F1Weekly podcast # 688

Clark and Nasir talk about their summer vacations and some of the F1 drivers experiences during the summer break.This weekends Belgian Grand Prix is discussed and of course we bring you another wonderful Motorsports Mondial. F1W also want to congratulate the Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team for winning this year’s XXII edition of the prestigious Lorenzo Bandini trophy

Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 team wins this year’s XXII edition of the prestigious Lorenzo Bandini trophy. The prize dedicated to the unforgettable Italian driver will be collected by Toto Wolff, Executive director of the Star team, in the medieval village of Brisighella on 30August. Moreover, Paddy Lowe, Technical manager of the group, will be honored with the Senate President medal.

As usual, many sportsmen and insiders emerging for their high quality and passion will be rewarded on this occasion.

That’s who will be awarded: Herman Rilke, the most eminent F1 circuit designer; National Cycling Ct Davide Cassani; illustrious Italian cameramen Franchino Scandinaro; former F1 Minardi’s designer, Gabriele Tredozi who is going to claim his prize driving a PS04 Minardi; Rai sport Journalist Sandro jacobini; journalist and director at Omnicose Franco Nunges; GP3 Aci Sport Team Italian driver Luca Ghiotto; RTL newscaster Florian Koing; driver and Sky sport columnist, Davide Valsecchi.

In such a charming setting and before such illustrious guests, Mercedes F1W05 Hybrid, 2014 World Champion sinle-seater, will be exhibited.

We remind to fans the Museum of F1 Champions’s Tracksuits and the attractive shows of classic cars: classic Mercedes and Fiat 500 ‘s parade.

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FORMULA 1

KIMI “RUBINO” RAIKKONEN STAYS AT FERRARI FOR 2016

Kimi Raikkonen, the oldest driver in Formula One, has unexpectedly clung on with Ferrari for another season in a move which leaves the sport’s second oldest driver, Jenson Button, running out of options.

Ferrari stunned the paddock by announcing Raikkonen will be retained alongside Sebastian Vettel for 2016, despite months of speculation to the contrary. The 35-year-old Finn has been poor since rejoining Ferrari two years ago, and seemed as disbelieving as anyone in his official quote.

It means that Williams’ Valtteri Bottas, who had been widely tipped to replace his fellow countrymen at Ferrari, is likely to stay with the British team, leaving Button no alternative should McLaren call time on his career. McLaren have an option on Button but nearly dropped the 34-year-old last season and have two young chargers waiting in the wings.

Williams had been holding out for around £10 million to release Bottas from his contract, with rumours that Ferrari thought it too high a price to pay for a driver who has had an unconvincing season. The Scuderia may look again at Bottas for 2017, or perhaps 17-year-old Max Verstappen, who has been taking the sport by storm in his debut year.

Raikkonen was the surprise beneficiary, and his confirmation is expected to trigger other announcements in F1’s silly season.

“What can I say. For me, to be able to stay another year at Ferrari means that the dream goes on,” Raikkonen said. “The Scuderia is my family, as I always said, it’s here I want to end my career. I am more committed than ever and I want to say thank you to the people who gave me this chance.”

 

FORMULA 1

WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING BELGIAN GRAND PRIX RACE PREVIEW

The Spa-Francorchamps circuit is one of Formula One’s most iconic and revered. The extreme climb through Eau Rouge with clouds of spray hanging between the trees of the Ardennes forest is one of the sport’s most memorable sights. Spa is one of precious few circuits to retain the magic of its original form through a modernised and shortened layout, thanks to sweeping elevations around legendary sections of road at Eau Rouge, Pouhon and Blanchimont. The 7km lap is  perhaps the most treasured of the season for the drivers. Williams has won three times at Spa with Nigel Mansell claiming the 1986 race, followed by Damon Hill in 1993 and 1994.
ROB SMEDLEY
Returning from the summer break we are all refreshed and absolutely raring to go; the team spirit and motivation at Williams is tangible as we look forward to challenging for podium positions in the second part of the year. Spa should be a circuit that suits the FW37 and we therefore have to capitalise on this. The long straights twinned with the long sweeping corners in sector 2 are definitely characteristics where we’ve seen this year’s car perform really well. The weather is an important factor in Spa and we therefore have to be ready for all circumstances. We have been doing a lot of homework in this area recently and the team has made excellent inroads. Belgium is such a fantastic Grand Prix for the teams and the fans alike. It encapsulates the purity of Formula One very well, which is simply about the best cars in the world racing around the best circuits, and we are lucky to visit here each year.
VALTTERI BOTTAS
Spa is one of my favourite circuits. The feeling of Eau Rouge in a Formula One car is hard to explain and certainly unique, it’s just incredible. The layout is normally strongly suited to the characteristics of our car as well, so I head to this weekend looking for a strong result. I was on the podium last year, so we are looking to achieve a similar result. The weather always plays a part throughout the weekend so we have to be alert as it can change so fast.
FELIPE MASSA
Spa is the most enjoyable circuit for many of the drivers and it’s definitely my favourite. It’s always good to have a strong result at the circuits you enjoy driving. The weather can sometimes surprise us so we will need to be on the ball when it comes to strategic decision making. The layout suits the strengths of our car so we’re looking to start the second half of the season in a strong position.

FORMULA 1

SAHARA FORCE INDIA’S BELGIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

Vijay’s vision
Team Principal, Dr Vijay Mallya, looks forward to a strong second half of the season.
 
VJM: “The summer break has given us a chance to regroup following a challenging race in Budapest. The whole team has worked extremely hard to repair the cars and solve the problems that we encountered in Hungary, and we’re ready to bounce back this weekend in Spa.
 
“Although the Hungarian Grand Prix was disappointing, I prefer to focus on the positives, especially the strong pace we showed in the first half of the race. We saw that the VJM08 is capable of running comfortably inside the top ten, which gives us confidence for the second half of the season. There remains an upbeat feeling in the team and I think we can look forward to some competitive races to come.
 
“Returning to Spa is always special because it’s one of those tracks that truly captures the imagination. The drivers love to race here and it’s a favourite with the fans too. We expect to be in good shape this weekend and we will be aiming for Q3 on Saturday and good points on Sunday.”
 
 
Nico on Spa
Nico Hülkenberg feels refreshed and ready to race this weekend in Belgium.
 
Nico: “The summer break was very relaxing for me. My schedule has been extra busy this year so it was nice to stay at home for a few weeks and just switch off and relax. Even though it’s only been a month since the last race, you miss being in the car and the buzz of racing, so I’m definitely ready to begin the second half of the season.
 
“Spa is a favourite for all the drivers. When I think of driving there it just makes me smile because it’s got so many special high-speed corners – the corners you want to experience in a Formula One car. You’ve also got the history of the place and the unpredictable weather which often helps spice up the racing.
 
“We go there hoping to bounce back from a tough race in Hungary. The improvements we’ve made to the car will really help us in Spa, especially through the high-speed corners. The engine also plays a big part around the lap. We are competitive and I am confident we can start the second part of the season strongly.”
 
Sergio on Spa
Sergio Perez looks forward to racing in Spa.
 
Sergio: “The break was a good opportunity to recharge my batteries and spend some time at home with my family. The calendar is pretty busy and we don’t often get the chance to have some time for ourselves. However, I am really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel and doing what I really love.
 
“Spa is an amazing track and I enjoy racing there. The first sector and the run through Eau Rouge feel very special in a Formula One car and it’s definitely a highlight of the year. The track can also produce really good racing because there are a few corners where you have a good chance to overtake.
 
“I think the characteristics of the track and its emphasis on power and top speed should suit our car. You also have to expect wet weather at some point during the weekend so it could be quite unpredictable. We have shown some good pace in the last few races and we should be in a position to get a good result.

LAGUNA SECA

ROLEX MONTEREY MOTORSPORTS REUNION

In motorsports, legends are made, not born. Constant reminders of this sprang up throughout the day today at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, a four-day event at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where tens of thousands of people visit during Monterey’s Classic Car Week to get their fill of cool historic cars racing wheel-to-wheel.

Saturday is traditionally the most popular day at the circuit, as it faithfully features racing for the special marque – this year the Ford Shelby GT350 Mustang – and seven additional groups (another seven will race on Sunday), while also offering an array of special opportunities, both planned and chance, for fans to interact with not only current owners and drivers of the 550 period-correct cars competing but also indelible legends who drove them in the past.

“I love it when I see my former cars racing here,” said three-time Formula 1 World Champion Sir Jackie Stewart, a Rolex Testimonee who has had a 47-year relationship with the watch company and is perhaps the most recognizable and beloved personality mixing with the crowds here.  “They may not go as fast as we did in the day (he mentioned he holds the lap record at Goodwood from 1965, and it still has not been beaten), but it is wonderful to see them.”

When fans tell Stewart they were inspired by him during his racing years, he wonders if it was more about the times than his driving. “It was a glamorous time but a dangerous time, and that may have attracted a lot of attention from a lot of people. I lived through it, but I don’t understand why I am still recognizable.”

Stewart, who secured his first contract with Ford in 1964, joined Scott Pruett, a five-time Rolex 24 At Daytona winner (most recently in 2013), on-stage at today’s “Picnic” in the Marketplace, endearing himself to a crowd of nearly a thousand by recounting colorful stories about his past while Pruett lent his own entertaining perspective on car racing as a passion.

“I started carting at eight years old,” said Pruett, ” and won a world championship in that, then went on to race in NASCAR, Trans-Am, Indy Car and IMSA in addition to Grand Am.” Pruett owns 13 Rolex timepieces that he has won in competition, but it was his first Rolex he bought that makes him most proud when he wears it. “It was after my first IROC series race (1987), the last race ever at Riverside, when I promised myself if I won that race I would go buy myself a Rolex. On the last turn of the last lap, I went right up the inside of Roberto Guererro; he went off the track and I went on to win.”

Some of Pruett’s early cars are here, now perfectly prepped for vintage racing, and he says they muster feelings similar to seeing an old friend. “Zac Brown bought my IMSA GTO Championship car, the 1986 ‘Motorcraft Mustang’ (which raced today in Rolex Race Group 7A for 1981-1991 FIA / IMSA – GTP, GTO); I had just signed on with Ford Motor Company and that was my first championship. In 1986, ’87 and ’88, we won four championships. I was reunited with that car last year here at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and I later saw the Nissan which was the car I won my first overall victory with at the Rolex 24 At Daytona; the XJR-12 Jaguar I drove with Tom Walkinshaw in 1991; and some of the 962 Porsches that I have driven over the years.”

Though last year was his first time coming to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion, Pruett says it’s now one of his favorite things to do. “There is eye candy everywhere. It’s overwhelming to all your senses – sight, sound and smell. For any racer like me it is wonderful to come here and see these great cars and the passion among the car owners and drivers. The event is a great fit for Rolex, and Monterey is a great fit for the event; there is no better place for these drivers to come to race their cars.”

Pruett, who also owns a vineyard, likened vintage cars to vintage wine: “Neither one is ever rushed, and they are not vintage until their time.  It’s all about heritage and everybody wants a winner.”

If two famous drivers weren’t enough to impress, several others could be found walking the paddock, inspecting the cars and indulging in the atmosphere, including Hurley Haywood (who, until Pruett caught him, held the record for five Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona victories), Derek Bell, Brian Redmond, Lynn St. James, Bob Bondurant, David Donohue, Bill Auberlen, Bobby Rahal, and Howden Ganley

LAGUNA SECA

ROLEX MONTEREY MOTORSPORTS REUNION

The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion is about rarely seen race cars that are authentic and historic, showcased not on a lawn but at speed at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, the world-famous 2.238-mile circuit nestled in the hills of Salinas, California. For two days, 550 cars have been screaming through their practice runs in preparation for tomorrow, the first official day of weekend racing that also will see a surge of fans pass through the gates for the very purpose of seeing – and hearing – their favorite racing machines from bygone eras spring back to life, as if time had never passed.

“When I first began racing at this event in 1977 (three years after it first started), it was just a group of car enthusiasts, and the spectators were friends and family,” said Mike Cleary, who started with a Bugatti, which then led him to own the 1932 Studebaker Indy Car that his son will race this weekend. “It was a two-day event back then, and the evolution to what we have today – enthusiasts from all over, coming here to watch all these magnificent cars – is fantastic. The success of this and other vintage racing events has contributed to the rescue and restoration of crashed or abandoned cars, and it’s wonderful to see.”

Cleary does all his own work on his cars, having provided restoration services for others as well, even to the extent of winning prizes at Pebble Beach. He even built the car he will race tomorrow, what he calls the “Cleary Special,” in 1955. “We built the chassis and installed a Crosley engine, Fiat suspension and then acquired the bodywork from Devon. My son learned how to drive it, and later my son-in-law learned to drive it, so it is really kind of a family car.”

He says one of his fondest memories of his friend, the late World Champion Phil Hill, was made at this event. “I was coming down the Corkscrew in my Lancia years ago, and he passed me in his Bentley on the outside. I’ve never figured out how he did that.”

Jan Voboril is another owner/driver who has a long history with the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion. He began racing here in 1979 and has returned this year with his 1925 Bugatti Type 35, which was originally raced in the 1920s by the famous Czechoslovakian racer Madame Eliška Junek.

“I grew up in Czechoslovakia, and I knew Madame Junek, who was a wonderful lady and an amazing driver,” said Voboril. “In 1926, she was leading the Targa Florio in this car and was ahead of the great Tazio Nuvolari and all other great racers of that time. She had water pump problems, so she finished fourth or fifth.”

Over the years, Voboril has raced a 1916 Lancia and a Ford Model T Indy Car. This weekend, he races a Bugatti that his wife acquired, while next year he plans to race his Alta Grand Prix car. “I have made so many friends in the 36 years I’ve raced here and have so many wonderful memories.”

But as much as this event is for long-timers, it also attracts new players every year, and to that point Ron Maydon, founder of the FIA Master’s Historic Formula 1 Championship, has brought 34 Formula 1 cars here. They will race in the final session tomorrow, with Maydon among them as a driver.

“I’ve been to this event as a spectator a few times, but this is my first time ‘racing in anger,’ as they say,” said Maydon. “The circuit here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is more difficult to learn than I anticipated. In fact all of the drivers from Europe who are here for the first time have said the same. They love the track but find it to be much more complicated than they expected.  It’s not so hard to learn where the track goes, but it is very difficult to learn the correct line; it’s very technical.”

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