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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.

2020 threw us into uncharted territory with a completely new calendar, with some tracks we hadn’t been in a long time, and this season we still have replacement tracks due to the travel restrictions caused by Covid. So, I thought, what would be my dream calendar to have? So here are my picks for a 20 race season.

Bahrain

Starting the season off in Bahrain as we did in 2021 was what a start it was. I love this track as it has everything a modern f1 track should have! Long straights for DRS, breaking zones where drivers can send it, corners drivers can go side by side, YES PLEASE! We’ve had some superb races in recent years, and back in 2014, Hamilton and Rosberg had an almighty battle in the desert, making this the perfect starting track to kick off my dream calendar.

Malaysia

Sepang is probably one of the tracks I think I miss the most in recent years. Sepang was great for battles with iconic 2 straights that go round the grandstands. For me, this track also reminds me of Sebastian Vettel’s Red Bull era.

China

This may not be a favourite for everyone, but I really enjoy China! Maybe because it’s one of the tracks I quite like on F1 2020 as it’s one of my better ones, but I think it throws something different into the calendar vs the other tracks.

The Netherlands

Even though we still haven’t seen Zandvoort in action yet, playing it on F1 2020 makes me really excited for it later in the season. It’s an old-style track that will punish drivers when they make mistakes. I think qualifying will be amazing here, too, as it’s tough, and not to mention the Dutch atmosphere will be amazing, meaning it’s a must for me!

Spain

Valencia is my choice of the track as I think there should be a Spanish GP as Circuit de Catalunya, on the whole, isn’t the most action-packed race. There is a lot of love out in Spain, with, of course, Alonso and Sainz really driving the love for the sport out there. The last race in Valencia was in 2012 and was won by Alonso! Unfortunately, the F1 track is now abandoned, so that we won’t be seeing any time soon…

Portugal

The last 2 races at Portimao did not disappoint! The rollercoaster effect of the track brings such a unique feel to it. Drivers also love this track which is exactly what we like to watch as a viewer! Not to mention Portimao isn’t a bad holiday destination either!

Monaco

Monaco stays on the calendar for the Glitz and the Glamour. It may not be the best track due to little overtakes, but qualifying is one if not, the best to watch. Strategy can be fascinating to watch here, too, so for nerds like me, Monaco can be great! And that I have a dream to watch the GP on a yacht to live my best life, but we don’t need to mention I got my invite rejected when a guy found out I am a Liverpool fan, swiftly moving on.

Baku

I love Baku! I think it’s the best street track in terms of racing, and Baku loves to bring the spice!! The race in 2017 lives rent-free, and if you haven’t watched it, I highly recommend you do. On top of this, Baku normally provides us with some beauties of radio clips.

Canada

Canada’s weather is somewhat unpredictable, which is fabulous! It provided us with the race of the century in 2011 and good for growing the North American following, too, so it’s on my calendar!

Austria

Austria is one of my favourite tracks and always one I really look forward to. More recently, it has provided some epic racing up and down the grid, especially in 2020. Not to mention the scenery is amazing!

Great Britain

So I may be biased here as a Brit, but Silverstone has to be on the calendar! There is so much heritage to Formula 1 in the UK, with the most successful driver of all time in Lewis Hamilton and the extremely popular Lando Norris and George Russell, with a British atmosphere; it’s just a must! Maggots and Becketts is an amazing set of corners, too, a great asset to the calendar.

Hungary

Hungary is a solid track in the calendar, providing solid races year on year, especially the first corner, allowing drivers to “send it”, as Danny Ric would say! Really great fan track to being in the middle of Budapest, being one of the cheapest tracks to go to!

Belgium

Do I need to say anymore? This is absolutely my favourite track ever! I’ve been 4 times, and I can’t stress enough how I think every F1 fan should go if they have the opportunity. Eau Rouge is just the most beautiful corner with the track in the most scenic place in Belgium. I will stop fangirling now, but I LOVE SPA!

Germany

How we have a 4-time German World Champion and a Schumacher back in F1 and no German GP?! It’s just a crime against F1! In my opinion, there just has to be, and my choice is the Nürburgring. We went here in 2020, and it is a better track than Hockenheim. There is so much love in Germany for the sport, and with so much success with German Drivers and Mercedes, there needs to be a German GP!

Italy

Monza is a dream of mine to visit! The power of Tifosi is just something I would love to experience as their passion and excitement is a joy to watch! Monza also creates great races, with 2020 being a favourite of last season. The drama of qualifying to the overtakes down to DRS all adds to this fantastic race and the best podium too!

Singapore

I have to include Singapore! The night race just brings something so special, especially in qualifying. How difficult it is for the drivers in terms of humidity brings another layer into showing who’s a good driver and who’s a great driver.

Japan

One thing I love about Suzuka is the fans! Japanese fans have so much passion for the sport, which is amazing to watch, and it will be great to see the reception Yuki Tsnouda gets at his home track. It’s a really demanding track showing off drivers’ skills which I enjoy.

USA

This may be an unpopular opinion, but COTA is really up there for me in terms of favourite tracks. I really look forward to coming here every year, and it is great fun on F1 2020. I love Miami as a destination for a track, but so far, I’m not convinced about the layout of the track just yet.

Mexico

I love the grandstand section on the track. It really brings a unique feel to this race and better interaction with fans. Overall, the track is good for racing, and a fan favourite, making it a penultimate track.

Brazil

Finally, the showdown must be in Interlagos. I think it would be a much better end to a season allowing drivers to actual race rather than it being an anti-climax to end the season, with Brazil 2008 showing why it should be the last race of the season. Even in recent years, the racing has been superb, with no one forgetting the 2019 podium or Max Verstappen nearly squaring up to Estaban Ocon a few years ago. Can you tell I like drama!!

Some notable tracks are missing out, but I think this 20 race season would be amazing in terms of great racing! Let me know what you think!

Drama already unfolded even before starting the race as Polesitter Charles Leclerc has experienced some gearbox issues on his out lap. Later on, Ferrari confirmed that he would not be racing this afternoon. This is a hard one to swallow for the Monegasque after claiming pole in his home Grand Prix; however, he will now be on the sidelines.

It’s lights out and away we go in Monaco! 

It’s a good start from Max Verstappen in the Red Bull, and we see a lock-up from Valtteri Bottas into Turn 1. It’s been a somewhat aggressive start from Verstappen, who now has a decent lead over Bottas in the front of the field.  Carlos Sainz also got away very well. According to replays, Bottas had a slightly better start than the Dutchman. He might have been able to cut back on any other track once Verstappen went through him to take the racing line, but not on a street circuit like this. 

We’re going into Lap 2, and all 20 drivers moved up one place after the DNS from Charles Leclerc, and we see Max Verstappen earning the fastest lap. In the top 10, there doesn’t appear to have been much change, but that’s Monaco for you. Nikita Mazepin received the first black and white flag of the race for breaching track limits in Lap 14. He’s crossed the line far too many times. We’re only 16 laps into the race, but another infringement will result in a penalty for the Russian.

Lap 19, and we can hear Verstappen on the team radio saying, “For these tyres, I’m happy.” So far, it seems that everything has gone according to plan for the Dutchman. Not for Norris, who has now been handed a black and white flag.  Lance Stroll launches his Aston Martin over the kerb where Leclerc crashed in Saturday qualifying in Lap 21 but saved it from hitting the barrier just in time.  We’re in Lap 22 when we hear Bottas complain about the left front tyre that seems to be starting to drop. As seen on the AWS tyre condition graphic, Bottas has indeed 20% left of his tyres.  Lap 26 and Max Verstappen sounds very happy again. This time he mentions to be having “Quite a good front end” on the team radio. Something that used to be a problem during the free practices has been improved with the Red Bull. 

Lewis Hamilton is the first to make a pit stop in Lap 30 and made a swift pitstop of 2.2 seconds  Lap 31, and there is a disaster pit stop for Bottas. which causes a lot of chaos.  Three tyres came off easily, but the front right refused to come off. We saw the wheel gun shattering into shards, and the team was unable to remove his tyre, forcing the Finn to retire from the race. Meanwhile, we hear a fuming Lewis Hamilton on the team radio: “I don’t understand, guys. I saved the tyres to go longer, and you made me stop before.

Max Verstappen, the race leader, pits on lap 35. A short two-second stop for the hard tyres there, and it’s all looking quite good for the Dutch Red Bull driver now. Still, in Lap 35, Hamilton dropped two positions by pitting, and he’s just been warned that he’s in threat from Sergio Perez, who is currently leading the race and has some breathing room to extend his lead. Lewis sounds very unhappy. Sergio Perez has finally pitted for a set of hard compound tyres on Lap 36. It’s a smooth stop, and he returns to the track in fourth place. Red Bull is so far experiencing an amazing day, while Mercedes seems to be having a disastrous one.

Now we’re on Lap 50, and things are starting to get interesting. Sainz is putting a lot of pressure on Verstappen, and while the Red Bull still has a three-second lead, the Ferrari has been fast all weekend. Lap 53 and things are getting unfortunate for Daniel Ricciardo, who is currently in P12, as his teammate will lap him. While he begins to get to know his McLaren, it’s not the weekend he expected.  For the Aussie, today is a race to forget after two poles and a win.

Verstappen and Sainz are separated by only 2.7 seconds in Lap 56. This race has felt like a parade from the start, but if the Ferrari keeps up this pace, there could be some surprises near the finish. Lap 58 and Lando Norris just informed the team over the radio that his car is undriveable on these tyres. If this keeps up, he’ll soon have Perez on his tail. The youngster sounds very concerned. Sergio Perez has closed the gap on Norris to four seconds in Lap 61, but that gap isn’t closing fast enough when you consider he has to go past him somewhere.  Unless, of course, the tyres will lose their condition, in which case Norris will be in serious danger.

We’re in Lap 63, and Lance Stroll is under investigation for supposedly failing to maintain his position in the pit lane to the right. After such a strong performance, a time-penalty might be devastating for the Canadian. Carlos Sainz is starting to drop from his position in Lap 65. He’s 7.2 seconds behind Verstappen but might be satisfied with second place today, which would be a fantastic first podium for his new Italian team. Were in Lap 69 and a set of fresh soft tyres for Hamilton. This seems like Mercedes’ acceptance that Hamilton will not finish in the serious points at the front of the field. Therefore he will rather try for the fastest lap bonus point.

The stewards investigated the incident involving Stroll in Lap 70 and concluded that he did not go over to the right side of the pit lane, deciding that the Aston Martin did not break the rules. Meanwhile, in the same lap, Hamilton is about to be lapped by the race leader Max Verstappen. Hamilton has just set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 72. The defending world champion’s gamble to switch to a fresh set of soft tyres might just pay off, though it’s still been a very frustrating afternoon for Mercedes.

Lando Norris appeared to be struggling to keep Perez behind him a few laps ago, but the McLaren has found some more grip and pace and appears ready to finish on the podium. Max Verstappen is now one lap away from winning the Monaco Grand Prix and taking over the Drivers’ Championship lead for the first time this season.  For the Dutchman, it’s been a parade, but he really hasn’t put a foot wrong today. 

A true display of strength from the young driver hoping to help Red Bull win the championship this season. Max Verstappen and Red Bull have had a phenomenal day!  Not only does the Dutchman win in Monaco, but he also takes over the lead in the Drivers’ Championship for the first time in his career. 

Carlos Sainz comes in second, with Lando Norris completing the podium in third!

Humorous, versatile and informative. Just three of the words I would use to describe a commentator. For me, the role of a commentator is more important than meets the eye. I have to feel their passion and excitement for the sport as much as I do. I got to speak to current Formula 1 and Formula E commentator Jack Nicholls about his experiences in the role and how he got there.

Hi Jack, could you please tell me about your main role as a commentator within motorsport, particularly the ABB FIA Formula E Championship?
I have been commentating on Formula E since it first started back in 2014, and I also cover Formula 1 for BBC Radio 5 live. I’m lucky enough to work with 3 times Indy500 winner Dario Franchitti, and it’s our job to bring this new form of motorsport to people and try and get them excited about it!

Have you always been a big fan of motorsport? If so, does it help with commentating when you’re talking about something you’re passionate about?
I started watching motorsport when I was 6 and got obsessed pretty quickly after. I used to watch every F1 race and went to my first British Grand Prix when I was 7. My dad and I then started travelling to races when I was a bit older, to tracks like Spa, Valencia and Monza, and I even saved up and went to Melbourne in 2009 by myself when I was 19!

Have you always wanted to be a commentator? How did you break into the industry?
I did always want to be a commentator. I loved Murray Walker, and the idea of just shouting and getting excited by the racing always really appealed to me. I used to write my own commentary notes at the start of each season from about the age of 8! But it was never something that I actually thought about pursuing until I had a gap year between my A-Levels and University. I started marshalling at my local race track at Snetterton and heard that they had commentators there, so I asked if I could try. I started doing more and more while I was at Uni, to the point where when I graduated, I could become a full-time commentator.

Was there anyone you looked up to in terms of commentating?
Ben Edwards is the best. Clearly, everyone’s hero is Murray Walker, but in my really formative years, it was Ben commentating on British Touring Cars and A1GP that made me the commentator that I am now. He has incredible knowledge but manages to get that across to the audience without sounding smug, and he is so good at reading races and conveying that to the viewer.

What is your favourite track to commentate on?
Monza and Monaco are my two favourite tracks to commentate on. I love the history of Monza and the atmosphere. You climb up some rickety old stairs to the commentary booths, which are on top of one of the grandstands, and then the cars flash past you at 220mph. The atmosphere there is like nothing else. Of course, Monaco is a very different type of atmosphere, but the buzz around a Grand Prix weekend is fantastic. The commentary boxes back onto the harbour, and they overlook the whole pitlane. As with everywhere in Monaco, space is at a premium, so there’s barely room for us in the booth, but it adds to the chaotic nature of the weekend.

What advice would you give someone who wants to commentate on motorsport in the future?
ESports are a great place to start. It’s actually where I started commentating; then, I was able to show my work to people in the real world to try and get work. The most important thing is to be yourself and let your personality come through. The audience wants to get a sense of who you are, not of who you’re trying to be. Don’t feel you have to do things that other commentators do; find your own path.

What does a typical Formula E Race Weekend look like for you?
I will usually fly to a race on the Wednesday, then start work on a Thursday. Thursday is mostly production meetings and technical checks. Friday, I spend a lot of time in the pitlane talking to teams and drivers to find out the latest news, and I will walk the track. Walking the track is much more important in Formula E because they often change each year. Then Saturday is race day! They are long days, so my alarm will usually go off about 6 am; we then get on a bus and travel to the track arriving about 7 am, then first practice starts at 8 am! There is very little time between sessions, so I try and speak to as many people as possible in the 45 minutes I have! Then there is qualifying; I eat some lunch, then prepare for the race by looking through the grid sheet and making some notes. Then the race starts, and we finish work at about 6 pm!

How do you prepare for a race?
I make quite extensive notes before each race for Formula E; because I am the voice of the championship, I feel a lot of responsibility to get things right, and there is much less information available. Whereas with Formula 1, there’s so much more discussion about it in the wider world that I don’t feel the need to do as much preparation.

Motorsport is a very opinionated sport for everyone! Do you ever find it difficult to try and show unbiased opinions when commentating?
I don’t find it difficult at all, because all I want to see is a good race! I am more friendly with some drivers than others. For example, I’ve done a lot of work with Robin Frijns over the years, but if he is racing, I don’t want him to win more than anyone else. I just want to see a good fight and a good race!

You’ve worked on several different racing series, Formula 2, Formula 1 and of course Formula E – does your commentating style differ from series to series?
The biggest difference is between TV and Radio. When I commentate on Formula E for the TV, I am watching along with the audience. We are enjoying the action together. But on radio, you have the be the conduit for them to know what is going on, so you have to explain things a lot more, and I am more of the narrator of the race. On TV I can talk less, but radio, if you stop talking then it’s silent, which isn’t great radio!

On behalf of the Grid Talk team, I’d like to thank Jack for agreeing to talk to me and contribute to our Working In Motorsport series. I hope you’ve enjoyed this incredible insight into the role of a commentator in motorsport.

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.

Formula 1 is set to see a major overhaul in 2022, which could dramatically change the sport. These changes were meant to occur in 2021 but were postponed largely due to the pandemic’s financial implications. However, it is now time to discuss and understand what these regulations are and what they will mean for the sport.

Design changes

The biggest and most dramatic change for the 2022 season will be returning to the ground-effect formula of aerodynamics on the car. The existing reliance on wings is causing the cars to produce ‘dirty air’, which means the cars behind lose 50% downforce when close. This means overtaking is becoming increasingly difficult, and therefore the FIA plan to reduce this downforce loss to 5-10%. The ground-effect design involves air being passed through two Venturi tunnels at the front of the floor. Therefore, the air is squeezed to the closest point to the ground, turning it into a low-pressure area with suction underneath. This means that the floor is relied on more for downforce, rather than several bodywork components, as we currently see. Air will therefore be cleaner as it comes off the car while also being pushed higher, out of the path of the drivers and cars that are following. Cars being able to follow each other closely will mean much more exciting races for the fans to watch and the drivers to race in.

In addition, many elements of the car have been made sleeker and simpler, including the front wings and bodywork. Under the new regulations, front wings will be much simpler, being made up of a maximum of just four elements. The most striking difference can be seen on the endplates, which remain up-turned. The nose will be attached to the front wing rather than being connected by additional carbon fibre, making the likelihood of front wings breaking much lower. The rear wings have also changed, with endplates now wrapping around the back of the car, allowing cars to follow each other without any aerodynamic difficulties. With the barge boards also removed, in place of “wheel bodywork”, which minimises the impact of wheel wake, the cars are more reliant on the floor for downforce, making the racing fairer between teams. These wheels are also changing with larger 18-inch wheel rims, as seen already in F2, taking the place of the current 13-inch tyres, with wheel-wake control technology, which again should lead to more fair racing throughout the field.

One major element of the car that will not change is the V6 turbo hybrid engines, although they will be built from commercially available materials, meaning none are company exclusive. This freeze will continue until 2025, with the aim of sustainability becoming the major focus at that point. In addition, exhaust systems have been added to the PU components that are limited during a season, with a maximum of 6 permitted before a driver incurs a penalty.

Cars will be 25kg heavier due to all of these changes, meaning they will be slower than they currently are, but racing will hopefully be drastically improved.

Financial changes

2022 brings with it a cost cap of $175 million per team, which will apply to everything that impacts on-track performance, excluding driver salaries, marketing costs and the top-three personnel at any team. In addition, cars will be given less wind tunnel running time and must focus more on Computational Fluid Dynamics simulation than physical testing. Rules have also been put into place to limit car upgrades over a weekend, as well as the number of in-season aero upgrades. This will reduce the constant developments from the larger teams, which are currently impacting how competitive the grid is.

Race weekend structural changes

With the FIA hoping to have a maximum of 25 races in 2022, the race weekend has been condensed to cater for this and to improve the fan experience. Rather than Thursday, the press conferences will take place on a Friday morning before FP1 and FP2. Cars will also be in Parc Ferme conditions from the start of FP3 onwards, limiting the upgrades that teams can add over the course of the weekend. Teams must at this point return their cars to ‘reference specification’, meaning any bodywork being trialled must be removed at this stage.

Teams must also run at least two practice sessions during the year using drivers who have competed in two Grand Prix or fewer. This is a very beneficial change for the future of the sport as it gives opportunities to young drivers who are hoping to race in Formula 1 in the future, rather than reserve drivers who have competed in a multitude of previous races.   

What do these changes mean for the sport?

According to Ross Brawn, these new regulations stop the serious issue that we currently see in Formula 1, where “the more you spend, the quicker you go”, which means finances won’t entirely dictate the competitiveness of a car. With so many talented drivers currently on the grid, the future of motorsport looks hugely positive with closer racing and, therefore, hopefully, more varied results.

Mental Health is defined as ‘a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being’. So, why is something that makes us human still a subject which is so difficult to talk about?

The inner circle of motorsport is a busy place to be, the physical training that drivers endure is exhausting to even read about. From training camps to reaction training, spending time in the gym, which many drivers have at home, hours in the simulator, and let’s not forget about the health regimes they have to follow. But, what about their mental health?

Over recent months, more drivers have started to speak up about their inner struggles and how they have overcome them. More than often, I see racing drivers referred to as “superheroes”. Their ability to switch into their relaxed state of mind before a race continues to amaze me, but the truth is – they aren’t superheroes; they are people, just like you and me.

Last year, McLaren announced a partnership with the charity Mind, which provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem. McLaren said that this partnership stems from their “increased focus on mental health as part of its overall health and well-being programme.” A few months later, McLaren F1 driver, Lando Norris, spoke up about his struggles since his career began in Formula One. He wrote, “have you ever struggled with something mentally but hidden it from the world by putting on a brave face? I know I have.” He explains how he was questioning his own self-belief and comparing himself to his teammate and other drivers. Something, I’m sure, many of the drivers deal with day to day.

Mental Strength has a huge part to play in Formula 1; it is a big mind game. Every single lap, maximum concentration, and nothing else on your mind. Can you imagine how difficult that must be? Admittedly, writing this post has taken days of on and off concentration. So how do these drivers do it? Last month, F1 revealed that the balance of mental wellbeing is starting to shift. More and more drivers have started to receive mental coaching, which has been common in other sports for years. Both Nico Rosberg and Mika Hakkinen revealed after they had quit racing, they both sought mental coaching for one reason or another. Nico once said, “We all train our bodies flat-out every day, yet we don’t do that much for our minds”, he revealed how he worked on moving his mind towards more positive thoughts every morning and evening for around 20 minutes and says it’s a big part of why he became world champion. In 2016, Romain Grosjean admitted that he needed to consult a psychologist in the darkest moments of his early career, particularly after 2012 and credits the specialist for improving his life, both on and off the track. Understandably, he will be working with a psychologist again to overcome the mental effects of his accident at the 2020 Bahrain Grand Prix.

Social Media. Ah, you just knew this was going to come, didn’t you? Does social media have a part to play in mental health? Absolutely! As human beings, we thrive off the need for companionship and being socially connected to others. Social media can, in some ways, ease stress, anxiety, boost your self-worth, provide comfort and prevent loneliness. Unfortunately, we also live in a world where keyboard warriors troll our ‘safe’ platforms. Even my friends and I have been on the receiving end of multiple attacks on social media platforms. Now, imagine you’re a driver. You’ve worked your ass off all weekend but couldn’t pull out the results you were expected to, and maybe one little mistake cost it all, those feelings of not being good enough, letting everybody down – not just yourself. At the end of the day, you have to go onto social media and see an onslaught of comments calling you every name under the sun and telling you; you shouldn’t be doing the job you love. I get it, Formula 1 is and always will be an opinionated sport. Of course, you are frustrated too, but constructive criticism is a lot different to being unkind. Certain drivers choose to live their lives away from Social Media or have taken a step back due to these kinds of incidents.

Earlier, I mentioned how people often think of Formula 1 drivers as superheroes. In the 2019 season, tragedy struck in Belgium when 22-year-old Anthoine Hubert was involved in a fatal accident in the FIA Formula 2 Feature Race. An incident that rocked the motorsport community. Current Formula 1 drivers Pierre Gasly and Charles Leclerc knew Anthoine personally; they were friends outside of the sport and grew up together from karting onwards, sharing their journey every step of the way. Motor racing is a hard, brutal business. However, these moments confront drivers with the reality of the sense of danger their profession poses and that they are, in fact, human. Although they do it because they love it – the mental strength of every single one of those drivers to get back into their cars the day after and watch those five red lights come on one by one is incredible.

Unfortunately, to this day, mental illness can be seen as a sign of weakness, and I know what you might be thinking “Does that really matter?”. In a way, yes, it does! The idea that someone struggling with mental health is weak is stigmatising and could negatively affect certain subgroups of the population, for instance, men. Due to societal expectations and ‘traditional’ gender roles, men are less likely to discuss or seek help for their mental health problems. We all know that F1 is a predominantly male sport; could this be why mental health is a rarely spoken about topic in the world of motorsport?

Mental health is an important topic, not just in Formula 1 but everywhere. Yes, drivers and teams are becoming more open to discussing them; however, my question remains.

Can F1 do more for Mental Health?

It’s lights out, and away we go! Max Verstappen got the better start than pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton and passed the 7-time World Champion into Turn One with a golden overtake move on the inside. All twenty drivers made it safely through the first corner; meanwhile, Charles Leclerc made it past Valtteri Bottas and made it into third place.

It’s Lap 5, and the stewards are putting Pierre Gasly under investigation, who seemed to be out of position at the start of the race. Verstappen built a half-second lead over Hamilton in the first few laps, but the Mercedes is doing better by a tenth or two out of the Dutchman’s time, and we see Lewis earning the fastest lap. We hear Yuki Tsunoda on his team radio Lap 8 say on “Engine’s stopped, engine’s stopped,” Later on, we can see on the replay footage that the display on the steering wheel turned off, which can be signs of a gearbox problem. Due to that, the Safety Car is deployed. 

During the Safety Car, many pitstops occur, with the most shocking one coming from Antonio Giovinazzi on Lap 10. It appeared that the pit crew delivered empty tyres, which made it impossible to assemble them on the car. Meanwhile, we see a decent double pitstop coming from Williams, and both drivers switch to the medium tyres.

It’s Lap 11 and the Safety Car is back in, it’s now up to Max Verstappen to determine the pace of the restart. In the last chicane Max decided to increase with full speed. The Safety Car seems to have had no effect on the Dutchman’s Red Bull. Pierre Gasly is no longer under investigation, instead, he has been given a five-second time penalty for being out of place at the start. Since this is a data-driven decision, the stewards had an easier time coming to a conclusion.

Tyre concerns with Max Verstappen as we can see him having a clearly blistered right rear tyre. Replays of Hamilton’s car reveal that his right rear tyre is suffering from severe blistering as well. In true Hamilton style, he sets a new fastest lap during Lap 21 as the Mercedes improved a tenth or two off Verstappen’s time, while the Red Bull appears quite happy to keep the reigning World Champion out of the DRS range. We’re on Lap 23, and Gasly has taken his 5-second penalty and drops to P19. 

Mercedes was the first to act with a pitstop for Bottas on Lap 25, and the Finn has rejoined the race in clear air. Lap 26 and Verstappen is into the pits just as Hamilton was closing the gap on the race leader. Max can’t be too happy about this one as it was a prolonged stop from Red Bull and very unusual for the team as it was 4.2 seconds. It appeared to be a last-minute call.

Sergio Perez, who has yet to pit, cleared the way for Verstappen, who has already done so. Hamilton has been insisting to Bono on the team radio that his tyres are in good shape and that he wants to stay out. We can also hear that Toto has been complaining to the FIA race control about Hamilton’s time loss to Mazepin ignoring blue flags on the radio. 

Hamilton makes a successful 2.7-second pit stop on Lap 29, but Verstappen is safe as he passes while Hamilton is still in the pit lane. On the other hand, Hamilton is now on the newer tyres, but Verstappen still has the Fastest Lap on his name since Lap 28. So, it seems Mercedes’ strategy is to ensure Hamilton has more traction at the end of the race when Verstappen is expected to struggle.

Meanwhile, Lewis Hamilton earned the Fastest Lap after his pitstop in Lap 31. We’re now on Lap 34, and the leaders have passed through the back of the field with Nikita Mazepin once again being accused of causing traffic, which seems to have helped Hamilton, who is now within DRS range of race leader Verstappen. Lando Norris has had a tough time so far, but he’s now in ninth place after passing Alonso on Lap 39 while his teammate Daniel Ricciardo is on track for a good fifth-place finish. 

While Max Verstappen complains about the lack of grip, it’s in Lap 42 to see Hamilton making another pitstop. Mercedes made a bold strategic move by doing so. They decide to bring Hamilton in just as he was approaching Verstappen. He’s now on a set of extra mediums.

It’s Lap 43; right after Hamilton’s pitstop, we can hear Verstappen’s race-engineer Gianpiero Lambiase on the team radio: “At this rate, they’re going to catch us in the last lap” Meanwhile, it appears that Max stays out and will try a different strategy. As Hamilton asks to be informed of the gap to Verstappen on Lap 44, Bono reminds him, “Currently 22 seconds; you’ve done it before.”

It’s Lap 46, and we hear the following on the team radio: “I don’t see how we’re going to take this to the end”, Verstappen says. It’s for the first time this season; Verstappen sounds so disappointed. According to the informative AWS graphics, Hamilton’s newer set of tyres is giving him concern, but within the next 10 laps, the World Champion will be within striking distance of the Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton is behind Bottas in Lap 55 and has the advantage in terms of race speed. Hamilton is attempting to overtake his teammate, but Bottas is refusing to cooperate. At Turn 10, Hamilton dives past his teammate on the inside. That was not part of a team order; the Finn refused to let Hamilton pass him by earlier. 

Lap 54 and Bottas make a pit stop, and the Finn will challenge for the fastest lap point. Two laps later, we see Bottas earning the Fastest Lap as a result.

With 10 laps to go, we can see on the AWS system that Hamilton will be within striking distance of Verstappen in nine laps. Verstappen and Hamilton are now separated by just over a half-second on Lap 59. Keep in mind that Hamilton rejoined the race 22 seconds behind Red Bull when he pitted for the second time. It seems like the pace isn’t there for the Dutchman. What we thought was coming becomes a reality; Hamilton passes Verstappen into turn one and takes the lead of the race. 

It’s Lap 56, and Pierre Gasly has moved up to the tenth position. The AlphaTauri, had a close touch with Lance Stroll while braking, but it doesn’t matter for the Frenchman as he’s now into the points. That would be a good outcome for Alpha Tauri after Tsuonoda’s early retirement.

With Hamilton out of the picture, Red Bull has pitted Verstappen a second time to move him to fresher tyres in the hope of winning the fastest lap bonus point, a move that wasn’t a part of the original strategy. 

The chequered flag is waved as Hamilton is the first to cross the finish line after leading the race for the last 12 laps. For the fifth time in a row, the reigning World Champion wins the Spanish Grand Prix, extending his lead in the drivers’ standings. 

There’s no denial that Mercedes’ strategy was spot on, and it was the decisive factor. Verstappen made his pit stop in second position just in time to get the bonus point for the Fastest Lap. 

Life isn’t fair. Sometimes, you can be absolutely great at something and come close to being the best in your preferred field, but someone else always beats you by a hair. That’s just a life thing, and it happens a lot in Formula One. F1 has produced some legendary drivers, and some of the best go on to win one or multiple championships. Some of the best that is. I asked some of the GridTalk team to come up with a few suggestions of these drivers, so a big thanks to Mile, Charley, and Aimee for providing some of the suggestions. . For one reason or another, bad cars, poor decisions off the grid, or just bad luck, there are F1 drivers, past and present, who were champions that never were. Join us as we look at some of these racers.

Honourable Mentions

There are two people who I did consider but who ultimately didn’t cut it for this list. The criteria for this list is retired F1 drivers who, despite doing their best, never won a title. The people who I am not considering are drivers like Daniel Riccardo. He’s still an active racer, even though he’s sniffed gold before, despite never tasting it. Then there are one time champions, who could, and arguably should, have won more. People like Kimi Raikkonen, and Jaques Vielleneuve. Both men did win but could have gotten more. That latter category probably deserves its own list, so comment below if you want to see that.

1) BMW Williams Racing (2003)

Starting with a constructor. Did you think I was only going to talk about drivers? The Williams FW25 was a monster of a car, with its 10v BMW engine and the skilled drivers, Juan Pablo Montoya and Ralf Schumacher. The team did have a lot of success in 2003. 4 wins, 4 poles, and 4 fastest laps. And, when the drivers weren’t winning, they were consistently on the podium or in the Top 10. The Williams FW25 came second in the constructor’s championship, its best result since 1997.

But what went wrong? A spin during the Australian Grand Prix by Montoya didn’t help or retire during the last race of the season. What really killed BMW Williams’ momentum was a complaint by Bridgestone and Ferrari about its tires. The Michelin tyres, used by BMW Williams, were technically wider than the oppositions. The narrower tyres helped knock the competitive edge off the cars. Incidentally, Montoya came third in the championship and Schumacher fifth.

2) Didier Pironi (1982)

The French driver raced in Formula One for four years. Initially racing with the underfunded Tyrrell Racing, who snatched him up, based on his performances in Formula Three, and his association with Elf. Following two seasons with Tyrrell, Pironi moved to Ligier Racing, where he got his first victory in 1980, and from 1981, Ferrari. It was 1982, In what was already a pretty sad season, after the death of Giles Villeneuve, when Pironi became a serious championship competitor. During the 1982 Formula One season, Pironi was leading the championship. By the German Grand Prix, he had 39 points, ahead of both McLaren’s John Watson and Keke Rosberg, racing for Williams.

The German Grand Prix was wet, so the ground force produced by the cars on such a wet track meant that cars right in front of you were pretty much invisible. During qualifying, Pironi crashed into the rear of Alain Prost’s Renault, sustaining injuries that would end his career in Formula One for good. That championship was eventually won by Keke Rosberg, relegating Pironi to second. However, his efforts did help Ferrari clinch the 1982 Constructor’s Championship.

3) Mark Webber (2010)

Mark Webber was always the bridesmaid but never the blushing bride he should have been. The Australian driver drove for Minardi, Jaguar, Williams, and finally, Red Bull. It was there he became the serious competitor we knew and loved in Formula One. The driver came so close to winning the Drivers’ Championship in 2010. However, a botched tyre strategy ruined his chances at the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Ultimately, he came second in 2010, behind the ascending Sebastian Vettel. The favouritism towards Vettel caused tension in the paddock, though Webber never blamed Seb for this. One hopes, in a parallel Earth, Webber was treated respectfully by his team and did win in 2010. Ultimately, he just missed out, and we missed out on a well-deserving champion.

4) Jacky Ickx (1969 and 1970)

Not just a one time almost champion, but a two time almost champion. Ickx was a great racer. The 6 time Le Manns 24 Hour champion certainly was a great racer and proved that winning the Formula One World Champion isn’t the be-all and end-all of what makes a racer great. As it goes, Ickx very nearly was the World Champion twice. His first near-win was in 1969, with Brabham. A shaky start at the beginning of the season meant that he started poorly. However, once Jack Brabham had to retire from the season due to a broken foot, his team came behind him. He scored some decent podium finishes and the odd win that brought him behind Jacky Stewart. However, his 2nd place in Mexico made him runner up for the F1 World Championship.

1970, however, was a different kettle of fish. Now racing for Ferrari, he battled with Jochen Rindt for the championship. After an accident at the Spanish Grand Prix gave him severe burns to his legs, he returned to action in Monaco, where he came fifth. However, things changed when Rindt died in Monza during qualifying for the 1970 San Marino Grand Prix. By this point, Ickx won 5 out of 9 races that season, with 4 to go. He was the only man who could have surpassed Rindt’s point count. In the end, he didn’t. A win at Mexico didn’t help him surpass Rindt’s total point score, making Rindt the first and only posthumous World Champion of F1.

In 2011, Ickx admitted he was happy not to win that season against a man who couldn’t defend himself. While he lost the championship, he certainly won for Sportsmanship.

5) Felipe Massa (2008)

Massa was Ferrari’s next big thing. After the dominance with Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello between 2000-2005, Ferrari looked to the future with its two drivers. Kimi Raikkonen’s win of the 2007 World Championship showed a bright future for the Tifosi to look forward to. And, maybe, that future could have been shared with Massa.

Massa’s performance during the 2008 season was neck and neck with Lewis Hamilton, the then young, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed McLaren hopeful who was runner up in 2007. Massa’s six race wins that season to Hamilton’s five wins certainly made this championship fight tight. There really wasn’t a lot in it, and when it came down to the last race of the season, in Brazil. Massa needed not only to win that race, but he needed Hamilton to come Sixth or lower to win the Championship. Half of that actually happened. I remember watching this race with my Dad, and I can remember the drama of this one. Massa crossed the finish line first before cutting to the paddock, with Massa’s family cheering, the engineers hugging and high fiving. Then, like a great white shark, we cut to Hamilton’s overtaking of Timo Glock. Hamilton came fifth and won the title by a single point.

The podium after that was awkward, to say the least. It was a bittersweet victory for the Tifosi, Massa, his family, and Brazil. His 2008 near-win was followed by further bad luck in 2009, when Massa was hit with a piece of debris, causing a crash, and head injury, which wrote him off for that season.

6) Clay Regazzoni (1974)

Clay Regazzoni came second in the 1974 Formula One World Championship, behind Emerson Fittipaldi. Losing the title by only 4 points, Regazzoni’s runner up position was achieved because of one race: The 1974 Belgian Grand Prix. During that race, the Ferrari driver’s pole position put him in the lead to start with, with Fittipaldi in Fourth place. The race was tight. The top six were each hot on the heels of each other, with Regazzoni in the lead. His lead would end due to one error: ‘The pair scythed through the traffic which ultimately destroyed hopes of a fight for the lead. The victim would be Regazzoni, who misjudged a move on the recovering Pace and ran onto the grass, allowing Fittipaldi to charge through into the lead’.

Regazzoni would come fourth, and Fittipaldi coming first. Ultimately, that mistake cost him the points that would have given Regazzoni the lead, and ultimately, the championship.

7) David Coulthard (2001)

How could we not discuss Coulthard? That man was Mark Webber before Mark Webber. Heck, he even raced with Mark Webber in Red Bull! DC was the number two for too much of his career. Starting in Williams, after the death of Aryton Senna in 1994, he moved to McLaren in 1996 and stayed with the team up until 2004. And, as I said, he was number two for a good chunk of his career. Firstly, to Damon Hill, who became the number one driver in the aftermath of Senna’s death. Then, to Mika Hakkinen in McLaren.

However, by 2001, Hakkinen was burnt out and wanted to leave F1. His performance, compared to Coulthard’s, was not good. Crashes, retirements, and poor placement on the grid meant Hakkinen’s title challenge to Michael Schumacher was doomed. Conversely, Coulthard did well. Winning in Brazil and Austria. However, retirements in four races meant that the momentum he had gained had begun to slow down. Schumacher won the title, with Coulthard being 58 points behind.

Ultimately, throughout his career, Coulthard won 13 races and was almost always the number two driver, or stuck in a bad car, a la Red Bull in 2005-2007.

8) Sir Stirling Moss (1955-1961)

How could we not end this list on the most obvious man? Sir Stirling Moss. There frankly is nothing new I could add to the mountains of articles, interviews, TV documentaries, and films about this man—the Four Time Runner Up and Three-Time 3rd Placer in the F1 World Championship between 1955 to 1961. Look him up yourself because the man is a British hero. His stiff upper lip attitude and perseverance are why we hail him as a hero over here. We knighted him despite his lack of championships.

Conclusion

Formula One is a funny old sport. Lots of great athletes, fantastic racers, and excellent cars that all could have been champions but were beaten out by other teams. It just goes to show that life is unfair, sometimes. However, you either relish your misery or take it on the chin and stand up again. These racers all are champions in our minds and hearts. And if there is any we missed out on, let us know who we should consider because we may always revisit the champions that never were.

This weekend marks the second-ever Formula One race at The Autodromo Internacional do Algarve. It hosts the Formula 1 Heineken Grande Premio De Portugal 2021 or, to most fans, the Portuguese Grand Prix. As we’ve only raced here once before in F1, here’s a quick stop guide on everything you need to know about Portimao.

Why are we racing here?
Last year, due to many calendar changes and the impact of Covid-19, the sport returned to Portugal for the first time since 1996, excitement = intensified. However, this year, it wasn’t on the original provisional calendar released at the end of 2020. Although, there was a TBC, and many fans were hoping for the return of Portimao. In March this year, it was confirmed that the Portuguese Grand Prix would be returning to the calendar once more. Will it become a more permanent feature of the F1 calendar? I could only dream.

Okay, but give us the details of the track!
Alright, the track itself was built and finished in 2008; it took just 7 months to complete but cost a whopping €195 million. As mentioned earlier, although the track was used for F1 pre-season testing in the winter of 2008-09, it hosted its first Formula One race in 2020. The stats in terms of the most wins or pole positions at this track are a little slim, but they both belong to Lewis Hamilton, in case you’re interested. The length of the track is 2.891 miles or 4.653 km. It has 15 turns and hosts an elevation change into the layout, like COTA. It sends drivers up and down (like a rollercoaster) with the big downhill slopes and right-hand turns after the main straight and is pretty good for overtaking because of the circuit width.

Nice, so what happened last year?
A new track, new impressions – and it definitely left good ones on the drivers, with many of them praising the track and its unique layout. Pierre Gasly even compared it to the butterflies you get in your stomach when on a rollercoaster. Challenging, a lot of blind corners, high-speed, low speed and a smooth surface. Lewis Hamilton started from the front of the grid after achieving pole position over his teammate, Valtteri Bottas, by a tenth of a second. At the start of the race, Max Verstappen passed Bottas with ease as the whole grid struggled to find grip.

Once the latter positions switched back once again, the Dutch driver made contact with Sergio Perez, spinning him to the back of the pack. Bottas took the lead as Lewis battled with the slippery surface, and Carlos Sainz moved up to third, promptly passing Hamilton into second. In a surprise event, the tricky conditions played to the Spaniard’s favour as he sailed his way past Bottas and led the race until Lap 6. As a McLaren fan, my little papaya heart was beating way too fast – although that could’ve been the racing ritual Monster Energy. Mercedes eventually found themselves back at the front where they belonged, and on Lap 20, Lewis took the lead. In terms of race drama, we had a small Lance Stroll and Lando Norris collision when fighting for position, and Pierre Gasly went on the hunt for 5th place. The podium was a standard Hamilton, Bottas, Verstappen, but I still really enjoyed the race.

So, that’s everything we need to know about this weekends race, but what do you think of the track? Should it become a permanent feature of the F1 calendar?

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