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:


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.


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.

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

Polesitter Charles Leclerc had a great start in the Ferrari and got away very quickly from the line and led in front of Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen. There were no incidents through the first few turns. Meanwhile on Lap 2, Sergio Perez has made a strong start to the race, moving up two positions to 4th place. On the other hand, Lando Norris has had a poor start and is already in 12th place, behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo. George Russell is the first one of the field to make a pitstop already. Lewis Hamilton makes it to P1 in Lap 3. The World Champion does not even need a DRS to overtake Leclerc, who could not stay in front of the Mercedes. It was a brilliant move. Lap 4 and the first retirement of the race is for Esteban Ocon. It appears that the Alpine has a gearbox failure as we heard Ocon on the team radio saying, “Lost power!”

We’re into Lap 7, and Max Verstappen hits the brakes late and overtakes Leclerc. Max obviously needed a few laps to get there. Lewis Hamilton complained about some balancing concerns over the Mercedes team radio in Lap 8, saying, “Balance is on the nose”, he also mentions struggling. Sergio Perez now closes in on Charles Leclerc and joins his Dutch Red Bull teammate in moving forward. Charles Leclerc is into the pit in Lap 10 and receives a fresh set of hard tyres. Charles Lecelerc rejoined the track before Kimi Räikkönen on P10. Lewis Hamilton says to be having struggles with his rears on the team radio in Lap 11. A disaster for Ferrari in Lap 12 after Carlos Sainz went straight through Turn 8 after his tyres blocked. As a result: the Spaniard is now in P15 after having to reverse back onto the track.

In Lap 15, we see Lewis Hamilton, the defending World Champion, make a slow pit stop of 4.6 seconds, and he loses his position on the track. One lap later, during Lap 16, Red Bull is capable of a pit stop for Max Verstappen in under two seconds. Sergio Perez is now leading the race with Sebastian Vettel on P2. Now Sergio Perez comes to a 4.3 second stop in Lap 17, but the Mexican stays ahead of Verstappen. Lap 19 and meanwhile Sebastian Vettel is leading the race, but he has yet to pit. It’s the first time the German has led a race since Brazil 2019.

Now, as it stands, we have P1: Vettel P2: Verstappen P3: Perez P4: Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel pits for a new set of tyres in Lap 21, and the former World Champion leaves the pit lane in 8th place. Aston Martin’s strategy of stretching out the first stint of the race seemed to pay off. Max Verstappen is now the new leader of the race with his teammate Sergio Perez on P2! Lap 22 and Valtteri Bottas hasn’t been mentioned yet. He’s still stuck in 10th place, where he started the race. He’s having trouble getting past Norris.

After a lock-up earlier in the race, the Spaniard had to work his way through the field, and he showed amazing courage by passing Giovinazzi into Turn 8 during Lap 24. He took the long way around after braking late. On Lap 25, Bottas drove off-track at Turn 16, losing him over a second and putting him further behind Norris. Nikita Mazepin makes a lockup and misses the corner in Lap 26. By 38 seconds, the Russian has dropped to the back of the field…

We hear a worrying Lewis Hamilton on the team radio during Lap 27 saying he cannot keep up with the Red Bulls. Mercedes have the best straight-line speed, but the Red Bulls have been the more balanced cars throughout the weekend. We’re into Lap 31, and we have the first Yellow Flag situation of the race.

Stroll had the longest stint in the race and was the only driver not to pit, and now he’s crashed into the wall after a rear puncture caused a massive accident on the run to the finish line. Eventually, the Safety Car has been deployed, and there is a significant amount of debris on the track. Michael Masi also decided to close the pit entry as a result. Still behind the Safety Car in Lap 34 and Lewis Hamilton mentions that a restart will be difficult on his tyres. Meanwhile, the pitlane re-opened, and Alonso, Giovinazz and Russell head into the pits. Mick Schumacher is also making a pitstop, but his tyre wasn’t put on properly by the team; they brought him safely to the pit and put on the tyre the right way, after all.

Finally, the Safety Car is ending in Lap 35. Max determines the pace, and we restarted! Lewis Hamilton considered going around Sergio Perez’s back but decided against it. Then Sebastian Vettel passes Leclerc before the Ferrari nearly collides with Hamilton’s rear end due to a lock-up! Sebastian Vettel’s tyres perform brilliantly as he passes Gasly, bringing the former world champion in 2nd place behind Hamilton.

We’re on Lap 44, and on the Mercedes team radio, Hamilton says, “I’m not getting any closer.” Despite having the fastest lap of the race a few laps ago in Lap 39. Now Max Verstappen has set the new fastest lap of the race in Lap 45.

Disaster for the race leader! Max Verstappen is in the wall in Lap 47. He looked set for victory, and the race was as good as wrapped up, but there has been a problem with one of his rear tyres. We saw something similar happen with Stroll earlier in the race. We see a shocking Christian Horner with his head in his hands at the pit wall, not believing what just happened with only a few more laps to go….

We’re now, unsurprisingly, behind the Safety Car in Lap 48, and there’s a good possibility this race will end behind the Safety Car. The problem seems to be with the Pirelli tyre probably becoming too soft. With only three laps remaining, the race stewards have decided that it’s preferable to stop the session with a Red Flag situation to clear the track with the cars staying in the pit lane. It has been decided that the race will resume. Later on, it has been decided that the drivers will make their second standing start of the afternoon.

Once again, the lights went out for a two-lap sprint race to the finish line, and Hamilton appeared to be in front of Perez. The championship leader had just said on the radio minutes before that he would not take any big chances because it’s still early in the season.  Then he completely locked up, crashing into the Turn 1 run-off area before finishing P15 and out of the points.

Sergio Perez takes the chequered flag and his first race victory as a Red Bull driver! Getting some crucial points for Red Bull in exceptional circumstances. Sebastian Vettel finished second from 11th with his Aston Martin, and Pierre Gasly took 3rd after holding off Leclerc’s repeated overtaking efforts, leaving the pole-sitter in 4th.

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.

IndyCar and Formula One aren’t that different, right? Racing in circles, some of the fastest drivers in the world speeding through circuits at over 200mph? Wrong.

Both elite racing series in their own right, I’m here to bring you the essential guide for watching IndyCar ahead of their doubleheader in Texas this weekend.


In IndyCar, there is no limit on how many or how few drivers can race for each team; for example, Max Chilton returns to Carlin for his fifth season in IndyCar this year and is the only entry for the team. Compared to Team Penske, who has four entries, a solid line-up, I must add.

There are some incredible names in IndyCar. Championships everywhere. Two-time IndyCar Series champion Josef Newgarden, current reigning six-time IndyCar Series champion and Indy 500 winner Scott Dixon, to name a few. As well as some exciting talent in Pato O’ward, who is returning with Arrow McLaren SP after an incredible season in 2020. Let’s not forget that Romain Grosjean is beginning his IndyCar career, too, with Dale Coyne Racing this year, racing in all of the street and road courses for the team.


IndyCar is known for its astounding, diverse circuits. These drivers race on road and street circuits to short ovals and long ovals. This season will feature 3 ovals and 14 road or street courses. Even more amazing is the ability to configure the cars between these three types of track, from brake ducts to front and rear wings; these changes are there to bring the best setup for each car.

The Car

Dallara is the exclusive chassis supplier for IndyCar, it’s made of carbon fibre and other composites and weighs around 1700lbs or 770kg. Chevrolet and Honda are the two engine suppliers in the series, giving competitors 2.2-litre turbocharged V-6 engines that produce an estimated 550-700 horsepower depending on the type of track.

In Formula One, the cars have the halo. In IndyCar, it’s the aeroscreen. This is a new safety innovation that provides extra driver cockpit protection. It was only introduced into the sport last season. There was a lot of controversy surrounding this new feature. However, endless testing reported it doesn’t make any difference in speed, the temperature in the cockpit and drivers visibility. The Aeroscreen comes with tear-offs like drivers helmets in case it gets dirty – this would be done in the pits if needed. In terms of extraction, in case of a car overturning, endless investigations from the AMR IndyCar Safety Team have been implemented and have proven no difference in extracting.


Again, just like Formula One, IndyCar has a sole tyre provider. In F1, it’s currently Pirelli, but in Indy, they use Firestone. These tyres are specifically engineered for the type, of course, they’ll be used on. Oval tracks will use just one type of tyre, whilst road and street circuits can use all three types – primary, alternate and rain. Primary tyres (black) offer a balance between speed and cornering. These tyres can be used on all 3 types of circuit. The Alternate (red) tyres have a softer compound, allowing faster speeds but quicker wear, so these tyres are to be used on road and street tracks only. Of course, we have rain tyres. These were developed for wet conditions and use a grooved tread pattern that improves grip and control in those tricky conditions; again, these are only used on street and road courses.

Pit Stops

IndyCar pit stops can’t be that different to Formula One, can they? The answer: YES! Unlike F1, where around 16 team members assist during a pit stop, only six crew members are allowed ‘over the wall’ during a stop. These include four tyre changes, a fueler and the person responsible for the air jack – a few of these crew members have several roles, like the inside rear tyre changer also helps push the car out of the pits after changing the tyre. Whether they are over the wall or not, each crew member must wear fire suits, fire-resistant footwear, fire-resistant gloves, and helmets. During a typical pit stop, the crew will change the four tyres, add 18.5 gallons of Speedway E85R and make adjustments in less than 10 seconds.

Race Weekend Format

Buckle in; this might get confusing! The format of race weekends changes from race to race. However, the most common is that there are two practice sessions on the Friday, practice and qualifying on a Saturday, and the race on a Sunday – with an additional warm-up session at the road and street courses.

Oval Qualifying: For oval circuits, each car is permitted two warm-up laps before the timed qualification laps. Then, they are allowed two consecutively timed laps. The aggregate time is recorded, and the fastest time earns the pole position – simple!

Road/Street Qualifying: This is broken into three segments to narrow down the field to determine the pole winner progressively. In the first segment, there will be two groups determined by the top time of each car in the final practice session. Each of the two groups receives ten minutes of track time, with the fastest lap by each car determining its qualifying position. The six fastest cars from each group advance to segment two; twelve cars receive another ten minutes of track time again, with the fastest lap determining their qualifying position. The fastest six cars from this group will then go into the Firestone Fast Six shootout (sounds fancy, huh?) The final six cars receive six minutes of track time to get the fastest lap and gain that pole position.

In terms of the race itself, the amount of laps determines race to race. Each race begins with a rolling start in two wide or three wide alignments during the final parade lap. Something else worse mentioning for the race is Push-To-Pass. It’s used in IndyCar on road and street circuits since 2009. It gives drivers a short horsepower boost that assists with overtaking.

Point Scoring

Unlike Formula One, in IndyCar, you are given points for all finishing positions. First – 50 points, second – 40 points, third – 35 points and so on. The lowest amount of points you can get in IndyCar for finishing is 5. There are also extra points up for grabs; pole position gives you an extra 1 point, leading at least one lap, you also get an extra point, and most laps led gets you a cheeky extra 2.

I hope I’ve provided you with all the information you need to tune into the IndyCar Genesys 300 and the IndyCar XPEL 375 this weekend!

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?

James Calado, a name you’ll have heard within the world of motorsport, and if you haven’t, where have you been? The British racing driver is currently competing in the FIA World Endurance Championship for AF Corse. James is no rookie when it comes to racing; his experience as a driver expands from single-seater series such as GP2, Formula E and Formula One, and taking part, and winning 2019 24 Hour Le Mans.

I’ve always been interested in how racing drivers can adapt to different series and, ultimately, different cars. James Calado was the perfect person to sit down and speak to about his motorsport experiences.

Now, I’ve often seen the WEC vs F1 debate floating through the motorsport hemisphere, which has always made me wonder whether single-seater racing is, in fact, more complex. “I would say no car is harder than the other”, James told me, “It’s more about the level of the championship that we are competing in. If anything, single-seaters are easier in the fact they are lighter and have more downforce.”

There are some main differences between the two series, “I think it’s clear that endurance racing is more about the long-distance and working with a teammate with who you share the car. It’s important to have a good strategy, and obviously not always the quickest driver will win.” Many endurance drivers have said that preparing for long stint races can be more ‘mind over matter’ than the physical demands expected from Formula One drivers. “Le Mans is very demanding, and it’s important to keep the car in one piece and to rest as much as possible as it’s a long week, but with experience now, I find myself able to manage 24-hour races in a good way.”

Since 2014, Formula E has slowly begun gaining popularity with not just racing fans but with manufacturers too. Although it doesn’t take the spotlight of Formula One right now, it does provide closer racing without a dominating world champion. James Calado raced in Formula E with Jaguar in the 2019-2020 Championship; he told me, “(It) is certainly unique, and very software related. They are different to drive and very complex machines. Formula E was always an interest as I saw it as one of the most competitive championships to be involved in. Unfortunately, with the covid situation, I only did a handful of races, and that didn’t work in my favour despite scoring points in most races.

Alongside Formula E, James had retained his seat with AF Corse in the World Endurance Championship; I asked him whether it was challenging to switch between them. “Both cars are completely different”, James stated, “Driving the Ferrari is second nature to me; I have been at Ferrari a few years now, and I’m used to the car and the Italian Culture. Formula E was completely new; it wasn’t so much about knowing how to drive the car quick, more about getting on top of the energy management and how to be efficient in a race.

It was exciting to gain an insight into James’ career, which has spanned across a range of different racing series. I couldn’t let him leave without asking which series he had enjoyed the most and what his dream would be. He replied: “The series I have enjoyed the most is WEC, there is a great atmosphere within the championship, and sports cars produce great racing. I was the third driver at Force India, and I competed in many FP1 sessions”, he recalled, “So, I had my taste in F1, but for political reasons, I wasn’t able to get myself a seat although offers were on the table. I’m extremely happy to be working with Ferrari and really enjoy the racing. I wouldn’t change anything.

Thank you to James for talking with me; we wish you the best of luck in the World Endurance Championship this season. WEC kicks off next week at Spa Francorchamps on the 1st May 2021.

Since it was announced as an F1 support series in November 2020, fans worldwide have been excited to see what W Series can add to the F1 weekends. With 8 races taking place throughout the F1 calendar this year, let’s look at what we can expect from this new racing series.

What is W Series?

W Series, an all-female single-seater championship featuring the most talented female drivers in motor racing. The Covid-19 pandemic has affected the series hugely, with only one season taking place so far. Having only been announced in late 2018, the 2019 season, won by Jamie Chadwick, left us all with a lot of anticipation and excitement about the future of women in motor racing.

So, how does it work?

In addition to two reserves, eighteen talented female drivers compete in a series of races throughout the year. The top eight from each race are awarded points, using a scoring system of 15-12-10-7-5-3-2-1. The driver with the most points throughout the season, minus any penalty points, becomes the champion at the end of the season. This is a simple system in motorsport that we can all understand and many will recognise. This is why it is such a welcome addition to the F1 weekend for 8 races during 2021.

The drivers (in 2019 championship order):

Jamie Chadwick (UK) – Age: 22

Beitske Visser (HOLLAND) – Age: 26

Alice Powell (UK) – Age: 28

Marta García (SPAIN) – Age: 20

Emma Kimilainen (FINLAND) – Age: 31

Fabienne Wohlwend (LIECHTENSTEIN)- Age: 23

Miki Koyama (JAPAN) – Age: 23

Sarah Moore (UK) – Age: 27

Vicky Piria (ITALY) – Age: 27

Tasmin Pepper (SOUTH AFRICA) – Age: 30

Jessica Hawkins (UK) – Age: 26

Sabré Cook (USA) 26

New to W Series:

Belen García (SPAIN) – Age: 21

Ayla Agren (NORWAY) – Age: 27

Abbie Eaton (UK) – Age: 29

Nerea Martí (SPAIN) – Age: 19

Irina Sidorkova (RUSSIA) – Age: 17

Bruna Tomaselli (BRAZIL) – Age: 23

Is W Series a good idea?

There is a lot of controversy surrounding the W Series and whether it will benefit female motorsport more widely in the future. Many believe that it segregates women from men by not allowing them to compete on the same stage as men, which Extreme E is trying to change (link). While there is some truth to this statement, having a platform for women to show their talents can only be a positive step forward towards inclusivity on the track. As many of these women are lesser-known drivers are, being able to showcase their talents during an F1 weekend is very important. It is a recognised fact that no driver reaches the pinnacle of the sport without any sponsorship and financial help.

These women are more likely to be offered sponsorships due to being showcased during a Formula 1 weekend. But W Series also awards a top prize of $500,000 to the champion, with the remaining $1 million is divided amongst the rest of the drivers. This allows all of the women competing to fight for the top step with the knowledge that this money could help them further their careers. With many young women competing in the W Series, their chances and the chances of future generations of female drivers can be drastically affected by this. Money will continue to play an inexplicably important role in deciding who competes at the highest level of motorsport.

The Formula 1 ‘We Race as One’ initiative and the hope to improve equality in the sport being strongly focused on throughout the 2021 calendar. Being able to showcase such a wide array of talented women, alongside the many talented men we are so aware of already, is a hugely positive step. Not only will this showcase women on track but also off the track, in more managerial roles. This will inspire a new generation of girls to combine their love of motorsport with any job they may want to do in the future. Being able to inspire a more diverse future for the sport is at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts, and W Series is very likely to help this.

The Calendar:

26/27 June – Le Castellet, France

3/4 July – Spielberg, Austria

16/17 July – Silverstone, UK

31 July / 01 August – Budapest, Hungary

28/29 August – Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium

4/5 September – Zandvoort, Netherlands

23/24 October – Austin, USA

30/31 October – Mexico City, Mexico

With all of that explained, I’m sure you’ll join me in being very excited to see it during the Formula 1 weekends throughout the summer. With such an array of talented drivers worldwide to support and following a whole year without the series, you won’t want to miss a single race.

As some of you may know, I became a fan of Formula One in 2011 when I couldn’t find the TV remote! Back in the days of BBC coverage, I fell in love with the sport by complete accident and have never looked back. Whether you’ve been a fan for decades or are relatively new to F1, these are some great races from the archives to watch in your spare time!

Gentleman, a short view back to the past…

2011 – Canadian Grand Prix

If you haven’t seen this race, you need to! Arguably, one of the best races of the decade! This race has everything an F1 fan loves- rain, drama and an underdog. I’ve watched this race a few times, and I’m still not too sure how Jenson won! The first 4 laps started under the safety car before Lewis Hamilton hit Mark Webber going into turn one. Shortly after, Button and his teammate, Hamilton, collided on the start-finish straight, ending Lewis’ race. Jenson pitted and then had to serve a drive-through penalty for speeding in the pit lane, so at this point, you’d think getting points would be hard to achieve. Suddenly, monsoon rain arrived, and the race was red-flagged. Once the action restarted, Jenson collided with Alonso and had to pit AGAIN, but luckily this time, it was under the safety car so he could catch the pack up. As the track dried out, Button went onto the slicks and climbed up the order. It was overtake central! Another safety car gave Jenson what he needed to see out the victory. He had the need-for-speed and won- simply incredible!! This race never gets old.

2012 – Belgian Grand Prix

Not the most memorable race from this year, but the crash is something many of us remember to this day as it was manic! Romain Grosjean hit Lewis Hamilton heading into the first corner, causing his Lotus to fly through the air and straight over the top of Alonso- all at turn one! Perez was another victim of Grosjean’s madness, causing a shower of debris. How no one was seriously hurt, I have no idea.

Although we did get the superb radio from Kimi of “Leave me alone, I know what I’m doing”, which is a personal favourite radio message! For the second time in my memorable races, Jenson Button took the top step of the podium!

2013 – Malaysian Grand Prix

MULTI 21 SEB. I remember watching this grand prix and just loving every moment of it! How ruthless Sebastian was in that race was truly mind-blowing, as a relatively new fan. Completely ignoring his team’s instructions to stay ahead of his teammate so he could win the world championship? Yes, please! Drama in the cool-down room followed when Mark Webber confronted Seb, repeating in a strong Australian accent, “Multi 21 Seb, Multi 21!” with Vettel just shrugging it off like it was nothing! It is one of the funniest moments of the last 10 years and a conversation that now lives so rent-free in my mind; it’s unbelievable!

2014 – Belgian Grand Prix

For me, this is my favourite race of all-time as it was the first ever Grand Prix I attended! On race day I sat on Kemmel Straight and was one of the only teenage girls in sight. The start of the race was a classic Mercedes one-two. I was team Nico all the way and wanted him to beat Lewis. Boy, was I in for a fabulous race, and probably the catalyst of the biggest rivalry in recent years.

The start was amazing, hearing the cars gallop up Eau Rouge onto the Kemmel straight. Nico was getting closer to Lewis, DRS activated a few laps in, as they tussled all the way to the end of Kemmel Straight, and BAM – THEY’D HIT. I saw that move with my own eyes! Both cars got damage but Lewis’ was too much, ending any chance of winning this race after losing so much time. Then came Daniel Ricciardo, who overtook Sebastian Vettel after he went wide. As Nico made his way through the traffic, he got a piece of string-like debris attached to his car! A crazy race with Daniel Ricciardo winning, my favourite driver at my first race!! What are the odds!

2015 – Hungarian Grand Prix

This year wasn’t the most memorable for the racing, but this race was extremely fitting. This was the first race after the tragic announcement that Jules Bianchi had passed away after his accident at Suzuka in 2014. This was very emotional for me as a 15-year-old whose first car I saw live on track was Jules at Spa the year before.

The Ferraris of Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Raikkonen both got the jump on the Mercedes at the start. There was lots of overtaking into the first turn causing, plenty of drama! Later on in the race, Lewis got understeer into the first turn and ended up whacking into Ricciardo’s Red Bull and subsequently went down the order with damage. Ricciardo got caught up in more drama with the Mercedes that race after going for a late dive on Nico Rosberg and making contact. Even with all the tangles, Ricciardo ended up 3rd. After a fabulous drive, Sebastian Vettel won in the Ferrari, which was rather fitting as Jules was part of the Ferrari Academy. Always in our hearts, Jules.

2016 – Spanish Grand Prix

At the time, I don’t think any of us knew how much this race would give us a glimpse of the seasons to come. This was Max Verstappen’s debut race for Red Bull after being promoted from Toro Rosso mid-season, replacing Daniil Kvyat. Remarkable, considering he was only 18 at the time! At the peak of the Lewis-Nico rivalry, we saw the two Mercedes hit each other again. This really put the final nail in the coffin to any friendship they had. But who was there to pick up on their mistake? Max Verstappen! Initially, he was behind teammate Ricciardo, but Max won, having opted for a two-stop strategy rather than his teammate’s three-stop. Little did we know how good the Dutch wonder kid was, which opened the chapter of the ‘new era’ of drivers.

2017 – Baku Grand Prix

Where do I start with this one?! One word- MADNESS. It all started with first lap drama, with Valtteri Bottas and Kimi Raikkonen colliding. Daniel Ricciardo had to pit early and was forced onto a long run on the hard compounds whilst Max suffered engine issues in the other Red Bull. A slow safety car led Hamilton to break-test Sebastian, causing Seb to retaliate by pulling up alongside Lewis and whacked into the side of the Mercedes on purpose. Sebastian’s head was clearly gone in the championship battle with this desperate move. A red flag brought out for debris on track sees Daniel Ricciardo fifth before he overtook two cars at once down into turn one, showing just why he is one of the best overtakers on the grid. Lewis had a loose headrest, so he had to pit for safety reasons. Sebastian then received a 10-second penalty for the earlier incident with Hamilton, promoting Daniel Ricciardo to the front before winning the Grand Prix, having started from 10th position! Lance Stroll also got on the podium in a Williams at the age of 18!

2018 – Monaco Grand Prix

Redemption. In 2016, Daniel Ricciardo lost the race due to a team error in the pit stop, where I’ve never seen him so annoyed! He qualified pole again, so it really was his to lose. The race came, and the Australian got the perfect start. The pit stop went great too, but he suffered a loss of power, and Lewis quickly closed. Was he going to lose another Monaco GP? He just about managed to keep his lead, helped by the fact that Monaco is almost impossible to pass, but he did it, and it was fabulous to watch!

2019 – Italian Grand Prix

The thing I love about this race was the podium reception. Charles drove all weekend fabulously following the tragic events of the previous weekend where his close friend Anthoine Hubert passed away. But like a true star, Charles drove all weekend spectacularly with and prompted the now-iconic line from Crofty ‘He won in Spa, he wins in Monza’. It had been an awful long time since a Ferrari won at Monza on their home turf. Once the Italian national anthem started to play, wow, it gave me goosebumps, exactly why I love F1. The Tifosi are the most passionate fans, and you could hear the power, excitement, and joy in their voices as they sang the national anthem. Quite frankly, it lives rent-free in my head (alongside Multi 21!). I really hope one day I can be at Monza with a Ferrari win to experience that moment- it would just be incredible!

2020 – Italian Grand Prix

This race was equally crazy! Hamilton penalty, red flag!? There is no way anyone would have predicted how this race would pan out (minus the one person in Iceland who put a 25p bet on it!). This race was the best for unpredictability- the impact of the red flag meant that some of the midfield pack who hadn’t already pitted gained 20 seconds from, effectively, a free pit stop. The red flag also meant a free choice of tyres, so the battle was between Pierre Gasly and Carlos Sainz, both in midfield cars… WHAT?! After both fighting for their lives, Gasly held out for his first race win. What an emotional podium, exactly a year and a week since his best friend Anthoine died; you could see how much that meant to him and was a fitting end to a thoroughly entertaining race.

I hope you enjoyed this trip down memory lane as much as I did! What are your most memorable races of the last decade? Let us know!

2021’s Formula One World Championship has started off with a bang, which saw the 7 Time World Champion Sir Lewis Hamilton narrowly ward off Max Verstappen from the top of the podium at the Bahrain Grand Prix. It may not have been as eventful as last year’s two-fer in Sakhir – but the race was exciting, the pace was nonstop, and the drama was high.

This year sees a lot of changes on the grid. Formula Two graduates Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin, and Yuki Tsunoda made their debuts for Haas and Alpha Tauri respectively, while Fernando ‘Can you Hear the Drums’ Alonso made his long-awaited return, in Renault’s re-branded Alpine car. Replacing the blinding, cotton candy, pink and white Racing Point is the green and sophisticated Aston Martin, who have scored long suffering 4 Time World Champion Sebastian Vettel as their driver.

The formation lap saw Perez almost quit with a faulty car in his debut for the hopeful, and re-energised Red Bull Racing. The race started off in the expected F1 dramatic fashion. Starting from the fourth pole position of his career, Verstappen had taken control of the race early on, but lost it during pit stops. Following a second stop for both drivers – Verstappen’s coming 10 laps after Hamilton’s – we were treated to a race, and probably the first of many for this season between Hamilton and Verstappen. A nail biting 0.7 second gap between both men gave Hamilton the victory. Verstappen making it to second place, with Bottas a distant third.

Claiming fourth and fifth place was Lando Norris and Sergio Perez, respectively. The latter climbing up over the course of the race, much like he did last year for his maiden win. To see McLaren back in the game, after a miserable couple of years in the middle of the grid is beautiful. I just hope to see them competing for the world title again.

For me, the man of the race had to be Yuki Tsunoda. I watched him during qualifying on Saturday and was mighty impressed by this 20-year-old racer. And he is a racer, scoring his first points in his debut race, behind a Ferrari. The land of the rising sun has a new and exciting racer, and I predict great things to come from him. Disappointingly for Alonso, he was not able to finish this race, being let down by his car. That was a shame, as he was excellent in qualifying. As well as this, Sebastian Vettel, in his shiny new Green car, was only able to get a paltry 15th place, after a crash with Esteban Ocon resulted in a 10 second penalty.

So, what does this race tell us about the season as a whole? Hamilton may have won the day, but frankly, I think he has very good competition. Mercedes has become complacent with its cars. They are fast, they can win races, but the gap between them, and their rival teams, has closed somewhat. Red Bull is back with a vengeance, and Max Verstappen is undoubtedly going to go to war with Lewis Hamilton. I also see McLaren being a force to compete with, as those battles for 3rd and 4th place become ever more important. They have a good car, they have two very good drivers, and I think they will be formidable in their own right.
Will I be right, or am I talking out of my rear wing? Only time will tell.

Well, that’s the 2020 Formula 1 season over. This year has been spectacular in such a different way than usual. In the midst of a year full of loss, isolation and sadness – the return of F1 and other motorsport brought a sense of normality and lifted spirits back into the lives of many fans.

With a 4 month delay to the start of the season, fans were desperate to see cars back on track and get the season into full swing. With the added pressure of triple headers, 3 new destinations and 1 new track layout at Bahrain. Honestly? I was ready to kiss this season goodbye and wasn’t expecting any kind of racing to return – but thankfully it did and it’s been one of my favourite seasons!

So, why has this season been so special? The 13 different podium sitters and 5 different race winners? We took to twitter to ask your favourite moments both on and off track from the 2020 F1 Season.

“Pierre Gasly. P1. Monza”

“Mick giving one of his fathers helmets to Lewis in Germany for matching his win record”

“Perez’s win followed by Stroll’s pole!”

“Lewis crossing the line to win at Silverstone with a puncture or at Turkey to seal title number 7” @laurence_1999

“The McLaren podiums were special”

“Without a doubt reading in the press that we (McLaren) might struggle a bit more than in 2019 and then leaving the first race with a podium!”

“Knowing that Romain Grosjean was safe after that scary accident.”

“George Russel vs Valtteri Bottas in Sakhir”

I think for me, my highlight of the season has to be (not surprising really) McLaren securing 3rd in the 2020 Constructors Championship! It’s safe to say it has definitely been a fair few years since we were in the top three for the constructors, in 2017 we finished 9th.. NINTH.
The growth from this team just gives me butterflies, it is unbelievable. I’m not really sure what my expectations were at the beginning of this season – but to end the year with two podiums and 12 finishes within the top 5.. well. I am one very happy McLaren fan.

Stepping away from my Papaya filled heart, I think my favourite moment has to be hearing “Pierre Gasly wins the Italian Grand Prix”, it still gives me goose bumps and was just one of those hair raising F1 moments I think I’ll remember for the rest of my life. The race in general was chaotic and exciting, and to hold off Carlos Sainz and win by 0.4 seconds was just mind blowing. Not only that, but Pierre is extremely talented and I’m not sure he was treated completely fairly with the demotion at Red Bull. To build his confidence back up and come back fighting – the win was truly deserved.

Personally, my highlight of the season was seeing Romain Grosjean walking away from that horrendous accident. Watching it live was the worst thing I’ve ever seen, instantly I thought the worst. Seeing him come out of the car and then knowing he walked away with minor injuries – considering the accident, was the best thing to see. The safety of our sport is so impressive, from the halo to how quickly the safety car reacted to the incident and everyone in-between. They are all an absolute credit to the sport.

Likewise seeing Pierre win in Monza, with the most eventful race in years, was a truly thrilling GP. A year before he had just lost his closest friend Antoine Hubert to a crash in F2, so the podium was so emotional for that reason and something I will remember for a long time. Daniel getting his first (and Cyril tattoo bound) podium was also a personal highlight as it was his first podium for Renault and the teams first since 2011, so for me that was amazing to watch even if he forgot to do the shoey on the podium and I lost my voice from screaming at the TV!

We also want to take a moment to thank you all for the support you’ve given us since starting our blog this year, we wish you all a merry Christmas and fingers crossed a very happy new year.. see you in 2021!

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