Alain Prost

February 9, 2009 by  
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Alain Prost was born near Saint Chamond in the Loire region of central France on February 24, 1955. Although Alain was a physically small boy he had unlimited energy and would give his everything as he took part in many sporting activities including football where he broke his nose several times. At the age of 14 years he discovered kart racing on a family holiday and from then on he became obsessed with it, winning several karting championships. In 1974 he left school to take up racing full time and supported himself by becoming a kart distributor and tuning engines.

In 1975 he won the French senior karting championships and as a prize was given a season in Formula Renault where he won two driving titles and moved to Formula Three. During 1978 and 1979 he won both the European and French F3 championships, which made him wanted property by several Formula One teams. With much consideration he chose to sign up with McLaren for the 1980 season. His first Formula One season was inundated with accidents, breaking his wrist in one and suffering from concussion in another. One of the points of concern was that these accidents were caused mainly from mechanical failures and the other was Alain’s increasing loss of confidence in how the McLaren team was being run. With that he broke his two-year contract and moved over to Renault.

His first Formula One win came at the 1981 French Grand Prix at Dijon and from there on he kept up his winning streak with nine wins during his time with Renault. However, a change was inevitable, so Alain Prost and his wife Anne-Marie and their son Nicolas moved to Switzerland where Prost again joined the British-based team, McLaren in 1984. His six seasons with McLaren saw him win thirty races, three driving titles and runner-up twice. During 1985 and 1986 he became the first back-to-back French World Champion since Jack Brabham ten years ago. In 1987 he beat Jackie Stewart‘s 14-year-old record when he won his 28th Grand Prix.

In 1988 between Prost and Ayrton Senna they contributed a total of 15 victories to McLaren-Honda. From then on there was intense rivalry between the two, which drove the sport’s greatest drivers to heights of success and controversy unheard of before. McLaren continued to dominate throughout 1989 but with the Prost-Senna feud reaching the stage of out-right hatred, Prost decided to leave McLaren and join Ferrari. Prost won five races in his first year with Ferrari but lost the season end championship in Japan to fellow rival, Senna.

In 1991 Alain Prost failed to win a race and due to his public criticism of the team he was fired. The year 1992 saw him as a TV commentator but Prost returned to racing in 1993 and joined William-Renault where he won several races bringing his tally up to 51 wins. When faced with having Senna as his Williams team mate Prost decided to retire and instead become a TV commentator as well as working as an advisor and test driver for McLaren.

From 1997 to 2002, Alain Prost created and ran Prost Grand Prix. Since then he has regularly taken part in the Andros Ice Race series, as well as several bicycle races.

Ayrton Senna

February 9, 2009 by  
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On March 21, 1960, Ayrton Senna da Silva was born into a wealthy Brazilian family along with his brother and sister. Although he led a privileged life with all his needs and wants catered for, his love and inner need to race pushed him to go further and push racing to the extreme. This obsession began at an early age when his father first gave him a miniature go-kart at the age of four years. Ayrton Senna’s memories of his childhood are highlighted with Grand Prix mornings where he would sit down and watch intensely as his Formula One heroes competed. His turn to race took place at the age of thirteen years when he raced a kart for the first time and won.

Later he moved onto single-seater racing in Britain, where he proved himself a formidable force to be reckoned with by winning five championships in three years. His passion for racing continued and finally he made his Formula One debut with Toleman in 1984. In Monaco, Senna proved that he was more then just a driver but that he had phenomenal talent, when he came second to Alain Prost’s McLaren in torrential rain.

In 1985 Ayrton Senna bought out his contract with Toleman and moved to Lotus where he could further his ambitions as a Formula One driver. This is exactly what he did, within three seasons he began in pole position sixteen times and won a total of six races. Again he came to a standstill as to what he could achieve within Lotus and so decided to take the next step forward and move to McLaren in 1988. Here he stayed for a total of six seasons, winning altogether three world championships and 35 races, showing his domination as a driver. Then in time for the 1994-racing season Senna moved to Williams for that ill-fated year.

Senna put his heart and soul into his driving and life itself, that was the type of man he was. It could be seen time and again by all his fans just how committed he was to the sport and what a thrilling spectacle it was to see him lap after lap. This ambition did not go without condemnation from the critics and infact it was Prost who accused Senna of caring more for the win then life itself. Ayrton Senna even confessed that he at times went too far to the point of even frightening himself. Although he was quite taken up with racing this did not mean that he was too self-absorbed to recognise the suffering of his fellow man. By the time he died in 1994 he had given approximately $400 million to children and to the underprivileged in Brazil.

Senna had always seen living as putting ‘your everything’ into what ever you did and come the time that he could not, he would rather die instantly then carry on. This is exactly what happened on May 1, 1994, at the San Marino Grand Prix. He was racing in his leading Williams when he veered off the track and hit the concrete wall. Millions of his fans saw Senna come to his end on television. The world mourned the passing of this man who had captivated his audience right from the beginning. Among the mourners at Ayrton’s funeral was Frank Williams, who said, “Ayrton was no ordinary person. He was actually a greater man out of his car than in it.”

Nigel Mansell

February 9, 2009 by  
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Born near Birmingham on the 8 August 1953, Nigel Ernest Mansell drove his first car at the age of seven on an open field. He was inspired by Jim Clark, who won the 1962 British Grand Prix, and from then decided he would copy his hero. Like many other Formula One racers he started with cart racing and after much success became the 1977 British Formula Ford champion, regardless of the fact that during the test run he suffered a broken neck. The doctors then informed him that the accident had brought him close to becoming a quadriplegic and that for six months after the accident he was to be confined and would probably never drive again. Nigel sneaked out on the pretense of going to the toilet and raced on.

Nigel Mansell put a lot on line to progress in his racing. Having given up his job as an aerospace engineer and having sold many of his personal items to finance his move into Formula Ford, he was not about to stop now. Later, Mansell and his loyal wife Rosanne sold their home to finance his next move into Formula Three. In 1979, Mansell was again in a near death accident when he collided with another car. For the second time Nigel Mansell was hospitalized, this time with a broken vertebra in his back. With so much at stake he took painkillers to hide the extent of his pain and performed well enough in the Lotus tryouts to become a test driver for the Formula One team.

In 1980 he took part in his Formula One debut at the Austrian Grand Prix. During the race he had a fuel leak in the cockpit, which left him with extremely painful first and second degree burns on his buttocks. In 1985 Nigel moved to Williams, but by the end of that season he had had no victories to show for the 71 Grand Prix starts he had taken part in. However, after that he became a prolific winner, starting with the 1985 European Grand Prix at Brands Hatch. In a period of 18 months he won 11 races but was unable to achieve two World Championships. In 1986 his season came to an end when his tyre burst in Adelaide.

Nigel Mansell fuelled his motivational fires with adverse situations and if they did not exist he went out of his way to create them. Although this caused many conflicts within the Williams team, the fans loved him for the pure unadulterated aggression with which he raced. In 1988 an opportunity came up at Ferrari and Mansell took it with both hands. In 1989 his debut with Ferrari came with a win, which endured him to his Italian fans who called him “The Lion”. At Hungaroring he qualified at a seemingly hopeless 12th on a track that was known to be impossible to overtake on. But Mansell stormed through the field and managed to just get pass Senna’s McLaren and win the race.

At the end of the season Nigel announced that he would be retiring for the season but a couple of months later came back onto the racing scene with Williams. 1991 saw him winning five times in the Williams-Renault but he was unable to take the title. In 1992 this changed and he was declared World Champion after winning nine out of the 16 races in his Williams-Renault FW14B. But with grieviances over money and the prospect of having his arch enemy as his 1993 team mate he retired from Williams and started with IndyCar racing in America where he dominated, becoming the 1993 IndyCar champion. A year later Williams talked him into returning for four more races, the last of which he won from pole position. In 1995 he raced two more times with McLaren but decided once and for all to retire after 187 races over 15 chaotic seasons. Nigel Mansell retired from racing to run several business enterprises and now lives a much quieter life with his wife and three children, taking part in a couple of racing events from time to time.

BMW Sauber

February 9, 2009 by  
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In July 2009, BMW announced that it would withdraw from Formula One racing at the end of the Season

BMW, an abbreviation for Bavarian Motor Works, is an independent motorcycle and car manufacturer based in Munich, Germany. The manufacturer is known world-wide for producing beautiful, up-market cars that are a pleasure to drive. BMW also acts as a parent company for MINI and Rolls-Royce. The company has been involved in motor sport ever since they created their first motorcycle. They have competed successfully in Formula One racing, Formula Two racing and Rally racing, amongst others.

Initially BMW supported existing Formula One teams such as Williams and McLaren. In 2005, BMW made the decision to leave Williams F1 and to purchase the Sauber F1 team which was founded by Peter Sauber in 1993. The team became known as BMW – Sauber F1 and although BMW is the owner, constructor and engine manufacturer for the team, they decided to leave the Sauber name as a gesture of goodwill to Peter Sauber who currently acts as a consultant for the team.

BMW started its involvement in motor vehicle racing in the 1940s. They initially used their 328 model to participate in F2 racing, using the sport as a stepping stone to F1 racing. They ran their own team until F2 racing was stopped periodically in 1955 and then switched to F1. Even though F2 was later revived, BMW decided not to get involved with this aspect of the sport again – that was until F2 regulations allowed 1600cc motors. Suddenly the idea of F2 racing became a lot more appealing and by the end of the 1960s, BMW had developed the ‘M12’ engine as well as their 269 chassis. They continued to enjoy great success through the 1970s and decided to get more involved in F1 in the 1980s.

In 1982, BMW raced their first turbocharged engine, the M12/13. It was a complete success and it took its first win and the Canadian Grand Prix. The following year the engine took four more wins and won the driver’s championship. By 1984, BMW was supplying quite a few F1 teams with their multiple-victory engines. Despite BMW’s withdrawal from the sport near the end of 1986, the engine continued to be in use until turbocharged motors were banned from the sport. Tody the BMW M12/13 Turbocharged 14 engine is still recognised as being the first F1 engine capable of a 1000hp racing trim. In 1997 BMW developed a partnership with the Williams Grand Prix Engineering. The partnership proved to be most successful and BMW went on to enjoy many wins with excellent drivers like Ralf Schumacher, Jenson Button and Pablo Montoya behind the wheel.

In 2005, disagreements between BMW and Williams resulted in a bad season and the decline of the partnership. BMW decided to purchase Sauber’s multi-million dollar research and development facility and take over the team. In 2006, the BMW-Sauber F1 team was born allowing BMW to exercise full control over their own team.

Turkish Grand Prix Review

May 15, 2008 by  
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The 2008 Turkish Grand Prix turned out to be just the fast-paced, action-packed event that fans and spectators were hoping for. Punctured tires, scary accidents and some brilliant driving kept pulses racing as Felipe Massa struggled to defend his position at the front of the pack. In the end Massa managed to take the winner’s trophy for the Turkish Grand Prix for the third time in a row.

As the cars lined up on the starting grid that day, massive clouds gathered above threatening rain. There was no telling what would happen. The drivers spent ages waiting for the lights to be switched on and there was an air of tension all around. When the lights finally signaled the start of the race, the scene erupted into chaos. But in seconds the main contenders for the trophy erupted from the mess: Brazilian Felipe Massa made a clean break from the rest of the pack while Hamilton managed to slot into second place. In his efforts to gain ground, Raikkonen’s front wing nudged Kovalainen’s rear tire, puncturing it and causing a major setback for him.

At the back it was a confusion as Fisichella drove into the back of Kazuki Nakajima’s Williams, causing both to end their race before it really started. Vettel and Sutil suffered sufficient damage from the collision to have to be sent to the pits for repair work, giving them little hope of ever reclaiming the ground lost. Meanwhile Raikkonen lost his position at third place to Fernando Alonso and Robert Kubica due to heavy braking, but he was determined to reclaim his spot and immediately put into practice the perfect strategy. By closely tailing Alonso, Raikkonen was able to slipstream his opponent, allowing him to pull out and overtake. The two struggled neck in neck for a nail-biting second before the Ferrari suddenly disappeared into the distance.

Things continued to prove interesting after driver Hamilton shot out of the pit stops into first place ahead of Massa. Massa seemed to yield to the position and didn’t fight it. The majority of drivers seemed to settle where they were and the race proceeded without much excitement for a while.

By the end of the race it seemed clear that Massa was back in the lead and no one would be challenging his position. However the battle for second and third was a tight one fought by Hamilton and Raikkonen. In the final round of stops Hamilton managed to change his tires and get back out on the track extremely fast, leaving him in second place with Raikkonen pushing to reclaim his position. Raikkonen continued to hassle Hamilton for the remaining 16 laps until at last he decided to settle for third instead of risking an accident. So in the end it was Massa who took first place, followed by Hamilton in second and Raikkonen in third. The three drivers were clearly driving much better than the rest of the field and deserved their prizes.

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