F1 Badger Meets the BBC F1 TV Team

This is worth a listen. F1 Badger visited Monza and bumped into some of the BBC TV on-air crew, namely the anchor Jake Humphrey, commentator Jonathon Legard and pit reporters Lee McKenzie and the legend that is Ted Kravitz.

Hit the link and play the embedded audio files:
http://www.f1badger.com/2009/09/badger-meets-the-bbc/

It is worth a visit for McKenzie’s interview alone, it really is very good.

I also liked Legard’s actually, he puts up a solid defence of his commentary saying it takes a long time to change roles. I still not a fan of his style, though has he got better during the season? Perhaps for one of the upcoming races I’ll watch both BBC feeds to find out.

With thanks to Dank for pointing this out in the comments at Sidepodcast.

F1 Preview: Australian Grand Prix 2009

Finally, after all the waiting, it’s here!!

* * * *
FIA Formula 1 World Championship
– ING Australian Grand Prix (1/17)
– Albert Park
– Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
www.formula1.com
F1.com track map / F1Fanatic’s track guide
Live timing (Java required, free registration required, worth it)

* WARNING *

In the UK the clocks will change on Sunday morning. At 2am GMT we will jump to 3am British Summer Time (BST). Thus Qualifying and Race start at the same time locally but one hour apart for us.

Preview
Welcome to the slightly delayed preview to the Australian GP!

Circuit
Albert Park is a semi-street track set around a lake in the city of Melbourne. It isn’t a traditional street track, being as it runs through a park and the barriers aren’t always up tight to the racing surface. The racetrack isn’t as bumpy as your average street track – although this year the drivers seem to have found more bumps than usual.

The deceptively fast first corner is always a concern, more so this year with the extended width of the front wings this year. You know how drivers like to win the race at the first corner? Well this is the first corner of the Championship and some of them think they can win the title in the first corner!

Of course this is followed up by a medium/long straight into the tight heavy braking area of turn 3. Some guys who were careful in turn 1 decide turn 3 is the better opportunity, sometimes they are right, sometimes they are wrong. The guys will need to temper their enthusiasm to avoid crashes!

Here are two onboard laps to refamiliarise yourself with the layout, assuming you haven’t already been watching Free Practice!

The first is Jenson Button’s 2006 pole lap described by Martin Brundle, then of ITV:

Here is Kimi Raikkonen’s 2007 pole lap described by David Hobbs of SPEED:

Rule Changes
There are far too many variables to discuss with regards to the new rules and the time for explaining them in long reams of text is over. What we do know is that both Ferraris, both McLarens, both Renaults and Nick Heidfeld of BMW will all be using KERS this weekend. Force India, BrawnGP and Toyota say they are not running KERS, and the remainder are tight-lipped on the subject with speculation that Williams and others may be running it.

If you’ve been away from all the pre-season hype you may be aware of some major changes this year but perhaps not the specifics. Everyone else could probably use a refresher on the eve of the first race and this video is ideal for the purpose:

(7m40s, Inside Track from SidepodcastTV
you may prefer to try the low-res version)

Form
BrawnGP have been running exceptionally well in testing and have carried that into Free Practice. McLaren and Ferrari are stuck in the midfield among suggestions of sandbagging, running heavy to mask their true pace. I’m not sure this is true. Ferrari seem to have good speed over a long run if not over a lap, but they aren’t at the absolute cutting edge of lap time. McLaren appear to be struggling much more.

Williams are also fast however this has happened with Williams over the last few years, they are quick at Albert Park and then have a dire race in Sepang. Let’s hope the latter trend is put to rest this season. Interestingly Toyota and Force India have shown promising form in practice.

What is clear is the grid is very well shaken up and yet very close together, with only 2 seconds separating front to back in Friday FP2. The combination of all the different factors makes it incredibly difficult to predict what will happen on both Saturday and Sunday, something we haven’t been able to say about F1 for a very long time!! I think we’re going to enjoy this season.


UK TV

Q: BBC One will air Qualifying live at 5am GMT Saturday, session begins at 6am. Rerun at 1pm.
R: BBC One will air the Race live at 6am BST Sunday, race starts at 7am. Rerun at 1pm.
H: BBC Three will air 1hr Highlights at 7pm BST Sunday.

US TV

Q: Speed will air Qualifying live at 2am ET, it seems they are jumping straight in to the green flag unless I have my times wrong.
R: Speed will air the Race live at 1:30am ET with the race to start at 2am. Rerun at 4:30pm.

Canada should get coverage on TSN featuring BBC commentary.
EDIT – you used to be able to choose Speed but you may want to see this link and check what you can see at the time, although I’m not sure why you’d voluntarily sit through all their ads.

Race Notes
I will again be writing notes during the race for upload straight after the event. I won’t be doing a live blog, it’s more a journal of noteworthy events which is written live, checked for editing and uploaded shortly after the podium ceremony. If you’re sitting here killing time before Qual or Race because of the timezones, you can click here to see notes on previous races.

Live Comments
This season I will also be in the Sidepodcast.com Live Comments for all races and most qualifying sessions. Fire up the Live Commenting Live..Thing at the appointed time and join the appropriate thread at the top of the screen, then just type away! I’ve been keeping up with the comments during the latter end of the off-season, but not a live F1 GP before – it should be fun. You’re welcome to join us as long as you keep the sweary exclamations away.. I think I’ll struggle with that bit.. I may be quiet during races while I concentrate on the Race Notes, however I should be active during qualifying.

I will of course have TwitterFox to hand for those all-important tweets.

Support events
V8 Supercars*, Australian GT, Australian Formula Ford, Aussie Racing Cars, Historic Formula 5000, Mini Challenge, Minardi F1x2 two-seaters, Ultimate Speed Comparison (road car vs V8 Supercar vs 2008 BMW F1 car)
(these events are spread across the weekend)

TMR Gets Airtime on Sidepodcast

That’s right, I guested on my very first podcast!

I appeared alongside many others on Sidepodcast.com‘s recent Episode #97 with a modest little prediction for the upcoming Australian Grand Prix.

The podcast featured predictions from a whole host of regular commenters from Sidepodcast’s Live Comments, many of whom have their own blogs which I recommend you check out (I’ll be updating my links over the weekend).

If some of them seem at ease on the calls it’s because they regularly call in to the various podcasts produced by SPC. This was my first phone-in to any show anywhere!

You can listen via two methods:

– If you’ve got less than an hour I highly recommend you listen to the full Episode as it weighs in at a perfectly-formed 43 minutes, an ideal length in my opinion because you don’t have to set aside your evening to hear it! There are a variety of options for listening in, just go to the page to find out more. The predictions appear in the ‘Feedback’ section but don’t worry about that, you’ll come to it soon enough.

– If you’re more pushed for time please check out the 6 minute Predictions Montage.

While you are on the site take a listen to this week’s hilarious Panel featuring guest host Gavin Brown! The podcast edition should appear later this week so look out for it.

There are also a variety of F1 Season Previews to look out for as well as an hour-long fascinating chat with F1 scribe Joe Saward who is the man behind GrandPrix.com as well as being a published author of racing books. (Meesh, if you’re reading this, he talks about the trials of being a journalist in the F1 media centre – some things don’t change, even in F1!).
Even if you don’t listen to any of the other items above, at least make sure you listen to that discussion. It’s worth it.

SPC Crash Course
These guys ‘live comment’ everything. That is to say, a ‘live blog’ but with all the commenters joining in with conversation in real time. You can’t quite imagine it until you see it, so go there now!

To keep up with chat between events, go here: Doohickey
For commenting during events, go here: LCLT

Just keep it clean and keep an eye on what thread you’re posting in and you’ll be fine.

Warning: This will take over your life. It has mine – and I don’t see that as a bad thing. That’s when you know you’re hooked.

I will be in the comments for all F1 races and for as many qualifying sessions as I can make. During races I may be a little quiet as I’ll be taking notes for this blog, though I do hope to throw my oar in from time to time. These guys do the practice sessions as well, unfortunately I have to work. Grr, damned work, grr.

PS – I still hate my voice

F1 Week: WMSC decisions

Welcome to F1 Week on Too Much Racing! I’m planning to post daily in the run up to this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, the first F1 race of the year.

Last week the FIA World Motorsport Council (WMSC) announced some changes for 2009 and 2010, some of which were quickly rescinded after FOTA pointed out they were done without the consultation of the teams, which is necessary when we are so close to the start of a season. If they’d announced it earlier the teams wouldn’t have had a choice but to accept them – I may be wrong but I believe the cut off is 1st January.

The WMSC decisions were:

To award the World Drivers’ Championship (WDC) to the driver who wins the most races, irrespective of points standings.
Not Adopted
Thankfully FOTA got this one stopped because this is a stupid idea. It got a lot of press around the world in time for the new season, and I get the niggling feeling that maybe this was the intention all along? In any case, FOTA’s own proposal to increase the points awarded for podium finishes was in my opinion much more sensible.

Teams may conduct three 1-day test sessions for young drivers, between the end of the final GP of the year and 31st December. Drivers must not have either taken part in an F1 event or tested an F1 car for more than four days during the previous 24 months.
Adopted
This is an excellent move to ensure the traditional young driver evaluations of November/December are able to continue through the test ban. My main query is with the chosen 24 month restriction which means a certain M. Schumacher becomes eligible soon.

Teams may conduct eight 1-day straight line aero tests between 1 Jan and 31 Dec 2009
Adopted
This is interesting because it has been backdated to 1st January, and certain teams (including McLaren and Renault) are known to have conducted extensive straight line testing at Kemble airfield. It would be interesting to know how much of their allocation has been used already and if they already knew this rule was coming in.

The FIA will publish the weights of cars after qualifying.
Adopted
This is in response to comments that there is too much guesswork after Q3 (qualifying with race fuel) and the beginning of the race. Instead of waiting until cars make their stops, we ought now to be able to guess the strategies. But wait! We have KERS now, and some teams aren’t running it. KERS is worth 30kg so if two teams are running 615kg, which of them is running a medium load with KERS and which is running a heavy load and no KERS? We are none the wiser! Thanks FIA!

Tyres: ‘Wets’ are now ‘Intermediates’ and ‘Extreme Wets’ are now ‘Wets’.
Adopted
On the face of it this seems pointless, but it is an important change as it clears up some confusion. Bridgestone always referred to wets and extremes, yet the paddock, teams, drivers, fans and media all referred to inters and wets. The latter has been common terminology for over a decade and actually brings Bridgestone into line with everyone else.

Drivers must be available in their team space in pit lane for autographs on the first day of practice.
Adopted
This looks good but really, who has access to pit lane even on Friday? The fans? Not always! Many GPs have pit walkabouts, I don’t believe they all do. This seems mainly to benefit sponsors and Paddock Club members. Not good enough.

Drivers eliminated from Qualifying, drivers retiring from the race and drivers finishing outside the top three must all make themselves available to the media for interviews.
Adopted
Excellent move! This was called for by FOTA, and effectively prevents a driver from leaving the track when the race is in progress until he’s answered questions. Both Raikkonen and Hamilton have been guilty of disappearing without a word when their day hasn’t gone well. The top 3 are covered by the press conference which we should all see after the race, but can get skipped by broadcasters.

During the race every team must make a senior spokesman available to the media.
Adopted
Teams have usually been pretty good at this in recent years but this makes it official.

“A number of further amendments were made to the 2009 Technical Regulations. Full details on http://www.fia.com shortly.”
Curious… This was announced one week ago and there isn’t anything newer on the site to do with Tech Regs.

2010: In addition to existing rules which remain stable, all teams will have the option to compete with a budget cap.
There’s a lot of words to state the cap will be £30m but that technical development will be much less restrictive than the existing rules. It’s an interesting concept and I’m very curious, yet it’ll create a two-class F1 and that’s not right. Everyone should run to the same formula. Multi-class racing is for sportscars, which does it very well! This one still has a long way to run.

Side-note: interesting they use pounds instead of euros, the FIA’s normal currency after they switched from US dollars a few years ago.

There was also some housekeeping about changing HondaF1 to BrawnGP. This had the knock-on effect this week of the car numbers changing and potentially denying Brawn any monies owing to Honda. It’s interesting that the FIA treated Brawn as a completely new entrant, yet Force India was not a new entrant when it bought Midland. I can’t work that one out although GrandPrix.com suggests it may have something to do with Honda breaching their contract to race in F1 because they withdrew without a buyer already lined up.

During this week I’ll come back with a recap of all rules changes for 2009, i.e. wings, KERS, the new Safety Car rules; a track guide; my guess at a form guide for the weekend; anything else that takes my fancy!

* * * *
Also in the WSMC decisions were some matters for other FIA series:

The future World Rally Car will be based on S2000, with modified aerodynamics.
Present WR cars will not be eligible for the championship from 2011 (they will still be able to enter rallies, but not win the title).
Proposal to limit WR cars to 1.6 litres from 2013.

The FIA GT calendar was amended to change the date of the Bucharest street race and the Zolder finale, and to replace the Argentinian round with an event at Paul Ricard.
This looked bad until Stephane Ratel of series promoter SRO issued his own release clarifying that Argentina will be a feature event in the brand new FIA World GT Series calendar in 2010.

There were also several paragraphs stating the FIA’s intention to be more green, including potentially setting up a new ‘energy efficiency’ championship for manufacturers, laboratories, universities and individuals ‘without become a spending race’.

Okay, see ya tomorrow.