French Grand Prix

February 9, 2009 by  
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The French Grand Prix or as its called in France, the Grand Prix de France, is part of the Federation Internationale de I’Automobile’s annual Formula One automobile racing championships. Grand Prix motor racing as a whole originated in France, making the French Grand Prix one of the oldest Grand Prix races to ever take place. The first French International Grand Prix to come about was run on the 26th of June 1906 under the sponsorship of the Automobile Club de France in Sarthe, with as many as thirty-two racing cars taking place.

But the first organized event of this kind was part of a Reliability Trial run from Paris to Rouen and took place in 1894 over a distance of 126 km. The Le Petite Journal organised the event and wrote that the winner of the “horseless carriage” must be “safe, easily controllable and reasonably economical to run.” Twenty-one contestants took part, leaving on July 22nd, with the Count de Dion coming home first in his steam driven De Dion tractor. However the vehicle was not considered a practical car and the prize went jointly to a Panhard-Levassor and a Peugeot, with winning speeds of an exciting 17km/h. This race was quite a breakthrough considering when the first “horseless carriage” was introduced. The vehicle was seen as something to get to places quicker but by no means reliable, so the thought of speed on these machines was unthinkable at the time.

Then in 1925 the first ever World Championships were organized. This included the French Grand Prix, the Belgian Grand Prix, the Italian Grand Prix and the Indianapolis 500. Since 1950 when Formula One was instituted, the French Grand Prix has been part of this organisation. Formula One has been held all over France at various racetracks, including the Autodrome de Montlhery. Then in 1991 the French Grand Prix was given a permanent home at the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours. The reason for such a move to such a remote area was in an attempt to boost the local economy.

Financial problems cast a shadow over the 2004 and 2005 French Grand Prix events, although they continued as planned. As it turned out, 2005 was the last French Grand Prix to be held, as despite many efforts to continue including France in the F1 racing circuit, financial and logistical problems thwarted each new attempt. For the 2010 F1 season, there will be no French Grand Prix, however, French auto racing enthusiasts will be pleased to know that the Paul Ricard Circuit has been put forward as a candidate to act as host in 2011.

Red Bull Racing F1 Team

February 9, 2009 by  
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Still a relatively new to the F1 racing scene, the Red Bull F1 Racing Team is one of two teams owned by Red Bull. Red Bull is an Austrian beverage company which focuses on the sale of an energy drink said to boost energy and mental vitality. It enjoys a good global marketing campaign and is known for sponsoring and supporting adrenaline-pumping sporting activities around the globe. The Red Bull Racing team is currently managed by Christian Horner and is set to give up their British flag soon in favour of an Austrian one.

The team started when Red Bull made the decision to purchase Jaguar Racing at the end of the 2004 racing season. Up until that stage, Red Bull had been in a long-term partnership with the Sauber Formula One team. This partnership was broken with the establishment of the new team. Red Bull is dedicated to their F1 team and also to the development of the sport as a whole. The company currently also owns the Toro Rosso team for the development of promising F1 drivers and the Red Bull Junior Team for the development of young drivers. Red Bull Racing also reached a political high-ground with the signing of the Concorde Agreement which will come into effect in 2008. Thus far only four teams have signed this agreement which commits to long-term involvement in the sport.

Red Bull Racing made their debut in the 2005 racing season with David Coulthard in the driving seat. Backing him up in the team’s second car was Christian Klien, who had driven for Jaguar during the previous year, and Vitantonio Liuzzi. By the end of the year it was decided that Liuzzi should drive for the Scuderia Toro Rosso team while Klien would remain with the Red Bull Racing team. In their first year they came sixth in the Constructors Championship and their final number of points outshone Jaguar’s performance over the past two years combined. They even contended for a place on the podium for much of their debut season. In 2006 the team made the decision to switch to Ferrari engines which would help them comply with a rule change mandating the use of V8 engines. 2006 also saw McLaren’s technical director, Adrian Newey, join the ranks of the team, which finished the season 7th in the FIA Constructors Championship, with driver David Coulthard finishing in 13th place.

Having used Ferrari engines in 2006, Red Bull Racing passed the Ferrari contract to Scuderia Toro Rosso, and took the decision to use Renault engines for the 2007 F1 Championships season. Principle drivers for 2007 were David Coulthard and Mark Webber, with Robert Doornbos as the third driver for the team. Despite some problems with the team’s cars during the season, it finished in 5th place in the 2007 FIA Constructors Championship. Using the same drivers in 2008, Red Bull Racing saw one of its driver’s up on the winning podium again when David Coulthard took third place in Canada. However, the team started questioning the wisdom of changing over to Renault engines, especially when the Red Bull ‘B’ Team with their Ferrari-powered cars passed them in points by the season’s end.

The 2009 season started off better for Red Bull Racing as Sebastian Vettel won the 2009 Chinese Grand Prix, with Mark Webber taking second place in their Renault-powered RB5 cars. The team followed up with points victories at the Spanish, Turkish, British, German, Brazilian and Abu Dhabi Grand Prix events, finishing in 2nd place in the FIA Constructors Championships. The 2010 F1 Grand Prix Championships saw Vettel taking the World Championship for the Red Bull Racing F1 team.

Super Aguri F1 Team

February 9, 2009 by  
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Super Aguri F1 withdrew from F1 racing in 2008.

Super Aguri F1 is a new team that recently joined the ranks of other Formula One teams in 2006 and is known as the Super Aguri Hondas, and is seen as an unofficial Honda ‘B’-team. The team was formed by Aguri Suzuki, a former F1 driver and is based in Tokyo, Japan although it operates from the former Arrows factory in Leafield, UK. The team came about due to public pressure on Honda, Japan; to help one of its former drivers, Takuma Sato, continue to compete in F1.

Aguri Suzuki, as mentioned before, started Formula One racing in 1989 participating regularly in F1 races. Before this Suzuki had competed in quite a few championship races held in Japan. A year later he made third place at the Japanese Grand Prix and became one of the first Japanese drivers to take to the F1 podium. When Aguri Suzuki finished up with F1 racing he moved back to Japan where he founded the Autobacs Racing Team Aguri project, managing the driver development and racing team programs.

Later in 2003 he formed the Super Aguri Fernandez Racing with Adrian Fernandez, an IRL IndyCar driver, and then participated in the series. Three years later he took part in the Japanese top formula, All Japan Championship Formula Nippon, in the Japanese top touring category SUPER GT series, well continuing as ARTA Project producer. Up until now there has been no other person who has been able to manage not only a Formula One team but also many other racing teams in a lot of of the world’s top categories all at the same time.

The FIA announced early in 2006 that the teams had accepted the late entry of Super Aguri to the 2006 FIA Formula One World Championships. This also came with the announcement that Yuji Ide and Takuma Sato had been signed up as drivers for the teams first season with Franck Montagny as third driver. After four races it was decided that Montagny would take Ides place as driver in the European Grand Prix and other races. The 2007 plans for the teams second season have not been finalized yet. Super Aguri has announced that Anthony Davidson, a former Honda and test driver, will be driving with Takuma Sato for the team in 2007.

Silverstone Speedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Britain’s Silverstone Speedway, with its rich history in the world of auto racing, is incredibly fast with a long complex of high-speed corners that thrill spectators and challenges drivers. In fact, most of its twist and turns leave other circuits in the dust. The change of direction is so quick that driver’s testify to feeling the “speed” of the car. You need good aerodynamics at Silverstone, so this is where all the hard work in the wind tunnel before the race pays off!

Silverstone Speedway was opened as a World War II airfield in 1943, near the leafy village of the same name. Once the war had ended in 1945, Britain was left with a number of sprawling airfields, but without a major racetrack: Donington Park was still a military vehicle storage depot, Brooklands had been sold off, Crystal Palace was in a state of disrepair, and Brands Hatch was still under-developed.

The Royal Automobile Club was interested in Silverstone as a potential site and approached the Air Ministry in 1948 and a lease was arranged. At this time, the centre of Silverstone Circuit was a farm that produced cereal crops and raised pigs! Out of such humble surroundings legends are born: the RAC employed farmer James Wilson Brown to create the first Grand Prix circuit at the site and gave him just two months to build it.

On October 2nd, 1948, amid straw bales and ropes, the first event at Silverstone Speedway took place, the RAC Grand Prix. The crowds came in their thousands, thrilled to see the return of Grand Prix racing after so many years of war austerity. The 3.67 mile course sent the 23 competing cars racing round part of the perimeter track, up the two former runways and back to the perimeter. This layout meant cars were racing towards each other head-on until they turned sharp left and returned to the perimeter. For this reason, canvas screens were erected across the centre of the circuit to stop the drivers being distracted whilst the spectators were not permitted to enter the centre of the circuit because of the potential damage to growing crops.

The winner of the inaugural race at the Silverstone circuit was Luigi Villoresi in a Maserati, who recorded an average speed of 72 mph to claim the first prize of £500. A year later, after the hazardous runways were eliminated and a chicane was inserted on the full perimeter road, Silverstone Speedway hosted a second major event in May 1949 – the Formula One Daily Express International Trophy – virtually a second Grand Prix, won by Alberto Ascari.

Another of Silverstone Speedway’s most famous classics also began in August 1949, the Daily Express International Trophy for Formula One cars and for this meeting the Club chicane was dispensed with and the circuit took up a shape that was to last for a quarter of a century.

Back in 1950, Silverstone Speedway was the birthplace of today’s FIA Formula One World Championship. Today the Speedway remains one of the world’s most historic tracks, but the challenges faced on every corner are no less daunting than any other circuit raced by the greatest names in F1 today.

Atlanta Motor Speedway

February 9, 2009 by  
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Formerly known as the Atlanta International Raceway, the Atlanta Motor Speedway is located in Hampton, just to the south of the city of Atlanta. Atlanta Motor Speedway, is a 2.48 kilometer superspeedway, that has a quad-oval circuit and a spectator seating capacity of approximately 125 000. The track first opened in 1960, but condominiums were erected over the northeastern part of the Atlanta Speedway track in 1994. This construction led to the track being redesigned and practically rebuilt in 1997. The front and backstretches were swapped, and the oval form of the track gave way to quad-oval. Today, the Atlanta Motor Speedway is the fastest NASCAR track on the entire NASCAR circuit. The track also includes a 4 kilometer road course, approved by the FIA, and a Legends racing track, between the main track and the pit road.

This NASCAR circuit was seeing qualifying lap speeds of approximately 311 kilometers an hour, with the fastest recorded lap speed of 317 kilometers an hour, between the 1990s and the 2000s. The Texas Motor Speedway, that was designed very similar to the Atlanta Speedway, did have faster times during 2004 to 2005, but after its surface was worn, the higher speeds returned to Atlanta. Tracks such as Daytona International Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway did once have faster lap times, averaging about 322 kilometers an hour, but NASCAR mandated restrictor plates for these tracks, making the average speed approximately 306 kilometers an hour. The Atlanta Motor Speedway’s slogan is “Real Racing. Real Fast.” This is not an exaggeration, as NASCAR has not mandated restrictor plates at this track.

Hurricane Cindy hit the Atlanta Motor Speedway on 6 July 2005, with the damage being estimated at approximately 40-50 million US Dollars. Debris was littered across the track, facades were torn off, roofs were damaged, scoreboard towers were knocked down or left leaning and new grandstands had to be built to replace those that were built in 1960. But against all odds, Atlanta Motor Speedway was ready to race by the next big event and has gone on to welcome spectators to witness some of the fastest racing in the United States.

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