Schönes Zuhause

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“Schönes Zuhause” (“nice home”) in a crisp Swiss accent greeted us on Friday. Another memory into the incredible collection of things that we will never forget. Another insider joke. Another piece of the puzzle that makes Spa-Francorchamps feel like a home in the racing Wonderland.

They say home is where Wi-Fi connects automatically. When we arrived at our place for the weekend, my phone did just that.

Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps is her usual incredible self: with unpredictable temper and irresistible curves. The red, yellow, anthracite, and deep green – the palette of the most amazing painter.

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Eifelsucht.

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“Are you waiting for Mark?” asks Brendon. “He’s flown away already.”

Trees look like black lace on the smoky sky, sun has sat already, the grandstands are empty. The teams dissemble their equipment. Dunlop and Michelin have packed before the end of the race, the trucks start moving, and in a matter of minutes you almost get lost.

“I hope you had a good weekend,” says Brendon with a tired smile and heads towards their hospitality.

Did we have a good weekend? “Mega!” as Mark said, giving me a high five after the race.

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24h.

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Le Mans 24 Hours. I doubt there is anything in this world that comes close to it. It’s mythic, it’s unique, it’s a whirlwind of emotions, it’s on the limit and beyond. It’s on every racing fan’s bucket list, and having crossed it off the list once, I have instantly put it back on it, because there is not much that comes close to the atmosphere of this magnificent event. The racing melts into the town, floods into the narrow streets, with the prototypes rolling down the Avenue Général de Gaulle into the Place de la République on Sunday afternoon for the scrutineering, plaques with the handprints of the drivers who have written their names into the history books set between the cobbled stones at the Place Saint-Nicolas.

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Spa. Simply Perfect Atmosphere.

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Porsche 919 Hybrid passing by the LMP2 of G-Drive racing during the Free Practice on Thursday 05.05.2016

You close your eyes and listen: the birds singing, the wind rustling through the lacy tops of the old pines, the tiny river with an infamous name flowing along the stones overgrown with moss… this peace and quiet makes you forget about time. But once the lights go green and the sound of the engines enweaves neatly into the calm timelessness of the Ardenne countryside every thousandth of a second counts. It was my third time at the WEC 6h of Spa-Francorchamps, and it was magic.

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6h of Nürburgring or three days of pure happiness

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This weekend couldn’t  be more perfect. I think I will need a while to comprehend that this everything was real, that I didn’t dream it.

WEC is an amazing race to go to, after two years in a row in Spa, I knew that much for sure. Tickets are very affordable, the access is amazing, organisation is mostly impeccable. WEC is an amazing kind of racing to watch live.

Nürburgring has proven to be a great venue, too. The area is unbelievably beautiful. High up the Eifel mountains with the tiny villages around and that mideavel castle on top of the hill, it is a great destination to get away from the hassle of the real life.

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God save our tyres, god save our sport

I was emotionally drained after the race. I believe that with winning “if” is not the only thing that matters, “how” and “why” matter a lot more for me. There is always this element of destiny to racing, but yesterday was extreme – with tyres exploding on Lewis’ car, with Sebastian’s gear box failure.  As unfortunate as it got for Lewis, he pretty much made the show – his battle with Paul Di Resta  was something we all love in Formula One, it was racing. Alonso was impressive, as was Massa. Webber did a great job of coming back through the field – yes he, unsurprisingly, had a terrible start, but the recovery was impressive with some racing on his way to second. At the end of a Grand Prix full of racing and fighting you want a winner who participated in what you loved about the Grand Prix. Pity we didn’t get that. In no way I am saying Rosberg didn’t deserve the win, you have to be there to benefit from misfortunes of the others, but I can’t help thinking that the scriptwriter ruined what could be a great plot. My love to Formula One is fueled by emotions apart from those whose victories make me happy there are drivers whose success makes me feel angry, there are those whose success impresses me and makes me feel jealous. As much as I don’t want Alonso or even Vettel to win, I still feel something. There’s nothing with Nico Rosberg. Yesterday I had a feeling that it was a shadow occupying the top spot of the podium. I missed a strong controversial personality on the top of the podium. Rationally, I know that one should be impressed with Rosberg: he outscored Michael Schumacher, he is doing a great job with Lewis Hamilton as his team mate. But I am not. Nico Rosberg doesn’t trigger any emotions for me. In terms of the plot, a win for Webber would obviously make for a Hollywood-style turn.

Mark Webber’s announcement that he’s leaving Formula One doesn’t come as a surprise. We all knew it was going to happen, and I believe that timing is right for him now to switch to endurance racing with a new team he can help to build. Porsche starts an interesting project, and it will be amusing to follow. I also believe that it is good for Mark to get out of Formula One. He’s been through a lot in the sport over his years in Formula One, he has driven bad cars and good cars, he has won races, he’s been through a lot of regulations changes, and now with the sport becoming something which is not fun anymore, it’s better to leave than to lose passion. The fact that the decision was made before Christmas and not forced by Malaysian controversy just makes it better. Webber has had a solid career in Formula One, he is one of the well respected drivers on the grid, but most importantly he’s an amazing sports personality – honest and straightforward. He will be missed. And his departure is actually alarming. When the likes of Webber and Button leave, who is the sport left with? Chiltons and Maldonados?

Some artwork or Fancy going for a spin?

This is inspired by the old McLaren merchandise, and I in no way claim that the idea is mine. I have published the series earlier before on Tumblr, Back then it was Button, Pérez, Räikkönen, Hamilton, Webber and Vettel. Now I have added Alonso (yes, I am hunting for fame) and Rosberg, and therefore decided to repost the whole thing here, too.

All the graphics are made for private use only, so no profit making whatsoever (If you want to pay me for it we can discuss this). If you want to have someone else’s autograph made into a circuit comment and I will think about it.

Jenson Button Circuit

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Unicorns and eagles or a National question

After the chequered flag falls and the winner is established, a national anthem is played to honour his success and the success of his team. Every time I hear a national anthem on the podium I ask myself whether it is actually appropriate. Every time a national anthem is played I ask myself whether Formula One is a sports where the nationality matters.

The general bias towards own countrymen in the media is probably not even worth mentioning: British Sky or BBC obviously have their affections towards Hamilton, Button, or di Riesta; RTL puts Vettel, Rosberg or Hülkenberg to the centre of their coverage. To some not negligible extent Formula One has been perceived by many as a playground for a British-German(-Italian) motor racing rivalry, and it probably not that far from the reality. But the more people and me myself are talking about the national element in Formula One the more I ask myself whether there actually is any logical reason to pay so much attention to the nationality in racing. (more…)

Red Bull in controversy or How to do it wrong

It is not even funny any more, the whole Red Bull thing. I was naïve enough to hope that it was gone, after the statement was issued by the team, stating they will deal with it internally. I obviously was wrong, and now, with the Chinese GP under way, the whole Red Bull drama is getting bigger and bigger. They even manage to beat Pirelli on their share of pre-race commentary, and that’s big!

Sebastian Vettel spoke to the media yesterday providing an example of how to do it in a wrong way.

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About virtues…

Naïve person as I am, I have always believed that trust is a fundamental thing in Formula one. How much trust you have to have in your mechanics and engineers to drive a hand made car at a speed exceeding 200 mph? How much trust you have to have in your rival to go wheel-on-wheel into Eau Rouge? The only one you can’t trust on an F1 circuit is your team mate.

Yesterday’s Malaysian Grand Prix has provided fans, journalists and pretty much everyone even vaguely informed about Formula One with a theme for a discussion and it would be a shame to miss this opportunity to start a blog with a post on such an adorably controversial topic. The funny thing is, though, that I don’t really see too much of a controversy in the situation, maybe a bit of managerial inconsistencies. But let’s take one step at a time.
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