What F1 tracks will get eliminated from the calendar ?

The FIA published yesterday the provisional 2009 F1 calendar. The most important facts are that French GP is still on calendar, US GP will not return for 2009 and Abu Dhabi will make the debut.

The US GP missing again is a hot topic of the moment. But when looking at the 2009 calendar I am already wondering what other track(s) will we loose in 2010 …

The sudden appearance of Valencia and Singapore street tracks was kind of unexpected. None of these venues were talked about much prior to their inclusion in the 2008 calendar. The rumours appeared and in matter of weeks the races were confirmed. As a result, although we lost the US GP, the 2008 season features one more race than last year – 18 compared to 17 in 2007. With Abu Dhabi the 2009 season will have 19 races. That is 2 more than what is believed to be agreed on in the existing (expired) Concorde Agreement. Judging from recent opinions of some team principals it is hard to see more than 20 races on the F1 calendar – “My firm belief is the season should expand to not more than 20 Grand Prix.” (Ron Dennis), “Twenty is about the right number.” (Nick Fry), “Twenty is a big number, but it’s a sensible number.” (Christian Horner).

For 2010 season however 2 new races are lining up – India and Korea. That would require at least one existing F1 venue to loose the race. If US GP was to return, it would require 2 races to go. And that only and only if the F1 teams agree to race 20 times a year … What race(s) are we not going to see in 2010 ?

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Video preview of Singapore F1 track

I found this ITV video today and what has been said there is pretty much how I felt when I walked the track back in December (check the Part 1 and Part 2 post on my walk around Singapore track).

It is going to be great, can’t wait :-) .

Mika Hakkinen in Singapore – Few Videos

Mika Hakkinen was in Singapore today driving a McLaren F1 car on the street that is part of the F1 street track in the Lion City. Here are few videos:

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Singapore test the lighting for the Formula 1 night race (video link)

Singapore lightsYesterday (Saturday) the tests of the lighting system for the Formula 1 night race began in Singapore. There is an interesting video available, you can follow this link to watch.

Singapore lighting test video

I am not sure how long will this link be live, so better watch it now…

Thanks to fatfish for the alert and the link !

Mika Hakkinen is expected to run in McLaren car on the streets of Singapore today, but I in the daylight :-) .

The great podcast from Singapore – Formula 1 and ticketing

MrBrownWe have a short break from F1 racing, a bit of breather after the 2 hot races in Australia and Malaysia. This is the right time to relax and listen to something funny. Fatfish, the regular F1Wolf reader and last year’s prediction game champion sent me a link to a podcast from Singapore. The topic was the Singapore Formula1 race and the now famous ticket sales fiasco.

Follow this link and listen to Mr. Brown’s take on what has been going on in Singapore.

Warning – Parts of the show are spoken in serious Singlish (Singapore accented English) :-) .

Night racing is here, is it any good ?

Night Formula 1 races – the latest obsession of Mr. Ecclestone. Singapore will host one later on this year, the organizers in Australia are under massive pressure from the F1 supremo to hold their race in the night if they want to keep the Formula 1 Down Under beyond 2010. The lighting companies are getting ready, developing and testing night race lighting systems. Is it all worth the effort and money ?

I am going to disregard the environmental issues as I consider those just a populist talk. Yes, it may not go in line with the green message the F1 is trying to send out. But there is much more energy used (or wasted ?) every day by lighting up football stadiums, airconditioning various indoor arenas, freezing the ice for skating or ice hockey… No one complains about that, no one sends skaters to skate on frozen lakes :-)

Qatar NightAfter this weekend I however do question the need to force the organizers, will it be in Australia or anywhere else, to spend wast amounts of money to set up the lighting systems. Why ? Because I watched the MotoGP night race from Qatar. If that is supposed to be what the TV viewers get for all the money spent by organizers, then I do not think it is worth it.

First the overall experience – Either there were no spectators (would not surprise me) or the “wall” created by lighting eliminated them from the picture. It did feel very weird. All one could see around the track were the run off areas and hundres of lamps.

The TV picture was far from good. All the lights around the track were pretty disturbing, the picture was not very clear. There were also parts of the track with strong light reflection – and that was on a dry track … Now imagine places like Malaysia and Singapore, where the chances of rain are higher than chances of sunshine …

It might have been great experience for those on the track, it was far from great on TV … But isn’t the TV the main reason behind the night races idea ?

It may not be that bad on the street track in Singapore. The city backdrop, tighter space, spectators closer to the track may be the factors that will make that night race a great TV event. But should the night race happen in Sepang on the track, I am afraid the TV experience will be similar to Qatar MotoGP race…

I may be wrong, F1 might have hired better people to set up the lighting for Formula 1 races and there will be no problems at all. All may be perfect. But would not it be wiser to wait for at least the first night race in Singapore to happen and evaluate the pros and cons, before pushing and forcing people elsewhere to commit to huge investments just to keep one guy happy ?

Red Bull F1 Car Show in Singapore

Besides the Formula 1 ticketing fiasco, there was another big thing happening in Singapore last week – the annual Street and Floats Parade – Chingay.

The parade followed several parts of the Singapore Formula 1 street track. However the main connection between the Chingay and Formula 1 was the Red Bull car show. The Red Bull F1 car was driven by Robert Wickens. As the parade was an evening event, people could get a glimpse of Formula 1 car on lit up street (not the proper F1 lighting yet though :-) ). Did not look too bad judging from this photo.

Red Bull Singapore

You can read what preceded the actual show. This is a post written by a lucky blogger that actually got to sit in the Formula 1 car

How Singapore could not handle it and crashed

Singapore GPThe IT systems not being able to handle a demand from buyers is the last thing one would expect to happen in Singapore out of all the places on this planet. Well, after yesterday nothing will ever surprise me any more …

After some delays the tickets for the Singapore GP, the first Formula 1 night race finally went for sale yesterday morning. They are not that many when compared to other tracks – only 70,000 pcs. And there are not that many available with really good views. At the end, it is a city street track and the space for grandstands is limited. So everybody planning to buy expected a rush for the good (and extremely expensive even in F1 standards to be honest) tickets the moment the sales channels go live.

Well everybody except the ticketing company, one called Omniticket …

I am lucky to be living in the same timezone as Singapore, although some 3000 km away. So 9am I was ready to go online, make a quick purchase and get on with my day. It was not to be …

The Singapore GP official site worked perfect until you clicked on the Buy Ticket link. Then all sorts of error messages begun showing up (click on picture to enlarge):

Gateway

The most common sight was however this:

Singapore Loading

If you managed to get as far as actually selecting the tickets, a feast that took good 10 minutes if you got that far, a check out page came up counting down the time you have to finalize the transaction. You are too slow and the tickets reserved will be released back. It should have been 10 minutes, but before the countdown even appeard the time was down to about 7 minutes. At the speed the site worked yesterday, 7 minutes was an impossible timeframe. Absolutelly hopeless …

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I love this Links page on F1GPSG.com

Check out this F1GPSG fan site, and their cool links page. The design is awesome and the selection absolutely fabulous, especially the number 1 link :-)

F1GPSG.
(click on the image to see the full page screenshot)

Thanks guys !

What is it with Bernie Ecclestone and Australia ?

Two quotes from Bernie Ecclestone appeared in the news this weekend and after reading I began to wonder what did the Australians do to him …

Quote 1 – On the reports that Sydney may fill the gap if Melbourne looses the Australian Formula 1 Grand Prix (in the interview for the Herald Sun)

“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 …

Schedule for Singapore night race confirmed

Singapore FlyerUntil now it was not very clear from the 2008 F1 Sporting Regulations how would the race weekend in Singapore look. All that we knew was the race will start at 8pm. Now FIA has confirmed the schedule for practice and qualifying sessions too:

Friday
16:00 – 17:30 Practice Session 1
20:00 – 21:30 Practice Session 2

Saturday
17:00 – 18:00 Practice Session 3
20:00 – 21:00 Qualifying Session

Sunday
20:00 Race

The news F1Wolf has been receiving from the special envoy posted there also confirm the worst fears. Besides being the street race there also other similarities with Monaco. Prices of hotels are through the roof and the same can be said about the tickets. Well, I have to speed up the contributions to my piggy bank massively.

The full 2008 Formula One World Championship timetable is inside the article:

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Valencia Formula 1 Street Track

Valencia Street Track MapThe most popular posts on F1Wolf drawing thousands of views were my picture reports from the Singapore street track. You can see here the Part 1 and here the Part 2.

I am glad to see I am not the only one walking around the Formula 1 street track to be with a camera. There is also a fellow blogger in Spain filling up his blog with lot’s of photos of the Valencia’s European GP track. And although my Spanish is limited to Hola ! and cerveza it is not that difficult to navigate the page and discover what the street track for the 2008 Euroean GP may look like.

There are lots of photos, some with English commentary, and the latest update shows the photos of the track just about a week ago. There are few remarks mentioning the European GP as a night race - that I do not think that is a correct assumption. First of all I do not remember that being announced. Second – Singapore GP is widely promoted as a 1st Formula 1 night race and as it takes part few weeks after the European GP there can’t be any other night race before that :-)

In any case, if anyone is interested to follow the progress of the construction of the European GP street track in Valencia, or anyone plans to go to the race, the gpeuropa.net is a good address to visit.

Photo courtesy of gpeuropa.net

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22-24 August - Belgium
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31 October-2 November - USA
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