Category Archives: Formula 1

Formula One: Riccardo is no fan of the Interlagos circuit

RBR RIC

Infiniti Red Bull Racing’s Daniel Ricciardo offers his take on the Brazilian GP

So Daniel, Brazil up next, what’s the secret to a great lap of the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace?

Don’t ask me, I don’t know – I don’t think I’ve ever done one, so I’ve got no secrets! What I have learned is that you shouldn’t think ahead too much. You have to take it corner-by-corner and concentrate on the one you’re in. There’s not many that you string together. There’s not many corners full stop.

It’s not your favourite circuit is it?

What gave it away? No, Brazil’s a wonderful grand prix with a great atmosphere in an exciting city but the track doesn’t really do it for me. There’s just not a corner that gives you any real satisfaction. I don’t want to make it sound dull, because it isn’t, but like Russia, there isn’t a corner that makes you go Woooo-Hoooo! It needs a few more corners and something really high speed. There’s a couple that look good on paper but because of the cambers, you never really have the grip to go barrelling in. The crowd really gets your heart-rate up before the sessions, so you want to be really on it but instead have to be very patient.

What about the crowd, you must hear them at the start

Oh yeah. The start-finish straight is very narrow, so if your grid slot is on the outside, you’re about two metres away from the grandstand. You better hope they like you because if not you’re a pretty easy target when you’re pulling your helmet on! It’s a good time though. Lots of noise, lots of airhorns, trumpets, drums. Like Mexico, it’s the crowd you want for a grand prix. Brazilians are cool

How about away from the track, what do you do?

Food! Amazing restaurants. Last year we went to Restaurante Figueira Rubaiyat, with the fig tree growing through the middle of the dining room. That was pretty special. Sadly, it not being the season finale, I can’t really indulge – but I can watch other people

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Formula One: Opinion – Mexico’s Millions

Mexico

Last Sunday Formula One made its triumphant return to Mexico. For the first time in 23 years the ,albeit somewhat quieter, sounds of F1 machinery could be heard coming from the Autódromo Hermanos Rodríguez.  The reception the F1 circus received was nothing short of spectacular, with drivers, journalists, and fans questioning how the Mexican GP ever fell off the Formula One calendar in the first place.

The Mexican Grand Prix was a true success in every sense of the word, not only did the fans create a unique atmosphere, perhaps more importantly government and business supported the event. Jennie Gow in her blog for Grid 1 earlier today commented the Mexican GP should act as a reminder that passion is more important that the pound and that F1 should not forget its roots with the future of Silverstone & Monza’s place F1 calenders continually questioned. Whilst I whole hearty agree with the sentiment, for me possible more than the incredible atmosphere in Mexico what was significant about the race was the pound.

Not relying on its place in history organisers of the Mexican Grand Prix have invested hundreds of millions in upgrading not only the pit and paddock area, but also the circuit design itself. Taking into consideration both modern safety requirements and maximising fans views and engagement with the cars on track aiming to create a fan experience unique to the Mexican GP. The person that came up with the idea of placing the podium in the stadium section of the circuit ,rather than as is traditional position above the pitlane, deserves every accolade they receive. The track gave the feeling of having the everyday fan at the heart of every decision taken. This focus on the fan paid off. Sell-out crowds, lead to sold out merchandising, and food stalls, exactly what is needed to ensure a venue is profitable.

Capacity crowds resulted in FOM world feed broadcasts packed with carnival like images of fans all weekend, relying this message to the millions of viewers at home paid off. Social media was a light with comments around the venue jumping to the top of everyone’s ‘the next race I’m going to’ list. Something the savvy Mexican Tourism board will  no doubt capitalise on with the race becoming a stalwart of how the country is promoted. Beyond the circuit organisers, and the tourism board, Mexican business got behind the return of F1 to the country, half the teams on the grid sported additional Mexican sponsorship agreements for the race weekend.

None of this happened by chance. The Mexican Grand Prix did not return to the F1 calendar for sentimental value, it earned its place through making a sound business case. To the venue owner, the government and tourism board, to the local economy and to perhaps most importantly to businesses.

It was hugely refreshing to see such a dynamic and vibrant event and yes, again echoing Jennie Gow’s comments hopefully some of the ‘new territories’ can take some lessons in how to put on a show, but to me the real lesson should be to those traditional venues. European venues increasingly complain about an F1 event not being profitable, that increasing hosting fees cripple their finances. Perhaps the time has come to look at the product they offer as hosting fees increase their offering should evolve. Government and business don’t see the benefits of a home race because they haven’t been shown in a convincing way. Silverstone, Nürburgring should take the example of Mexico and show the county what F1 could do for them.

Retaining a place on the F1 calendar should not be a right, it should be earned. The Mexican Grand Prix serves to show when faced with that challenge the true classic venues are ready for that fight.

Formula One: Opinion – Indycar Engine for Red Bull Racing?

RBR

Last month I ran an opinion piece on my belief that Red Bull Racing will run an unbranded evolution of the current Renault engine under an Ilmor development programme. Whilst I maintain this is a possibility, the emergence of a client engine tender from the FIA presents another option.

The FIA have not publicly stated the intended specification of the client engine, but it has been mentioned on several occasions that the engine is likely to be a 2.2 litre twin turbo configuration. By coincidence this happens to be the same configuration of the current Indycar engine philosophy.

The existing Indycar engine weighs 114kg (compared to the minimum weight 145kg F1 engine) with power in the region of 650-700hbhp which would be 50-100 bhp less than the estimated F1 Power Units. Despite a power shortfall the Indycar engine has produced top speeds significantly higher than those seen from an F1 car, albeit racing on oval tracks.

With engine mapping developments to suit F1 track design and gearbox technology, the Indycar engine could pose a formidable threat to the F1 engine in the right car.

There are currently two engine manufacturers supplying engines to Indycar teams, these are Honda and Chevrolet. Whilst Honda produce their engine in house, the Chevrolet engine is developed and manufactured by Ilmor Engineering.

As mentioned in my earlier piece Mario Illien, Co-owner of Ilmor Engineering, has had extensive involvement with Red Bull Racing in proposing a development route for their current engine predicament.

Could it be that Red Bull though Ilmor have privately petitioned the FIA to introduce the existing Indycar engine specification into F1 under the banner of the client engine?

If this is an option the only real question is why the FIA would suggest a tender for 2017 and not 2016? There is an essentially off the shelf solution waiting ready to go. Could the threat of the client engine for 2016 be the weapon the FIA’s arsenal in the fight against engine manufacturers control of Formula One?

Could Red Bull Racing, possibly with the support of Bernie Ecclestone, have engineered this entire situation? Leaving  the  FIA with no real alternative than to allow the Ilmor design Indycar specification engine into F1 for 2016 or face losing two teams from the grid?

Another factor to consider with respect to the Client Engine possibility is that Indycar engine manufacturers supply teams with engines through a leasing model at a cost of less than $4 Million per car per season. This is a fraction of the cost of current F1 engine supply agreements. If a client engine programme could be introduced into F1 with the performance parity the Indycar engine specifications suggest, then engine could be hugely attractive to all non-manufacturer backed / owned  teams.

Finally, the Honda engine in Indycar is a  fast and reliable race winner; the FIA approving a shift towards this specification initially through the client engine could be music to the ears of the Honda Racing F1 engineers in Japan.