Posts Tagged ‘ F1

Books, books, books

It seems like an age since I finished it – that’s because it is! The Art of the Formula 1 Race Car, with words by me and excellent bespoke studio photography by James Mann, rolled off the presses last week. It’ll be on sale from mid-March.

The book features a range of Formula 1 cars from the Alfa 158 to Lewis Hamilton’s championship-winning McLaren Mercedes MP4-23. The Alfa we photographed is one of only two left in the world and it is the actual car in which Farina won the first world championship grand prix in 1950.

In between is a miscellany of machinery, each of which has an interesting tale to tell as well as fitting into what TV scriptwriters would call Formula 1′s ‘story arc’.

If you fancy a taster then you can see a selection of the photographs and some adapted text in the most recent issue of F1 Racing magazine.

You can order a copy here. I’ll put in one of those fancy windows-in-the-sidebar as soon as I can work out how to do so without utterly wrecking the site.

Fuel if you think it’s over

It’s been a very exciting week in the F1 universe. We’ve seen the first Formula 1 test session of 2010 and the launch of the Virgin Racing team – or, at least, we would have seen the launch of the Virgin Racing team if they’d remembered to put 50p in the meter.

Ferrari set the pace throughout the Valencia test, but at the risk of being labelled a sourpuss (you’d have good reason to; well over 30,000 people attended the test, and some websites went down more often than Didier Drogba in the penalty box) I ought to point out that it’s far too early to draw any firm conclusions. The Valencia circuit has very few straights or fast corners; besides, the potential variance in fuel weights between cars is 150kg or thereabouts. On a circuit like this, which is composed of short squirts and is principally a test of traction, you need to know the fuel weights to understand which cars are working and which aren’t.

Or you can ask a photographer. These doughty souls spend their professional lives lining up fast-moving cars in their telephoto lenses. They can tell you which cars and drivers are out of shape.

Feel free to put a tenner on Fernando Alonso being champion in 2010. I may even do so myself. But don’t forget that Ferrari were quick in winter testing before the 1991 season, and before that year was out Alain Prost had been given his marching orders for comparing his car to a truck. 

Still, Renault must be fretting a tad that Bobby K ran out of fuel before the end of his long run…

Short cuts

Bernie Ecclestone raised a hell of a kerfuffle the other week when he jokingly mooted the possibility of F1 drivers being allowed to take short cuts during races. As I was bumping in to London on the train this morning I suddenly remembered: it’s been done.

At the 1959 US GP, Harry Schell managed to persuade the organisers that he had beaten his previous best qualifying time by six seconds, and he was permitted to start his Cooper from the front row. It subsequently emerged that he had noticed a few unmanned marshals’ posts around the back of the circuit and taken a crafty short cut. Although he claimed the whole thing had been a prank, he was quite happy to accept the elevated starting position.

You couldn’t do this on a modern F1 circuit, though; Sebring was based around the landing strip of a wartime airfield, with a proliferation of convenient taxiways off the main route…

Withering slights: time to change the Schumacher record

You know how I feel about Michael Schumacher’s comeback; if you don’t, click here (and if you want to know how some other people feel about how I feel about Michael Schumacher’s comeback, feel free to hold your nose and mosey on down to the AUTOSPORT forums).

Having said that, the sight of Michael Schumacher on a hot lap cannot fail to stir the soul of any F1 fan with a pulse. I for one am looking forward to borrowing a tabard and standing as close as I can get during the final phase of qualifying.

But some of the reportage of today’s Mercedes Grand Prix launch provided a brutal reminder of what I’m not looking forward to this year: the bulldog that is the British media sinking its teeth into Michael’s leg and refusing to yield until he admits to his past crimes.

When the Fleet Street posse are on a mission it is often a marvellous thing to behold, like watching a pod of dolphins herd their prospective lunch into a conveniently tight ball. At Monaco in 2006 they dealt Schumacher a succession of wounding strikes as he tried to brazen his way through a post-qualifying inquest into his disgraceful professional foul. At Monza last year they set about bullying Fernando Alonso into divulging what he knew about ‘crash-gate’ (just as they were getting somewhere, though, some berk from Gazzetta dello Sport let him off the hook).

On a slow news weekend, though, when they’re desperately trying to grind out the story du jour, it’s enough to drive you to drink. They declared open season on Schumacher today and drew a tart riposte.

How much mileage is left in this clunker of a story? Michael Schumacher is a known quantity. We’ve got 19 grand prix weekends to get through in 2010 and some of them are bound to be a bit slow on the news front. If the default tactic in such circumstances is going to be Schumacher-goading, then unless he’s actually caught with his hand in the till I don’t want to know. There’s only so much ennui a man can take.