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.
Williams development driver Susie Wolff has been confirmed as a competitor in this year’s Race of Champions. She will form an all-Scottish pairing in Team GB with former Formula One driver David Coulthard.
The Race of Champions is an annual event that sees competitors from various motorsport disciplines pitted against each other in a series of races in equal machinery. Pairings from various countries compete for the Nations Cup and there is also an individual competition, the winner of which is crowned “Champion of Champions”. Last year’s individual winner was Lotus F1 driver Romain Grosjean.
Team Germany, consisting of four-time Formula One World Champion Sebastian Vettel and retired F1 legend Michael Schumacher, has won the Nations Cup six years in a row. Schumacher has confirmed that he will be back this year, and Vettel is also expected to compete.
In the team event, Susie Wolff and David Coulthard will represent Team GB (Great Britain), and will be aiming to dethrone the all-conquering Germans.
Wolff and Coulthard have competed on the same track quite a few times, when both raced in the DTM series from 2010 to 2012. They will be competing with each other again in the individual event of this year’s Race of Champions. Last year Coulthard reached the semi-final stage, proving that he still has plenty of skill behind the wheel despite having retired from racing.
This will be Susie Wolff’s first Race of Champions, and in fact the first appearance in the competition by a woman. Wolff has plenty of racing experience, although she hasn’t competed full-time in any racing series this year while she’s been concentrating on her job as development driver for the Williams Formula One team. Before joining Williams, Wolff competed full-time in DTM for seven years.
Susie Wolff expressed her enthusiasm for the upcoming event:
“Any driver would love to be invited to do the Race Of Champions,” said Wolff. “It’s an event I have watched as far back as I can remember. What is so exciting is that the cars race head-to-head and you can see how close it is: it always comes down to hundredths. Jumping in and out of the different cars is going to be the real challenge. You need to make sure your car control is as good as it can be because you don’t have time to get a proper feeling for the car, you just get in and go.
“Then there’s the ROC Nations Cup, where I certainly feel responsibility to make sure we do well as a nation. I know David from our time in DTM and I rate him really highly so to be part of the team alongside him makes me very proud. Of course we’ll be up against drivers who are absolutely at the top of their game. So I know it’s not going to be easy but I’m relishing the challenge.”
The Race of Champions will take place in Bangkok on 14 and 15 December 2013.
David Coulthard is a household name. He’s known as a successful Formula One driver, a commentator and a Scotsman. In his career as a driver, he battled with (and sometimes beat) Michael Schumacher, Mike Hakkinen and Damon Hill, to name but a few. He won 13 Grands Prix, including races at some of motor racing’s great venues – Monaco, Silverstone and Spa, among others – and finished second to Schumacher in the 2001 World Championship.
In this video, David Coulthard talks about his road to Formula One, his career as a driver with Williams, McLaren and Red Bull, and his new role as a commentator and F1 pundit. He’s frank, honest, and unafraid of criticising himself. This is well worth watching for any follower of Formula One.
On the podium after winning the Bahrain Grand Prix, interviewer David Coulthard asked race winner Sebastian Vettel to show the cameras a lucky charm on his racing boots. Vettel casually lifted his leg a little, dropped it and said “I don’t get my legs so high, because I’m not a woman.”
Exactly what Vettel meant is uncertain, but the world is going to interpret his comment as suggestive and demeaning. Earlier in the podium interviews, Vettel remarked that, “to have a woman on the podium, I think it’s not happening every day. Gill Jones, she takes care of our electronics in the team… she looks after the boys.” The suggestion that women have a place in F1 only in support of the men is unlikely to make Vettel any friends, both within and outside of the sport.
In the wake of recent sugestions by Sir Stirling Moss that women lack the mental aptitude to race in Formula One, Vettel’s comments are likely to get much more attention than they perhaps deserve. He is in a sport that needs a radical rethink regarding its approach to gender equality, and has not helped an already sensitive situation by publicly putting his foot in his mouth.
In recent years, a number of Formula One drivers have turned to TV commentary in their retirement. Michael Schumacher does not look set to join them.
Martin Brundle, David Coulthard, Johnny Herbert and Damon Hill are among the well-known names of Formula One racing who will feature in British Formula One coverage this season. Their expertise will certainly add to the experience of watching the BBC and Sky English language feeds throughout the world. Perhaps German broadcasters would like to have a similar offering in their home language.
Schumacher retired from Formula One for the second time at the end of 2012, which makes him an obvious target for any broadcaster looking to improve its offering by adding a driver expert to its panel of experts. As the most successful driver in Formula One history, Schumacher would have invaluable insights into what goes on in the cockpit and, perhaps more importantly, could provide detailed understanding of race strategy – after all, he and technical genius Ross Brawn used brilliant strategies to their advantage during Ferrari’s dominant period from 2000 to 2004.
But the seven-time champion is not interested in joining the media. In an interview with German newspaper Bild, he said he would rather spend time at home with his family, which he was unable to do as much as he might have liked during his long racing career. And, as he himself has said, why would he go into commentating if he were following the Formula One circus around the world? Driving would be more fun.
Schumacher has spent his time since retiring assisting his wife Corinna, who breeds horses and markets her own range of horse blankets. But while he is not maintaining any active involvement in Formula One, his interest in the sport remains. He will be watching the opening race on Sunday from his home in Switzerland. He thinks “the season’s going to be really tight.” Let’s hope he’s right.