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Formula One: Recapping the past week’s news

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Alonso to Le Mans With Toyota

A long-standing rumor was confirmed earlier this week, as Toyota Gazoo Racing announced that two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso would be joining the team for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans as well as several other rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship during the 2018-2019 “super season.” This comes after months of speculation about Alonso contesting this year’s Le Mans, highlighted by a test with Toyota back in November.

“I’ve never been shy about my aim of winning motorsport’s ‘Triple Crown’ – the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indy 500, and the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” Alonso said during the announcement. “We tried for Indy last year, came close, but just missed out. This year, I have the chance – thanks to McLaren – to race for the win at Le Mans. It is a big challenge – much can go wrong – but I am ready, prepared and looking forward to the fight.”

Alonso’s place within the team does come at the expense of one of its incumbent drivers. Anthony Davidson, who has been with Toyota since they returned to sports car racing and Le Mans in 2012, has been relegated to a reserve role to make room with Alonso.

F1 Parts With Grid Girls

In a move that garnered great controversy and debate, Formula 1 and Liberty Media have revealed that Grid Girls will no longer be a part of Formula 1 events.

Officials cited brand values and societal norms as reasons behind the change.

“We feel this custom does not resonate with our brand values and clearly is at odds with modern day societal norms,” said Sean Bratches, managing director of commercial operations. “We don’t believe the practice is appropriate or relevant to Formula One and its fans, old and new, across the world.”

The move has been polarizing among fans and those within the F1 community, including those who previously worked events as Grid Girls.

The move also comes one year after the ABB FIA Formula E Championship stopped using Grid Girls, instead opting to focus on “Grid Kids,” young fans or aspiring young drivers chosen to take part in the event and stand on the grid next to the drivers and teams.

Small Tweaks to F1 Race Start Times

Formula 1 officials revealed that they are making small changes to the start times of all Formula 1 races, beginning in 2018. All races will now start at ten minutes passed the hour, and the European and Brazilian races have been pushed back an hour to 3:10 p.m. local time.

Officials revealed that television audience was the main reason for the changes, citing efforts to attract a more viewers.

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Relive the 1911 Indy 500 in living color

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Race fans and historians will have an opportunity to relive the 1911 Indy 500 in color this Sunday, November 25 at 8 p.m. ET.

Airing on the Smithsonian Channel as part of their America in Color series, a colorized version of the first Indy 500 highlights a race that began a tradition more than 100 years old.

The Indy 500 helped establish the auto racing industry and part of the episode deals with the lives of the Ford, Firestone and Edison families.

On board mechanics were a fixture of racing at the time – in part because they also served as spotters. On Lap 90 Joe Jagersberger (running three laps down at the time) broke a steering mount and his rider tumbled onto the track, causing Harry Knight to careen into the pits – which had no wall separating it from the track. Remarkably, no one was killed.

The documentary describes how Ray Harroun likely won because of his use of a rear view mirror that allowed him to drive without an on board mechanic. Innovation in that inaugural race set the tone for racing today.

Harroun beat Ralph Mumford by a margin of 103 seconds in a race that took six hours, 42 minutes to run.