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Lewis Hamilton Reviews McLaren F1 Steering Wheels

Over the years the Froemula One Steering Wheel has evolved. From the very basic no frills wheel used for so many years, through to today’s amazing, technology packed steering wheels.

In this video, Lewis Hamilton takes a walk through McLaren history, comparing the steering wheels that many of his McLaren Formula One predecessors used, to the one he uses today. A great look at how technology has changed F1 over the years.

Will Jenson Button make Formula One

Some great footage of a very young Jenson Button in the cadet Karting ranks years ago. The question is asked “will he ever make Formula One”, well, the answer is YES.

Luckily the questions was not “will Jenson Button be a F1 World Champion” …

Justin Wilston Wins at Assen

Justin Wilson scored his first win of the season and the fourth of his Champ Car career in front of an estimated 61,200 fans at Assen this afternoon.The RuSPORT driver beat pole-sitter Sebastien Bourdais away from the grid, and though the Frenchman overtook the Briton down the back straight on that opening lap, a software glitch in the Power-to-Pass system caused the pitlane speed limiter to kick in, and Bourdais dropped to fifth while he fumbled to disengage it.

Wilson’s main opposition came from Neel Jani – who then appeared to have suffered the same issue as Bourdais – and then Jan Heylen. The Belgian made startling progress in the early stages of the race and was threatening Wilson right up until the final pitstops.

Once Justin had his fuel consumption looking more positive, he was able to stretch the gap over Jan to put him out of range in the braking zones.

Given that all teams were instructed to cease using Power to Pass once the glitch was established, it became harder than ever to overtake on a circuit that was already regarded as too narrow and quick to encourage a lot of passing.

Bruno Junqueira was also a contender for victory – as in Zolder last week – but finished third. The Dale Coyne Racing driver was forced into an alternative strategy when he dropped to the back of the field when he hit a spinning Paul Tracy on lap one.

The Brazilian then picked up a puncture in his front right tyre some laps later and had to pit out of sequence. However, on his way into the pits the next time, Junqueira’s two-stage pit limiter dropped him to 40mph in the 75mph zone, dropping him to fourth behind Wilson, Heylen, and Tristan Gommendy of PKV Racing. He re-passed the latter soon afterwards, however.

Jani was fifth, ahead of Simon Pagenaud, while Bourdais spent most of the race catching back up from stalling in a pitstop, something that Will Power also did.

Local hero Robert Doornbos had to make a last-dash pitstop when the 1hour45minute race lasted one lap longer than Minardi expected. He wound up a disappointed 13th.

A1 GP Rules Changes

It’s almost time for the A1GP series to get underway for it’s third season, with testing going on over the last weeks, and both new and old drivers being named to fill the seats on the grid form each country.

The series has managed to capture the attention of a good fan base around the world, but in order to spice up the action even more there have been some significant rule changes over the second off season.


New Qualifying Format

Qualifying has been changed significantly. There will still be four qualifying segments of 15 minutes each, but now the first two sessions will be used to set the grid for the first (sprint) race, and the second two quarters will be used to set the grid for the second (feature) race.

This means teams will no longer have to worry about two flying laps counting towards and aggregate time, and also they won’t have to worry about their finishing place in the first race determining their starting position for the feature race.


Extra Pit Stop

The number of required pitstops for the feature race has been increased from one to two. The first one must still be completed between laps 8 and 16 of the feature race, while the new one will have a window, but that window will only be announced as pit lane opens 30 minutes before the start of the race.

With only 30 minutes to get their race strategy organized it should make for some interesting strategy decisions.


Points Revamp

In an attempt to close up the championship even further, and keep more nations in the championship longer, there has been a points shake up, with extra points on offer deeper into the field.

The points for each race (both sprint and feature races are worth the same) will be awarded as follows: 1st 15, 2nd 12, 3rd 10, 4th 8, 5th 6, 6th 5, 7th 4, 8th 3, 9th 2, 10th 1, with an extra point available for setting fastest lap in each race.


My 2 Cents

The racing over the last two seasons has been good, but the old system of setting the grid by incorporating the results of the sprint race did lead to situations where I am sure drivers backed off to secure a place instead of chasing hard more often than anyone would have liked. Kudos to A1GP for correcting that situation and moving the allocation of grid positions back to where it should be, in qualifying.

Also it is great to see qualifying moving back to the more traditional “go for it witout any constraints” qualifying, without any worries about having to put in two great laps to secure your grid position for the sprint race. This series bills itself as the World Cup of Motorsport, and features the future titans and lions of motorsport, so they should be out there going all out, not holding anything back. Now if only we could get the FIA and Bernie to take notice for Q3 in Formula One.

As for the points being awarded further into the field, that too is a good thing. With young drivers going all out there is sure to be additional chances for mistakes, so with the extra points safety net a driver can screw up a little, and still remain in the points.

Overall some good improvements to a series that is gaining popularity, and quite honestly is one of the best series to watch.

The Speedcar Series is Coming

For those that have not seen it as yet, a new series is launching later this year. It is called Speedcar, and pitches various drivers against each other in supposedly equal equipment. The unique thing about this series is the cars they will be using are NASCAR style cars. Although no specifics are given on their website, they are NASCAR derived. With 680bhp V8’s there is plenty of power and torque to satisfy he most demanding driver.

The series is aiming to stay reasonably low tech, with few if any driver aids, which means the model should be sustainable, as the costs should be contained, unlike some more high tech series that have been dreamed up over the last few years.

So far 5 drivers have signed on board, Jean Alesi, Johnny Herbert, Narian Karthikeyan, Gianni Morbidelli and Stefan Johansson. The aim is to try to have as many ex Formula One drivers as possible in the field, so it will be interesting to see some how many of the well known names of yesteryear sign on. The series is aiming to have 24 drivers on the grid, with 18 of those cars run by independent teams, and the other 6 cars run by the series organizers. The drivers will all be competing for the year end first prize of $600,000, which was announced recently.

The first independent team to sign up is GPC Squadra Corse from Italy. Giampaolo Coppi, team boss of GPC will run cars 20 and 21, and should have driver announcements soon  "I strongly believe this new series will deliver a great show, and will attract a great amount of commercial interest as it is based in Asia and the Middle East. "

Right now the only confirmed round of the series is in Dubai on November 10th 2007, but it is stated that the series is going to run at a number of venues around Asia and the Middle East, and could even be combined with the newly announced GP2 Asia series at some rounds.

Whatever happens, if it does get off the ground, which it looks like it will, it should be an interesting series to follow, and who knows, after their experiences in this series we might just get to see a few of those drivers in NASCAR.

For more information visit the Speedcar Series website, and check back here as we will be updating this series as announcements are made.

Champcar Wet and Wild in Toronto

Champcar was visiting Toronto this last weekend, and yet again it was a wet and wild race, with the outcome not settled until near the end of the race.

The carnage started right on the very first lap, with local hero Paul Tracy understeering into the wall at turn seven after the front wing of Simon Pagenaud’s car got lodged under Tracy’s car, triggering a six car pile up, ending with five instant retirements. After the restart Oriol Servia continued to lead until fuel pickup problems sent him to the pit, leaving Ryan Dalzeil leading his first ever laps in a Champcar. Unfortunately for Servia, right after his pitstop, Mother Nature changed the complexion of the race, raining on the field for the second consecutive race. Servia soon after slid off the track and into a wall, retiring.

Meanwhile Will Power had worked his way through the field, displacing Dalziel from the lead. Dalziel then slipped back to third when he was passed by Neel Jani. Justin Wilson was also on the move through the field after an earlier spin left him near the back of the field. He got up to the back of Dalziel, staying there for several laps, until he saw an opening to get past and dived down the inside. Dalziel and Wilson touched, with Dalziel ending up in the wall, while Wilson was able to continue, finishing in third behind Power and Jani.

It really was a wet and wild day, and again Robert Doornbos and Sebastian Bourdais managed to find each other in an incident, just like the week before. This time Doornbos misjudged his braking and drove straight into the back of Bourdais car, both of them ending up in the tire wall. Bourdais retired instantly, but Doornbos was able to continue, and finally finished 6th, taking over the championship lead by 2 points from Power, with Bourdais just one point further back.

"Robert made a small mistake but it had a big consequence on both the race and the (championship) standings for the McDonald’s team," said Bourdais. "I could see in his eyes (at the crash site) that he was sorry and he apologized after the race. I didn’t see anything, he just t-boned me and was able to continue which gained him another six or so points which was enough to take over the lead.

Rookie Doornbos Wins at Mont Tremblant

A wet and wild weekend at Mont Tremblant ended with "Rookie" Robert Doornbos taking his first Champcar win, and a win for the new team headed by Ex Formula One team owner Paul Stoddart. With the weather not co-operating throughout the weekend, Doornbos managed to keep his car on the track and pointed in the right direction more than most of the other drivers.

The win however was not without it’s detractors. Sebastien Bourdais was very vocal after the race, both on TV (and live) and at the post race interviews. He felt that Doornbos was blocking him unfairly on different occasions during the race, despite Champcar taking no action over any moves Doornbos made.

From my perspective watching the race, it did not appear that Doornbos made any clear attempts to block Bourdais, it’s true he did move around the track a tt imes, but then with the wet weather, everyone was moving all over the place to find the best grip. Under those conditions it is not fair to stick anyone with the blocking tag, and really Bourdais was out of line, as the booing crowd agreed after the race.

Maybe it’s time for Champcar to look at their procedures again. They have this no blocking rule, but several racers have been penalized for blocking moves that really are not serious blocking. Maybe they should follow Formula One and allow one movement, as it is a shame to see racers handed penalties for not blocking, or on the other hand open the races up to this kind of whining from racers. Whatever, something needs to be done by Champcar, and it needs to be done quickly as we are in the middle of the most competitive season ever, and interest will build.

On another point from this race, watching the start it seemed clear to me that Bourdais jumped the start, and not just by a little bit, he appeared to be moving well before anyone else. Now, granted I was not sitting there in a direct line with his car to determine this, but it did look like a jump, and many other people have commented as to how he did not get penalized. Hopefully Champcar will explain this soon.

Interestingly the Sebastien Bourdais we see this year does not seem to be the same guy we have seen dominate his teammates and everyone else in the series over the last few years. We have also seen a number of mistakes that he has not been prone to make before, maybe, just maybe with the change to the new car this year we are seeing a much more level playing field, and maybe, just maybe we should give his team a lot more credit than we have in the past for his complete domination of the series over the last few years. It might just be me, but with his possible defection to Formula One next year, and then being beaten by Doornbos, a Formula One refugee (at the moment anyway) just maybe a degree of paranoia might be setting in….

With another unusual race we are now left with a wide open Championship, with Bourdais and Doornbos tied at the top of the championship. Should be an interesting last half of the season, something Champcar has been missing the last few years.

Champcar News

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