Amidst all the recent Formula 1 car launches for the upcoming 2017 season, recently I went to see The Green Hell, a documentary about the 15.5 mile track in the Eifel mountains of Germany, the Nürburgring. It was enjoyable but not a groundbreaker like Senna in terms of the way it was made.
The majority of the film is of archive footage and footage of the interviews conducted for the documentary. Those interviewed range from former and current racing drivers, employees of the track and even sim racers.
This is actually where some of the problems are as the interview segments with some current drivers and with the sim racers didn’t seem to add anything which hadn’t already been said by the former racing drivers. Although I can understand that you would want to cover the opinions of every type of racer.
What is good about the documentary is that it isn’t just about what has taken place on the track as it takes time to explore the local area, how the track has changed the local economy and some of the non racing stories connected with the circuit. It also doesn’t just focus on a particular racing series and explores why car manufacturers find the circuit so invaluable when it comes to testing production cars.
My own personal grievances about some of the interviews aside, it is a fun and informative look at the Nürburgring and provides a comprehensive story that should be great for either a racing or car enthusiast as well as those who have a more passing interest in either of the two. It may be difficult to see in cinemas as there aren’t many showings, but if you ever come across it elsewhere, it is worth a watch.
The MotoGP and World Superbike series have already begun their 2017 pre-season, edging them that little closer to the start of their 2017 season’s. They have been joined this month by IndyCar who went testing at the Phoenix International Raceway.
But the main focus of this post will be Formula 1 which will see teams launch their 2017 challengers and go testing in late February. With a lot of change having taken place on and off the track, the 2017 pre-season will be a fascinating time for Formula 1, for a few reasons.
Look of the cars
The first thing is obviously the new technical regulations which are in part meant to make the cars look more appealing to the eye. After much debate and speculative technical drawings we will finally see the 2017 cars for ourselves. It will therefore be interesting to see whether teams come up with very different designs or whether they will generally look very similar.
There have been several reports stating that some teams will be changing their racing livery for the upcoming season. This includes Scuderia Ferrari returning to an all red livery (having incorporated white in their livery last season and elements of black in previous seasons), and McLaren hinting at incorporating orange into their livery for 2017.
There could also be a livery change at Sauber after Felipe Nasr was not retained by the team and therefore potentially no Banco do Brasil blue and yellow livery for the Swiss team as well as a change of livery for Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Although perhaps not in the first test and we won’t truly know until the Australian Grand Prix, but pre-season testing will enable everyone who follows Formula 1 to get their first impressions of how fast the new cars will really be. This after plenty of debating as to whether the new cars will be three seconds faster than last year, or whether they could be five seconds faster.
With the increased speed of the cars in mind, it will be interesting to see what the drivers views are about the new cars and whether they find them more physically demanding to drive, as some hope.
Season three of the all electric racing series, FIA Formula E, enters its third season of competition this month.
It is a series that has received some dismissive comments in terms of the noise of the cars and the fact that drivers change cars during a race. Neither has particularly bothered me and in the case of the use of two cars, it just shows to me how undeveloped the technology of an electric motor is.
To add to these there is also the argument that perhaps the series visits too many cities and doesn’t embrace circuit racing, with currently the only circuit being that of Mexico City. However, the idea of the series is to race in the heart of cities around the world to gain interest and attention to electric motoring technology and show that it is suitable in city ares.
It has also meant that the sport has been able to hold races in the heart of some of the most impressive cities in the world, including Paris, which was received with much fanfare in Season Two. The sport this season is also planning to visit New York, an area which even Formula One has been unable to hold an event.
Another reason why I see Formula E as one of the most exciting racing series around and to me is only going to get better is that of involvement from car manufacturers and sponsors. This season sees Jaguar join the series with Audi and BMW also increasing their involvement in the sport in the next few seasons, not to forget that Porsche have expressed interest in the series to. Involvement of car manufacturers is always important for racing series, and to have such a strong representation in Formula E is very good for the sport.
It is also good to see a strong showing of sponsorship for the teams and the series in general when you compare to the likes of Formula One where quite a few teams have struggled to secure sponsorship.
Lastly, the series will see a complete redesign in the chassis in the next few seasons and the use of only one car during an ePrix, rather than the current two. This to me shows, along with everything else, that over the next few years Formula E is in a good position to take its place alongside the likes of Formula One and the World Endurance Championship as a top racing series.
This weekend MotoGP and therefore also Moto2 and Moto3 return to action as they head to Austria for the tenth round of the season.
Current Top Threes
In MotoGP Marc Marquez currently heads the standings with 170 points ahead of Jorge Lorenzo on 122 and Valentino Rossi on 111 points.
Marquez is the more in form of the three having achieved four consecutive top two finishes. All three riders however have won from the Italian Grand Prix onwards, but whilst Marquez has been finishing on the podium the two Yamaha riders have both retired at least once and haven’t achieved any additional podium finishes, aside from their individual victories.
In Moto2 reigning champion Johann Zarco leads the standings on 151 points ahead of Alex Rins (126) and Sam Lowes (121).
Zarco is the most inform of the three having achieved three victories and a further podium finish from the Italian Grand Prix onwards. Both Alex Rins and Sam Lowes have retired from a Grand Prix (both at the German Grand Prix) and have only achieved one podium finish each.
Lastly there is Moto3 which is currently being led by South African, Brad Binder on 159 points ahead of Jorge Navarro (112) and Italian Romano Fenati (93).
Binder is the more consistent having claimed a victory in Italy, a second in Catalunya and further point finishes at Assen and Sachsenring. Navarro however had to miss the Dutch TT due to injury and retired in Italy. Finally, Fenati also retired in Italy and has since only claimed two fourth place finishes in Catalunya and Assen before finishing outside the points in Germany.
Austrian Grand Prix
MotoGP returns to Austria having not raced in the country since 1997. The sport back then had the 125cc, 250cc and 500cc categories. Honda took a clean sweep in 1997 as Japanese Noboru Ueda (125cc), Frenchman Olivier Jacque (250cc) and Australian Mick Doohan (500c) all won on Hondas.