Archive for the ‘Motorsport’ Category
This weekend’s European Grand Prix will see a couple of new faces on the grid. The elimination of Filippe Massa and Nelson Piquet junior has led Ferrari and Renault to field their substitutes. But who are these figures who have recently stepped out of the shadow?
Meet Luca Badoer, Test driver for Ferrari, now acting second driver. Born in Italy in 1971, he started out, like most, in Karting before working his way up through to Formula 3, where he beat Alex Zanardi in the final round of the F3 world championship. He had an even better run in 1991, winning four races in a row.
He finally made his Formula 1 debut in 1993 with the less than competitive BMS Scuderia Italia. While he handled the car very well getting a good lap was like getting blood out of a stone. When his team merged with the Minardi team he found himself squeezed out of a drive. He did, however, retain a job as a test driver, which was better than nothing.
In 1996 he moved to the Forti Corse team, another underfunded Italian outfit. Sadly this car also had the pace of an asthmatic Ant with some heavy shopping. Formula 1 was less than kind to Luca, and he felt it was time for a change.
He found a new lease of driving life in the new FIA GT Championship, driving the racy Lotus Exige. Now this car really did kick ass and he soon moved up the grid. Sensibly, he kept his hand in Formula 1, carrying out tests for Minardi and Ferrari. Soon his devotion to his craft saw him recieve an offer as a full-time test driver for Ferrari.
He had not been there long when Michael Schumacher broke his leg at the British Grand Prix. Oh, how we laughed. As test driver, Luca would have expected to be promoted to second driver, with Eddie Ervine taking the lead. However Ferrari chose Mika Salo instead, much to Luca’s understandable annoyance.
In 1999 he returned to F1 proper as a racer for Minardi for the one season. If F1 had been unkind to him so far, this season proved to be downright cruel. He completed 48 Grand prix without scoring a single point, imagine the frustration. Then double it at the European Grand Prix. He had made a strong drive, he fought his way up to fourth place in his rickety Minardi. He had just thirteen laps to go when his gearbox failed. The heartbroken Luca was seen sitting on the side of the track, actually weeping.
After that he could not find a half decent car so he stuck to testing for Ferrari. At least the bloody thing would start. But now, finally, at last, Ferrari’s Cinderella will go to the F1 ball. He will stand in for Fillipe Massa for the rest of the season.
Meanwhile in Enstone, Oxfordshire, Romain Grosjean is clocking on as Renault’s new second driver. Romain was born in Geneva hand hold duel Swiss-French nationality. He made a hell of a start to his career by winning the first ten rounds of the Formula Renault 1.6 championship. Just to prove it wasn’t a fluke he joined the French Formula Renault and made the podium in Valencia.
He had one season in Formula 3 Euroseries and then made once race at Pau in the British Formula 3 championship. He made the fastest lap on both, started on pole on both races and won both races. Game, set and match to Romain. From there he stepped up to ASM Formula 3. He made good headway before losing ground to Sebastian Buemi. He later regained the lead and won the title for the 2007 season.
But it was at ART GP that he really blossomed. He won the inaugeral GP2 Asia with 61 points. However his luck ran out when Nicolas Hulkenberg joined the team, turfing him onto the street. Fortunately Renault placed him in Campos Grand Prix as a test driver. (Campos will be joining F1 next year. Interesting, that. Wonder if they have picked their driver yet?)
Renault needed a new test driver when Nelson Piquet Jr. graduated to second driver. Where he promptly achieve the square root of jack all. Nelson was turfed out on the street earlier this month leaving a position open for a second driver. Curtain call, Mr Grosjean. Grab your gear, mon amais, you’re up next.
Now this little beauty is the former wheels of the Maharaja of Rajkot. Please take a minute to gaze lovingly. Bling? Puff Diddy or whatever he calls himself these days doesn’t know the meaning of the word.
This bespoke Rolls Royce Phantom II was part of a private collection and it is now up for auction. It is the property of Hans Gunther Zachs, who recently decided to sell his entire collection of vintage Rolls Royces.
Let’s get acquainted. Roll VT, Bob.
It is expected to be auctioned off for sixty million euro, minimum. But who has that money to spare these days? Rumour has it the bidder will include cartels from Asia, African despots, and Middle Eastern Sheiks.
To see the rest of this fantastic collection check out this link:
Many thanks to the Daily Telegraph
The Renault F1 team have successfully overturned their one-race suspension after an appeal to the FIA.
This is good news for Fernando Alonso, the Spanish two-time world champion who will not miss his home race.
The suspension came after Fernando Alonso was released from the pits in Hungary with one wheel not completely attached. Ironically he would have suffered the most for something he had the least involvement in.
But nonetheless they are back on the road and ready to race in Valencia this weekend.
Michael Schumacher’s much anticipated return to Formula 1 was sensationally cancelled today when he released the following statement:
“Yesterday evening, I had to inform Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo and Team Principal Stefano Domenicali that unfortunately I’m not able to step in for Felipe. I really tried everything to make that temporary comeback possible, however, much to my regret it didn’t work out. Unfortunately we did not manage to get a grip on the pain in the neck which occurred after the private F1-day in Mugello, even if medically or therapeutically we tried everything possible.
The consequences of the injuries caused by the bike-accident in February, fractures in the area of head and neck, unfortunately have turned out to be still too severe. That is why my neck cannot stand the extreme stresses caused by Formula 1 yet. This are the clear results of the examinations we did on the course of the past two weeks and the final examination yesterday afternoon. As there were no improvements after the day in Mugello, I decided at short notice on Sunday to do that thorough examination already yesterday.
I am disappointed to the core. I am awfully sorry for the guys of Ferrari and for all the fans which crossed fingers for me. I can only repeat that I tried everything that was within my power. All I can do now is to keep my fingers crossed for the whole team for the coming races.”
So with Michael out of the frame that leaves only the two test drivers at Ferrari Luca Baoder and Mark Gene to fill the places. An outside possibility is Fernando Alonso who’s team is banned from racing for one round. Alonso is due to drive for Ferrari in 2010.
Now we are officially in the mid season break our attention turns to the off season intregue that often dominates the Formula 1 world.
Firstly it was announced today that the Renault driver, Nelson Piquet Junior, had been sacked by Renault. This can hardly have come as a surprise, Nelson’s career in Formula 1 has hardly been covered in glory. In the 2008 season he gained a mere 19 points. In the current season he had produced nil pois. Nada, nothing, nowt, sweet F.A.
Nelson is naturally bitterly dissappointed and released a statement to that fact:
I have received notice from the Renault F1 team of its intention to stop me from driving for them in the current F1 season. I want to say thanks to the small group who supported me and that I worked together at Renault F1, although it is obviously with great disappointment that I receive such news.
The path to F1 was always going to be tricky, and my father and I therefore signed a management contract with Flavio Briatore, who we believed was an excellent option with all the necessary contacts and management skills.
I spent one year as a test driver, where I only did a handful of tests, and the next year started as a race driver with Renault. After the opening part of the season, some strange situations began to happen. As a beginner in F1, I could only expect from my team a lot of support and preparation to help me in getting up to the task. Instead, I was relegated as “someone who drives the other car” with no attention at all.
There is no doubt in my mind that F1 is a dog-eat-dog world of the highest order. The team owners club is better known as the Piranha tank. There is no room for underachievers, show-boaters or the politically naive. It is not a team sport like Football or Rugby. The guy in the same colour as you isn’t your friend, he is likely going to be your biggest rival. Look no further than Senna and Prost, or Hamilton and Alonso in 2007.
Meanwhile also in F1 it has been confirmed that a new Concorde Agreement has been signed, the details of which are yet to be released. It is rumoured to concede most of the teams demands, the main one being the removal of Max Mosley as FIA President at the end of his term in office. It will run until 31 December 2012.
It was revealed today that the seven time world champion, Michael Schumacher, is to return to F1 for the remainder of the 2009 season.
Holy shit, could this season have any more twists and turns? When was the last time F1 was this interesting? Anyway the other good news is that Filippe Massa is making steady progress, he can see out of his damaged eye. With a little surgery he should be back by next season.
So in Valencia we will have Lewis Hamilton, making his big title-defence, Jenson Button trying to hold on to his lead, Sebastian Vettel biting his heels like Scrappy Doo and Mark Webber biting his. Not only that we have the FIA-FOTA war slowly reaching an uneasy peace and three new teams waiting in the wings.
Bring on Valencia now! Oh this is going to be good…..
You may remember this guy, young, gifted and black. And until this weekend having a pretty bad season. It wasn’t that anything dramatic had happened, compared to last year. It was just a case of his car being hugely uncompetitive.
It wasn’t really a shock. The record fine that the McLaren team incurred in 2007, coupled with the recession, meant research was limited. The new car took some getting to grips with, it had terrible understeer.
But throughout the season McLaren have been studying the telemetry from the races, adding bits here, taking bits off. They made the smallest adjustments and had the test drivers working overtime. And finally it paid off.
Lewis had a little bit of luck as well, Renault’s Fernando Alonso lost a wheel after a pit stop, taking him out of the race.
And so it was that Lewis powered his way back to the podium, much to the squealing delight of his Pussycat Doll girlfriend. Could he yet retain his title? Difficult to say but I am sure the final race will be another cliffhanger.
Away from the track Renault was shocked to find itself banned for one race. This was due to the flying wheel incident. This punishment may seem harsh but let us not forget the recent death of Henry Surtees, and that of a marshal several years ago. Both were the result of heavy wheels flying towards them at speed.
This is a safety issue that clearly needs a lot more looking at.
Felippe Massa is still in an induced coma, and his family and friends are at his bedside. His condition remains serious but stable. The spring penetrated his helmet and fractured his skull. He was lucky it never penetrated his eye, it would have been instant death.
The next race is the European Grand Prix in Valencia, and there is some speculation that Fernando Alonso may fill the vacent seat at Ferrari. F1 needs his to race in Spain again for PR purposes. Ferrari needs his to try out his car for next year. Everyone wins. But I am sure the FIA will manage to stick their oar in somewhere.
So here are the results in full:
1. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 2. Raikkonen Ferrari 3. Webber Red Bull-Renault 4. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 5. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 6. Glock Toyota 7. Button Brawn-Mercedes 8. Trulli Toyota 9. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 10. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 11. Heidfeld BMW Sauber 12. Piquet Renault 13. Kubica BMW Sauber 14. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 15. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 16. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari
Less than a week since Henry Surtee’s tragic death, the world of Motor sports was shocked by another freak collision. Filippe Massa was hit by a spring that fell off the back of Rubens Barrachello’s Brawn.
It caught him on the side of the helmet and penetrated, causing Massa to lost conciousness. He did recover just enough to brake and even downgear as he careened into a barrier.
The full incident can be viewed here:
Filippe Massa was rushed to hospital and doctors performed emergency surgery, the details of which have not yet emerged. We do know the surgery was successful and Massa is now stable. Needless to say he will not be competing tomorrow.
This came as a tremendous shock coming, as it does, so soon after Henry Surtees’ accident. Mr Surtees was taking a corner while ahead of him Jack Clarke hit a barrier. Clarke’s rear wheel flew up in the air and landed straight down on Mr Surtees head, knocking him unconcious and causing massive trauma to the skull.
Accidents aside, Fernando Alonso finally saw a break in the clouds for Renault and took their first pole position for the team since 2006. Lewis Hamilton, too, made better progress and starts on forth position.
But he will start the race with a Red Bull car in each wing mirror, as Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber took third.
So here are the results in full:
1. Alonso Renault 2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 3. Webber Red Bull-Renault 4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 5. Rosberg Williams-Toyota 6. Kovalainen McLaren-Mercedes 7. Raikkonen Ferrari 8. Button Brawn-Mercedes 9. Nakajima Williams-Toyota 10. Massa Ferrari 11. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 12. Trulli Toyota 13. Barrichello Brawn-Mercedes 14. Glock Toyota 15. Piquet Renault 16. Heidfeld BMW-Sauber 17. Fisichella Force India-Mercedes 18. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 19. Kubica BMW-Sauber 20. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari
The fledgling Motorsport, Formula 2, claimed the life today of racer Henry Surtees, 18.
He was running in 20th position when disaster struck ahead of him. Jack Clarke had hit a wall, causing his car to disintegrate. As it did so one of his wheels flew high and struck Mr Surtees on the top of his head. As his car consequently hit the barrier we could see his hands were not on the wheel.
The accident took place at Brands Hatch, and Mr Surtees was treated at it’s medical centre. Once stabilized he was flown to the Royal London Hospital, from where he was later pronounced dead.
The HANS system was developed to protect the neck in the case of impact. It can protect the neck from compression but it is little use in the case of impact to the skull. Mr Surtees crash helmet will be examined, but it was never designed to withstand the impact of a heavy wheel falling on it from a great height.
Formula Two Chief Executive, Jonathan Palmer, issed this statement as Henry was flown to hospital but before it was known he had died.
“I would like to express my great sadness that Henry has been injured today. An accident like this would obviously raise high levels of concern and we await further news on Henry’s condition from the hospital. This is clearly a very worrying time for John and Jane Surtees. Our thoughts are with them and we will be providing all the support we can.”
Henry Surtees was a man struck down just as his career was taking off. The son of former F1 champion John Surtees, he had started out racing carts on minor tracks. He won the junior Gearbox championship in 2005 before moving on to cars proper. His first race was in the Ginetta Junior series before moving up to FormulaBMW, where he delivered some success. From there he took a brief two-race stint in Formula Renault before moving up to the maiden series of Formula Two. Only yesterday he scored a podium finish in third place.
Formula 2 is managed by Motor Sports Vision and the cars are manufactured by Williams F1. They are an accredited member of the FIA.
I would lke to take this opportunity to pass on my sincerest condolences to Mr Surtees’ family.
Well the Aussie finally did it. All those years chipping away with Minardi, Jaguar, Williams and finally Red Bull paid off and we have an Antipodean on the podium for the first time since Alan Jones 25 years ago.
It wasn’t an easy race, however. He had to endure a drive-though penalty after the race turned into a hard-fought slugging match. He moved towards Barrichello, slightly off the racing line, and the hawkeyed stewards were soon on his case.
Lewis Hamilton got off to a good start, at one point three-abreast with Barrichello, then it started to go wrong. However during an earlier tussle with Mark Webber a piece of metal had penetrated his rear tyre, and he was forced to make an unscheduled trip to the pits.
Meanwhile Massa and Koveleinen used their KERS system to jump forward from fifth to third. Some teams don’t rate KERS, but Koveleinen seems to have it down to a tee.
After all that Webber had a pretty unremarkable race and he kept the lead of several seconds right up until the end. Good on you Mark. Bonzer!
Meanwhile, several hundred miles away.. Myself and my good lady had a guided tour of Silverstone, and on a race day to boot.
The tour started with the guide, a professional racer called Robin giving a little exclusive into the row over who will host the British Grand Prix next year. He reckoned Donnington Park will never get the British Grand Prix. This is because no helicopter can fly on the day due to being directly in the flight path of East Midlands airport. Helicopters are used for TV cameras, but also crucially, for Casualty evacuation. Furthermore race go-ers would have to be bussed in from twenty miles away (they reckon).
The real reason the Grand Prix would leave Silverstone simply came down to money, At present it takes £18 million to host the British Grand Prix. Bernie wanted to crank it up to £22 million. Silverstone didn’t have that kind of money and always lost money on a race day, clawing it back throughout the following year. If they get the Moto GP instead, they can pack the place with Bikers and make twice the cover charge on the door. So it is with leverage that Silverstone goes about it’s war against Bernie and Max.
The tour started in a little reception area before quickly moving on to the Grand Prix Driver’s Club. This was a decent sized club-house very similar to Golf and Country clubs I have worked at. The ground floor had a bar and several cabaret tables. It also had cabinets full of model cars and several brilliant watercolour paintings on the walls.
From there we had a look from the viewing platform on the roof. We had a splendid view of the Classic M.G.s roaring their way around the racetrack.
They then gave us a view of the Steward’s offices. They had a command centre that looks like something out of NASA. It has twenty odd camera monitors and everything is recorded on to a hard drive in case of accidents.
The final part of the tour took us into the garages where they kept their racing Lotuses and Porsches. Naturally we all wanted a go, there and then, they looked brilliant. Also there was a Stewart Grand Prix car in mint condition.
After that we had a tour around the peripheral track. Silverstone was a World War Two airbase, but what is less well known is that it once had an Abbey. However the soldiers of Henry VIII burnt and pillaged it during the reformation and it had lain waste ever since. Ghostly monks have been said to walk the grounds.
In all we had a brilliant tour, and at £25 it wasn’t at all expensive. I recommend it as a present for any racing fan.