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McLaren breaks up F1 summer break with ‘Woking GP’ circuit

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It’s good to know McLaren can have some fun with the summer break, as the wait continues for the start of the second half of the 2017 Formula 1 season.

The team today made a satirical play with the launch of the Woking International Circuit ahead of a hypothetical “Woking Grand Prix,” circling around the McLaren Technology Centre headquarters in Woking, Surrey.

There is no detail spared in the track map, as McLaren outlined a 63-lap race around a 3.01-mile street circuit, complete with full corner and straight names such as Boundary and Doubletree Bends, Maybury and Victoria Straights, a DRS detection zone and a pit complex on the outside of the front straight.

Within this release, McLaren states: “McLaren has been a Woking resident for almost 40 years, happily sitting alongside fellow Woking-ites Paul Weller and The Jam, Status Quo’s Rick Parfitt, Harry Hill and TV chef Delia Smith.

“McLaren has yet to formally present any of its plans to Woking Borough Council, because it’s a bit scared about how they might feel about the extensive and costly re-profiling of many roads and local landmarks that will be required.”

It’s nice to see the quotes are as tongue-in-cheek as the idea itself.

Jonathan Neale, COO of McLaren Technology Group said, “Why not? Why not bring Formula 1 to the streets of Woking? Obviously, aside from the huge social and financial commitment needed to set up the infrastructure, re-profile roads, re-lay Tarmac, fit miles of Armco, build grandstands, pay for race-hosting fees and gain approval and sign-off from the FIA, we don’t see any barriers to our vision.

“In an era that’s often seen as being hemmed in by bureaucracy and narrow-mindedness, that’s actually very refreshing.”

Zak Brown, Executive Director, McLaren Technology Group, added, “It was Mika (Hakkinen) who first raced a Formula 1 McLaren around the streets of Woking, way back in 1998. When I say ‘raced’, he wasn’t actually racing it, he was driving it. Slowly. Which was probably an even tougher test for Mika, because he never drove anything slowly.

“Still, that event lit a spark that started a fire that turned into a dream that we converted into an idea: to host a round of the Formula 1 world championship on our doorstep, in Woking.”

For the full release and “plans,” go to McLaren’s website, which is linked here.

In the meantime, it’s fun to think about the prospect of such an ambitious street course – even if it’s rooted in humor, not reality.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”