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Brawn considers reviving non-championship F1 races to test new ideas

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Ross Brawn has said that he is open to bringing non-championship races back to Formula 1 as a way to trial new ideas without impacting on grand prix weekends.

Brawn returned to F1 in January after being appointed its new sporting managing director following Liberty Media’s takeover of the series.

The ex-Mercedes, Ferrari and Benetton man has been tasked with improving F1’s on-track spectacle and making it more entertaining.

Most recently, a new qualifying format was trialed for two races at the start of the 2016 season, only to be scrapped amid confusion over its implementation and intention.

Speaking to Reuters in Barcelona at pre-season testing, Brawn suggested that non-championship races could be a way to make try out changes without harming official weekends.

“We often had non-championship races in the old days but getting it all to work is another matter,” Brawn said.

“It needs to be commercially viable of course, and that’s the challenge.

“Again, it couldn’t just be ‘pick ideas out of a hat’. It needs to be properly thought through, but may be an opportunity.”

Non-championship races were frequent in F1 in the 1960s and 1970s, with the last being held at Brands Hatch in England in 1983. Since then, all grands prix have been rounds of the world championship.

Hamilton, Red Bull teammates both go to NASA before USGP

Photo: Red Bull Content Pool
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One of the more intriguing United States Grand Prix adventures occurred on Wednesday, as both Lewis Hamilton and the pair of Red Bull Racing teammates, Daniel Ricciardo and Max Verstappen, all went to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston – in separate sessions – before heading onto Austin.

Hamilton posted on his Instagram story on Wednesday that he’d “quit his day job in a second” to work at NASA and become an astronaut, and the unbridled enthusiasm spoke to the three-time Formula 1 World Champion’s love of different life aspects entirely outside of racing.

“(I) had an incredible day yesterday, having a bit of a comedown today,” Hamilton said today at the FIA Press Conference. “I was just buzzed all day yesterday because it’s always been something I’ve wanted to do. It’s always something I’ve been fascinated about, space and space travel particularly.

“So to actually go there… and I had a million questions. I’m sure the guy got fed up with me. I asked a lot of questions and I got to see a lot of great things, some of the new technology they are working on and yeah, I want to go back.”

The Mercedes AMG Petronas team posted a gallery of Hamilton’s adventure on its website, linked here, and a few samples are below.

As for the Red Bull pair, the young duo of Ricciardo and Verstappen were equally awestruck by the experience.

“There really are a lot of similarities between this and F1, just the technology alone,” Ricciardo said. “I had a guest come to a race last year, when they got into the garage they were like: ‘this is like a space station’. We went to mission control here and it’s really like what we have in the Ops Room in Milton Keynes. Even the safety technology is similar. The astronauts go through the same measurements, a similar kind of HANS device etc. It’s really cool.”

Verstappen added, “There are quite a lot of comparisons, if you really want to talk about it we could go on for an hour! The control center looks pretty similar to ours. We share a lot of the same technology. It was really interesting for us to see that and I bet it would be the same if they could see ours.”

Here’s a link to Red Bull’s gallery and some teaser shots below.