Wednesday, July 18, 2007

F1 Shows Up In Full Force At INDY ... UPDATE: For The Last Time!

Image Credit: ING

F1 Shows Up In Full Force At INDY

The premiere open-wheel racing series comes to Indianapolis Motor Speedway this weekend.

Image Credit: ING

Last year there was a dispute and about only half of the drivers showed up to participate in the race … leaving it with a black eye.

This year, a full field will take the track in one of the most exciting years the series has had, say , in the last five or so.

Coming so soon after the Canadian round in Montreal, this weekend’s race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway has given the teams precious little time in which to regroup. It is safe to say that this race will again be a fight between McLaren and Ferrari, with the possibly of BMW Sauber getting in on the act.

This year features many new drivers and one of the most exciting rookies, Lewis Hamilton, drives for the British team – McLaren-Mercedes.

Lewis Hamilton is highly motivated after scoring his maiden victory in Montreal. This win propelled him to open up an eight-point lead in the drivers’ championship, which caused this reaction: “I come to Indy with great confidence. We have to try and continue with the performance that we have, and I have no doubt we can do that.”

2007 F1 USGP Track Preview Video -

One of the major sponsors of the Formula One racing series has come up with an indexing system to rate each of the racing venues. ING, the Dutch banking and investment powerhouse, has come up with a way to rate, or index each of the tracks and of the 17 racing sites that the Formula One series will race on in 2007, Indianapolis Motor Speedway indexes at #14!

This from ING -

The ING Race Index for the US Grand Prix
In the shadow of a legend

On the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Formula 1 has to drive beneath the shadow of a legend – because this is the venue of the famous Indy 500. A special course has been built for Formula 1 in the world’s most famous oval circuit. It offers the longest full-throttle phase of the season, but for drivers and teams it remains a race full of compromises.

The ING Race Index, which is to Formula 1 what the Dow Jones is to the stock exchange, uses continuously updated information to keep a running assessment of the key factors affecting the race circuits, thus allowing them to be compared. Here the US Grand Prix does not have the same status as Wall Street …


The 2007 F1 United States Grand Prix ING Race Index -

METHODOLOGY -

ING, with its wealth of statistics for Formula 1, has analysed all 17 race circuits from the following aspects:

 Strain on drivers
 Engineering requirements
 Circuit
 Vehicle setup
 Tradition, fascination and emotion of the race

Ranging from a low of 0 to a maximum of 100 points, the ING Race Index shows you at a glance the challenges that each course presents.

Strain on drivers

On each lap drivers have to change gear 36 times. Consequently, there is a limit to the strain, even though they have to take care to remain concentrated despite the monotonous course. One small mistake will take them into the wall. In the ING Race Index the circuit scores only 44 for strain on the drivers, which in turn results in 17th position.

Engineering requirements

One of the most critical spots in Indianapolis is the flat-out section with the only banked curve in Formula 1. This means 24 seconds of full throttle and top speeds of up to 335 km/h (208 mph). Formula 1 only reaches higher speeds in Monza. Engines are tuned to absolute maximum performance. The requirements placed on engineering secure 63 points, which is nevertheless enough for position 8 in the ING Race Index.

Image Credit: ING

Circuit

Many Formula 1 drivers find there is a lack of proper harmony on the track created at the turn of the century and have therefore difficulty getting into a rhythm. This should come as no surprise because it was put together from two completely different sections – one consisting of the original oval with the steep corner and the long full-throttle straights and the other of the new infield with its extremely slow corners. The 53 points are only enough for the 17th and final place in the ING Race Index.

Vehicle setup

This race definitely has its attractions for the strategists on the pit wall. With 62% of the course being driven at full-throttle, petrol consumption plays an important role, and the two pit stops have to be well planned. On the other hand, the track characteristics pose fewer challenges for the engineers in charge of vehicle setup. The ideal solution involves flat wings and low downforce for the full-throttle sections while the twists of the infield call for steep wings and lots of downforce – and, as is so often the case, the solution is a compromise. The ING Race Index awards this complex equation 63 points and position 8.

When in the year 2000 Formula 1 launched a new attempt to win over the hearts of US fans, it was an obvious move to head for Indianapolis, the Mecca of US motorsport. The fascination and tradition of this race circuit, originally built in 1908 using 3.2 million bricks, can be sensed in every corner. The ING Race Index honours this with 61 points and position 8.


Image Credit: ING

Formula 1 has to continue working hard on its expansion course in the USA. This can be seen in the overall rating for the ING Race Index: 57 points are only enough for 14th place among the 17 races.

UPDATE (Saturday Qualifying - 16 June 2007):

Selected quotes from the Official Website of F1 -

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton proved that his Canada pole was no fluke at Indy on Saturday, but he wasn’t the only new young driver impressing - BMW Sauber’s Sebastian Vettel was seventh on his Grand Prix debut. They and their 20 rivals report back on a tightly-contested qualifying...

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren (1st, 1m 12.331s):
“To be on pole once again within a week is fantastic - I like North America! The fans here have been so enthusiastic and supportive for the team, and I hope they enjoyed today. I screamed into my helmet when I got the confirmation from the team of the pole position. It’s a challenge to come to a track for the first time, and I have learnt new things every single corner and every single lap. I knew I had to push very hard in my second run in Q3. The car is working well, and the team has done a great job - for us to have both cars on the front row is a real advantage, and hopefully the team will be able to make the best of it in tomorrow’s race.”

Fernando Alonso, McLaren (2nd, 1m 12.500s):
“I have had a really quick car all weekend and have been fastest in all practice sessions and the first two parts of qualifying. As a result I’m extremely confident for the race tomorrow and am pleased that the team occupy the front row. I was pushing hard on my last qualifying lap and whilst I was slightly up in the first sector it was not quite enough as I lost some time in the second sector. However the car is working well, and we have had consistent lap times. The two tyre options we have this weekend are close in their performances which gives us reason to be optimistic for the race tomorrow. I’m really looking forward to it and hope that I can continue my best ever performance at Indianapolis so far.”

Felipe Massa, Ferrari (3rd, 1m 12.703s):
"I am pretty satisfied and think we can have a strong race tomorrow. We cannot be completely happy about this result but we must not be hard on ourselves either. It would have been difficult to get pole and third place means I will start from a good grid position. We know we can count on a very consistent car in terms of race pace. The start will also play an important part, as will strategy. We will try and make up some place and get the best position possible."

Kimi Raikkonen, Ferrari (4th, 1m 12.839s):
"All in all, fourth place is quite a good result. It was a very close session and we have to take into account the difference in weights between the cars, something which we will not have an answer to until tomorrow afternoon. Of course, I would like to always be ahead of everyone and there is always room for improvement but I think we can have a good race. It is important that there are no other cars between us and our main rivals. The car has gone well so far this weekend, especially in terms of delivering consistent performance on a long run. We will do our best to bring home a good result."

Nick Heidfeld, BMW Sauber (5th, 1m 12.847s):
“The balance of the car was better today, but I am not really happy with my qualifying as on the last lap I didn’t get it right in the last corner. I had some graining with the tyres and obviously was too aggressive and slid a bit away from racing line, otherwise I think I could have qualified in front of the Ferraris. In Montreal our car was very good over the race distance, so I hope we can continue like this.”

Heikki Kovalainen, Renault (6th, 1m 13.308s):
“It was a good qualifying session for me, continuing a good weekend so far. The car balance felt OK, the set-up is good and I was comfortable on both types of tyre all the way through qualifying. We have improved the car throughout the weekend, and just had a normal weekend. I have always been confident that things would start going better for me, and I haven't made any mistakes or lost any track time here in Indy. When that happens, you can push to the limit and get the maximum from the car. That's what has made the difference compared to last weekend, and now we have to focus on the race. We will have a good strategy and the car is handling well. I'm feeling confident.”
Read All Quotes Here>>

Race UPDATE - Final - 6-17-2007

This from AP via Canada.Com -

Rookie Lewis Hamilton races to second straight Formula One win
Canada.Com - Published: Sunday, June 17, 2007

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Rookie sensation Lewis Hamilton did it again, racing to his second straight Formula One victory in Sunday’s U.S. Grand Prix.

The first black driver in F1’s 61-year history has finished all seven races this season in the top three. He now leads Mercedes McLaren teammate and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso by 10 points in the standings.

The two finished 1-2 for the third time this season, but this time the order was reversed from Malaysia in April and last month’s race at Monaco as the 22-year-old Englishman added this victory to his inaugural F1 triumph last week in the Canadian Grand Prix in Montreal.

Alonso tried hard to pass his less experienced teammate at the start, darting to the outside and pulling nearly alongside Hamilton for a moment, then backing off and diving to the inside as the leaders squirted through the first two narrow turns, a sharp right-hander and then a left-hander.

Hamilton managed to stay in front and was able to continue to fend off the pressure by the hard-charging Spaniard to the end of the 73-lap event on Indy’s 4.192-kilometre road circuit.

Alonso almost wrested the lead from Hamilton on Lap 39. He had been dogging the back of his teammate’s McLaren for several laps and pulled alongside on the main straightaway but was unable to complete the pass.

The outcome was still in question until Alonso locked up his brakes on Lap 47 and drove through the grass, allowing Hamilton to pull out to a 2.5-second lead. Hamilton was able to drive on to the win without further challenge, crossing the finish line 1.5 seconds ahead of Alonso.
Reference Here>>


UPDATE 7-12-2007:

Ferrari driver Michael Schumacher, of Germany, takes the checkered flag from Tony George, president and CEO of Indianapolis Motor Speedway, as Schumacher won the United States Grand Prix at the speedway, in this June 20, 2004 file photo. Formula One's U.S. Grand Prix won't return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next year. The race will not be held in 2008 after eight years at the track, spokesman Ron Green said Thursday July 12, 2007. Image Credit: AP Photo/Michael Conroy

F1 won't return to Indianapolis in 2008

By DEANNA MARTIN, Associated Press Writer - Thu Jul 12, 1:18 PM ET

INDIANAPOLIS - Formula One's U.S. Grand Prix won't return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway next year after officials failed to reach a new deal.

Speedway CEO Tony George said Thursday he and F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone agreed not to schedule the event for 2008. The only American-based race on the F1 schedule had been held at Indianapolis the past eight years, drawing some of the biggest crowds on the circuit.

"We did agree it was prudent to try and leave the door open for the future," George said. "My sincere hope is that we will have an opportunity to bring it back in the not-too-distant future."

George, who had set Thursday as the deadline for reaching an agreement to extend the contract with F1, said he did not believe a U.S. Grand Prix would be held elsewhere next year, but that such a decision would be up to Ecclestone.

George had said last month he was confident he could reach a new deal with Ecclestone after the two met during U.S. Grand Prix weekend in Indianapolis.

But Ecclestone repeatedly said F1 did not need to race in the United States, although he mentioned the possibility of moving the U.S. Grand Prix to New York or Las Vegas.

George said Thursday it was a "great disappointment" that F1 would not be returning to the 2.6-mile, 13-turn road course that was built inside the speedway's famous oval to attract the series.

"It's not fair to us, it's not fair to our customers, the loyal core of Formula One fans, to just go on indefinitely on hold," he said.

Attendance figures are not released at Indianapolis, but estimates have been around 125,000 each of the past six years. The inaugural race in 2000 drew more than 200,000.

The event was marred in 2005 when 14 of the 20 drivers pulled off the track just before the start over concerns about the safety of the Michelin tires used by seven teams. Afterward, George refused to wave the checkered flag or join Michael Schumacher in the winner's circle.

Last year's negotiations to extend the deal dragged into August before the two sides agreed to a one-year deal. Speedway officials had said they wanted a more permanent solution this time.

Despite F1's absence, the speedway could still be the site of three races next year as track officials expect to announce a deal with MotoGP, the international motorcycle racing series, next week.

Besides the Indianapolis 500, the speedway also is the site of NASCAR's Allstate 400 at the Brickyard on July 29.
Reference Here>>


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