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Motor Sport Racing

New Year, New Toys

As we await F1 Winter Testing to begin, we're working on other creative ways to keep you engaged.

Pinterest - the virtual pinboard

New on the social networking scene is Pinterest. It is a virtual pinboard: you find things that you are interested in or inspired by on the internet, and you "pin" online images and videos of the objects to your virtual bulletin boards. Like tumblr, other users can "re-pin" your objects to their boards if they share your interest. Broken down, it is another way to socially interact over shared interests on the web.

Between August and December 2011, Pinterest has grown from 1.2 million users to over 4 million.

The majority of Pinterest users appear to use it for style, design and cooking inspiration. Instead of creating 537 internet bookmarks for every gluten-free recipe that you find, you can "Pin" them to your self-titled "Gluten Free Pinboard" and have them in one spot.

What does this have to do with racing?

I created an Austin Grand Prix Pinterest account in December with the intent of organizing pictures and videos of motorsport and everything related - What books can I read about Formula 1? What movies are out there about historic motorsport moments? Who are the F1 drivers and teams? Instead of getting sucked into a black hole of F1 info, you can peruse our boards and if you're interested on knowing more about a specific topic, just "follow" that Pinterest board for updates.

What appeals to me the most about Pinterest is that you can find others who share your interests and discover related content that you may never have known about before.  To learn more about Pinterest, check out their website, read this beginner's guide from Mashable or the Wikipedia entry.  Other racing brands are jumping on the bandwagon, as SPEED TV announced their Pinterest account today.  As they say in the Pinterest world, Happy Pinning!

Here is a link to The Austin Grand Prix on Pinterest. I will be updating our "Pins" frequently so check back for new content weekly.

TIP: You must request an invitation to join Pinterest. If you need one, send me your email address at Pinterest {at}

The Austin Grand Prix on

Shanghai and Other Things

A Thriller in China

I’m not sure if the big winner of last weekend’s grand prix in Shanghai was race winner Lewis Hamilton, whose daring overtaking and brilliant race strategy secured his first win of the season, or drive-the-wheels-off-the-car Mark Webber, whose ascent to a podium finish after a P18 start was among the most thrilling that I have seen.  (Or maybe it was all you Webber fans who put him on your fantasy F1 team like me…)

Jaime Alguersuari retired on lap 10 after a pit stop mishap. (photo courtesy of Reuters)

No doubt Hamilton rides a swell of momentum to Istanbul as F1 charges on to Europe for the next three races – a similar momentum carried by an underperforming Webber as of late, which couldn’t have come a moment sooner for him.  Let’s not forget the other big headline in the 23 drivers of the field of 24 who remained on track at the checkered flag to make the wheel-to-wheel driving all the more interesting (only STR-Ferrari’s Jaime Alguersuari retired from the race after his right rear wheel popped off shortly after exiting the pits).

Whichever of last weekend’s stories you favor, I’d be willing to bet most of what I own that the lot of F1 fans would agree that round three of 2011 was among the more dramatic and exciting races in recent history.  At the forefront of the big stories so far this season are the new Pirelli tyres.  At the beginning of the season, I myself wasn’t a big fan of them or the FIA’s intention for them to wear out so quickly, but it’s hard to defend my original argument when you examine the action of the China race.  If nothing else, being forced to pit more often than the old Bridgestone tyres required generally gives way to the possibility of more overtaking chances and more race shakeups overall.

Specific to the Chinese GP however, we saw that those drivers who pitted early and often seemed to move up as the race went on – though most didn’t finish the race as high in the ranks as their best running position –while most who stuck to the 2-stop strategy found themselves losing tenths of seconds (or more) on each lap by race end as their tyres disintegrated from under them.  To understand that, all you have to do is take a look at Webber’s Simply in terms of positions gained, Mark Webber turned in one of the best performances of his career in Shanghai. (photo courtesy of AFP/Getty Images)race.  After a dismal qualifying performance on Saturday, he moved up 15 spots, mostly in the second half of the race, on a 3-stop strategy and was turning in laps 2 and 3 seconds faster than much of his equally-skilled competition.  Hell, if he had gotten around some of the slower traffic that kept him at bay in the earlier half of the race, we might be talking instead about the greatest come from behind victory in F1 instead of Hamilton’s immense effort to take P1.  The other big mover and shaker behind Webber, also thanks to the 3-stop strategy (and of course, years of experience and winning F1 races and championships), was veteran Michael Schumacher.  Though the majority of his performances on track since returning to an F1 car full-time last season have been, to say the least, a bit lackluster, he and his Mercedes crew engineered an admirable 8th place finish after starting from P14.

 Considering the night-and-day difference in performance between a fresh set of Pirelli option (soft compound) tyres vs. a worn-out set, the 3-stop race was certainly the way to go for China -and it likely will be so for many other tracks on the calendar yet to see the new tyre provider.  A big part of this strategy included starting the race on the prime (hard compound) tyres, which were a whole second slower per lap than the options in Shanghai, and make your first pit before everyone else to switch to the options. (Remember that each driver has to use at least one set of each compound during the race.)

And let’s not forget the addition of the DRS (Drag Reduction System, or movable rear wing), and the return of KERS (Kinetic Energy Recovery System) this season.  I may personally criticize the rules governing where and when the DRS may be used (“let ‘em drive” I say), but like the new tyres it has also given way to some great moments on track - namely some of those gripping overtaking situations on Shanghai’s unusually long back straight going into turn 14.

Undoubtedly, the new equipment and regulations introduced (or reintroduced) this season have added to the racing excitement of Formula 1.  And in the end, that’s what the fans want – clever race strategy, brilliant driving, and exciting races.  As dominating of performances as championship points leader and current world champion Sebastian Vettel has been delivering since last season, he will surely be in the crosshairs of the other talented drivers wielding all these new weapons in the races to come.  If the Chinese GP was any indication, the new additions of 2011 are sure to deliver a more level playing field and much closer race finishes than in years past.  Beware, Seb -I don’t think we’re in 2010 anymore.

The Return of KERS

After sitting on the sidelines last year, KERS makes its way back into the cars for the 2011 season.  This is a good thing if you drive for a team that has seamlessly integrated the heavy system into your car so that it can deliver up to an 80-hp boost after hard braking in the corners (this bonus power equates to a 0.3 to 0.5 second faster lap time if you are leaning on it as much as you should be).  This is a bad thing if you are Mark Webber (or Sebastian Vettel) and it has just been dead weight in your car since the season started.  Sebastian was able to use his KERS for parts of the Chinese GP, however poor Webber was instructed not to use his in Shanghai for the third time in as many races.  (Just imagine how much faster he still could have willed his car around the track with it working properly…)  As much brainpower as Red Bull Renault has on board, I still quite don’t know why they haven’t worked out the kinks on the systems in both cars yet (but then again, I don’t work for a multi-million dollar racing organization).  Given my comments above about leveling the playing field though, fixing these systems should be priority one for RBR if they want to hang at the top of pack again this season.

We Really Have to Wait Another Two Weeks?

What of the drivers’ performances through the first three rounds?  Everyone expects the big three (RBR, Mercedes McLaren, and Ferrari) to be at the top, but what about the other guys?  At the beginning of the year, I was stoked to see what rising stars Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg of Lotus Renault and Mercedes, respectively, could do on track this year.  If you have followed F1 even since the beginning of the 2011 season you know that Kubica was seriously injured in an unfortunate rally car crash back in February; however he was recently released from the hospital and is reportedly eager to get back in his F1 car as soon as possible.  His replacement Nick Heidfeld scored a podium finish in Malaysia though, Nico Rosberg's last podium was at Silverstone in 2010, tying his best finish of 3rd place. (photo courtesy of Getty Images Europe) which paired with teammate Vitaly Petrov’s 3rd place finish in Australia shows that Lotus Renault has a car that can hang with the big three at the top.  My fingers remain crossed for Kubica and a full recovery for him though so he can get back in the driver’s seat someday.

Rosberg has always had the talent but in my opinion still needs something to help him gel it all together.  And he hasn’t had any help from a bumpy season start either.  It was unfortunate that he finished the first race in Melbourne with a retirement after Williams-Cosworth driver Rubens Barichello collided with him (on a foolish, late dive on the inside of Rosberg attempting to overtake him in a tight turn).  And though he finished 5th in China he didn’t drive a particularly great race in Malaysia, finishing only 12th.  to Now that he has hopefully started to settle into his car, this year I will look for him get better acquainted with the podium, snag some good points in the championship race, and – dare I say – maybe capture that ever-elusive first race win?

As for the surprise driver not originally on my radar – Force India and Formula 1 newbie Paul Di Resta of Britain.  In both Australian and Malaysian races, he snagged a 10th place finish after starting 14th and has displayed a lot of promise even after just three races.  He may not have the team this season to challenge for race wins, however he does have good race smarts and I’m anxious to see his skills as an F1 driver develop over the season.


Conning your friends and loved ones into seeing a great film (about Formula One)

Image Courtesy Working Title FilmsJalopnik has posted a handy dandy guide to convincing others, who probably don't maintain the sort of fevered emotions about racing that we do, that they should go and see Senna. We here at The Austin GP are ardent supporters of this film, not just because it's about the demigod Ayrton Senna, but because it is quite simply a great film. You should go see it at any and every opportunity, then send Asif and Manish an email thanking them for doing the impossible - making the esoteric accessible and captivating to the average person.

Be sure to check out the interview with Asif following Senna's premiere at SXSW.

Anyway, as promised, here's the link to Justin Hyde's three-point methodology for tricking others into doing what they ought to, anyway... go out and see Senna in theaters right now.

Audi Coming to F1 - Design Study


Could Audi make it's way to Formula 1?

That's the question on a lot of people's minds with the new engine regulations set forth for the 2013 season.  Many new manufacturers have expressed interest in returning to or joining Formula 1 for the first time thanks to the new four cylinder turbocharged specifications.  The Head of Volkswagen Motorsport, Kris Nissen, spoke in May 2010 about the potential for Volkswagen to consider entering Formula 1 and other racing series as a result of new regulations surrounding engine specifications. Now that FIA has announced the 2013 F1 regulations stipulating 1.6 liter four cylinder engines be used, it's now closer than ever to see VW enter the series.

Kim Stapleton, an architect and designer, has been interested in this potential for a while now.  Beginning with a initial design study in 2007 and  a recent update in early January 2011, she has undertaken a speculative project to investigate the possiblity of Audi joining Formula 1.  Her exploration resulted in a concept for a car design based on the 2010 Red Bull Toro Rosso car in the images here.  I sure like the design, and given Audi's involvment with Red Bull in other series, it seems like a perfect fit for the Torro Rosso team.

With the potential for international exposure and a chance to race Ferrari, Renault, and Mercedes, will VW push for Audi to be a new team in F1?  What about Porsche, do they seem like a better fit for F1?  Of course, any entry into F1 would effect the other racing series that these brands already compete in.  Given Audi's dominating success in the American Le Mans Series (AMLS), who wouldn't expect them to come out wit.  Of course the question must be asked, how would F1 directly benefit the brand, whether that be VW, Audi or Porsche?  What about Lamborghini?

via Fourtitude

Formula One 2011 Race Calendar

The FIA has released the 2011 Formula One race calendar.  It includes 20 races, an 8 1/2 month racing period (including a 4 week break in July-August) and an Indian race "Subject to the homologation of the circuit."

So, where's our first meetup? :)

FIA announces 20-race calendar for 2011

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25. Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Belgian Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, Saturday, 28 August 2010  Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Force India F1 VJM03 makes a pit stop.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 3, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 4 April 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren fans in the crowd. Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, Hungarian Grand Prix, Race Day, Budapest, Hungary, Sunday, 1 August 2010The front runners. Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, Canadian Grand Prix, Race, Montreal, Canada, Sunday, 13 June 2010

Formula One racing’s governing body, the FIA, has released the calendar for the 2011 world championship. The addition of the Indian Grand Prix makes for a 20-race season - one more round than in 2010 and the longest in Formula One history.

The Bahrain Grand Prix will kick off proceedings on March 13, followed by the Australian, Malaysian and Chinese rounds, before the championship heads to Europe. The inaugural Indian event will take place towards the end of the year on October 30, with the season drawing to a close in Brazil on November 27.

Whilst the 2010 calendar features three back-to-back races, the 2011 season will have four, with the Malaysia/China, Spain/Monaco, Germany/Hungary and Japan/Korea events all taking place on consecutive weekends.

2011 FIA Formula One World Championship calendar:
13/03 Bahrain
27/03 Australia
10/04 Malaysia
17/04 China
08/05 Turkey
22/05 Spain
29/05 Monaco
12/06 Canada
26/06 Europe
10/07 Great Britain
24/07 Germany
31/07 Hungary
28/08 Belgium
11/09 Italy
25/09 Singapore
09/10 Japan
16/10 Korea
30/10 India*
13/11 Abu Dhabi
27/11 Brazil

* Subject to the homologation of the circuit

Images and text courtesy of the Formula 1 website.

Tavo and Susan Combs at Silverstone

We were expecting this to come out soon and are glad to announce that Tavo Hellmund and Susan Combs, the Texas State Comptroller, met with Bernie Ecclestone at the British Grand Prix this past weekend.

Autoweek released an article about the meeting and Susan's first Grand Prix experience.  We really enjoyed this comment by Combs:

"It's very, very exciting...It has lots of technology, which I found particularly interesting, and it's a real crowd-pleaser, a real show. We're now more excited. With the incredible impact that this has on England, we hope to have a similar impact on the United States.”

Susan seems to be quite enthusiastic about the race and said the support from Texas Special Events Fund is a "done deal."  Read more at Autoweek in Austin Formula One Race A Done Deal.