S S A P T I P sue #001
March ‘09 - Is
MESSAGE FROM THE BOSS
ello all and welcome to Pitpass. If the name and huge picture of fresh faced world champion Lewis Hamilton on the front cover didn’t give the game away then I’ll put you out of your misery - this magazine is about motorsport. From F1 to Touring Cars. From WRC to A1GP we’re going to cover it all in the most interesting and wry way possible.
If you haven’t yet bought this and you’re currently in WH Smith’s wondering what makes this motoring magazine different from the others ones you could spend your hard earned on then? Well, we’re not going to bore you with tedious facts and figures that are of no interest to anyone. That type of info is all well and good for the racing purist who likes to have a plethora of statistics at his disposal but for the average, run of the mill motor racing fan that type of stuff can send you to sleep. We deal in nothing but the most interesting, important info and we don’t expect our readers to have to wade through the irrelevant stuff. So if we’re not giving you tonnes of facts then what are we giving you? Expect plenty of features on the ins and outs of motorsport both on and off the track, interviews with those you will have heard of and some you may not. Oh, and we’ve got a gobby columnist hanging around near the back pages airing his warped views on the world of racing. Everything you could possibly want. So what are you waiting for? If you haven’t already bought it then take it to the till and get it paid for. If you have shelled out for it then get stuck in. Hopefully you’ll enjoy reading the first of what will be many issues just as much as we enjoyed making it. Cheers
EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Matthew Briggs ASSISTANT EDITOR Joe Bloggs DESIGN EDITOR Matthew Briggs SENIOR WRITER Matthew Briggs STAFF WRITERS Matthew Briggs, Andy Anderson, Barry Bareson, Chris Copeland, Daniel Donaldson, Faith Turner, Paul Scott, Steve Tompkinson, Chris Lawrence, Joe Bloggs, Terry Berwick, John Doe ADVERTISING MANGER Joe Bloggs MARKETING EXECUTIVE Joe Bloggs PUBLISHING DIRECTOR Joe Bloggs MANAGING DIRECTOR Joe Bloggs PUBLISHER Fake Magazines Ltd PRINTING No Such Printers Inc.
Pitpass Magazine, Mallard Close, Washington, Tyne & Wear, NE38 0ER www.pitpass-mag.co.uk firstname.lastname@example.org
Matthew Briggs Editor
The Honda management buyout, Croft’s legal troubles and much more.
12 The Drifters 16 Racing in a 20recession Hal Ridge 23 Eyes on the prize 26 Are you experienced? 29
Start your engines
We preview the 2009 Formula One season, rules changes and all.
We take a look at the British Drift Championship and ask whether drifting is the next big thing.
Is the financial crisis a real threat to the future of motorsport? Matthew Briggs finds out.
We interview up and coming Rallycross star and aspiring journalist Hal Ridge and ask him how hard juggling studying and racing is.
Can Lewis Hamilton retain his crown in 2009? Pitpass’s Matthew Briggs weighs up the champions chances.
One of Pitpass’s very own gets behind the wheel of a Ferrari and asks whether driving experiences and track days are worth the money.
32 Learning curve 34 OK in the UK 38 Taking the plunge 42 The great American farce45 Andy McKenna48 Motor mouth 53 Testing times
We cast a cursory glance over the test times prior to the new F1 season and make our picks for the coming year
We look at Formula Student, the scheme giving young engineers a chance to show off their skills
We count down our top 10 British drivers ever
Thinking of going to a Grand Prix? You better read our guide to what to expect on a race day then
We look behind the scenes of the 2005 US Grand Prix
We interview former F1 prospect Andy McKenna
Matthew Briggs lets off some steam
PITPASS / news
ALL SMILES: The team will race under the name Brawn GP for the 2009 season
Brawn buys Honda
Ex-Ferrari Technical Director completes management buyout of stricken team
oss Brawn has completed a takeover of the troubled Honda F1 team. The management buyout will see the team take to the grid this season, albeit as the newly branded Brawn GP. Brawn, who joined the Japanese outfit last year after a ten year stint at Ferrari, had been linked several times with a management buyout of the team over the past few weeks after interest from other parties including Richard Branson amounted to nothing. If the team hadn’t been sold by the start of the season Honda would’ve been forced to close it down to cut costs. Thankfully for Brawn and his team development of this season’s car didn’t stop when Honda announced their intention to withdraw meaning that Brawn GP will have no trouble being ready for the first race of the season in Melbourne on March 29. The team made their test debut in Barcelona on March 9 and the BGP 001, which will be
powered by Mercedes engines, surprised everyone by topping the time sheet in the first session. The cars will be driven by the former Honda pairing of Jenson Button and Rubens Barrichello, with the former rumoured to be taking a 50% pay cut in his £8 million contract to help keep the team in business. Honda announced they were withdrawing at the end of the 2008 season citing the global economic crisis as the reason. The team had endured two torrid seasons prior to opting out of the sport, finishing eighth and ninth in consecutive seasons after failing to build on a strong fourth place finish in 2006. In the previous two seasons they finished behind teams with a fraction of their £200 million plus budget. Speaking about the takeover, Ross Brawn said: “The vast experience and knowledge that both drivers bring to our team will prove invaluable as we aim to get up to speed in the shortest time possible to be ready for
the first race of the season...I would also like to take this opportunity to pay due credit to our staff at Brackley. The levels of motivation and commitment that I have witnessed at the factory deserve the highest praise. “Initially, we may experience some reliability issues resulting from the lack of track time but we feel we have a good car and we hope that our performance will be respectable.” Hiroshi Oshima, managing officer of Honda Motor Company Limited, said that Honda offered its “sincerest wishes” for the new team, adding: “We are very pleased that we could sell the team to Ross Brawn, with whom we have been partaking in the challenges of F1 competition, and are grateful for his decision.” It is not yet known if there will be any redundancies at the team’s Brackley plant, where 700 now former Honda staff work but one man who will be keeping his job is Nick Fry, who is staying on at Brawn GP as a CEO.
USGPE is go
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All American team set to take to the grid in 2010
he grid for the 2010 season will see a new team throw their hat into the ring and much to everyone’s surprise they’ll be from the United States. US Grand Prix Engineering, or USGPE as they are colloquially known, are set to make their debut in 12 months’ time in the hope of injecting a new lease of life into Formula One’s failing attempts at snaring the North American market. After 2005’s disastrous United States Grand Prix at Indianapolis and the shelving of the Canadian GP it looked as if F1 had resigned itself to never quite cracking the home of Indy and NASCAR but this new development could provide a major foothold across the Atlantic. The team is the brain child of engineer Ken Anderson and journalist Peter Windsor and had been in the offing as early as 2006 when the latter told Bernie Ecclestone of his plans: “I first told Bernie about this in Brazil 2006, and he was his usual specific self. He just said, ‘great, get it done’.” The team plans to stay true to it’s roots as well as its Made in America mantra so it’s main base will be located in Charlotte, North Carolina where the chassis will be designed and built. Anderson has also said he’d like to have two American pilots if possible. The announcement has already triggered speculation as to which two drivers will take up the spots on the 2010 grid. One of the most frequently mentioned is Danica Patrick - a moderately successful female IndyCar series driver. Whether she would be able to make the cross over to F1 is debatable considering the awful track record of almost every other driver from an American race series who made the jump but the marketing potential would be limitless. However, whether American motorsport
GRAND IDEAS: Peter Windsor is one of the two behind USGPE would allow Anderson, who is technical director to NASCAR team Haas CNC Racing, to poach one of their prize assets is doubtful. Scott Speed has also been mentioned who has previous Grand Prix experience but said experience didn’t amount to much. Marco Andretti could join and become the first third generation F1 driver after his father Michael and grandfather Mario. Windsor spoke at the team’s press launch about the idea and admitted that while it sounds far fetched it is very doable: “It sounds very arrogant perhaps, but we have some history and we have some things that we want to bring into the sport that we think we can do well.” The pairing of Windsor and Anderson have announced a small partner has already agreed to help fund the team but the
general ethos behind it - that an F1 outfit doesn’t need a multimillionaire or a billionaire corporation behind it to be a success still remains. Whether that ethos has some grounding in reality or not remains to be seen. However confident they are scepticism still remains, especially about how the team will conduct itself. Both Anderson and Windsor have admitted that track time is unlikely until early 2010 which could see the outfit at a huge disadvantage alongside the more experienced outfits. Many people won’t be reading too much into the statement of intent, especially after similar failed projects such as Prodrive. Until a car is on the grid at the first race of the year then people won’t be confident enough to place money on USGPE racing in 2010.
PITPASS / news
Heikki: It could be my year Flying Finn hopes he’s the one to lead McLaren to glory and not Lewis
cLaren driver Heikki Kovalainen has said he hopes he’ll be the one bringing the British team the driver’s title this year, and not Lewis Hamilton. The Finn was outperformed by Hamilton last year who finished 45 points ahead, however he thinks he’s improved: “I’ve learned so much from last year, I think I’ve developed both as a person and as a driver and I know that if the car is good then I’ll have every chance of fighting for wins. If that happens, I hope it will lead me towards fighting for the title. “As a Formula One driver you have to go into every season believing you can be World Champion otherwise there’s no point being here. And I believe I go into the new season with every chance of fighting for the title.”
CONFIDENT: Kovalainen believes he has improved since last year However, Heikki is unsure of whether McLaren’s car is capable of winning: “It’s still too early to say how the car will behave
when we are in Melbourne because we are still bringing new parts to the car and have not yet run the finished article.”
Trulli: Toyota can challenge Italian believes Japanese outfit can finally live up to its expectations and it’s budget
CONFIDENT: 2009 could be Toyota’s year
arno Trulli believes 2009 will see Toyota finally live up to the hype and become one of F1’s top teams. Toyota, who’ve had an impressive pre-season, have had one of the biggest budgets on the grid for several years now but on-track success has been hard to come by. However, their Italian driver believes that the new TF109 is one of the best cars that the team have produced for some
time: “The car is consistent on long runs, we’ve done several and we have found the car consistent in every condition.” The team are still yet to win their first Grand Prix but Trulli believes that he and his teammate Timo Glock have never had a better chance of breaking the Japanese team’s duck: “Our aim is to be in the top three or four at the start of the season and see what we can do from there. I’m more and more confident.”
PITPASS / news
BTCC to test CO2 emissions Initiative is a world first
TESTS: Cars must be ‘green’
ritish Touring Car teams will have to see their cars undergo testing for CO2 emissions for the first time ever this coming season. The move, which is a world first, is endorsed by the Government-sponsored initiative Energy Efficient Motorsport. The idea behind the tests is to bring the emissions of the racers closer to those of the various vehicles road going counterparts. Cars who are already running the championship’s latest set of 2 litre technical regulations have already been put through the tests at a Land Rover laboratory ahead of the start of the season and it has been shown that they’re meeting the new targets without losing too much power. Alan Gow, series director of the British Touring Car Championship, said: “We could have gone down the easier path of simply mandating the use of bio-fuels... but the BTCC wants to see emission levels genuinely reduced and that is why we are taking this route – in other words tackling CO2 emissions directly at their source; namely the engines themselves. “Our sport is full of incredibly clever, very talented engineers and this initiative is a great demonstration of their ability to tackle such issues head-on.” The first race meeting of the season has been provisionally pencilled in for April 5 at Brands Hatch.
WORRY: The ruling sets dangerous precedent for other tracks
Croft could close after court ruling Historic circuit ordered to pay out over £850,000 after legal battle with residents over level of noise
he future of Croft racing circuit is in doubt after it lost its appeal to compensate neighbours of the circuit against noise pollution. The circuit was originally asked to pay £150,000 compensation to the Watson family, who had complained about ‘loud, intrusive and repetitive noise’ emanating from the circuit as well as their own legal fees but now it has also been ordered to pay £700,000 in Court costs. As if to add more insult to injury the court has also issued an injunction against the circuit limiting activity to only 40 days a year, less than the amount of days taken up currently by major events such as the British Touring Car Championship and British Superbikes. Croft is the one of the few circuits serving the north east
of England and Yorkshire and the injunction would all but stop the circuit from putting on track days - a major source of income for every racing circuit. Another worry is how this case will effect other tracks. The ruling has set a new precedent and now circuits all across the country are operating under the threat of claims relating to noise pollution. Croft circuit released a short statement after the ruling, saying: “Croft Promosport Ltd is extremely disappointed with the Court of Appeal’s decision today in relation to the recent High Court judgement, which has serious implications for the circuit and the motor racing industry generally. “We are reviewing the position carefully and would not with to make any further comment at this stage.”
PITPASS / news
Parente secures 2009 GP2 drive Ex-SuperNova driver will race for ORT next year
ortuguese driver Alvaro Parente has announced he will be racing for GP2 team Ocean Racing Technology next season. Parente made a fantastic start to last season’s series, winning the very first race, but failed to capitalise on that and finished eighth in the Championship overall. He will be racing alongside Indian driver Karun Chandhok and have his first test outing with the team in France on March 11. Speaking about securing the drive, Parente said: “I’m very pleased to be with Ocean Racing Technology, because I believe in the team’s potential and I was warmly welcomed by everybody. “I feel confident that this team
will allow me to move forward in my career. Besides, this is a project with a Portuguese flavour, which is something that makes it special and pleases me.” Ocean Racing Technology was formerly known as BCN Competición but changed its name after it was bought by former F1 driver and Parente’s compatriot Tiago Monteiro.
Pedrosa plays the waiting game MotoGP star leaving Qatar decision until the day
ani Pedrosa has said he will not make a decision on whether to take part in MotoGP’s season opener in Qatar until raceday.
The Honda rider is still recovering from injuries he sustained when he fell heavily in testing last Monday. He required a skin graft on his left knee and a titanium pin to be inserted in his left wrist after the accident and is wary about putting his body in harms way again at such short notice.
Speaking about his fitness, Pedrosa said: “We are planning to work hard and so be ready for the first race in Qatar, but when the day arrives we will have to see whether I am well enough to get on the bike.”
News in brief Head of the FIA, Max Mosley has said that the News of the World story about an S&M orgy he took part in had a “terrible effect” on both him and his family. Mosley made the admission to MPs who are investigating press standards, privacy and libel laws. F1 World Champion Lewis Hamilton has said he was ‘overwhelmed’ after collecting his MBE from the Queen. Hamilton collects the award after being named of the New Years’ Honours list. Hamilton, the youngest ever world champion and first black driver was accompanied at the ceremony with his ever present father Anthony, brother Nicolas and stepmother Linda. Yvan Muller and Gabriele Tarquini helped complete a SEAT sweep at the opening round of the WTCC in Curitiba, Brazil. Muller lead from start to finish in the first race rarely being trouble by the following pack whereas Tarquini battled his way up from fifth on the grid to take the win in the wet in the second race. Luca Filippi has joined the SuperNova GP2 team this year from ART Grand Prix. The Italian drove for the team back in 2007 when he finished fourth in the overall standings. Filippi will partner Javier Villa next season, who is making the jump to the main series after impressing in GP2 Asia. Former F1 driver Jonathan Palmer has called the interest in the new Formula Two series ‘unprecedented’. All the grid slots in the revamped series have been taken before the car was even launched. The formula, which is being revived after 25 years, will give young drivers a chance to race in the top tiers of motorsport without having to spend too much money. The first round is in Spain on May 31 and will see sons of famous drivers such as John Surtees and Martin Brundle take to the grid.
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START YOUR ENGINES... It’s not long now until the 2009 Formula One season kicks off at Albert Park in Melbourne. While every season usually brings a few changes both on and off the track this year the tinkering has reached new levels, so it’s a good job Pitpass’s Matthew Briggs is here to help you clue up on what’s going on in F1 this season
The Rules A raft of technical changes have been brought in to make the sport more exciting. The most obvious is the change in aerodynamics, which has seen cars lose their slim, sleek design and turn into boxy monstrosities. Thankfully, these changes haven’t simply been made to turn the vehicles into lumps of metal that will make your eyes bleed whenever you so much as cast a cursory glance over the screen, but they have been made to try and improve overtaking. According to the FIA the wider front wings
and taller back wings will allow cars to follow each other more closely and in turn this should increase the chances of overtaking. However, it remains to be seen whether the prospect of more exciting racing can really make up for the horrors that will be sitting on the grid
this coming year - Renault’s R29 being the most vomit inducing of the lot so far. While F1 purists may feel sick at the sight of some of the cars they can take heart that slick tyres have also been brought back by the FIA for the first time in over a decade. The tyres, which are completely bereft of any grooves should allow cars
Renault’s R29 is the most vomit inducing design of 2009 so far
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to carry more speed through “The problem is that you can’t of day. The idea was that the corners and like the aerodynam- be sure what effect they’ll have. top three placed drivers would ics improve the chances of over- Will it bring the pack closer toget medals, very much like the taking. Even if the reintroduction gether or spread them out? No Olympics and that the driver of slicks doesn’t work as planned one will know until the first race with the most golds would win there is still the promise that the but for racing you’ve got to hope the title. Bernie justified this smallest splash of rain onto the it’s the former. Either way techby saying “no one was going to track will see the tyres rendered nological advances are part and put their car into a wall for one pretty much useless and half the parcel of F1 so we’ve just got to point.” Clearly he missed the drivers skid into the wall in the get used to them.” climax to last season where the most spectacular fashion. It’s not just the motors that are title not only came down to one The most potentially interesting getting an overhaul this year. point, but was settled in the last change in the rules, corner too. not just this season but in recent history The Drivers and Teams is the introduction Movement on the driver of KERS. Far from front has been surprisbeing simply a nice ingly sparse this year, sounding acronym with almost every team it’s a development retaining the line up they which could revoluhad the previous seationise the sport if son. Some of the few implemented propchanges have came at erly. KERS stands the two Red Bull owned for kinetic energy teams, with RBR replacrecovery system and ing the now retired David as you can probCoulthard with German ably guess from the youngster Sebastian Vetname it will coltel and Toro Rosso filling lect the energy the the gap left by the gancar gives out under gly 21 year old with newbreaking and store comer Sebastien Buemi. it in a battery. This To the surprise of some energy can then be Kimi Raikonnen didn’t used by the driver jack the sport in and in short bursts to signed a new deal with give them a little bit Ferrari towards the end of extra speed and, of the 2008 season, as you’ve almost which mean the team certainly guessed, retains the Raikonnenallow them to overMassa line up for this RUMOURS: Kimi is still here despite the whispers season. Nelson Piquet Jnr take slightly easier. This sounds great in managed to cling onto theory but it has already met Some of the more contentious his seat by the skin of his teeth stiff opposition from teams who on-track issues that dogged last to so he’ll continue to partner believe the negatives far outseason have been seen to by the moody Spaniard Fernando weigh the positives. Firstly, the the FIA. The most welcomed will Alonso in 2009. weight of the system has anbe the change to the pit lane We can’t mention changes on noyed almost every team on procedure under a safety car. the grid without mentioning the grid, especially since they Over the past two seasons drivHonda, or should that be Brawn spend millions of pounds each ers have had to wait a certain GP. With former Ferrari Technical year trying to reduce the weight amount of laps before coming in Director and all round engineerof their race going cars. Several to change tyres and refuel. This ing whizz Ross Brawn completteams have claimed that KERS rule lead to drivers who were ing a management buyout of will have a detrimental effect on low on fuel breaking it and inthe team with only weeks to go every single track on the circuit. curring stop go penalties that ef- before the season kicks off so There is also the issue of safety, fectively ruined their races. Now, rather than sun himself on his with claims that teams won’t run the FIA say they have developed veranda in Monte Carlo Jenson KERS until they’re happy it’s not a technology which gives drivers Button will have to actually race going to malfunction and engulf a minimum time for the driver to next year. Shame. their cars in flames. get back to the pits. Lloyd Da Silva, an automotive And a quick mention to the The Tracks engineer believes these technimooted medal system which Not content with technical cal changes are a mixed bag: thankfully never saw the light changes the FIA have also
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A NEW LOOK: 2009 designs have a taller rear wing and a wider front wing to increase overtaking tinkered with the calendar with what will no doubt be varied success. In comes the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which will shunt the Brazilian GP from its slot as the final race of the season while both the French and Canadian GP’s have been pushed out altogether. While there may not be many tears shed outside of Bourgogne for the former, the Canadian GP has provided some fantastic races over the past couple of seasons and F1 fans from all over will no doubt be up in arms that one of the most entertaining races has lost it’s slot so Bernie Ecclestone can chase the dollar in foreign markets and add tedious street races to the race schedule. Some of the more familiar tracks may look slightly different this coming year too as the times of races have been changed to be more accommodating to the European viewer. Far from having to get up in the middle of the night or very early to watch races in Australia, Japan and China they have been put back by an hour to two so us lucky folk on the other side of the
world aren’t too bleary eyed. A nice idea on paper but I for one like the nocturnal fumbling as I sleepily reach for my television remote and the snooze button on my alarm at the same time. I like plying myself with coffee so I don’t fall asleep during the prerace spiel. It’s part of the experience although I probably wont miss it one bit once I get used to the idea of having a lie in.
the years so unsurprisingly we were over the moon when it was announced that the BBC had won the rights to broadcast the sport. With the promise of additional coverage on the red button, the return of The Chain and no ad breaks on paper it sounds pretty good. If that wasn’t enough the Beeb have also brought Martin Brundle across from ITV making it nigh on impossible to pick holes in their coverage. They’ve even got Murray back, albeit in an online capacity. With all these changes it’s looking like it’s going to be an intriguing season at the very least. The car launches have had the unusual effect of asking more questions than they answer. One thing that is for certain is that everything will be much clearer come the first race. See you there!
F1 fans all over the world will be up in arms the Canadian GP has lost it’s slot
Any Other Business? We at Pitpass Towers have been fed up with ITV’s coverage of F1 for some time. The way adverts were shoehorned in at the worst possible time, the rush to wrap up the coverage so housewives could get their fix of Corrie and Mr. Point-out-the-bleedin’obvious James Allen have all driven us to distraction over
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Could the world of drifting really be on the verge of becoming the next motor racing phenomenon? As Matthew Briggs finds out it’s no longer about young lads with attitude problems hanging around in empty car parks after dark
otor racing is no longer just the pursuit of stuffy old farts, oh no. If you prefer style to speed and spoilers to diffusers then there is one series out there for you. The British Drift Championship takes those who prefer going sideways around corners, whacks them on a track and then allows them to compete against each other in a series of races across the country. The sport of drifting originated in Japan way back in the 1970’s and was an instant hit with spectators and wannabe racers alike who weren’t used to seeing cars slide around bends in a pool of smoke. An underground
scene developed and tuning garages and existing Japanese car magazines produced videos and set up events to promote
soon found its way over to the UK and US as magazines such as Max Power picked up on the new craze. Meetings of ‘boy rac-
If you’re bored of the mega rich racers in F1 or A1GP you could do worse than give the BDC a go the new sport. By the mid-90’s drifting had been exported from the land of the rising sun and was capturing the imagination of car nuts in the western world. The cool underground scene which had thrived in the far east
ers’ in supermarket car parks up and down the country weren’t completely uncommon and tuning, which had gone hand in hand with the Japanese drift scene, became big business. It was now fashionable to have a
PITPASS / feature garish motor with an ill sounding engine. With all this in mind it’s hardly surprising that an official UK championship was just around the corner. After dozens of drifting exhibitions put on by various groups of fanatics from all around the country, Britain finally got it’s own national series in 2008, in the guise of the British Drift Championship. The first season of the BDC was a roaring success, with over 60 drivers competing at each event. There are two categories for races. The first is the semi-pro category, which is for drivers who show a basic level of drifting skills and the second is the pro category, which unsurprisingly caters to those more competent at drifting. The cars differ too as in semi-pro they only need to be equipped with basic safety items whereas pro cars need to have the works, including a roll cage in case of a nasty shunt. The BDC acts as a feeder series for the hugely successful Need
way up the various series to compete in the European Drift Championship in 2007. I got involved in commentating on events around this time too and it helped me understand how they’re ran. Since then i’ve helped set up the BDC and I now focus mostly on the day to day running rather than racing myself.” The BDC’s exciting inaugural season came to a close at Llandow last August with Steve Moore and Dave Walbrin taking the semi-pro and pro titles respectively. The 2009 series is set to start in only a few weeks time at the back end of April at the soon-to-be home of the British Grand Prix, Donington Park. While you may not yet see the BDC plastered across your television screens, even on some little known channel at the arse end of the Sky listings interest is growing in it, so much so that various companies have thrown their
SIDEWAYS: Windscreens are useless when drifting For Speed European Drift Championship, which itself has only been running since 2007 and unlike many drift series gets coverage courtesy of Motors TV, so the rewards for the most impressive drivers in the British Drift Championship are huge. Mark Buckle, one of those who helped set up the BDC, has been involved in the world of drifting prior to the advent of the aforementioned series: “I started in the world of drifting way back in 2005 driving a Nissan Skyline R32 GTST. Eventually I made my
weight and money behind the venture. Sponsorship deals with Falken Tyres, Total Car Magazine and even game developers Codemasters have been struck. If you’re looking for something slightly different this summer to break up the monotony of F1 race after Touring Car race after A1GP race full of mega rich stars then you could do worse than spend a weekend or two following the British Drift Championship.
What is drift racing? Unlike conventional motorsport you don’t win a drift race by being the fastest, you win a drift race by being the most stylish. Confused? There are a select team of judges at each race lumbered with the job of deciding who is the most stylish out of all those on track. Thankfully, to make their job slightly easier they’re given a few criteria to rank competitors on - line, angle, speed and show factor. The line is often determined by the judges prior to the meeting beginning, angle is the angle of the car during the drift, speed refers to the pace during the drift with faster being better and show factor comprises of smaller elements such as crowd reaction and smoke. The sport of drifting is usually divided into two sessions. The first acts as a qualifying session for drivers and the second is the final session which comprises of the 16 highest ranked drivers from the first session. In the final session the drivers are paired off and have to pass each other under drift conditions. These passes are judged and the winner of the heat goes through until there are only two drivers out of the 16 left who then compete to see who wins that meeting. Only a small part of the circuit, usually a handful of decent, interlinking corners in good view of the crowd and judges, is used with the rest of the track irrelevant with regards to the actual ‘racing’. However, it can be used by the driver to help heat their tyres and get their car ready for the next attempt. Still confused? Not to worry. If you want to know more about drifting or even find out the hows, wheres and whos of having a crack at it yourself head over to the BDC’s official website (www.thebritishdriftchampionship.co.uk) for more info.
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RACING IN A RECESSION
As Matthew Briggs finds out not even the glitzy world of racing has escaped the clutches of the global financial crisis
port is usually pretty bulletproof whenever the rest of the world hits financial hardship. This point may have been proven when earlier this year, amid a plethora of job losses for Joe Public, the FA Premier League managed to renegotiate a new television deal and bleed more money out of broadcasters. However, football may well be the exception that proves the rule. While the beautiful game may not be on the bones of its backside other sports are struggling badly, and at the very top of that list are some of the biggest series in the world of motorsport. Shockingly, F1 is right up there at the summit treading a fine line between being a financially viable venture or being complete pie in the sky. Yes, even the most glamorous form of racing, which prides itself on being the hottest thing on four wheels, has had a short, sharp shock over the past few months. The racing world sat up and took notice when Honda announced
that they would be pulling out of the sport. If a buyer wasn’t found the team then that would leave the grid laughably sparse with only nine outfits involved far cry from the mid 90’s when there was nigh on constantly 13 to 14 teams competing season after season . Thankfully team principal Ross Brawn has completed a management buyout so the old Honda team will be
for all concerned. Problems aren’t just confined to F1, where millions are spent trying to shave a second or two off a lap time. Popular, but less money-centric series are also suffering. The World Rally Championship has lost one of its banner names in Subaru to the recession, as well as relative newcomers Suzuki meaning that the 2009 season only has
Until this season the idea of Subaru pulling out of the WRC was like Ferrari pulling out of F1 - unthinkable on the grid next season in some shape or form. Still, those in charge can’t say they weren’t aware of the difficulties some of the teams were facing - Super Aguri, the unofficial Honda ‘B team’, pulled out of the 2008 campaign after only four races. A warning shot across the bows
two factory teams on its grid of eight. The effect that losing two teams of Subaru and Suzuki’s calibre will have on the WRC will no doubt be felt this season, after all Subaru pulling out of rallying is like Ferrari deciding it’s too expensive to race in F1 unthinkable. At least it was until
PITPASS / feature this year. costs are cut and importantly die overnight. Ikuo Mori, chief executive of racing is made even more interFor WRC though it looks like it Subaru’s parent company Fuji esting. could be a tough few years. With Heavy Industries explained the Does this mean we’ll see F1 Ford and Citroen also taking a decision: “Our business environ- adopt the same model? That’s long hard look at their involvement has changed dramatically highly doubtful. One of the mament in the sport prior to the due to the rapid deterioration jor drawing points for supporters start of the 2009 campaign it’s of the global economy. In order and prospective teams alike is entirely possible that if the situto optimise the management resources and to strengthen the Subaru brand further, Fuji Heavy decided to withdraw from WRC activities at the earliest time.” But rather than wallow in self pity plans are being put into action by the FIA and other bodies to try and curb the amount of money spent by teams and individuals in the pursuit of trophies and championships in all levels of motorsport. Formula the R&D aspect. The fact that F1 ation doesn’t improve economiOne teams have took the lead is about teams doing battle both cally we could see a WRC grid by proposing radical cost cutting on the track and off the track. full of privately owned teams. measures that it plans to impleWhile a universally used chassis Much like F1 very few people if ment over the next two years. may improve racing it’ll destroy any would be left to watch if the A recent meeting between the the battle of the brains that goes manufacturers jump ship. teams was very productive and on behind the scenes. This seaIs there any light on the hoFerrari president Luca di Monsons rule changes wouldn’t be rizon? Well, the financial crisis tezemolo said that the proposals half as interesting if every new has to end sometime and when from the meeting will be premachine came out looking idenit does those in motor racing all sented to the FIA sooner over the world will thank rather than later: “If we their lucky stars that had not done alone these they’ve made it through cost savings, it would have to the other side. What been difficult for many will the future hold for teams to maintain activities the mad world of motorin F1. We will meet with sport then? Will we see the chairman of FIA in the a return to the days of next few days, and we will plenty when constructors inform the World Council and car companies threw on these important decitheir cash about like their sions, because as you have was no tomorrow in the seen these decisions have hope that they could get been taken in such a short a couple more points on time and I think there are the board come the end of important cost savings.” the season or will frugality This move will be music to remain the word on everythe ears of FIA president one’s lips? It depends. If Max Mosley who has been the changes that are afoot pestering the teams for produce a positive result some time about cost cutthen we may not see team ting measures. budgets skyrocket for a Outside F1 cost cutting while yet but as always if is paramount, with lesser the money is there there’s GONE: Honda and Super Aguri have quit series and formula looking a temptation to spend it. Formula One over the past twelve months Whatever happens in the for ways to avoid financial problems. The revamped distant future, the next Formula Two series promises to tical. Anyway, a universally used year or two in not just F1 but give young drivers a chance to chassis may be one thing but every motorsport will be, in the show off their talent in a uniform no F1 team will agree to having words of Luca di Montezemolo, machine. This model is based identical engines put in every an “unprecedented.” Lets just upon the idea behind A1GP of car. If it was forced then all the hope that these unprecedented providing several identical cars name teams would leave in a decisions have a positive effect to all the drivers on the grid so huff and the appeal of F1 would on the sport we love.
There would be few people about who would still want to watch F1 or WRC if the manufacturers are forced out
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WORK HARD... ...PLAY HARD Tell someone you manage a race team and they’ll probably try and change the subject, but tell them you manage a race team, you are studying for a degree and you’re in your early 20’s, and they’ll probably call you a liar. Pitpass’s Matthew Briggs has spoke to one man doing all of the above - Hal Ridge
sk any student and they will tell you studying at university is stressful enough without various other distractions knocking you off your stride. The majority will stick to the simple life of socialising and occasionally working but others deliberately make things hard for themselves. One of these few is the University of Sunderland’s Hal Ridge - student, racing driver and team owner. Hal, who originally hails from Bishops Castle, Shropshire is the sole driver and owner of the HrRACING Rallyesport team which takes part in Rallycross events around the country and around Europe and like most drivers his interest in motorsport
started at a very young age: “I first took an interest in motor racing and in particularly Rallying when I was a youngster. I saw it on TV and because where I grew up in mid-Wales there is quite a lot of Rallying I managed to convince my Mam to take me to see some live. After that I was hooked. “I always wanted to do Rallying but went to watch a few Rallycross events and I really enjoyed it. This inspired me to get a road car, a Peugeot 205 GTi, at the age of 16 and I spent two years building it and modifying it by myself, with no experience at all. Eventually I took part in my first event on 3 July 2005 in the Stockhatch class.” Eventually Hal made the decision to go to university, but not
before he spent a year travelling around New Zealand and preparing himself to compete in the MSA British Rallycross Championship. Hal then raced sporadically in many different championships before managing to capture the British Division 1A in 2008: “I was happy we won it, even though it wasn’t very well supported. It wasn’t a case of us simply turning up and winning the meetings because there were still some very good drivers to race against and the car did well.” The future looks bright for Hal, with a new car and new competitions to compete in this year: “That was the last outing for my Peugeot 205 as I’ve been working on a Renault Clio Super 1600 for some time now which
PITPASS / interview has been built especially for the chines where as we only able to but now it looks as if he’s on the European Rallycross Champispend £20,000 if that on my car. verge of some major success.” onship. It’s going to debut in We will do our best to get in the So where does Hal feel journalFrance in two weeks time and I mix. It’s all relative but literally ism and photography, the vohope to take it to the meetings in Hungary, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, Poland and Germany too.” It’s not all fun and games for Hal, as there have been just as many spills as there have thrills: “I’ve had a couple of huge crashes in my time races. Once I rolled the car five times and another time someone hit me up the backside so hard my seat was actually pushed forward. “There was also a number of incidents and problems SPEED DEMON: Hal punishing his Peugeot 205 at the Croft circuit in 2007 that occurred at an exhibition event at the London ExCel in Decemeverything I have goes on it.” cations he’s currently studying ber 2007. After the second day While Hal admits that his racing at university, fits into his life of of racing I was in 18 overall looks like a hobby on the surface racing: “It’s helping me in ways and the car was pretty much underneath it means much more that you wouldn’t imagine. Now destroyed due to the various to him: “It’s my life. We don’t rather than just racing I’m going shunts and other problems. I just race but we hire cars out, to events to write about them was all ready to pack up and go build them for other teams and and take photographs. In fact home but the people with me look after cars for other outfits this coming weekend I’m goand the other teams managed to before, during and after events. ing to Portugal to report on the convince me to stay. We worked It isn’t just something we do second round of the ERC before on the car all through the night part time.” I start racing in it myself in a and on the Sunday I climbed 15 His love of motorsport doesn‘t few weeks.” places to finish third overall.” just stop at Rallycross. Anyone Unsurprisingly, Hal’s mindset The camaraderie between teams and within HrRACING alone is heart warming: “My team consists of myself and a couple of others that work under me and help me out. We’re constantly at work, constantly developing the cars and I couldn’t do it if it wasn’t for those people who drives with a passion in any echoes that of almost every who give up their time to help class is a favourite of his: “I love driver in every class today - live me out. to watch people who are having for the now: “I don’t look five “Financially it’s hard too as I to work for results, don’t have or ten years into the future. have to put every single penny everything spoon fed to them I’m putting everything I have I have into it. We’re very forand have such a passion for the now into racing and I justify it tunate to have some very gensport - I love an underdog. At to myself by saying that I could erous sponsors to help us out the minute I’m getting a kick out get hit by a bus tomorrow and too. If you look at the European of watching Jenson Button beI’d feel like I wasted my days. Rallycross Championship we’re cause he’s had such a rough ride You’re here for a good time, not going up against teams who in F1 over the past few years for a long time.” spend £200,000 on their ma-
Financially it’s very tough as I have to put every single penny I have into keeping the team going
PITPASS / opinion
EYES ON THE PRIZE
Lewis Hamilton will be looking to retain his Formula One crown when the season kicks of in Melbourne on March 29, however as Matthew Briggs has found out clinging on to that elusive trophy could be harder than it looks
inning one Formula One World Championship is hard enough but winning two in a row is the sign of a fantastic racer. A quick flick through the history books will throw up only a handful of drivers who have did it, every last one of them all time greats. Lewis Hamilton’s explosive start to his F1 career instantly had his name mentioned alongside those who have, the best this sport has had to offer - Fangio, Ascari, Senna, Prost and Schumacher. All this without winning a Championship. Now he finally has one under his belt he has to go on and prove that the original hype was justified and he can go toe to toe with those F1 legends and what better way to do it than retaining his crown. While drivers who’ve retained the title may be scattered fairly sparsely the F1 record books are full of those drivers who have fallen back down the field once they’ve secured one title. Jody Scheckter had one of the most
dramatic falls from grace, as the season after he won the title he finished a lowly 19th place in the championship. Years later Keke Rosberg won the F1 World Championship only to finish fifth place the next season and barely
Even minor technological changes have a profound effect on the drivers put together a title challenge. More recently Jacques Villeneuve and Damon Hill who won the title in consecutive years dropped back down the grid, finishing fifth and twelve respectively one year after their title wins. While they weren’t entirely to blame for their fall from grace they never truly recovered and both drivers left Formula One without ever capturing their title winning form again. This season
all eyes will be on Hamilton to see how he copes with the pressure of being world champion and whether he can retain his crown, but the odds might well be stacked against him. The first thing Hamilton will have to contend with if he’s to retain the title is the oft mentioned rule changes. There are a lot of new gadgets and gizmos on the machines this year such as KERS and driver adjustable bodywork which everyone on the grid will be tinkering with from first practice in Melbourne to see exactly how it all works when the cars are in race trim. Hamilton is probably more prepared than most on that front as it was only two years ago he made the step up from feeder series GP2 into the big leagues. Considering how well he adapted to an F1 car it’s safe to assume that he probably already has a handle on the new technology and how to use it effectively. Changes to the aerodynamics plus the reintroduction of slicks will make the motors a different beast. Every driver, not just Hamilton, will have to learn the limits
PITPASS / opinion of the car again. Even minor knee deep in the shit when reno doubt that his collapse at the changes can have a profound ally they’re not fairing too badly end of the 2007 season had an effect of drivers as seen in the at all. McLaren also have a few effect on him mentally and last early rounds of last season when more days of testing to look for- season he suffered for it, coming Massa had serious trouble keepward to at Jerez next week while very close to losing the title to a ing his car on the black stuff most of their main competitors very inconsistent driver in Felipe because of the lack of traction will start getting ready for the Massa. Hopefully now his car is control. long trip down under. This will adorned with that red number While McLaren may have a boy give them more time to iron out ‘1’ he’ll be able to relax and he wonder who’s at home with all the obvious creases and get a wont get a rush of blood to the the technology they’ve stuffed car together that can compete head when his back is against into that shiny, silver machine in Oz. the wall. they do have issues This season consistency with how good that is the key. In 2007 he shiny, silver mafinished on the podium chine actually is a total of 12 times out on the track. Preof the 17 races that season testing has season and finished been, in a word, in the points in all but woeful. McLaren two. If he had pulled have struggled quite out that type of form badly for pace and in 2008 then the race rumours that the car for the title wouldn’t isn’t doing as was have went down to the predicted when it last corner of the last was in a wind tunGrand Prix. He needs nel continue to do to tread the line bethe rounds despite tween being conservasoothing words tive and being a racer. from CEO Ron DenPoints win prizes and nis. Recent tests in the more you get the Spain have seen the better but at the same team run a series of time it’s better to get bizarre tests swapsome than none at all. MP4-24: Testing with last seasons wing has baffled ping between last Analysis is all well some and led to rumours all is not well with the car seasons wider back and good but what’s wing and this years the answer to the new tall one, pourquestion - can Lewis ing fuel on the fire that the back If the car isn’t going to be runHamilton retain the Formula One of the car isn’t doing as it’s told ning away from the rest of the World Championship? The anand thusly they’ve propped up pack then Hamilton needs to swer is yes, of course. Whether the time sheets for the most make sure that his mindset is he will or not is another matter part. This would be quite gallcompletely spot on. Has habit altogether. Someone less cauing to take anyway but the fact of getting jumpy or impatient tious than me when it comes rivals Ferrari, BMW and Renault when times get tough cost him to making predictions is Bev have looked so strong in the in 2007 and it almost cost him Loram, one of the people behind run up to Melbourne will stick in 2008 too. When his head the Loram Racing team and a in the throats of all those ashis down and he’s concentrathuge Lewis Hamilton fan, and sociated with the Woking based ing 100% on racing then he’s a she thinks he’ll struggle: “Histeam. Even the likes of Brawn machine, as seen by some of his tory tells us that winning your GP and Red Bull Racing look as if moves on other drives at Monza first title isn’t easy, but a good they’ve stole the march on them last year. Unfortunately when driver in a good car stands a at this very early stage. the pressure is on he jumps the chance. To win two in a row you There is some consolation for gun and makes errors which can have to be phenomenal. I hope McLaren though. The pre-season cost him points and eventually he does it but the odds seem to testing period is notorious for the title. Even when he’s not be stacked against him. If I have giving warped results and very under pressure he can be prone to go out on a limb i’d so no, he often the timesheet on the final to silly lapses which at the very wont win it in 2009.” day of testing doesn’t resemble best leave him red faced and Lewis didn’t have a smooth ride the order of the grid on race the very worst leave him out to the title last year and it looks day. Teams run different strateof the race - his pit lane shunt as if his defence is going to be gies, different body work and with a stationary Kimi Raikonjust as bumpy, here’s hoping different fuel loads which can nen in Canada last year being that even if he doesn’t win he often give the impression is one particular example. There is does us proud.
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ARE YOU EXPERIENCED? Ever wanted to get behind the wheel of a super car? Well now you can. Track experiences are becoming ever more popular and allow proles like you and I to sample the fastest cars in the world, but are they worth the cash? We sent Pitpass’s very own Matthew Briggs along to find out
rack experiences are big business nowadays, with circuits up and down the country allowing you to drive some of the best cars in the world for a not so small fee. It’s no surprise they’re so popular, since they allow you to get behind the wheel of a motor you can only ever dream of owning and drive as fast of you like without fear of the Old Bill jumping out from behind a hedge and nabbing you. Thousands of petrol heads a year stream through the gates of their local track to sample a super car and do their best Niki Lauda impression. When the opportunity arose to have a bash on a Ferrari 360 at one of these outings you’ll probably not be surprised to know I jumped at the chance. The track I was visiting was Teesside Autodrome - a fairly new track which is the proud
home to the largest karting circuit in the world. Not something you’d expect to find lurking in one of the many North East backwaters. After a short drive we enter the factory laden heartland of Middlesbrough and manage to find the poorly sign posted track, which is located on an industrial estate just south of the Riverside Stadium. The dank, rusty surroundings of the factories and buildings are in direct contrast to the gleam-
form just to say that on the off chance I do fly off the track and break every bone in my body I’m not going to sue the lovely people working here, or Driving Sensations or Virgin. Once the paper work is completed it’s time to mill around, survey my surroundings and find out where the toilets are so I can unload my bladder and ease my nerves. With Teesside Autodrome being a fairly small track it means you can get very close to the ac-
The dank factories that surround Teesside Autodrome are in direct contrast with the machinery on it ing paintwork, almost art-like machinery and romantic history tied to each of the cars on show. I enter the building, sign indemnity form after indemnity
tion. Even if you’re not driving coming down to the track on a day like this allows you to see and hear the cars up close and personal. There is nothing quite
PITPASS / feature like hearing a finely tuned beast of a machine like a Lamborghini or Ferrari belting around a track at full throttle. 2.15pm came and it was time to make my way to the briefing room, along with another two dozen or so participants, both young and old who were itching to get on track. Julie, one of the instructors, came in and gave a short speech about what to expect when you were out there and then demonstrated, via the medium of whiteboard and marker, where to break and where to accelerate. While it may seem helpful to twenty-plus bags of nerves it’s effectively going in one ear and out the other. Breaking points are the last thing on your mind, you just don’t want to crash. Eventually we’re given the nod and we make our way back to trackside. Depending on which company you booked with you were either pencilled into do a familiarisation lap or you were just put your car of choice and sent on your way. Thankfully I had booked a familiarisation lap so I wasn’t bombing down to the first out of sight corner without knowing what to expect. Me and
one or two other participants jumped into a nearby 4x4 and were driven around the track by Julie while being told how to take the corners in more detail. After the familiarisation lap I dashed back to trackside and picked up my helmet. If you had picked one of the two soft top cars, the Ferrari 360 and the Lotus Elise, then you had to wear one, presumably in case you end up skidding along the road on the roof of your car. After sev-
of the car more and more, or at least that’s what I thought. Soon I was finding my breaking points with releative ease and I was enjoying myself, like a kid at Christmas. Unfortunately just as I was really beginning to find my stride my five laps were over and I pulled into the pitlane. As I final farewell I managed to blag a passenger lap in a BMW M3 driven by local racing driver Andy McKenna. You might have thought it would be slightly
Eventually I was finding my braking points with ease. I was like a kid at Christmas eral minutes of dicking around I found one which fit my large head and my name was called. I wandered over to the Ferrari, as nonchalantly as possible and jumped in. A few minutes later I was pulling onto the track, the top down. After the first lap or two when the initial nerves pass I was able to start wringing the neck
underwhelming, jumping out of a Ferrari and into a Beemer but having the car thrashed to the limit by a professional racer opened my eyes. If I had any delusions of grandeur after ‘powering’ through the twisty infield section and down the back straight then they were put to bed after seeing what someone like Andy can do in a car half as
BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER: The Ferrari 360 looking good (left), Matthew putting the 360 through its paces during his laps (top right), leaving the scene of the crime (bottom right)
PITPASS / feature
EXPENSIVE: Well over £200,000 of motor car sitting on the track at Teesside Autodrome good as the Ferrari. The experience as a whole was amazing but don’t just take my word for it. Dennis Peart, who was driving an Aston Martin, said: “It was a fantastic. I love Astons anyway but I’m hooked now. I think I may have to try
that type of disposable income will probably own the super cars in question. As with everything though the price will probably drop over time. If you can’t afford to pay through the nose for a couple of laps in a fantastic car but still
Be warned, speed is addictive. After you’ve done it once you’ll want to do it again and again and convince my wife to get me one for Christmas!” Would I do it again? Almost certainly. The only issue is the price. Unfortunately not everyone has a couple of hundred pounds lying around to spend on a track day every time it takes your fancy. Those who do have
fancy driving like an absolute mad man then don’t worry the vast majority of circuits do track days, where by you can take your normal, road going car and take it beyond your usual limits. Obviously, motor racing can be dangerous and while waivers and in house insurance for the
tracks cars are all well and good if you’re driving your own you’re not covered. Insurance companies are usually quite happy nowadays to offer you deals for track days, although obviously they’re much more expensive than your usual third party, fire and theft. Many tracks wont let you on without valid insurance while some will have offers on site you can sign up and pay for so your best bet is to ring up prior to arriving so you’re not turned away. Whether you want to go fast in a car that isn’t yours or you fancy put your own motor through it’s paces be warned speed is addictive. Once you’ve felt the raw power of one of the best cars in the world or you’ve driven faster in your Ford Focus than you could ever do on public roads you’ll want to come back again and again.
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TESTING TIMES Pitpass reporter Matthew Briggs casts a glance over 2009 winter testing and looks at the big winners and even bigger losers
t’s a cardinal sin of motorsport to read too much into pre-season testing times but with the ban on in season testing during the 2009 title race teams are having to tread a fine line between playing the old bluff card and putting down times indicative of their real performance. That means testing is actually relevant to the make up of the field for once. At the top you’d find the usual suspects. Ferrari are blisteringly quick and will no doubt be early favourites for the title. BMW aren’t far behind and Toyota finally look like they’re going to justify being the flushest team on the grid. Renault, Red Bull Racing and Williams are all pretty quick too but there are couple
of surprises at the business end of the time sheets. Races aren’t won or lost during pre-season testing, that’s a fact, but if Brawn GP’s performances are legitimate then they may as well give them the points and the trophies from the first half
Ferrari’s and BMW’s of this world and they’ve left them red faced. There are reasons why Brawn GP have came from nowhere and shown up the big boys. Firstly, while other teams have had a few months to develop their 2009 car the old Honda
Brawn GP’s track times have been mind bogglingly good a dozen races now. Their times have been mind bogglingly good and while rumours persist that they’re putting out a deliberately light car to try and attract sponsors the word in the pit lane is that the times are legitimate. They’ve went toe to toe with the
team have had almost a year. Honda’s 2008 car was such a dog that it was deemed a waste of time to try and shave off a second here and there so they focused solely on 2009 and the just announced regulation changes. Secondly, almost all
PITPASS / feature the development on this seaBrawn. Some believe that McLaren are sons machine, the BGP 001, was While one British team is very indulging in the old art known done when Honda still had their much on the up another is as ‘sandbagging’, where teams cheque book out and hadn’t struggling. McLaren have failed deliberately under perform in yet decided to jack the sport in to build on their drivers title win testing to try and lull their rivals giving the team much into a false sense of semore financial muscle curity but usually teams than they would have who partake in a bit of if development was sandbagging occasionleft until later. Thirdly, ally show glimpses of they’ve got two race their true pace. Either winning drivers in McLaren are the masButton and Barrichello ters of the cunning ruse who are much better or they’re genuinely than the previous two in the brown stuff. My seasons results may heart says the former suggest. Finally, they but my head the latter. have Ross Brawn who Lets face it though, is widely regarded as this is all wild specua genius within the lation and conjecture sport and one of the until that first race in WORRIED: McLaren’s new car could be a step back main men behind Melbourne. Race weekSchumacher’s five end pace and testing seasons of complete dominance last season and have released pace are far removed from one back in the early noughties. a car which by all accounts isn’t another and when the lights go Brawn GP have been well ahead that good. Hamilton and his out on the grid in Albert Park of the chasing pack, in some team mate Heikki Kovalainen we’ll finally find out what the cases by whole seconds and have struggled towards the botwinter testing has been worth. teams may be unwilling to risk tom end of the time sheets all There have been occasions when adjusting their car’s aerodywinter. While they are now start- testing has been an excellent namics for races on wind tunnel ing to close the gap and make gauge of a teams pace, such as data. If Brawn do manage to small steps in the right direction Honda a few years ago when translate raw testing pace into they’re not doing anything too they struggled at the arse end of race pace then we could see ground breaking and it could be the time sheets and carried that an unlikely championship wina case of too little too late. The form over into the season. In my ner. It could be that the only final test of the season is well book it’s certain Brawn GP are hope the other teams have is under way and if they don’t have going to be in contention for big the lack of track time results in a eureka moment soon then points. You could do worse than an unreliable machine, but the they’re going to struggle to pick sticking a few quid on them to early signs look promising from up serious points. pick up a win in Oz.
Pitpass’s 2009 Predictions World Drivers Champion - Kimi Raikonnen You can’t help but feel that the Flying Finn will make up for his poor showing last year by blowing the field away. World Constructors Champion - Ferrari Why spoil the habit of a lifetime? Both Raikonnen and Massa are race winners and Ferrari’s stereotypical reliability should see their cars score points in most if not all races. Surprise driver of the season - Jenson Button It’s ironic that the hype around Button was so big when he first arrived that he’s now massively underrated. He’s proven that if you put him in a good car he can battle with the best of them and Brawn look like they have a good car. Surprise constructor of the season - Brawn GP They didn’t exist until a few weeks ago and they’re hammering everyone else. Both titles may be slightly out of reach for them at the moment but they’ll be up there come the end of the season. Disappointment of the season - Lewis Hamilton Lewis Hamilton will struggle to get himself on the podium at this rate. Don’t expect miracles from him this season. Don’t bet against… BBC commentator Martin Brundle offending someone at the FIA by saying what all the fans are thinking when they inevitably make a cack handed decision.
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Getting into the world of motorsport can be tough if you’re a racer, but it can be even tougher if you prefer lying under a car and tinkering with it’s insides to driving one. Thankfully for all the aspiring engineers and mechanics there is a way of getting your foot in the door, as Matthew Briggs found out
hey say one of the best things about university is the experiences you have up along the way - living away from home, rolling into early morning lecturers with a gargantuan hangover…oh, and building a single seater racing car from scratch and then racing it around one of the most famous circuits in the world. No, I’m not making it up. For thousands of students the
experience of designing, creating and racing a car is very real thanks to the Formula Student initiative. Formula Student is a programme set up by the Institute of Mechanical Engineers and it allows up and coming engineers to show off their talents to the motor racing fraternity. Famous faces from the world of motorsport such as Ross Brawn and Pat Symonds are patrons of Formula Student and look to it to
produce the next generation of creative genius’ that will produce race winning cars. The original idea was the brainchild of the US based Society of Automotive Engineers who set up the imaginatively named Formula SAE programme in 1981 for students across the pond. In 1998, after 17 years, a demonstration event was held in the UK. IMechE decided to take up the offer of managing the European venture soon
PITPASS / feature after and ever since then the end of the academic year race has been held. Teams based at universities not just from the UK but from around Europe and even from far flung places like America and India compete on a yearly basis. The race takes place at Silverstone, the home of the British Grand Prix for the past 22 years. Rather than all taking to the track at the same time teams race against the clock, much like a round of the WRC. This may seem slightly boring to the uneducated observer but unlike most races, where the driver is the be all and end all, this race is about the production of the car. Going wheel to wheel through corner after corner is less important than seeing which is the fastest, most reliable car. The University of Sunderland is one of many academic centres from the UK taking part in the programme. John Wood is the team manager of the university’s Formula Student team and he believes that while the workload may be heavy at times the students get a lot out of it: “Primarily a lot of the work is done solely by the students. Compared to other universities we’re free to get hands on and help in the building of the car whereas some places just get the students to draw what they want and the technicians knock it together. We’ve really only got one lecturer and one technician
outside help if there are certain things we’re just not able to do by ourselves in house but we try to do as much here as we possibly can. You‘ve got to remember that this isn’t part of the course so everyone is giving up their spare time to help out. “The first car was built in 2004 and it was built in three months because it was a last minute decision to enter. It was made mainly out of parts from a Nissan Micra. Obviously we don’t knock them together that quickly all the time - that was a one off. The one we’re currently working on started being built in September and we aim to finish it at the end of May so it takes a full academic year.” While the result of the 2008 race wasn’t amazing John understands the magnitude of the situation for a team with such a small bunch of dedicated workers: “Last year was a bit of a disappointment for us as our car broke down on track due to problems with the gear shifting mechanism. That aside we’ve actually improved year on year point wise since we first entered in 2004 so we hope to kick on this year and do the same again but it’s difficult with over 100 teams taking part. “For example, last year at Silverstone 140 teams from all over the world were involved.
Going wheel to wheel isn’t important in this race. Seeing which university has built the fastest and most reliable machine is the name of the game helping out so the students have to shoulder a lot of the work but I’m convinced it’s a good thing. It gets you more experience. “We do occasionally get a bit of
They came from places like America, Canada, Holland, loads came from Germany, most European countries had at least one car there. It’s quite far reaching
to say the least. “At present we have ten students taking part in the project. It varies from year to year so
WINNING FORMULA: UoS’ team leader, John Wood we can have anywhere between five and 15. It’s relatively small in comparison to the teams from places like Germany, who can have as many as 40 people working on their car. “As well as the race at Silverstone there are others all around the world open to all comers. There’s one at Germany, Italy, Japan and a handful in America to name a few. All the teams are free to go over there and race if they want and can afford to.” Work experience also comes in handy for the team when members arrive back having learned a few tricks of the trade: “On the courses students have the chance to do a year of work experience at motor racing teams and car companies which is brilliant for us. Julie Liddle, who ran the team last year is in a posi-
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PROBLEMS: The team hope their 2009 entrant will be more reliable than their 2008 (above) tion at General Motors and the lad who ran it the year before that worked at Adrian Reynard for a while alongside people
alumni has went on to become chief designer at Triumph motorcycles.” However, the current financial
Someone who ran the team two years ago has just spent a few months working with the Brawn GP team as part of their university course from what is now Brawn GP. Experience like that is priceless not just for them but for us too. “There are numerous people that have worked on our Formula Student programme who have went out into the wide world and got fantastic jobs. One of our
climate could mean that Sunderland’s Formula Student team is struggling for cash in the near future: “This year we got a grant from the university of £22,000 and we’re aiming to get £5,000 in sponsorship before race day, which is around what
we’ve managed to get in previous years but the recession has meant we’ve had real trouble raising the money so far. We’ve still got people interested, most of which sponsor us on a yearly basis but other companies are trying to be more frugal. We hold a sponsorship event in June of each year to try and garner some interest so hopefully that’ll improve the situation but we understand some people just can’t afford it.” Unless sponsorship becomes impossible to find then there is life in Sunderland’s Formula Student team yet, and the same goes for the venture as a whole. For the up and coming Adrian Newey’s of his world this is one of the best foots in the door that you can possibly get. Formula Student 2009 will take place from 16 July to 19 July
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OK IN THE UK
Britain has produced some great drivers over the years, but who is the cream of the crop? Well, at Pitpass we’ve worked around the clock to find out who is the best driver to come out of the United Kingdom. From F1 to Rallying to Touring Cars, they were all discussed and now Matthew Briggs brings you our definitive top ten countdown
10 Damon Hill
Hill’s first foray into F1 came at the 1992 British Grand Prix thanks to the then struggling Brabham team. After starting only two races the team collapsed and Hill went on to test for Williams. In 1993 he was surprisingly promoted to the main driver line up to partner Alain Prost after Nigel Mansell had decided to try his luck racing in the United States. Hill
started slowly but got better as the season went on and won three races in his first season at Williams. In 1994 Hill was expected to act as Ayrton Senna’s wingman as the Brazilian strolled to fourth championship but was forced to become the lead driver after Senna was tragically killed in an accident at the San Marino Grand Prix. While many expected Hill to be too green to mount a serious title challenge he shocked everyone by going toe to toe with another rising star - Michael Schumacher. Going into the last race of the season Schumacher lead Hill by a single point and a contentious coming together between the two saw
them both retire from the race and the young German crowned champion. 1995 saw Schumacher win the title again but this time by a greater margin as unreliability plagued the Williams FW17. Finally, in 1996 Hill secured his first and only world title, beating out rookie Canadian and Williams team mate Jacques Villeneuve in the final race of the season in Japan. While Hill only have won one title he was a talented driver and if it wasn’t for coming up against one of the greatest drivers ever in Michael Schumacher and a few dodgy career choices it’s safe to assume he would’ve won much more.
Sir Stirling Moss
He had the name of a motor racing driver, look of a motor racing driver, balls of a motor racing driver but unfortunately Moss lacks one crucial thing. You see unlike Hill, Sir Stirling Moss doesn’t have any world titles to boast about but his talent is undoubted. Moss flirted with success in F1 racing until 1955 when he joined Daimler Benz and finished second in the championship to Argentinean great Juan Manuel Fangio. Moss then finished second in the championship again for the next three years, twice to Fangio and once to Mike Hawthorn. Moss then dropped down the championship order, securing three third place championship finishes over the next three years before finally retir-
PITPASS / feature ing in 1961. Despite his lack of a driver’s title over his racing career he secured a total of 16 victories and is often labelled “the best driver never to win a world championship,” so our caps are well and truly doffed in the direction of Sir Stirling here at Pitpass towers.
Not since a square jawed German by the name of Schumacher set foot on the scene back in the early 90’s have we seen such a naturally gifted racing driver. Any pretence that Hamilton was going to be the foil for double world champion Fernando Alonso was quickly erased when Hamilton stormed into the lead of the 2007 championship and started breaking records left, right and centre. The most successful rookie in history looked
almost certain to be crowned world champion at his very first attempt but two disastrous races in China and Brazil he missed out on the title by a single point. In his second season he looked to put set the record straight and managed to right the wrongs of the year before with a last corner manoeuvre at the final race of the season in Brazil which saw him win his first world title by a single point from Felipe Massa and in turn become the youngest F1 world champion in the history of the sport.
Often in the shadow of the better known Colin McRae, Richard Burns was also a World Rally Champion. Burns first competed in the WRC in 1990 but didn’t achieve any major success until 1999 when he finished second in the cham-
NUMBER 8: He may not have been around long but Lewis Hamilton easily makes our top 10 39
PITPASS / feature pionship, a feat he repeated in 2000. In 2001, while driving for the same Subaru team as his fellow Brit had years prior, he secured the title beating out McRae, Tommi Makinen and Carlos Sainz at the Rally of Great Britain. Four years to the day after winning the WRC, on the 25 November 2005, Richard Burns died of a brain tumour.
The playboy who brought F1 to the masses. Until 1976 F1 wasn’t broadcast regularly on television but James Hunt’s title battle with Niki Lauda forced the BBC’s hand who decided to run the risk and show the final race of the year from Japan. The picture quality was awful, thanks to the wet weather which plagued the race but the on track events were fascinating. Hunt had started the season awfully but managed to claw his way back into contention. A horrifying crash which left Lauda on the verge of death gave Hunt an opportunity to take chunks out of his lead. Thankfully Lauda recovered and was back only two races later but Hunt was on a mission and won the Canadian and United States Grand Prix, leaving him only three points behind Lauda prior to the last race. For the ill Lauda the heavy rain at the final race was all too much and unable to blink due to the water and injuries he suffered at the crash in Germany he pulled out of the race on the second lap. With three laps to go Hunt was in fifth but needed to finish fourth or higher to win. In those three laps he managed to drag himself into the top three and won the world title as a result. He took up a TV role alongside Murray Walker after he retired but sadly in 1993 he died of a heart attack aged 45.
You know you’ve made it in motorsport nowadays if you’re one of the few to get your name plastered on the front of some semi-decent computer game. Colin McRae was one of those few. After he won the World Rally Championship way back in 1995, becoming the first Briton to win it in the process, he was arguably the biggest name in UK motorsport and not without reason. To win the title he had to beat two of the all time great rally drivers in Sainz and Makinen. Even though McRae only won one WRC he was constantly completive. His battles with the two aforementioned fantastic drivers have went down in history as some of the most thrilling the sport has seen. At a time when the sport of WRC is suffering greatly due to various financial issues the sport would probably give an arm and a leg to have a driver like McRae racing against the dominant Sebastian Loeb. McRae died in a helicopter crash in September 2007.
You’re probably wondering who the bloody hell Andy Priaulx is which is fair enough. He isn’t the best known driver in the world but his record speaks for itself - out of the last four World Touring Car Championships, the highest level of saloon car racing there is, he’s won three. He also won the last season of the events forerunner, the European Touring Car Championship, meaning he is the only FIA Touring Car champion to win an international level cham-
pionship for four years on the bounce. An outstanding feat. He also made it to the semi-finals of the 2008 Race of Champions ahead of more well known drivers such as Michael Schumacher, Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel.
A favourite of the F1 fraternity in the late 80’s and early 90’s. While one world title may not look too impressive the fact he managed to secure one at all while racing against the likes of Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna is. Mansell was accused of being rude and demanding off the track but on it he was a natural racer. After a few years at Lotus and Williams he was hand picked by the late Enzo Ferrari to drive for the Italian team in 1989 and won on his first outing in the car. Nicknamed ‘Il Leone’ by the tifosi, he only won three races in his two years at the team but he was still much loved. He moved back to Williams where in 1992 he secured his one and only championship. Throughout the season Mansell was dominant, setting several records. He fell out with Williams shortly after and went to America to race in the IndyCar series. He was a huge success across the pond and won the IndyCar title at his first attempt, making him the only driver ever to hold both the F1 and IndyCar titles at the same time.
Sir Jackie Stewart
Regarded as one of the smoothest drivers of a Formula One car ever to grace
PITPASS / feature the sport Sir Jackie’s legacy stretches far beyond simply winning three world titles. An advocate for safety in the sport many drivers who’ve been involved in violent crashes wouldn’t be here today if Stewart hadn’t campaigned tirelessly for better medical facilities, better maintained tracks and safer cars. Stewart burst onto the scene in 1965 finishing third in his very first season and he won his first world championship four years later. His second followed in 1971 but it was his third and final title in1973 which showed him to be one of the all time great drivers, winning five races and finishing in the top three for another three of them. This feat was made even more astonishing since Stewart had already decided to retire before the start of the season, with many drivers believing his hunger would be lacking. His 27 and last victory was a then record for an F1 driver. He withdrew from the final race of the season after his friend and team mate François Cervert
died in a crash at the Grand Prix leaving him on 99 race starts.
Anyone with even a vague knowledge of F1 will have heard Jim Clark mentioned in hushed tones by anoraks of the sport and with good reason. The Scotsman was the dominant driver of his generation and at the time of his death in 1968 he had achieved more wins and more pole positions than any other driver in the history of the sport. He won his first world title in 1963, winning a mind-boggling seven out of the ten races that season. Two years later he won his second in equally dominant fashion, winning six out of the 11 races. He didn’t just excel at F1 either but all sorts of differ-
ent series. He won the BTCC in 1964 and also competed very successfully in NASCAR, IndyCar, Le Mans and Rallying. His ability to drive beyond the limit was well documented too. At the 1967 Italian Grand Prix, in a performance which is considered one of the best ever, he led the race until a puncture meant he had to go into the pits. He emerged a lap down on the rest of the field but soon unlapped himself and made his way back through the field. Heading into the last lap he was back in first position but his car hadn’t been filled with enough fuel for such a performance and he came home in third. He was also the first foreigner to win the Indianapolis 500. In April 1968 he crashed during a Formula Two race in Germany. His car veered off the track and into the forest surrounding the Hockenheim circuit. He suffered a broken neck and fractured skull and died on the way to the hospital. He was 32. Clark’s life may have ended prematurely but his legacy lives on.
BORN WINNER: Jim Clark celebrates becoming the first non-American to win the Indy 500
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TAKING THE PLUNGE As the excitement of the impending F1 season draws closer you’re probably debating going to a Grand Prix. If you’ve been to a race before you’ll know what to expect but if not you’ll probably be a bit baffled. Never fear, Matthew Briggs is on the case and he’s ready to tell you all you need to know about losing your F1 virginity
hile it may be all well and good watching F1 on TV, it’s nothing compared to the experience of actually being there. The sights, sounds and smells of a Grand Prix are only fully recognised when you attend one yourself. Here at Pitpass towers we like to think that we’re always there to lend a helping hand to our readers who want to broaden their horizons so here’s a little bit of information regarding what exactly you ought to expect when you part with your hard earned cash and buy a ticket. No doubt your first port of call will no doubt be the British Grand Prix which will be held at Silverstone - a former army airbase - until next year when it moves to Donnington Park. It is located at the very bottom of Northamptonshire about four miles away from Towcester. Getting there by car is easy enough if not a little arduous and there is enough parking on site to make sure that you’ll not be left wanting when you ar-
rive. They’ve sorted out the car parks too, which were just vast muddy areas, after a tonne of rain left people bogged down in the brown stuff a few years back. If you decide driving isn’t for you then companies such as Motor Racing International operate coach trips stopping over in places like Aberdeen, Newcastle and Leeds but the journey can be very long and very tiring. At Silverstone there are three types of admission - general, grandstand and hospitality. If you’re fortunate enough to be able to afford a hospitality ticket then you’ll be wined and dined all day (or all weekend if you’re feeling especially flush). Grandstand seating allows you to mill around with the proles looking at the various merchandise stalls and soaking up the atmosphere but when the race is about to start you can take place in your pre-booked seat and watch the Grand Prix in relative comfort. If on the other hand you decide to slum it and buy a general admission ticket be warned there are no plush seats for you to sit on. Instead you’ll be viewing the
race from the grassy embankments that litter the trackside. As you might expect it’s a free for all so the minute you arrive be sure to plonk your backside down at the best location you find and whatever you do have one or two of your party guarding it at all times. It may seem daft but once the track begins to fill up it can become nigh on impossible to get a decent view of the circuit, as some of us have found out to our peril. It goes without saying that waterproofs should always be on standby no matter what the weather forecast may predict. It’s no fun standing in the wet but it’s really no fun standing in it in a sodden cotton t-shirt you picked because the weatherman told you it was going to be boiling. It may go without saying but it’s also probably a fairly good idea to take a picnic blanket too, as several hours lying nonchalantly on grass isn’t that comfortable. As far as atmosphere goes the British GP is one of the best, as regular racegoer Joel Thompson, confirms: “Once you’re there,
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This being Britain, waterproofs should always be on standby no matter what the forecaster says the atmosphere just blows you away. I’d watched it for years on the television and one day I just decided I was going to the next one and i’ve never looked back since.” What if you decide to go further field for a Grand Prix? Well, the chances are that you’ll have booked a package deal with one of the various companies who provide you with tickets, transport and accommodation so you needn’t worry about fending for yourself. Ticket prices abroad are much more reasonable and for certain races, such as the German Grand Prix or the Italian you can get three day general admission tickets for much less than it would cost for just a race day general admission ticket in the UK. Obviously, this saving is offset by the travel costs but if you don’t mind spending three days sunning yourself on the continent while drinking proper beer it’s a small price to pay. If you’ve got the cash you may decide to travel even further out of the way to witness the spectacle, with a plethora of races now taking place in the Middle
East and Australasia regions. If you’ve got nearly two and a half grand going spare you may be interested in the packages that span the first two race weekends as you can hop from Melbourne to Kuala Lumpur to witness them in style. It doesn’t matter where you are, whether it be Monza or Melbourne, Sakhir or Silverstone there is one thing that you need to take with you to every Grand Prix on the calendar - ear plugs. As is true of almost everything in life the faster it goes the louder it is and the same applies to F1 cars. One is bad enough but when twenty are pulling away from the grid at the same time it’s enough to make your ears bleed. If you don’t then I hope you’ve got money on you because in and around the track they’re very, very expensive. If you don’t mind parting with over a tenner for a few bullet shapes bits of foam then fair enough but if you do then pop down to your local chemist prior to setting off. You’ll thank me when your hearing is still intact on the Monday morning.
Motorsport Travel Here’s Pitpass’s pick of the top motorsport travel firms
Motor Racing International
www.motorracinginternational.uk.com Select Motor Racing www.selectmotorracing.com Airtrack www.airtrack.co.uk Gold Crest www.gold-crest.com The Groups Company www.thegroupscompany.com F1 GP Tours www.f1grandprixtours.com Sports in Style www.sportsinstyle.tv
ITC Sports www.itcsports.co.uk Page & Moy www.pageandmoy.com
THE GREAT AMERICAN FARCE
In this new feature we’re going to bring you the tales behind the drivers, teams and races the motorsport fraternity would rather forget. This month Matthew Briggs looks back at one of the biggest PR disasters in F1 history - Indygate
ormula One has always struggled in the United States for some inexplicable reason. Maybe it’s due to the lack of drivers with the word ‘Junior’ hanging off the back of their name, or the sparse number of laps, or the fact drivers are expected to tackle both left and right hand turns in the same race. No matter what the reason is Formula One has always fought to be accepted across the Atlantic ocean. The 1991 US Grand Prix, the last held in America for nine long years was only attended by 18,000 people but that didn’t stop Bernie Ecclestone from trying to break that market again. In 2000 F1 returned to the United States taking up residence at the world famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway which had recently undergone
renovation to create a twisting infield course for the IndyCar series. The first F1 race at the home of the Indy 500 was attended by over 250,000 spectators. A record crowd. The year after Formula One further enamoured itself with the American audience by being the first major sporting event to come to the US after the 9/11 attacks. Some people began to wonder whether F1 had finally got it’s foot in the door of the American market after all those years and whether it would finally be accepted alongside the likes of IndyCar and NASCAR. It soon began to fall apart however when in 2002 Michael Schumacher moved over and allowed his team mate Rubens Barrichello to take the win in an apparent reversal of what had
happened at Austria earlier in the year. All of the leg work that the F1 establishment had put in to make F1 look like a serious sport looked wasted as the Ferrari team manipulated the result at the last corner for the second time in the season. While this may have left Ferrari red faced and the head honchos at the FIA fuming it was only the auderve compared to what was to come. Fast forward to 2005. Schumacher wasn’t romping away with the title as some young upstart going by the name of Fernando Alonso had stole his thunder. Common sense dictated that Alonso would probably continue his charge toward his first world title here and Schumacher would still be flailing about looking for his first when of the season when the teams packed up and went to France. As we know
PITPASS /feature now this wasn’t the case. Problems started in Friday practice when Ralf Schumacher, Michael’s brother crashed heavily at turn 13, the banked area leading onto the pit straight which is unique in F1. Schu-
was taken to fly in new tyres but due to F1 rules the teams could not use the newer tyres without incurring a penalty. This aside it was later revealed that the new sets of tyres were no good for navigating the banked turn 13
A non-championship race with a chicane installed and minus Ferrari was the only option, but the FIA weren’t interested macher was unable to compete for the rest of the weekend due to injuries sustained during the crash and test driver Ricardo Zonta had to take his place. After Zonta suffered a similar crash, albeit much less serious, Toyota and the team’s tyre supplier Michelin took a closer look. Other failures followed from other teams using Michelin’s tyres and the decision
either. A stand off began between the seven teams running Michelin tyres and the FIA. Michelin representatives revealed in a letter to race director Charlie Whiting that they could not guarantee the safety of the tyres for more than 10 laps if the cars were going at full speed through the corner. Whiting suggested that the only solution available to
Michelin was to suggest to the teams that the cars go slow through the corner to reduce the risk. Michelin said that they would only allow teams to race on their tyres if the track layout was changed and a chicane was added at turn 13, something which Whiting flat out refused. The chicane idea had been discussed in more detail at a meeting between Michelin, the team principals and the F1 power brokers. Two of the three principals of the teams running Bridgestone tyres, Paul Stoddart of Minardi and Colin Kolles of Jordan, agreed to a chicane being put in at the turn in question but Ferrari team principal Jean Todt refused. This led to more attempts at finding compromise which would allow the Michelin teams to race. A non-championship race, a race where the Michelin teams could not score points or a race where only the Michelin teams had to follow the chicane were all suggested and in the end it was decided that running a non-championship
TURN 13: The banked corner which caused all the trouble for the Michelin tyres in 2005 46
PITPASS /feature race with the chicane but without Ferrari was the only real option, something which the FIA would not have any part of. After a brief conflab between the team principals and drivers it was decided that unless the FIA would help find a solution to the problem the nine teams present would not race, with Ferrari being the only ones who would take to the grid. Renault team principal Flavio Briatore rang head of the FIA Max Mosley to discuss their suggestions but Mosley flat out refused to entertain the idea any sort of non-championship race. According to the then Minardi boss Paul Stoddart, Mosley said that if the non-championship race was allowed to go ahead then all FIA backed sport in North America would be under threat. With all avenues seemingly closed the teams decided that the eight of the nine teams present decided that the only option was to take part in the formation lap but pull off into the pits when the cars were regrouping on the grid. Jordan team boss Colin Kolles went back on his earlier promise not to send his Bridgestone shod cars out to race which, along with a plea from a Bridgestone representative forced the Minardi team to take part in the race too. All 20 cars sat on the grid and took part in the formation lap but as they reached the banked turn 13 where the entrance to
every time the remaining vehicles sped past. One of those annoyed fans was Lisa Cote, who travelled to watch the race from Hartford, CT: “The first we heard something was up was late Saturday night but we assumed it would be sorted. Half an hour before the race the word got round to expect only the Ferrari’s to race and everyone started to get tense. It’s no surprise there was an angry reaction.”
EMBARRASSING: The infamous six car grid pulls away in the US Unsurprisingly the result was a Ferrari one-two, with Schumacher taking his first win of the season and in the aftermath of
Debris was thrown onto the track by fans and boos rang out every time a car sailed past the pit lane was situated the 14 cars running Michelin tyres pulled in to the pits and out of the race. It quickly became a farce with the two Ferrari’s of Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello running away from the other four cars. Debris was thrown onto the track by disgruntled fans and boos rang out
his stomach” after the weekend and went on to say: “The fact is that mature adults were not able to put on a show for everybody. It’s a very sad day for racing. Even if we do come back, half the crowd in the stands today won’t be back.” Even the old guard were annoyed, with racing legend Sir Stirling Moss calling it “a bloody disgrace.” Michelin’s involvement in Formula One and F1’s appeal in
the race the blame game commenced. Some team principals blamed the FIA for being unwilling to reach a compromise, the FIA blamed Michelin for not bringing safe tyres and the fans blamed everyone involved. Drivers were their typical outspoken selves after the fiasco. David Coulthard said he was “sick to
America slowly withered. Michelin pulled out of the sport in 2006 leaving Bridgestone as the single tyre supplier and the North American market was given the cold shoulder by F1, with the US and Canada now without races. However, this doesn’t spell the end of F1 in the United States. With the creation of new team USGPE, who plan to debut in 2010 the chances of Bernie Ecclestone deciding to have one final stab at the American market don’t look too bleak. Formula One is all about the money and if the powers that be believe there is a buck or two to be made across the ocean then they’ll head straight back over there, cap in hand pleading for forgiveness. Swallowing your pride is very easy if there’s a few million in it for you.
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FACE TO FACE
He was once the next big thing in British motorsport and was even tipped to be racing alongside the likes of Damon Hill and Michael Schumacher in F1. While he may not have lived up to the initial hype Andy McKenna has had a glittering career in the world of racing. He talks to Matthew Briggs about his influences, the stress of race deals and teaching a world champion how to drive on ice
ndy became interested in racing at a young age but surprisingly his Dad’s racing career didn’t factor into his decision to become a driver: “We used to go and watch a friend of my parents race Lotus Elan’s around Croft back in the mid 70’s and he was either really fast or crashed which is great entertainment, especially for a seven year old lad. “My dad was raced but by the time I was born he’d stopped doing that anyway. I wasn’t re-
ally influenced by him, it was going to watch other people race. I was aware he had raced, I’d see newspaper clippings from his career but that never really put any pressure onto me. He never encouraged me to start racing or anything along those lines. Funnily enough my Dad has never seen me drive a racing car in his life. The nearest he came was when I was karting but there wasn’t much support there, especially in a financial sense.” While most drivers nowadays are sat in a kart before they‘re
able to walk Andy was a late bloomer and admits karting wasn‘t always his first choice: “I didn’t actually start until I was 17. In hindsight though, if I had money available to me I’d have started in Rallying because Rallying was the thing that really got me going as a youngster. However, circumstances dictated that I go into karting because it was more accessible, I could just put my kart in the back of my van and drive up to Rowrah and other places. There was also the cost, because at the time you could buy a brand new kart
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TOP THREE FINISH: Andy putting a Nemesis Sports prototype machine on the podium back in 2004 for the same price as a clapped out rally car. “My first ever meeting was a big one over in the Lake District at Rowrah and I finished third overall. During the race it rained and I’ve always liked driving on loose surfaces since I grew up learning to drive on farms and private land owned by family friends. Obviously the minute the track got wet it suited me and since then wet driving has always been my major strength, just as it was for people like Schumacher and Senna.” Eventually the cost of karting became too much and Andy couldn‘t compete with the more professional outfits. He took a chance on a little known venture: “I left karting and I moved onto a driver scholarship in 1990, which was brand new at the time. It was basically a chance to get sponsored to race for a team and it was a big deal, especially for the youngster who were just coming out of lower series. I got all the way through to the final day of selection, which fell on my 21 birthday and I won a winter drive in Formula Ford. It was the defining moment of my career because it confirmed what I thought I was capable of. Winning was the only option I had because I couldn’t have afforded to continue racing if I didn’t.” Unsurprisingly his rise had been such a big one that people in
and around the industry were already tipping him for the top, but he soon learned that the kind words and big expectations weren‘t solely for his benefit: “It was a lot for a young lad from the North East, people expected me to do great things and I was being told that come 1995 I’d be the next great British hope in Formula One. It was especially hard as I was pretty naïve and the motor racing business was
Of course I had bad experiences but sport is competitive. While I’m competitive in the car out of the car I’m probably a little bit green.” With a career as colourful and varied as Andy’s it’s no surprise there are a handful of drivers who Andy really enjoys battling with on track: “Chris Ward is a great driver. We have a load of respect for each other and nowadays he’s the chief instruc-
A lot of people expected me to do great things. I was told i’d be racing in F1 come 1995 a new thing to me. I trusted everyone and took them at their word which was a mistake because, as with every business motorsport isn’t ran entirely by kind, even handed people. There are quite a few snakes. “There are countless times I was ill advised and it cost me money and a few times nearly cost me my reputation. There were times I got involved with nasty people who turned out to not be what they presented themselves as but I also surrounded myself with friends who had more experience who would and could help me out.
tor at Silverstone. There’s another chap called Mark Rennison who used to race in RallyCross and was someone I really looked up to. He was British champion, European champion, he was the business and eventually I got to know him and got the chance to race against him. It was in the Vauxhall Vectra Challenge back in 1998 and I managed to pass him on the last corner of the last lap to take fifth.” Although Andy loves the highs and the lows of racing he has no love for the race deals which he feels see many talented drivers leave the sport through sheer
PITPASS / interview frustration or lack of funds: “Race deals are such a large part of racing. When I won the scholarship I was warned that it would be the only time everything was paid for and that can be soul destroying. It’s probably the thing which makes are breaks most drivers careers because to put it plainly if they can’t find the funding, no matter how good they are, they wont get the drive. The kids will get a knock on the door and they’re sold the drive, then they come down to meet the team manager and they’re told that they can have they’re welcome to the drive so long as they bring £100,000 with them, whether that be in sponsorship or out of their dad’s pocket. It COOL: The was weird for me because the minute I stopped chasing deals and decided to concentrate on teaching and having a family they suddenly all came to me. “It even happens in F1 racing now. A great friend of mine coaches drivers and I’ve seen his client list, which contains
between his racing and his teaching. A rally driver at heart, he decided to go for ice driving after seeing it done by a fellow racer: “I started teaching the Ice Driver course in Sweden back in 2007. I got the idea after working with a bloke in Norway who was doing something similar but in my opinion wasn’t doing
adapted Ice Driver Subaru Impreza is ready to hit the white stuff it well but I thought it was such a good idea. He went bust so I took the risk and did it myself. I made sure it was a professional operation, everything is worked out from the track to the local infrastructure.
Andy Priaulx, the three time WTCC champion, came to Sweden to have a one to one session with me in preparation for the new season quite a few high profile drivers but they’re in there because they can stump up the cash to pay for the seat rather than earned it through racing in different series. It’s a career choice. I’d be surprised if there were anymore than six drivers on the grid currently earning a wage outright.” Nowadays Andy splits his time
ing Car Championship. I mean he’s a three time world champion.” So does Andy have any advice for aspiring racing drivers? “Don’t bother!” he guffaws. “Honestly though I love it, I’m very fortunate to be able to do what I do for a job. As for advice go with your gut instinct and
“People love it because it’s different to driving around a normal track, you can tell by their faces they’re blown away by it. I get everyone, from women who are terrified of driving in the few inches of snow we get back at home to world class drivers. Andy Priaulx came out for a one to one session not so long ago in preparation for the World Tour-
always remember it’s a business and there are people out there who don’t necessarily want to see you do well. Also, don’t go it alone. If you need a hand find someone who can help you. You can’t go wrong watching and studying the best drivers, at the minute I’m fascinated by Sebastian Loeb in WRC because he’s so good. He never makes mistakes, he’s always quick and he’s brilliant in so many different series and formula.” And as for regrets, Andy has none: “You can’t look back, you’ve got to keep looking forward. I’m delighted at what I’m doing now and that’s enough for me. Even when you race in the worst cars you still get out having learned something about yourself and the business so there are no regrets. All I would say is that if I had my time again I would’ve went into the World Rally Championship rather than hanging on the other promises made to me but I’m happy with what I’m doing now. It’s no big deal.”
PITPASS / comment
‘Diffusergate’ gives the FIA a chance to prove F1 is still about racing and not just court case after court case...
machine there was quite a bit of room for manoeuvre. This is known by all the teams, even those in a huff and it’s for this very reason the term ‘illegal’ hasn’t been throwing around as much as you might expect. Instead ‘unsportsmanlike’ has taken it’s place. To me it just looks as if the other teams have fallen behind and are jealous they didn’t have their heads screwed on enough to take advantage. Any intervention from the FIA looks unlikely as Max Mosley has praised the new designs, calling them “clever” but protests are almost certain to be lodged by other team managers. One of the most vehemently opposed to the diffusers ran by Brawn GP and co is roly-poly Renault team manager Flavio Briatore who has further affirmed his reputation as a brat of the highest order by claiming the three teams involved are: “using their own rulebook”. There’s no doubt in my mind this will go on and on and on until it’s decided in a court. I just hope the FIA remain steadfast and doff their caps to the teams who have been more inventive while telling the likes of Ferrari and Renault to grow a pair. Then we can get on with racing and hopefully put all this stupid bloody legal action behind us...until next season.
ust when you think F1 doesn’t follow the rules exactly is pulling itself around it also doesn’t contravene them. after the off track isThey’ve effectively exploited sues of the past few years a loophole which was created another invariably damagdue to the deliberately vague ing saga rears it’s ugly head. wording passed down from on And this time it’s before the high. It was hoped that this chequered flag has even dropped. All the hard work the FIA have done over the winter to make the sport interesting again looks like it could be in jeopardy on the eve of the first race of the season due to some confusion over the new design specifications. During pre-season testing it’s been abundantly clear there are three teams out there with the edge on the others - Brawn GP, Toyota and Williams. In testing they’ve been faster than the usual suspects and in the minds of the jilted teams there is one reason for this their diffusers. Since only the people who make diffusers actually know FLAV: Toys out the pram yet again how they work I’ll provide a brief, if not slightly amateurish, explanation of what a difseason would see designers fuser does. Basically, a diffuser find their own way rather than helps create downforce meaning just copying the designs of the the car can grip the road better other teams and while the rule which in turn means better trac- changes seem fairly strict on the tion and better speed (or so I‘m surface for those charged with told). The problem lies with the creating the latest race winning design of the diffuser for those particular teams as the one they’ve created, while being shit Sniffpetrol.com - A fantastic blog style thingy written and hot on the track, doesn’t follow looked after by Richard Porter, one of the many brains bethe new rules exactly to the lethind Top Gear (Come off it, you didn’t think Jeremy Clarkson ter. Seems like an open and shut thought up all those scenarios by himself, did you?). Updated case, doesn’t it? They’re broke monthly and side splittingly funny. A must bookmark. the rules, right? Wrong. While the diffuser design
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