I love my Formula 1 and believe in the last few years it has regained it’s position at the pinnacle of motor racing. I was however far from impressed when the BBC decided to ‘shelve’ their F1 coverage and only cover half of the races live. I was a big fan of their previous coverage and was concerned that SkyF1 wouldn’t cut the mustard! Not having Sky was also an issue – but luckily I ‘got around’ that issue.
Tag Archives: Jenson Button
I love Motorsport, I haven’t managed to attend much live racing in recent years due to family commitments, but the noise and smell of racing cars is one that you never forget. Formula One is especially good to see live, the sound of a full grid of cars starting is just awesome – your whole body feels it! So I am not completely sure that the FIA’s latest formula announced this last week will have quite the same following.
The new formula ‘E’ is for electric cars is due to start in 2014 – it sounds boring on first look, but may actually have some potential;
In the world of motor racing the internal combustion engine has always been king, however electric cars have amazing torque (ask anyone with a Tesla) so electric cars are actually quite well suited to racing, especially on the tight city centre tracks that are proposed for the formula.
This year’s Le Mans 24 hours was won by a diesel-electric hybrid, while Formula One cars have been using energy recovery systems for the past two years. Technically, that makes them hybrids too.
Various electric racing cars have been developed, including the electric Lola-Drayson B12/69EV (above) which can do 0-60 mph in three seconds.
The aim of the formula is to attract a new generation of fans – kids who are currently in their teens and are likely to be electric car buyers in their life times. Electric cars are far from ‘sexy’ at the moment so this is an attempt to improve their image. Motorsport is also a great place for research and development of new technologies, so it could help develop electric cars far quicker than the manufacturers would on their own. So this will be a very trendy, very modern, futuristic form of racing, aimed at the video games generation.
So although circuits around the world regularly echo to the earsplitting howl of racing V10s and V12s at full throttle, perhaps not for much longer!
Formula One is often the target of the environmentalists who claim it is far from green and does nothing to help in reducing average cars emissions. On the face of it that is a fair assumption – modern F1 cars rev to 18,000 rpm and aren’t exactly low fuel users – but that isn’t the point or the whole story!
F1 is all about being at the forefront of automotive technology, and some of the things that appear in F1 do find their way into our cars. Kers or regenerative braking is a classic example, most cars now have some form of this to help save energy.
There are also cases of tech not getting into F1 but the research not being wasted – the latest example being from Williams F1. This relates to a fuel-saving flywheel first developed for use in Formula One racing cars, but abandoned before it could be used due to a regulation change by the sport’s administrators, it will soon be retrofitted to a handful of London buses – with fuel savings estimated at up to 30%
Six prototype buses owned by Go-Ahead, one of the UK’s largest buses operators, are currently being fitted with the flywheels for a trial beginning later this year in and around Putney, south-west London. If successful, and contingent on raising the funding, Go-Ahead says it will consider fitting the flywheels across its 4,000-strong fleet of buses.
The price of fuel is what’s driving the interest in this now. If the payback can be shown to be under five years, it might even retrofit flywheels on buses that are already 10 years old.
Flywheels, have long been used as a method to store rotational energy. But their use in vehicles has been hindered by the fact that they need to be very heavy to store enough energy that can be of practical use. Williams Hybrid Power, a subsidiary of Williams F1, believes it has overcome this hurdle by developing a flywheel that is much lighter – about 50kg – than previous flywheels built for buses, but which rotates at speeds as fast as 40,000 rpm. The other significant advantage is that the flywheels can be fitted to buses already in operation, unlike competing technologies such as hybrid electric batteries that have to be fitted in the factory during manufacture.
So F1 is supporting the drive to a greener future and is is getting exciting to watch again – a win win situation!
I am a long-term fan of formula one, it is fair to say that it has changed hugely over the past 30 years – it is now a much safer sport, thankfully deaths are rare (and long may that continue). The last ‘bad’ period for deaths in Formula one was around the time that Senna was killed, (and just before him Roland Ratzenberger). I am not suggesting for a moment that the sport shouldn’t be safe or that it makes it any less exciting. But I do believe that the 1970′s and 80′s drivers were ‘a different breed’, they got in the cars in the knowledge that death was a definite possibility.
The reason I bring this up is that it is 30 years next month that the late great Gilles Villeneuve was killed. He was one of Ferrari’s finest drivers at a time when they were in one of their successful periods. Villeneuve was killed a couple of years after they won the constructor’s championship and his team-mate Jody Schechter won the individual title.
When I visited the Ferrari museum in Maranello a couple of years ago (recommended for any petrol head) I was reminded just how basic the F1 cars of the 70′s & 80′s were. There was no real protection for the driver, no fancy driver aids. It was as basic as a car could get – but strangely even more impressive than the current cars because of it. This photo gives an idea of the simple cockpit design – no protection above the hips, no forward crash areas – just an aluminum tub (and a real gear stick!). The car is to be run at Maranello on the 30th anniversary of his death, it will be driven by his son Jacque, a nice tribute.
So next time you watch Hamilton, Button and the rest of the F1 circus hurtling around a track spare a thought for those that went before and by their sacrifice made F1 as safe as it is today.
RIP Gilles Villeneuve – 8th May 1982