantime there has been slight change in the time schedule for the 2008 Australian GP – The race in Melbourne will start at 3:30pm local time.
Silverstone – This is a week old news already… Although the development plans seem to be on the right track, the negotiations over new contract with CVC and Bernie Ecclestone will not be easy. Ecclestone (in his own words) will not hesitate to cut the British GP off the F1 calendar …
St. Petersburg – While slamming Melbourne (and Sydney) and Silverstone, Bernie Ecclestone is on his way to Russia to yet again discuss possible Russian Grand Prix, this time in St. Petersburg.
Algarve – Meanwhile in Portugal … A new F1 style track is nearing completion in the south of the country. The reports say that one team has already booked the facility for testing next January. The ultimate goal however is to return Formula 1 race back to Portugal. The last one was held in Estoril back in 1996 and won by Jacques Villeneuve.
Alcaniz – Amid all the bad publicity Spain received in past week or so, there are reports about another Spanish F1 venue springing up. Barcelona (Montmelo) and Valencia (street track) will host the F1 races this year. The permanent circuits in Valencia and Jerez are popular venues for F1 test. “La Ciudad del Motor de Alcaniz” is to become yet another test facility. It is designed by Hermann Tilke with advice from Pedro de la Rosa and due for completion in 2009.
A1 Ring – The attempts to revive former F1 track in Austria seem to have come to end. The track held its last GP in 2003. It was later bought by Red Bull and set for major redevelopment. The protests from ever present Austrian enviromentalists and failed talks with local authorities lead Dietrich Mateschitz to stop the project aimed at winning back the Austrian GP.
Williams – No, this is not another city but the Williams F1 team … Williams have announced plans to establish a permanent base for its test team in Spain. This is where all the Spanish (and Portuguese) test tracks may come handy .
Continue below to see La Ciudad del Motor de Alcaniz video.
“There is nothing in Sydney – they haven’t even got a circuit. “
Quote 2 – On his planned trip to St. Petersburg and discussions about staging Formula 1 race in Russia (reported by Daily Mirror):
“Nothing is done yet. But this could be an interesting development for the sport. We’d like to get it in the calendar as soon as we can but that depends on them. It’s down to how long it takes them to get the circuit ready.”
I am not saying that Sydney is a feasible option. It may or may not be, it is not upon me to say. I do not even know whether the city would be interested. But that is not the point … What strikes me is The Formula 1 Supremo dismissing the possibility of the race in Sydney outright with such an argument. All the new races (current and future) – Singapore, Valencia, Abu Dhabi, Seoul, India only began to build the race tracks after Bernie signed them up. Russia, as it is obvious from his remarks, would be the same case.
Sydney would stand no chance though, because like all the others who got the new races it does not have a race track …
Yesterday was the final day of the four day test at Circuito Ricardo Tormo in Valencia. The teams are in very different stages of their 2008 car development so no conclusions should be made yet, but there are already some signs of what may come.
Ferrari seems to be ready to mount another title challenge. Both Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa had good runs in the new Ferrari. Massa was fastest on Tuesday, Raikkonen on Thursday. It can be said that Ferrari is the fastest car at the moment.
McLaren did not do too bad either. Heikki Kovalainen is settling in the car pretty well and he even managed to set the new lap record on this F1 test track. He later disclosed it was on very low fuel, but nevertheless the combination of Heikki Kovalainen and McLaren car looks impressive. Lewis Hamilton was in the car on Wednesday and Thursday only, both time outpaced by his team mate. It may mean that Heikki will be formidable opponent, it may also mean each of the McLaren drivers had different test duties.
Williams, the pleasant surprise. At this stage of the testing season clearly the third fastest car, no matter whether driven by Rosberg or Nakajima. They however have to keep up their job, because there are several teams right behind them … Considering that they only came out with the new car this week in Valencia, the performance of Williams is very impressive.
It has been announced yesterday that the F1 teams will be testing slick tyres during the upcoming test in Jerez. So the slicks are returning to the place where they featured last time, 10 years ago at the European Grand Prix 1997 in Jerez. And what a race it was… It was the final race of 1997 season, with Schumacher leading Villeneuve by 1 point …
Famous qualifying – 3 drivers recorded identical time in qualifying for the first time in the F1 history – Jacques Villeneuve, Michael Schumacher and Heinz-Harald Frentzen
Famous win – Mika Hakkinen won his first F1 race
Famous incident – Michael Schumecher hit Jacques Villeneuve during Villeneuve’s overtaking attempt and later got disqualified from the whole season
The race was won by Hakkinen, ahead of Coulthard (both McLaren) and Jacques Villeneuve (Williams). The 3rd place was enough for Jacques Villeneuve to claims his first and only Formula 1 Drivers Title.
Check the rest of this post for the video highlights from 1997 European Grand Prix in Jerez
The rain threatened several races this year, finally it came. Finally… As we have it in F1 these days, only changing track conditions or safety car confusion result in exciting races.
It looked like everybody expected the rain to come in the early stages of the race. But clearly not on lap 1 and not a rainstorm. Video here. The cars sliding around and out and over, that was one mayhem. Kimi not able to hold the line and sliding out of the pitlane exit back to track for another very slippery lap. Several cars parking it in the gravel next to each other one by one … And Marcus Winkelhock leading the race on his race debut in the worse car of them all … Awesome… (more…)
First of all, cars are not allowed to be helped back on track, unless they are in dangerous position. Hamilton’s McLaren was nicely parked in the gravel by the wall, not in dangerous position at all. He was lifted by a crane back on track, allowed to join the restart and unlap himself. The commentator on Star TV explained, that Hamilton crashed out after the race was red flagged… Really?
Rain brought some havoc to the race, at the end Alonso benefited from it most. He stole the win from Massa. Mark Webber finished 3rd some 65 seconds behind, but only just ahead of Alex Wurz.
1) F. Alonso – McLaren – 2:06:26.358
2) F. Massa – Ferrari + 8.155
3) M. Webber – Red Bull + 1:05.674
4) A. Wurz – Williams + 1:05.937
5) D. Coulthard – Red Bull + 1:13.656
6) N. Heidfeld – BMW + 1:20.298
7) R. Kubica – BMW + 1:22.415
8) H. Kovalainen – Renault + 1 laps
Kimi Raikkonen has his 2nd pole position of the season, ahead of Alonso and Massa. The story of the session however was the front right wheel failure and resulting heavy crash of Lewis Hamilton (video).
It looks like Kimi is the man to beat this weekend. After a bit slower 2nd Friday practice the BMWs are back on the pace. Renaults have a mountain to climb unless they have been hiding their true pace so far this weekend.
Jean Eric VERGNE
2014 F1 Calendar
14-16 March - Australia
28-30 March - Malaysia
4-6 April - Bahrain
18-20 April - China
9-11 May - Spain
22-25 May - Monaco
6-8 June - Canada
20-22 June - Austria
4-6 July - Great Britain
18-20 July - Germany
25-27 July - Hungary
22-24 August - Belgium
5-7 September - Italy
19-21 September - Singapore
3-5 October - Japan
10-12 October - Russia
31 October-2 November - USA
7-9 November - Brazil
21-23 November - Abu Dhabi