Is Formula 1 A Sport?

Lewis Hamilton won his maiden BBC Personality of the Year award last night following a season in which he took 11 wins for Mercedes. He won his second championship in style, coming from behind to usurp Nico Rosberg from the lead of the championship with just 5 races to go. It should be no surprise that Lewis won Sports Personality of the Year as he is a huge box office draw, something F1 lacked when Sebastian Vettel was winning titles. Lewis is exciting to watch, often controversial and is nearly always involved in some sort of drama. Unfortunately, not everyone was happy that he won the award.

Social media revealed just how misguided some people are with regards to their view on Formula 1 as a sport. Those that don’t understand and follow the sport commonly hold comments such as ‘They are just driving cars or He only won because he had the fastest car’; those comments are incredibly misguided and almost laughable.

What is sport? Nowadays we refer to sport simply as competitive games, often involving some degree of physical exertion. Football, Rugby, Tennis and Cricket are all regarded as sports, but F1 is often overlooked. Of course, if you asked Ernest Hemmingway on his views on sport, it was quite simple:

“There are only three sports: bullfighting, motor racing, and mountaineering; all the rest are merely games.”

Sport is more than just playing a game; in its purest sense it’s the pursuit of victory at all costs. Those that say F1 is just not a sport should talk to the Father of Jules Bianchi; his son still remains in a coma after suffering from a head-on collision during the Japanese GP of 2014. If Jules could get up and race again, right on the limit, I’m sure he’d do it in a heartbeat, such is a racer’s sporting attitude. I would argue that motorsport is maybe the purest of sports, with the drivers required to put everything on the line, including their lives, in order to win. There is no game is motorsport, you either commit or you walk away. It’s as simple as that.

One must also consider everything that top-end Formula 1 drivers must give up in order to compete for the victory. The physical fitness required to dance on the limit of the most fearsome cars in the world is no easy feat, and whether you’re Lewis Hamilton or Max Chilton, the training required to be fit enough to ‘push’ a F1 car to the limit for 2 hours is extraordinary. Jenson Button, one of the fittest athletes on the grid, notoriously competes in triathlons and unlike others triathletes, does so on the strictest of diets to ensure that he doesn’t put on any mass. At the beginning of the 2014 season he commented that he hadn’t eaten carbohydrates throughout the winter of 2013… would other athletes be able to manage that?

As far as Sports Personality of the Year is concerned, I’m delighted Hamilton won because as a sports personality, he is by far the biggest draw the U.K has. I can only hope that the ‘It’s not a sport’ belief held by some (unsurprisingly those that don’t understand motorsport, let alone F1) dies down and our favourite sport stars are recognised for the sacrifices and commitments they make to their craft. The highest levels of motorsport are much more than just ‘lapping circle’s’ or ‘driving a car’; they are a showcase for incredible talent and disciple, able to take control of the most dangerous and fast cars in the world for the pursuit of victory. If Formula 1 isn’t a sport, I don’t know what is.

Anil Parmar

Heartbreak for Vergne as Buemi wins #FormulaE classic in Uruguay

Sebastian Buemi took victory for e.Dams-Renault in a dramatic race in Uruguay which featured multiple safety cars and retirements. For much of the race it appeared that former F1 driver Jean-Eric Vergne, making his Formula E debut, could have taken the win but a retirement on the penultimate lap as he challenged the lead gave victory to Buemi. Lucas Di Grassi scored yet another podium, maintaining his lead at the top of the championship.

The start was fascinating, with those starting on the even side of the grid getting much better starts than others Nelson Piquet Jr made an incredible start, taking the lead from Vergne going into T1. This set us up for a ten lap battle between the pair, with Piquet holding on until lap 13 until he was caught by Vergne at the hairpin.

As in Malaysia, there were a couple of early retirements and safety cars. Daniel Abt retired early with a mechanical gremlin whilst Sam Bird retired on lap 4, hitting the wall on the exit of the fast turn 1 chicane. It was a disappointing weekend for Bird, who dominated in Malaysia but never had the speed this time out.

The first round of pit stops came on lap 16, triggered by Sarrazin’s Venturi car hitting the wall after being touched from the back by Brabham. There was to be more bad news for the other Venturi of Nick Heidfeld; he led the race after the pit stops but it emerged that he had broken the minimum pit stop time of 64 seconds, as well as using more power than is permitted through the regulations. A double penalty saw him tumble down the timesheets.

The final segment of the race involved several battles, including a fight up front between Jean-Eric Vergne and Sebastian Buemi. A late safety car, caused by a spin from Brabham, closed the pack up for a 2-lap sprint to the end. We were set for a grandstand finish, with Buemi struggling to keep the faster Vergne behind him. This battle led to Buemi controversially missing two chicanes in order to keep his lead from Vergne. The ex-Toro Rosso driver would not get another chance to fight for the lead however, as an electrical problem saw him retire as he prepared another attack. In many ways it was a huge anti-climax, but it was certainly dramatic and a reminder of how cruel motorsport can be. Motorsport rarely does fairy tales and Vergne’s miserable winter came to a depressing conclusion.

There were some great success stories further down the field though, with Jarno Trulli taking 4th place after mixed fortunes in the early rounds and Bruno Senna recovering to 6th after his first car suffered from mechanical damage. Of course, the biggest winner was Formula E as we were once again treated to a fantastic race, with lots of overtaking and drama. The circuit officials deserve a lot of credit too, with the circuit receiving rave reviews from the drivers and the fans.

Uruguay was also going to be a big test for Formula E, as it was the first race to take place at a suitable viewing time for those in Europe. If the sold out grandstands and reaction on social media is anything to go by, Formula E is no longer a series associated with the word ‘potential’, but a series associated with real racing. 2015 could be a pivotal year for the motor racing industry, and it has Formula E to thank for it.

Anil Parmar

Formula E at the Uruguayan Coast

The final Formula E race of the year is set to take place this weekend as Formula E visits another street circuit, this time at Punta Del Este in Uruguay. What should we expect?

First of all, there are a couple of driver changes. First off, Antonio Garcia comes in for Ho-Pin Tung for the China Racing team, who have had a slow start to the season. Salvador Duran will be driving for Amlin Aguri in place of Katherine Legge whilst Jean-Eric Vergne, who competed in Formula 1 for the last three seasons, will drive for Andretti. It will be the first time Vergne has driven a Formula E car so it will be fascinating to see how quickly he can adapt to these cars. Vergne’s move is yet another example of how attractive Formula E is to Formula 1 drivers, as he is set to race alongside former F1 drivers Nick Heidfeld, Karun Chandok and Jarno Trulli to name a few.

As for the circuit, it’s a tight yet fast street circuit set on the Uruguayan coast. There is a high number of hard braking zones however as the track is so narrow, overtaking could be very difficult. Qualifying will almost certainly be more important here than it was at Malaysia, where we saw moves at almost every corner of the circuit.

Lenght: 2.8 KM

Turns: 20

Number of laps: 31 laps

Race Start: 16:04 local / 18:04 UK

UK channel: 17:00 on ITV4

The Championship Battle

1) Lucas Di Grassi (ABT) 43 Pts

2) Sam Bird (Virgin) 40 Pts

3) Frank Montagny (Virgin) 18 Pts

4) Nicolas Prost (eDams) 18 Pts

5) Jerome d’Ambrosio (Dragon) 18 Pts

6) Karun Chandhok (Mahindra) 18 Pts

7) Sebastien Buemi (eDams) 15 Pts

8) Charles Pic (Andretti) 12 Pts

9) Oriol Servia (Dragon) 12 Pts

10) Nelson Piquet Jr (China Racing) 4 Pts

11) Antonio Felix Da Costa (Almin) 4 Pts

12) Jaime Alguersuari (Virgin) 4 Pts

13) Stephane Sarrazin (Venturi) 2 Pts

14) Daniel Abt (Abt) 2 Pts

15) Takuma Sato (Almin) 2 Pts

Lucas Di Grassi and Sam Bird lead the way in the inaugural championship and it’s hard to look elsewhere for a potential winner. With that in mind, keep an eye out for Nick Heidfeld; he’s been very quick in the first two races but in both races he was involved in collisions, neither of which were his fault.

Fanboost

You can give a fanboost vote to your favourite driver by going here:

http://fanboost.fiaformulae.com/

Can anyone stop Senna from receiving fanboost for the 3rd race in a row?

Complete EVENT SCHEDULE (UK TIMES) 

10.15 – Free Practice 1 (45 min)

12.30 – Free Practice 2 (45 min)

14.00 – Qualy Group 1

14.15 – Qualy Group 2

14.30 – Qualy Group 3

14.45 – Qualy Group 4

18.00 – E-Prix di Punta del Este

OFFICIAL LIVE STREAMING

http://www.fiaformulae.com/live

 

#FormulaE Returns With A Bang At Putrajaya!

After a quiet debut in China, the Malaysian ePrix showed everyone that Formula E is a series capable of providing some fantastic racing. The race was dominated by Sam Bird, who was in a league of his own throughout the race. 

The on track action saw 2 safety cars deployed with the first half of the ePrix, the first of which lead to Sam Bird taking the lead at the restart with a fantastic move on pole sitter Oriol Servia. Unfortunately there was more bad news for Nick Heidfeld, who was taken out after an ambitious move from Frank Montagny left him in the wall. Despite clearly having the pace in the last 2 races, Heidfeld leaves Malaysia without having scored a point. 

Many of the front runners began to switch cars around lap 18, but whilst pitting early helped some drivers, it backfired hugely from Karun Chandok, who fell down to 10th place despite challenging for the podium positions early on. Daniel Abt was the big winner during the stops; his early stop meant he was able to jump several front runners. He gambled on making the battery last to end but unfortunately fell back to 10th place in the closing laps. 

Later on, Trulli and Piquet collided at turn 1 whilst fighting for a potential podium. This then left Lucas di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi to fight it out 2nd place, with Sam Bird comfortably ahead. There was also some late drama as Bruno Senna pushed too hard and went straight into the wall at turn 9. The Brazilian had an action packed race, using his fanboost to fight back after an early incident with Matthew Brabham’s Andretti.

Whilst Sam Bird dominated, the real winner here was Formula E. After a slow start in Beijing, the street circuit in Putrajaya hosted a great race with plenty of overtaking and excitement. The drivers clearly felt more comfortable managing the battery throughout the stints, although it could be argued that this this was somewhat helped by the two safety car periods early on. The potential is clearly there though, and for a new series to deliver such a great race in just its second outing is very impressive.

If Malaysia is anything to go by, we could be in for a fantastic season.

As always, please tweet us your thoughts on the race over at @FormulaEDiary.

Anil Palmer

 

What to expect when #FormulaE returns.

After nearly a 2 month hiatus, Formula E finally returns to our TV screens, as the electric circus is welcomed to Putrajaya, Malaysia. What should we expect from this street circuit?

The Circuit

The racetrack in China had to be squeezed around a former Olympic Village and as a result the track layout was rather uninspired, with multiple straights separated by tight chicanes. The street circuit in Putrajaya is rather different, as Mahindra Racing’s Karun Chandok demonstrates:

The track clearly has much more flow than traditional street circuits, mainly due to the variety of corners it has. Whilst turns 5 and the hairpin will require good mechanical grip and low speed traction, turns 8 and 9 are clearly much quicker than anything China threw at the drivers. This is a track where the confident drivers will really be able to throw the cars into the corners whilst others will simply be trying to avoid the walls. Overtaking should also be possible, particularly into T1 and hairpin.

Weather

If you’re a fan of Formula 1, you’ll be well aware that Malaysian weather is fairly predictable; it will be hot, humid and wet, quite possible all at the same time. Weather forecasts suggest that rain is likely at one point, if not throughout the whole day, so for the first time we’ll get a true indication of what these cars can do in the rain. It’s worth remembering that the tyres used by these cars can work in both wet and dry conditions, so don’t expect multiple tyre changes!

Form Guide

The e.dams Renault team were simply unstoppable throughout testing but Nicolas Prost’s last minute move on Nick Heidfeld Venturi denied the pair of them a podium in Beijing. It would be foolish to look past either team heading into Malaysia as both teams seemed on top of the battery technology and Nick Heidfeld’s power management in Beijing was very impressive, allowing him to pull a last minute move on Prost from seemingly out of nowhere The Mahindra team will also be looking to threaten the podium, with Chandok impressing in China whilst Bruno Senna will be looking to bounce back from an incredibly disappointing opening race. Fanboost could also make a difference, although we have a feeling that Nicolas Prost won’t be receiving many votes this time round…

Have you missed Formula E? What do you want to see this weekend?

You can leave a comment below, or tweet us @formulaediary.

Anil Palmer

Fans reflect on the Beijing EPrix #FanShare

Fanshare3 com

We asked you guys to let us know what you made of the first ever Formula E race in 140 characters and here are some of your reactions:

@eracing_net Impressive start into the future of racing. Some minor problems but at least the series knows what to improve now.

@alexf1man good race, shame the camera angles made the cars look even slower! And what a sad way to end for Nick Heidfeld. 

@F1_fan_1 it was awesome to watch this new discipline , i enjoyed it alot and except the aweful accident everything was cool

@kkapilaggarwal the race is very interesting but it should be more than 1 hour like 3 cars per driver :)

@LiviaCastrioto  qualifying sooooö boooring!

@IzzyKennedy A bit slow on formation lap and safety car. Pit stops need to drop minimum time. Great racing and sounds surprisingly good!

@hedgeryhoops a race fought closer than we could have thought, great battling throughout for a fresh and exciting new series!

@MattHunter09 Great to see sideways action from these new cars. The noise is certainly unique.

@mynameisdomii The last lap was horrible… how easly you can lost great position!!! However I’ll definately go to FE in Berlin!

@dibird21 pit stops too long. Could be used for strategy/tactics if minimum time was lowered

@myformula_e Plenty to think about. Great drama. Need to work on swap overs. Not convinced by fan boost. Amazing overtaking action!

@richard_mackin just watched the highlights show, proper racing with proper drivers!

@richard_mackin they sound pretty cool, it’s like watching Tron

@ploddingpiggy been a fab start and should definitely dispel any doubters!

@Drogyn1701 I loved it. Only patience I have to exercise is for the long wait between races. Hoping for a more crowded calendar in 2015.

@_Ryan_LH44 A brilliant race! Some close racing and good overtakes! The future is bright!

@One80Darts Awesome event. This will develop into an awesome series

@ClshahCs it sounds like a pack of huge rc cars. I like it

@liamthenry Outstanding opener. Montagny magnificent. Di Grassi gifted. Pitstops prolonged. Heidfeld harpooned. Prost punished.

A largely positive reaction we’d say! Formula E is off to a great start.

Keep your opinions coming in to us @FormulaEDiary

Fans must be patient with #FormulaE

As far as debuts go, round 1 of the FIA Formula E World Championship couldn’t have gone much better. There was action up and down the field throughout, the grandstands were full and the heart stopping last corner, last lap incident between Prost and Heidfeld certainly got everybody talking. Fans at home seemed to be engaged as well, with over 40million people watching the event live around the world and 1billion twitter interactions taking place. For the most part it was a huge success, laying down a great foundations for the sport to now build on. I do however feel that there are some issues that need to be addressed if the fans are going to come back race after race.

Across social media and a number of online forums, it seems many felt that the cars were far too slow in race trim and I can see why this could put people off. Whilst the cars looked fantastic in qualifying with the full 200kw / 270bhp battery power available to them, come the race at times they appeared a sluggish. Why? Well the race was not an all out sprint; it was about managing the battery and getting to the end as quickly as possible. Unfortunately it did seem that the race distance was just that bit too much of a stretch for the battery unit;, however I’m not sure that this will continue to be so problematic.

As much as I hate to compare Formula E to Formula 1, it’s worth remembering that the first few races of the 2014 F1 season were pretty poor, both in terms of racing and as a spectacle. The sound was gone, the cars were heavy and slow and there were very few battles over the course of the race. Shortly before the Bahrain GP, the former Ferrari President joined a number of leading F1 figures in openly criticised the new Formula. Since then we have had a number of absolutely fantastic races, with some all times classics at venues like Canada, Bahrain and Hungary, with some incredible duels between drivers at tracks like Germany and Silverstone.

So what’s changed?

The early F1 races lacked excitement because teams were simply trying to understand the new power units and get the cars to end of the race. It was all about gathering data and maximising points in the early flyaway races; now that the teams are further along the learning curve we’re seeing much more excitement. I really do believe that Formula E is similar. The technology and cars are so different to anything we’ve seen, the street circuit so different from Donington Park race track, that it’s no surprise the opening race consisted of drivers simply trying to reach the end of the race. Once the drivers and teams get more confortable with the cars and, more importantly, gain further understanding of how to maximise the potential of the battery, I’m sure we’ll see much faster and exciting racing.

So give Formula E the chance it deserves. Yes there are some rough edges, but that was to be expected for such a unique series and the first race at that. For now, let’s just sit back and appreciate something new, different and – unlike other categories of motorsport – a series that can really make a difference to the motor industry.

Anil Parmar

A Step Into The Unknown: What to expect from the #BeijingEPrix.

This weekend will go down in the chapters of motorsport history. For the first time ever an electric ePrix will take place, hoping to change the future of the motor industry forever. So what can the teams expect from Beijing?

The Circuit

The 3.44km track will be based around Beijing’s famous Olympic ‘Birds Nest’ Stadium and will feature 20 turns, most of which are either quick chicanes or 90 degree corners. The 25 lap race will see each driver use 2 Spark-Renault electric cars, built by Spark Racing Technology and in collaboration with a variety of manufactures, including McLaren, Williams, Dallara and Michelin.

As with all street tracks, the circuit will be lined with walls and the track itself will be very bumpy, particularly under braking. Expect drivers to be punished for missing their apexes and to get flirtatious with the walls, particularly during qualifying.

The circuit is virtually the opposite of Donington Park where pre-season testing took place, so the teams will be going into the first round of season with little relevant data. Whereas Donington was fast and flowing, Beijing is much more technical with many braking points, allowing for the battery in each car to cool before the driver puts the throttle down again. As a result, we’ll see less overheating problems compared to Donington, where drivers often followed 2 or 3 quick laps with a slow one to cool the battery.

Weather

Air temperature is expected to be in the mid 20’s throughout the day and the chance of rain is minimal. Cloud cover could cause some issues with track temperature and therefore tyre warming; as the entire event takes place over one day, we may well see variances in track temperature throughout the event, giving engineers and drivers something to think about. The chance of rain is very low.

Race Day

There will be two practice sessions at the beginning of the day, giving fans a great opportunity to watch the drivers explore the limit on this new track. Qualifying will follow, with the format involving four groups of five cars. Each group will be given 10 minutes to set a time. The drivers will only be able to use one car during this session but they will have access to full power (200kw / 270bhp) throughout the session. During the ePrix, drivers will be restricted to 150kw of power, however a driver with FanBoost will temporarily be given an increased power output of 180kw for 5 seconds. Fans at the event will also be treated to a range of entertainment, attractions and live music.

In the UK, Formula E coverage will be live on ITV4 from 8am (Highlights 6pm).

Are you excited for the first ever Formula E ePrix? Give us your thoughts in the comments section below.

Anil Parmar

Competition: Signed Bruno #Senna T-Shirt!

Update: This competition is now closed. We’ll be bringing you more competitions throughout the Formula E season, so stayed tuned!

For your chance to win a t-shirt signed by Bruno Senna – Mahindra Racing driver – simply head on over to our twitter.

Senna comp

One lucky winner will be chosen at random on Saturday 6th September 2014. Best of luck!

The first ever Formula E race takes place on the 13th September 2014 in Beijing!