Tag

Formula One

Browsing

Last month, my GridTalk colleague Aimee shared with us her dream F1 calendar. A 20 race season that would make many a fan happy. I cannot fault Aimee on her list, as it would be an excellent season if it occurred, though there are things that I would do differently…

Ben presents: The Ultimate Formula One World Championship Calendar

I think that there are a lot of boring races this season that needs to be cut. Russian Grand Prix and the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will most certainly be cut from my races. I will also be controversial and remove the Monaco Grand Prix from my Championship. However, I don’t think it should stop existing. This calendar is broken up into continental and subcontinental ‘legs’, and at the end of each race, the drivers move to the next country. I am doing this because I like the idea of F1 being a travelling, moving spectacle. Having it follow this linear path from one country to another just looks cool.

There are 20 championship races on my calendar, with potential expansion to 22 races. However, while I believe that never having too much of a good thing is true, I also think that a 20 race season is a good length for F1. The solution I’d come up with for that would be to swap out a few races each year to keep it fresh. Maybe swap out races that don’t perform well and put something else on. Or move the legs around.

Race 0: Monaco

Not as part of the official championship, but instead, a Formula One opening ceremony. I pitch to you a non-championship race that allows F1 debutants to experience the glitz and glamour of a famous track and raise their profile and for cars to be tested in race conditions. It’s basically a parade after qualifying, but it is too important to remove entirely.


Race #1: Bahrain

Starting in Bahrain, a race that has opened F1 for years now, and it’s hard to fault why it has that honour. DRS, Braking zones, and a nice night race to start us off with something special. I like Bahrain, and I agree with Aimee; this is a good opener to the season. I would also move testing to Bahrain and have the endurance circuit be used as F1’s new test track as a way for the car engineers to work on the cars before each season.

Race #2: Azerbaijan

As you can tell, the first leg of the F1 season is the Middle Eastern Leg, and we move from Bahrain to the Caucuses. Azerbaijan’s street circuit in Baku is one of my favourites of modern F1. 90 degree turns, the ‘s’ bends, and that castle section. That gosh darn castle section. I love it.

Race #3: Turkey

The gateway between Europe and the Middle East, a fitting transitional race from one part of the world to the other. It was due to come back this season, but it was delayed. I like the unpredictability of Turkey, and it would be a good closer to the first leg of my dream F1 Calendar. I want it held in Istanbul Park, and I want the drama to be high. This track helped Fernando Alonso get his F1 World Championship after shenanigan’s helped him get to second. This is a track with a lot of drama, making it a damn good race.

Race #4: Austria

The Red Bull Ring has actually surprised me, and I believe makes a good race. Having it twice in the same season last year was a dampener on it, and having a Styrian and Austrian Grand Prix again this year, while necessary, is not ideal. However, The Red Bull Ring is good. It features elevation changes and the sorts of kerbs that will put the cars to their metaphorical knees. Austria is good.

Race #5: Italy

It has to be! You want the European leg to open with one of the best tracks in F1…but which one? For my money, it has to be San Marino. It is iconic, though its infamy overshadows the racing that has taken place there. But It also has to be Monza, because Monza is amazing. Personally, I don’t want there to be two races held in Italy, because I think it has to be one or the other. In this case, I’d go with Monza.

Race #6: Belgium

Italy and Belgium are just two classic tracks, aren’t they? I love Italy, but I adore Belgium. Spa is just insane, as you all know. What makes it so is the weather. That unpredictable Northwestern European weather. Incidents like those in 1998 only come once in a lifetime, on some tracks, but Spa is just home to many insane, bizarre incidents. It’s a good follow up to Italy in that the unpredictability makes you question your preconceptions for the season.

Race #7: Germany

I wish that the German Grand Prix would be held in the old Hockenheim layout. I love my cars to suffer, and this will be the first big test of the season. With it being on such a large, foreboding track, I would likely make some changes to the layout. I’d make the forest section a little smaller, reducing the size of the track somewhat, but ultimately, keep the rest as it was. We need more races that challenge these cars.

Race #8: France

The French Grand Prix is just something that is there nowadays. The current track is just a bit naff, really. It’s a good explanation for why French movies are just black and white films of sad smokers crying into their coffee. It’s not a race on Paul Ricard! Ben’s Grand Prix is bringing it back to the Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours. That track is a modern classic that is being missed out on this year and has been missed since 2008. Bring it home, lads!

Race #9: Portugal

Portugal was one of the good things that came about in the 2020 F1 Season. It’s a challenging track, it’s modern, and the fans really love it. When we saw it again this year, we loved it. Isn’t it nice when people like new things? Portimao Circuit is great, and I love it. Keep it in F1! With the absence of the Spanish Grand Prix, however, I would consider renaming it the Iberian Grand Prix to represent both nations of the peninsula.

Race #10: Britain

Short explanation: It’s Silverstone.

Race #11: Europe

I think that the halfway point of the season should be a great closer, on a great track. The European Grand Prix closes this leg of the championship, and I think the honour should go to, what will be, The Dutch Grand Prix. I think with its return to F1, give it the spectacle of that name. The track is looking good, and I cannot wait for the race.

Race #12: South Africa

There are currently no races in Formula One that take place in Africa. Not one, but they’re used to be The South African Grand Prix. This one would not be a part of a leg but would be a pre or post-summer break between the Eurasian legs and the American-Pacific legs of F1. Bringing back South Africa could see a revitalization of the sport in that region. Kyalami is currently the only credible circuit that could host such a race, but it would be good to see it return.

Race #13: Canada

Next leg: The Americas. The Canadian Grand Prix is a classic and is a great opener for this leg of the Championship. So many iconic moments have happened here. Welcome to Quebec!

Race#14: USA

Bumping this one up because it is usually held near the end of the season, but I think it deserves a bump up the calendar. I really The Circuit of the Americas, and I like the pretence of Americans being American at this race. It almost becomes farcical the stuff they pull. I reckon the only reason that they plat each country’s anthem is just so the USA can do it in their typical style. AMERICA!

Race #15: Argentina

I personally don’t rate Mexico; I will replace it with Argentina. This country can host a pretty decent Grand Prix, as it has done in the past. The fact that two of the greatest F1 drivers of all time were born in the country of Argentina makes its absence more confusing to me. It would be good if it came back.

Race #16: Brazil

In some seasons, this would be the closer. And it is a good closer to an F1 season, an excellent one, in fact. However, the closer I will be going for the season, is just a smidge better in my eye. That said, who doesn’t love Brazil? One of F1’s most iconic tracks, like Canada, shows that Americans ‘get’ Formula One.

Race #17: Australia

The last leg is the Asia/Pacific leg. Opening this leg with Australia makes sense, in my eyes. There have been some corkers over the years in Australia, and it would be a shame if it weren’t included.

Race #18: Malaysia

I miss Malaysia and would sacrifice Singapore to get it back on the F1 Calendar. It needs to be modernised somewhat because I think that Malaysia should be a night race, so the construction of floodlights is desired and necessary. However, the track layout is fine, and it is always exciting to see how the race pans out with its ever-changing conditions.

Race #19: Macau

No. This is a joke. Could you imagine an F1 race with today’s cars in Macau? Don’t be silly.

The Real Race #19: China

I don’t like the Marina Bay Street Circuit. Get rid of the lights, and hold it in the daytime, and you’ll see why. It’s just a lick of paint. However, Singapore does have a good track, and that’s the Shanghai International Circuit. This is a great track for the penultimate race of the season.

Race #20: Japan

This is how a Formula One season should end. Brazil is a great race to end F1 with, but for me, Suzuka is something else. It is a racer’s track, and it has seen championships be decided at, much like in Sao Paulo. This track is just art on asphalt and the perfect closer to the F1 season.

Potential Races/Honourable Mentions

As I said, there are some races that I think could be added to this list, and there are also ones I did consider for this list:

Vietnam

We don’t know what Vietnam will be like as an F1 track, it might be good, and if it is, then it may be added to the Asian leg of my F1 Season

Saudi Arabia

Again, a new track, so not much info on it. However, I am a little more doubtful about this one because of one thing: Abu Dhabi. We all know and loathe Abu Dhabi, and Saudi Arabia has the potential to be another one of them. However, it is up for consideration, if it’s any good.

Miami

A race in Florida has the potential to be very good, and I hold out hope that the Miami Grand Prix will be a good addition to F1 and my American leg.

More Races in Africa

I don’t know that much about the Motor Racing scene in Africa as a continent. I can imagine that many parts of the continent probably don’t have much interest. I feel like if there were more races in Africa, they would either fit into the Middle Eastern leg or create a new African leg with South Africa. Also, I don’t want to create races that don’t exist.

Bienvenue en…Autriche? Yes, due to the cancellation of the Canadian Grand Prix and the Turkish Grand Prix this year, we have another double-header at the Red Bull ring. While disappointed, we at GridTalk understand that the plague has not yet gone away, and we hope that the situation in Canada and Turkey improves so that we can return to those countries next year. On the bright side, we have several classic F1 races to look back on from The Great White North. So join us as we briefly highlight eight classic Canadian Grand Prix races.

XV Labatt’s Canadian Grand Prix (1976)

The 1976 Grand Prix took place at Mosport Park in Ontario. It is one of three tracks to have held the Grand Prix in Canada. The first one being held at Mosport Park in 1961, with the race alternating between Mosport and the Mont -Tremblant circuit in Quebec between 1967 and 1971. James Hunt won the ’76 race at Mosport, and his drive was one of his best. Hunt had lost 9 points from his British Grand Prix victory that year, with Niki Lauda gaining 3 points. The anger was channelled into his performance. While initially losing his lead from pole to Ronnie Peterson, he clawed it back and won the race. This victory helped him gain back his 9 points, while Lauda retired from 5th place due to car issues.

Grand Prix Molson du Canada (1991)

If you are a fan of Nelson Piquet, then watch this one for his last hurrah. His final career win in Formula One was dramatic, as it was unexpected. The leader of this race, Nigel Mansell, managed to keep out of trouble as the majority of competitors retired from the race for various car issues, including Aryton Senna, Alain Prost, Jean Alesi, and Mika Hakkinen, to name but a few. Then, at the worst possible time, Mansell’s car stopped. On the last lap. By the hairpin. That on its own is a moment to relive, my friends.

Grand Prix Molson du Canada (1995)

Jean Alessi’s one and only victory came in the 1995 Canadian Grand Prix, and it was worth the damn wait. 5 years of racing, and he did it. And, for added poignancy, he drove his Ferrari, adorned with the number 27, the same number used by the late Gilles Villeneuve (who was the first Canadian winner of the Canadian Grand Prix). This race also marked the last time to date that a Grand Prix was won by a car with a V12 engine and the only race of the season won by a non-Renault-powered car. It’s an emotional race to watch, and there is lots of good action in there too.

XXXVII Grand Prix Air Canada (1999)

Welcome to Quebec! The 1999 Canadian Grand Prix was famous for that crash in The Wall of Champions. For the newer fans among us, allow me to explain. Former World Champions Jacques Villeneuve, Damon Hill, and Michael Schumacher all crashed into the outside wall of the final chicane, which led to their retirements from the race, and the wall being given the infamous name as ‘The Wall of Champions’. The famous image (attached below) of the wall is part of F1 History and worth rewatching.

Michael Schumacher’s collision into ‘The Wall of Champions’

Grand Prix Air Canada 2001 (2001)

This is Ralf Schumacher proving himself as capable of a driver as his older brother by achieving his second victory of the season, and beating his brother in, what he later admitted, was the first time he had competitively raced with Michael. Noteworthy is that this is the first, and so far only, time in F1 that two brothers have come first and second in a race.

Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada 2007 (2007)

Dramatic Disqualifications, Retirements aplenty, and drivers who were NOT in Ferrari or McLaren taking podium positions?! A great race for Alexander Wurz and Nick Heidfeld, who joined 2007 newcomer Lewis Hamilton on the podium, in a race that saw drama in the McLaren paddocks, as Alonso played off Hamilton’s first-ever F1 victory as ‘luck’, while Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella left the pit lane while the red light was still on, causing their disqualification at Lap 51. Infamously, this race is also known for the violent crash that Robert Kubica was in, causing him to miss his next race, being replaced by Sebastian Vettel.

Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada 2008 (2008)

“…as I exited the box, I saw two cars jostling for position ahead of me in the pit lane. Obviously, I didn’t want to get involved in their tussle and was trying not to do so, and then all of a sudden, they stopped. And by the time they’d come to a halt, it was too late for me to avoid them.” is what Lewis Hamilton said in response to crashing into the back of defending F1 champion, Kimi Raikkonen. Robert Kubica won this race in a stunning victory after the previous year’s accident, which saw him briefly lead the world championship ahead of Lewis Hamilton. Nick Heidfeld and David Coulthard, of Sauber and Red Bull, respectively, would round out the Podium.

Formula 1 Grand Prix du Canada 2011 (2011)

The last race I will cover is 2011’s Canadian Grand Prix. This is my Dad’s favourite of the eight, because Jenson Button won it from 7th, over the course of the race. It was a wet track, and ultimately, some of the cars would crash and retire, including former champions Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Vettel was on pole but would lose his place to Button in an excellent showdown at the race’s close. Vettel led by 0.9 seconds on the final lap before he ran wide at turn six. Button passed him to take the lead and held it to win the race. Vettel recovered from going off-track and finished second. Definitely worth the rewatch.

And those are my picks. Agree? Disagree? Comment below what you think are the best Canadian Grand Prix races to rewatch!

Racing Drivers should be larger than life characters—eccentric, interesting, and mysterious people. Frankly, the current Formula One grid is just normal compared to the stars of yesteryear. We have Lewis Hamilton, a self-confident winner. Lando Norris, George Russell, and Charles Leclerc are just young, hungry lads. All of them are good drivers, but I think they’re a bit boring away from the track. The obvious exception is Kimi Raikkonen, who clearly went to the James Hunt school of driving. 

Back in the day, you had a mix: There was your hot-headed type. Win at all costs, and be ruthless (e.g. Michael Schumacher, Aryton Senna). There was the playboy, where life is just champagne and women (e.g. Kimi Raikonnen and James Hunt). And then, there are gentlemen. And that is who we’re looking at today. This is the legendary rivalry between Graham Hill and Jim Clark.

I think that it is fair to say Graham Hill is one of the greatest racing drivers of all time. Not the greatest in Formula One, but in competitive racing. The only man to complete the Triple Crown of racing, winning at Le Manns, The Indy 500, and Monaco (doing that last one 5 times). The man only got his licence at the age of 24, got into Formula One through Lotus as a mechanic, and making his debut in 1958 in his rightful Kingdom of Monaco. 

Conversely, it is fair to say that Jim Clark is one of the greatest Formula One drivers of all time. Over his F1 career, he would hold the record for most Grand Prix wins and Grand Prix pole positions by 1968. In 1960, Clark made his debut for Formula One, during the Dutch Grand Prix, in the Lotus. This was after competing in various national events and Formula Junior, having impressed Colin Chapman of Lotus. 

The 1962 Formula One World Championship would see both Hill and Clark achieve their first wins. The Belgian Grand Prix, held during that championship, would see both men, both four and two years into their careers respectively, would begin a rivalry that would run for 6 years. Hill was leading in the Championship points by the Belgian Grand Prix and would gain pole position during that qualifying. The Scottish Clark would battle Englishman Hill in what was, by all accounts, a 5 horse race between the two men, Bruce McLaren, Trevor Taylor, and Willy Mairesse. Taylor and Mairesse got into a serious crash during the race, leaving the remaining three men to battle. Clark was very much a stalking horse, ready to pounce when the opportunity to overtake Hill. In the end, Clark would gain his first win, and Hill came second. And similar battles would take place throughout the season. Hill would win the 1962 Formula One World Championship, with Clark having 30 championship points, to Hill’s 42. 

Clark would dominate the 1963 World Championship. The defending world champion Hill would only win 2 races (though this included his first Monaco win). Clark would decimate the competition, winning 7 out of 10 races, with the remaining one going to Ferrari’s John Surtees. It was funnily enough at Belgium again where Clark would shoot past pole leader Hill in wet conditions. The Belgian Grand Prix saw an eye-watering 5 minute lead between Clark and Hill. The Dutch Grand Prix actually saw Hill retire with engine failure, further distancing him from his championship defence. The only interruptions in Clark’s dominance were his retirement in Germany when his engine decided to give up and at the United States Grand Prix, where Hill had reached Pole Position and won the race despite technical difficulties. However, by that point, Clark was champion. He could have come last at every race since he won in Italy and still be champion.

1964 was probably going to be the rubber match to take a term from professional wrestling. 2 seasons, 2 champions. Hill’s dominant win in 1962 and Clark’s equally dominant win in 1963 made this season of F1 seem like the decider: who was the better of the two? John Surtees was the 1964 Formula One World Championship winner, with Hill coming 2nd and Clark 3rd. However, that isn’t to say that the season was a dud for either man, as Hill would only lose the championship to Surtees by 1 point. If you want to be analytical, Hill had more podium finishes than Clark, but Clark had more wins than Hill. The championship was decided at the Mexican Grand Prix, where Clark had pole position and benefitted from Hill slipping backwards on the grid to 11th after his goggles slipped, denying him the points needed for his potential second championship. Clark needed to win the race, as those 9 championship points would put him ahead of Surtees and give him the championship. It was not to be.

Clark would dominate most of the race, but his car would begin leaking oil in a dramatic twist, forcing him to slip back to 5th position. Surtees was in third place at the time, meaning that Hill could still win the championship. However, as Clark pitted, the Ferrari team urged second-place driver and teammate Lorenzo Bandini to let Surtees overtake. Surtees would win the championship by 1 point. 

1965 would finally see Jim Clark win his second world championship and also see him win the Indianapolis 500, holding both the world championship and the Indy 500 in the same year, the only man to do so. Hill, for his part, would come second to Clark in the championship, winning at Monaco again and coming first in the United States Grand Prix, where Clark retired. While the rivalry would continue in 1966 and 1967, both men were 5th and 6th in the championship, in a season where Jack Brabham won the world championship, and the battle for second between John Surtees and Jochen Rindt was the prominent rivalries at the front of the grid. 

Ultimately, Clark would not live to see Graham Hill win the 1968 Formula One World Championship, as tragedy would strike the Scottish driver. However, he would go out with a hell of a swansong in F1. Both drivers were teammates in Lotus by the 1968 South African Grand Prix and would pull off a stunning 1-2 finish. This is notable as it saw Clark win his 24th race, breaking the record set by Juan Manuel Fangio for most races won. It seemed as if this season would be a closely fought battle between the two men for the world championship. It was not to be.

Clark also competed in Formula Two, which drivers could do in those days. Between the South African Grand Prix and the Spanish Grand Prix, Clark competed in The Deutschland Trophae, alongside some of his fellow F1 drivers, and a young Max Mosley, pre-March Engineering. On the fifth lap of the first heat, Clark’s Lotus 48 veered off the track, crashed into the trees, and sadly died before reaching the hospital. This happened is unknown, though a deflated rear tyre was suspected to be the cause. He was 32.

Hill won the 1968 World Championship, pulling together his team and winning in honour of his friend and rival. A crash in 1969 would cause Hill to break his legs, with Hill famously quipping: ‘Just tell her that I won’t be dancing for two weeks.’ when asked if he wanted to send a message to his wife. He recovered and continued to race in F1 until 1975, though never to the calibre he did during the ’60s. He won Le Mans in 1972, gaining his triple crown. By 1973, he formed ‘Embassy Hill’ his own pet constructor and retired from racing in 1975 after failing to qualify for Monaco. In November of 1975, Hill, along with members of his Embassy Hill team, including drivers, car designers, and mechanics, and the team manager, all died in a plane crash. Hill was 46.

Why is this rivalry so revered by F1 fans? I think it’s a mixture of things. Though having different achievements, both men were evenly matched in ability, if not in their championship victories and total wins. The tragedy surrounding both men’s early deaths makes the rivalry one that fans were sad to miss. Friendship also plays a part. Both men were close friends, and Hill was understandably upset at Clark’s passing. You can read an article written by Hill in tribute to ‘Jimmy’ here.

For me? It’s the fact that both men were characters. Hill was the gentleman. A thin moustache, sharp wit, and very refined. Clark was the red-faced, aggressive driver but with the intelligence to back up his tactics. Occasionally shy, well-spoken, but with speed to win at all costs. We will remember today’s drivers, but compared to Graham Hill and Jim Clark? It’s no competition.

Monaco. A Principality, City State, Micro State even. With over 38,000 residents, only 9000 of them being born in and from Monaco, and measuring only 2.1 km2, you would not expect such a small area to be host to one of the richest countries in the world. Monaco is a magical place with casinos, tax dodgers, and opulence that skirts the line to almost being decadent. And it is in Monaco that one of the most prestigious, well known, and oldest Grand Prix races is held. Join Grid Talk as we discuss The History of the Monaco Grand Prix.

Pre-Formula One

The Monaco Grand Prix predates Formula One itself, in fact. Sponsored by Prince Louis II of Monaco, the first Grand Prix was held in 1929. Its existence was originally a means of upgrading the status of the Monaco Automobile Club. In its then-current form, it was classified as a small, regional club. The ACM wanted national status. In order to qualify for such a thing, it needed to be host to a major motoring event. Before 1929, the precursor to the Monaco Grand Prix was ‘The Rally of Monte Carlo’. When the ACM applied to the French authorities for national status in 1928, they were refused because the rally used other countries’ roads. And so, in 1929, they developed the street circuit we all know and love.

That first race was won by William Grover-Williams (no relation to the carmaker of the same name) in a Bugatti Type 35-B. As an invitation-only event, the inaugural Grand Prix had cars from Mercedes, Bugatti (as mentioned), Alfa Romeo, and Maserati, to name a few of them. The race gained Grand Prix status in 1933, and over the years, it grew in stature, becoming a part of the European championship in 1936. Early drivers would become famous, or infamous, in these pre-F1 days, including Rudolf Caracciola, Luigi Fagioli, and Manfred von Brauchitsch. All three of these men competing in the European Championship.

Post War and the Early Days of F1

The first Monaco Grand Prix to be held after World War Two was not until 1948; due to financial constraints. By then, the FIA was formed and had redefined the definition of Grand Prix racing itself. That 1948 race was won by the first Formula One Champion, one Nino Farina. And in 1950, the first year that the modern-day Formula One championship was held, Monaco hosted the first win of Argentine racing driver, and future five-time Formula One World Champion, Juan Manuel Fangio.

By the 1960s, Monaco was a fixture of the F1 calendar. It was also during the ’60s that saw the coronation of the man they called ‘The King of Monaco’. Graham Hill won 5 of the races in that decade, with his 1969 win being the last of his Formula One World Championship wins. Other notable winners that decade were fellow F1 champions Jackie Stewart and Denny Hulme.

During the 1970s, cars were becoming more powerful, and small tracks were becoming more dangerous. Thanks to the crusade by Jackie Stewart, track safety started becoming more important during the 1970s. Some races were even cancelled due to safety concerns. Monaco, however, survived. The addition of Armco barriers in 1969 ended an era where Grand Prix races in the city-state were only held without additional safety. In a time where cars would often crash, burst into flames, or go into crowds of spectators, or even all three, the crusade for safety was something that needed to happen, Changes to the track in 1972 and 1973, the first in Monaco’s history, were also crucial in increasing driver and spectator safety.

It was also during the 1970s that collective bargaining in Formula One became prevalent. With Monaco by now being a key race in the championship, men such as Bernie Ecclestone and Max Mosely (then only acting as team owners) would often come to the FIA and threaten to boycott the Grand Prix if demands were not met. They would also canvas the ACM, who still organised the Monaco Grand Prix (and do so to this day). Specific demands included increasing the number of cars that could compete in Monaco from 18 to 26. Had the ACM not agreed, the 1972 Monaco Grand Prix may have been cancelled.

The Prost vs. Senna era

Moving to the 1980s, Monaco was dominated by two racers. Aryton Senna and Alain Prost. That itself could be the slogan for Formula One during this time period, as both men would be consistently in the world championship picture for those 9 years. Between 1984 and 1993, these two men would win every Monaco Grand Prix, Prost winning his first in 1984, and Senna winning his first in 1987 (the first Monaco Grand Prix won by an automatic). And during this period, Senna would finally take the crown from Graham Hill and become the new King of Monaco. Senna’s dramatic 1993 win of the Monaco Grand Prix saw him win 6 races at that track, despite strong challenges from Alain Prost and the still relatively new but promising driver, Mr M. Schumacher. As of 2021, Senna still holds the most wins at Monaco and retains his rightful place as the King Emeritus of the Monaco Grand Prix.

However, about a year later, in 1994, The King of Monaco was dead. The 1994 Monaco Grand Prix took place two weeks after that tragic 1994 San Marino Grand Prix, which saw Roland Ratzenburger and Aryton Senna both pass away in circumstances that we all wish could have been avoided. The race was notable for another scary crash, though thankfully not one that would be fatal. Karl Wendlinger would crash his Sauber after exiting the tunnel, hitting the wall sideways with considerable force. Wendlinger’s head struck a water-filled barrier within the metal crash barrier. While he would survive, this was pretty much the end of his career.

Monaco: 1996 to now

The last 25 years of Formula One in Monaco have proven to be as dramatic and as noteworthy as the races of the 65 years I covered up to this point. 1996’s Monaco Grand Prix is notorious for finishing with only 3 cars out of the 22 that had qualified for the race (although 7 were classified due to completing 90% of the race or more). The last 25 years have also seen Mr Michael Schumacher win 5 races at Monaco, tying with Graham Hill’s record. A potential 6th victory would have been on the cards during 2006’s Monaco Grand Prix had Schumi not had his times deleted for stopping near the end of qualifying(ostensibly having car failure on the Rascasse Hairpin). Despite an appeal, the FIA ordered him to start from 22nd.

However, my favourite memory of Monaco? When Kimi Raikkonen retired his McLaren during the 2006 Monaco Grand Prix, what do you think he did? Did he walk back to the paddock, tail between his legs? No, he walked away from the track, got onto his yacht, and proceeded to party with his friends. Legendary.

During 2020, for the first time since 1954, we saw the Monaco Grand Prix not run as part of the F1 calendar, due to its COVID 19 related cancellation. We will be seeing our first race back at Monaco this Sunday

What about the Future?

Nelson Piquet once famously said that driving a Formula One car around the Monaco circuit was like riding a bicycle around your living room. However, a victory at Monaco was worth two victories anywhere else. And this rings true. Honestly, for today’s Formula One cars, with them being so fast, so powerful, so aggressive, a track like Monaco is not suited for them. However, that has been the case for many years now. Monaco’s status as a premier track is solely based on its history and heritage and being such an anachronism.

Its status as one of the premier races to be a part of makes it a part of the holy trinity that is ‘The Triple Crown of motor racing. Should you win the Monaco Grand Prix, Le Manns, and the Indy 500, you would achieve this feat. Only one racing driver has, and that was Graham Hill, with Juan Pablo Montoya and Fernando Alonso both tied at winning two of the three races in the crown, respectively. Not even Michael Schumacher attempted the Triple crown.

What will the future be for Monaco, however? Despite its quirks and anachronisms, I don’t want to see it go from Formula One. The sight of an F1 car racing through the normal roads of a principality, with spectators watching from boats and yachts, is special. It’s too big to go now.

Class is one of the dividing factors of our society. Working Class and Upper Class, it’s like them and us. Formula One has, historically, been an upper-class sport. Its earliest drivers often being chief engineers, having their own hired teams and sponsors. And that doesn’t account for travel expenses. There is a glass ceiling to get to the top of motor racing. Only those with the right backing can, and do, make it. 

Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton had probably one of the greatest F1 rivalries of the 2010s. It’s a tale of class, nationality, family ties, and team squabbling that, while common, was certainly very explosive in the Mercedes paddock.

The narrative that Lewis Hamilton is a working-class hero is somewhat inaccurate. He was not the richest, and his Dad did take up 4 jobs to support his son’s burgeoning career; it would be more accurate to call him middle class. Starting with Go-Karting at the age of 6, he signed up with McLaren’s young driver’s program in 1998 at 13. He would compete in Formula A, Super A, and Intercontinental A. There, he would meet the other man in our tale.

Nico Rosberg was a second-generation racer. The son of Finnish driver Keke Rosberg, the 1982 F1 World Champion, and growing up in Monaco and Ibiza, he was from a different world than Lewis Hamilton. Rosberg’s competitive spirit saw him achieve some excellent grades in school and Go-Karting and going through the Junior and feeder leagues. He had his first drive in an F1 car in 2003, in a Williams. 2 years later, he’d be driving a Williams in F1 full time.

By all accounts, both boys were friends and went up the leagues together. They even had their own team, financed by and for them by Keke Rosberg. However, the seeds of competition had always been there. According to one associate of theirs, both boys, fuelled by adrenaline or teenage testosterone, would compete against each other for everything, even eating pizza.

Rosberg’s entry into F1 happened in 2005. 2 years later, Hamilton would enter F1 for McLaren and win his first championship in 2008. Rosberg would be competitive in F1, and score points in most of his races, even scoring the odd podium; he did not yet have a career win. A move to Mercedes in 2010 saw him, team, with Michael Schumacher until 2012, when Lewis Hamilton joined him.

This is where the rivalry begins. 

2013 was the first season that Hamilton and Rosberg would-be teammates, since their Go-Karting days. And tensions would build up. While the 2013 Malaysian Grand Prix is remembered more for the Multi 21 incident in Red Bull, team orders saw Ross Brawn keep Rosberg in 4th place when he asked to overtake Hamilton. 

By 2014, as Mercedes became more competitive, Rosberg’s and Hamilton’s relationship began to deteriorate. An incident at the Qualifying for the 2014 Monaco Grand Prix saw Rosberg drive into the slip road, causing Yellow flags to come out and forcing Lewis Hamilton to abandon his last qualifying lap. As determined by race stewards and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff, this accident was believed to be foul play by Hamilton. This was followed by an announcement that Hamilton wasn’t Rosberg’s friend anymore. 

At the Hungarian Grand Prix that same year, Rosberg was leading the race, with Hamilton at the back of the Grid; his refusal to slow down for Nico coated the German a podium finish. Things would only get uglier in Belgium, as both their cars would make contact, causing damage that would write off Hamilton’s race and damage Rosberg’s front wing. Though 2nd place Rosberg was punished for this and booed by the spectators, Hamilton’s comments of the incident being deliberate showcased a sense of victimhood that made some fan’s sympathy for him wane.

The season ended in Abu Dhabi, with Hamilton winning the race and title. Rosberg did congratulate the champion, though, after that season, some would call it civility.

2015’s F1 season saw Hamilton retain his World Championship. This season was not without incidents either. The Malaysian Grand Prix had Hamilton taking pole position despite suggestions that Rosberg had deliberately blocked him on his final run. Rosberg had already abandoned his lap but did not move aside as Hamilton came past, forcing him off the racing line. During the post-race interview, you had Rosberg pretend to be a reporter, questioning Lewis about the incident. Hilarious, I am sure you’d agree.

The big one, however, was at the US Grand Prix. Hamilton, as I have stated, retained the championship, with three races to spare. Rosberg came second in that particular race but third in the championship. And if you know what I am talking about, then you remember the cap incident. Rosberg sat in the cooldown room, looking decidedly annoyed. A pumped and happy Hamilton threw the second-place cap to Rosberg from across the room, only for Rosberg to throw it back at him, with the stormiest face this side of Texas. Although played off as a bit of ‘fun’ by Hamilton, the looks of things from the POV of Rosberg suggests something less playful and downright nasty. 

The last three races of that season seemed to make Rosberg snap. Hamilton was the golden boy, and Rosberg the number two. It was almost as if the divide that initially separated the men had shifted. Rosberg would win the last three races of the season, in defiance of his team, of Hamilton, of the perception that he was less than both and his father. 

Those 3 race wins at the end of 2015 saw Rosberg, at the start of the 2016 season, have a 7 race winning streak. Four of those wins being the first four races of the season. By the 2016 Spanish Grand Prix, Rosberg had a 43 point lead on Hamilton. However, both men would not finish the Spanish Grand Prix, as Rosberg entered an incorrect engine mode due to an error the German had made on the formation lap. That meant he was slower than Hamilton coming out of turn 3, and Hamilton moved alongside Rosberg to overtake for the lead. Rosberg forced Hamilton onto grass, and both men were out of the race. Hamilton was blamed for the incident but not punished.

The drama continued into the Austrian Grand Prix of that same season. A Rosberg pole and a good lead in the race, despite engine trouble. In the final laps, Hamilton was able to overtake Rosberg, in turn, one of the final laps, and As Hamilton turned in to make the corner of Turn 3, Rosberg went straight on, causing a collision and damaging the front wing of Rosberg’s car. Rosberg would come fourth, gain two penalty points, and the blame for that incident.

The season closed in Abu Dhabi, where Rosberg’s point lead of 12 required him to have a podium finish. Hamilton needed to be in the top 4, with Rosberg coming no higher than fourth. Hamilton would defy team orders in the race, slowing down, encouraging either Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel or Red Bull’s Max Verstappen to overtake Rosberg so that he may secure the title. Whether they wanted to give the middle finger to Hamilton or didn’t take the initiative, I will leave it for you to consider. Hamilton won the race, but with a 2nd place Podium finish, Rosberg won the 2016 Formula One World Championship, bucking the trend of that year being such an infamously bad one. We may have lost Carrie Fisher, Donald Trump may have been made US President, but Nico Rosberg became the champion.

Rosberg would then announce retirement from Formula One, having “reached the pinnacle of his career”. As of 2021, he and Hamilton are still not friends, though the former has expressed hope for a reconciliation. Whether they do or not is one thing, but what we know is that for the 4 years we had them both at Mercedes, it was a wild ride. 

Hello, glad you have found my blog post. Welcome. Today I am going to talk about Formula One merchandise… or ‘merch’ as it is more commonly known. I am a sucker for merch, I practically live in it. F1 merch ranges from teamwear, to individual driver’s creations outside of their team. I like to think of myself as a Daniel Ricciardo merch connoisseur but I have also dabbled in various teamwear too, but what attracts us to the merch? Why do we buy it?

When buying teamwear it makes us feel part of the team, makes us feel included and is a very simple way of showing your support. Particularly when going to a race, it sort of feels like wearing uniform, but in a much cooler way and without anyone telling you your tie is too long or your shirt isn’t tucked in properly – it helps people identify which team you support. I suppose when at a race track, you can sit with your fellow fans and bond over the fact you are both wearing a Charles Leclerc shirt or you both have Seb’s new Aston Martin cap. 

There is some downside to merch, the price. Some teams take advantage of the fact that people like me will buy a piece of merch every single time, no matter the price. I guess I just like to show my support, have slight FOMO and like having a variety of hoodies since I practically live in them. But some of the price points for particular pieces of merch are ridiculous. A Mercedes team hoodie was pretty much £100… In fairness, it is one of the nicer team hoodies and Mercedes merch is very sleek and cool… But I am loyal to my team and driver, maybe one day I will buy it, when the price is right. Now I wouldn’t go as far to say that teamwear is ‘fashion’ or something you’d see in a high street store. I know I buy a lot of merch but I think £100 for a hoodie plus shipping is a bit excessive. When you compare prices of particular merch items it does raise a few questions, but the teams know that there are going to be people who will buy it regardless of the price tag. 

There is also the element of shipping. Majority of the teams are based in Europe so the shipping isn’t too bad but it does depend on where you order from. If, however, you are like me and have to have every single merch item Daniel Ricciardo releases from his own merch line, then shipping becomes an issue. His store is based in California, now it is great for his American fans as shipping is cheap, but for other fans like myself who live in the UK, the shipping costs do hurt my bank account. The price also goes up for his Aussie and Asian fans. Now I can understand making the merch in California isn’t cheap and sending out isn’t going to be cheap either but you would think if the majority of your fanbase is from parts of Europe and Asia and Australia, it would be nice if the shipping was a little cheaper. But hey, cash is King. On top of the shipping price, in the early days of his merch store came the income tax. This was a surprise. For my large and bulky orders, my income tax was pretty much the same price of another hoodie, if not more… So I had to pay for the merch, the shipping, and then income tax. Luckily, with the last few orders I have placed, I haven’t had any surprises with income tax (thank you Brexit) however, I am not holding my breath. Is it daylight robbery? Yes. Am I still going to buy it? Yes. 

But what kind of merch is there? Well it pretty much ranges from t-shirts, to hoodies, to caps, to key rings, winter wear and even umbrellas and pens. I would say it is quite vast. However, I have to be honest and say most merch is either male orientated or unisex. There is a women’s section but this is where I think merch teams can really excel in these areas and get more women involved in the sport. Women’s team merch doesn’t have the best sizing, so being more inclusive in sizing would be a great starting point. I would love a team skirt, nothing too fancy just something cute, and perhaps make the women’s section more fashionable, but that’s just my opinion. I know that there are some women who would like a long sleeved team top – and that is fine by me, I would also love one! Now, obviously with the merch being unisex, that’s great because then everyone can wear it (and yes men can wear women’s clothing and vice versa, nothing wrong with that at all) my point is, if the teams are all about this ‘diversity and inclusion’ and are looking to get more women interested in the sport, I think more merch would be a great start. Women and men often have different body types, I know that I would feel much better and more confident in my merch, knowing it came from the women’s section 1. Because go women and 2. I know it would have been made for my body type. McLaren recently sent a survey to their female fans asking for feedback on their women’s range. To me this shows initiative and the open mindedness to include a wider selection for women. 

With the pandemic in full swing and not being able to leave the house, I have lived in hoodies more than I usually would. I think I have a hoodie for each day of the week just from Daniel’s own merch collection. I find Daniel’s merch to be the best of both worlds, comfortable and fashionable. In case you don’t know, I am a massive DR3 fan, and will buy anything this man puts out. However, I like how he tries to make every merch different, his most recent merch drop mirrors his 2021 race helmet which I love. I cannot wait to get my hands on it, and I shall be filming an unboxing so stay tuned. Compared to Daniel’s merch in 2018, the quality has definitely improved – the hoodie is fluffier and the t-shirts don’t feel as cheap. Once restrictions are lifted, I do plan on wearing them outside, not sure I would wear the shirts on a night out but they are definitely day-to-day wear. I like the way teams also release event related merch, for example when Daniel scored his 2 podiums for Renault in 2020, they released t-shirts based on his team radio. It is a nice piece of memorabilia but I also think it is a cool idea for merch, since most t-shirts do have a slogan of some sort on them these days. The McLaren merch is also just as comfortable and I find the sizing is quite similar to Daniel’s own merch. The 2021 McLaren drop was definitely one of the most anticipated merch drops for this season and we know why. The green Australia hoodie, the vibrancy of the orange t-shirts and hoodies are incredible. I also feel like you are paying for the quality – I like how the team shirts are a jersey material making them breathable and stretchy where needed. I hadn’t purchased any McLaren merch for a long while prior to the 2021 and I must say I am very impressed and pleased with it. I cannot wait to wear pieces of my McLaren merch to future races. I will of course make my outfits a tiny bit more fashionable and current because that’s just my style and I can’t wait to see how other fans style their merch. 

I am yet to purchase one item from every F1 team, perhaps an idea for another time, but from the teams I have purchased from, I would say that they are comfortable and worth the splurge. Of course, some items should be cheaper because not every fan can afford merch, particularly when hefty shipping costs are involved. I also think certain teams are taking the initiative to make their merch more fashionable and accessible for different audience types. I am looking forward to seeing how McLaren implements the feedback, and I am sure there will be many merch drops across the year. They make brilliant birthday and Christmas presents for any F1 fan. If you want to grab Formula One merch, head to your favourite team’s website, the F1 store, or Fuel for Fans stock previous years merch. It also worth checking Depop too to snag a bargain on any vintage F1 related merch, or if you’re like me and your driver releases merch quite often, make sure to check their store regularly and their Instagram bios and sign up to any newsletters they offer, because more often than not merch does sell out! Let us know what merch you have or what merch you would like to see in the future. 

Pin It
X