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Formula One at Bathurst

March 25th, 2011 No comments

Two years ago I wondered what it would be like to see Formula One cars lapping the Mount Panorama circuit at Bathurst so I was happy to see McLaren take their championship winning MP4-23 to the Mountain as a promotional exercise with Vodafone.

The official lap record set by a V8 Falcon is 2:08.4651. Jenson button took the McLaren around in about 1:48.

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Happy birthday Monaco

May 21st, 2010 No comments

Sixty years ago today was the first Monaco Grand Prix of the new Formula One World Championship.

It wasn’t actually the first Monaco Grand Prix ever. That was in 1929 and it was won by British spy/racing driver William Grover-Williams but in 1950 Juan Manuel Fangio won his first race of his career in Monte Carlo.

As he tells Jake Humphrey in this great BBC interview, Sir Stirling Moss, the first British winner of the Monaco Grand Prix, considers Fangio the greatest ever Formula One driver. It’s easy to see why. Fangio would later go on to win 5 world championships, a record only surpassed by Michael Schumacher 46 years later.

This picture of Fangio racing his Maserati 250F around the streets of Monte Carlo is not a photograph. It is an airbrush painting by Italian artist Alberto Ponno. Ponno’s incredibly details paintings are the result of months of work all done freehand and without any masking.

Here are a few more Monaco examples of  of his amazing work. Visit his website to see the rest of his paintings.

Categories: Circuits Tags: , , ,

Should Formula One be going to Abu Dhabi?

May 4th, 2009 No comments

Yas Marina HotelFor the first time, the final race of the 2009 Formula One World Championship will be held at the new Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi.  Despite rumours that the circuit will not be ready for the inaugural race in November, the circuit’s developers are confident everything is going according to schedule.

But should Formula One even be going to Abu Dhabi?

A report in the Observer on Sunday claims the US has videos of a member of the Abu Dahbi royal family torturing at least 25 people.  Sheikh Issa bin Zayed Al Nayhan is the son of the late United Arab Emirates President Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and the brother of the present ruler of Abu Dhabi.

A video shown on ABC News shows the prince, with the help of a man in police uniform, torturing Mohammed Sha Poor, an Afghan grain merchant.  In the video, the prince beats the man with a wooden plank with nails in it, sets him on fire and attacks him with a cattle prod before running him over several times in his Mercedes SUV.

The UAE Ministry of the Interior said it had reviewed the tape and in a statement said:

The incidents depicted in the video tapes were not part of a pattern of behavior.  All rules, policies and procedures were followed correctly by the Police Department.

WTF?

It turns out the Minister of the Interior is also a sibling of Sheikh Issa.

The new Yas Marina circuit looks like it could be pretty spectacular but it calls into question Bernie Ecclestone’s strategy of selling Formula One to the highest bidder.  The UAE might have lots of money but they have few Formula One fans and some serious human rights issues.

Categories: Circuits Tags:

More hills = more fun

February 25th, 2009 No comments

Ricardo Zonta launching the TF106 through the corkscrewPeter Wahl, a partner of Hermann Tilke, has said that the changes being made to Donnington will make the track demanding and exciting with more opportunities for overtaking.

The Donnington Park grand prix circuit is undergoing a major upgrade to bring it up to Formula One standard before it takes over the British Grand Prix from Silverstone in 2010.  The last Formula One race at the circuit was in 1993 when Ayrton Senna won the European Grand Prix in spectacular fashion by lapping the entire field except for one car and finishing over a minute ahead of Damon Hill in second place.

According to Peter Wahl the modifications to the circuit will introduce a hilly new infield loop:

There is the new piece on the circuit infield, and that will be demanding and exciting.  It goes downhill steeply and into a left-hander – the drivers will feel the high pressure there, and then they will have to accelerate back uphill.

I’m starting to look forward to Donnington.  I don’t think there have been enough hills on the new circuits introduced to Formula One recently.  When you think about the great circuits of the world, the ones the drivers and fans love, a lot of them have quite significant changes in elevation; Spa, Laguna Seca, Bathurst and Monte Carlo all have hilly bits and the new Circuito Potrero de los Funes in San Luis, Argentina looks spectacular.

I know there are limits to the elevation a Formula One car can handle and we’re unlikely to see a McLaren screaming round Mount Panorama or a Ferrari lapping an Argentinian volcanic lake but in 2006 Ricardo Zonta broke the lap record at Laguna Seca in a Toyota TF106.  Wouldn’t it be great to see a US Grand Prix there if F1 ever returns to North America?

And for those of you who aren’t familiar with the Bathurst circuit (technically a street circuit), here’s Peter Brock flying round the Mountain in 1991.

Categories: Circuits Tags: , , ,

All your Suzuka are belong to us

February 20th, 2009 No comments

SuzukaLike a lot of F1 fans I was sorry to see Suzuka dropped from the Formula One calendar in 2007 in favour of Toyota’s Fuji Speedway.  With its unique figure 8 layout and demanding corners, Suzuka is one of the great circuits of the world.  It’s right up there with Spa as one of the fans’ and drivers’ favourite tracks.

Thankfully, the Japanese Grand Prix returns to Suzuka this year.  In a statement outlining its 2009 automobile motor sports activities Honda, who own Suzuka, said:

Full-scale renovation work will soon be completed.  As the opening event on April 12, the Circuit will be hosting the Start Suzuka Opening Thanks Day – F1 Kick-off Party. And after a break of two years, the Grand Prix of Japan, Round 15 of the Formula One World Championship, will be held, October 2-4.

“The Start Suzuka Opening Thanks Day – F1 Kick-off Party”.  What a great piece of Engrish!  It sounded like so much fun I went to the Suzuka website to see what I could find out.  There wasn’t anything there about the F1 Kick-Off Party but it sure made interesting reading.

In June 2006 Suzuka Circuitland Co. Ltd. merged with Twin Ring Motegi Co. Ltd to form Mobilityland Corporation.  According to the website:

Uniting the two enterprises of Suzuka Circuit, which has contributed to the spread of motorsports in Japan, and Twin Ring Motegi, which introduced to Japan the new mobility of American motorsports. By concentrating the power and know-how these two companies have accumulated, we hope to be a business providing joy, fun and excitement to the community through an ever richer mobility culture.

So it’s all about mobility, then.  Whatever that is.  Luckily the site has a definition:

People move because they have goals. Community begins when people move to another place and run into other people. Through these moves, they meet different kinds of people and learn about each other; it is there that new cultures and new values are born. We call such movement-related areas “mobility.” Pursue convenience, fun, and the value of mobility; have them take root in the lives of many people. This is what we call “mobility culture.” One of Mobilityland’s main missions is to promote a richer and safer mobility culture in society.

Right, well that clears that up, then.

I’ll leave you with a little old-skool Suzuka action and as you watch Ayrton Senna’s pole position lap of Suzuka in 1989 remember the Three Joys of the Basic Principles as described in the Mobilityland Philosophy:

  1. The Joy of Buying
  2. The Joy of Selling
  3. The Joy of Creating

Er.  Ok.

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