Sunday, 29 March 2009, was a very important day for the Brawn GP racing team, as it was to be their debut as a Formula One racing team, and the stakes were high. After Honda decided that they no longer wanted to be a part of F1, Ross Brawn, the team principle took the chance to take over the team and see how far they could go. It is obvious that the change is exactly what the team needed, as they exploded on the Melbourne track for the Australian Grand Prix.
In 1950, the Alfa Romeo F1 team won their debut race, followed by the Mercedes team in 1954, who managed to pull of the same feat. And on Sunday, the Brawn GP team became the first team since 1977, to win their debut
It seems that the other teams were constantly running into trouble, with Felipe Massa (Ferarri) losing his steering and an unfortunate Kimi Raikkonen spinning out on the 48th lap. Two crashes also sent drivers out of contention, with Robert Kubica (BMW) and Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) crashing into each other a mere four laps before the end of the race and the collision between Nick Heidfeld (BMW) and Heikki Kovalainen (McLaren) also effecting Adrian Sutil (Force India) and Mark Webber (Red Bull). Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) finished in fourth position, followed by Timo Glock (Toyota), Fernando Alonso (Renault), Nico Rosberg (Williams) and Sebastien Buemi (Red Bull).
But the day undoubtedly belonged to Brawn GP, with Button commenting after the race: “This is where we deserve to be, after the difficult times we have had. Roll on the season, I am so excited about this year.” When asked about the finish, Jenson Button had this to say, “This is a fairytale ending for the first race. Some people may say it’s a pity the race finished under the safety car but I don’t care, I won the race and that’s all I care about.”
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.
He hasn’t had the best of luck in this Sprint Cup Season, but Tony Stewart has just managed to pick up his fifth Nationwide Series victory for the year. It was a long, hard slog to the finish line, however, and it took quite a bit of work to be first to cross the finish line.
The Joe Gibbs Racing team member restarted in third place on lap 133 after a late two-tire pit stop on lap 129. By lap 136 he had overtaken Carl Edwards, who had only refueled on the pit stop, and from that point on he led the race for the rest of the way. The 200-lap event, which took place at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, did not provide an easy victory for the racing veteran and he was chased by Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch for the final 64 laps before his team mates were finally forced to settle for second and third respectively. Hamlin was only half-a-second behind Stewart before an accident by Greg Biffle on the final circuit made it impossible for him to close in and overtake. The win marks the eighth victory for Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 20 Toyota team.
An elated Tony Stewart gave credit to his crew chief Dave Rogers for always ensuring that his No. 20 Camry performed brilliantly. He noted that the win must have more to do with the car than the drivers since four different drivers have driven the same vehicle to victory. He also said that he considers himself and his team mates to be very fortunate to be in the position to drive the car. The decision to change out the No. 20 Cup car’s tires was actually made by Rogers, and Stewart is confident that this is the reason he won the race. Rogers has been at JGR since 1998 and, after holding several different positions in the organization, has eventually emerged as a very successful crew chief with plenty of winning strategies. Stewart admitted that he trusted Roger’s decisions and that his success through their combined efforts was proof that the JGR program was working. Well done team!
Formula One Scuderia Toro Rosso (Italian for Team Red Bull) has been put up for sale by joint-owners Dietrich Mateschitz and former F1 driver, Gerhard Berger. The recent announcement has put an end to rumors that have been circulating in auto racing circles for some time with regard to the fate of the team.
Dietrich Mateschitz is the man behind the successful Red Bull Formula One team, and Scuderia Toro Rosso has been considered to be Red Bull’s “B” team. With amendments to the Concorde Agreement, which will come into effect at the beginning of 2010, the collaboration between Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso will no longer be feasible. The Concorde Agreement amendment will prohibit Red Bull Racing from building cars for Scuderia Toro Rosso, prompting the decision to sell the team before 2010.
The Concorde Agreement is a contract between the motor racing events governing body, FIA (Federation Internationale de l’Automobile), Formula One teams and Formula One Administration. The agreement dictates the terms under which F1 teams compete in races, as well as the share split of television revenues and prize money. The main purpose of the Concorde Agreement is to promote the commercial success of Formula One in a professional manner. This is achieved largely through each team meeting its obligation to participate in every race of an F1 season, thereby making the sport financially viable for broadcasters who invest a great deal in the television broadcast rights.
Confirmation of the team being up for sale has led to much speculation as to who would be in the market to buy Scuderia Toro Rosso. Possible buyers include Nicolas Todt, the manager for Sauber driver Felipe Massa and son of Ferrari’s CEO, Jean Todt, as well as A1GP chairman Tony Teixeira. The current owners have made it clear that Scuderia Toro Rosso will only be sold if it is being put into safe hands.
Scuderia Toro Rosso made a notable start to the 2008 F1 season at the Australian Grand Prix, with Sabastien Bourdais featuring prominently throughout his F1 debut race. He narrowly missed fourth-place when his car suffered engine failure with two laps to go, but nevertheless was classified in seventh place. Auto racing enthusiasts agree that with performances of this caliber, Scuderia Toro Rosso should have no problem in finding a buyer.
The Daytona 500 is known as one of the premier NASCAR events. It has always been a venue of victory, disappointment and thrilling racing, and Sunday was no different. A victory for Roger Penske, fourteen time winner of the Indianapolis 500, and his team at the Daytona 500 had eluded them for twenty four years. But through the determination and teamwork of Penske Dodge drivers, Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman, they took first and second place, with Ryan Newman crossing the finish line first.
It was just another reminder that nothing is cast in stone and that anything is possible in racing, even in the last lap of a race. For most spectators and racing enthusiasts, the Daytona 500 was clear cut. After winning most of the events at the Speed Weeks, it seemed that the battle for the winning position would be between the Hendrick Motorsports’ Chevrolets and the Joe Gibbs’ Toyotas. And for a while, right up until lap 199, it seemed certain that Tony Steward would win, especially after taking the white flag.
But the Penske Dodge drivers were not prepared to give up and stayed right on top of Steward. While Steward was trying to keep both Busch and Newman at bay, Kurt Busch saw an opportunity for his team and led Steward to believe that he was going hard into the inside. As Steward dropped low to block Busch, both Penske drivers overtook him on the top, giving Ryan Newman the chance to take the win for the Penske team.
Both Newman and Busch have put the win down to teamwork and seeing it as a team victory and not as an individual victory. Ryan Newman winning the Daytona 500 could not have been a more memorable day for Roger Penske, as it was not only a fiftieth celebration for the racing event, but a first win of the Daytona 500 for Penske.
Racing has always been an unpredictable sport, and while the Penske team celebrated, others were nursing their loss and looking towards the next race to improve their cars and their strategies. And in true racing spirit, Rick Hendrick ensured that he was the first in Victory Lane to extend a hand of sincere congratulations to Roger Penske.