James Hunt remembered

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Freddie Hunt

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The headline-grabbing career of one of Britain’s most charismatic and colourful sportsmen will be celebrated at this summer’s Silverstone Classic (29-31 July). It’s exactly 40 years since hard driving, fast living James Hunt overcame all the odds to win the FIA Formula One World Championship in 1976.

Hunt sadly passed away in 1993 at the age of just 45 but the legend lives on and the ruby 40th anniversary of his crowning achievement will be marked at the world’s biggest historic motor racing festival in July, with special displays curated by his two sons Freddie and Tom. These displays will include a number of James’ most notable road and racing cars plus rarely seen trophies and memorabilia from the flamboyant Englishman’s title winning 1976 season.

The special celebrations at Silverstone are very appropriate, too, as Hunt savoured more Formula One success at the superfast Northamptonshire venue than at any other circuit worldwide. As a much-loved underdog, home hero Hunt scored a hugely popular maiden F1 win at Silverstone in April 1974 when racing for the locally based Hesketh team. Although the BRDC International Trophy was non-championship, the grid featured many of the era’s top teams and drivers.

Two years later, Hunt ignited his title winning campaign with a second confidence boosting International Trophy victory, this time for his new team McLaren. And it was at Silverstone that, as reigning champion, he won his only British Grand Prix after an epic dice with John Watson in 1977.

 

1974 BRDC International Trophy.  Silverstone, England. 7th April 1974.  James Hunt, Hesketh, 1st position, on the podium.  Ref: 74IT02. World Copyright: LAT Photographic

7th April, 1974 BRDC International Trophy, Silverstone. James Hunt, Hesketh, 1st position, on the podium.

1977 British Grand Prix. Silverstone, England. 14th - 16th July 1977.  James Hunt (McLaren M26-Ford), 1st position, action. World Copyright: LAT Photographic. Ref: 77 GB 02.

14-16th July, 1977 British Grand Prix, Silverstone. James Hunt (McLaren M26-Ford), 1st position.

Chinese GP post race: Mercedes

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Nico Rosberg took his 17th career victory – his second at the Shanghai International Circuit, four years after sealing his first Formula One win at the same venue. Lewis Hamilton produced a battling drive to finish P7 from the back of the grid – despite incurring significant damage to his car in a first lap incident.

This result marks the 100th podium finish for the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows in Formula One. Rosberg (75) leads the Drivers’ Championship by 36 points from Hamilton (39) in P2. MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS (114) leads Ferrari (61) by 53 points in the Constructors’ Championship.

Nico Rosberg
“It’s been a fantastic few days for me here in China. First of all, the fans have been amazing from the moment I arrived. They’re so enthusiastic, which gives us drivers a very special feeling. Then, racing wise, it was an almost perfect weekend. Only the start could have been better – but luckily I was able to pass Daniel later on the straight and from then on I could build up a gap. I must say, I’ve never had a better balance in my car than I had today. It was really perfect, so a big thanks to everyone who helped me achieve that. I’m a very happy man today and, after three races I can be really pleased about how my season has gone so far. But it’s a very long year ahead and there’s a lot of points still on the table, so I’m not losing my focus. Now I look forward to Russia, where I started my good run of qualifying results last year. Hopefully I can get on a nice run like that again.”

Lewis Hamilton
“That was definitely a difficult weekend. I got a good start – but it’s always tricky being at the back and trying not to get caught up in the domino effect of any contact at the first corner. I tried to avoid whatever happened in front of me but I just got tangled up in it. It was just a bit unfortunate, really. From there it was always going to be a battle – but I had a lot of fun fighting back through! There were plenty of overtakes, from what I can remember! I gave it everything I had and P7 was about the limit. There was nothing left in the tyres at the end and, although it’s pretty good for overtaking here, I had quite a lot of damage to the car which made it difficult to get close on the brakes. From what I could feel there was definitely some aero loss and possible suspension damage too, as the car seemed to be flexing all over the place. But that’s racing – it happens sometimes and at least I still managed to get a few points on the board. It’s a pretty big hit points-wise today – but I’ll just have to do what I can to make it up over the next few races. Onwards and upwards…”

 

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Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
“That was a rollercoaster race. Nico enjoyed the perfect weekend: he was totally dominant this afternoon, always in control of his performance and did really a flawless job. For Lewis, the circumstances couldn’t have been more different. He got a great start, tried to stay out of trouble in the first corners and still got collected by a Sauber, who was avoiding another car coming back on track. His front wing was lodged under the car for a while, which damaged the leading edge of the floor and cost him a chunk of downforce for the rest of the race – though it was hard to know exactly how much during the race. We did something different with him under the Safety Car, cycling through the SuperSoft tyre with no loss of position, in order to open up some strategic options later in the race. He put in a great recovery drive and pulled off some great overtakes – but the damage to the car meant the tyres didn’t last as long as we had hoped and made it hard to catch cars through Turn 13 before the back straight. He still did a great job and kept charging to the end – but it was damage limitation again for him this afternoon. We are just three races into the longest season in Formula One history, so this isn’t the time to be looking at Championship tables or points gaps. We just need to keep scoring points right now, continue to work on our reliability after some wobbles this weekend and keep working very hard to bring more performance to the car and Power Unit. Today looked like it could have been a three-way fight with Mercedes, Ferrari and Red Bull if our rivals had a cleaner race – so there is no margin for us to relax.”

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
“Starting on Lewis’ side, one of the debates we actually had overnight was whether to do a bit more work to the car and start him from the pit lane, which ironically would have been a better decision in hindsight given what happened at the first corner. Equally, Lewis had by far his best start of the season, which ironically contributed to him being caught up in the cascade of collisions ahead of him. So, a perfect storm of unfortunate circumstances all round put him on the back foot straight away. We could see that there were problems with the car – both aerodynamic and mechanical – affecting him through the low-speed corners in particular. Under the safety car, we chose to perform consecutive pit stops with Lewis to get rid of the SuperSoft and enable us to run the rest of the race on the Soft, which was the stronger race tyre. As it transpired, his first set of softs were cut from the first corner incident – something we were unaware of at the time – which meant we were then forced to run the medium at the end of the race, rendering our SuperSoft eliminating tactic redundant. So, overall, Lewis did a great job to recover what he could with a car that was significantly underperforming. On Nico’s side, he actually had a less good start, losing a place into the first corner – although he was obviously running a less grippy tyre compound than the cars around him. He was, however, able to re-pass Daniel quite quickly once DRS became available and went on to have a straightforward race from there – running a soft/soft/medium strategy as intended from the beginning. An uneventful race from his perspective – but that’s not to underestimate the top job he did to manage the car safely within its limits and claim a well-deserved third victory of the season – and the 100th Formula One podium for the Silver Arrows in the process. We now look forward to Russia – targeting a clean and successful weekend on both sides of the garage.”

Sakhir – watch out for turn 1

Just been looking through brake manufacturer Brembo’s analysis of the Bahrain circuit. All the teams now produce quite nice infographics for the GPs which I find really useful.

Definitely one of the most demanding circuits for brakes. The races on the Sakhir track, surrounded by the desert, are characterised by high temperatures that increase mechanical grip, and make it difficult to dissipate the heat generated during braking.

This aspect – combined with the presence of numerous high energy braking sections which are quite close together – makes Sakhir a hard bench test for all the braking system components which are continuously stressed by the high energy forces and the hellishly hot temperatures.

If the drivers want to finish the race, the high wear of the friction material is the biggest danger that must be avoided.

Since 2004, Bahrain has staged 10 Formula One Grands Prix. In the 2010 season the race took place on an extended layout: instead of the usual 5.412 km GP circuit, the 6.299 km configuration was used. The first man to win a race at the Bahrain International Circuit was Michael Schumacher in the 2004 season.

According to Brembo technicians who classified the 21 World Championship tracks on a scale of one to 10, the Bahrain track earned a score of nine on the difficulty index, identical to recently built tracks like Singapore and Baku, which has yet to be used.

Of the eight braking zones half are classified as difficult on the brakes, while the other four are of medium difficulty. The four most challenging braking sections – those with a deceleration greater than 4.4 g – are confronted by vehicles travelling at 300 km/h or just slightly less.

The one feared the most is the Schumacher curve (turn 1) because the drivers arrive at speed that reach 330 km/h and they have to face a 5.2 g deceleration: the braking force required is greater than 2,200 Kw, but more importantly is the brake time (1.76 seconds) which is one of the highest in the entire World Championship.

The four braking sections that have a medium level of difficulty on the brakes are all positioned in the central part of the track and are broken up only by curve 11, where a load of 143 kilos is applied to the pedal.

New F1 talent

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Sedna Lighting, a British based LED lighting manufacturer and global distributor is highlighting young engineering talent in partnership with Cardiff University.

It’s supporting the local Cardiff Formula Racing Team and creating new opportunities for the young engineers of the future. The partnership highlights the University’s school of engineering and Formula racing team.

In a collaborative test of racing light in the dark, Sedna Lighting raced the CR12 series car around the home test track at Llandow.
The car, fitted with 1,500 individual LEDs from Sedna’s flexible LED strip range, was the joint effort of designers from two universities (Cardiff University and Cardiff Metropolitan University), film makers and engineers who translated the brief idea into a realistic design and created an inspirational video featuring the project.

This time Formula 1 style driving was given an unexpected twist with driving taking place in the night and cars generating exterior lighting on their own.

You can see what they got up to here.

Hermann Tilke on Baku City

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The F1 circuit architect (above) has been responsible for designing the majority of Formula 1’s ‘new’ circuits, including the likes of the Yas Marina Circuit (Abu Dhabi), Marina Bay Street Circuit (Singapore), Bahrain International Circuit and Circuit of The Americas (Austin).

Most recently, he’s tackled downtown Baku circuit (Azerbaijan) as the city prepares for racing this summer.

What was your first thought when you heard of the opportunity to build a street circuit in Baku? I had no idea about the city. After my first visit to Baku I was left with just one thought: Amazing! From the very first moment, I was really proud to be a part of the project and the team here. Baku will be the world’s fastest city circuit and the track loop around the city’s historical centre will create a unique and remarkable atmosphere for fans watching in the grandstands and at home. The City Circuit of Baku is located in a vibrant city. The streets are really narrow and this is exactly what makes it so appealing.

What was the most challenging part of the construction process? Coming up with an idea for the routing of a city track suitable for F1. City circuits are always challenging to build because the team has to construct the racetrack within the city. Various problems arise when designing a circuit in the city.

What is the average lap time expected to be? We calculated a lap time of 101 seconds, but that depends on the individual set-up of the racing cars and on the developments of this year’s new cars. The brake point in front of Turn 8 is V max= 204km/h. Between T8 and T9 we expect a V min of 86 km/h. The layout of the track is designed to show off the beauty of the historic and modern views and sights of Baku.

You can also race the virtual circuit.

 

F1 at Donington

 

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The unmistakable sound of Formula 1 engines will echo round Donington Park on Saturday 30 April and Sunday 1 May as historic cars stage a series of demonstrations on the first two days of the Donington Historic Festival.

The youngest of the demos will be the 2002 Jordan EJ12 from Takuma Sato’s F1 debut year, the Michael Schumacher 1992 Benetton B192, and the 1990 Camel Lotus 102 (Derek Warwick/Martin Brundle/Johnny Herbert).

The previous two decades will be represented by the Rupert Keegan 1977 Hesketh 308E, 1983 Williams FW08 (Keke Rosberg/Jacques Laffite), the Jean-Pierre Jarier/Piercarlo Ghinzani/Corrado Fabi 1983 Osella FA1-D and two Tolemans. The 1985 TG-185 is Teo Fabi, while the 1984 TG-184 was Ayrton Senna’s regular test car throughout 1984, and is the car in which he caused a sensation in Friday practice for the British GP at Brands Hatch, setting the fastest time in both of the day’s sessions.

Q&A with Haas F1

Guenther Steiner, Team Principal

Haas F1 now has its first grand prix under its belt. Obviously this was highlighted by Grosjean’s sixth-place result, but how did it go overall and what can you take from Australia and apply to Bahrain?
“We had our ups and downs. It started out with not being able to get enough testing in on Friday during practice. We tried to make up for it on Saturday morning during third practice, but we had an incident with a car colliding with Romain (Grosjean) as he was exiting the garage.

“It started off not too pretty, and then qualifying was not what we wished for, but the team bounced back and we got ready for Sunday. We showed a good race speed and we are ready to go racing. In the end it was all positive. It was hard to get to the positive, but with a lot of work with a lot of hard-working people, we got there. Now the biggest task is to replicate this, which won’t be easy, but for sure we will be trying again.”

Upon your return to Haas F1’s headquarters in North Carolina were you able to get a sense of how the team’s Australia performance resonated in the US?
“I think it resonated in a very positive way in all of racing in America. Even those who don’t follow Formula One considered it a big achievement for a new team to finish in sixth place and to be from America, which hasn’t had a presence in Formula One in 30 years.”

From the outside looking in, it appeared the team was taking a very unorthodox approach to building a Formula One team. And while that is relatively true, did the team’s performance in Australia vindicate your methodology, specifically in regard to partnering with Scuderia Ferrari and Dallara?
“I think our plan is working, but we won’t finish sixth every weekend, so we need to be careful with our expectations. I think we showed that you can start a new team and end up in the midfield. We were not last in Australia, which was one of our goals, and I don’t think we will be last this year. How far we’ve come is a sign that our plan is working.”

Haas F1 came out of the gate strong in the season-opener in Australia. History tells us not every grand prix will bring that kind of success. How do you manage expectations, internally and externally?
“We are not being arrogant about our early success and we will have our races where we will underperform. Our sixth-place finish in Australia keeps the team going, working very hard and trying to do the best possible job we can. If we continue to do what we did in Melbourne, good results will come.”

The flip side to Grosjean’s sixth-place finish at Australia was Gutiérrez getting caught up in a crash. There was a good bit of damage to the left-rear of Gutiérrez’s car. What needs to be done to repair it and what kind of logistics are involved to get it ready for Bahrain?
“Some of the parts, for example the chassis, were sent back to Europe to be checked and fixed because we can’t do it onsite in Bahrain. We have enough spare parts to build up another chassis, so we will use that. Then the chassis that is repaired will be sent to Bahrain via air to serve as our spare. The guys will have to work day and night to get to Bahrain, but it’s all doable. Our spare quantity is down, but we have enough to get going again, so we will just keep on working.”

You appear to have handled adversity extremely well – be it with technical issues during the second week of testing at Barcelona and when you endured a pit lane collision in practice Saturday at Australia. From your perspective, how well is this new group of personnel working together?
“We chose good, quality people. Nobody gets down in adversity. Everybody gets up. They are working on the solution, not on the problem. They work together because they are professionals and they know they can get it done together as a team. It all comes down to the quality of people, and I think our quality is pretty high.”

With wet weather Friday at Australia, it compromised the team’s ability to work on the car’s set-up for the race. The weather in Bahrain is usually pretty consistent, and that means consistently dry. How helpful will a full weekend of consistent weather be for you and the team?
“If we can get a good day of practice in with both cars and six hours of running, that will be fantastic just to learn more about this machine.”

With Gutiérrez’s lap 17 crash and Grosjean changing tyres during the red flag, you didn’t make any pit stops in Australia. How is the team preparing for pit stops and is there any worry this is one element of the programme that hasn’t really been tested?
“We didn’t complain that we didn’t have to do a pit stop in Australia, but we will have to do it in Bahrain, for sure. We will do a lot of things during practice in Bahrain to ensure that we are ready. We got away with not doing pit stops in Australia, but we won’t be able to in Bahrain. The focus will be on completing pit stops this weekend so the team goes into the race confident that they have trained properly.”

How did the addition of a third tyre option impact your strategy for Australia, and what impact do you think it will have on your tyre strategy for Bahrain?
“Everyone has the third tyre option, so you just deal with it. I don’t think it has a huge impact because it’s the same for everybody. We just need to make sure we use the three options we’ve got to the best of our knowledge.”

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