Archive for Race Reports

Vale Jules Bianchi

Formula One driver, Jules Bianchi, has sadly succumbed to injuries sustained at last year’s Japanese Grand Prix.

In October last year, the 25-year-old Marussia driver collided with a heavy recovery vehicle on lap 43 at Suzuka. The torrential rain, in part to blame for the accident, also prevented Bianchi from an airlift to hospital, and he was transported (albeit 10 miles) to the nearest hospital for immediate brain surgery.

Unfortunately, the resulting accident was deemed a diffuse axonal injury, similar to that of Michael Schumacher in his skiing accident the year prior.

According to Bianchi’s father, his son had told him once that he never wanted to end up like Schumacher; in fact, he would not want to go on if he could not drive anymore.

Nine months after the accident, Bianchi was still in a coma until Saturday July 18, when he passed on in the hospital near his home in Nice.

In December 2014, the FIA found that Bianchi “did not slow sufficiently” under double yellow flags to avoid losing control and prevent his head-on collision, hitting the rescue vehicle at a speed of nearly 80mph

It also concluded that an enclosed cockpit or additional surfaces on the recovery tractor “would not have mitigated his severe head injuries”.

The FIA did, however, instil the new system of virtual safety cars in 2015, which has been a success this year, because of the accident. As the first fatality as a result of injuries during a GP since Senna, let’s hope Bianchi’s accident is the last…

Nice, France
Saturday 18 July 2015

It is with deep sadness that the parents of Jules Bianchi, Philippe and Christine, his brother Tom and sister Mélanie, wish to make it known that Jules passed away last night at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) in Nice, (France) where he was admitted following the accident of 5th October 2014 at Suzuka Circuit during the Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix.

“Jules fought right to the very end, as he always did, but today his battle came to an end,” said the Bianchi family. “The pain we feel is immense and indescribable. We wish to thank the medical staff at Nice’s CHU who looked after him with love and dedication. We also thank the staff of the General Medical Center in the Mie Prefecture (Japan) who looked after Jules immediately after the accident, as well as all the other doctors who have been involved with his care over the past months.

“Furthermore, we thank Jules’ colleagues, friends, fans and everyone who has demonstrated their affection for him over these past months, which gave us great strength and helped us deal with such difficult times. Listening to and reading the many messages made us realise just how much Jules had touched the hearts and minds of so many people all over the world.’

Bonneville Salt Flats sans salt

Speed Week may be canned for the second year in a row as the Bonneville Salt Flats are only peppered with their namesake (boom-tish).

Th Southern California Timing Association has been scanning the flats for the best place to hold the meet, but like last year, it would seem they are coming up short on salt.

Last year, an immense amount of rain reduced the salt flats to a murky white mush; its cancellation understandable. This year, while rain has been scattered and may play some blame in the lack of surface coverage, it would seem the salt simply hasnt ‘returned’. And there are none among us who can explain that.

Organizers have until August to find a suitable surface, with the event scheduled to start on August 8.

Goodwood’s hill tamed by Subaru and Noble

The 1.16 mile Goodwood Hillclimb saw the spoils go to Time Attack and Pikes Peak machines again this year, with a winged Subaru taking the ultimate prize.

On Sunday, Britain’s Olly Clark, son of four-time British Rally Champion Roger Clark, won the Top 10 Shootout in his 769bhp Subaru Impreza. Dubbed “Gobstopper II”, the time attack car did it in 44.91 seconds.

Second and third respectively went to Jean-Phillippe Dayraut in his Mini Pikes Peak, and Rod Millen in a Toyota Celica Pikes Peak.

In the Supercar Run on Saturday, Anthony Reid took the win in 51.33 seconds in a Noble M600; 0.78 seconds faster than Chris Ward’s Lexus LFA. Third went to the Aston Martin GT12 driven by the carmaker’s Chief Engineer of Vehicle Attributes, Matt Becker.

All comers still have a long way to go to beat the course record, set in ‘99 by Nick Heidfeld in a McLaren Formula One car (when McLaren was fast), with a 41.6.

Lap times banned at The Ring?

The Koenigsegg One:1 is admittedly an insane car. One would need to be quite the driver to tame both it and the Nurburgring Nordschleife in the one run, and also aim to beat the Porsche 918 Spyder’s sub-7 minute lap time. But is the very thought enough to scare Ring management into banning the attempt, and future manufacturer attempts at the Ring production car record?

According to a production company setting up a doco on the Koenigsegg attempt, they are. The documentary crew were set to fly out when Ring management called to veto the attempt

Speed limits have been put into operation at parts of the track as a reaction to a spectator losing their life after the Nissan GT-R of Jann Mardenborough became airborne in a recent VLN race.

While it may just be the speed restrictions that stay in place rather than an outright banning of all record attempts, it still could be the end of an era - and the end of bragging rights for manufacturers - at the famous Nordschleife.

Race director spanks unruly F3 drivers, cans Monza race

The race directors and driving standards observers at race meetings have a heck of a job trying to keep racer egos in check while enforcing the rules of sportsmanship. They wield great power from the control room, and their decisions can dictate the direction of a race like no other.

But it is very rare that they see such atrocious driving, that the race is canceled altogether.

This is precisely what happened at last weekend’s Fia F3 European Champs round at Monza. In an embarrassing move, the race was shut down completely by the stewards after three races over the weekend went from bad to worse to downright terrible.

By all reports, the first Saturday race was tame and uneventful, however the second saw two rollovers and the safety car deployed three times, ending the race under the red flag with only half of the laps completed.

A driver’s briefing followed, with all competitors warned by the race director to pull themselves together for the Sunday races. Unfortunately, some seemed not to heed this advice. After two safety cars in only nine laps, the race was red flagged. It was a big call, particularly as race director Nils Wittich was a stand in for the usual series’ director.

“During the briefing we informed the drivers that it was not acceptable or the way we want to present F3,” Wittich said in an interview with Autosport. “I was talking with the stewards and they said this is the only way to do it – you could see pushing on the straight and overtaking manoeuvres off the track.”

Consider your wrists firmly slapped, young would-be F1 upstarts!

Formula 1 hits reverse on refuelling

Following a spate of sadly boring races so far this year, Formula 1 is again looking to change their rules and regs to keep the crowds interested.

A number of changes for the 2017 season have been voted on by F1’s Strategy Group, including the re-introduction of mid-race refuelling.

While the latter is undoubtedly exciting, it was taken out of the F1 show five years ago to reduce costs or the teams. Flying fuel rigs and specialty staff around the world was a cost many could do without, particularly the second tier teams who still struggle today.

However, much criticism has been thrown at the current regs; with teams only allowed the fuel they start with, the starts themselves are slow with the cars fully laden with gas, plus the conservation tactics needed to finish mean the longer races are more reminiscent of enduros than sprints. The fastest cars and drivers in the world should be doing just that: going as fast as they can.

The new turbo sixes, which are slower than the previous generations of cars, will also get  “aerodynamic rules evolution, wider tyres and reduction of car weight” to whittle off the seconds, plus higher rev ranges and exhaust freedoms to make more noise.

These are still only proposals, which now need to go through the F1 Commission and the World Motor Sport Council and meet approval before they will be enstated.

Miller Motorsports Park to close in October

While it is not necessarily the end of the road, it’s not a good sign; Miller Motorsports Park will cease operations as its namesake in October this year (on Halloween, no less).

The Utah track, which always boasts a deliciously rich and diverse calendar, not to mention driver training and race coaching, will be let go by the Millers, who have decided not to renew their lease of the property with the land owners. The decision has been left to the late Larry H. Miller’s wife, following his passing in 2009.

Hopefully another wealthy motorsport lover will jump on the lease and keep the track alive - particularly as the track, originally conceived as a $5 million project by Miller 10 years ago, grew into an $85 million investment with some of the best corners in the country.

OFFICIAL RELEASE: (May 8, 2015) – The Larry H. Miller Group of Companies has elected not to renew its lease with Tooele County and will cease operation of Miller Motorsports Park at the end of the racing season on October 31, 2015. A full schedule of racing events, driving schools, public karting and group activities will be held this summer as planned.

Gail Miller, owner of the Larry H. Miller Group of Companies, stated: “On behalf of my family, I would like to thank all of those who have supported the track over the years, both locally and worldwide, for their enthusiasm and use of the facility.”

GTs banned from racing the Ring after fatality

Authorities have revoked the licence allowing GT3 and GT4 cars to run on the Nurburgring Nordschleife following a tragic accident in the opening round of the VLN Endurance Championship last weekend.

Jann Mardenborough’s Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 flipped over a crest and hurled into the crowd, killing a spectator on the hill. The horrific crash was captured by several spectators and uploaded to Youtube - out of respect, we will not post it here.

The governing motorsport body Deutsche Motor Sport Bund (DMSB) has suspended the license for categories SP7, SP8, SP8T, SP9, SP10, SP and SP-Pro-X until further notice, with DMSB General Secretary Christian Schacht stating: “We can not and will not be business as usual after an accident of this kind. We are all still deeply shocked and our thoughts are with the family of the victim.

“The security of the participants and especially the spectators must be a top priority. Therefore, we need to analyze the details of what happened, discuss and then implement the necessary consequences. Only after that vehicles can get back on the Nordschleife…”

Marussia given last-minute lifeline

After many had written it off as lost to the 2015 F1 season (including us), the Marussia Formula One team will indeed line up on the grid in Australia next week after finding a backer.

Now called Manor Marussia, the team was thrown the lifeline by OVO Energy founder Stephen Fitzpatrick. With Jules Bianchi sadly still in hospital after his crash in the Japanese GP, and Max Chilton going to Euro endurance racing, the two licences are to be filled by Will Stevens, who made his maiden race debut late in 2014, and a yet to be named racer - likely another junior with financial backing already aboard.

“The last few months have been a bit of a rollercoaster, to say the least, (but) we are ready to go racing,” said continuing team sporting director Graeme Lowdon.

“We haven’t just taken a 2014 car and shoved a different nose on. It’s a new car with a high degree of carry over and safety upgrades.”

Marussia has passed the mandatory FIA crash tests, and are currently on the boat to Oz for the season opener in Melbourne on the 13th - 15th.

Scuderia Ferrari fire up F1 design discussion

Ferrari Concept F1

After the past year of the ugly, phallic-nosed F1 cars, you may suppress a small shudder when you hear of a marque sketching a future F1 car.

However, free from aero restrictions and strict supp-regs, Scuderia Ferrari has managed to give us an impression of the future that is, quite frankly, Formula porn.

This Concept F1 sketch was the brainchild of in-house studio Centro Stile Ferrari, and apparently, the design could be built as-is without pushing or voiding the current F1 regulations.

While F1 is all about performance, Ferrari admits this design study is all about looks: “Our challenge was to create something that was – to put it short – better looking.” And it is at that.