F1 Primer: The teams and cars

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The F1 rules have been largely stable since 2009. The current generation of cars use 2.4-liter V8 engines which produce around 750bhp.

This is enhanced by the addition of a Kinetic Energy Recovery System (KERS). This is basically a hybrid engine which gives drivers an extra 80bhp for up to 6.6 seconds per lap.

Another acronym which comes up often in F1 is DRS. The Drag Reduction System was introduced in 2011 to increase overtaking. It allows a driver to lower his rear wing and increase his top speed, but only on designated parts of the circuit and only when they’re within a second of the car in front.

F1’s engine specification has been ‘frozen’ for several years. That has led teams to focus on the aerodynamics of their cars as the best way of improving performance. And the undoubted masters of that at the moment are Red Bull.

Technical director Adrian Newey has been a key part of the team’s dominance of the past three seasons. His unending quest for performance has brought Red Bull in conflict with the sport’s rule makers on several occasions.

A team with the passion and heritage of Ferrari needs no introduction. They are the only outfit who’ve participated in every season of the world championship since its inauguration in 1950.

They wield immense political clout within the sport and their impatience at going four years without any championship silverware is clearly growing.

McLaren’s status as one of the sport’s top teams is belied by the fact that they haven’t won the constructors’ championship for 15 years. Their relationship with engine supplier Mercedes, which began in 1995, appears to be in its twilight phase.

Mercedes returned to F1 as a full factory team in 2010 but have only won one race since. The hiring of Lewis Hamilton from McLaren this year is a clear signal of their intentions.

The Lotus name appears in F1 but it is no longer connected to the sports car maker. The team which was known as Renault until last year have won championships before and are dark horse contenders for success this year.

Sauber mark the 20th anniversary of their arrival in F1 this year. The independent team owned by Peter Sauber is now run by F1’s first female team principal, Monisha Kaltenborn. Fellow independents Williams have multiple championships to their name and ended an eight-year winless streak last season.

Force India has two home races per year: the Indian Grand Prix and the British Grand Prix, the latter held at Silverstone circuit outside their factory gates.

The role of Toro Rosso in F1 is as a junior team for Red Bull who use it to evaluate potential drivers of the future.

There is room for 26 cars in Formula One at present, but only 22 of the spaces are filled. Three new teams entered F1 in 2010 but one of those, HRT, collapsed during the winter. Only Caterham and Marussia remain, and they are yet to score a point in three years.

Agag: New York race ‘a defining moment’ for Formula E

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FIA Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag believes that last weekend’s inaugural event in New York City was “a defining moment” for the all-electric series as it continued its world tour.

Formula E became the first motorsport series to hit the five boroughs on Saturday when it staged a race around the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal in Red Hook, with the Manhattan skyline acting as a backdrop across the East River.

New York was just the latest in a long line of major cities to host Formula E, but series chief Agag felt it was particularly significant given the effort that went in to securing it as a venue.

“Formula E has a habit of breaking new ground. This weekend in New York was yet another example of achieving what many thought was impossible,” Agag said.

“We managed to bring international open-wheel racing to New York for the first time in history, this is something that sets Formula E apart from any other series, bringing electrifying motorsport to the world’s leading cities.

“Along with Hong Kong on Victoria Harbour and Paris with the backdrop of the Eiffel Tower, New York has quickly positioned itself as a flagship event on the Formula E calendar. The race in New York was a defining moment in the series and years in the making.”

New York had been a target city for Formula E since its inception in 2014, but Agag had fears at one stage that a race would not be possible before settling on Red Hook.

“We worked tirelessly with the local authorities to find the right location. It couldn’t be Central Park and Liberty State Park wasn’t an option either,” Agag said.

“I actually thought it wasn’t going to happen, I didn’t lose hope but I wasn’t certain we’d get Formula E to New York. It hadn’t happened before in any form of open-wheel racing.

“Then we found the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal. It was the most viable option and it also meant we didn’t need to close any streets.

“But, best of all, we still had the most spectacular view of New York. I had a similar feeling on the grid as at our first-ever race in Beijing. We’d done it, and the race proved to be a resounding success in front of a sell-out crowd.

“As the saying goes, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere!”

Charlie Kimball to visit Gateway on Thursday

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Chip Ganassi Racing’s Charlie Kimball will visit Gateway Motorsports Park on Thursday for a media appearance and will take a ceremonial lap of the repaved 1.25-mile oval.

Following a test in early May that saw several cars suffer cut tires, Gateway officials opted to completely repave the facility ahead of the Bommarito Automotive Group 500 presented by Valvoline on August 26. The project began after the June 17 Drivin’ for Linemen 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race and was completed earlier this week.

“I’m really excited to race at Gateway Motorsports Park,” said Kimball. “The opportunity to test there didn’t really pan out earlier in the season with the old paving, so I think the whole series is looking forward to getting out there and seeing what kind of improvements have been made to the track. It’s great to see the investment that Gateway has put into the track with the repaving – new asphalt always produces amazing racing with the Verizon IndyCar Series. To be able to compete under the lights in August on Saturday night on a short track like Gateway is going to be fantastic. I think the way Turn 1 and Turn 3 are so very different is going to lead to an incredible event and the new asphalt will only add to that.”

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Steve Nielsen appointed new F1 sporting director

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Liberty Media has continued to bolster Formula 1’s management team by announcing that Steve Nielsen will take up the role of sporting director on August 1, reporting directly to Ross Brawn.

Nielsen has worked in F1 across four decades, most recently as Williams’ sporting manager, but was known to be leaving the team at the end of July, handing his duties over to inbound Dave Redding.

F1 confirmed in a statement on Wednesday that Nielsen would be joining the management team established by Liberty Media following its takeover of the sport in January, working with sporting managing director Brawn.

“I have known Steve for many years and have seen at first hand his skills and ability,” Brawn said.

“His appointment will strengthen the working group we are setting up to work with the FIA and the teams in defining a framework for the technical and sporting regulations for Formula 1’s next phase.

“Steve’s main responsibility will be related to sporting and organizational matters, for example by attending the meetings of the Sporting Working Group.”

F1 Strategy Group introduces Halo for 2018

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The Halo is coming to Formula 1 in 2018, having been confirmed at Wednesday’s F1 Strategy Group meeting.

This brings the first level of additional frontal cockpit protection to being after several years of discussions and a couple years of testing itself. As of August last year, the idea to introduce the Halo was delayed until 2018 at the earliest for a full introduction.

Here was the statement from the FIA:

“Following the unanimous agreement of the Strategy Group, in July 2016, to introduce additional frontal protection for Formula One and the repeated support from the drivers, the FIA confirms the introduction of the Halo for 2018. With the support of the teams, certain features of its design will be further enhanced.

“Having developed and evaluated a large number of devices over the past five years, it had become clear that the Halo presents the best overall safety performance.”

Both the Halo and the Shield concepts have been tried, with an updated Shield tried most recently by Sebastian Vettel in Friday first practice at the British Grand Prix.

But Vettel spoke of a dizziness in comments after the test, and one could figure those comments were taken into consideration when it came to the decision to go with the halo.

The Halo drops over the cockpit and has three prongs with how it’s positioned. A center post has been right in front of the cockpit during the tests.