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Race of Champions cancelled

Race of Champions

Race of Champions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 2013 Race of Champions has been cancelled, the organisers announced today. The ROC was scheduled to take place in Bangkok Thailand on December 14-15.

The following statement appeared on the Race of Champions website today:

“The Sports Authority of Thailand and the organisers of the 2013 Race Of Champions have announced that the event cannot take place as planned on December 14-15 due to the current political situation in Bangkok.

“Our thoughts are with the Thai people during this difficult period and we wish that a peaceful solution will soon be found. The Race Of Champions has been held all over the world for 25 consecutive years and we are currently looking at options of repeating the success of last year’s event in Bangkok on another date.

“Fans who have already purchased tickets for this year’s Race Of Champions should contact Thai Ticket Major or their ticketing agent for further information on refunds.”

The Race of Champions has become a major event on the motorsport calendar, pitting some of the best drivers in the world from various motorsport disciplines against each other in equal machinery. Among those scheduled to appear at the now-cancelled 2013 event were 7-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher, former Grand Prix winner David Coulthard, 4-time Australian V8 supercar champion Jamie Whincup, recently crowned World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier and motorcycle racing legend Mick Doohan.

It’s not yet clear if it will be possible for the 2013 Race of Champions to be moved to a later date. Issues of politics and location aside, many of the drivers involved are already preparing for the start of their respective 2014 seasons, which limits their availability.

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British Grand Prix Preview Quotes – HRT

Pedro de la Rosa: “Silverstone is a beautiful and classic circuit; it’s a place I really like. I’ve raced in many categories there: Formula Ford, Formula Renault, Formula 3 and Formula 1. It’s a quick, high downforce track with a lot of quick corners linked together. It’s very demanding on the tyres, so the logical thing is to go for three stops. Strategies will play a big part. It’s not the most favourable circuit for us so we’re going to have to grind our teeth because, apart from that, it’s also one of the toughest tracks for a driver. We’re going to try and continue the good work from the last grands prix, finish this race and improve on our result in Valencia. That is our objective.”

Narain Karthikeyan: “I’ve got very good memories of Silverstone as I’ve raced a lot there in the past in junior categories, it’s one of my favourite tracks on the calendar and a place I expect to do well. Copse and the Becketts complex are special corners and are up there with the most exciting ones in the championship but I don’t know the new part of the circuit as I didn’t race at Silverstone last year so it will take me a few laps to adapt. After a positive weekend in Valencia, with a good performance in qualifying, I’m hoping to continue from there and build on it in Great Britain.”

Dani Clos: “I’m very happy to step into the F112 once again in Silverstone, a place where I’ve got good memories since I’ve made the podium every time I’ve been in GP2. After Barcelona I’ve really been looking forward to this new opportunity. The work we’re carrying out with the team is positive and I think that I can make a good contribution. I will be able to run in better conditions than in Barcelona because the car was new back then and I had to carry out various aero tests. Now I’ve got a new opportunity, not to prove anything but to work with the team and evolve as much as we can.”

Luis Pérez-Sala, Team Principal: “In Valencia we had a positive weekend and were able to confirm the good sensations we’d felt in the last few races. Silverstone is one of the most emblematic and historic circuits in the Championship and racing there is always something special. We want to see how our car performs at the British track with the latest upgrades because it’s a track that contains various quick turns and that’s where we suffer most. On another note, I’m happy that Dani will have a new opportunity to sit behind the wheel of the car for the first free practice session. This time he’ll be able to get more out of the session because in Barcelona there were many things to test and he had to focus on them, but now he’ll be able to get the most out of the experience. Besides, it will be the second time he drives the F112 this season so he won’t be stepping into the unknown and won’t need a period to adapt.”

Valencia Preview Quotes – HRT

Pedro de la Rosa: “Just like in Barcelona, I’m really looking forward to racing in front of our home fans in Valencia. At the Valencia Street Circuit we will encounter high air and track temperatures so the brakes will be put through their paces once again, but we’re confident we can make the necessary modifications to overcome the problems we experienced in Canada. Valencia has long straights but overtaking isn’t easy and it is a high-downforce track. I think we can do quite well here, although it’s not as favourable to our car as Canada, because there are a lot of braking areas and slow corners which are good for us. We’re looking forward to putting in a good performance in front of our fans and we want to continue with our progress from the last few races, where we’ve been at a good standard, but here we want to confirm this improvement in the race.”

Narain Karthikeyan: “Valencia will be our third street circuit in a row, and our team’s second home race. It is our second visit to Spain in just about five weeks but the circuit is as different as it could be compared to Barcelona. It shares some characteristics with Montreal and Monte Carlo, like emphasis on low-speed traction so I expect our car to do well here. Apart from that, it is a beautiful place and weather is pretty hot, just like India, but the track itself isn’t a huge challenge. Yes the walls are close but the adrenaline factor isn’t close to Monaco or even Montreal. But on the back of the promise we showed in Canada, I’m looking forward to the race and hopefully we’ll have a chance to build on it this time.”

Luis Pérez-Sala, Team Principal: “We’re looking forward to racing in Valencia, as it will be the second time we do so at home this season. In Canada we were quick and performed well but were unable to finish the race. In Valencia we want to confirm this progress and achieve a good result, plus doing so in front of the Spanish public is even more special. I think that the characteristics of this circuit adapt well to our car and I hope we have good reliability and finish the race with a positive result.”

Where is Button’s penalty?

Jenson Button made a mistake in the Malaysian Grand Prix that cost him a probable decent haul of points. Under braking for turn 9, Button locked his rear tyres. As a result, he hit the HRT of Narain Karthikeyan, who was ahead of Button at the time (rain really does shake up the order). Button broke his front wing and had to pit for a new nose, costing him a massive chunk of time and therefore any chance of points in the race. There was no apparent damage to Karthikeyan’s HRT.

No-one really thought anything of the incident. Button made a mistake, he paid the price. The car he hit was only an HRT. No big deal.

But on closer inspection of the crash, Button exhibits a blatant disregard for the car in front of him. He obviously failed to slow down enough to take the corner without hitting the HRT. Under those circumstances, a driver would normally run wide in the corner. But Button isntead tried to duck up the inside of Karthikeyan.

Button must have known that he would not be able to take the inside line. He was simply moving too quickly. His actions, then, suggest that he went in to the corner knowing he could do damage to another car. The fact that the HRT survived the incident is beside the point. Button caused an avoidable collision, which is generally punished harshly in Formula One.

So where’s the penalty?

Karthikeyan himself was harshly punished for a later incident with Sebastian Vettel, where Vettel lapped the HRT, and as he went past, the front wing of Karthikeyan’s car punctured the left rear tyre of the Red Bull. It could easily be argued that Vettel was over-aggressive in returning to the racing line after lapping the HRT, but it is Karthikeyan who had 20 seconds added to his race time.

The stewards were obviously inconsistent in Sunday’s race. Button was wrong, he should be penalised. Karthikeyan was not particularly wrong in the incident with Vettel, yet he was harshly penalised. Why are HRT being marginalised and the front-runners favoured?

HRT signs Karthikeyan for ‘continuity’

HRT have announced that Narain Karthikeyan will be their second driver for 2012.  The Indian driver joins Spaniard Pedro De La Rosa at the struggling team.

Team principal Luis Pérez-Sala said, “I am pleased to count with Narain for this season, as he will contribute continuity and stability. He is a quick, intuitive and secure driver who met his expectations despite a lack of continuity last year.”

Based on Karthikeyan’s half-season for HRT last year, the only continuity and stability Karthikeyan could possibly be providing is financial.

Karthikeyan, India’s first Formula 1 driver, drove for Jordan in 2005, finishing fourth at the 6-car US Grand Prix, but was not retained for 2006. He was signed by HRT in 2011, but only completed in 8 races before he was replaced by Daniel Ricciardo. A one-race return for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix saw Karthikeyan outpace Ricciardo comfortably, which could not have harmed his chances of a return to the team.

Karthikeyan effectively replaces Tonio Liuzzi, who had a contract with HRT for 2012. The team is known to be struggling for funding, and the sponsorship Karthikeyan brings will be welcome. It is a pity for Liuzzi, as he worked hard to help HRT to move forward in 2011, but ultimately HRT’s driver decision has been a financial one.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa has recently lashed out at pay drivers in an interview with Totalrace, saying “It’s an absurd situation and I don’t think it’s good for F1 and especially the young drivers. Even if you get very good results in the formulas below, you either have to be lucky or have money in order to get a seat.”

While Massa certainly has a point, a Formula 1 team is ultimately a business, and has to make ends meet. HRT chooses to secure some of their funding from driver sponsors. Whether or not the team can move forward with such a strategy remains to be seen.

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