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The Halo/Canopy Debate: Inevitable Evolution of Safety or a Fundamental Departure from the ‘formula’ that is Formula 1? [Part 1]

The Halo/Canopy Debate: Inevitable Evolution of Safety or a Fundamental Departure from the ‘formula’ that is Formula 1? [Part 1]

Red Bull has revealed the canopy design concept it believes will better address concerns over driver safety in Formula 1, and from the moment it was revealed, polarised opinions on the design and concept emerged, with some looking to compare it with Ferrari’s halo prototype trialled during pre-season testing (above); some assessing its functionality; and … Continue reading

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Red Bull Racing have announced a change to their driver line-up following the Russian Grand Prix with Max Verstappen switching seats with Daniil Kvyat. The decision comes after a lacklustre start to 2016 for the Russian who has been resoundingly beaten by his teammate Daniel Ricciardo. Nevertheless the limited leeway afforded to the Russian has surprised commentateor David Croft and Jenson Button who took to twitter on the issue.

Others have seen the decision as inevitable the moment Kyvat provided an excuse to Red Bull. Some see the move as a way for Red Bull to fend off challenges from Mercedes and Ferrari for the Dutchman's services by signing him early this season. What appears clear is that there is no possibility of Verstappen moving back down to Toro Rosso were he to also be outshone by Ricciardo.

Associate editor to F1 Racing, James Roberts has tweeted of a possible falling out between Verstappen and the Toro Rosso team, perhaps not surprising following his outbursts during the Australian Grand Prix this year.

From Ricciardo's perspective, were he to defeat Verstappen for the remainder of the season their are few that would doubt him moving to Ferrari in 2017 (or taking big money to stay at Red Bull), as both Bottas and Hulkenburg have had very poor starts to the 2016 season.

The imminent transformation of the appearance of Formula 1 cars looks set to occur in 2017 at the earliest following the failure of teams to agree on proposed aerodynamic changes. The changes, which included wider cars and tyres, now look certain to coincide with plans to increase power unit performance to 1000hp along with the renewal of a new contract with a tyre supplier.

Further speculation is rife that Bernie Ecclestone is on the verge of announcing that Qatar will become the next middle eastern nation to host a round of the Formula 1 world championship. The race, which would be held on the streets of Losail, is expected for inclusion on the calendar as soon as 2016. A decision by Formula 1 to host a Grand Prix in a nation state known widely around the world as being suspected of corruptly obtaining the rights to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, and allowing the gross mistreatment of migrant workers, would be a further scar on the image of Formula 1.

The regulations for the 2017 season have been finalised and strong doubt remains amongst team principles over whether they will produce better racing. Greatest concern to this writer is Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner's continual reference to a time frame on narrowing the performance gap between engines. The introduction of an engine parity rule is simply offensive to what Formula 1 stands for in that it:

1.) Damages the credibility of competition in the sport. It would appear all is being done to assist non-Mercedes engine manufacturers for their poor performance in the development stage so as to close the gap between teams.
2.) Damaging the image of Formula 1 by restricting the development on hybrid technology. The engine freeze seeks to halt the development in technology that is designed to greater assist the car industry. How does Formula 1 look relevant/progressive when it is halting the further development/improvement in the efficiency/performance of these engines?

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Volvo have announced they will be leaving the V8 Supercar championship at the end of the 2016 season. The performance arm of Volvo, Polestar, has not only pulled its support of the championship, but instructed Garry Rogers Motorsport ('GRM') that the cars and engine are to be returned to Sweden. Such a move would scuttle GRM's intention of competing with the cars despite manufacturer support.

If Volvo maintains its decision, it would be a clear indication that financial return on investment was not the concern of the company but, as was the case with Mercedes-Benz, they simply do not want to be associated with the V8 engine based series.

This news comes in the wake of reports concerning TV ratings figures under the new six-year pay TV/Free-to-air deal which has shown the viewing audience of the sport has plummeted.

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Vale Jack Brabham 1926 – 2014

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