Formula 1 update
Formula 1 headed to Hungary for the Hungarian Grand Prix in Budapest this weekend, after an exciting Grand Prix at Hockhenheim, Germany which saw abundant rain the first few days that tested everyone from race teams, spectators, and event organizers.
The Hungarian Grand Prix started off in the rain like the previous two grands prix in England and Germany. Just like those two grands prix the rain stayed away for race day.
The McLaren’s were either to capitalize on their recent improvement in pace. After having to retire in Germany Lewis Hamilton established himself as the man to beat early on in the week-end. He was always one of the fastest in practice sessions, and then on Saturday he took the pole position during qualifying. Hamilton’s teammate Jenson Button was also quick during the first half of the week end and qualified in fourth.
It looked as though one of the Lotus drivers may have a chance at winning their first Grand Prix this year with Romain Grosjean taking second place during qualifying and Kimi Raikkonen qualifying in fifth.
On Sunday though Hamilton was virtually untouchable he led from start to finish, although he always had a Lotus in his rear-view mirror ready to pounce at any mistake he made. But Hamilton’s experienced showed, he never slipped up and every time Kimi started getting close in the final laps, Hamilton would put his foot down and pull away. Hamilton won, closely followed by Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean in the Lotus’s.
We’re now past the middle of the season and even though Alonso extended his lead over Mark Webber who is currently second in the season standings, there are a lot of drivers that are still within reach of Alonso for the drivers championship.
Red Bull leads the constructors championship, but Lotus and MacLaren have shown that they will not let Red Bull and Ferrari play by themselves. This should make for a very interesting second half of the season. Thankfully we have the Olympics to keep us occupied until the next Grand Prix in Belgium on the weekend of August 31st through September 2nd.
On the home front here in Austin, Circuit of the Americas has purchased 200 acres next to the circuit to build a road, which should provide some relief to traffic during the events held at Circuit of the Americas.
Construction continues to move along at good pace at the track. Circuit Of The Americas recently announced a booking agreement with Live Nation, who will bring major, national touring events to The Tower Ampitheater.
Below is an interview with Will Hardeman a Managing Partner, at Continental Automotive Group, which includes: Mercedes Benz of Austin and Austin Infiniti. Mercedes owns one of the international Formula 1 teams and Infiniti partners with the Red Bull team.
Culture Map: How excited are you about not only Formula 1 coming to Austin, but also the construction of a state of the art motorsports facility?
Will Hardeman: I am very excited on two fronts, first as a fan of F1 racing and secondly I am excited about the economic benefit to Austin and Texas that the new track promises.
CM: Have you noticed any extra excitement in either the Mercedes or Infiniti showrooms, since both brands are heavily involved in Formula 1?
WH: With all the media coverage since the track was first announced my customers’ awareness of the players and factories involved in F1 has increased. My Mercedes, Infiniti employees and customers now take pride in the fact that they can root for their brand of cars in a high profile event such as F1. Previously, this type of attention has been reserved for domestic brands in series such as Nascar.
CM: I know you had the Red Bull show car come by the Infiniti dealership last year, are you planning any other events of this type in the future whether with Infiniti or Mercedes?
WH: We don’t have anything for certain on the books at this point from now until the race. We will, however, formulate some events as we get closer to the race in November. Its great when the Mercedes factory or the Infiniti factory bring in their resources, such as bringing as F1 car, to do an event with us. I’m confident we will see many more of these types of events in the coming months.
CM: Do you follow Formula 1? If so do you have any recommendations for newcomers to the sport?
WH: I do follow F1. I watch some of the races and at the very minimum I stay abreast with online info. For newcomers to F1, I would say its one of the easiest sports to follow. Online and televised race coverage is second to none, and there are really only about 5 teams and 10 drivers in the entire sport that you should follow to know everything that’s going on. You should also know that the cars are the pinnacle of technology on four wheels. Nothing in the world even comes close to how advanced an F1 car is, which is pretty cool that we get to see those cars pushed to the limit here in Austin.
CM: Have you made the commitment for a Personal Seat License that Circuit of the Americas is offering, and what do you think of this concept?
WH: Yes, I do have a PSL for the track. What I understand is this has allowed the track to raise much needed money by getting long term commitments out of the patrons of the race track. The sale of PSL’s, along with other ways to generate more cash for Circuit of the Americas (the race track) have been contributing factors to the feasibility to getting the track completed. If this is the case, then PSL’s and all other methods necessary are a good thing. Consider the alternative of not having an F1 track in Austin. This race is important to me and I could see myself enjoying the F1 Grand Prix as well as many other events at the track, so buying PSL is a no-brainer for me.
CM: Correct me if I’m wrong but I hear you’re quite a car racing enthusiast, but are there any karting tracks in Central Texas that you recommend for the casual motorsports enthusiasts? I think quite a few people have had a void since Iron Rock Raceway closed.
WH: I’m more of a weekend warrior at best, but lately I enjoy competing in a local karting series at Driveway Austin, which is a private race track in east Austin. They provide a fleet of identical four stroke karts that run head to head, which makes it a pure driver’s game. Additionally, some people run their shifter karts in open lapping sessions when races aren’t going on. It’s open to the public and can get very competitive when everyone is gunning for first place in a field of 12 cars on the track at once.
CM: What are you looking forward to the most with the construction of Circuit of the Americas?
WH: I’m looking forward to increased worldwide visibility that Austin already enjoys. It’s pretty cool that Austin is known globally for so much interesting stuff on the technology and entertainment fronts, rather than 10 years ago as only being the place where George Bush is from (Austin in a way, Texas in general).
CM: Finally is there anything you hope to see at Circuit of the Americas that hasn’t been announced yet?
WH: I have high hopes for the research and development potential in industries from aerospace to automotive. I also hope to see more race series and amateur driving schools take place at the new track.
I hope to see more race series and amateur driving schools out there.