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Red Bull, Green Heaven

It has been a little while since I have written a blog but I thought I would now as it was appropriate timing.

Last weekend I was fortunate enough to go to the absolutely majestic track that is the Red Bull Ring. It firstly must be stated at just how absolutely beautiful a country Austria is. It has the most outstanding landscape and scenery you could wish for. No wonder they are crazy about their skiing with the size of the mountains they have! (Congratulations Anna Fenninger)

I arrived with friends on Friday with a sense of anticipation. I have become very eager to see and hear these new generation of hybrid cars. After casually walking around the F1 Fan Village and purchasing some Ferrari and Williams t-shirts we proceeded to the grandstand along the straight between turn one to turn two.

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We hit our first problem trying to actually get in the grandstand when they said our passes were not valid which made no sense considering Friday was “meant to be” access all areas even on a general admission pass. Apparently not. Luckily we were able to peer around the grandstand and see our first glimpse of turn two. Initially I was a little underwhelmed, it looked less of an incline than I thought.

All of a sudden I could hear a rogue whistling sound followed by a large thud of booming. Sure enough FP2 had started to my absolute amazement. I did not hear them coming, I did not hear a single thing until the braking of turn two. I didn’t even need ear phones and I have a dodgy right ear!

As we ventured to the top of turn two we looked back and the landscape to centre stage. This wonderful, sweeping valley of greenery with vista’s that could only dream of. It also made me realise “Oh, turn two is rather steep.” It wasn’t until we were at the top I truly appreciated just how steep the run to turn two was or how much the track dips between one and two.

We found ourselves a spot high up on the grassed banking at turn two and took in an afternoon of sunshine and loud whistles. That really is all I can describe these V6 hybrid turbo engines. Loud whistles. I had the privilege of going to the Italian Grand Prix at Monza in 2013 and remembering how my ears would ring all night long before going to the track again the next morning for them to be absolutely obliterated again with screaming V8’s at 18,000rpm. My chest would vibrate with the noise reverberating around the trees. It was pure magic. Absolute magic.

I realise and understand that the car industry and modern life itself is in a flux of trying to save the environment but I struggle to see the relevance of these engines in road cars. I thought that’s what the WEC boys were doing, oh and doing it better may I add. I have been a Formula 1 fan all my life but never have I been let down so much by the cars. They are woeful, truly woeful.

We returned for day two bright and early because one of us in the group had a press pass – the lucky bugger! So as he ventured off we took to walking around the track and taking more in until Qualifying. We were fortunate enough to find a nice little spot between turns two and three which gave us not only a spectacular view across the circuit but a demonstration of what these cars can do in to turn three.

Qualifying comes and it is fascinating to see when they turn the wick up on these cars, SORRY! Batteries, we see just what the can do. Both Mercedes were braking barely before the 50m board. Incredibly late braking in qualifying trim and even with the fly-by-wire braking systems they seem to work quite nicely. The transition from wet to dry caught Kimi out and we were left with a regular story come Q2 and Q3. Mercedes up front on their own with little interest from the others and a lockout even though they both through away what would have better laps.

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Post qualifying we ventured off in to the wilderness as the track cuts from turn three up to around the turn 8 area. This is where I captured a fantastic video through the fencing, wedging my phone between two bars and seeing the Porsche Supercup. They never cease to amaze. Wonderful machinery cascading down the hill and the drivers having to deal with both curb and camber changes. Sublime area to see cars fly through.

Race day and another early start. We arrived at 8.30am with cappuccino in hand waiting for the support races. We had found a bench the day before and being with a German we had to make sure we got our beach towels down early to avoid disappointment. The vantage point we had though was fantastic. I honestly could not have hoped for a better setting to sit and enjoy a day’s racing. I have often raved about the view from Knickerbrook at Oulton Park and the view you get there, this was better!

Both GP3 and GP2 were great to watch. Viewing the rising talent through the ranks and the drivers wanting to get the elusive F1 prize. It must be said at this point at the phenomenal talent that is Stoffel Vandoorne. The guy is breath-taking to watch on track. The speed and control he has with a GP2 car and the way he controls the Pirelli tyres is awe inspiring. If he does not secure an F1 seat then it would a travesty. How do you replace Alonso or Button? Easy. Vandoorne for Button and wait for Honda to sort their engine out.

On the point of Honda. Engine? Well, none of these engines may sound particularly great but where they do come alive is a low speed. A deep gargle and splattering of fuel as it tries to pull away and then it’s gone as they crank through the eight gears. The Honda engine though sounds like it’s like an extra cylinder down than any other manufacturer. It gargles, spits, pops, it has been a long time since I have heard something quite that throaty. Do I like it? Not really but many will.

Before the F1 race we were enticed by some old machinery from the 80’s and the 90’s along with a plane from the Red Bull Air Race which was very impressive and finally a giant Austrian flag was helicoptered in. When you can hear the noise of the engines from the far side of the track, blast along the start straight with the sound bouncing off the paddock that is when the blood rushes. That thrill of the sound and noise the feel of speed rushing through your body.

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Five red lights go out and with all cars on the grid you can hear the engines but only for a lap or two until they have filtered out. That was proven after the safety car came in after the Alonso and Raikkonen had their bust up on the exit of two. Unfortunately did not get a glimpse of it but did get to see the truck take the Ferrari the wrong way turn round and go back the other way. Alonso and Kimi also going their separate ways on bikes back to the pit lane.

Once they were back to full speed it truly shocked me at just how much they lift and coast prior to a corner. They do brake incredibly late but because the aerodynamics has done most of the work by then it was makes little differences. They cars look incredibly easy to drive and not a great challenge for the driver. One thing of note though was how the Mercedes cars turn through turns three and four. They pitch the car in on the nose, let the rear slide and power on. This was actually the issue they had a few years ago with Schumacher and Rosberg with the rears overheating. By the looks of it they have not got rid of the issue but due to the longevity of the Pirelli’s the tyres heat up in to an operating window and keep them well enough to stretch their legs.

At all times the Mercedes looked like they could just turn the boost up and run away as and when they needed to. All very calculated and controlled and gave no openings or opportunities to other teams. Ferrari are coming though, the car looks very strong at the rear with little movement which could help in the future.

My overall conclusion though is one of disappointment. These cars are terrible with absolutely no heart or sole about them. Quiet, easy and just all round dull racing. There is a lot to be sorted in Formula 1 but something has got to be done about these cars. I would like to thank the Red Bull Ring for a phenomenal venue and support package though. Tremendous effort and I fully endeavour on returning to the track soon. I hear you have MotoGP coming…

The Alonso Situation

October 3, 2014 Leave a comment

The driver market is wide open at the moment with speculation that Fernando Alonso will be leaving Ferrari at the end of 2014.

Alonso is the key to unlocking the door in 2015. Once Alonso has decided or Ferrari have decided who they want to in 2015 the rest of the grid will fall in to place.

I am no F1 insider and I do not know what is going on behind closed doors but let us look at the options and what we do know.

Ferrari – Staying put. The Latin blood that runs through the Spanish and the Italians oozes incredible passion. The passion lies deep at Maranello and with the Italians which Alonso finds highly relatable. McLaren are much more British and pragmatic which I do not think suits the Spanish/Latin character. This is well documented by Alain Prost often stating how he could not work with the French (Renault) as he had a much more Anglo-Saxon mentality leading to be a pragmatist and blended well with McLaren’s philosophies. I do not see Alonso in the same vain, he is a deeply passionate person.

Change is the big thing at Ferrari though. Stefano Domenicali and Luca di Montezemolo have both now departed for Marco Mattiacci and Sergio Marchionne respectively. Politics a plenty here and there is likely to be a huge shift within Ferrari and a new direction under Marchionne. This may be of concern to Alonso.

– Positives: Building upon what he already knows. Ferrari have one year worth of experience in learning and understanding how the engines work and will come back stronger. It may be simple but knowing the team and have a good working relationship with mechanics really is key and it is something he would have to learn new wherever he goes.

It will be the first full year James Allison has had control of the design of the car. Key to note that Alonso wanted Allison so to leave when he is about to give him is first produced Ferrari car seems a little strange.

Number one status. Supposedly in modern Formula 1 this does not exist but let’s be honest, Alonso has exclusivity when it comes to lead driver in Ferrari. I doubt he wants to let that freedom go too quickly.

Strong links to suggest that Ferrari and Mercedes have an aerodynamic advantage for 2015 as they already have low shaped noses which are mandatory for 2015. This may seem small but to have that air data of how it shapes around the car is significant.

– Negatives: Alonso does not seem to be either the type of person or the type of driver that Mattiachi wants and I believe Marchionne seems to be in the bracket of tolerating Alonso. Difficulties with management could be an issue in the foreseeable future.

2014 is the worst Ferrari that Alonso has driven. 2010 and 2012 were both glorious opportunities for titles but development against Red Bull slipped and never had the car he needed to beat Vettel. Upgrades and development a concern.

Does he believe in Ferrari? Simple as that really, does Alonso believe that Ferrari can give him a race winning car? At the age of 33 he is getting no younger but is still hungry for World Championships.

McLaren – This link is ever growing and throughout the free practice sessions in Japan it grew even more that Alonso and McLaren will happen in 2015. Strong sources called that Alonso arrived in Japan early on Monday and was headed towards the Honda headquarters but that was never confirmed.

– Positive: Moving to McLaren is a fresh challenge with the entire of Honda backing Alonso who know his capabilities.

Peter Prodromou the chief aero dynamist at Red Bull has moved to the team. Prodromou was second to Newey and certainly knows his aero packages.

Ron Dennis reformed team will start to take shape.

– Negatives: Alonso left on bad terms with McLaren and Ron Dennis at the end of 2007. Alonso is often quick to quell any differences between himself and Lewis Hamilton but more so seemed to be with Ron Dennis and the McLaren team.

Rumblings are that the Honda engine is three months behind development, too heavy and not producing enough power. That is of definite concern considering the Prancing Horse has hardly been a Mercedes beater.

McLaren have not made an all-round good package since 2008 where it was competitive at all tracks. This could also be looked at that under Martin Whitmarsh the team was not as strong but with Ron Dennis back in charge the entire McLaren team is likely to improve.

Red Bull – It is highly likely that this would turn in to a straight swap with Sebastian Vettel who has been linked for many years with a Ferrari seat in the future. Vettel himself having an average season and beaten by his team mate.

– Positive: 2015 car is going to be the last designed Adrian Newey car before he moves on to pastures new, likely to be the Americas Cup in sailing. One season in a Newey designed car is always going to be competitive and Alonso would no doubt utilise that package very well.

Much of the team is still there even though some key people have left. 2015 and beyond are to be transition years for Red Bull, likely to lead to their departure from the sport in a few years.

Many of the Renault mechanics from his championship winning seasons are at Red Bull at will likely feel very much at home there.

– Negatives: The most alarming one here is the Renault engine. It has been under powered and a let-down this season. While Ricciardo has done wonders to win, it has been at Mercedes misfortune or mistake. The Renault engine needs a significant re-design and much improvement. Renault have even threatened to leave the sport in the not too distant future which does not bode well for Alonso, who would want factory backing.

Beyond 2015 there will be new designers and aero dynamists at Red Bull. It will no longer be an Adrian Newey designed car. Conversely it has been documented that Newey will still been in a mentor styled role which will allow him to help the new team. Therefore that is not all doom and gloom.

Alonso has stated that he wants “low-risk” in reality staying at Ferrari is lowest risk option for the Spaniard. Build on what you have try to believe in the new philosophies of those stepping up at Maranello. Arguable Red Bull is also relatively low risk in the short term but that may fizzle out. McLaren to me is a huge, in fact, massive risk. I do not see or understand why Alonso would go somewhere where there are striking differences in how both operate and go about their business. He is not a McLaren type of driver and would be better suited at staying at Ferrari what he knows or blast his final few years in a Red Bull car that will likely stretch it legs for two maybe three years.

I am an avid Alonso fan if you have not noticed. I think he is the all-round best driver in Formula 1 and has been for many years. Hamilton gives him a run but I believe he is still number one. I do not see him at McLaren at all. There is no logical sense to move to a team that is in a bigger state of flux than Ferrari are themselves. The switch to Red Bull I could understand more but I think staying where he is and keeping the faith is the way forwards.

Just my thoughts though…

The Mercedes Dilemma

It has again been a while since I have taken the time to write a blog but as with much of life, finding time is always the issue.

I recently posted this on my Facebook wall: “On reflection. Mercedes did play the situation wrong. Rosberg’s attacking skills are somewhat average at best. He is not as clinical a driver as others out there. Merc really had no reason to ask Hamilton to move over. Split strategy, yes, but they would come back together due to degradation. All it would do is create Rosberg with a smaller gap to close, something like 10 seconds over 22. Still prefer a Rosberg champ over Hamilton but to me it more so illustrates just how good Alonso is and how Ricciardo is fast becoming one of the best drivers in the field.”

I wanted to elaborate on this more and felt going back to my blogging would be the ideal way to approach this.

The 2014 season has turned in to a straight Mercedes fight for the Drivers World Championship while the team romp off with the Constructors Championship. I find you can understand a driver or a person more when then they fight through adversity. It is when their skill, talent and mental capabilities are tested to the maximum.

Lewis Hamilton has been tested pretty significantly now throughout this season and to be fair has actually done a remarkable job to keep his title chances alive. Arguably showing his strength mentally but then also shows utter frailties when it comes to the media which a more closely associated with throwing toys out of the pram. So, how does a guy that seemingly has the mentality of a yo-yo overcome someone that appears to play cool-calm-collected?

Quite simply we saw the Hunger in Hungary. Hamilton’s all out driven, balls to the wall, bin it or win it shows that he will stop at nothing to win the 2014 championship. Hamilton said his hunger is greater than Rosberg’s due to his background and upbringing “”I come from a not great place in Stevenage and lived on a couch in my dad’s apartment,” said Hamilton.
“Nico grew up in Monaco with jets and boats and all these kind of things – so the hunger is different.” This entire statement is utter nonsense really and just a psychological tactic and a pretty poor one at that.

Hamilton’s direct ignoring of the Mercedes team wall of team orders to move aside for his team mate and championship rival showing that his tenacity prevails over any team need. The phrase “team player” seemingly lost on Hamilton but in a sport that is the most individual team sport, do you blame him?

Mercedes stance is that they tried to maximise both strategies to get the best for the team. That is fair but also the team are fighting for a World Drivers’ Championship therefore a driver is not just going to back down. Not in the current position. I do believe there is a time and place for team orders but they are circumstantial not just a one set rule. Evaluating the whole picture is required.

I am not a Hamilton fan, I never will be a Hamilton fan but I have a level of admiration for the job he is doing, even if that is through gritted teeth. Rosberg for me is not clinical enough. He does not have that natural rawness of a Champion. He plays the media well and wins a lot of media fights. Let’s be frank here if Hamilton had not had his troubles then the Championship would be long gone. Rosberg though in truth is kinder to his car and deals with heated situations and moments better, at least until Hungary.

Hamilton during qualifying seemed incredibly calm even through a burning backside. His calmness over team radio was personified during the race. So my question is has his mentality changed? Is he now viewing things differently and simply believing he is better than Rosberg anyway and the title will come to him? Well if he does not already, he should.

Sounds like I am backing someone I do not like? No, not really. I would actually prefer a Rosberg win for the sport. I think across the first half of the season he has achieved the maximum possible during Hamilton’s difficulties and that speaks volumes also. If we evaluate this though what real challenge has he had? Williams in Austria could be viewed as a challenge but that was more patience than a challenge.

So to Rosberg’s credit he has done everything he can. To Hamilton’s credit he has fought with all his might to stay in the title. Who deserves it more? Alonso. But that is for another blog.

@Nico888

The Sim Racing Rig that uses a 2006 Lola Champ Car Chassis

I want one of these..

We consider ourselves to be avid sim racers over on this blog. We participate, organize, and broadcast in major sim racing leagues utilizing rFactor, GTR2, RACE, Game Stock Car, iRacing, etc. Some of us even take it to the next level and build our own custom rigs to help bring in that immersion. Some of us use actual racing seats, expensive wheel/pedal setups, and make use of a triple monitor setup.

However, this blows all of that out of the water.

CXC Simulations created a Champ Car themed custom simrig based off their Motion Pro II racing simulator. The rig uses a 2006 Lola Chassis, hydraulic pedals, and three 55″ TVs to help create the ultimate sim racing experience.

CXC decided to use this rig to create their own parody of the GoPro camera commercials.

If any of you are interested in sim racing or want to know what leagues we particate in, then follow this blog and stay tuned! We plan on posting about the topic on a regular basis. If you simply can’t wait, then feel free to email us at theracingedge1@gmail.com

Follow me on twitter @ B_Warren7

Peugeot 208 T16 test photos released along with rumors of Climb Dance 2!

Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak

Peugeot 208 T16 Pikes Peak

What a great time to be a motorsport fan! Honestly folks, after such an exciting weekend I expected a relatively quiet week in which we could work more on the podcast. Well this is a time where I am more than happy to admit being wrong because photos have surfaced of the Peugeot 208 T16 testing for the upcoming Pikes Peak International Hill Climb! (At the very least, I now have a good reason as to why I am not getting any work done this morning)

For those of you who may not be in the know, Peugeot is throwing all their weight into this hill climb with the 208 T16. The mighty machine will race to the clouds with nine time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb behind the wheel!

But wait that’s not all!

As of today, there are talks of Peugeot planning a sequel to Climb Dance. Let’s hope these talks turn into reality, for this should be a no brainer for Peugeot and Red Bull. If you don’t even know what Climb Dance is, then you need to immediately stop everything your doing and check out this amazing short film. Released in 1990, Jean Louis Mourey directed this award winning film that featured unique camera angles and amazing on board shots of rally legend Ari Vatanen taming the famous peak with a Peugeot 405 T16 at his disposal. If you haven’t seen the video then you need to stop everything and watch this beautiful piece of cinematic art. Once this requirement has been met, then you need to check out the recent promo video released that features the new 208 T16.

The first official trailer for RUSH has arrived!

Ron Howard directs this highly anticipated film about a time where Formula One was a whole other monster. The story is based on the incredible, yet true, story that shaped the 1976 Formula One season. Namely, the intense rivalry between James Hunt and Niki Lauda. This rivalry is considered to be one of the most intense in sporting history, and the events that unfolded that season was something that seemed to be born for Hollywood. Honestly, Formula One could not have picked a better story for the big screen.

Within the video description there is a plot summary that says it all really

Set against the sexy and glamorous golden age of Formula 1 racing, Rush portrays the exhilarating true story of two of the greatest rivals the world has ever witnessed—handsome English playboy Hunt and his methodical, brilliant opponent, Lauda. Taking us into their personal lives on and off the track, Rush follows the two drivers as they push themselves to the breaking point of physical and psychological endurance, where there is no shortcut to victory and no margin for error. If you make one mistake, you die.

This could be the first film that finally does Formula One justice since the 1966 film Grand Prix. So it should go without saying that we are more than excited for the initial release date on September 20th, 2013.

Race Worthy: Down South, Down Under, or Under the Lights?

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Perhaps the best type of dilemma to have is one where any decision can be seen as the right decision. This particular dilemma is exactly what I faced in having to rate which race would be worth watching the most for this upcoming weekend. It is hard to choose whenever any decision made will be seen as both the best choice and worst choice, depending on who you ask. Luckily, there was no difficulty in narrowing it down to the following three choices:

1. Under the Lights: Moto GP Season Opener @ Losail International Circuit, Qatar

  • First event of the 2013 season that is sure to answer a lot of questions and set the tone for the rest of the season. 
  • Intense teammate battles set to take place among the works teams.
  • A unique setting – the only Moto GP race to take place at night under the lights in the middle of a desert.

2. Down Under: V8 Supercars @ Tasmania

  • Amazing production value that really draws in hardcore viewership
  • 3 races over the course of the weekend
  • “First V8 Supercar event to experience the new 60/60 Super Sprint race format, designed specifically to produce more spectacular and compelling racing. These changes coincide with the introduction of Nissan and AMG to the grid in 2013, adding a ‘pure racing’ element without the need for fuel or tyre conservation.” – via the Tasmania event website

3. Down South: Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama @ Barber Motorsports Park

  • Amazing track with it’s own unique and charming features both on and off the road.
  • Faster cars and recently resurfaced track ensures that track records will be broken
  • Did I say amazing track?! There is a reason why teams like to test here.

If you could only watch one race live, I would have to recommend the Moto GP race. The teammate battles among the works teams are likely to be intense and produce some thrilling on track scenes. Plus the season opening race will mark the start of an extremely promising season that may see a rookie rise to the top, a legend add another title to his history, or a veteran finally get his first title.

Honestly, all three of these events are worth your time. Each one has it’s own slew of interesting stories and each wields a variety of advantages in terms of location, technology, and racing potential. You can’t go wrong.