Rubens Barrichello, the most experienced F1 driver of all time, has said as much as he enjoys driving at Suzuka the trackside safety is not quite up to standard when compared with other new circuits around the world.
The Brazilian, who races with Williams this season, said that the safety and run off areas were not quite as good as they are on many of the newer circuits.
He added however that he, and the rest of the grid did really enjoy driving at the track.
“It is [on the limit], it’s kind of adrenaline all the time, and the drivers love it and appreciate it so much,” said Barrichello.
“The work that has been done has helped, but it is still – if you take the esses for example – an old-fashioned circuit that could do with a little more run-off area.
“There are two ways of looking at it. Being a racing driver you end up being a bit mad anyway, so you like to work with that adrenaline and having the walls alongside and so on.
“But for a simple, normal guy, you would like to see more asphalt, because crashes in those areas are not easy ones.”
Organisers of the United States Grand Prix to be held in Austin, Texas have announced the final track layout ahead of construction work beginning before the first event in 2012.
The circuit has been designed by Hermann Tilke, and features some 20 corners with significant elevation changes. The track has been described as combining classic corners from some of the best circuits, while adding in modern safety and fan friendly features.
Some of Tilke’s recent work has been hit and miss with the F1 crowd, so considering the length of contract Austin have signed to host the event we hope this is a good track. on paper it does look impressive.
“In the modern era of grand prix racing, I think this track layout and topography will be very special,” said Tavo Hellmund, head of the US project.
“It will have many of the elements of previous ‘classic’ circuits combined with the benefits of FIA-mandated safety for the competitors and spectators alike. Add in the amenities fans have come to expect, like rare, multiple-turn viewing opportunities for added value, and you have an ideal, world-class venue.”
“For the competitors, we’ll have all the ingredients necessary,” he said. “You’ll see fast turns that require commitment from the drivers and technical turns that will test the engineers from a set-up point of view.
“We have a good deal of elevation to make it not only scenic but challenging also, and the view of downtown Austin is wonderful as well.
Bahrain Grand Prix officials have announced they will be reverting back to the old style Sakhir circuit for the 2011 race to be held at the start of next season.
They decided to use the longer and slower ‘endurance’ circuit which added on further corners and cut out a straight from the normal F1 circuit that had been in use for many seasons previously. The circuit extended in length from 5.412km to 6.299km.
“One of the major tasks we undertook to mark this milestone was implementing changes to our FIA approved track layout, giving the participating teams of the Bahrain Grand Prix a completely new challenge,” said Shaikh Salman Bin Isa Al Khalifa of the Bahrain International Circuit.
“It was an enormous task given the time frame we had to implement it, but one that demonstrated Bahrain’s characteristics as a race promoter prepared to continually make changes designed to heighten the awareness and increase the levels of presentation associated with the sport of Formula 1.”
Monaco have secured a new deal to host Formula One Grand Prix’s it was revealed this evening.
The event, often labelled “the blue ribband” of F1, was potentially under threat following comments from Bernie Ecclestone that no event on the calendar, not even Monte Carlo was safe from being removed.
However the tight exciting street circuit, which is known for fast and furious races where the cars scrape the barriers through corners like Lowes Hairpin, the Swimming Pool and the infamous tunnel, is now set to be a fixture on the calendar until 2020.
The new 10 years deal was confirmed in London this morning, with next years Grand Prix date for Monaco being set as the 29th May.
Nico Rosberg and Mark Webber, both front running drivers have raised concerns about the new “high-kerbing” used in parts of the refurbished Silverstone Circuit at this weekend’s British Grand Prix
Rosberg believes that the kerbing could well be potentially dangerous, but did admit the new circuit design was very good.
“I think the track overall is good,” said Rosberg. “The first complex is always exciting, which is still the same.
“I like the layout a lot, and there is no particular area, but I think they have done a good job with it. The only concern is those high kerbs, which we need to discuss in the drivers’ meeting.
“From my point of view there are some safety concerns with that. There are some big kerbs on the insides, big lumps – like half sausages.”
Webber was concerned that cars could hit the high kerbing and get thrown into the air, completely out of control.
“I think at Becketts there are a few larger sections behind the main kerbing, if you like, which the drivers are certainly not a fan of,” he said.
“We don’t feel the necessity to have this type of kerbing in high speed corners because the main aim of that kerbing is to keep us inside the circuit, for example, like Monza and Canada.
“So to have them in fifth and sixth gear corners isn’t particularly necessary. We’ve seen here many cars in the past aquaplaning across Maggotts and Becketts out of control.”
It has been revealed that the Canadian Grand Prix is plunging into problems both financially and with the circuit structure.
The track, built in an island in the St Lawrence sea way has recently been audited by a government based firm. They found that the pipe work, which is over 30 years old could potentially fail to such a catastrophic level it would severely affect the hosting of the Grand Prix. The original system was installed in the 1960′s for EXPO ’67 , and has failed some 32 times in the past 4 years.
The auditor commented “[A] rupture … could jeopardise the Formula One event”
Of course in 2008, we had track repairs during qualifying and during the race as the new, poorly laid surface broke up during the event much to the disgust of Bernie Ecclestone hence their lack of race in 2009.
In other financial news, Francois Dumontier the organiser of the event admitted in a newspaper interview that the event has still not attracted a title sponsor. The newspaper estimates that the shortfall financially of the event will be around $5million.
Dumontier told La Presse that firms should ”look more closely at this wonderful event”.
Jersey City, an area of New Jersey not far from New York City has announced that it is in discussions with the owners of Formula One about bringing an event to the area from 2012.
It would be the first United States Grand Prix for some time, and would be set to be held on a 3.6 mile race track through Jersey’s Liberty State Park, and possibly held at night.
A document produced with outline plans for the event states: “With the incredible backdrop of the New York City skyline, selecting Jersey City for the 2012 Grand Prix Auto Race Circuit will not only boost ticket sales as the Grand Prix returns to the United States, but will [provide] striking television footage.
“To maximize the dramatic effect, Jersey City could possibly follow in Singapore’s footsteps by holding the finals at night.”
However they face stiff competition from two sources. The first being Indianapolis, the race way which brought F1 back to the USA has been talking with the organisers of Formula One about bringing a race back the world famous circuit. They are also facing competition from a group known as “Friends of the Liberty Park” who are disgusted with the ideas of hosting F1 in the green space.
Sam Pesin, head of the Friends’ board of trustees, told local newspaper the Jersey Journal: “Once you have a track there, and especially with the state’s finances, there would be such pressure on the state to have regular car racing there. You’d end up having the name changed from Liberty State Park to Liberty Race Track.”
What happens remains to be seen, but it would be better to have a street race around New York? In an almost Monaco fashion. If not, lets take F1 back to Indy.
Silverstone have officially launched their new addition to the circuit known as the Arena layout.
The race track, located in Northamptonshire in England was not expected to be hosting a Formula One race this year with the spoils of the top motorsport event in Britain going to Donington Park. Silverstone had the rights to the MotoGP championship which prompted the idea to adjust the circuit to a faster and free flowing design. However when Donington Park ran out of money, Silverstone stepped in and secured rights to the Formula One and the cars will use the new circuit upon their visit.
The new part of the track sweeps off from Abbey and goes right through to the National circuit straight. It has already been hailed a success by some.
“This is a new circuit for a new generation of people to enjoy motorsport and we believe it will offer a big challenge to drivers as well,” Damon Hill, the head of the BRDC who run Silverstone said this morning.
His Royal higness the Duke of York attended the opening and was beaming about the success of motorsport in Britain.
“The real reason I am here to support Silverstone and the BRDC is because high performance engineering is vitally important for the British economy.
“Motorsport is right at the pinnacle of this industry, so it is through events like F1 and Superbikes that we can demonstrate our expertise.
“And I can say I hope the future will continue to be rosy not just for motorsport in the UK but also high performance engineering as a whole.”
Former Grand Prix winner and Red Bull Racing driver David Coulthard sampled the circuit in a Red Bull car, completing 6 laps and he seemed very impressed giving us his breakdown of the new circuit.
“It might take us a step closer to good racing,” he said. “It’s always difficult to tell until you really drive a proper line at speed. But the corner out of Club, the Abbey kink, and the kink out of Aintree might be the areas, where if they are not flat, drivers can make a mistake and someone can get in their slipstream.
“Otherwise it’s the same, the start finish straight is the same, Copse is the usual mighty corner – a real opener that you drive right on the edge.”
Speaking about the track, he said: “Club is now a very defined double apex. Before it just had one apex but now there is one apex, and then another one. So in the damp you can imagine someone having a bit of a wobble there.
“When you come out of The Loop there is another little kink [at Aintree Corner] and I’m hoping that won’t be flat. If it is flat then it does nothing, but if it isn’t then maybe someone can get a run down in to the braking area at Brooklands.
“It is a very wide entry there and F1 car’s take a narrower line than a touring car or whatever, just because of the nature of the cars. But if you did make a mistake there then that could also lead to overtaking.
“Otherwise it’s the same. There has been a small realignment at Maggots, but nothing major. Abbey is now a very fast corner. I think Village is more likely to be a spectator area than a spectator zone.”
Qantas, the national airline of Australia have been announced as the sponsor for their countries F1 race this morning.
The airline previously sponsored the event in the late 1990′s and early 2000′s, with a large global campaign involving some of their Boeing 747 jets being painted with formula one cars and chequered flags on the liveries.
ING, the previous sponsor, pulled out of Formula One altogether at the end of last season following the world economic crisis and the bad image the Crash-Gate scandal with Renault had given them, and many events have been looking for new backers.
“We greatly value the involvement of all our commercial sponsors – their support reduces the cost of this event to the Victorian government,” said major events minister Tim Holding.
“We are pleased to reaffirm our support for this global sporting event, reaching Formula One fans worldwide,” said Alan Joyce, chief executive of the airline.
Silverstone have secured the rights to host the British Grand Prix for the next 17 years.
The circuit in Northamptonshire has been the host of the Grand Prix for many years, but its future looked in doubt when Bernie Ecclestone announced the race would be moving to Donington Park.
However Donington, usually the home of motorbike and sportscar racing did not have the required funds to complete their regeneration project, and now have a half finished building site of a race circuit that was formerly a majestic venue. Anyone who has ever seen touring cars screaming down the craner curves, door bashing will agree it was perfect as it was, but no longer.
The entire future of the British race looked in doubt, but Silverstone managed to find the required funding to continue their deal and please Bernie Ecclestone with proposals to change the track.
“The title of Silverstone as home of motorsport has come true,” said BRDC president Damon Hill.
“It is a place for all motorsport. Everyone in the BRDC loves motorsport and we are looking forward to the MotoGP as well as the British Grand Prix.
“It is not easy to enter into a contract of this magnitude and you have to take on a lot of responsibility, but the BRDC wanted this relationship to continue.
“Everyone was well aware that the British GP is not just a sporting event, but it is dynamo of the industry in this country. Losing it would have been damaging and perhaps there would have been no coming back.”
Lewis Hamilton, the 2008 F1 World Champion was equally delighted.
“Firstly, it’s fantastic news that the British Grand Prix will stay on the calendar for 2010,” said Hamilton after Silverstone announced a 17-year deal to host the race.
“Secondly, it’s great that the race will be at Silverstone.
“The place has an atmosphere that money can’t buy, and I have some fantastic memories of the track – winning both races in GP2 in 2006, getting an incredibly emotional and satisfying pole in ’07 and winning in the wet in my championship year.
“Most importantly, those achievements have all been underlined by the reaction and support of the Silverstone crowd, which has always been fantastic. British fans are the greatest Formula 1 supporters in the world – and this must be the best Christmas present they could ever ask for.
“I can’t wait to come home to the Santander British Grand Prix next year: both Jenson and I will be flying the flag for Britain and doing our best to win the race,” added the Briton.
After some 3 hours drive time, the new Yas Marina circuit in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi has drawn the plaudits from the drivers.
The circuit is one of the most exciting new projects to hit the F1 calendar, and its proving a firm favourite with the fans too if Twitter and Facebook comments are to be believed. Its sweeping, fast nature but some hard corners are showing that the race could be very close indeed.
The Hermann Tilke design bandwagon has certainly got back on track here.
Nico Rosberg commented; “There is no criticism. I think they have done a very good job. It is an interesting track and every corner is unique.”
Former World Champion Fernando Alonso added to Rosberg’s praise “There are some good parts of the track, like the first sector, high-speed corners, and then the last sector is a combination of very similar corners – always 90 degrees. But you enjoy it because there is always something to do on the track. There is no time to breathe.”
Adrian Sutil also praised the lighting system, commenting it felt more like a night race than Singapore.
However the tunnel exit to the pitlane is causing some controversy, with near misses and concern over an accident becoming more apparent. Ferrari driver Giancarlo Fisichella said on the subject;
“It is very difficult and a little bit dangerous. If there is an accident with two cars, I don’t know if there is a space to go through. I guess we will see if there is an incident.”
I must say, representing The F1Fanatics Blog I think it’s a terrific circuit, finally a decent new track. It is like Valencia, or at least how Valencia should have been. It makes Singapore look almost amateur, and with the cool evening daylight/nightime effect I think F1 is on to a winner.
Bernie Ecclestone has denied rumour that he will offer Silverstone a “cut-price” deal to hold the 2010 British Grand Prix now that Donington’s dreams of hosting the race look in tatters.
Donington have failed to get the funding necessary to continue re-development of the circuit, and are now left with no money, a half finished track and no racing for the forthcoming season with MotoGP relocating for 2010 to Silverstone.
A contract has been offered to the Northamptonshire based circuit, the home F1 for some years, and Ecclestone has told the BRDC that it should accept the proposals rather than fight for a cheaper deal.
“Silverstone have a contract in front of them,” he said. “We’ve no commercial arrangement in place for a British Grand Prix for next year. That is why the race has an asterisk beside it on the 2010 calendar.
“If they can’t make it work then don’t do it. If that happens, there won’t be a British Grand Prix. Simple as that.
“No-one is forcing them to take it. This is business. We have offered them a deal.
“I want a British Grand Prix, of course, but we are not going to do special rates for Britain.”
Bernie Ecclestone has today said that Formula One will definitely be returning to Montreal for the Canadian Grand Prix in 2010.
Montreal is a very popular circuit with the drivers and fans, producing smoe of the most exciting races in a season, however it was absent from the 2009 calendar due to on-going disputes with promoters of the event and Ecclestone himself.
It left F1 without a North Amercian Grand Prix.
“I promise we will be in Montreal in 2010,” he told Switzerland’s Motorsport Aktuell. “Everyone in Formula One loves the Canadian Grand Prix.”
However while Canada might be back to secure NAmerican fans support, he ruled out a return to Indianapolis and the United States Grand Prix permanently.
“Forget Indianapolis. We’re not going back there,” he added.
Flavio Briatore is on the warpath after being named as someone who could advise the FIA and FOM on how to make F1 more attractive to fans by attacking empty circuits.
This season’s Turkish Grand Prix was farcical with thousands of empty seats, as no fans really turned up. This, in direct contrast to Silverstone where it held it’s final British Grand Prix and there were over 100,000 fans present.
The FOM TV coverage tried to hide the lack of fans in Turkey by removing multiple camera angles, but Briatore and indeed the fans see this as no solution.
The tracks that have been constructed in the far flung locations of the world are usually found quite empty, as F1 is not a favourable sport within the countries that the races are present while European races at the old venues are filled to the brim with hardcore F1 fans.
“Even if the likes of Turkey are paying more money, we would rather have stadia that are full,” Briatore said.
“It is better for the spirit of the sport. We want stands full of fans. There is no point spending all that money on an empty cathedral,” he added.
As the rumours continue to hot up over FOTA’s breakaway series from F1, one which looks ever increasingly likely Surfer’s Paradise was one of the tracks banded around as a possible venue for a GP.
The track in Queensland, Australia is an exciting street track which could be known as the Pacific GP as Adelaide was mentioned as the possible Australian Grand Prix event location.
Surfer’s, a place which considered taking the F1 race from Melbourne late last year as it’s future dwindled has previously hosted CART and ChampCar events and this year hosts a round of the A1GP Championship by Ferrari.
The owner of the track seemed welcome to the idea, especially if they charged less than Bernie Ecclestone wants for F1.
“We couldn’t do this sort of bid on our own but if Queensland Events backed us we would be very interested,” said Ron Clarke.
“There is the chance this breakaway group might not charge as much as the original series organisers,” acknowledged Clarke.
Other circuits mentioned for the FOTA Racing Series included Jerez, Buenos Aires, Imola, Mugello and Silverstone.
Donington Park boss Simon Gillet was almost iron fist in his conversation with Autosport this week as he discussed the future of the British Grand Prix and Donington Park’s development into a Formula One ready venue.
Gillet hit out at the British Motorsport Establishment’s criticism of Donington, and also their future as the host of F1.
In direct relation to the claims by media that they would not host the event in 2010, Gillet claimed that was never an option – despite Ecclestone saying they could take one year’s grace.
“Sitting here today, I can’t see any reason for doing that,” said Gillett. “What Bernie Ecclestone has done is given us a safety net. Part of the problem with our financing has been that everyone is out there saying it doesn’t matter if Donington doesn’t make it because Silverstone will pick it up.
“So that’s a distraction for our financiers – they read in the press that Silverstone will get it back so ask why they should go with us. But what Mr Ecclestone did was very carefully say that if Donington is there in 2010, he’ll wait because it’s not going back to Silverstone.
“In doing that, he has made 2010 even more viable because now finance houses understand that it is our contract. To give us one-year breathing space is an absolute show of commitment.”
Gillet confirmed that Donington has an epic 17 year contract, if F1 keeps going that long of course !
“The great thing about the credit crunch is that building is cheaper! So we’re now looking at about £30 million. We’re confident with what we have – and that’s with a 10-year contract.
“Now, with a 17-year contract, we should double that as well. It’s a very solid way of financing. It’s just that we caught the market at the wrong time.
“But now we’re talking to a lot of different funds and individuals about them backing this scheme because people now realise that this current situation is not going to last forever.
“We have a 17-year contract, and everyone knows that we will be out of this within that period.”
Fuji Speedway in Japan sets to become another venue to be hit with financial difficulty, possibly forcing it to give up hosting the Japanese Grand Prix.
The circuit, extensively modified for the 2007 and 8 races, is owned by car company Toyota.
“(Fuji’s company) FISCO tell us they are taking various elements into account in their consideration towards hosting next year’s Japanese Grand Prix,” Toyota’s Paul Nolasco said.
The Suzuka Circuit hosts this seasons race and had done for some time. The figure of eight circuit owned by Honda is one of the most popular venues on the calendar.
The Mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno has claimed that while he is pushing ahead with plans for a Rome Street F1 Race, he would not consider the possibility of hosting the event without Ferrari being on the grid.
Ferrari are locked in battles with the FIA and claim they will leave the sport at the end of 2009.
The mayor said that Ferrari were an integral part of Italy, not just this sport.
“I do not want to consider the idea of a Grand Prix of Rome without Ferrari,” he’s quoted as saying by Corriere dello Sport on Thursday.
Ideas remain that Rome could host the 2011 Italian Grand Prix, but due to the desire to keep Monza on the calendar it could be fitted in another way. Some suggestions that the San Marino GP name could be revived or even a Mediterranean Grand Prix, or perhaps Valencia could lose the European Grand Prix.
Bernie Ecclestone has committed himself to Formula One at Donington Park once again, suggesting that if the circuit was not ready for the 2010 race date then the British Grand Prix could skip a season and return.
“If the work at Donington is not finished in time, we would be happy to skip a year,” Ecclestone told The Times newspaper.
Bernie said that he would rather skip the season than bring the British GP back to Silverstone.
“I don’t want to lose the British Grand Prix – that’s the last thing we want to do, but we aren’t going to Silverstone for sure,” he added.
Donington should be careful, circuits have dropped off the calendar for “improvements” and never returned. Like Imola for example…
Francois Dumontier, the promoter of the Canadian Grand Prix has slammed the brake pedal on it being re-instated for this season.
Rumour around the paddock was that the race could be making a comeback, as Bernie Ecclestone looks to continue having a North American race on the calendar, despite all of the problems with the Montreal circuit last season when builders were relaying track surface as the cars lined up on the grid to start the GP.
With rumour also circulating that Abu Dhabi might pull out of hosting their race – in the final slot of the season – it fueled the theory that Canada could see F1 cars screaming around the island in the St Lawrence Seaway once again.
However, the promoter claims he knows nothing of it and there is no plan to return at the moment.
“I took note at the end of last week of the interview with Bernie Ecclestone, but besides that, I do not know any more for the moment,” said Dumontier.
“At the time that he spoke, there was no communication on this subject – neither with myself nor with (promoter) Stock-Car Montreal.”
“If ever something was to happen,” Dumontier continued, “it is certain that it would be necessary that we are involved.”
The first round of the brand new MotoGP season was scheduled to take place last night, the the Losail Circuit, Doha, Qatar. It is a night event, and a spectacular one at that.
However, what was not banked on was the rain. And it poured down, pushing the race back to this evening [13th April].
After F1′s twilight farce in Sepang, and now the Malaysian Circuit’s idea to run racing at night, both for bikes and F1 cars, one of the greatest motorbike riders of all time Valentino Rossi has called for an end to night circuit events.
If riders, and F1 drivers came together against the odd start times it could spell the end of any night racing, rendering expensive equipment invested in by both Singapore and Abu Dhabi motorsport councils, useless.
“First of all, since they want to race at night at Sepang too, this maybe will make them throw away that unhealthy idea,” the world champion told Italia1 television.
“In my opinion we must race during the day. If we raced at two in the afternoon it would have been better.”
Motorsport officials in Rome have suggested a “One-Off” street race in the city to be held in 2010, rather than a full time position on the F1 calendar after fans and team bosses were cool to the idea of Rome holding a full time Grand Prix.
Bernie Ecclestone was very pro the idea of a race being held around the historical Capital city of Italy, but Max Mosley and Luca di Montezemolo were concerned – prefering the race to be held at Monza, one of the spiritual homes of racing.
However with FIA officials making frequent visits, the rumour mill is spinning to the prospect of the one off race which could possibly be the European Grand Prix of 2010 if Valencia’s street track is not better than in 2008 this season.
“The possibility of running a Grand Prix in Rome in 2012 is ever more feasible,” Aleesandro Cochi, Rome’s sport minister is quoted as saying by the news agency ANSA.
Some private investors are prepared to cover the costs of the event, and this is warming Di Montezemolo to the idea.
“I’ve spoken to Bernie and if, as it appears, the costs can be totally borne by private investors, I think it would be interesting to make an in-depth assessment of its feasibility,” Montezemolo said.
The modification and partial rebuild of the Suzuka Circuit in Japan is set to be completed within two months ahead of Formula One’s return to the figure of eight track.
The circuit, owned by Honda, has been off the F1 calendar since 2006, as Fuji Speedway owned by Toyota has been the chosen track. Discussions about a Pacific GP at Suzuka collapsed almost as soonas they started but it is now back at its spiritual home.
“Full-scale renovation work will soon be completed,” stated Honda, which will host a ‘Start Suzuka Opening Thanks Day F1 Kick Off Party’ on April 12.
Honda have admitted they are fully behind keeping F1 at the track despite leaving F1 as a manufacturer.
Donington Park today dismantled their famous “Dunlop” tyre bridge in preparation for building work and expansion before the first F1 race there since 1993 in 2010.
The Leicestershire based circuit has had the bridge across the back straight next to the Donington Museum for years and it has become iconic with spectators and drivers alike.
However, it is sited upon the location for the new paddock and garages so has to go.
It is not being sold on, meerly put into storage and rumour has it that it will be utilised somewhere else around the circuit area, possibly across the entrance.
“We’re storing it, and then we’re going to decide where it is going to go,” Simon Gillett, track boss said.
“Maybe [we'll] change the ‘Dunlop’ to ‘Donington’ but in the same typeface. Part of the problem with the Dunlop Bridge is that MotoGP is Michelin, it’s Pirelli for World Superbikes, Bridgestone for F1, so commercially you can’t have it.
“There is the safety point of view because of the width of it, and also the location because the new pits and paddock are going there.
“So there are lots of reasons – it’s current location is wrong, it is not wide enough, and then there are the commercial reasons … we’d be constantly painting over the Dunlop. So it just couldn’t stay. But we’ll find a home for it. It won’t work over the track, but it will be somewhere nearby.”