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FIA Enforcing Engine-Freeze In 2007

Published by on Jul 20th, 2006, No Comments

The FIA have been in a battle to enforce an engine-development freeze from 2008 to constrain the costs of being in Formula 1. This freeze would have ensured that all engine development that occurred after July this year would be scrapped in 2008 and teams would be unable to develop their engines for a further 3 years.

Personally, this never made any sense to me. Basically it would ensure that the best teams remain the best teams while removing any possibility of the lower teams ever catching up. It also ensures that the current standings would remain constant for 3 years, with each team finishing in pretty much the same position that they finished the year before.

However, as was expected, the FIA picked up a lot of flack for this decision, saying that they are essentially removing the main reason why most people watch the sport in the first place.
In response to this, the FIA have now decided to move the engine-freeze up to 2007, citing ‘safety’ as the primary reason behind the decision.

To be honest, if this all comes together and they manage to successfully pull off what is probably the biggest Formula 1 scandal in the history of the sport, I’m not going to continue watching……………….

Raikkonen's Career Wide Open

Published by on Jul 19th, 2006, No Comments

Kimi Raikkonen’s 2007+ Formula One career is still wide open at the moment.

Kimi Raikkonen

After signing a pre-agreement with Ferrari to the value of $4.4 million, Raikkonen still has until the end of July to withdraw his application to drive for the red team next year. All he has to do is repay the $4.4m, after which he will be free to drive for any team he chooses.

Renault F1’s president, Alain Dassas, told the French press at Magny Cours that Kimi would be an ideal replacement for departing World Champion Fernando Alonso.
Dassa was reported as saying: “It is no secret that we are in discussions with Kimi Raikkonen – indeed, it is one of our priorities.”

Flavio Braitore is also making enquiries as to whether Alonso’s contract with McLaren could also be undone. If Renault succeed in their plans, they could have an all-star lineup next season with Raikkonen and Alonso as team mates. (Personally, I’d love to see this take place, but then …. I’m prejudice. :P)

McLaren would also love to resecure the Finn’s services for next year, which would also make for an interesting season.

Kimi is expected to announce his decision by the end of the summer break in a little over a month.

A centenary of Grand Prix: With Renault at the forefront.

Published by on Jul 13th, 2006, No Comments

The French Grand Prix at Magny-Cours this Sunday the 26th will mark the 100 year (to the day) anniversary of Grand Prix racing.

The very first Grand Prix (Grand Prix de France) was held on July 26th 1906 on a 1240 km road circuit just outside of Le Mans in France.
Renault won the race at the hands of Hungarian-born Ferenc Szisz.

Renault 1906

The car was a far cry from the Grand Prix cars of today. The winner of the first ever Grand Prix was a 13l engine pushing 105 bhp and reaching a maximum speed of 148kph. Although by no means the fastest car on the circuit, it had one clear advantage over the rest of the field:
Michelin’s jante amovible (detachable rim) allowed a new wheel rim and pre-inflated tyre to be fitted in under two minutes while the rest of the field needed up to 15 minutes to replace a rim and inflate the tyre.

After 2 days of racing, the Renault claimed the win, with Fiat’s Felice Nazzaro coming in second.

Renault 2006

100 years later and Renault hope to use the R26 close out the centenary of Grand Prix racing by taking the chequered flag once again in the French F1 GP this coming weekend.

De la Rosa replaces Montoya for 2006

Published by on Jul 12th, 2006, No Comments

It has now been confirmed that Montoya will not complete the remainder of the 2006 Formula 1 season and will be replaced by McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa.

Montoya will spend some time with his pregnant wife Connie in Miami and will be looking to make his NASCAR debut some time later this year.

Pedro de la Rosa is the only other Spaniard on the Formula 1 circuit and has only ever completed one race for his team since starting his career with McLaren in 2003.
He completed the Bahrain GP in 2005, finishing in 5th place and scoring 4 points for his team.

I’m of course extremely thrilled to have this opportunity to race the MP4-21 – a car in which I’m really comfortable,” said Pedro de la Rosa. “I know the MP4-21 better than anyone else and I’m confident that I can achieve important World Championship points for the team.

Montoya out of Formula 1

Published by on Jul 10th, 2006, No Comments

It has been confirmed: Montoya will not have a driver’s seat in the 2007 Formula 1 season.

Juan Pablo Montoya

Montoya, after a very quick negotiation with Chip Ganassi has decided to leave the Formula 1 paddocks in favour of NASCAR in 2007.

Montoya has driven for Ganassi in the past, helping him take the CART (now Champ Car) title in 1999.
Ganassi was reported as saying, “It’s nice to have somebody in your car that wants to be there, wants to be with your team, wants to be a part of it.

Although I’m certain there are countless female spectators wiping tears out of their eyes, I’m equally certain that most F1 fans will be glad to see the back of the ‘pretty-boy of Formula 1′, Juan Pablo, if only based on his tendency to drive dangerously and with little concern for the safety of other drivers on the circuit.

Fabian Schoonraad
Kheiron
Kheiron@carblog.co.za

Formula 1 – What is it and why is it so popular?

Published by on Jul 9th, 2006, No Comments

Formula 1. What’s it all about?
Well, this is something I’ve spent a lot of (some would say “too much”) time thinking about.
First and foremost, Formula 1 is about passion. Either you have it or you don’t.
Hopefully this article will provoke more people to at least give the sport a try, but we’ll see how things go as we progress.

F1 Racing

This is going to be a little lengthy, so stop right here, go to the kitchen, make some coffee and grab a bite to eat. Then, come back and allow me the opportunity to initiate you into the world that is Formula 1.

Back so soon? Okay then ……… let us begin.

If you ask any non-Formula 1 fan what it’s all about, the most common answer is, “A bunch of cars riding around in a circle for 2 hours.”
Well yes, it is a bunch of cars riding around in a circle for 2 hours. The same as how soccer is a bunch of guys kicking a round thing to each other inside a rectangle for 90 minutes.

No, F1 is more than just the obvious. It’s a heck of a lot more complicated and technical than most people imagine.
F1 is the pinnacle of motorsport. In fact, until recently it was the one place where you could go to see all the latest technological advances in the automotive industry. I say “until recently” because the FIA (Fédération Internationale de I’Automobile) has tightened its grip on the sport in the last two years and many ‘technological advancements’ are rated as being ‘dangerous’ because they increase the speed at which these cars race around in that ‘circle’.
But more on that later…….. Let’s get back to the basics.

I think, to begin, we should start with the cars. A Formula 1 car is not just a car. Actually, it’s probably more appropriate to liken it to sitting in a deck-chair with a rocket strapped to your back. The only thing that sets an F1 car apart from a rocket-propelled sunbathing apparatus is the fact that you’re probably a lot safer in the chair.
No, I’m just kidding. First and foremost, an F1 car is designed for safety. The cockpit is probably the most important aspect of a modern day F1 car. The reason? What good is a car if the person driving it has an expected life-span of less that 1 year? Each and every driver has at least one accident (major or minor) during the course of a single season. While the rest of the car is designed to crumble (to lessen the impact force) the cockpit is designed to enclose the driver in what is effectively a cocoon of safety.

With around 950bhp, revving at over 19,000rpm and drinking about 75 litres of petrol in 100km, the engine of a Formula 1 car is designed for optimum performance and is only expected to last for no more than 2 races (That’s a life cycle of about 700km) after which a new engine is built. A Formula 1 car can launch itself from a stationery position to 100km per hour in under 3 seconds. (Remember that deck-chair we were talking about earlier? Now it’s a little easier to understand the comparison.)

Aerodynamics (without which, you’re once again strapped into that rocket-launcher/deck-chair) also plays an integral role in the design of an F1 car. Aerodynamics allow the car to reach those horrendous speeds while turning corners without becoming an unexpected single-seater jet.

Tyres play an important role as well, for obvious reasons. (Without them, the car is nothing more than a 2 million dollar paperweight.)
Tyre manufacturers strive to have the lightest, yet most reliable tyre. The lifespan of a tyre in F1 is about 200km and each tyre costs in the range of about $60,000.
The three tyre types are ‘dry’, ‘intermediate’ and ‘wet’. The fundamental difference between these is basically the softness/hardness of the tyre and the amount of grooves in said tyre.

But, what good is a car that can go very quickly without the ability to stop it eventually?
In order to lessen the risk, it was decided that adding breaks to the cars made more sense than simply crashing the car into the closest wall.
The breaks on an F1 car are so advanced that they are capable of stopping an F1 car doing 160km/h in just over half the distance that a normal car can stop from 100km/h.

A Formula 1 driver is also considered to be at the forefront of motorsport and he requires a super licence in order to officially race. Gaining a super licence is no small feat either. A driver has to clock at least 1000 hours in a Formula 1 car to obtain his licence and as such, many drivers started their Formula 1 careers as test drivers.
Apart from being highly skilled, an F1 driver also has to be pretty darn small. The cockpit of a Formula 1 car is minute and most normal-sized men would be hard pressed to squeeze themselves into one.
Although only slightly larger than your average 12 year old, an F1 driver has to be incredibly fit in order to race.
As hard as it may seem to believe, F1 drivers are among the most highly conditioned athletes in the world.
“How hard can it be to drive a car?”, I hear you ask?
Well, if you consider that these drivers have to withstand anything up to a sustained 3.5 g while cornering …. and if you consider that most drivers will lose up to 3kg of body fluid during a single race, I think it’s fair to at least give them the benefit of the doubt.

So now that we’ve looked at the cars and the drivers, lets take a gander at that ‘circle’ they ride around in……
A Formula 1 track is not just a twisty, turny stretch of tarmac. No, it is a specifically designed track made to test and utilise all the driving skills required from an F1 driver as well as all the abilities of the Formula 1 car itself. With fast corners, slow corners, hairpins and straights, it’s physically and technically demanding on the driver and car and is designed to punish even a momentary loss of concentration.
Interesting fact: All Formula 1 tracks have to use FIA approved tar on the circuit.

Now that we’ve gotten all that technical stuff out of the way, let me go back to what I was saying about the FIA tightening its grip on F1.
The FIA is the governing body behind Formula 1. They make all the rules and regulations around the sport.
Of late, the FIA has started becoming concerned about two things:
1. Cost: Formula 1 is an expensive sport.
2. Safety: Formula 1 is also a dangerous sport.
In order to control both of these things, they’ve been very tight-fisted about what can and can’t be done on the race track. They’ve inhibited growth and curbed technological advancements to such an extent that some say that F1 is no longer the pinnacle of motorsport but is instead, just another form of track racing.
I for one agree but my passion runs deep and I will forever be a fan.

Unfortunately, Formula 1 (like any sport) can not fully be explained in words. Like the Matrix, you have to see it for yourself.
So, do yourself a favour ………. take the ‘red pill’ and see how far the rabbit hole that is Formula 1 goes.
(Okay, so maybe I took ‘The Matrix’ thing a little too far…………..

Fabian Schoonraad
Kheiron
Kheiron@carblog.co.za

Bridgestone selected as sole tyre supplier for F1 2007

Published by on Jul 9th, 2006, No Comments

When the FIA announced in May that they were planning on implementing a rule in 2008 stating that only one tyre manufacturer may supply tyres to the F1 teams, many people were hoping that they’d change their minds along the way.

Bridgestone Tyres

It appears however that this will not be the case.

The FIA announced on Thursday (6th) that Bridgestone will be the sole tyre supplier for the 2008, 2009 and 2010 Formula 1 seasons.

Currently, tyres are provided by Bridgestone and Michelin with Michelin providing tyres for 6 of the 11 Formula 1 teams.
The FIA were expecting both manufacturers to bid against each other in order to retain their place in F1.
However, Michelin, on hearing the news, opted out of providing tyres for the 2007 season as well, stating that they were in the sport for the purpose of competing against a rival tyre manufacturer. “There’s no point in being competitive if you’re the only competitor.”

The FIA’s decision to allow only a singly manufacturer is based on the fact that they’re trying to reduce the cost of competing in F1 and also to minimise risk. “Two competing manufacturers increases the risks they take by enabling cars to corner at higher speeds. This is unnacceptable.”

So it seems a ‘Goodbye’ is in order. With only 8 races left in the 2006 season, I personally hope that Michelin can end off with their final year with a bang.

Fabian Schoonraad
Kheiron
Kheiron@carblog.co.za

Montoya goes from bad to worse

Published by on Jul 4th, 2006, No Comments

Juan Pablo Montoya’s nightmare season is plumbing new depths, with fresh rumours that his McLaren departure could be more imminent than expected. More: Link

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