Tag Archives: Formula One

Formula One: Kimi talks to his Fans on via Instagram

Kimi Räikkönen’s increasing use of social media to engage with fans and critics continued today with the 2007 Champion posting a Q&A session.

Through the post, Kimi talks about his family, touches on his future plans and praises the trophy design selected for the 2018 French Grand Prix.  It seems Gorilla’s and the Iceman go well together!

It’s great to see driver’s taking control of their online presence and engaging with fans in ways in which they deem appropriate.

Thanks to the TheMiezicat for posting the session on YouTube.

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Formula One: The Race behind the Races

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The 2018 French Grand Prix is the first race of Formula One’s Triple header. Over three successive weeks, Formula One will first the South of France, the mountains of Speilberg, Austria, and the more than likely soggy Silverstone.

Whilst the prospect of back to back to back races may leave drivers and fans drooling, the prospect is a little more daunting for the supply and logistics team tasked with ensuring each event runs seamlessly.  In the 48 hours following each event DHL, The Official Formula One Logistics Partner, is tasked with moving more than 1000 tonnes of freight safely and on time.

“For the spectators at the track and in front of their TV sets view, a Grand Prix is a huge spectacle,” says Martin Pople, Trackside Manager at DHL. The logistical effort behind it, on the other hand, remains invisible to the spectators: “A single race weekend involves months of planning and the work of two dozen of our specialists,” explains Pople. The fact that this “race behind the race” is fast and safe is also due to the expertise of the DHL specialists.

 

The challenge ahead for DHL and the race teams themselves is not something drivers take for granted, Force India driver Esteban Ocon, reflecting “When I was a kid I wanted to race every day, so now it’s coming alive, that dream. I think, on the other hand, I’m thinking about the mechanics, all the people travelling around Europe, the truckies, everybody in the teams, you know, building up those beautiful hospitalities and tents and all that. This is going to be very hard for them, so we need to make life as easy for them as we can, because at the end, we are a team, so we need to support everybody.”

Since the 2018 F1 Triple Header was announced, teams and support crew will have been evaluating the most efficient way in which to manage both the physical and logistical challenge the schedule creates. The team that comes out of top come Sunday evening in Silverstone will likely be very well placed for the remainder of the season.

As with any support role, the role of the DHL Specialists will likely and for their sake hopefully go largely unnoticed. Their role is to ensure on time in full delivery of the championship and teams needs. When they manage this, they’ve done their job. The painstaking work required to ensure this performance will likely pass most people by.

So when if with three successive F1 race weekends, your thirst for F1 news isn’t quenched, check out the DHL Triple Header Diary for all the latest information plus fascinating background stories from Le Castellet, Spielberg and Silverstone.  dhl.com/F1TripleHeader

Formula One: Arm the Sprinklers!

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Formula One returns to Paul Ricard this weekend for the first French Grand Prix in twenty years. The legendary circuit redeveloped in the early 2000’s under the guidance of former CEO Phillipe Gurdjian, has in recent years become a venue of choice for Formula One tyre development testing and was the logical home for the return of Formula One to its spiritual home of France.

Redevelopment of the Paul Ricard circuit was initially focused on the venue hosting racing testing and development programmes. Succesful completion of this objective came in the form of the FIA awarded the circuit as First Centre of Excellence for Motor Sport Safety. This recognition comes in part due to the layout of the circuit, it’s approach to run off areas and ability to sustainably simulate dynamic weather situations. As mentioned in an early article here on JWGP available here.

Whilst the venue’s approach to vehicle safety, through large tarmac covered run-off areas, perfectly lends itself to performance testing, minimising the risk of a driver being penalised for on-track errors and will likely lead to teams pushing the boundaries of track limits throughout the Grand Prix weekend. Coupled with this, the current philosophy surrounding Formula One aerodynamics have left many well informed observers to suggest overtaking will be somewhat of a challenge through the race:

With this in mind Formula One is at risk of a fourth successive event in which on track excitement looks set to be minimal. But worry not, there is a solution! As mentioned the Paul Ricard HTTT (High Tech Test Track) has a visionary trick up its sleeve, under the guidance of previous circuit owner Bernie Ecclestone and more recently his ex-wife Slavica, the circuit has an inbuilt sprinkler system.

The system is capable of simulating a multitude of wet weather scenarios at the touch of a button. Formula One returning to France and Paul Ricard offers owners Liberty Media the ability to bring to life the long-promised proposal from Mr Ecclestone to spice up Formula One through the use of sprinklers! (check out some of  his other proposals here)

Of course, with no announcement of such trial being made prior to the race weekend, Liberty Media will have to manufacture a scenario in which the magic sprinkler system can be activated by mistake thus creating global media coverage for an otherwise uninspiring event.  Winne Harlow, what are you up to this weekend? 😉

Formula One: KangarooTV Returns!

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In 2006, incredibly over a decade ago, I travelled to the Italian Grand Prix with my then girlfriend, now wife, her sister and my future best man. Alongside watching Lewis Hamilton secure his GP2 title and Michael Schumacher retire for the first time, we experienced technology which we felt was going to revolutionise Formula One for the race attending fan. KangarooTV!

KangarooTV offered race attending fans a service in which you were able to rent a handheld device from onsite vendors which received the FOM world feed and commentary via transmitters located around the circuit. In the seasons following Kangaroo TV which went on to become FanVision and became a stable of our Grand Prix experiences. As geeks, we happily wasted a Friday walking through the forests surrounding Spa to test the strength of the transmission. When KangarooTV FanVision’s agreement with FOM was not extended, from memory 3-4 years after the introduction, We were extremely disappointed.

Seeing the Formula One press release yesterday announcing the return of FanVision created mixed emotions. On the one hand, this is fantastic for the race attending fan. The service enables fans at the race a way in which to follow the race, without needing to watch a repeat when they get home, but the technology is over 12 years old! Formula One is meant to present the Pinnacle of Motorsport, this by definition means the product offering should be at the forefront of technological advances.

I expected the 2018 FanVision to be a device agnostic solution. FanVision should be a service race attending fans can access via their phones through the ticket in their eWallet. Long range wireless charging should encompass the circuit on a 5G Network. All of this should be sponsored by the leading telecommunications provider of the country the race is located. FanVision should be a tool for technology leaders to bring to life the latest tech aimed at improving our day to day lives.

So with the formal announcement of the return of FanVision, I’m calling out longterm F1 partners Tata Communications, and team partners; Qualcomm, Microsoft, AMD, IBM, Acronis, Kaspersky.  As a lifelong fan of F1 and a bit of Technology Geek, I expected more!

To Sean Bratches & Albert Goma, “Engineered Insanity” is not reintroducing decade old tech. Formula One should do better than this, and to be honest, Formula E would do better than this.

For more on the return of FanVision in F1 or to hire a unit for your own Grand Prix plans this season head to Discover Grand Prix via this link

Formula One: Dragon supporting the next generation of F1 stars with Hitech GP Partnership

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Ahead of the opening rounds of the 2018 European Formula 3 Championship, Blockchain market leaders, Dragon Corp, has announced a multiyear partnership with leading the Hitech F3 team. The partnership, which spans both the European and Asian F3 championships, forms a key element to Dragon’s increasing involvement in motorsport and sees the industry leaders supporting tomorrow’s stars of Formula One as they find their way up the motorsport ladder.

Commenting on the agreement Paul Moynan, Co-Founder of Dragon remarked:
“Everybody at Dragon is very excited to begin this long-term partnership with Hitech GP. We have identified motorsport as a strategic avenue for growing awareness of our brand and the international reach of Hitech GP’s Formula 3 programmes offers significant visibility in our key markets.” 

Following a series of strong performances in pre-season testing from young drivers, Enaam Ahmed, Alex Palou, and Ben Hingeley, Hitech head into the 2018 season as favourites.

Dragon’s partnership with Hitech builds on existing partnerships in motorsports established in Formula E with Championship Leaders, Techeetah, and in ELMS with Spa 6hrs Class winners G-Drive.

On the announcement, Hitech GP Team Principle Oliver Oakes commented:

“The relationship with Dragon represents our most significant partnership to date and offers significant long-term investment for our Formula 3 programmes. Dragon is a young and exciting company with big ambitions, and they recognise the value of motorsport’s global stage to grow their brand. We share their love of technology and innovation, and will work hard to ensure the partnership achieves our shared objectives on and off track.”

In the coming months, further details regarding Dragon’s involvement with Hitech in the Asian Formula 3 Championship alongside additional programmes with the Hitech GP team will be announced.

Formula One: Ricciardo to Renault?

 

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Daniel Ricciardo: Time to remove the Red Bull Racing race suit for good?

 

As the 2018 FIA Formula One World Championship heads to Barcelona, silly season is kicking into high gear. At present, when looking towards the 2019 season, the state of play for the likely top four finishers in the Constructors Championship this season is as follows: 

Mercedes: both drivers out of contract

Ferrari: One seat open

Red Bull Racing: One seat open

Renault: both seats open

Being only four races into the 2018 season it may seem a little premature to be talking about 2019, but the events of Baku are likely to play a pivotal role in the decision-making process across the market.

With 99% certainty, it can be expected Lewis Hamilton will or has already renewed his commitment to Mercedes for 2019 and beyond in what will likely be his final contract as a driver in Formula One.  Leaving a single seat with the Silver Arrows. Whilst many have questioned his outright ability to take the fight to his competitors, Bottas has proved to be a reliable second driver for the team. Lewis’ response towards his teammate after being gifted his first win of the year, illustrates a team working in cohesion. Management would have to think long and hard about what they were trying to achieve in looking to replace Bottas. I expect he will be retained for a third season unless Ocon finds himself without a seat at Force India.

Over at the Scuderia, Kimi has been in his final season since he rejoined the team in 2014. Whilst never stella, he again creates an environment in which his teammate can thrive. Arguably he weakens Ferrari’s ability to challenge for the constructor’s championship, but I personally believe he will either be renewed on another single year agreement, or make way for Charles le Clerc, who finally started to prove his strengths with a fantastic performance in Baku. I do not believe Ferrari are considering Ricciardo as a possible partner for to Vettel.

Then to the curious case of Red Bull Racing. In Baku, Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo broke the golden rule of motorsport and took each other out. The incident was a long time coming, after a race in which multiple passes between the two had already resulted in contact, the drivers compromised their own strategies and slowed each other down. With the team standing by their philosophy to “let them race”.  In the short term, I don’t believe this will destroy team harmony, but it went some way to sowing the seed in Riccardo’s mind that a team not willing to favour one driver over the other may not be the team in which he achieves his ambition of securing a world championship. This coupled with the widely expected announcement that Red Bull Racing will switch to Honda power for 2019, which whilst much more competitive with Toro Rosso than it ever was with McLaren may not quite be at the level to compete for championships.

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Renault F1 Team  successfully challenging Aston Martin Red Bull Racing for position during the 2018 Azerbaijan GP

Then to Renault, a team whose 3-year plan to reinvigorate the Enstone facility and rebuild a once championship contending team, is now starting to come to fruition. From 2019 onwards Renault should expect to be challenging for outright wins and comfortably challenge the likes of Mercedes and Ferrari. In Hulkenberg and Sainz the team have a formidable but unthreatening lineup. As the team look to challenge for wins, they need a superstar driver. Could Ricciardo become Renault’s next superstar? As a works team, they are in a position to offer the salary driver of Ricciardo’s calibre should command, and they can offer something no other team can, the ability to shape the team around him. Some will say it would be risky for Ricciardo to give up a race-winning seat for a team which hasn’t won a race in over a decade, but the same could be said for Lewis Hamilton when he walked away from McLaren. Renault presents opportunities Red Bull Racing simply can’t offer.

Should the top four teams be covered by four manufacturers, it would be fantastic to see the top four drivers of the current era; Hamilton, Vettel, Verstappen, and Ricciardo behind the wheel of different cars each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

Daniel Ricciardo racing for the Renault Sport F1 Team for 2019 is my prediction for the big shift this silly season. Sainz may well return to Red Bull fold as a result, but I personally believe he will remain with Renault with Hulkenberg heading to life after F1 and Gasly moving into the Red Bull Racing team.

Image Source: Red Bull Media Pool

 

Formula One: Ricciardo Uncovered

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In the aftermath of the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, which saw Aston Martin Red Bull Racing teammates Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen collide after a race long battle for position, many questions have been raised as to how the team should respond and what happens next. When contemplating the options moving forward, opinions and viewpoints aren’t always based on a fair representation of a situation or the individuals involved.

Opinions and judgements from fans and in many cases the media as to the temperament and character of a driver are more often than not based on 2-3 minute sound bites from drivers over a race weekend. It is easy to build a false impression of a driver and their perspective on issues.

Over the past 12-24 months, long-form interviews in the form of independent podcasts have grown significantly in popularity, offering a platform for individuals to offer a greater level of insight into their personalities and what makes them tick. Earlier this year Natalie Pinkham launched her own series of podcasts “In the Pink” with Daniel Ricciardo being one of the first guests.

Recorded ahead of the 2018 season, the interview covers everything from his upbringing in Perth, his almost entirely trouble free, save for a small incident with superglue, school life, to his taste in music, and self-belief. When fans seek to understand the man behind the smile, and what may or may not be going through his head following the incident in Baku, they would do well to listen to this podcast.

It would be great to see other drivers follow Ricciardo’s lead and sit down for an hour or so to record an hour ‘in the Pink”!

To download Daniel Ricciardo’s’ interview with Natalie Pinkham or subscribe to ‘In the Pink’ on the Acast network follow this link.

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Formula One: “Grand Prix Driver” – The Conflicted Review

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I’m conflicted. Last week I was sent an advance copy of the Amazon Prime documentary series Grand Prix Driver. This fantastic series offers previously unimaginable of levels of access to the McLaren F1 team as they prepare for the 2017 Formula One Season. Recorded over a period of four and a half months, Manish Pandey, Chris Connell, and Anwar Nuseibeh have produced an in-depth study into the life of a Formula One team with seemingly no topic being off limits. All of which, for a lifelong F1 fan such as myself, sounds incredible. So why am I conflicted?

It is said you should never meet your heroes. After watching Grand Prix Driver, I think this phase should be modified to ‘never watch a documentary about your heroes. I want to make it clear, the production values of the documentary are second to none. To gain the level of trust required to film some of the scenes depicted through the episodes is a testament to the passion, dedication and commitment of Manish Pandey and the team surrounding him. This series is a must-see for any fan of motorsport. Unfortunately, however, it’s also a must-see for anyone studying business management looking for examples of how not to run a successful business, and perhaps most importantly, for Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing on how not to work with a Power Unit Partner.

If you have seen a trailer for the documentary, it will be clear the series charts the breakdown of the relationship between McLaren and Honda on the eve of the 2017 season.

 

Analysing the series and reflecting on narrative documented, I have tried to break down my assessment of the team into a few key sections.

Partnerships

The key rationale for the McLaren Honda partnership was that Ron Dennis and/ or the team felt it would not be possible for McLaren to challenge for world championships as a customer team. Logic and recent history suggest this assessment is absolutely correct. The mantra throughout the McLaren Honda partnership and throughout this series is that of “One Team” and “We win as a team; we lose as a team”. The documentary shows those words to be largely empty. Relations between McLaren and Honda employees at every level of the business seemed strained at all times. There is a constant feeling of us and them.

An interesting insight into teams using customer power units in Formula One is when the customer receives the power unit. As a customer team, power units very rarely enter the team facility. One unit will be made available for the first time the car is fired up ahead of the season. After this, Power Units will be delivered to the circuit by the supplier and taken away again at the end of a test or race weekend. The benefit of direct / works relationship with a power unit manufacturer should be these limitations are removed. Team and Power unit manufacturer work as one in parallel. Based on the Grand Prix Driver documentary, this unity was never achieved between McLaren and Honda.

The first time McLaren physically saw the 2017 power unit was in the days preceding the first fire up of the unit. This is not an integrated partnership. Heading into 2017, Honda were playing catch up, they decided to overhaul their design philosophy. This decision, it is implied, was one McLaren did not have a say in. After taking such a decision, communication between McLaren and Honda should have been continuous, when it came to installing the power unit there should have been no surprises. As the documentary will show, this was not the case, with components having to be re-engineered on the fly.

The relationship between McLaren and Honda was not a partnership. It was barely more than a customer relationship, where the supplier happened to be supplying power units free of charge.

Humility

In speaking to Manish Pandey about the documentary, the topic of humility came up. Manish’s view of humility was interesting. His perspective was that both Honda and McLaren demonstrated great humility as they prepared for the documentary. He and his team made several attempts to get the team to discuss ambitions for the season. Looking for the soundbite of ‘returning to the top step’ or ‘challenging for the championship’. No one offered such remarks. Manish’s view was that this demonstrates the team were realistic in their approach to the season, and on this, I agree.

However, as the McLaren Honda relationship fell apart around them, it was the team’s complete lack of humility that struck me. Throughout the entire series, no McLaren representative takes any level of accountability for the partnership failing. Honda is made entirely responsible for the shortcomings of the team performance. This is wrong. We’ve all had relationships that haven’t worked out, at no time is one party solely responsible for a relationship failing. It comes across as hugely arrogant of McLaren to place all the blame for their performance through the Honda partnership at the foot of the power unit manufacturer.

Honestly, I am amazed McLaren are happy for this lack of humility to be made public. At times I wasn’t sure if I was watching a documentary series set in Woking or a Mockumentary series from Slough.

Communication

In the opening episodes, meetings are filmed from outside rooms giving the viewer a feel for events taking place without the content being made public, by the final episode cameras have been invited into meeting with no talking points edited or removed. Whilst again, this is great access, being part of these meetings will be quite distressing for any fan of the sport. Time after time the viewer is shown milestone dates on timelines being missed or management interactions in which it seems almost impossible to offer a clear answer to basic questions. To me this again comes down to accountability, no one in the organisation seems willing to accept their role in the failure.

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Sponsorship

The topic of sponsorship or partners is something frequently addressed through the series. In a bid to highlight a new beginning for the McLaren team, it was decided that a departure from silver, grey and black tones in the car livery and team environment was required. The origins of this decision and influencing factors are a little conflicted in the series, but the message for change was clear. The ambition being a new livery concept will entice new sponsors to join a new McLaren.

For me, the professionalism around this decision is diminished somewhat by branding being applied on the eve of the launch in what appears to be a corridor. Nevertheless, the ambition is clearly communicated. This desire to rebrand after a challenging period also explains why McLaren are expected to reveal another new livery concept for the 2018 season.

The McLaren team has developed a strong reputation within the technologies sector for its work outside of Formula One in recent years. Major FMCG’s consult with the group on numerous challenges. The McLaren Formula One Team depicted in this documentary is not one many FMCG’s would look favourably upon. I do not believe the McLaren commercial team will look favourably on the way in which the team is portrayed.

Even Handed Approach

In my discussion with Manish Pandey, in an interview for Paddock Magazine (click here to head to the interview) I raised the question of the way in which McLaren and Honda were depicted within the series, highlighting my concern that Honda did not have the opportunity to offer their side of the story.

Understandably Manish did not hold my opinion. The narrative of a documentary is often defined by the events it covers from the perspective of the lead. This is not a Honda documentary. It is a McLaren documentary and the views within it are communicated as such. Again this is not a criticism of the documentary, more a reflection of the brief and the client.

 

I sincerely hope my interpretation of the McLaren team based on the series is not an accurate reflection of the way in which the business operates. 12 months have passed since this documentary was filmed. With new management structures in place, much-needed process and accountability may have been successfully implemented. I, like many other F1 fans, hope to see McLaren back at the front of the grid challenging for race wins.  With The McLaren Team seen through this 2017 documentary, I doubt this would have been possible. Whatever the power unit.

Grand Prix Driver is available on Amazon Prime from February 10thClick here for more.

 

Formula One: Can F1 afford to wait until 2021?

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Barely a day goes by without one of the leading motorsport websites publishing comments around the future plans for F1. From louder engines to racing game inspired car designs, 2021 will amaze and inspire a new generation of fans. All of which sounds great, but it’s 2018. There are 3 seasons of Formula One between now and the promised fantastical future. The landscape of the motorsport industry can and will change dramatically in 3 years. Can Formula One really afford to wait?

2017 saw the introduction of the current set of technical regulations guiding the sport. Whilst cars are visually more impressive than there predecessors with the dimensions of the cars and tyres increasing. An overall increased emphasis on aerodynamics has had a dramatic impact on drivers ability to overtake with the 2017 season seeing less than half the number of overtakes of 2016.  At present, there appears to be no plan to address this issue, with the 2018 regulations seeing no modifications around aerodynamic regulations.

Mindful of a likely closer battle for wins, Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull Racing, may have focused the aerodynamic philosophies of their 2018 challengers around an ability to more closely follow a competitor, but without regulation changes a significant increase in overtaking from 2017 to 2018 is unlikely.

All this comes at a time the commercial positions of Formula One are coming under threat. Longstanding partners involved in the championship are defecting to the likes of Formula E or other sports, and at this time, prospects for new partnerships appear limited. With the Formula One business focusing their attentions towards 2021 why would a partner commit to the championship ahead of the ‘revolution’? The Formula One product from 2018 -2020 may be a difficult product to sell.

It is possible, Formula One management are focusing taking a strategy of focusing to the future with the view and expectation of teams demanding an earlier introduction of new regulations. With the Season 5 Formula E car set to make its public debut in the coming weeks, and Indycar looking strong with a new car concept, competition between championships is ever growing. Can Formula One and the teams committed to its success afford to wait another 3 years for change?