A short video from Red Bull regarding their new driver for 2014, Daniel Ricciardo. Let’s hope that once he gets settled he can put a bit a bit of internal pressure on Vettel and spice things up a little bit.
We seem to be quite focused, at the moment, on the future. The focus of the Formula 1 world is firmly on the driver contracts for next year, with speculation rife as to who is going to be racing for which team. At the same time we all wait with bated breath to see what next year’s technical changes will bring to the sport we love. With completely redesigned engines and numerous other regulation changes, be they fuel or reliability related, there is no doubt that things will be different. With this year’s championship all but won by the relentless Sebastian Vettel it is no wonder that the eyes of the fans, and even some teams, are turned to the future in secret (or not so secret) hope that something can be done to knock the German off his seemingly comfortable perch.
The future, however, seems to hold considerably more than some driver and regulation changes in the F1 arena. We are on the precipice of making an exciting leap forward in motor sport and, quite possibly, the automotive world in general. I am talking about Formula E, the brand new FIA championship that is set to begin at the tail end of 2014 and is, I believe, the most exciting thing to happen to motor sport in a long time. The concept is simple: take a formula race car and power it exclusively with electrical energy, take 20 of these cars to 10 of the world’s most iconic cities and race. In essence it is the electric version of Formula 1.
There are a number of exciting things about this new championship, not least of which is the fact that it will provide us with an opportunity to watch high-speed vehicles tearing along the streets below some of the world’s most famous landmarks. It is hoped that it will provide some sort of catalyst for research and development in the realm of electric vehicles and, by showcasing the capabilities of the vehicles, seeks to shatter some of the stigma associated with electric cars. In order to promote development the series will run as an open championship in order to facilitate innovation. That being said, the first season will see all teams using the same car in order to let the competition establish itself. The Spark-Renault SRT_01E was unveiled in the past few days and I must say, I think it’s rather good-looking.
A number of measures have also been taking to control spending by the teams and keep the costs associated with the competition down. These include housing all of the cars in a central workshop, fixing gear ratios and dropping tyre changes during the race hence removing the need for expensive pit equipment. In place of tyre changes, teams will actually perform entire car changes with each driver having two cars for the race and the rules stipulate that he must make two mandatory pit stops in order to change vehicles. Presumably this is to allow one car to charge while the other is on circuit. There are a number of other regulations, all of which can be found on the championship website.
As with anything that upsets the world as we know it, there will be those who are not on board with this idea. Those who feel that this is a bad idea, a waste of money or a waste of time. The most common argument I have seen against Formula E is the idea that it will lack the scream of fossil fuelled engines. To this I say that, while it is certainly true that Formula E will not sound anything like traditional forms of motor sport, anyone who uses that as a reason to withhold support for this series can’t truly call themselves a fan of the sport. If you are in it only for the noise then you can quite easily spend Sunday afternoons with a pair of headphones on listening to recording of engine noises. This new championship is a good thing; an exciting new idea in the motor sport world and one that we should get behind. I cannot wait.
I have been a little out of things for a while now. It turns out that maintaining a blog while attempting to complete your final year of an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering is a tad harder than I thought it would be at the beginning of the year. However, my metaphorical plate is now clear and I am once again able to put in the work that you, the readers of 1 True Formula, deserve.
The return of 1 True Formula is going to be bolstered by a momentous event in my own life. This weekend I will be making the trip to Abu Dhabi to watch the race at the Yas Marina Circuit. It will be my first experience of Formula 1 in the flesh and blood. If ever my passion for Formula 1 was in need of reaffirmation (which it certainly isn’t) this would be the perfect way to do it. I jet off tomorrow evening for what is sure to be an unforgettable trip. It is an experience that I have been yearning for since I first heard the roar of an F1 engine blaring from the TV in the living room and I still can’t quite believe that I am going to experience it first-hand.
It will not be my first trip to the Yas Marina Circuit. Just over a year ago I went on a trip with my family that included a brief stay in the Yas Hotel that straddles the circuit. The hotel was magical and my view of the track from the bedroom window was the closest I had ever been to an F1 circuit. There is a certain sense of fate that I will witness my first race at the same place. For more information on the Yas Marina Circuit head over to the Etihad Airways website which features a nifty tool to explore the circuit.
Now, I am going be going full first-timer while I am over there. I will be armed with my camera to snap shots of the stars and tycoons, drivers and engineers. I will have my handy marker in my back pocket for every autograph opportunity that rears its head. However, you can rest assured that should Mr. Ecclestone bump into me in the grandstand, I will be sure to ply him with hard-edged, cut-to-the-chase questions about the future of Formula 1 and the secrets of immortality.
So, the next time you hear from me I will be a changed man. I will have experienced the thrill of Formula 1 firsthand. My eardrums will have been pounded by the thrumming of 24 V8 engines at 18000 rpm. I will see you on the other side.
After crossing the line as victor of the Silverstone Grand Prix in 2010, Mark Webber was heard saying over the radio, “Not bad for a number two driver”. Webber’s snide comment may have been linked to the suspected favouritism for his team mate, Sebastian Vettel, by his Red Bull team during the 2010 World Championship. Whether there was favouritism or not has been a hot topic of discussion and is certainly not limited to the Red Bull Racing team; who can forget the famous, “Fernando is faster than you”, incident? What is not up for discussion, however, is Mark’s developing fondness for the number 2.
We have now got a second double-winner of this phenomenal 2012 season, his name is Mark Webber. Monaco was the setting for Mark’s first victory of the season; a race he controlled from start to chequered flag. The victory is also his second at Silverstone, the first being the aforementioned, slightly controversial, 2010 edition. The 25 points that Mark received for winning the race secure his position at number 2 in the Championship, 13 points behind the man who finished second this weekend, Fernando Alonso. In an uncanny coincidence, Alonso is the only other person to have won 2 races this year, his first victory coming in the second Grand Prix of the year. I’m telling you, this is spooky.
As we move on to Hockenheim in 2 weeks time Mark will be looking to win his second German Grand Prix. Mark won the 2009 German Grand Prix which was held at the Nurburgring which means that Hockenheimring could be the second German track the Aussie wins at. Once the race in Germany is completed we will be exactly halfway through the 2012 season and I’m sure Mark would like nothing more than to be higher than 2nd place in the World Championship going into the second half of the season.
Believe it or not, there was more going on this weekend besides the Formula 1 (I know, I was shocked too). The observant amongst you will have seen that Scotland’s Andy Murray came second in Wimbledon on Sunday, losing out to Switzerland’s Roger Federer who moves above 2nd placed Novak Djokovic in the ATP World Rankings. Many in the UK would have been hoping for double victory for the British this weekend, but alas, neither Murray nor the pair of McLaren drivers could come up with the goods. No doubt Her Majesty (the second British Monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee) would have been stifling cheers while watching Hamilton fighting tooth-and-nail on track with Alonso.
Whether you are superstitious or not, you can’t argue with the numbers. The mystifying connection between Mark Webber and the number 2 seems likely to continue unabated. Don’t forget that he has been driving around in the number 2 marked RB8 this whole year and will continue to do so. He will persist in applying pressure to Championship leader Fernando Alonso, and will throw everything he’s got into becoming Formula 1 World Champion for the first time. As the rain clears after Silverstone, perhaps it’s time for number 2 to become number 1…
There are two types of people in this world: those who like BMW’s and those who like Mercedes-Benz. I have always considered myself to be part of the latter group; the more cultured, sophisticated and classy of the two. This preference of mine began as a small boy. My family has always owned one Mercedes or another, always replacing a worn out, worse-for-wear Merc with a new one, seemingly without even considering a BM or one of the other German competitors. By the time I was old enough to have a personal opinion on cars I did not see a reason to change this imprinted bias of mine. I have always believed Mercs to be better looking than their compatriots and have argued this point to the bitter end with those who disagree. I would point out the sleek lines that grace the large saloons and the innovation that always appears on the new S-class. As a last resort, if I was faced with a particularly zealous opponent I would whip out the SLR card. No one could ever argue that the Mclaren-Mercedes SLR isn’t more beautiful and impressive than any BMW in existence. Nine arguments out of ten I would be victorious. The unfortunate person who had the courage to try and tell me that BMW or Audi were better than Mercedes would be left with tears in their eyes and a 3-pointed star imprint on their pride. However, that was not always the case. My resolute defence of the Benz brand had a gaping hole in it that I would pray my opponent would not pick up on. That hole, that weak link, that Achilles heel…was the A-Class.
The A-Class has long been the skid-mark on the pristine white pants of Mercedes-Benz. Looking like the bizarre combination of a doorstop and a half-eaten loaf of bread, it is the car that does not get invited to the beauty contests. Other cars shun it in the car park for fear of becoming ugly by association. I wouldn’t be surprised if it has never been invited to a birthday party. One can compare the A-Class to the Hunchback of Notredame except that unlike Quasimodo, he will never save the day or get the girl. When I pull up at a traffic light next to an A-Class I give the unfortunate driver a look of pity because if they aren’t blind then they must be part of some hideous nightmare where they are forced by an evil villain to drive around all day in the A-Class, a fate worse than eternal damnation. If my opponent in the BMW/Mercedes argument brought up the A-Class I would simply turn around and walk away, unable to face the shame of trying to defend it. I would be unable to show my face in public for at least 5 minutes as the tears subsided and I regained the confidence to face the world. Thankfully, that is about to change.
Somebody at Mercedes finally developed some sense. Either that or they have only just realised that they have unwittingly been manufacturing and selling the grotesque A-Class for the last 5 years when it was clearly only meant to be a prank played by the design team on the first of April. Whatever the reason, Quasimodo of the car world shall be with us no more. He is being replaced by Cameron Diaz. Yes, it’s true, the A-Class has become beautiful and cool. In a dramatic redesign, clearly aimed at eating into the dominance of the compact car market by the BMW 1-series, the new A-Class looks up to the task. It is sleek and graceful with curves that will make a man’s jaw drop as it passes by. The front end is styled in the fashion of the iconic SLS, a sight that has been known to cause grown women wet their pants. No longer will I look at the driver of this car with pity. My face will now be a mix of admiration and jealousy as I picture myself behind the wheel, with the backseat taken up by the beautiful women who will inevitably be drawn to the grace and good looks of the car (if not the driver). I am truly happy that Mercedes have fixed this slight on their historic mark. The A has finally found some class.
Why do we love it? That was the question I asked in an article written on Thursday. Today’s race in Valencia provided a categorical answer to that question. I am going to shift from protocol in this article which would normally feature a review of the day’s racing. No matter how eloquently I write, I simply could not do the justice to the spectacle we witnessed in Valencia today. If you were unfortunate enough to miss out on the Valencia Grand Prix I strongly suggest that you find out when it is being replayed on your TV and ensure that you watch it. If that is not possible you will have to wait until the DVD is released, or the feature-film appears on the silver screen, as it undoubtedly will.
Today we were treated to a day of racing that has never before been seen in Valencia. This has been the theme of the 2012 season, everything that we thought we could count on in Formula 1; the dominance of Redbull, the lack of overtaking on street circuits, the largely predictable race outcomes and the monotony of the European Grand Prix in Valencia, has been turned upside down. We have had 7 different winners in 8 races, with the first double victor coming in Valencia today. We have seen the Championship lead change hands more frequently than a dollar bill. We have seen the return of Kimi Raikkonen to Formula 1 racing and Michael Schumacher’s long-awaited return to the podium. Caterham have demonstrated their ability to fight it out amongst the midfield teams and Vettel proved in Valencia today that without reliability, having the fastest car on the circuit means nothing at all.
The next time I get asked why I am so passionate about Formula 1 I will invite them over to my flat for an afternoon and play them a recording of this year’s Valencia Grand Prix. It will be impossible for them to say with any conviction, after watching this race, that Formula 1 is boring. Even the most stubborn of my friends will be hard pressed to point out more than 20 minutes of today’s race that did not have us perched on the edges of our seats, holding our breath during the attempted overtakes, revelling in the successful ones and grimacing at the not-so-successful. There will undoubtedly be some new converts who, after seeing today’s race, will find themselves tuning-in to the race in Silverstone on the 8th of July full of anticipation for another rip-roarer!
The 2012 Valencia Grand Prix will surely be nominated for an Academy Award in 2013. A better story could not have been scripted by a Hollywood screenwriter. The race was full of intrigue and action. There were heroes and villains worthy of a tear-jerking, Oscar winning drama. Even after the chequered flag fell on Alonso’s emotional victory, the narrative continued to play out. Rumours circulated of podium finishers losing their spots and post-race penalties were dished out to the day’s antagonists. Valencia, uncharacteristically, served up 57 laps of wall-to-wall action. There were tears and there were cheers, there were thrills and spills and one extremely happy Spaniard savouring the glory of winning a home Grand Prix. If you needed a reason to reaffirm your passion for F1 then you need not look any further than Valencia 2012. This is why we love F1…!