Off Season: New Year Cheer

Hope you’ve all had an awesome Christmas, and the New Year’s Eve hangover isn’t hurting you too much. Either way, settle back into your chair and soak up the latest round-up of gossip.

The Future of F1

Construction has begun on the US GP track in Austin, Texas in preparation for their first race in 2012. It’s another Hermann Tilke circuit; however it’s strewn with the features we’re more accustomed to in Europe, but of course we have a couple of high-speed straights. The elevation hits 133ft in places, and judging by the image below; it seems they hit that early on and race in between peaks for 3.4 miles. With the twisty 45° turns in the latter stages; I’m sure this will be welcomed by the drivers and teams.

With building commencing on the Austin GP track earlier this week, it has become hard to ignore the more global nature of the racing season. Long gone are the days where the majority of racing would focus around the high-profile European circuits, during the upcoming 2011 season only 8 out of 20 races are in the Eurozone. Bernie Ecclestone has made his feelings quite clear that we will lose the Euro tracks in order to squeeze in more from further afield. I don’t have a problem with this in principal, as it’s only going to spread the appeal of the sport. However as we’ve seen in Turkey, a new track does not necessarily guarantee success, and this is where Bernie could stretch Formula 1 to breaking point.

Another ‘fly away’ means added expense to the team’s budget; for the larger and better financed outfits the impact is minimal (more of an inconvenience), but for smaller and newer teams this can put a halt to research. And when you have the higher-up accusing the new entrants as embarrassing the sport due to their less than stellar results, the last thing they need on top of producing a world-class car is another set of freight costs. But one aspect that will affect all teams is that this year they will spend more time away from home, only time will tell if this affects the results.

Personal Woes

It’s not just Mark Webber who had a few secrets under his helmet this year; it seems that Lewis Hamilton had a couple of personal issues to cope with during 2010. He revealed his burden during an interview with Radio 1; surmising “[When] you’ve not got all the pieces in place it makes it very hard to do other aspects of your life as easily.”

Not a vintage year for the former world champion

He split with his girlfriend, Nicole Scherzinger, in January but the pair were soon reunited in February. In the following month he not only parted company with his manager, who just so happened to be his father, but also was charged with dangerous driving in Australia. This far from ideal start to the season obviously had a deeper effect than was first thought. He rated his year as 6 out of 10.

The only question I have about the sudden admission is why did you feel the need to tell us? He’s just admitted to the world that his personal life affects what happens on the track; this gives the others drivers a palatable weak point to attack. Will a negative newspaper article send a flood of doubt through Hamilton’s mind?

The New Scot on the Block

There has been a big push to get Paul di Resta on the track for 2011, his time as the Force India test driver has stood him in good stead for one of their empty seats. The release of Hulkenberg from Williams has somewhat complicated the matter as he proved himself on the track during the whole season; but on the other hand Di Resta clinched the German Touring Car Championship. Will having a foot in the door with Force India give him the edge over other competitors for the seat?

Ross Brawn is staying put

At the beginning of the 2010 season there was a lot of pressure on Ross Brawn to translate his massive success with Brawn GP into something more Mercedes. So naturally there are rumours abound that he would be relegated to a more ‘precise’ role in 2011, not helped by his comments after Korea that he wouldn’t want to do all 20 races next year.

He confirmed his commitment to the Mercedes GP team in an interview with Auto Motor und Sport, this week his stated that he won’t leave until it is winning races consistently. I can’t imagine that taking too long, with the combination of his (and the team’s) extensive experience coupled with that of their driver’s, success isn’t far away.

I hope the new year is everything you hope it to be and that the rapidly approaching season is just as exciting!

Later Rookies!

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