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It was a miracle that no one died at the Nurburgring Grand Prix of 1976. On lap two of the race, Niki Lauda, who drove for Ferrari F1 had a terrible crash that sent his car bouncing between the barriers and bursting into flames.
Lauda’s burning car was then struck by Brett Lunger’s Surtees-Ford, who was unaware of the accident until he was right on top of it.
Lauda spent almost a minute in the burning car, but luckily survived, although his burns left lifelong scars on his face.
Just a few days before the race, Lauda was campaigning to make the Nurburgring’s Nordschleife (the infamous 14-mile track also known as the ‘Green Hell’) safer. He felt that the run off spaces and the barriers were not safe enough for grand prix racing, and due to the length of the track, emergency response times were much too long.
Since this crash, no F1 race has been held at the Nordschleife circuit, and nowadays a much smaller and modern circuit exists in the shadows of the original track, where F1 cars still race.
The story behind the 1976 F1 season caught the attention of Hollywood producer Ron Howard, who is now in the process of making a movie on the topic. The movie is called “Rush” and will be primarily focused on the rivalry between the Austrian ace Lauda and the British racing playboy James Hunt who drove for McLaren.
The movie is in production at the moment, and they recently recreated the crash scene at the Nurburgring. The eager eyes (or camera’s) of “BridgeToGantry.com” have managed to catch some footage of the production team trying to recreate the scene.
The part of the track where the accident took place was renamed “Lauda Links” in honor of the Austrian. Surprisingly, Lauda was back in action in his F1 car just 39-days after this terrible accident.
“Rush” is expected to be released in theaters next year, until then, you can catch the video on the reproduction of the crash scene below.
Formula 1 and Indy Series champion Jacques Villeneuve will drive his father Gilles’s 1979 Ferrari 312 T4 Formula 1 car at the Fiorano test track on May 8 in tribute to the 30th anniversary of his father’s death.
In 1982, Formula 1 witnessed the talents of the Canadian race car driver. Regarded as the fastest ever to compete in Formula 1 by fans and fellow drivers, Villeneuve’s short career with Scuderia Ferrari was highlighted by six grand prix victories as well as a remarkably ferocious wheel-to-wheel battle for second versus Renee Arnoux during the closing stages of the 1979 French Grand Prix, all of which earned him a legendary status while driving a series of dangerous and ill-handling Ferraris.
Despite terminating its title sponsorship deal with Group Lotus, Lotus is committed to keeping its name in Formula 1 for the imminent feature. Confused? You should be.
Group Lotus was recently sold by Proton to Malaysian automotive corporation DRB-Hicom, causing Lotus F1′s team owner Genii Capital to end its formal relationship with Lotus. Just a week ago, we reported that Proton might be interested in acquiring Team Lotus F1, but that appears to be off the table now.
Despite the end of the Group Lotus sponsorship, Genii owner Gerard Lopez remains committed to the Lotus name. Lopez has recently agreed to a deal for title sponsorship on the F1 team, something he originally put together back in 2010, but that has been canceled and Proton’s option to buy 50 percent of the team has also been removed.
“We are happy to carry the Lotus name as we believe it is a good name for F1,” Lopez explained in a recent interview with Autosport. “We funded the team last year and the year before for whatever delta was missing. We would prefer to have sponsors up to the full amount – but if we have to fund it then we will fund it.”
Sponsorship deals that Genii had secured included Unilever and Microsoft, two companies that were arguably game changers in F1. Lopez also elaborated that buying Group Lotus isn’t entirely out of the question yet, but the organization would like to know what the new owners plan on doing with it.
For the first two races of the 2012 Formula 1 season, Team Lotus has received a mixed bag of results. Formula 1 World Champion Kimi Raikkonen finished both races in the points despite mediocre qualifying. Meanwhile, GP2 champion Romain Grosjean displayed rapid pace during qualifying but suffered a DNF for both races.
Such is the mix of fortunes in motorsports. A long and illustrious name in Formula 1, the Lotus F1 team withdrew from the series in 1994 and only returned in 2010. However, while Syed Zainal Abidin Tahir, managing director of Lotus parent company Proton, and Lotus CEO Dany Bahar are both appointed team board members, ownership of the F1 team in fact belongs to Luxembourg-based private equity firm Genii Capital. Now, between Lotus and Genii Capital, the future of the team is up for grabs.
A precarious situation, Genii Capital may even consider to buy out Lotus itself if the sports car manufacturer struggles to break through in its production car operations and continues to suffer heavy losses. To note, Lotus made a £21.4 million pre-tax loss last year while Proton’s profits have begun to show a trend of decline. In January, the Malaysian government sold its 43% controlling stake of Proton to DRB-Hicom, a Malaysian Corporation involved in the automotive manufacturing, assembly and distribution industry. Genii Capital chairman Gerard Lopez has previously exchanged with DRB-Hicom on the possibilities of selling Lotus. Lopez said,”If there is a way that we think the company can be bought and run successfully, then of course we would be interested.”
Despite the financial obstacles, Lotus and Proton remain true to their racing commitments. Lotus spent approximately £25m annually to sponsor the F1 team that bears its name and parent company Proton also supported the team an estimated £34m to satisfy debt obligations concerning secured loans with Renault and bankrupt Lithuanian bank AB Snoras. Also, more than having members on the team board, a signed call option agreement with Genii on February 3rd entitles Proton the right to purchase a 50 percent stake in the team to become majority shareholders. Proton has yet to execute the option but this may only be a matter of time.
We will learn more as the negotiations progress and as the Formula 1 season unfolds.
This weekend’s Melbourne GP kicks off the 2012 Formula 1 season. After the third session of qualifying, Michael Schumacher displayed a return to form, qualifying 4th, well ahead of his teammate for Mercedes GP Nico Rosberg. Unfortunately, Schumacher’s Mercedes lost power out of turn 1 of the tenth lap, forcing an early retirement on an otherwise rapid display of performance.
Despite coming short at Melbourne this weekend, Michael Schumacher has enjoyed a remarkably long F1 career of more than 2 decades, and has officially broken and currently holds many records. According to the official Formula 1 website, Michael Schumacher is “statistically the greatest driver the sport has ever seen.” Schumacher has earned 7 driver’s championships, the most race victories, the most fastest laps, the most pole positions, the most points scored, and the most races won in a single season. In 2002, Schumacher became the only driver in Formula 1 history to finish in the top three in every single race of the season.
Michael Schumacher’s success all began when he joined the Benetton-Ford race team. What’s more, 2012 marks the 20th anniversary of a landmark year, the season where Michael Schumacher earned his first podium and scored his first victory in 1992 with Team Benetton. Coincidentally, racing fans can now own a piece of history: the 1992 season Benetton F1 car is now available for sale.
If you want a phone that says “I’m too good to take your call,” Tag Heuer’s new Racer mobile will let you screen your calls in style.
Although Tag Heuer is best known for making luxury watches, the company has turned its attention to the lucrative handset market. Inspired by Formula 1 and GT racing, the Racer smartphone features carbon fiber, titanium and a shockproof rubber chassis. Making it super smart, the Racer also comes with latest Android software, as well as a customizable 3D user interface.
Fashionistas and trend setters can pick up their Racer smartphone in July, when it will be available at better luxury mobile boutiques and jewelry retailers for $3,700. Until then, enjoy the Racer smartphne promo video below.
Ceremoniously named after Formula 1‘s youngest two-time world champion, the Infiniti FX Sebastian Vettel project was a collaborative effort between Infiniti’s top designers and engineers and Red Bull Racing personnel and Vettel himself.
In their mission to create the best FX ever, the team at Red Bull Racing shipped an RB7 Formula 1 race car all the way to Japan to provide Infiniti with aero inspiration. The result is a significantly more aggressive FX that sits 0.8 inches lower than the standard issue and generous use of carbon fiber for its rear wing, splitter, rear diffusers, sills, Essence concept inspired grille, and mirror covers. This helped the FX shed more than 100 lbs.
Under the hood, the special FX receives 414-hp from its FX50S 5.0-liter V8 powerplant. This is enough to launch the Infiniti to 62 mph in 5.6 seconds and reach the maximum top speed of 186 mph.
Unfortunately, this super-FX will be exclusively offered for Europe and the Middle East only and only 200 units will be produced. As Formula 1 is a less popular sport in North America, the Vettel name isn’t as exciting to U.S. consumers.
GALLERY: Infiniti FX Sebastian Vettel special edition
Formula 1 racing veteran Rubens Barrichello will officially be joining KV Racing Technology to make the move from F1 to IndyCar racing.
“We are kind of pinching ourselves, it’s a dream to be bringing Rubens to our team,” KV Racing co-owner Jimmy Vasser said.
“I had always promised to my wife, Silvana, that I wouldn’t race on ovals,” Barrichello said. “But we talked a lot and in the end she said that she wouldn’t interfere if this was really what I wanted to do. I think my two sons were actually the ones who helped convince her.”
Initially, he said the plan wasn’t to run in all 16 races on the IndyCar circuit, but instead to solely run in the Indy 500. It seems that Barrichello changed his mind after deciding it would be too hard to sit at home and watch someone else in his car.
“This wasn’t expected at all at first,” he said. “But it kind of evolved after the first test and now I’m really happy to be starting this new phase in my life,” he said.
KV Racing isn’t the only party excited to have the racing legend changing veins. IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard also acknowledged the draw Barrichello is likely to command in the coming season.
“There’s not a person in the world who knows racing that wouldn’t tell you that Rubens Barrichello is one of the greatest drivers of all time,” he said in a statement. “That will create great competition and expands our international platform. There will be millions of fans that will want to see what Barrichello can do.”
[Source: USA Today]
Academy Award-winning director Ron Howard is currently working on Rush, a movie depicting the fierce Formula 1 rivalry between racing driver James Hunt and Niki Lauda for the 1976 Driver’s Championship title. Starring Chris Hemsworth (Thor, The Avengers) as Hunt and Daniel Bruhl (Bourne Ultimatum, Inglourious Basterds) as Lauda, the film is currently being shot in Europe and is expected to reach theaters in 2013.
While a year is a long wait, thankfully Ron Howard has been sharing Rush‘s production progress via his Twitter account. Pictures tweeted include prep work on the set, Olivia Wilde in vintage Gucci, hospital sets, pit garage sets, shots of the Nürburgring, as well as the cars that will be used in the film. Among the movie cars is a gorgeous McLaren M23 replica.
Clearly enthusiastic about his new project, Ron Howard does not claim to be a Formula 1 fan. In fact, Howard only discovered its appeal from Peter Morgan’s script. “These are fascinating characters– ballsy, masculine guys. It was a very dangerous era in racing, and here are two absolute individuals at the height of their powers. It makes for great drama and very exciting action. I wasn’t a die-hard Formula 1 fan before I read Peter’s script, but I’ve been immersing myself in this world. I think the excitement I feel as a fresh convert may be infectious.”
Check out the many pictures Ron Howard has shared after the jump. Also, click on the video for an interview with Howard on Rush. Continue Reading…
In the 2010 F1 season, Sebastian Vettel was crowned the youngest F1 champion ever at the final race. A year later, the German Red Bull driver had absolutely no problems defending his championship, locking it in with three races to go.
Formula One’s head honcho, Bernie Ecclestone, doesn’t seem pleased with how things went last year. Ecclestone is hoping that this season’s championship will go down to the final race in Brazil.
It’s not so much that Ecclestone wants a new F1 champion, but more that he wants the series to have life at the end of the season. Ecclestone believes that Vettel’s recent dominance of the sport could be harming it as interest wanes further on in the year if the championship is decided early.
“We always say this, but I hope the last race is going to be the one where the championship is won,” Ecclestone said Thursday. “We don’t want what happened last year, which was not too good … The only person that would say no to that would be Sebastian, but I think everybody else would agree with it.”
He went on to elaborate, ”But it wasn’t good. I am surprised we survived with (the TV ratings) we got right at the end. I often wonder whether people watch because of the championship or watch because of the particular race.”
Before Vettel, Lewis Hamilton claimed the crown in 2008 and Jenson Button was the 2009 champion. Button finished second last season, Hamilton was fifth.
Four-time Formula 1 champion Alain Prost is officially becoming the brand ambassador for French automaker Renault, the company announced today.
“Renault’s history is intimately linked to that of motorsport and I have a deep attachment to the brand, with which I achieved some of the greatest successes in my sporting career,” Alain Prost said. “I accepted this mission with pleasure and I intend to accomplish it with professionalism.”
Serving as a brand ambassador, Prost will take part in sports demonstrations and use his technical expertise to represent the brand at various events.
His history with the company goes all the way back to 1976 when he became the Formula Renault French champion. That relationship with the company continued in an on-again off-again basis until 1983 when he placed second in Formula 1 drivers’ championship.
Ten years later he became the world champion Formula 1 driver with Williams-Renault. Most recently he drove to a 2012 victory in Trophée d’Andros at the wheel of Dacia Lodgy “Glace”.
As an aside, some may find it surprising that Prost accepted the role after his less than favorable portrayal in Senna, the 2010 documentary that chronicled the decade during which Ayrton Senna arrived in Formula 1 racing. In the movie, Prost is portrayed as a Machiavellian win-at-all-cost racer. It’s interesting that Prost would come back to work with Renault after having been shown in such an unsavory fashion.
GALLERY: Alain Prost
Last December, an auction provided a rare opportunity for racing fans and cinema buffs to bid on Steve McQueen’s original Gulf livery racing suit worn in the movie “Le Mans.” In case you missed out or couldn’t afford the $800,000 price tag, a new opportunity to own a piece of motorsport history has arisen.
Thanks to Asif Kapadia’s successful documentary that revived Ayrton Senna awareness, and even mania, there’s a growing market for Senna related racing memorabilia. Up for auction at the Race Retro Sale of the Silverstone Auction in the UK are Ayrton Senna’s original 1991 Championship season Shoei full face helmet and racing suit.
The racing helmet bears Senna’s signature and is instantly recognizable by the Brazilian color theme adorned with Nacional, Boss, Marlboro, and Honda stickers, as well as a McLaren International authentication certificate. This special championship season Senna helmet is projected to sell for a staggering $66,000.
Senna’s race suit features the Brazilian flag as well as his name embroidered along the belt. Experts estimate that the race suit will sell for more than $31,000.
Despite the astronomical price tags, wealthy bidders may consider the helmet and suit a bargain considering Steve McQueen’s “Le Mans” racing suit went for more than $800,000.
The auction will take place on February 25th in the U.K.
GALLERY: Ayrton Senna Racing Helmet and Race Suit
Formula 1 is the epitome of motorsport glamor and fortune and the pinnacle of automotive engineering, technology and innovation. However, if an F1 car doesn’t have what it takes to win, then apparently it isn’t worth anything at all. Yet amid the unforgiving reality of competition, Kevin Anthony, a 47-year-old resident of Brighton, England realized that a team’s loss could be his gain.
From bits and pieces of obsolete Formula 1 components found on eBay, Anthony is building his very own race car. So far, he has purchased a damaged tub for about $5,000 produced by team BAR for the 2001 season. With a basic structure, Anthony then bought an engine cover from BMW Williams, a nose from Force India, Lucky Strike racing livery and whatever else he could muster to create his Frankencar. To date, he has spent approximately $10,000 on his project.
He enjoyed purchasing memorabilia like spark plugs from grand prix cars before staring his current project, but realized after a while that “in buying parts, I have met quite a few people who raced Formula 1 cars and were selling their old ‘rubbish’ off. That made my realize that if I bought the right ‘rubbish’, I too could have what they had and fulfill a dream that until then was out of reach, namely having my own Formula 1 car.”
Currently, Anthony believes the project is near 65 percent complete and expects to have a rolling chassis by next year. As for an engine, he’s keeping an eye out for the perfect Formula Renault or Formula Ford powerplant.
[Source: New York Times]
To the race fans and cinema buffs that missed Senna‘s limited release this summer, Christmas came early.
Unfortunately, Ayrton Senna fans that would like to have a copy on their shelf will have to wait. While the European region 2 release of the Senna DVD and BluRay have been available on amazon.com for months, the North America Region-1 NTSC DVD won’t be available until March 6, 2012 while no official release date has been announced for BluRay yet.
Check out the Senna trailer after the jump: Continue Reading…
Thanks to a last-minute financial deal that came through to secure the $25 million in sanctioning fees needed for the new Circuit of the Americas to part of next year’s F1 circus, the US Grand Prix is back on track for 2012.
F1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone, had given the consortium that’s constructing the track in time for next season, until December 7th to come up with the money, otherwise the Circuit of the Americas risked being withdrawn from the 2012 racing schedule.
Ecclestone had said that providing the money upfront, as well as assurances that the required funding would be available for the race over the next 10 years, was necessary for the deal between F1 and the Circuit of the Americas to go ahead, even though previously, the Texas state comptroller said that the $25 million in public funds necessary for sanctioning wouldn’t have been made available until the start of the race next year.
Now that the money has been secured, work on constructing the circuit (which had been on hold since November 15th) could resume. The 2012 US Grand Prix is slated to take place on June 17th, one weekend after the Canadian Race in Montreal.
[Source: KXAN news]
It was back in 1967 when the AMG badge first appeared on a Mercedes-Benz product, and in 2012 it will first appear on a Formula 1 car.
In order to promote its performance division, Mercedes-Benz has decided to change the name of its F1 team for the 2012 season, and it will now be called “Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula 1 Team.”
On this occasion, the director of motorsport at Mercedes, Norbert Haug said: “Our new team name fuses the proud traditions of AMG and the Mercedes-Benz Silver Arrows at the pinnacle of motorsport. These three letters (AMG) are synonymous with high technology, sporting performance and excitement and this step is a further strong sign of the strategic commitment Mercedes-Benz has made to Formula 1.”
So if you are a fan of the Aufrecht Melcher Grobaspach (AMG) racing cars, wait until March 18, for the first Formula 1 race of 2012, which will be held in Melbourne, Australia, to see your favorite racing cars in action.
The 2007 Formula 1 world champion Kimi Raikkonen is making a comeback to the sport after a two-year break.
However, its not like he was sitting at home doing nothing for the last two years. Raikkonen dabbled in WRC rallying, and also tried his luck in the NASCAR Truck Series. But it’s F1 where his star shined the brightest, where he had won 18 races and 62 podiums while racing for McLaren and Ferrari. His only championship win came at the wheel of a Ferrari.
Raikkonen’s return to F1 was in the rumor-mill for several months, but many speculated that he will drive for Williams. But the 32-year old from Finland will return with Lotus GP (known as Lotus-Renault GP for the 2011 season). On this occasion, Raikkonen commented: “My hunger for F1 has recently become overwhelming. It was an easy choice to return with Lotus GP.”
Raikkonen who first entered F1 in 2001 with Sauber, raised many eyebrows in the paddock when he scored a point in his debut race. He moved to McLaren a year later.
Will Raikkonen’s return be heroic or will he suffer from the same fate Michael Schumacher has been dealing with during his comeback? Only time will tell.
Robert Kubica, one of Formula One’s most promising young drivers, will sit out the start of the 2012 F1 season as he continues to recover from a crash that partially severed his arm.
While Kubica is making a recovery, the pace is not as rapid as some had hoped for. Kubica can move his arm, but it remains unknown whether he is physically fit enough to drive a Formula One car at this time.
Kubica was driving a Skoda rally car in an Italian race when he crashed into a barrier that penetrated his car and nearly sliced off his arm. Kubica was replaced before the start of the 2011 season by Nick Heidfeld and Bruno Senna. Renault will have to look for a replacement for 2012, but says that Kubica has a test car and a crew of mechanics at his disposal when he is ready to return.
Hit the jump to see the official press release
One of the most successful partnerships in the history of Formula 1 has to be the combination of a Honda engine in a McLaren chassis and body, with Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost behind the wheel. It was the perfect partnership which saw the team win many races and championships.
Over the last 16-years, McLaren has found much success by giving their driver’s Mercedes-Benz power. However, for the last two-years, Mercedes-Benz has been running its own F1 team and rumors started circulating that this will lead to an end to their relationship with McLaren, especially since Mercedes-Benz sold all its shares in McLaren back to the parent company.
With McLaren’s contract coming to an end in 2015 with Mercedes-Benz, much speculation has been circulating on the web and in the paddock as to who will supply engines to the Woking-based team in the future.
This has lead many to speculate that the McLaren-Honda relationship will once again be born, especially since turbo-charged engines are making their way back in Formula 1, and Honda was dominant in the last turbo-era in this sport.
However, McLaren’s managing director Jonathan Neale denies that there has been any contact with Honda. He stresses that McLaren is very well married to Mercedes-Benz for their engines and he sees this partnership continuing into the future.
As for rumors suggesting that Mercedes-Benz might not be giving McLaren its latest motors to give itself an advantage on the track, Neale says he doesn’t think “that’s a concern. ” He goes on to say, “Of course, Mercedes have their own GP team and it’s right and proper that a degree of focus is going to go in that direction, but I was just talking this morning with Thomas Fuhr at Mercedes-Benz – we speak frequently – and we want the same things. It’s in our interest to have consistent engines together because that’s how we get the highest quality.”
The last race of the 2011 F1 season takes place this weekend in Brazil at the Interlagos circuit.
Next year’s U.S. Grand Prix could be in jeopardy if organizers of the Austin, Texas race do not agree on a contract and pay fees by the end of next week. Formula One’s head honcho Bernie Ecclestone’s patience is clearly wearing thin with negotiations and does not want to wait beyond the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix race in San Paulo on November 27th for a decision to be made.
The first race to be held in the United States since 2007 has been hyped up and highly anticipated but Ecclestone has no problems calling it off if no deal is done. Some might believe that Ecclestone isn’t so focused on working out a deal for the Austin, Texas race since a deal has been settled for a grand prix in New Jersey for 2013.
As with everything else that makes the world turn, negotiations have come down to money, Ecclestone exclaiming that “they can’t bloody well pay,” and “the teams want paying.”
Ecclestone claims that the deal has been ongoing for 18 months now, and that he doesn’t have any contract with anybody concerning the race in Austin. As of Tuesday, construction at the Austin track was halted but Steve Sexton, Circuit of the Americas president, remains optimistic.
At the end of the day though, Ecclestone is clearly becoming impatient and frustrated with the negotiations. “Since we’ve been talking to the people in Austin we’ve done two or three deals with different countries. I don’t know what the problem is for America really.”
[Source: Reuters UK]
Fans of Formula 1 racing and Lotus must have spent this year feeling a bit confused regarding who they should support, since there were two teams going by the name Lotus.
There was Team Lotus, a private team founded by Tony Fernandes (who also owns Caterham Cars), and then there was Group Lotus which was run by Lotus (the guys who make the cars) and their parent company Proton.
The two teams fought over the naming rights. Group Lotus said that the name Lotus belongs to them, while Team Lotus said that their name has always operated in motorsports as a separate entity to the road car business.
Who gets what naming rights was up to the courts to decide, and the verdict is in. Group Lotus is to keep the rights to the Lotus name in motorsports, which means they now own the rights to the Team Lotus name also.
In what is being described as a amicable settlement between the two parties, the former Team Lotus, which is also owned by 1 Malaysia Racing Team, will rename themselves as the Caterham F1 Team for the 2012 season.
Group Lotus CEO Dany Bahar said at the announcement that, “On behalf of Group Lotus and Proton, I would like to express how pleased we are that this matter is finally closed and we can now focus on looking forward to the future.”
The new deal will also lead to a working relationship between the two parties over future automotive projects.
Caterham, a company that started out life as a Lotus dealer, who got the manufacturing rights to the Lotus 7 and has been producing the car for over 30 years now, will now be its own force in Formula 1. Recognition of the Caterham brand will thus grow on a global scale.
The moment has come. Formula One, the pinnacle of international automotive racing, is coming for Greater New York in 2013!
According to well placed sources involved in the matter, the Formula 1 franchise will make an official announcement of the “Formula One Grand Prix of America” some time next week. Slatted for June 2013, the Weehawken-West New York road course of New Jersey will feature a stunning Manhattan skyline backdrop.
A Tuesday press conference at Port Imperial, Weehawken is expected. This project was first proposed in August, when the mayors of Weehawken and West New York issued a joint statement that revealed discussions with a group of investors led by Leo Hindery by Leo Hindery, Jr., a former chief executive of the YES Network, to bring a race to New Jersey were in motion.
The current Formula One calendar features nineteen incredible destinations including Monaco, Shanghai, Sao Paulo, Yas Marina, Montreal, Melbourne, and Catalunya. The last grand prix held in the United States was at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2007.
By 2010, already a three year hiatus, Formula 1 already announced plans for a return to the United States. As we speak, a state-of-the-art $250 million racetrack in Austin, Texas enters the final phases of construction, readying for its debut at the November 2012 Formula One Grand Prix of America. With the addition of the New Jersey circuit, racing fans in the United States finally gets to experience the excitement they deserve.
[Source: Wall Street Journal]
Back in 1997, Germany’s Michael Schumacher was the man to beat in Formula 1. At the last race of the season, he was in a title battle with Canadian Jacques Villeneuve. The winner of the race would take the driver’s championship.
Villeneuve in his Williams-Renault was on pole, but Schumacher’s Ferrari got the better start and took the lead by the first corner. However, as the race progressed, Villeneuve started clawing back at Schumacher, and then on lap 48, took the inside line at the Dry Sack corner to take the lead. In an attempt to take out his opponent, Schumacher turned in and hit Villeneuve’s car. However, the hit proved more lethal to Schumacher, as he had to retire from suspension damage. Villeneuve’s car was damaged, he nursed the car for the next 22 laps and finished the race in third position, enough to give him the F1 Driver’s Championship.
For his actions, Schumacher was stripped off his second place in the driver’s championship by the FIA. So now while the Ferrari camp mourned, the Williams-Renault F1 team and its sponsors rejoiced and celebrated their victory in the hands of a Canadian hero.
One of their sponsors, cigarette giant Rothman’s wanted to give Villeneuve a very special present, and they did so with the car you see on this page. It is a 1997 Dodge Viper R/T10 Roadster, which has been modified by the American tuning specialists Hennessey. The end result is called a Viper Venom 600, the last digits denoting the horsepower figure it produces.
This car is capable of sprinting from 0-60 mph in a claimed 3.3 seconds, and onto a top speed of 205 mph. Perfect daily commuter for an F1 champ then.
Now this one-off special can be yours, as it has been listed for sale. This car has covered 23,000 miles, and while it did suffer mild damage at one point in its life, it has all been repaired properly since.
This car is located in U.K. at the moment, but the seller does mention that World-wide export is available, and the asking price is only $63,300. That might be a lot for a 1997 Viper, but considering it is a Hennessey and one that has a World Champion as its first owner, it might be the ultimate collector piece for an F1 fan.
If you’re an avid follower of Formula 1, you’d have already known that Sebastien Vettel has won the 2011 Drivers Championship. Even though his F1 car is powered by a Renault engine, it is branded an Infiniti for marketing purposes, as Infiniti only launched in Europe this year.
Starting with the FX Sebastien Vettel edition. First shown as a concept vehicle at the Frankfurt Auto Show, this special vehicle is now rumored to be approved for production. While the looks will pretty much stay intact, it is yet to be seen if the production model will also be limited to a top speed of 186 mph.
While Vettel might be a double world champion, F1 is not big in North America, so this hot FX might not even come to our shores. We hope that it does.
Gallery: Infiniti FX Sebastian Vettel