Fernando Alonso’s Indianapolis 500 Debut

It’s not long now until the talking stops and we get to find out how well Fernando Alonso performs on his Indianapolis 500 debut. The move has generated a lot of talk.

The initial talk was, and still is to a certain extent, whether it was a good idea for Alonso to forsake competing at the Formula 1 Monaco Grand Prix. But more of the talk has also shifted to how well Alonso will do on his debut, with the opinion seeming to be around he might pull off the victory or otherwise end up retiring at some point during the race.

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Alexander Rossi waves to fans as the Indy 500 winner” by Greg Hildebrand is licensed under CC BY-NC_ND 2.0

Since the introduction of the DW12 Dallara chassis in 2012, rookies at the Indianapolis 500 have had mixed fortunes but there have been several good performances. These good performances include Rubens Barrichello’s 11th place finish in 2012, Carlos Munoz’s 2nd and A. J. Allmendinger’s 7th place finish in 2013, Kurt Busch’s 6th place finish and Sage Karam’s 9th place finish in 2014 and of course Alexander Rossi’s victory last year. So it could be said any finish inside the top ten would be phenomenal and a finish inside the top twenty is a good performance for a rookie, especially one without prior racing experience in the IndyCar series or on superspeedways. As is the case with Fernando Alonso.

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McLaren MCL-32 / Fernando Alonso / ESP / McLaren Honda” by Artes Max is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

For those still not sure whether it was a good idea for Alonso to swap racing at Monaco for the Indianapolis 500, the sheer amount of discussion and debate that has been generated, both positive and negative, has shown that the decision to compete has been a good one. It has helped promote both Formula 1 and the IndyCar series, to put it briefly. It is also worth mentioning the number of additional viewers the race will have, if you take into consideration the reported two million who watched the live video of Alonso’s rookie test.

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Screen Capture taken from IndyCar Series Facebook Live coverage of Fernando Alonso’s Rookie Orientation Test

It’s also worth noting that part of some of the Formula 1 community’s opposition to the move can be put down to the culture within Formula 1 of racing drivers being required and expected to be fully committed to the sport and not compete in other series. This is due in part to drivers potentially picking up injuries and potentially suffering fatal crashes whilst competing in other series, think Robert Kubica’s rally crash in 2011 or Stefan Bellof’s crash during an endurance race in 1985 whilst contracted to Tyrrell, to mention just two. Not forgetting the trouble and difficulty it can be to find an adequate replacement driver, although in McLaren’s case they had Jenson Button already signed to the team for 2017.

Fernando Alonso’s Indianapolis 500 debut has generated and will continue to generate a lot of talk and discussion, which is great. But the most pleasing thing for me is that there is a driver who isn’t just concerned about being a multiple world champion in a particular motorsport, but has the desire to try and be successful in a variety of racing series. Which is something Alonso should be commended for and why the 101st running of the Indianapolis 500 is well worth tuning in for.

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Film Review: The Green Hell

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.

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Nordschleife Colorkey” by Chris is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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.

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SCG003C // Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus” by Stephan Wershoven is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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.

Formula 1 Launch Season

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

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Kimi Raikkonen” by Scott Kilbourne is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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.

 

Livery changes

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.

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RB11’s Motion Dazzle Livery” by Michael Elleray is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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.

 

How fast?

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.

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The Grid at the 2012 Formula 1 Santander British Grand Prix” by Silverstone Circuit is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

 

FIA Formula E: Now and in the near future

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.

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AUTO – FORMULA E PUNTA DEL ESTE 2015” by RENAULT SPORT is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

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.

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Jaguar returns to racing with I-TYPE, Adam Carroll, Mitch Evans, Ho-Pin Tung and Panasonic” by Jaguar MENA is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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.

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A Di Grassi la sesta tappa di Formula E corsa a Long Beach, USA” by Motori Italia is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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.

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Jaguar returns to racing with I-TYPE, Adam Carroll, Mitch Evans, Ho-Pin Tung and Panasonic” by Jaguar MENA is licensed under CC BY 2.0