2013 Brazilian Grand Prix Preview

Leave a comment

The 2013 Formula One season comes to a close this weekend with the Brazilian Grand Prix in Interlagos, Sao Paulo, and with both championships sewn up long ago, a more relaxed atmosphere could be expected at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace. However, this race is perhaps one of the most important of the season as it marks the end of an era in many ways. This will be the last race using V8 engines (with turbocharged V6s inbound for 2014) and the last race in Mark Webber’s Formula One career, and it could prove to be the finale for a number of other drivers who are currently without a seat for next season.

Interlagos has a habit of producing the unexpected, meaning that whilst Sebastian Vettel is chasing a record-equalling ninth consecutive victory, his charge could be hindered by a number of factors. Given that Red Bull’s ascension to the front of the field came with the last raft of regulation changes in 2009, the possibility of the opposite in 2014 means that this could be the last race in the team’s era of dominance in the sport. The neutral can wish…

2013 Brazilian Grand Prix Talking Points

Webber hopes to leave his Mark

Mark Webber’s eleven year stint in Formula One will come to an end on Sunday, and he will be hoping to wave goodbye by claiming his tenth and final victory in Brazil where he has won twice before. It would be the fairytale ending for a driver who has never been one to conform and follow the crowd, but regardless of the result, thanks for the memories, Mark.

Seb’s planning to rain on his teammate’s parade, though

The stumbling block for Webber will be, as it has been all season, stablemate Sebastian Vettel. The German driver is looking to equal Alberto Ascari’s record of nine consecutive wins in Brazil and Schumacher’s tally of thirteen for a season. Given his form, of course, it’s hard to see this not happening. With a fresh gearbox to boot, don’t expect him to do Webber any favors as their frosty relationship comes to an end this weekend.

Did someone mention rain?

2013 has been one of the driest seasons in memory, with the intermediate tires being used for just a few laps in Malaysia and the wets not seeing any race running. Therefore, the ‘unexpected’ has rarely happened. This weekend though, heavy rain is forecast for the race on Sunday. Interlagos and precipitation is a marriage made in heaven, so expect 2013 to go out with a bang this weekend.

One last chance to impress

A number of drivers – Sergio Perez, Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Hulkenberg, Esteban Gutierrez, Paul di Resta, Adrian Sutil, Pastor Maldonado, Charles Pic, Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton – all head into the final race of the year without a firm drive in 2014. As a result, this race is a final opportunity for them all to prove their worth and secure a seat on next year’s grid.

Marussia vs Caterham: Round 2

As per 2012, Marussia enter the final round of the season leading the ‘battle of the backmarkers’ for P10 in the constructors’ championship by virtue of Jules Bianchi’s thirteenth-place finish in the Malaysian Grand Prix. If they are to recover tenth place – and the prize money that comes with it – Caterham require a top thirteen finish. Impossible? That’s what we said last year, but Vitaly Petrov managed to pass Charles Pic (then with Marussia) in the final few laps to move up into P11 and secure the place for Caterham. Will we see an equally-dramatic battle ensue this weekend?

Track: Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace
Laps: 71
Corners: 15
Lap Record: Juan Pablo Montoya 1:11.473 (2004)
Tire Compounds: Medium (option); Hard (prime)
2012 Winner: Jenson Button (McLaren)
2012 Pole Position: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 1:12.458
2012 Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 1:18.069
DRS Zones: T15 to T1; T3 to T4

Friday – Free Practice 1: 7am ET
Friday – Free Practice 2: 11am ET (LIVE on NBCSN and on NBC Sports Live extra)
Saturday – Free Practice 3: 8am ET
Saturday – Qualifying: 11am ET (LIVE on CNBC and on NBC Sports Live extra)
Sunday – Race: 12pm ET (LIVE on NBC, pre-race show starts at 11am ET and on NBC Sports Live extra)

Street race in Vietnam could lead Formula One’s Asia expansion

Formula One logo
Leave a comment

TOKYO (AP) — Formula One is expected to add more races in Asia, including a street circuit in the capital of Vietnam, a country with little auto racing history that is on the verge of getting a marquee event.

“We think Hanoi could come on in the next couple of years, and we’re working with the Hanoi government to that end,” Sean Bratches, Formula One’s managing director of commercial operations, told the Associated Press.

There is even speculation it could be on the schedule next season, which Bratches rebuffed.

Vietnam would join countries like Azerbaijan, Russia and Bahrain, which have Grand Prix races, little history in the sport, and authoritarian governments with deep pockets that serve F1 as it tries to expand into new markets.

“This (Hanoi) is a street race where we can go downtown, where we can activate a large fan base,” Bratches said. “And you have extraordinary iconography from a television standpoint.”

A second race in China is also likely and would join Shanghai on the F1 calendar. Bratches said deciding where to stage the GP will “be left to local Chinese partners” – Beijing is a strong candidate.

Bratches runs the commercial side of Formula One, which was acquired last year by U.S.-based Liberty Media from long-time operator Bernie Ecclestone.

Formula One’s long-term goal is to have 24-25 races – up from the present 21 – and arrange them in three geographical segments: Asia, Europe and the Americas. Bratches said the Europe-based races would stay in middle of the calendar, with Asia or the Americas opening or ending the season.

He said their positioning had not been decided, and getting this done will be slowed by current contracts that mandate specific places on the calendar for several races. This means eventually that all the races in Asia would be run together, as would races in Europe and the Americas.

The F1 schedule is now an inefficient jumble, allowing Bratches to take a good-natured poke at how the sport was run under Ecclestone.

“We’ve acquired an undermanaged asset that’s 67-years-old, but effectively a start-up,” Bratches said.

Early-season races in Australia and China this year were conducted either side of a trip to Bahrain in the Middle East. Late in the season Formula One returns to Asia with races in Japan and Singapore.

The Canadian GP this season is run in the middle of the European swing, separated by four months from the other races in the Americas – the United States, Mexico and Brazil. These three are followed by the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, which means another trip across the globe.

“With the right economics, with the right structure and cadence of events across territories, 24 or 25 is probably where we’d like to be from a longer-term standpoint,” Bratches said.

Big changes are not likely to happen until the 2020 season ends. This is when many current rules and contracts expire as F1’s new owners try to redistribute some income to allow smaller teams to compete.

“There’s more interest than we have capacity in the schedule,” Bratches said, firing off Berlin, Paris or London as potentially attractive venues. “We want to be very selective.”

“Those cites from an economic impact standpoint would find us value, as do others around the world,” Bratches added. “It’s very important for us as we move forward to go to locations that are a credit to the Formula One brand.”

An expanded schedule would have to be approved by the teams, which will be stretched by the travel and the wear-and-tear on their crews. The burden will fall on the smaller teams, which have significantly smaller revenue compared with Ferrari, Mercedes or Red Bull.

Bratches also envisions another race in the U.S., joining the United States Grand Prix held annually in Austin, Texas. A street race in Miami is a strong candidate, as are possible venues like Las Vegas or New York.

“We see the United States and China as countries that could support two races,” he said.

Liberty Media has reported Formula One’s total annual revenue at $1.8 billion, generated by fees paid by promoters, broadcast rights, advertising and sponsorship. Race promotion fees also tend to be higher in Asia, which makes the area attractive – along with a largely untapped fan base.

In a four-year cycle, F1 generates more revenue than FIFA or the International Olympic Committee, which rely almost entirely on one-time showcase events.

Reports suggest Vietnamese promoters may pay between $50-60 million annually as a race fee, with those fees paid by the government. Bratches said 19 of 21 Formula One races are supported by government payments.

“The race promotion fee being derived from the government … is a model that has worked historically,” Bratches said.