Monthly Archives: February 2009

Bringing Beauty to the Track

There have been a few female racing drivers to grace the Formula 1 World, five to be precise. These five have been involved in a total of twenty-nine races, but only fifteen starts and 0.5 points between them all. 0.5 of those points belong to one driver, Lella Lombardi, the Italian who is recognised as the most successful female Formula 1 driver. Lombardi was entered into seventeen grand prix with two teams, Brabham and March. Her only points came in the tragic Spanish Grand Prix of 1975, where the race was stopped at half distance following a horrific crash which saw four people killed, thus as Lombardi finished 6th, she was awarded 0.5 points. Her last race was the 1976 Austrian Grand Prix where Lombardi finished 12th, albeit last of the finishers.

amatiAmati at the South African GP in 1992

The most recent was Giovanna Amati, who drove for Brabham in the first three races of the 1992 season. Amati never qualified, finishing 30th all three times, was generally much slower than teammate Eric Van de Poele, in Brazil, he was quicker than her by five seconds and was still 29th. Brabham decided to get rid of Amati when the money simply wasn’t coming in, and replace her with a certain Damon Hill.

But the year is now 2009, and the last female driver was entered a full seventeen years ago. The closest anyone has got is when Katherine Legge tested a Minardi in 2005 and before that, Sarah Fisher testing a McLaren around Indianapolis in 2002.

However, with the almost certainty of USF1 being confirmed for the 2010 season, they want American drivers, and who better than the American driver everyone knows, Danica Patrick. It’s been rumoured in the media Patrick is someone the new outfit are really looking at. But the IRL driver has appeared more in a swimsuit in Sports Illustrated than she has won a race. And that is most likely why the girl is most likely to be signed by USF1, the unbelievable amount of publicity that she will get. Amati was surrounded by journalists at her first grand prix, imagine having every single Formula 1 source, and then all the newspapers pushing around you as you try to get to your pit garage. However, Patrick’s weakness in the IRL is street courses, or circuits that have left and right turns. Which just so happen to be every single Formula 1 track, which could be a major downfall.

Patrick is possibly going to be the next female Formula 1 driver, whilst most likely being a failure and ending up on F1 Rejects. But what about female drivers who could possibly make it, get into the big teams and get a few points in the bag. Step forward please Natacha Gachnang.

natachaNatacha Gachnang 2nd place trophy in Valencia

Gachnang happens to be the cousin of new Toro Rosso driver Sebastian Buemi. In the 2008 season she drove in the Spanish Formula 3, finishing third in her class, with quite a few podiums and several poles along the way. The Swiss driver will be driving in Formula 2 this season, and with the series being a step down from Formula 1, its more than likely teams interested in drivers will be looking into the lower formulae and watching drivers like Gachnang.

Where have all the Good Girls Gone?

Surely in a sport where men and women can compete equally on the same stage, why am I struggling to find recognisable names to talk about, Natacha Gachnang is fairly unheard of.

Most girls whilst growing up aren’t interested in anything motorsport related, be it the racing, the technical side of things or they have better things to do on a Sunday lunchtime (or in the early hours of the morning depending where you are).

Then if you watch a pre-race build up, what do you see in front of the cars and drivers, grid girls. I shall refrain from posting one here, but you get the general consensus, the sport is about men driving with all the glamour of sexy girls watching them. Those people are wrong, however it could lead in the potential drivers wanting to ‘glam’ themselves to stand in front of drivers rather than kit themselves up with helmets to have them in the drivers seat.

The general fault, the stereotype that motorsport is for men. Can a female driver in Formula 1, whether it is Patrick or Gachnang or someone else entirely, manage to convince the younger generation to pick up the sport and show the men how to do it.

The only way I’d get to drive with Heidfeld : Part 1

In May 2008, it was announced that Codemasters were allowed the rights to produce a racing game based on the 2009 Formula 1 season. Reactions were initially of surprise, with EA Sports favourite to get it (they also had rights from 1999-2002), but with the engine possibly similar to that of the successful Race Driver : GRiD and Colin McRae DiRT. But if you can’t survive the wait until the latter half of the year when the latest F1 game is set to come out, what are the other alternatives?

Formula 1 2006/Championship Edition
Platforms : Playstation 2, Playstation Portable (F106) , Playstation 3 (F1CE)

The latest official licensed game which was produced by Sony and Studio Liverpool. And to be fair, it isn’t such a bad game. It will not go down as the best F1 game you could buy, but features wise, it is pretty good. As usual, the Career mode continues, lasting five seasons where you can try to become World Champion after starting at one of the lower ranked teams (Toro Rosso, Midland and Super Aguri). One of the main problems with this is even with the hardest settings, it is still quite easy to finish highly each race. In only the second race with Super Aguri, I managed to pass Micheal Schumacher on the last lap to win the race. I want a challenge, and I found it simplistic to win.

Aside from career mode, there is other options such as Time Trials, where you can unlock cars and the test track of Jerez. World Championship and Quick Races are also options to race in. These aren’t so bad, as you can have a quick bash around Monaco, or a skilled full length race around Silverstone. I’ve found the earlier is more for me, as I seem to get bored easily. And the save function seems to be problamatic.

The major problem with the game is the amount of bugs. The starts for example is easy to get off to a great start when everyone else seems to be like sloth’s on sleep pills. That is just one of many I’ve noticed, and around the internet, I have found more. For example, a car may push you off the track at a chicane, and you get a penalty for it.

Overall, it is a solid game, and one of the best official licensed games on the market. Give it a go if you haven’t already.
Grand Prix 4
Platforms : PC

It is not the most visually stunning racing game, it’s not the most recent racing game (released in 2002), but it is one of the most solid and exciting racing game.

Based on the 2001 season (Times when Jean Alesi was still driving and Fernando Alonso was at Minardi), it is a step on from Grand Prix 3, with massively improved graphics, data updates and gpaedia, narrated by then Arrows Team Manager Mark Hemsworth. Gpaedia is huge, with general information on Formula 1, like a tour of a typical car and statistics from former seasons.

It is easy to navigate, which is always a plus, and gameplay wise, it is again great. The set-up options are realistic, being able to choose from different settings and pitstop strategies. When you do manage to get to the track. The cars do go around like a steady man, compared to other games where they twitch and shake and feel much more realistic. But if you do say happen to go into the back of a hated driver, say Michael Schumacher, and you go into the wall, you will get damage like an F1 car would, better than F106 definatly.

But the big plus of this game is that it is mod friendly, with cars, tracks and entire seasons available to be used in game. Already at this early stage, the 2009 versions of the cars are in progress and the tracks that have been made can be found on this thread. Circuits are mainly from the F1 World, but also tracks like Philip Island and Le Mans Bugatti, as well as fictional tracks such as Maderia.

In conclusion, it is a solid game, and with the patches and mods you can download, you can have a great Formula 1 sim without the need of getting the newest version. Despite this, there is several areas which can be improved, like menu music and car reactions, but the majority of it is a great game.

That concludes part 1 of my review of Formula 1 games, look out for the second part featuring TOCA Race Driver 3 and F1 Challenge 99-02.

Crisis at Croft

In the quiet region of North Yorkshire lies the only race track in the North East of England, that being of Croft Circuit. Created after the First World War, circa 1920s. But it was post-second world war where the circuit began to get its name on the racing map.

Built on an old airforce base, known as RAF Croft. Similar to that of Silverstone, but the one major difference is that the village of Croft-on-Tees is situated within reasonable walking distance of the circuit.

The turn of the century, Croft Circuit recieved a complaint by local residents due to the loud noises. But the case was rejected by Darlington District Council. And even the track managed to send out free tickets to the local residents.

But recently, within the past year, Derek and Julia Watson and the daughter Jill Wilson filed a lawsuit against Croft Circuit about ‘loud, intusive and repetitive noise’. Which they managed to win £150,000 from. The circuit would also have to pay a staggering £700,000 in Court Costs.

But as reported on britishsuperbikenews.co.uk, it is meerly a possible excuse.


“It seems rather more of a case of a bitter divorce than noise issues as it appears that Jill Wilson was once married to the Mr Wilson of Croft Promosport Ltd.”

How ironic, is it possible that the former wife is getting the way back by hitting her former husband in the place where it could sincerely hurt the most. If Croft goes, he’d be out of a job, and a scapegoat for people to say he was at fault for wrecking a British circuit.

But lets be fair, how wrong would that be if people would think that way? If we simply focus on the straight facts of the definitive truth here, the court case and these loud noises.

As I mentioned earlier, Croft has had racing at the circuit since before the First World War. So therefore there has been cars zooming past for almost ninety years. That is approaching a century. In theory, the Watson family would not have been there for that amount of time. Wouldn’t it have been wiser just to research the area first, work out that the place you may be buying just so happens to be a stone’s throw away from hitting a BTCC cars windshield.

Don’t you just think for one minute, that if you want to settle down with a family, researching the village you are planning on living in. You research near train stations, bus routes and attractions in the area. Surely you may just notice a couple of grandstands and a few trucks going in and out of the circuit.

This can lead onto the plausible case of just suing the circuit as she is getting a divorce from her ex-husband. How does a court case stand when you do actually know about a track being there, and when Mr Wilson and Mrs Watson were together, I bet she was happy the circuit was there as it would be bringing in the money into the household. Surely its just simply bitterness that she is wrecking the fun and enjoyment of everyone else to get back at one person.
The side effects of this could be horrific on motorsport in the United Kingdom. Initially, track days have been reduced by ten days, now just forty days a year. But if Croft Circuit are unable to pay off the debts, then the major attractions could just walk out. British Touring Car Championship and the British Superbikes are the headline acts.

If they go, the entire North East of England will be without a race track. The nearest one’s in being Knockhill in Dunfermline (around a three hours and fifteen minutes from Newcastle), Cadwell Park in Yorkshire (three hours twenty drive) and Oulton Park just south of Liverpool (three hours fifteen). For those who are just aiming for a quick drive to a local track, like Croft, which is less than an hour away from Newcastle.

It could also set a precedent from complaints against tracks across the UK, and possibly around the world. Castle Combe, near Bristol, was hit with a noise restriction meaning they were not allowed Formula 3 cars around the track. Donnington Park is set to host the British Grand Prix from 2010 onwards, however since it is close to Derby, the noise of Formula 1 cars may be heard, and thus allowing complaints to be made, and possibly the banning of Formula 1 circuits. If Bernie Ecclestone does not want to go back to Silverstone, it may be a harsh end to Britain hosting Formula 1 World Championship races.

Monza has also had complaints, near to the town of the same name, due to Formula 1 restrictions. And whilst complaints would be worth and should be listened to if a track has been steam rolled through a town or village and disrupts people who live there for longer than the track. But if a circuit has been there for years before hand, what rights should people have for complaining about it? Absolutly none.


Staying Alive

Should try to avoid these mysterious periods of time where nothing happens. Promise to heart that I won’t do that without good explanation. So then, whats been happening in the Formula 1 world of Me in the past month then?

BATracer

After 11 points by three rounds including a podium. I did not score any more points till Brazil, in which time I earned the name ‘Takuma Sato’ for crashing a ridiculous amounts of times. But Brazil was special, I got pole, and then, by miraculous luck (or may even have been good driving) I won the race. Woeful season which peaked right at the end.

In that public race, don’t start. Was bad, never enjoyed it and got nowhere.

Joined a midseason race with Toro Rosso, which was fantastic. So far, have got a pole and two podiums (which help me get to a Pro Licence, which means I can play more variety of games, such as F1 games of yonder year or other series, like IRL)

Sidepodcast and Scott Woodwiss have set up a F1 1986 private game, which as I said, can only be bad in terms if you do a series which happend before you were born. I’m Minardi, which lets be fair, cannot go worse than it is.
Minardi’s car in 1986, driven by Andrea de Cesaris
Croft Circut

Technically not Formula 1, but I don’t care. This is personal, and I will create a seperate blog post about it soon, possibly on Tuesday or later. For now, reading material could help:

Motorcyle Racing News

The Northern Echo

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