The greatest empires always feel the need to expand, no matter if its half way across the world for exotic spices and herbs, or exotic money. Formula 1 may not have command over one-fifth of the world, but it’s ever growing global expansion has had major effects on the sport.
The discussion of female drivers in Formula 1 is gathering pace ahead of the 5Live special on Monday night, and whilst the likes of Susie Wolff lay claim that they deserve a shot at the big time, others have gone under the radar a bit, including the newest addition to the Red Bull Junior Team. Beitske Visser, 18 year old Dutchwoman, will be racing in the Formula ADAC for 2013, and naturally brings a lot of promise with her.
2014 is only ten months away, but for Caterham and Marussia it must seem like a lifetime. Over the winter both teams were forced to abandon their initial plans set out in their inaugural season. More than anything, 2013 is about survival.
La Caja Mágica has been spruced up for a few weeks while potential buyers trawl around the HRT factory. Keeping true to the late hero of BBC daytime television Kristian Digby, and his sadly shortlived Open House, Thesan Capital and Luis Pérez-Sala have gone around the factory putting the cushions straight, making the show cars look extra sparkly, and hiding all the rubbish behind a locked door that no one is allowed to enter.
There was only one logical option for Lotus when deciding who would replace the banned Romain Grosjean at Monza, Jérôme D’Ambrosio. Gone are the days when the team would instantly forget five test drivers in favour of an outsider, and instead D’Ambrosio gets one race to show off his talents in a very capable car.
August. There’s never anything going on in August. Most of Europe grinds to a halt with insufferable temperatures and Formula 1 is no different, allowing employees a whole two weeks off from working on improving the car by eight hundredths of a second. Now they are simply lying on their sun beds by a swimming pool or are enjoying the endless amount of football that has returned to our graceful screens.
Cast your minds back to 3 August 2008, at approximately 14:30 BST, where Felipe Massa was leading the Hungarian Grand Prix after Lewis Hamilton had suffered a puncture earlier on in the afternoon. And then, as he started lap 68 out of 70, smoke bellowed out of his engine, and all he could do was hold his head in his hands and think what could have been. All of this had miraculously left Heikki Kovalainen leading the race and barring even harsher misfortunate, he would win his first race.
Super Aguri had a brief, but eventful, stay in Formula 1. From those four races with Yuji Ide, to thinking Anthony Davidson might be a competent race driver and that race by Takuma Sato in Canada, they were loved by some but very much disliked by their own sponsors. When SS United decided to default on payments to the team in the late end of 2007, it caused a series of setbacks which resulted in Super Aguri being turned away at the 2008 Turkish Grand Prix.
A few months ago, HRT moved into La Caja Mágica in Madrid. And whilst it wasn’t widespread news, nor enthralling enough for anyone to really care, it signified a key moment in the evolution of the first ever Spanish Formula One team. No longer would the staff be forced to travel to Valencia and Munich to help the progress of their cars. For once, HRT has a permanent base in the heart of their homeland, the furthering of ties between the team and Spain.
There was a brief moment during the European Grand Prix that the impossible could happen. After Jean-Éric Vergne had deliberately swerved into Heikki Kovalianen, the resulting Safety Car had helped put the Finn’s teammate Vitaly Petrov in 10th, in the points, all on merit. For the first time in three years Caterham were on the verge of living up to its many promises, finally having a car capable of challenging the midfield.
The whole concept of the name of this column is based on everyone’s favourite qualifying rule, 107%, brought back in for the 2011 season so the new teams couldn’t end up so slow to annoy everyone else on the track (not that stopped Karthikeyan and Vettel). It’s a distinctive reference to the traditional backmarkers, something that only they are careful to avoid and generally, they succeed.
I always liked Jérôme D’Ambrosio, he seemed competent, drove well, and matched up fine against his more experienced team mate. Although the races went in Timo Glock’s favour most of the time, D’Ambrosio was more than a match for him in qualifying, going down 10-9 in the inter-team battle. A good effort for a rookie against a three time podium visitor.
Greg Hancock is only 41 years old, and, after winning last year's World Championship, is looking strong once again. 'Herbie' Hancock picked up 22 out of a possible 24 from the inaugaral New Zealand Grand Prix a month ago, and is sitting pretty ahead of the remainder of the races in Europe. Round 2 of the 2012 Speedway Grand Prix is the European Grand Prix from Leszno, Poland, one of three Polish rounds in the speedway mad country. There are fifteen regular drivers on display, with a wildcard in local Pole Przemyslaw Pawlicki. With a big field, any rider has a chance of doing well, but the ones more likely to fight against Hancock are former World Champions Jason Crump (a friend of Mark Webber's), Nicki Pedersen and Tomasz Gollob, with others like the unpredictable Andreas Jonsson, the pre-season favourite Jaroslaw Hampel, and the one who only gets in because he's British, Chris Harris. There are twenty heats leading to the semi-finals and the final, and with Leszno being one of the better tracks, it should be a good meeting.
Narain Karthikeyan is many things, an average driver in a poor car mainly, but certainly not an ‘idiot’. The fallout of the contact between Karthikeyan and Vettel towards the end of the Malaysian Grand Prix has resulted in one of the most unlikely disputes in recent years, in the blue corner, the two time champion of the world Sebastian Vettel, and in the red corner, pay driver Narain Karthikeyan.
Following the new teams on their journey in search of results can be a heartbreaking task. From the highs of making it to the end of the race, to the lows of falling outside of the qualifying cutoff, there are more of one than the other. Chronicalling the journey of Caterham, Marussia and HRT from their early beginnings, 107 Per Cent kicks off with the state of the back of the grid as it stands, and where things need to be improved.
At a sprightly young age of 41 years and 113 days, American Greg Hancock won the Speedway Grand Prix after his fourth place finish in Croatia. This while beating off competition from the younger riders, the likes of Andreas Jonsson, Jaroslaw Hampel and Emil Sayfutdinov all eleven years younger. The latter Russian would have only been six when Hancock first competed in the first ever Speedway Grand Prix event in 1995.
The second incarnation of the Character Cup started in July 2010. This time, 24 drivers will be involved in the process, splitting the draw into three. The finalists from 2009, Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, were ‘seeded’ and placed at opposite ends of the draw. With the way the draw is structured, the final will consist of three drivers instead of the usual two.