Archive for January, 2012

Why it’s great to see Rubens in an IndyCar – and why you should watch

I love F1. I love IndyCar.

Modern day IndyCar, which combines the drivers, teams and races of both the IRL and ChampCar, is still an underrated sport on a climb back to its rightful place, whilst F1 appears (superficially at least) to be at the top of its game.

I’m not so sure that the F1 way of doing business is sustainable and the more I learn and understand about IndyCar, particularly in the Randy Bernard era, the more I like it.

Tony Kanaan is one of my favourite drivers. He was one of the first I followed on Twitter when I started following IndyCar seriously following my move to the US in 2009. I was gutted when he was dropped by Andretti, happy when he was picked up by KV Racing for 2011 and delighted when he took that car to the front on many occasions during the season.

Now, he’s only gone and persuaded his mate Rubens Barichello to test with KV Racing over 2 days at Sebring.

I just hope that Rubens enjoys what he sees and commits to a full or partial schedule in the IndyCar series for 2012.

Rubens has had an amazing career in F1, and I hope he gets a ride for 2013. But this year I want him in IndyCar. We’ve got a new car launching, plenty of uncertainty, and its a great time to have another high profile driver (he has a million more followers on Twitter than Danica Patrick) join the series.

If I have a reason for blogging it is to open the eyes of F1 fans to the world of American open wheel racing. I still remember my dad explaining what an Indy car was back when I was a kid (‘like a Formula 1 car, but heavier, faster, and not as high tech’ was his explanation). To his explanation I now add ‘with more heart, more fun, and more excitement than F1’.

Every race of the IZOD IndyCar Series is shown live on Sky Sports in HD (usually SS3). There are plenty of British drivers to follow (more than in F1) and it’s easy to follow the sport on Twitter too, just take a look at my Twitter feed and see who’s there.


Thoughts on Rubens Barichello and IndyCar with KV Racing

When Rubens Barichello was sadly replaced at Williams by Bruno Senna, my first thought was “I hope he switches to IndyCar”. Looks like I might be getting my wish as Tony Kanaan has confirmed on Twitter that Rubens will test a KV Racing IndyCar at Sebring.

I really hope this news leads to a full time ride for Rubens in 2012 – it will be great publicity for the series and will hopefully bring more F1 fans to IndyCar.

Fingers crossed!

Caterham CT01 2012 F1 Car with the lights on!

Here is the official photo of the new Caterham CT01 with the brightness and contrast tweaked to make it a bit easier to see.

…meanwhile, in Valencia

“Hola HRT family!”

“Hola Boss!”

“Ok gang – what have you got for me on this beautiful day on our especial journey to make a nice Formula 1 team. The car it must be finished no?”

“Well boss, I called the guys in Germany and for sure they are making all the necessary preparations, methodically, with diligence, and in a manner correct.”

“Excellent! we will show the world that it is not because a team does not exist yet that it cannot be successful given time and a correct and serious application of the resources at its disposition. For the third year running.”

“Julia, tell me, what have you got for us?”

“Well boss, a sponsor – this one is pretty big and authentic”

“Excellent! Is it Spanish?”

“Yes! And it is an important and serious organisation”

“Who is it?”

“It’s those guys who installed the PC in your office a couple of weeks back. They wanted us to pay their invoice and I said it was not because the invoice was due that it would necessarily be honoured. I said that the invoice was perhaps not applied in a manner correct by the previous owners.”

“Excellent! and what did they say?”

“Well initially he was decided to take away your PC but later and with much reasonable discussion he agreed we’d stick his logo on the side of the car and pay him half”

“Coolio. Now item two – scooters for the new season”

“Yes boss, there’s been a bit of a matter unclear with the scooters. We have arranged supply of Scooters from a company a bit Japanese sounding but actually quite Spanish but they are not very correct”

“In what way ‘not very correct'”

“It is that it is that the scooters they are more like – the folding bicycles”

“The folding bicycles?”

“I am very close to giving up. How are we to give the impression that we are conducting ourselves in a manner correct and serious with a deployment of the necessary resources to make a nice team if we start running around the paddock on the folding bicycles?”

“That’s a coincidence boss, someone’s actually done one of those Downfall parodies  that says pretty much the same thing”

Making the Bahrain Grand Prix relevant now that “Everything is Fine™”

The Bahrain Grand Prix is getting a lot of bad press at the moment due to adverse publicity from killjoys like Human Rights Watch , bad karma from the US Government shifting its Embassy staff to safer parts of the Kingdom, and even our own UK Foreign Office with their astonishingly mean spirited and unhelpful  ‘avoid large crowds’ suggestion.

Thank god for voices of reason like Damon Hill, Middle East Correspondent at that well respected beacon of geopolitical journalism Sky Sports News. Hill, who actually drove F1 cars before entering the world of international peace-building confirmed last week that, in fact, Everything is Fine in Bahrain ™ .

And these are not the words of some pale-faced blogger sharing his unfounded opinions. No, Damon has gone out there and actually been to Bahrain, kind of like the FIA guy last year – but very different.

“Different?” you say, “How so?”

Well, Hill has followed his journalistic instincts and actually taken a look around.  He was able to do this because Everything is Fine in Bahrain ™.

And remember this is Damon Hill we’re talking about. He’s delivered a brand spanking new phase 1 of a redevelopment masterplan at Silverstone, on time and on budget. When you’ve got a personal legacy of persuading a British building contractor to do more or less what they said they were going to do and erect a large steel frame shed in a field, you’re not about to be intimidated.

Oh no.  He wasn’t going to be fobbed off by stage managed meetings. He wasn’t about to allow himself to be schmoozed by legendary hospitality. Far from it. He’s gone out there and spoken to eye witnesses. Real people like the Crown Prince and, I gather, random passers by.  How thorough is that?

So here we find ourselves. We now know for a fact that Everything is Fine in Bahrain ™ so the race is as safe as Euros in the bank. What now?

Time to make the race a success!

Given the new spirit of rapprochement, bonhomie and general joie de vivre that the subjects of Bahrain are now enjoying, what could be better than an inter-faith celebration of one-ness, turning the race into a true festival of what it means to be Bahraini.

We could even organise an “F1 fan village” on the Pearl Roundabout, put up large screens and encourage tens of thousands of people from all the communities of Bahrain to attend and celebrate the race together.

Because after all: Everything is Fine™


10 ways Kimi could spice up F1 in 2012

He’s a man of few words, but in his own enigmatic way, Kimi could make quite a splash in 2012. Here’s how….

  1. T shirt with “My other car’s a Citroen” slogan
  2. T Shirt with “Would the real Team Lotus please stand up” slogan
  3. T Shirt with “real drivers do it in the forest” slogan
  4. Do donuts after every race
  5. Powerslide through a couple corners every race
  6. Turn up to a press conference carrying a bottle of beer
  7. Give post-race interviews in the press pen wearing large set of headphones
  8. Appear on the parade lap truck wearing a Gorilla Suit
  9. Insist upon having a small Walls ice cream barrow (complete with umbrella) next to car on grid
  10. Stare blankly at Eddie Jordan after every question

When Lotus pulls out of IndyCar…

Of the three car manufacturers supporting IndyCar’s new era of engine competition, Lotus is by far the weakest.

Its parent company Proton and a group of friendly Malaysian banks regularly have to inject millions of dollars of capital into Group Lotus to cover operating losses. There are ambitious plans to develop a huge new range of cars and compete head to head with Ferrari. This is interesting coming from a company which has traditionally occupied a much more accessible niche.

Proton has now been sold.

Lotus was the last company to sign up to the engine deal, the last to get its engine on the dyno and the last to begin on track testing.

No surprises that it is now making negative noises about its ability to provide enough engines to supply any teams over and above the number it is contractually obliged to support.

However all this uncertainty won’t necessarily end up being a bad thing for IndyCar.

Why? Because Lotus isn’t really providing anything. The engines are being designed and built in England by John Judd’s firm Engine Developments. These engines are no more Lotuses than KV Racings chassis were Lotuses. It’s just a badging deal.

The problem that would remain is ‘who pays?’ but that’s a much smaller problem than complete loss of an engine manufacturer.

Should Lotus fail, another manufacturer will be able to buy their way into IndyCar at a cut price, and gain a lot of positive exposure.

I believe that’s called a win win!