An Indycar World Cup?

Indycar is currently struggling to compete with NASCAR amongst American fans. In order to help this, an Indycar World Cup could revive this ailing series. It would be a chance to hire new blood and showcase American sponsors on a global scale. Starting in 2017, it would be a farewell tour for the much maligned Dallara DW12 (named in honour of the late Dan Wheldon). Here is a provisional calendar consisting of five events, of which three will take place in Asia and two in North America:

2017-18 CALENDAR

JAP, Fuji (3 December) Asian Le Mans (ROAD- 55 laps/250km)
USA, Homestead-Miami 300 (17 December) STAND-ALONE (OVAL- 200 laps)
THA, Chang (7 January) Asian Le Mans (ROAD- 55 laps/250km)
MAL, Sepang (21 January) Asian Le Mans (ROAD- 46 laps/ 250km)
MEX, Mexico City (3 February) STAND-ALONE (ROAD- 71 laps/305km)
MEX, Mexico City (4 February) STAND-ALONE (ROAD- 71 laps/305km)

It will be ran under the same regulations INDYCAR use for their premier Verizon Indycar Series championship, only whoever wins the Indycar World Cup is crowned “Indy World Champion”. The series champion will receive the Vanderbilt Cup, formerly awarded to the champion of now-defunct CART series championship.

Five venues eligible to hold additional F1 races in America

Bernie Ecclestone has again re-iterated his wishes of six Grands Prix to be held in America. Here are five venues capable of holding Grands Prix if modified to FIA standards:

Sebring International Raceway

Capacity: Open seating without capacity limitation

Track length: 3.74 miles (6.02km)

Best known as the venue of Sebring 12 Hours, its track surface contains a mixture of asphalt and concrete. It held the 1959 edition of US Grand Prix, but was shelved due to poor attendance and high costs. At least $500 million would be required to bring this venue up to FIA Grade 1 standards. Its location in Florida, however, would provide convenience for those fans unable to travel to more illustrious circuits based in North America.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Capacity: 235,000 (permanent)

Track length (F1): 2.605 miles (4.192 km)

The venue of US Grand Prix from 2000-2007, Indy has unfortunately encountered the dark political side of F1 more often than it should done. In its first Grand Prix held on its custom made road course, controversy arose in qualifying due to the position of pole and 2nd place being placed directly on the famous bricked line. Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher and McLaren’s Hakkinen deliberately set slower times to start on the second row, but the front row was dropped back on race day to avoid wheelspin issues for their respectative team-mates Rubens Barrichello and David Coulthard. The 2004 race saw a worryingly slow response from the safety crew, who took two minutes to drag themselves to the aid of Ralf Schumacher. The German had crashed into the concrete wall on the banked oval and he would fly home with undiagnosed fractures of vertebrates in his back. He later threatened legal action against the Speedway officials for his inadequate medical treatment. The 2005 edition, however, would witness F1 politics at its ugliest, as Ralf’s practice accident near the same spot of his accident from the previous year’s Grand Prix due to a delaminated tyre sent Michelin into disarray. who later ordered their contracted teams to avoid doing more than ten laps on any set of their compounds. Race day would see a farcical pull out of the Michelin-shod teams, as a failure to agree a temporary chicane before the final banked oval turn would see just six cars start the race.

Road America

Capacity: Open seating without seating limitation

Track length: 4.048 miles (6.515km)

Seen as the best road course in North America, this venue located in Elkart Lake, Wisconsin would almost certainly gain popularity with international fans. It contains fourteen daunting turns, with frequent bumps and varying levels of residual grip. Road America has held many encapsulating Indycar races sanctioned by the now defunct CART organisation, including Al Unser Jr’s last lap engine failure in 1996 and Juan Pablo Montoya’s gearbox dying in the 1999 edition. If F1 was to hold a race here, its spectacle may sadly been hampered by fuel restrictions, which would demand the cars to lift off early at the end of straights. However, the close proximity of the walls and blindness of the kinks will demand the respect of the world’s best racing drivers. Like Sebring, work would be need to be done on laying asphalt run-offs, as well as proper permanent seating areas and a high tech pit area.

Sonoma Raceway

Capacity: 47,000

Track length: 2.22 miles (3.57km)

Based in California, Sonoma is often seen as poor cousin to the famous Mazda Laguna Seca Raceway. This venue is a dusty, twisty circuit capable of testing the stamina of the best road racers, however some F1 fans may see his track mirroring features of the much-maligned Hungaroring. Its capacity would need to be doubled in order to hold a F1 event and its safety features would need to upgraded to FIA Grade 1 standards.

Watkins Glen International

Capacity: 38,900

Track length: 3.4 miles (5.43km)

Last, but not least, we have Watkins Glen based in the outskirts of Schuyler County, New York. This track was the venue of US Grand Prix from 1961-1980. The lower safety standards required by NASCAR, Indycar and sportscar racing has allowed this venue to remain with mediocre safety features. The picture above shows Tony Stewart testing a McLaren-Mercedes MP4-23 in a Mobil 1 promotional event.

Pirelli threatens to pull out of F1 if test plan is not agreed TODAY

Paul Hembery on today’s F1 Commission approval:

This is it. We cannot do our job without this. We cannot deliver.

The continuing procrastination over 2017 regulations has reared its ugly head once again, with F1’s sole tyre supplier showing its frustration at F1 Strategy Group’s inability to ratify a coherent plan to reform the physics of the cars.

Pirelli has developed a rather mixed reputation since its return to F1 in 2011, with the tyre blow out incidents at 2013 British & 2015 Belgian Grands Prix incurring the ire of teams across the paddock. It appears this news announcement is a cunning attempt by Paul Hembery and his executives to arrest some political power towards themselves, as the Italian tyre supplier attempts to redeem its image. It is clear that Pirelli are stuck in an existential crisis, having indulged many of FIA’s wishes for variable tyres with a wide range of degradation and performance. However, it has struggled to avoid heat sensitivity issues related to their compounds, with many teams and drivers infuriated by unpredictable operating temperatures and tyre pressures required to achieve optimum performance and mileage from the Pirellis.

A much touted belief amongst F1 Strategy Group revolves around wider car and bigger tyres, raising the wheel rims from 13 inches to 18 inches. However, there is much debate over the effects over the handling of the cars, as well as how the tyres and the enlarged size of the cars will affect the ergonomics of the driver’s seating position and his peripheral vision. It was Michelin who proposed the idea of larger wheel rim, but Martin Brundle’s unfavourable verdict of this when he tested a modified GP2 car at Monaco, it was quietly shelved. Michelin had been contenders to take over as F1’s control tyre supplier for this season, but disagreements with FIA over the manufacture of tyres meant their return failed to materialise.

Pirelli clearly want as much time as possible to eradicate these prevalent issues, but whether the CEOs are willing to cut their losses and pull the plug on its ailing project is one to be seen.

Chinese Grand Prix Winners & Losers

DRIVER OF THE DAY

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes (P1)

An impeccable performance from start to finish. Every driver who has won the first three races of a season has become world champion and Nico Rosberg’s win streak extends to six Grands Prix. What made Rosberg’s path to victory was his use of soft compounds to achieve his pole lap, allowing him to build a sizeable lead by his first pit stop on lap 20. He also achieved the fastest lap for the medium compound runs and the second fastest lap on the softs.

Winners

Daniil Kvyat, Red Bull (P3)

The young Russian drove a composed race en route to P3, despite complaints towards the end of the race via radio. He dealt with Vettel’s post race confrontation over the first corner incident in an incredibly mature and admirable manner. After all, Kvyat took a fair opportunity down the inside of turn 1 and never made contact with Vettel, so therefore cannot be held culpable for the German hitting his Ferrari team-mate Raikkonen.

Daniel Ricciardo, Red Bull (P4)

The foxy Australian arguably drove an even better race than his young Russian team-mate, retaining an immeasurable level of panache after his early puncture. It sadly robbed viewers of a tasty fight between Ricciardo and Rosberg for the victory, but the Honey Badger’s overtakes on Massa and Hamilton was impressive regardless.

Felipe Massa, Williams (P6)

A steady and solid drive from the Brazilian veteran.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes (P7)

The Briton did the best he could in trying circumstances, after incurring a five grid drop for his gearbox change, followed by his early exit from yesterday’s qualifying due to power unit issues. Whilst his high flying team-mate Rosberg continues his domination at the front of the grid, Hamilton demonstrated Mercedes’ acute handling deficiencies when following the dirty air of other cars. Damage limitation was the end result for Hamilton.

REJECT OF THE RACE

Sebastian Vettel, Ferrari (P2)

Seb’s pathetic attempt to attach the blame towards Kyvat was childish and desperate. In hindsight, Vettel could have slowed down further when the Russian attempted his dive in turn 1, but Vettel could have too avoided dramatically steering left and smashing Raikkonen’s rear end. What is said during Ferrari’s post-race debrief will be a harbinger of Ferrari’s title challenge.

Losers

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (P5)

In true Iceman style, Kimi refused to designate blame onto his rivals for the turn 1 incident, but one could opine his friendship with Vettel could hold the Finn back severely in his title challenge. Now is the time for Kimi to be counted and not back down against the Scuderia hierarchy.

Valtteri Bottas, Williams (P10)

The highly touted successor to Kimi’s seat at Ferrari drove another anonymous race.

Force India (Perez, P11 & Hulkenberg, P15)

Another underwhelming weekend for the Silverstone-based squad. Pre-season testing proved to be a huge false dawn.

Felipe Nasr, Sauber (P20)

What has happened to this Brazilian hotshot? Nasr completely dominated Ericsson for the majority of last season, but this season he appears to have been caught cold by Sauber’s underfunded C35 chassis.

Jolyon Palmer, Renault (P22)

In what was only the fourth Grand Prix to have all its starters reach the chequered flag in F1 history (excluding 2005 United States Grand Prix), Palmer had a catastrophically bad weekend. The 25 year old Briton earns the dubious honour of joining Hans Hermann & Narain Karthikeyan (who has achieved this twice) of finishing last in a race with no retirements or withdrawals. To make matters worse, Palmer finished behind Rio Haryanto, who had been highly touted at the start of the season to be one of the worst drivers in F1 history. Very worrying indeed.

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DRIVERS/TEAMS OF THE DAY TALLY

Romain Grosjean X2 (Australia & Bahrain)

Haas X1 (Australia)

Nico Rosberg X1 (China)

REJECTS OF THE DAY TALLY

F1 authorities X1 (Australia)

Williams X1 (Bahrain)

Sebastian Vettel X1 (China)

F1’s Most Underrated Driver: Ukyo Katayama

Ukyo Katayama is widely remembered as the laughing stock of F1 back in the 1990’s. His Mild Seven/Cabin sponsorship gave him the hallmarks of a prototypical pay driver, but after two undistinguished seasons, the diminutive Japanese surprised everyone in 1994. The banning of electronic aids helped the underfunded Tyrrell squad build a neat and nimble chassis in the 022, courtesy of Harvey Poslethwaite, Mike Gascoyne and Jean-Claude Migeot.

Along with valiant point scoring drives at Interlagos, Imola & Silverstone, Katayama set a fastest lap a mammoth 1.6 seconds quicker than his highly-regarded team-mate Mark Blundell in the race at Barcelona. Blundell’s eventual podium finish was a cruel blow for Katayama, as his Yamaha engine failed after just sixteen laps in a race where Michael Schumacher’s Benetton became stuck in fifth gear for two-thirds of Spanish Grand Prix. The German would savage second place, whilst championship rival Damon Hill won his first race of the year. This proved to be a moral-boosting lift for the beleaguered Williams squad still coming to terms with Senna’s death, but one wonders whether how close Katayama could have pushed Hill for victory. The Tyrrell stalwart would redeem himself further at that year’s German Grand Prix, qualifying a career-best fifth, 0.756 seconds ahead of Blundell. Thanks to an electrical failure for Jean Alesi and a collision with Damon Hill, damaging the latter’s suspension, Katayama was able to charge after Gerhard Berger and Schumacher in third place, only for his throttle cable to snap after just six laps.

Katayama would repeat his qualifying feats of Hockenheim by placing his Tyrrell 022 on fifth place for the following race at Hungaroring, but he retired due to an unfortunate collision with the two Jordans of Eddie Irvine & Rubens Barrichello on the first lap. Further hard-charging drives at Monza, Estoril & Jerez proved enough for Katayama to be awarded “Most improved driver of 1994” title by Autosport magazine’s Nigel Roebuck and rumours of a “top team” -most likely Benetton with Ukyo’s Mild Seven connections- offering a seat circulated, but Katayama claimed “he had to turn it down”. It later transpired the Japanese ace had developed back cancer, which sadly hobbled him for the remainder of his ailing F1 career, where he would be heavily outpaced by Mika Salo at Tyrrell and Jarno Trulli at Minardi. The new high cockpit sides mandated by the deaths of Roland Ratzenberger & Ayrton Senna at Imola and Karl Wendlinger’s coma-inducing crash at Monaco in 1994 would impair the peripheral vision of the diminutive Japanese star. The new weight regulations, starting in 1995, which mandated the inclusion of the driver’s weight into the new 600kg total car weight limit, would additionally impede Katayama as the advantage of being one of the lightest drivers on the grid was abruptly removed.

The remainder of Katayama’s F1 career is notably remembered for his start-line barrel roll in 1995 Portuguese Grand Prix, but he never lost his sense of humour and humility. Experts later estimated the Japanese stalwart could have scored up to 25 points had it not been for mechanical issues and pure bad luck accumulated during 1994. This would have placed Katayama in the heady heights of fifth place within the FIA Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship, ahead of Alesi and just behind Mika Hakkinen, rather than his lowly classification of 17th with five points.

For just one season in 1994, Ukyo was one of the best five racing drivers in the world.

The Furore over F1’s 2017 Regulations; Is Vettel’s relationship with Ferrari diminishing?

After the news of F1’s return to 2015 qualifying system, Sebastian Vettel spoke of his belief that F1 should return to naturally-aspirated engines.

“I personally think the current power unit regulations are too expensive and it would be beneficial for all the teams and the whole sport to go back to something normally aspirated,” Vettel said.

Vettel’s opinion is very much contrary to that of Ferrari, who last year vetoed a cost cap proposal for engines. It will appear strange to profess, but one could speculate that the sentiments of team personnel of how well Vettel gels with the infrastructure is merely little more than corporate jargon. Many have viewed Vettel’s establishment within the Ferrari team to be similiar to that of Michael Schumacher’s reign; however, the management structure could not be more different.

Mauricio Arrivabene’s official role is listed as “Team Principal”; a position where he manages the team in accordance to the orders of President Sergio Marchionne within the Scuderia hierarchy. This differs greatly to Jean Todt’s role during the Schumacher era, where he performed the role of General Manager, with greater freedoms granted by then-Chairman Luca di Montezemolo. It is important to realise that Arrivabene’s influence only stretches as far as race day operations of the engineers during race weekends, whilst Jean Todt had controls on the general direction of Scuderia Ferrari within Formula 1 in his reign.

The Michael Schumacher era was infamous for the German being able to command orders to the likes of Todt, Ross Brawn and team personnel to cater every one of his whims and desires. Schumacher was never seen or heard arguing with his team, due to their incredible close bond not seen before or since. When Schumacher left Ferrari in 2006, the golden formula was disbanded, lending far greater control to Luca di Montezemolo and placing Stefano Domencali as Team Principal. This management structure, along with their next prized superstar Fernando Alonso, have since been disposed, but a need to improve the Prancing Horse’s sporting brand has ended any hopes of “Driver Power” ever re-emerging. Controversy over team orders incidents- 2002 Austrian & 2010 German Grands Prix still evoke F1 fans with embitterment.

Sebastian Vettel therefore cannot command the same power as Schumacher could in his time as Ferrari lead driver. Vettel does not have a “Number 1” driver clause written into his contract, leaving the Prancing Horse to pair him with a young hotshot, with Max Verstappen speculated to be an option should he part ways with Red Bull. Vettel was notorious for his excellent politicking within the Red Bull hierarchy during his four WDC era, often finding ways to encourage Adrian Newey to design chassis tailored to needs.

At Ferrari, Vettel is paired with a close friend in Kimi Raikkonen. Many outsiders view this as a favourable situation for Ferrari, however, it may prove detrimental to Vettel, as his willingness to share data with Raikkonen is passed onto engineers, who may share this data in coming years with potential new team-mates of Vettel. When Raikkonen retires, Vettel will be pulled out of his comfort zone and he need to combat a team-mate who is likely not to care much for his contribution to Ferrari.

Vettel’s statement of which he believes costs should be cut, contrary to Ferrari’s desires to remain free to defeat the opposition through financial power, is one which may come back to haunt him if results begin to deteriorate.

F1’s Procrastination over 2017 Regulations

With just four months remaining before teams head to their 2017 chassis drawing boards this summer, F1 Strategy Group are nowhere near close to submitting their technical regulation proposals to F1 Commission.

The consensus amongst drivers is that adding more downforce is absurd and making cars wider (therefore heavier) is further pushing F1 away from its “halcyon” days of light 600KG cars fitted with loud V10 engines.

In my opinion, the most important technical change that needs to happen is the reduction of the front wing. It is a foremost priority for the sport to improve the cars’ ability to follow each other closely. Nothing puts fans off more than seeing cars who clearly at least a second quicker than the defending car in front, unable to find a way past due to the turbulence of the car in front causing their tyres to lose grip in braking zones.

It is absolutely pivotal for FIA to put their foot down and demand teams to agree to a reduction of front wing sizes in order to attempt to improve the quality of races for consumers immediately.

F1 decision making won’t improve for another 4 years | DN&C 06/04/16

thejudge13

F1 could be stuck in political quagmire until 2020

FIA president Jean Todt does not see Formula One’s governance changing before the current Concorde Agreement and commercial contracts with teams expire in 2020.s always the goal – but to be honest my attention was elsewhere at that point.

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The FIA agreed to the existing system (see below for details) in 2013, and at the time heralded “a strong and stable sporting governance framework which includes the Formula One Group, the FIA and the participating teams”

F1’s rule-making process

Strategy Group

Rules are formulated in the F1 Strategy Group, which is made up of six of the 11 teams, the FIA and the Commercial Rights Holder, which is represented by Bernie Ecclestone. Ferrari, Mercedes, McLaren, Red Bull and Williams have permanent seats on the Strategy Group, while Force India is the sixth member this year because it was the best placed of…

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