Bianchi still ‘critical but stable’

The family of French Formula One driver Jules Bianchi has finally released a statement about the condition and ongoing treatment of the young Marussia driver, following his massive shunt at the Japanese GP a month ago.

Bianchi remains in a “critical but stable” condition in Mie General Medical Centre in Yokkaichi, according to his family, though they said there was “no new information to give”.

“His condition continues to be classified by the medical professionals here as critical but stable,” reads the statement.

“Although we have no new information to give, we recognise that there are a huge number of people all around the world who are supporting Jules and willing him on in his fight.

“We owe it to his many fans to acknowledge the continued outpouring of messages, and to provide some information, however brief it may be.”

It concluded: “We will provide a further update when it is appropriate to do so. In the meantime, thank you to everyone who continues to keep Jules in their thoughts and prayers.”

The statement is timely, given that questions will inevitably be asked before the United States Grand Prix this weekend, and the sad fact that both Marussia and fellow backmarker team Caterham have withdrawn from the round, citing financial concerns.

The New York Times slams the door on car news

In another sign of the digital, err, times, the The New York Times is shutting down its automotive section.

Usually a part of the paper’s Sunday edition - and no more than that - the section will be closed down in favor of online classifieds and the odd motoring story in the News section.

The Times shut down its automotive blog pages last year in a precursory attempt to save cash, but it obviously has not been enough. The LA Times shut its auto section down over six years ago.

Vegas next for F1 Circus?

Forget New Jersey - the next US location allegedly on the radar of Formula 1 is Las Vegas.

After a 32-year absence, rumours have started leaking out of the Nevada strip following trips by motorsport circuit designer Hermann Tilke, and suggestive comments by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

While eyeing off the strip, the organisers will no doubt be sure to avoid the trappings of the past, ie the Caesars Palace Grand Prix of 1981 which had limited areas of track, and limited success.

With the Circuit of the Americas, Canada GP, and now Mexico returning to the calendar, Bernie may have found another slot in his busy F1 calendar that can afford the sanctioning fees that cripple other countries and smaller circuits. For where better than to roll the dice than Vegas?

The importance of forward visibility at 90mph

While the prevalence of dashcams have revealed some amazing - and amazingly poor - driving over recent years, there is always that one video that goes viral every now and then due to its shocking content.

Most of these do not end well, however some inevitably reveal some miraculous escapes - this is one of them.

Doing the rounds right now is footage from a truck of the Ford Focus of 25-year-old Belgian driver Jasmien Claeys. It is a perfect example of how not to use a highway off-ramp - by accelerating in the fast right lane around then splitting between two trucks to take the far left slip road.

Unfortunately for Jasmein, the off ramp was backed up with traffic. Her lack of visibility - due to ducking in right behind a truck - led her to blindly merge right into a truck, then pinball of the other heavy rigs she had so rudely cut up just moments before.

Ms Claeys broke her two top vertebrae, shattered the bones in her hand and was left in coma for several days, though she is now recovering well. Her car, however, is destined for the scrapheap; and it will likely take all the other drivers involved just as long to recover emotionally from the experience.

Check out the video HERE.

Promising news on Schumacher, while we wait for word on Bianchi

FIA President and ex-Ferrari F1 pal Jean Todt has publicly promising news about Michael Schumacher’s recovery, 10 months after his skiing accident last December.

Todt visited the Schumacher family in the week leading up tot he recent Suzuka GP - one of the few to be allowed to visit so since Michael’s return home from full-time palliative care - and has delivered a positive update via Belgian broadcaster RTL.

“We may assume that Schumacher can live a relatively normal life within a short period of time,” he said.

“He fights. His condition improves, which is very important, as is the fact that he is now home with his family. What we can say is that he will probably never again drive a Formula One car.”

Meanwhile, the F1 paddock awaits news of Marussia driver Jules Bianchi, who suffered a serious accident at last weekend’s Japanese GP.

Bianchi lost control in the rain and careened into the recovery vehicle attending to the stricken car of Adrian Sutil, lifting the eight-odd tonne machine off its wheels momentarily as his car impacted sideways into its back plate.

He was taken to hospital and operated on immediately; the diagnosis at this stage is a ‘diffuse axonal injury’, which means a trauma to a large area of the brain, unlike a focussed injury on a specific area of the brain.

Bianchi’s family released an official statement today: “This is a very difficult time for our family, but the messages of support and affection for Jules from all over the world have been a source of great comfort to us. We would like to express our sincere appreciation.

“Jules remains in the Intensive Care Unit of the Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi. He has suffered a diffuse axonal injury and is in a critical but stable condition. The medical professionals at the hospital are providing the very best treatment and care and we are grateful for everything they have done for Jules since his accident.

The hospital will continue to monitor and treat Jules and further medical updates will be provided when appropriate.”

F1 silly seat season starts early

In one of the oddest twists in the 2014 F1 season, Sebastian Vettel has announced his early departure from Red Bull, one year before the end of his contract - and team boss Cristian Horner has alluded he will be heading to Ferrari.

The Prancing Pony has been taken aback by this, and has been hounded throughout qualifying for Suzuka (Japan) practice and qualifying about movements within their team, obviously put out that a rival team has announced their 2015 driver changes for them.

It is thought that Fernando Alonso will move to McLaren, the team switching to Honda drivetrains next year in an attempt to break their current losing streak. Daniil Kvyat will graduate from Toro Rosso to RBR next year to take his place alongside Daniel Ricciardo, who has shown up the former world champ in almost every race this season in his first full year at Red Bull.

Since joining the team in 2009,  Vettel has scored 38 wins, 44 poles and eight World Championships, including four Drivers’ titles and four Constructors’. Championships.

OFFICIAL RBR RELEASE - NEW TEAM DRIVER LINE UP FOR 2015

Sebastian Vettel has advised us that he will be leaving Infiniti Red Bull Racing at the end of the 2014 season.

We want to warmly thank Sebastian for the incredible role he has played at Infiniti Red Bull Racing for the last six years.

As we wish Sebastian well in the next stage of his career, we also look to the future with excitement, as the vacancy makes way for the next generation of Red Bull racers.

The Red Bull Junior Programme has developed some proven talents in recent times, including Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, who has excelled in the RB10 and become a three-time Formula One race winner in his first season with the team.

We’re pleased to announce that Daniel will be joined in the team for 2015 by another rising star from the Junior Programme, Daniil Kvyat.

The fastest Spider Pony

Ferrari has dropped the curtain on its most powerful drop-top ever.

Revealed at the Paris Motor Show, the Ferrari 458 Speciale A has the same 4.5-liter V8  pushing 597 horsepower and 398 pound-foot as the Speciale coupe, with a 0-62 time of 3.0secs.

Successor to the 16M Scuderia Spider, it is still a limited edition model as the name suggests, with only 499 set to be released - and perhaps a 500th given to a pontiff or other celebrity of note, as has been done in the past.

Check out the video HERE.

Toyota take another step towards WRC comeback

The rumour mill surrounding Toyota’s return to rally after a 14 year absence has revved up to the red, with video of ex-F1 and Subaru WRC driver Stephane Sarrazin testing the Japanese carmaker’s WRC-spec Yaris on some back roads in Belgium.

We likely wont see the car out in the WRC field for another year, and even then, it may be competing NC - the current thoughts on the Yaris following this video is that the diminutive mini may be built to 2017 rule spec, allowing for plenty of testing and R&D to debut strongly amid new tech regs.

Check out the short amateur vid HERE.

2015 F1 Calendar revealed

Remember when a full race calendar was edging in to double figures?

You may be hard pressed in the world of Formula 1, where we have seen one and sometimes two races a month for nigh on 50 years.

After a brief dip back into the teens, 2015 will again see 20 races on its calendar, spanning Australia, Malaysia, Bahrain, China, Europe, Singapore, Japan, Russia, Brazil, Abu Dhabi, new addition Mexico, and the United States. A big campaign in one of the world’s most expensive sports, that’s for sure!

FIA FORMULA ONE WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP

15 March Grand Prix of Australia
29 March Grand Prix of Malaysia
05 April Grand Prix of Bahrain
19 April Grand Prix of China
10 May Grand Prix of Spain
24 May Grand Prix of Monaco
07 June Grand Prix of Canada
21 June Grand Prix of Austria
05 July Grand Prix of Great Britain
19 July Grand Prix of Germany
26 July Grand Prix of Hungary
23 August Grand Prix of Belgium
06 September Grand Prix of Italy
20 September Grand Prix of Singapore
27 September Grand Prix of Japan
11 October Grand Prix of Russia (Sochi)
25 October Grand Prix of USA (Austin)
1 November Grand Prix of Mexico
15 November Grand Prix of Brazil
29 November Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi

Haas F1 to be powered by Prancing Pony

The US-based Gene Haas Formula One team is one step closer to achieving it’s spot on the grid in 2016, announcing an engine deal with Ferrari.

The deal appears to be for the entire powerplant including ERS, and possibly the gearbox as well, which would make sense, and should have a positive flow-on effect for Sauber and Marussia who also use the engine tech.

With Mercedes engines all the rage this year, and Renault relinquishing its domination but still running a strong second in the powerplant department, it may be the boost Ferrari needs to keep pushing its R&D to make its current engine more powerful and reliable - and Ferrari - in 2015 and beyond.

OFFICIAL RELEASE: Maranello, 3 September – Scuderia Ferrari announces that it has reached a technical collaboration agreement with Haas F1 Team to supply it with Formula 1 engines. The multi-year agreement is for the supply of the entire power unit starting from 2016.

“We’re delighted to announce this important strategic partnership with Haas F1 Team and to welcome an American player as a new entrant in Formula 1″, said Scuderia Ferrari Team Principal Marco Mattiacci. Read the rest of this entry »