Archive for the 'Formula One News' Category

24/8/97 ….. Schumacher wins Belgian GP

Spa 1997 (f1-facts.com)

Thirteen years ago today …… Michael Schumacher scored his 26th victory at the 1997 Belgian Grand Prix. The racetrack was virtually flooded before the start of the race, and therefore it was too dangerous for a normal “standing start”. For the first time in F1 history, the race was started behind the safety car. Jacques Villeneuve was in pole position, followed by Jean Alesi in the Benetton, and Schumacher in third.

The cars followed the safety car for a number of laps, until the track’s condition had improved. Twenty-two cars and a safety car cleared the track surface of excess water quickly. Michael Schumacher quickly demonstrated that he was the “Rain Master”, passing Alesi into La Source with a very brave move. Schumacher caught and passed Villeneuve easily, and left his competitors for dead. Jacques was never a brilliant performer in the wet, and the Williams FW19 wasn’t a dominant force in those conditions.

Schumacher crossed the line 26 seconds ahead of second-place man Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan Peugeot). Michael would go on to challenge Villenueve for the Championship. It all ended in tears, as Schumacher would collide with the Canadian during the final round at Jerez, and was excluded from the entire Championship!

Danica Patrick – F1 Material?

In recent months, several F1 figures have expressed their surprise that Danica Patrick still hasn’t made it into F1. They point to her driving skills and her marketability. Bernie Ecclestone recently said:

“Regarding an American driver, we have tried that lately but obviously what’s missing is the right attitude. You can race successfully in the US without the huge effort you need to succeed in F1, but to have someone like Danica Patrick in F1 would be a perfect advert.”

(www.formula1.com)

Peter Windsor, the famous toaster manufacturer and ex-USF1 boss also supports Danica:

Why did no-one sign Danica Patrick a few years back? It’s beyond me. She’s probably the best female single-seater driver in the history of the sport, she’s attractive, she works hard – and yet no-one in F1 seemed to take her seriously. If BMW had raced Robert Kubica and Danica for the last few years, would they have been any less successful? For sure they would have sold more cars in the States…but that’s assuming America is still important to the F1 corporates. I assume it is, but you should never take anything for granted in F1 these days…

(GPWeek)

Although Patrick has the support of several F1-related figures, there is a question mark over her suitability. There is no doubting her ability to attract sponsors and new viewers to F1, but is that all a driver needs? I have been keeping an eye on her IRL performances this year, and I have noticed her lack of pace on non-ovals. Her performance at Mid Ohio was below-par, where she finished last. Danica’s performance at Sonoma (22/8/10) wasn’t significantly better … she finished 16th! The race commentators for yesterday’s race noted that she will be relieved there are no more “road courses” left on the 2010 calendar! F1 drivers must be able to drive at a very high level, on the most technical circuits in the World. Just look at most of Herman Tilke’s circuit designs: Sepang, Bahrain, China … they are technical tracks to drive, and I personally doubt that Danica has the ability to drive at the very highest level on these circuits. If she can’t handle Sonoma .. there is no way she could handle an F1 track.

I believe that Danica Patrick is a very skilled driver, but there are tens of thousands of skilled racing drivers out there! Attracting sponsors is one thing, but delivering the goods is another matter altogether! Just look at Peter Windsor and his USF1 team ……

Oh Dear ...

The Safety Car Issue

Sunday’s Monaco GP was a reasonably exciting race, but not a thriller by any stretch of the imagination. Mark Webber drove a strong race to beat his teammate yet again. Sebastian will not be pleased with this, and I’m sure we will see a resurgent Vettel for the rest of the season! Mark has added his name to the list of greats who have triumphed around the Principality. Victory in Monaco will probably be the highlight of his season, if not his career, and something that the Australian can be proud of.

Unfortunately, the race will be remembered for two quite ridiculous events. The first one was Jarno Trulli’s collision with Karun Chandok. I have never watched a crash live onboard before … Jarno’s car literally chopped the T-cam off Chandok’s car! The wrecked cars partially blocked the track at the Rascasse corner, leading to the fourth safety car of the race. The safety car stayed out until the end of lap 78, after which it pulled into the pits, and the green flags/lights were shown … surely the cars were under racing conditions? Think again. Apparently, the green flags didn’t mean “all clear”, but Michael Schumacher interpreted it that way, and overtook Fernando Alonso into the very last corner. Michael would later be demoted to 12th position, as a direct result of the overtaking move. To be honest it was ridiculous! How can the marshalls wave green flags, and the green lights be shown WITHOUT the track being “all clear”? The rules as they stand are confusing and even contradictory. Green flags mean all clear! The F1 rules should be changed to the ones similar to IndyCar i.e. full course yellows. That way there would have been no misunderstanding, and no controversy.

Malaysian Grand Prix 2010

Photo by Nik Aizu
Vettel celebrates his victory! (Photo by Nik Aizu)

Yesterday’s Malaysian Grand Prix was more entertaining than the doom-mongers were predicting. There wasn’t a drop of rain during the event, but there were some close battles, incidents, and drama. Here are some memorable points:

* Vettel overtaking his team-mate to take the lead into turn one
* The Virgin and Lotus cars fought battles on more than one occasion
* The Toro Rosso drivers impressed me with their racecraft
* Hamilton vs Petrov. A very good battle .. quite dramatic!
* Alonso passing Button into the first corner, and then retiring with a blown engine!

It was nice seeing Vettel winning his first race of the season, especially after what happened seven days beforehand! Hamilton drove a strong race to finish sixth, though I felt his tactics against Petrov were a little aggressive! The McLaren’s F-Duct “stalls” the rear wing, reducing drag and improving the straight line speed of the car! Expect to see these devices on other cars before mid-season.

I rate the race a solid 7/10! More pictures will follow in the next few days!

14/03/93 – South African GP

Ok, this one is a couple of days late, but the 1993 South African Grand Prix was seventeen years ago!

In 1993 in-race refuelling was banned, and the cars were limited to 190 litres of fuel for the entire race.

Kyalama 1993 was exciting, but not a classic by any standards … similar to the 2010 Bahrain GP! Alain Prost won the race.

What’s All The Fuss About?

Everyone was excited about the 2010 F1 Season, and with good reason. With four champions on the grid, the return of Michael Schumacher, Mercedes and Lotus …. the prospects are great! However, the first round at Bahrain provided a fairly average spectacle, with a the occasional overtaking manoeuvre, but nothing out of the ordinary. The F1 world immediately started to react, saying that the “show” needs to improve, but I’m aghast at people’s reaction! Sure, the race wasn’t a classic by any length of the imagination, but you would think F1 was on the brink of collapse as a result of ONE race! Bernie Ecclestone has even waded into the discussion, saying that the race wasn’t all that bad.

The 2010 F1 rules have prohibited in-race refuelling, so we are in a similar situation to 1984 – 1993. Throughout that decade there were quiet races, and limited overtaking during some Grand Prix. Nobody really complained. In fact, the period gave us some of the best racing in F1 history. Here are just a few of the best battles:

Piquet vs Senna at Hungary ’86
Mansell vs Piquet in ’87
Senna vs Prost at Estoril 1988
Prost vs Senna at Suzuka 1988
Suzuka 1989

This season will turn out to be a good one. It just requires a little patience! The fuel strategies may be gone, but we will see some incredible action later in the season … you mark my words!

10/03/1991: Senna won US Grand Prix

By Stu Seeger

On 10th of March 1991 Ayrton Senna won the United States Grand Prix.

The McLaren MP4/6 had only been completed a few weeks before the first race, but McLaren did a fantastic effort with the car, and its reliability was solid for the entire season. Williams were using the FW14, which featured a semi-automatic gearbox, and Mansell had rejoined the team from Ferrari. Ferrari started the season with the 642, which was based on the successful 1990 chassis. Jordan made their debut at this race, with the beautiful 191 car:

Picture by Stu Seeger

Onto the race itself:

At the start, Senna and Prost maintained their places while Mansell sliced ahead of Patrese and Piquet lost out to Alesi and Berger. The order at the end of lap 1 was: Senna, Prost, Mansell, Patrese, Alesi and Berger.

Early on, as Senna was pulling away from Prost, Alesi got past Patrese for fourth. However, Patrese repassed him on lap 16 and closed up on Mansell. He attacked on lap 22 but shot into an escape road and rejoined behind Alesi and Berger. He quickly closed up on them with Berger attacking Alesi but unable to pass. Patrese passed Berger on lap 34. On the next lap, Mansell’s gearbox failed and soon afterwards, on lap 36, Berger had fuel pump trouble, which forced him to retire. Patrese then passed Alesi who pitted on lap 43. He closed in on Prost and the Ferrari pitted on lap 46, with right rear troubles putting him down to seventh.

Patrese didn’t last longer, his gearbox failing and then the stationary car was hit by Roberto Moreno, forcing both of them out. Piquet, who did not stop, was passed by Alesi for second with Prost taking fourth off Stefano Modena soon after. Alesi was having gearbox troubles and was holding back Piquet as Prost began to attack both of them. On lap 70, Piquet passed Alesi and Prost followed him through. Prost then shifted sides getting ahead of Piquet as well. Modena passed Alesi for fourth and Alesi soon retired with gearbox troubles. Unflustered by all this, Senna won from Prost, Piquet, Modena, Satoru Nakajima and Aguri Suzuki.

(From Wikipedia)

Senna would go on to win the first FOUR rounds of the 1991 Season, which was quite a feat in the early 1990s. F1 cars were considerably less reliable back then. It was common for a dozen cars to retire from the race, and sometimes more! This would be the final US Grand Prix at Phoenix, and the last US race until the 2000 USGP in Indianapolis!

Let’s hope that the upcoming season is as good as 1991!

The Great USF1 Farce

Thirteen months ago, Peter Windsor and Ken Anderson announced the creation of the USF1 team. Less than a week ago, the team was all but dead. The entire staff has been put on unpaid leave, Lopez has terminated his driver contract with the team, and the car will never see a racetrack. Some would argue that the economic climate had a significant effect on the team, as potential sponsors were fighting for survival, rather than spending millions on an “extravagance” such as Formula One. Others would argue that this project was doomed many months ago.

One of the biggest criticisms of USF1 has to be their lack of communication to fans and media alike, who need to see tangible evidence that the team is on target to run during testing sessions, or to participate in the first race. A few YouTube videos from USF1 appeared, but apart from that … absolutely nothing! Many of the team workers didn’t receive a wage during the final weeks, and, in my opinion, these people are the real victims of the USF1 fiasco. They will have worked tirelessly, for no financial or psychological benefit.

Another team who won’t compete in the 2010 Championship is StefanGP. If you have read about their financial position …. it is probably a good thing they won’t be participating! You need a little more than one paid member of staff and a few thousand euros to run F1 cars in a TEST session, let alone a Grand Prix!

McLaren Chief Predicts More Overtaking!

McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh believes that fans will see more overtaking this season, thanks to the refuelling ban:

Q: The main regulation change this year is the banning of refuelling. What impact will this have on the racing? Will it be better, or will it result in more processional races?

MW: Inevitably, when you make a change, there are pros and cons. Regarding the pros, it arguably makes qualifying purer because the fastest car/driver combination will be setting the fastest times, and the public can understand that. Secondly, in the race itself, overtaking was often being planned and implemented to occur as a consequence of strategy, and therefore happening in the pitlane and not the circuit. In the absence of that effect, drivers will have a greater incentive to overtake. There have been occasions in the past where a driver hasn’t had that incentive because he knows he will be running longer and can get past the car ahead strategically through the pitstops.

Additionally, the fact that drivers will qualify on low-fuel, and then the next time they drive the car in anger into the first corner will be after a standing start with cold tyres and cold brakes and 160kg of fuel. That will be very challenging for them, not just in terms of getting round that first corner, but in terms of how they look after their tyres and how the balance of the car will alter as a consequence of that. And there will be drivers who are able to deal with those changes better than others.

Those are all the positives. On the negative side, it’s possible that if all of the above is managed equally well by every driver, then we’ll have lost one of the strategic campaign interests that the more avid fans enjoyed in the sport. Hopefully the former points will outweigh the latter.

(Source: McLaren F1)

On a personal level, I am delighted to see the end of refuelling, and the race fuel load in Q3. I have lost count of the occasions when a refuelling rig became stuck, or wouldn’t attach to the car … and as for cars driving down the pit lane with the rig still attached ….
Image by ClickCluck
Image Source: ClickCluck

Formula One qualifying should be about outright speed, and the final sessions were an anti-climax, IMHO. You couldn’t be sure whether a lap time was genuinely fast or slow. It was particuarly difficult explaining the complex strategies and factors to casual viewers .. who make up the bulk of viewers! Most people (myself included) want qualifying to be about raw pace, and the race to be as transparent as possible. It was a lot easier to understand a race in 1993, compared to 1994, when refuelling was re-introduced! The simplification of F1 races is not a case of “dumbing down”. Between 1984 and 1993, F1 fans witnessed some of the finest talent and action ever, and refuelling was banned!

Here’s to an exciting and straightforward 2010 ….

López to join USF1 imminently

Photo by Sebastian Rodriguez

  • USF1 is on the verge of announcing José María López as one of their new drivers. López will be the first Argentinian driver since 1998, when Esteban Tuero drove for Minardi. Tuero wasn’t highly regarded in F1. His final race was marred by a crash that influenced the outcome of the 1998 World Drivers’ Championship!.