Formula One, abbreviated to F1 and also known as Grand Prix racing, is the highest class of single-seat open-wheel formula auto racing. It consists of a series of races, known as Grands Prix, held on purpose-built circuits or closed city streets, whose results determine two annual World Championships, one for drivers and one for constructors. The cars race at speeds often in excess of 300 km/h (185 mph) with engines that produce, as of 2005, around 950 bhp at just over 19000 rpm.
To say that F1 is struggling is a bit of an understatement. First, the lack of parity has somewhat alienated fans and sponsors, as Red Bull and Ferrari both pulled corporate association last year. Then came the delay in releasing F1 stock on the Singapore stock market, citing worldwide economic unrest as its main reason, though we tend to think F1 officials are waiting for the time when the sport regains its footing.
The latest bit of F1 business news that may indicate that F1 is in for a tough future is the fact that F1’s majority owner, CVC Capital, has sold down its share in the racing series. It’s one thing if a majority owner dumps 5 of 6 percent of its stock, that’s simply business, but when an owner dumps 1/5 of its stack, that is a little more serious.
CVC Capital dumped $1.6 billion first and has more recently dropped another $500 million of its F1 ownership, dropping its overall stake from a hefty 63.4 percent to just 42.5 percent. The total sale was split amongst three different investment groups.
CVC still remains the majority shareholder, but its drastic drop is rather ominous. Does this mean that CVC sees something on the horizon that could cause the worth of F1 to drop significantly? We really don’t know, but there is no other reason to drop over 20 percent of your ownership in such a short period of time. Add this drop to the lack of two monster-sized corporate racing sponsors – Red Bull and Ferrari – not being a part of F1 and you can start seeing the writing on the wall that marks change.
There is no way that F1 would simply fold up, but we suspect that there will be some serious restructuring coming down the pipe very soon. We’ll keep you updated as more news becomes available.
There are two things that Caterham shares with Lotus. The first is that they both are U.K.-based companies and the second is that they both had Ansar Ali as an executive in the company. Short of that, the two companies have stark differences. The biggest difference being that Caterham stayed focused on its racecar-building division, then slowly started working itself toward street cars, thus keeping it profitable. Lotus , on the other end of the spectrum, has been trigger happy lately and has lost millions of dollars.
Well, the man given a lion’s share of the credit for Caterhams’s success, Ansar Ali, has stepped down from his post as Managing Director of the successful company. The resignation is certainly not forced, as Caterham chairman, Tony Fernandes, poured a heavy helping of praise over top of Ali as he departed and this can only point to the fact that Ali is leaving for another job, a la the former Audi CEO bolting for Infiniti .
On paper, the destination is obviously Lotus. Do the math, it is a struggling company, much like Caterham was prior to Ali taking the reins, it lacks a CEO since Dany Bahar’s termination, and there is already a history between Ali and Lotus. Add in the fact that Ali is already in the U.K., where Lotus is based, and you come up with a perfect match.
If Ali is heading to Lotus, don’t expect an immediate announcement, especially given the rumors of Bahar suing Lotus . Lotus would be wise to bring Ali on as a special consultant for a few months until the Bahar storm settles down.
We’ll keep an eye on where Ali lands and let you know as soon as we hear anything.
Former F1 banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky, is expected to be sent to jail for corruption and abuse of trust, and in an effort to have his sentenced reduced, he’s going down swinging.
The former BayernLB risk officer has admitted to receiving $44 million of bribe money from F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone. The DAPD news agency quoted Gribkowsky admitting to the Munich state court that the bribery charges were "essentially true." On top of that, Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport also quoted the former banker saying that Ecclestone offered him "a huge pile of money." Apparently, that ’huge pile of money’ is around $44 million.
For his part, Ecclestone has denied bribing Gribkowsky, although he did admit to paying off Gribkowksy after the latter threatened to snitch to the UK tax authorities to do a tax inquiry on the 81-year old Formula 1 boss.
All this drama in the circus that is Formula 1 isn’t entirely new to a lot of folks. But this raises concerns on just how political the sport can be. If the sport’s most powerful man can admit to paying off somebody just to keep the UK tax authorities out of his nose without even the slightest inquiry, you know something’s wrong with that picture.
For those that are unaware, the FIA is still organizing and developing the Formula E racing series, which it almost the exact same racing as Formula 1, minus the vroom-vroom of the internal combustion engines. This series uses only cars that utilize sustainable energy, which means no gasoline or diesel, just the ominous hum of an electric motor.
The series is loosely set to kick off in 2014 and manufacturers have started coming forward with cars for the series. This latest car is pretty wild, to say the least. It looks almost like a Le Mans prototype car and the Batmobile had a wild night in the Batcave and the Bluebird GTL Formula E racing concept was the end result.
It takes most of its styling cues from the closed-cockpit-style Le Mans cars that have no rearward window, which was Audi’s reasoning for replacing the rearview mirror . It is very obvious that the focal point in building this machine was aerodynamics, as the curves are plentiful and there are no visual flat spots to catch the air.
According to its developers, the pictured model is purely just a prototype that they are using for wind tunnel testing and there is no motor information available yet. They anticipate a track-ready model to be completed by the end of September in hopes of racing in the Formula E’s debut season – if one ever kicks off.
We will keep you updated on this newest addition to the Formula E series and let you know the second its manufacturer releases some performance specs.
So, what can you do when you are not having success with your Formula 1 cars? Well, logically, you will be trying to develop new technologies that will help you obtain better results. Of course, logic is not always the path people take.
For example, let’s take Sauber F1. They didn’t score any impressive results as of late, so what have they been doing for the past two years? The Sauber F1 Team mechanics have been using their downtime to slice a Formula 1 racing car lengthwise with the precision of true craftsmen. Chief Designer Matt Morris quite literally gets underneath the skin of the F1 car, pointing out where and how the individual components are located within the chassis. Everything is packed in pretty tightly. Sergio Perez is also on hand to demonstrate the driver’s seating position.
We don’t exactly get the point of all this, so check out the video and enlighten us.
As always, the Grand Prix of Monaco provided a fairly spectacular showing, likely one of the few in this year’s F1 series. As most would expect, Circuit de Monaco lap-time record holder and five-time winner, Michael Schumacher took the pole position, but officials forced him back five grid positions after he caused a collision during qualifying. With the technical nature of Monaco, that pole position is very important and Schumacher’s penalty was an ominous sign that this would not be a good race, as he retired due to fuel issues 63 laps in.
Schumacher’s penalty propelled Red Bull’s Mark Webber into the pole position. Webber held onto that pole position, despite a lead change during a pit stop, and took home the checkered flag on a rain-coated Circuit de Monaco. As we said in our preview of the 2012 Grand Prix of Monaco , this race had some serious overall points influence, as the leaders were only separated by a few points each.
This victory for Webber places propels him up to a second place tie with Sebastian Vettel at 73 points and puts Fernando Alonso, who finished third, in the points lead at 76. An impressive run by Nico Rosberg placed him in second, just behind Webber, proving that his wide margin of victory in China was not just a one-time deal. This superb finish by Rosberg jumps him up two slots to fifth place overall.
From the looks of it, this season is shaping up to be a rather close points race with a few new faces near the top. Unfortunately, the leader board, for the most part, looks identical to the 2011 and 2010 seasons. The lack of parody in F1 has really been its Achilles heel in recent history. An overall points victory by Nico Rosberg would certainly be a push in the right direction for F1, so we’ll keep a close eye on his performance.
Click past the jump to see the complete placement board for the 2012 Grand Prix of Monaco and the overall points standings.
Rarely is something both the slowest and the hardest at the same time, but that all goes out the window when you’re talking about the Grand Prix at Monaco. For the majority of the F1 season, the drivers get to open up their cars a good bit. At Monaco, those chances to go wide open are limited to about three, as there are only a three extended straightaways on the track.
Besides those three straights, drivers get to deal with a plethora of intense twists and blind turns that require great care to negotiate correctly. These tight turns all amount to Monaco being the lowest average speed course on the F1 circuit, and arguably the hardest one on the circuit.
Well, the 70th running of this ultra-technical road course is due to start on May 27, 2012 and we’re going to provide a quick preview of what’s to come.
Click past the jump to read all about the Grand Prix at Monaco
We just love infographics because they are created to inform readers of different facts and figures on a particular topic. This infographic, however, takes that love to a whole new level by being the most complete and informative infographic we have ever seen. It breaks down the details of the 2012 F1 season, even going into the different cars and drivers.
Ever wonder what an F1 car consists of? Take a look at the very first section of this infographic. Want to know what kind of changes F1 drivers and teams had to prepare for in the 2012 season? This list goes into all of them, including the new nose height requirement of being 550mm above the base of the car to avoid a T-bone crash.
The rest of the infographic goes into the incredible precision driving on a Formula One cricuit, facts people may not know, details about the cars and drivers, and the entire race calendar, including preseason testing results at Jerez and Barcelona.
Check out the rest of the infographic to get more helpful information and remember to check back with us for the next installment in our Car Infographics series.
We brought you news about the possibility of Renault reviving the Alpine name and producing a brand new concept based around the original car just a couple of weeks ago , and already more details about this possible, yet-to-be-confirmed car have surfaced.
If this turns out to be true, then debuting the car at the Monaco Grand Prix could be a great move on Renault’s part, as it’s not only an integral part of Formula One and one of its key engine suppliers, but the media buzz around the famous race will help the French company get some recognition for reviving this legend.
The car in question will only be a concept version, and is rumored to be dubbed the ‘ZAR,’ although we’re somewhat doubtful that the ZAR name would make it to production. It seems a return to ‘Alpine’ would be preferable. Autoblog.nl has also revealed that the new Renault sports car may be completely electric and help lead the sports car market into more efficient territory.
However, if Renault does decide to create an electric Alpine for the 2014 or 2015 model years, it’s likely it would also offer the car with a conventional internal combustion engine if it really is a tribute to the original.
It’s yet to be confirmed if the Monaco display will be conducted in private or not, but if it is, expect a few shots to leak onto the net in the days following the event.
Any Formula One fanatic out there will know that driving an F1 car is much harder than it seems. Not only do drivers have to survive constant pressures on their necks and all the other major muscles in the body because of the massive g-forces achieved, they also have the ability to change almost every setting imaginable from the advanced steering wheel all while practically lying down in the car, as Nico Rosberg explains in the following video.
While watching on from the outside, it’s obvious that F1 drivers sit in a very unconventional position, but Rosberg’s true driving position may surprise many. In order to fit comfortably in the car, the driver’s feet are actually placed higher up in the car than their helmets, and this obviously hampers blood flow to their feet.
During the video, Rosberg also explains how the teams go about forming and constructing the carbon-fiber seats and even goes on to state that individual pieces of foam are often used to help soften the rigid seats, with Rosberg mentioning that only limited amounts of foam can be used because in the world of Formula One, “foam is very heavy.”