What does the future hold for Grand Prix of Baltimore?

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From my perspective, the Grand Prix of Baltimore has become a destination stop on the IZOD IndyCar Series calendar. The downtown and waterfront settings make for beautiful visuals, while the two-mile street circuit itself creates lively racing.

If only it hadn’t made such a bad first impression. Of course, I’m talking about the substantial amounts of money that were lost on the race’s inaugural running in 2011.

The past financial debacle has created a reputation that the event must overcome in order to have a long-term future. Race On Baltimore and Andretti Sports Marketing have worked hard to stabilize it (and make sure the bills are actually paid), but as noted by the Baltimore Sun, this third go-round will be a very important one.

There’s always seemed to be a substantial group of people that have been opposed to racing in Baltimore. Some of their complaints are typical, such as noise and road closings.

Then there are others who put forth the valid question of why so much emphasis is being put on a street race when Baltimore is grappling with other issues such as crime and urban blight.

When I lived near and worked in Baltimore for a short time after I graduated from college, I was constantly reminded by the nightly news of how tough that city can be.

And that is why I’m hoping the Grand Prix can continue on in the years ahead. Maybe I’m being too idealistic, but who’s to say the race can’t help burnish the city’s image in the eyes of the world? Who’s to say it can’t play a positive role in its future?

Baltimore has a lot going for it, and not just sports-wise. It has a lively arts scene, lots of leafy neighborhoods, and is well-known in health and science circles for its world-class hospitals.

And for the last three years, it’s been home to what has been a highly entertaining motorsports event.

A Labor Day racing festival obviously can’t solve all of the city’s problems, which are quite formidable. But I would think that the Grand Prix can serve to help raise its standing, just like the art festivals and the Inner Harbor and the Ravens and O’s do.

It’s understandable why the race hasn’t achieved widespread praise yet. However, in my opinion, any event that does its best to bring in money and provide a form of unique entertainment for the public shouldn’t be looked at as a source of complete negativity, either.

Time will tell if Baltimore will stay a racing town. I’m hoping it does.

F1 drivers split on new ‘shield’ protection

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) Formula One drivers are split over plans to test a new “shield” device to protect against flying debris.

The FIA will trial the transparent screen in the coming months for a potential introduction in 2018, as it pushes for greater head protection for drivers. Recent years have seen major head injuries in several motorsport series.

“I wouldn’t mind trying out the shield, seeing how is the visibility,” Mercedes driver Valtteri Bottas said on Thursday. “In terms of safety it would be a good step compared to what we have now.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo was another supporter, saying “we’ve still got to see a bit more, but first impressions seem OK.”

The FIA previously seemed to favor a metal frame known as the “halo,” which was designed to stop a flying wheel hitting a driver’s head but was criticized by some drivers on aesthetic grounds.

Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat said on Thursday he was “quite against” the shield and the halo. “The way Formula One should look should remain the same,” he added. “We have enough protection.”

Romain Grosjean of Haas voiced concern the “next step” would be completely closed cockpits.

Recent years have seen several high-profile head injuries, including the deaths of Formula Two driver Henry Surtees in 2009 when he was hit by a loose wheel and IndyCar driver Justin Wilson, who was struck by debris, in 2015.

In Formula One, Brazilian driver Felipe Massa missed the second half of the 2009 season when a loose spring from another car hit his helmet, leaving him needing surgery.

Haas changes F1 brake supplier ahead of Russian Grand Prix

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Haas has switched from Brembo to Carbon Industrie brakes ahead of this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix in a bid to remedy its long-running braking issues in Formula 1.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas took his eponymous operation onto the F1 grid in 2016, with Romain Grosjean scoring all 29 of its points through its debut season.

Grosjean and then-teammate Esteban Gutierrez had their efforts spurned on a number of occasions by brake issues which continued to arise through pre-season testing in 2017 and the early races.

Haas pushed to remedy the issue by testing new Carbon Industrie brakes in the post-Bahrain Grand Prix test, with Grosjean and new teammate Kevin Magnussen conducting running.

The team duly decided to fit the new Carbon Industrie brakes for this weekend’s race in Russia, with both VF-17 cars to run with them from Friday onwards.

“To be fair to Brembo, the last update in brakes we had that arrived in China were much better. It took a long time to get them,” Grosjean explained.

“So then I was not screaming to change to Carbone Industrie but it was in the pipeline, so we tried them, and both drivers were pretty pleased with them. We felt like we had more control under braking.

“I’m very sensitive to my left pedal, so I really need to get good brakes to get good confidence and push the car to its maximum limit. So we are going to run them here.

“There is still a little bit of work we need to be doing around the mapping and finding the solution around those brakes but I think yeah, definitely it’s going to help me a little bit to find the last few hundredths.”

NHRA: Chad Head to substitute for Alexis DeJoria in Charlotte

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Alexis DeJoria will miss this weekend’s NHRA Four-Wide Nationals in Charlotte, with her Kalitta Motorsports team confirming DeJoria will need to tend to a family matter.

Chad Head, Kalitta Motorsports Director of Safety, will step into the Tequila Patrón Toyota Camry this weekend. No timetable was given for DeJoria’s return; after Charlotte this weekend, the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series continues for its third consecutive race weekend next week in Atlanta.

This isn’t the first race DeJoria has had to miss recently, as she also was diagnosed with a concussion and missed the 2016 NHRA season finale in Pomona.

F1 Paddock Pass: Russian Grand Prix (VIDEO)

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Following his victory in Bahrain two weeks ago, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel arrived in Russia on Thursday targeting a third win of the year to extend his lead at the top of the Formula 1 drivers’ championship.

Not since 2004 has a Ferrari driver made such a good start to a season, putting Vettel in contention for a fifth world title this year – although with Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton hot on his tail, it will have to be a hard-earned success.

The fourth round of the year sees F1 head to the Olympic city of Sochi, which hosted the winter games back in 2014. The Sochi Autodrom played host to its first grand prix the same year, and is now a key part of Russia’s post-Olympic legacy.

Bringing you all of the latest news and interviews ahead of the Russian Grand Prix, Will Buxton brings you Paddock Pass.