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2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,900 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Hockenheim – Home of the 2012 German Grand Prix

The first Formula One German Grand Prix was held at Hockenheim in 1970, in somewhat controversial circumstances. At the French Grand Prix earlier that season, drivers had decided to boycott the upcoming race at the Nürburgring unless significant changes were made; Hockenheim being the only viable alternative.

Set in the Rhine valley, the 4.574km (2.842 mile) circuit has itself had its safety concerns; in 1968 it claimed the life of Jim Clark during a Formula Two race, and has gone on to claim a further 4 lives during test sessions and competitive meetings alike.

Hockenheim would be the circuit of choice for the German Grand Prix from 1977 to 2006, with the exception of 1985 when the race was held at the reconfigured Nürburgring. From 1995, Germany had hosted two Grands Prix; the German Grand Prix at Hockenheim and either the European Grand Prix or the Luxembourg Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. This would change in 2007 however, when it was announced that the two tracks would alternate hosting the event and only one race per season would be held in Germany.

It later became apparent, that with the financial difficulties of hosting a Grand Prix, it was unlikely the circuit would be able to continue to host the event past 2010. But in October 2009, agreement was reached that the German Grand Prix would remain until 2018, subject to FOA agreeing to cover any losses the event incurs.

Hockenheim2012.svg

The current configuration of the circuit, shown above, was a result of a significant re-design following the incident ridden 2000 race. Having started the race from 18th on the grid, Rubens Barrichello would eventually win in changing weather conditions. With all the overtaking maneuvers taking place in the forest section of the track, none of the spectators would be able to see the action.

Jean Alesi would suffer an accident at the third chicane after colliding with Pedro Diniz in the braking zone. Added to these incidents, a McLaren employee breached the track’s perimeter on the main straight, by way of protestation of his treatment and thus exposed the track’s security vulnerabilities.

All this combined, F1 officials demanded the shortening of the 6.823km (4.240 mile) circuit, threatening to discontinue racing there unless demands were met. Their argument was based on the existing layout being no longer suited to modern Formula One racing, perhaps highlighted by the emergence of tracks such as Sepang, in an era when Ecclestone was displaying a hunger for emerging circuits.

Herman Tilke would take responsibility for the remodeling of the layout. This would not be without controversy however, the old forest section of the track was torn up and replanted with trees, eliminating any return to the old layout for future F1 events or historic car events.

Look out for a preview of the 2012 race appearing on the blog shortly.

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Build up to Monaco 2012

Not only is the Monaco Grand Prix considered one of the most glamorous and prestigious of them all, it is also one of the most demanding tracks on the calendar, providing drivers with tight corners, elevation changes and the vision-imparing tunnel exit.

Given the fact that competitors must, at least reduce to the lowest speeds on the calendar, it is the only Grand Prix that falls below the FIA’s mandated 305 kilometre minimum race distance.

Since it’s inception in 1929, two drivers have met their fate in the harbour of Port Hercules, had it not been an existing fixture on the calendar, it surely would not be there today, due to the FIA’s strict regulations on Driver safety.

All of this however adds to its draw as one of the most prestigious events of the season. The uniqueness and excitement of the weekend, as it pushes the competitors to their absolute limit, in probably the most picturesque location the calendar has to offer.

Despite its notoriety, there have been some alterations over the years, but this year’s organisers, the Automobile Club de Monaco (ACM) announced they have made several changes in an effort to improve safety around the streets of the Principality.

The most notable change is to the chicane after the tunnel exit. The surface there has undergone a laser study, which revealed a discrepancy of at least 20cm in the height of the track within the braking area. This is where Sergio Perez crashed last year suffering a concussion during qualifying. The wall in which he hit has also been pushed back 14.6 metres.

Meanwhile, some trees have been removed from the area surrounding the Pit Exit, allowing it to be widened and straightened; this should allow drivers to be able to rejoin the track at a higher speed than possible before.

Other changes include the tyre barriers at Sainte Devote and the Swimming Pool Complex (La Piscine) sections being replaced with TecPro Barriers and the addition of high-grip surfaces in the sections previously mentioned.

A contact at the ACM said that “The various measures demonstrate a continued will to mordernise the Circuit”.

So, who will come out on top of the pack in Qualifying; who will dominate the race? There are many questions that need to be answered in the coming days, but all will be revealed come the afternoon of the 27th May. Like you all, I am relishing the prospect, especially as I will be watching it first-hand!

With thanks to my contacts at the Automobile Club de Monaco for their input.

The 2012 Season so far…

Welcome back!

It is a pleasure to be writing about the sport that I am passionate about once again; unfortunately the pressures of work have prevented me from doing so of late, so I hope I find you all well and as passionate as ever about Formula One!

As we all will have seen, the dominance of the Red Bull Team over the previous two seasons seems to have abated, the spoils so far this season have been shared between McLaren, Ferrari, Mercedes, Red Bull and Williams respectively. Who would have thought it?

It seems that the contributing factor for the lack of dominance from any one team so far, is due to the innovations of the new breed of Pirelli tyres, which have delivered a very unpredictable level of tyre wear in all races; some teams have a greater level of wear than others, producing a slower race-pace, others however are able to better manage the wear on their tyres, giving them a better overall race-pace.

With the massive change of dominance from the last two seasons by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel (which your author is very pleased about!), five races into 2012, we have not only five different driver’s atop the podium at each race, but five different Constructors sharing the victories.

There certainly have been a few surprises this season; Grosjean qualifying third in Melbourne; the Safety Car effectively determining the placings in that race; a Red Flag in Kuala Lumpur; and who would have thought a Mercedes one-two in Shanghai was possible? Equally surprising was Kamui Kobayashi qualifying third in China. Not to mention debut victories from Nico Rosberg and Pastor Maldanado at Shanghai and Barcelona respectively.

It looks to be a good season for race fans with no one team or driver dominating proceedings thus far, how long this can continue is but a guess at this stage.

The upcoming race in Monaco next weekend is certainly a prospect to relish; both for all Formula 1 fans and your author. I have secured an invitation to the Hermitage Hotel to watch the race itself and am thoroughly excited to see first-hand how the race evolves.

Monaco is renowned for being a difficult and unpredictable track on which to race; having looked at the long-term forecast, the weather will surely be a contributory factor with potentially 4mm of rain forecast for the afternoon of the race. Qualifying may also be affected, with a current prediction of around 6mm of rain on Saturday afternoon.

As a passionate and dedicated McLaren fan, one only wishes that they can overcome the difficulties they have experienced in the pit-lane of late and that they can bring an altogether improved package to the Principality this coming weekend. The prospects of an eventful race are certainly all there and I look forward to providing you all with a great race report and first-hand account.

Thanks for your continued support of the blog, I hope you continue to enjoy it!

Blog Update

Having lain dormant for far too long now, I am pleased to report that I will be reviving this blog.

Over the last year, the pressures of work have distracted me from my love of writing about the sport that I adore and I hope that those of you who used to follow my posts before will continue to do so, as well as promoting it to your friends and fellow F1 fans.

The first installment will be a spectator’s view from the Monaco Grand Prix, my local race! Having secured an invite to watch the Grand Prix from the Hermitage Hotel in Monaco, I hope to be able to provide you with a great account of the race, with a few pictures to boot!

In the meantime, please feel free to check out my previous posts, comment or leave requests for articles that you would like to see on the Blog.

Follow me on Twitter @TheVanquish and remember to tell all of your friends about the blog!

A Christmas Message from The Vanquish

After seeing out my first F1 Season as a blogger, I wanted to wish all of my readers, old and new, a very happy Christmas and a prosperous 2011.

It has been a busy year for me personally this year, after taking on a new job, and I haven’t always been able to write as much as I wanted, especially after each race.

I have plans for a couple of my Grand Prix Legends pieces over Christmas, I’ll let you know what to expect, and when via Twitter (twitter.com/TheVanquish), or why not subscribe to receive notifications by email?

So this message is a personal thank you from me for your support and patience during the year. I promise I will try and write more next season!

The Vanquish

Grand Prix Legends – You Decide!!

Having neglected my blog for a while, for which I apologise, I am getting the writing bug again!

I’m hoping to have some time in the near future to write another of my Grand Prix Legends posts, and I want you to decide who I should write about. There have been some suggestions already via my Twitter Feed, and good ones they are too, but a vote is the only way to decide, so over to you!

I’ll leave the poll open until next Sunday, to give everyone time to influence the decision, GET VOTING!!