When it comes to digging deep and pulling yourself up, no name personifies and embodies this belief more than Alex Zanardi. Born Alessandro Zanardi, the Italian is a professional race car driver and paracyclist. For those of you who don’t know Zanardi’s story, it likely strange to read that he is a paracyclist, and also a professional race car driver. One must be asking themselves how that can be possible. Well, the story of Alex Zanardi is no ordinary story.
Zanardi began racing karts at age 13. He built his kart from the wheels of a dustbin and pipes from his father’s work. In 1988, he joined the Italian Formula 3 series, with a fifth place as his highest finish. In 1989, Zanardi took two pole positions and three podiums despite his team’s switching to unleaded fuel, which reduced his car’s engine power. In 1991, he moved up to the Formula 3000 series with the Il Barone Rampante team, themselves newcomers to the series. He won his F3000 debut race, scoring two more wins that season and finishing second in the championship.
Aston Martin is well known as an automaker who produces some of the most luxurious and beautiful performance GT cars on the market. But when you combine the creative minds at Aston Martin with those over at Formula OneRed Bull Racing, true magic happens. According to Adrian Newey, Chieft Technical Officer at Red Bull Formula One, “The synergy between Red Bull Racing and Aston Martin is clear. I knew Red Bull Racing had the ability to handle the pure performance aspects, but Aston Martin’s experience of making beautiful, fast, and comfortable GT cars is of great benefit to the project.”
The project that Newey is speaking of is a brand new hypercar that is being jointly produced by the two companies. Named the AM-RB 001, major details of the hypercar is kept hush hush for the time being, but not so quiet will be it’s naturally aspirated V12 engine mounted mid ship. The partnership hypercar will be in a two-seater configuration, built from lightweight carbon fiber, and will debut some time in 2018.
Uber filthy rich Bernie Ecclestone who oversees Formula One has never been one to be quiet about his viewpoint on women racers in the series. He’s outright said that “Women should be dressed in white, just like all the other domestic appliances.” in a statement made in 2005.
He made similarly rude comments in a 2009 interview jokingly remarking about diversity issues saying “I would love to have a good lady race driver and preferably black and Jewish, too, but they might take maternity leave.” None of his comments have left him with a particularly likeable image with racing fans of all genders.
His latest remark “I don’t know whether a woman would physically be able to drive an F1 car quickly, and they wouldn’t be taken seriously” again is making headlines as he continues to offend. What Ecclestone clearly is forgetting is that there are plenty of highly competitive women in sports, and specifically in motorsports as well. This certainly isn’t going to help Formula One attract new followers when the top exec is spurting out remarks like these.
Maybe it’s for publicity, meaning no press is bad press. But ultimately, Ecclestone might want to shut his trap and do what many highly regarded and respected representative of the sport are saying, that Formula One might want to refocus and be less show and more racing.
Formula One memorabilia is very sought after property for Formula One fans. Recently, one of Michael Schumacher’s F1 cars went up for auction. Now, you can own a piece of another legend of the sport, the Flying Finn himself, Mika Hakkinen.
Bonhams in Monaco will be putting up Mika’s childhood go kart, the one which he raced in 1982 in the Finnish Karting Championship and the Ronnie Peterson Memorial Championship. Mika finished second in the Finnish Karting Championship and took first place in the Ronnie Peterson race in this kart. The kart hasn’t been used since 1983.
It is expected that this 85cc kart will be authenticated and signed by Hakkinen, and should bring in between $11,000 and $23,000
Takuma Sato, former Formula One driver for the Jordan and Super Aguri teams, says that IndyCar is more exciting for drivers and challenging for engineers that Formula One is today. One can’t argue that the close racing, whether on an oval or on a road course, and aggressive overtaking seen in the IndyCar series makes for great entertainment and adrenalin rush for both drivers and fans.
According to Sato, “I do not see F1 as attractive as before, but I understand that today the economic situation and the sophisticated technology have changed things. The fans don’t like them, but I’m not totally against it because F1 is always a technological challenge that I love.” He goes on to say that IndyCar is a more exciting series because the cars are all so similar. This makes for closer racing, but also creates more challenges for engineers as the rule of the game is different than Formula One.
Sato says “What is certain is that F1 is fast on the straights, but the cornering forces are lower than in IndyCar, and this is multiplied on the ovals. We are at 6G now, and I’ve never seen that in F1. There, you take a bend but in two seconds it’s over; but on an oval it never seems to end.”
But at the end of the day, Sato still loves F1. They just need to find their way again.
Jacques Villeneuve, 1997 Formula One World Champion, is the latest person to voice their opinion about the direction the top tier motorsport is taking and the outlook of the sports future if it continues down this road. According to Villeneuve, the sport has been on a steady decline over the last decade as continuous rule changes have been made to the sport which have more of a Hollywood show factor than for the excitement of the motorsport itself.
Villeneuve said, “It’s going the wrong way with trying to add more show. We are trying to be the X-Games, appealing to teenagers who spend their lives doing something different every 10 minutes on the Internet. But Formula One will never be a show like that with exploding cars and drifting and 10,000 overtakes. F1 is not artificial Hollywood and going in that direction will destroy it.”
“What is needed is to restore F1′s former glory and prestige and, above all, its credibility.”
The first race of the Formula One season certainly started and ended in disappointment for Fernando Alonso and the folks over at McLaren. During the race, Alonzo and Esteban Gutierrez of the Hass Team came together as they battled for 19th place. The net result sent Alonzo into a major crash, rolling his McLaren over and completely destroying the vehicle and damaging the engine in the whole ordeal.
The race got red flagged and fortunately for Alonzo and Gutierrez they both came out of the accident unharmed. According to Alonzo, “It was a big crash. I tried to take the slip stream of Gutierrez until braking point and in the last moment it was a combination of factors that we ended up with a crash. Lucky we are both okay talking to you guys, and I’m thankful for the safety of the car and I am alive talking to you. Thanks to FIA work and continual safety.”
Assembly line workers’ greatest fear are robots and automation. When technology makes its way into their workplace, it usually means displaced jobs. Lewis Hamilton, three-time Formula 1 world champion, jokingly shared this sentiment when it came to self driving cars stating “That’s a terrible idea, because I want to have a job.” Even though there is some truth to that statement, Hamilton followed up with a more serious thought saying that while self driving cars will someone take over human driven cars, there’s a long way to go before that happens.
As technological advancements happen around us in the world, automakers are looking for more and more ways to integrate state of the art technology into everyday vehicles to enhance the occupants’ experience. In Formula One, Hamilton talks about WiFi and the ability to transmit data to the Mercedes AMG Petronas engineers live time. In a cut throat sport, ever millisecond matters. In today’s cars leveraging technology creates a better and safer vehicle. The foundational technology around self driving vehicles which includes sensors to track cars in front, beside, and behind the vehicle, as well as electronic speed adjustment is all used to improve vehicle safety by allowing the car to react to a potential accident situation before it actually happens.
This is the first time in the history of Formula One where the topic of closing the cockpit has not only been a major topic of discussion, but really become a quick reality moving towards production. Formula One racing, with its roots from European Grand Prix racing dating back to the 1920’s, have always used vehicles that have an open top which exposes the driver’s head to the elements. With safety standards and regulations become top priority in any racing series especially in Formula One, technology and development are always being pushed further and further to improve the safety and health of their drivers.
With the most recent Formula One racing death of driver Jules Bianchi who crashed his car into the back of a recovery vehicle which was offtrack removing another wrecked vehicle, driver head protection again is targeted for improvement. Bianchi’s death is the first Formula One driver to be killed as a result of an accident during a racing event since Ayrton Senna at the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix.
The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) currently has a preferred canopy design in mind which has been called the Halo F1 cockpit. With testing and development in full force, Red Bull Racing has put their design into the mix as a potential alternative to the current preferred design. has submitted a design study for a canopy alternative to the Halo F1 cockpit protection option currently preferred by the FIA. Red Bull’s design, similar to designs recently submitted by Mercedes, utilizes a combination of glass material and carbon.
Designs for production are not yet confirmed, but the FIA prefers the Halo as a result of the immense amount of time put into testing that has already been completed which will help to make a faster transition into production. However, when Christian Horner, top dog at Red Bull, was asked if their design can be ready for the 2017 racing season, he simply said, “Why not?”
20 years ago, racing history was made. Not all history is good, for Ayrton Senna, one of the most revered names in Formula One, died doing what he does best. Leading on lap 7, Senna’s Williams left the track at Tamburello, ran straight into a wall, and perished in front of live viewers. Ask me where I was 20 years ago, and I simply have to point out the window at my office, where I could see my apartment where I lived across the street, and you would see me chain smoking on the balcony, flipping every TV channel hoping to see news that the racing hero I’ve followed since as far I can remember, has come out of the accident alive. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
Senna was legendary in the world of Formula One even before his death. His natural talent, work ethic, and inhuman focus changed the way Formula One drivers approached the sport. His dedication to fitness, telemetry analysis, and ruthlessness on the track is common place today, but in his era of racing, it was an exception rather than the norm. It was this dedication that allowed him to rise above his peers, even when racing against greats such as Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet, a young Michael Schumacher, and his racing nemesis, Alain Prost. Even though it was 2 decades ago that Senna died, he is still remembered to this date as if he was still alive by several generations of F1 fans.