Hockenheimring

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Hockenheimring, or Hockenheimring Baden-Wurttemberg, is located near the town of Hockenheim, situated in Baden-Wurttemberg, Germany. This circuit is the host to the Formula One German Grand Prix, and many other racing events.

The Hockenheimring was constructed in the Rhine Valley in 1932, and was built due to the closing of the Wildpark-Circuit that was located in Karlsruhe, by German Officials. In its early years, the Hockenheimring Circuit was used for motorcycle races, but in 1936 it became a test track for Auto Union and for Mercedes-Benz. The circuit was renamed to Kurpfalzring in 1938, but the name only lasted until the year 1947 before reverting to its original name. Grand Prix motorcycle racing was held here after the war, alternating between Hockenheim and other racing circuits.

Originally, Hockenheimring consisted of an eight kilometer track, that had two long straights, with a U-turn and an outstretched eastern corner running through the forest and joining the two straights together. The Autobahn A6 separated the main part of the track from the village in 1965, and it brought about the construction of the “Motodrom” stadium and a new Hockenheimring Circuit version. Crash barriers and two chicanes were added after Jim Clark had a fatal accident in a Formula 2 race in the year 1968. An additional chicane was added in 1980, to the Ostkurve, after another driver, Patrick Depailler, lost his life.

Formula One Officials requested that the Hockenheimring circuit be shortened in 2000, as the track was 6.8 kilometers, and gave the state government of Baden-Wurttemberg an ultimatum that either the circuit must be shortened, or they would move the event to another circuit. The state government received financing and commissioned Hermann Tilke to redesign the circuit before the 2002 German Grand Prix. The redesign had most of the stadium section remain the same, except for a much tighter corner in Turn 1 and new surfacing. The circuit was shortened to the extreme, which cut off the entire forest section and replaced it with more tight corners. The tight hairpin corner that was added to follow a long straight, has presented drivers with another opportunity for overtaking. A large stand that is sponsored by Mercedes-Benz, gives the Hockenheimring Circuit a spectator capacity of 120,000. It also has a quarter-mile track that hosts drag racing, with the Nitro Olympics being the biggest event in Europe.

The German Grand Prix was hosted by the Hockenheimring Circuit for the first time in 1970, and from 1971 to 1976 the German Grand Prix was hosted by Nurburgring. During the years 1977 to 2006, the German Grand Prix moved back to the Hockenheimring Circuit, with the exception of 1985. It was decided that from 2007, starting with Nurburgring, the German Grand Prix will alternate between Nurburgring and the Hockenheimring Circuit.

Belgian Grand Prix

February 9, 2009 by  
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Belgium held its first national race in 1925. It took place at the race circuit in the Spa region, which was an area rich in racing history. The Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps was constructed in 1921, used primarily for motorcycle racing until 1924, but also hosting Grand Prix racing. In 1923, a very successful 24 Hours of Le Mans was raced in France, which led to the Spa 24 Hours race to be hosted at the Spa track.

The Belgian Grand Prix is a favorite amongst both the fans and the drivers. The Spa-Francorchamps is also famous for it extremely unpredictable weather conditions. For example, it had rained for 20 Belgian Grand Prix’s consecutively. Drivers are constantly confronted with conflicting weather on different parts of the track. One side will be sunny and clear, while the other is slippery, miserable and rainy. To many F1 drivers, the Belgian Grand Prix is the most dreaded circuit on the Formula One racing calendar, due to its challenging conditions.

Antonio Ascari, took first place at the Belgian Grand Prix in 1925, and his son, Alberto, would go on to win in the years 1952 and again in 1953. Antonio Ascari was tragically killed in the French Grand Prix, after winning the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix. While leading the Belgian Grand Prix in 1939, Richard “Dick” Seaman, a British driver, lost his life. Alan Stacey was killed when a bird flew into his face, and Chris Bristow also lost his life in the same race, in 1960.

After deciding Spa was too dangerous in 1972 Belgian officials made the decision to alternate the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix between the Nivelles and Zolder circuits. Unable to sustain the Belgian Grand Prix at the Nivelles circuit, the race track eventually faded out, and Zolder was used in the following years. However, the Formula One Belgian Grand Prix returned to Spa-Francorchamps in 1985, where it has remained. Michael Schumacher made his debut at Spa-Francorchamps in the year of 1991 and returned in 1992 to win his first race in Formula One. He also surpassed the all-time record of Alain Prost, by securing his 52nd Grand Prix win at the Belgian Grand Prix.

The Spa-Francorchamps Circuit is completed in 44 laps, with a total race length of 306.94 kilometers. The FIA announced in 2006, that Belgium would not be part of their race schedule for that year, as major work to repair the track, had been started. The Belgian Grand Prix returned to the schedule in 2007 with Kimi Räikkönen taking first place. The year 2008 saw a controversial win by Filipe Massa, after Lewis Hamilton received a drive-through penalty which negated his first place position. Kimi Räikkönen took first place again in 2009.

Istanbul Park

February 9, 2009 by  
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Istanbul Park blends in seamlessly among 10 thousand of years of antiquity. Respectful of the country’s past, yet bold enough to represent the future of Formula One. The circuit was constructed during 2005 and is unique in that the cars run in an anti-clockwise direction around the circuit, making the Turkish Grand Prix only the third race on the F1 Grand Prix calendar to do so (with the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola and the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace at Interlagos being the other two). This spectacular 5.378 kilometer track was designed by famed German architect Herman Tilke, the same man who created the memorable tracks at Sepang, Bahrain and Shanghai.

The track at Istanbul Park has an average width of 15 meters, ranging from 14 to 21.5 meters, and covering over 2.215 million square meters total. There are a total of 14 corners including six right and eight left turns, the sharpest with a radius of merely 15 meters. The circuit runs over four different ground levels with a start/finish straight over 650 meters in length. The total race distance of the Turkish Grand Prix is 309.356 kilometers spread out over 58 laps.

Turn 8 in particular has achieved legendary status in a short amount of time. The corner is a fast, sweeping corner with four apexes, similar to a multi-apex sections of the old Nürburgring. Spectators and drivers alike raved about Turn 8, comparing it to legendary corners such as Eau Rouge and 130R. The circuit itself has already been compared to Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Another notable corner is Turn 1, a sharp downhill left-hander immediately after the front straight. This corner has been nicknamed by some as the “Turkish Corkscrew” in comparison to infamous “Corkscrew” at Laguna Seca. Both the 2006 F1 and MotoGP races at the circuit featured mutliple incidents at this corner.

Logistically speaking, Istanbul Park currently has a total capacity for 155,000 spectators, which are accommodated in 10 grandstands and 5 unnumbered and grassed general admission areas. Istanbul Park is located on the Asian side of Istanbul, approximately 90 kilometers from the centre of the city.

The Main Grandstand at Istanbul Park is located on the Pits Straight directly opposite the start/finish line and pit-boxes. It presents you with an excellent view of the Pits Straight, including the build-up to and the start of the race, the checkered flag at the finish of the race, as well as a view of the racing teams and their pit activities. The western side of the grandstand is situated opposite the podium, offering spectators great views of the podium celebrations after the race. The start line is located towards the middle of the grandstand. The F1 Village is also located behind this grandstand, which is easily accessible from this grandstand. Three bigscreen TV’s are located along this great grandstand, enabling spectators to follow the entire race and not lose track of the procedures.

Overall the five general admission areas provide for excellent viewing and offer good value for money admission. Istanbul Park is a naturally hilly circuit featuring a variety of steep mounds, which makes the viewing in the general admission areas good. But as always there are no seats and you must be there early to get a good spot, which you stand to lose should you have to visit a toilet or leave to buy food.

Hungarian Grand Prix

February 9, 2009 by  
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The first Hungarian Grand Prix was held in 1936 at a track in Nepliget near central Budapest, and it was well supported by both constructors and fans. Unfortunately, it was the last Grand Prix that the country would see for fifty years. Political upheaval and subsequent war meant that the attention of the Hungarian public and government were turned elsewhere and that it was unsafe to hold a Grand Prix in the country during that time. Despite the untimely start of the Hungarian Grand Prix, it has been a favourite on the Hungarian calendar since 1986 during which time it was noted for being the first race to take place behind the Iron Curtain. It has been held at the twisting Hungaroring track near Budapest ever since being re-established that year, and is today one of the main features on the racing calendar.

The 4.38 kilometre (2.72 mile) track is very narrow and twisty. It is generally used during the dry season and the Hungarian Grand Prix has only had rain on one occasion, in 2006. Because it is often under-utilized, the track tends to be dusty which further adds to its difficulty. Drivers often end up stuck behind one another with little opportunity to pass. Because of this, a good race strategy is key to winning, although some drivers have managed to overtake during the course of some races. Efforts were made to increase the width of the track in 2003 so that more overtaking was possible but the track continues to be an interesting challenge for most Formula One drivers. Because of its relatively short distance, it is lapped 70 times which results in an overall race length of 306.66 kilometres (190.55 miles).

The current track wins record holder is Michael Schumacher who has four Hungarian Grand Prix wins under his belt. The constructor with the most wins is Williams which has enjoyed 7 successes at the track. The track has been the location of a number of notable occasions, including Jenson Button taking first place for Honda, moving up from 14th place on the grid in 2006.

Subsequent wins have been: Lewis Hamilton (2007 and 2009); and Heikki Kovalainen (2008) – both driving for McLaren-Mercedes. The 2010 Hungarian Grand Prix is set to take place from 30 July to 1 August, and it has also been confirmed that this world-class racing facility plans to be part of the F1 racing calendar at least until 2016.

Nürburgring

February 9, 2009 by  
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The Nürburgring, or “The Ring”, is a motor racing track situated in Germany. As a truly impressive Formula One circuit, the Nürburgring winds its way through the beautifully wooded hills of Germany’s Eifel plateau. Based around the town of Nürburg, the unique Nürburgring F1 circuit overlooks the remnants of a medieval castle, providing a challenging circuit in remarkable surroundings which attracts large crowds for every event.

The racing circuit of Nürburg was an idea formulated by Dr. Creutz in the 1920s. The original Ring, called Nordschleife, was opened in 1927 and is still used today. This circuit covered an impressive 14 miles or 22.5 km with 172 corners. Many drivers battled to remember the racing line of the complicated Nordschleife circuit. The Nürburgring was actually made up of two circuits, the Nordschleife and the Sudschleife which joined a the paddock with the pits and grandstand. The old Nürburgring was the site of many impressive races such as the time Jackie Stewart won a race in 1968 whilst his wrist was in plaster and the track was covered with fog. Unfortunately, the old track was plagued by safety issues. In 1976 F1 driver Niki Lauda suffered a bad accident in which he sustained severe burns. At the end of 1976 Nürburgring’s license as an F1 circuit was removed.

Over time the Nürburgring was revamped and the new circuit was opened in 1984 covering 4.556km with 14 turns. During the 1984 inaugural race it was decided that they would pit some of Formula One’s greatest drivers against each other in 20 equal Mercedes 190Es. The line-up of famous drivers included Niki Lauda, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Phil Hill, Denny Hulme, Keke Rosberg, James Hunt, John Surtees and Carlos Reutemann. Senna took the lead, beating Lauda by a small margin.

The European Grand Prix was hosted at the Nürburgring F1 track in 1984 and 1985 but not after that due to financial problems. For some time the Nürburgring played no role in Grand Prix, but ran several other events during this time, both on a club and international level. Fans did not abandon the Ring though and turned out in large numbers on race days.

As Michael Schumacher burst onto the F1 scene, Formula One was brought back to the Nürburgring race circuit. The Ring hosted the European GP in 1995 and 1996 and then the new Luxemburg GP in 1997 and 1998. From 1999 through to 2006 it became the resident venue of the European Grand Prix. As of 2007 the Nürburgring Formula One circuit will host the German Grand Prix on alternating years with Hockenheim.

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