Sunday, 23 October 2011

Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli

This week has been a sad one in the world of motorsport. On the 16th of October a 15 car crash in the Indy 500 led to the death of British driver Dan Wheldon. Today, we lost Italian racer Marco Simoncelli in the Moto GP. These two deaths are tragic reminders of the risks involved in motorsport, and my thoughts are with them and their families. I know it's kind of stupid to be upset about the loss of people you've never even met, but the world of motorsport is like a massive family, and to lose anyone from this world is tragic.

I've posted before about why I hate people watching motorsport for the crashes, and today has highlighted why. I began watching Moto GP earlier this year, and I was immediately taken with Marco Simoncelli. He was a highly entertaining racer and was a joy to watch. Today's crash looked horrific - I wish I hadn't seen it. It's awful to think that in that instant we lost someone through nothing more than an accident. It makes you question whether pushing things to the limit is worth the risks, however I don't think there's a single racer out there who would give anything less than the maximum.

Dan Wheldon's crash in the Indy 500 was just as harrowing as Simoncelli's today. Safety standards in the Indycar races have been called into question, and rightly so. Mark Blundell commented that having four cars side by side is dangerous enough, without the massive high speed that these drivers carry. One slip led to a death and that just isn't acceptable.

We can only hope that people involved in motorsport everywhere learn from these accidents - just as F1's safety standards improved after the many tragedies in that discipline. I'd love to see motorsport reach a stage whereby the risks to life are almost non-existent, but whether this happens or not is another story.

Today, I'll be thinking of Dan Wheldon and Marco Simoncelli.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

The Long Overdue Post

I sit here after watching the phenomenal Korean Grand Prix and I am writing an apology. I have been somewhat neglectful of this blog of mine lately, largely because of my return to university and the start of a whole new year of hard work. While I have a spare 20 minutes or so though, I feel I should update you with my life outside of university and let you know about my recent motorsport musings.

Since my last post (over a month ago... Sorry...) things have been all go in the world of motorsport and I thought I'd start with my favourite piece of news: Sebastian Vettel is the youngest ever double F1 world champion! Obviously, you've probably all heard this anyway, but news such as this is deserving of at least a mention. I'm incredibly biased anyway (a look around my room would tell you this - a Vettel poster, flag and Red Bull Racing merchandise litters my living space), but there's not much debate that Vettel absolutely deserves this second title. As of this morning, Vettel has won ten races and been off of the podium only once (funnily enough in Germany - the race I attended). His qualifying has been absolutely phenomenal, being on the front row in most races. In terms of points, Sebastian has (so far) acquired 349 out of a possible 400 - that's 87.25% of all available points. If he wins the final three races, he'll match Schumacher's most number of wins in a single season. Oh, and for those who doubted his overtaking ability then I suggest you watch the past couple of races again. An awesome move on Fernando Alonso and today's overtake for the lead on Lewis Hamilton should put a stop to the rumours that Vettel's not a racer. So, very well done that man! This morning also, Red Bull managed to seal a second consecutive constructor's world championship - a testament to the dedication of all the staff working for the team, and of course well deserved. Well done that team!

The Korean Grand Prix today was absolutely amazing. We've been treated to some good races this year and this one has to be one of the best. Battles between Webber and Hamilton were a joy to watch, and the psychology of the teams and drivers is getting more and more apparent in each race. An example of this is Fernando Alonso's dummy radio message of "I'm giving up, I'm giving up" - potentially an attempt to get Jenson Button to slow a little and give Fernando more of a chance of overtaking. With any luck we'll get to see more and more of this throughout the remainder of the season.

During Korea, we also saw the first non-Red Bull pole position since November last year. Lewis Hamilton managed to grab pole position at the last moment. Now, you'd have thought that Lewis would have been thrilled to halt Red Bull's Saturday pace, but apparently not. After getting out of the car, Lewis slowly wandered over to get weighed, seemingly disappointed with his performance. I'm not going to speculate why exactly Lewis is behaving in this way: no doubt the media will be all over this soon anyway. However, I do think that Lewis's image is in danger of being pulled down what with his behaviour recently. His on track performance has been subject to scrutiny by stewards, drivers, teams and fans alike. We're just not seeing the measured aggression of the old Lewis. Whether this is to do with his bad luck this year or some sort of personal issue I don't know. Hopefully he'll pick up in the next few races, if for no other reason than to build his reputation back up and gain more respect.

Now, my involvement in motorsport hasn't suffered as a result of returning to university. Of course, I've been watching the F1, but I've also been planning more trips and have visited Brands Hatch once again. The next big trip I have planned is a visit to Spa for the Belgian Grand Prix. After going to the Nurburgring this year, I don't think I could go a whole year without hearing the sound of an F1 engine or experiencing the atmosphere of thousands of F1 fans sharing a race. So, with any luck the tickets for next year's race at Spa will be booked very shortly, and another summer trip will ensue - watch this space!

A few weeks ago my Dad and I took my nephew back to Brands Hatch to watch the British Touring Car Championship. I've been watching the BTCC on the television this year, and the racing in this discipline is just insane. So, of course, I had to see it in person. Brands Hatch seems to be offering a lot more to the fans recently, with pit walks being a fixture of the big races I've attended. So, early in the morning we went down to Brands and managed to get a walk around the pits. Autographs ensued, and my nephew managed to grab a grand total of 18 posters. I was also thrilled with my chance to get a photograph of Tom Chilton, and very pleased when Frank Wrathall signed my programme, despite officials trying to usher fans out of the pits. Thanks to Mr Wrathall for staying and making a motorsport geek very happy!

The support races included the Ginettas, Ginetta Juniors, Formula Renault and the Porsche Supercup. The Ginetta Junior race was surprisingly slow, but then again the drivers are all around the age of 14! It's interesting to see the young drivers build up their race technique, and this training is important as most of the drivers were warned for dangerous driving!

I was pleased that the PorscheNurburgring, and it brought back memories of the F1 atmosphere. The lead driver, however, suffered some bad luck as he gained a puncture, forcing him to sit by the fence at Graham Hill Bend.

The BTCC races were really quite fast paced, however we couldn't see a whole lot of the race as the Grand Prix circuit was being used. However, a lot of cars seemed to be pushing hard where we were stood. When the tyres of a racing car go off, you can really see it. Especially when numerous drivers end up off the circuit right where you're standing! Jason Plato was the man with the best luck of the day, as he won the first two races - no doubt pleasing the fans wearing the Plato masks!

So, once again I apologise for the neglect of the blog, but it's good to be back! Hopefully there will be many more motorsport musings to come with the closing of the F1 season and hopefully with more Brands Hatch trips to come.