Formula One - On and Off track week 45

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Formula One - On and Off track week 45

The Renault and Lotus saga continues, The Ayrton Senna movie, Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi The Renault and Lotus saga continues Lotus Racing has recently officially confirmed the 2011 Renault engine deal, but after press releases from both...


The Renault and Lotus saga continues, The Ayrton Senna movie, Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi

The Renault and Lotus saga continues

Lotus Racing has recently officially confirmed the 2011 Renault engine deal, but after press releases from both Lotus and Renault had emerged, many questions have been raised. The Formula One team currently known as Lotus Racing will indeed race with Renault engines next year, but whether they will still bear the Lotus name, has become very doubtful. The Malaysian team is involved in a name dispute with Malaysian car manufacturer Proton, who have revoked the license to use the name Lotus Racing, which they obtained from Group Lotus (the sports car manufacturer owned by Proton), and claim Lotus team owner Tony Fernandes does not own the name Team Lotus, while Fernandes of course claims the opposite and has taken the matter to an English court. But there have been some questions about the name Renault as well.

Renault atmosphere.
Photo by xpb.cc.

The current Renault team is owned by the Luxembourg-based investment company Genii Capital, (Renault still has a minority stake in the team) and the team has lost a lot of sponsors after the crash-gate scandal. Renault have recently extended their engine deal with Red Bull Racing and will also supply the engines for Lotus Racing in 2011. However, the Renault press release which announced the partnership with Lotus never mentioned the name Lotus, and Bernard Rey, President of Renault Sport, commented: "Renault is delighted to announce an expanded agreement with Red Bull Racing and the arrival of a new customer, 1Malaysia Racing Team (UK) Ltd." This statement further fuelled the suspicions Lotus will no longer bear the name Lotus in 2011.

To complicate matters further, persistent rumors have emerged that Group Lotus is looking for a partnership with Renault in 2011 and would race under the name Lotus-Renault, which is odd, only a few weeks ago Group Lotus announced they will team up with the French ART GP2 team for 2011. According to the rumors the Renault deal involves a three-year title sponsorship, worth 60 million Euro. Renault team boss Eric Boullier commented, "Today, there are discussions, but we also have these with other sponsors and other companies. At the moment there are a lot of distorted rumors, but it is true there have been discussions about a possible collaboration." Lotus technical boss Mike Gascoyne has criticized the way Proton and Group Lotus want to enter Formula One. "If they want to advertise their road cars, why spend so much money on it? With us, they could do it free of charge," he said.

Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn has now admitted there will be changes in Renault's future involvement in Formula One, "Everything concerning our financial participation in this team or another, is tactical. We are not in Formula One to have a particular team but to promote the name and the technology of Renault." Ghosn also said Renault will 'continue to be involved with both the engine and chassis at Renault F1'.

But at the same time Ghosn remained cautious about any future developments, "There may be some developments, but for the moment there is nothing. What I can tell you is that, increasingly, we will be technology suppliers to many teams that are involved in Formula One." About the name Lotus-Renault he said, "Name changes are everywhere. The key is to preserve the Renault name. Apart from Renault F1, yes, there may be other associated names."

All the above has led to speculations about the possible consequences of Renault F1 becoming Lotus-Renault, and Lotus being renamed, possibly to 1Malaysia Racing Team. Italian media have reported Renault driver Robert Kubica could be freed of his contract, and Finnish media reported Lotus could lose its prize money if they are forced to enter the 2011 season under a different name. For now, Lotus and Renault maintain radio silence, and it is expected no decision will be taken until the official end of the season.

The Ayrton Senna movie

During the Japanese Grand Prix the long awaited release of the Ayrton Senna movie was celebrated with a special screening of the documentary on the Thursday before the race. Last weekend the movie was released in Brazil. The movie will be released in the UK in June next year, and it is expected the movie will be released in other countries during the many European based Grand Prix venues.

The movie is the first feature-length documentary about the life of the most legendary Formula One driver of all times: Brazilian Ayrton Senna. The movie was produced by the British Working Title Films company and Universal Studios, and contains many historic images of Senna, who's all too brief life ended abruptly during the tragic Grand Prix of San Marino on May 1 1994, a day many fans will remember for the rest of their life.

A banner in the crowd for Senna.
Photo by xpb.cc.

The few people who have seen the whole documentary written by Manish Pandey and directed by BAFTA winner Asif Kapadia, were impressed to say the least. In an interview with the New York Times Pandey spoke about the movie. "I really didn't want to do a film about the death of Senna because I thought it would really miss the point of him, even if the plan was to do three days at Imola with flashbacks," the Indian said. "I really wanted to make it cinematic by giving him the classic three-act structure of the story: The ascendancy of the guy, his massive meteoric rise and then the third act about his death."

In another interview for the Canadian Globe and Mail he was quoted: "The most emotional time in my life was going to Sao Paulo to pitch the story to his sister, Viviane. What I did was put together a 40-minute presentation on my computer with music that had my take on what he was as a man. She cried her eyes out all the way through it and, at the end, she gave me a big hug and said 'you really knew my brother.' Given that I never met him, it was an incredible thing to say."

The movie was made with the full support of the Senna family, who also gave permission to use previously unseen footage of the three-time World Champion. Also people who were close to the Brazilian, Bernie Ecclestone, Ron Dennis and Frank Williams have co-operated in the making of the movie. Especially Dennis praised the movie, Senna won almost all his races and his three championships driving for McLaren, and Dennis commented the movie was "a faithful and fitting tribute".

Senna's nephew Bruno Senna has watched the movie during the Brazilian Grand Prix and said, "The movie is awesome. It reminded me of so many things that just got dulled by time. For people who didn't know Ayrton, they will have a pretty good image of what Ayrton was all about." Many people from the Formula One scene have contributed to this movie: Alain Prost, Jackie Stewart, Sid Watkins, Gerhard Berger, Nelson Piquet, Nigel Mansell, Michael Schumacher, Rubens Barrichello, Riccardo Patrese and ex-FIA president Jean-Marie Balestre.

Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi

Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi has opened its doors for the public for its inaugural period through November, while the 'Grand Opening' will be in December. Ferrari World is the largest in-door theme park of its kind, and the park hosts numerous unique rides and attractions for young and old. The park is located on the Yas Island in the south of Abu Dhabi adjacent to the Yas Marina Circuit, which will be the scene of the final round of this year's Formula One season next weekend. The park was build by Ferrari in conjunction with Aldar Properties, a real estate development, management and investment company based in the United Arab Emirates.

The Ferrari logo.
Photo by xpb.cc.

The enormous roof of Ferrari World is 200,000 square meters, and the theme park itself, 86,000 square meters, is located under the 50 meter high scarlet red roof which is decorated with the familiar yellow and black prancing horse logo, which measures 65 by 48 meters, the largest Ferrari logo in the world. The main attraction is the Formula Rosso, the world's fastest roller coaster with a 2.07 km long track, where visitors will accelerate from 0 to 100 km in just two seconds, and reach a top speed of 240 km while experiencing almost 5 Gs. The track lay-out is inspired by chicanes and corners from real circuits all over the world, and will provide 'an adrenaline kick worthy of a Grand Prix'.

Other attractions are the Tower of Speed, where one can feel the acceleration rush of a Formula One car; the Scuderia Challenge, a state-of -the-art racing simulator; the Fiorano GT challenge, another roller coaster; and the V12, a journey into the Ferrari 599 12 cylinder engine. For visitors who are interested in history there is the Galleria Ferrari, a display of Ferrari cars, the biggest display outside Europe; the Racing Legends, a multi-media ride through Ferrari's history from 1950 until today; and the Cinema Maranello, an old Italian theater where visitors will 'step back into the 1920s to experience the glamour and brute strength of the old Italian road race in Coppa di Sicilia', a movie specially produced for Ferrari World.

For the kids there is the Junior Training Camp; a traditional Ferrari Carousel; the Junior GT, a junior driving school; Bell d'Italia, where they can explore a miniature version of the winding roads of Italy; and the Junior Grand Prix, where children can get behind the wheel of a scaled-down Ferrari Formula One car. The theme park also has several typical Italian restaurants and shops, and in the Ferrari Store you can buy Ferrari memorabilia. Ticket prices for adults are $61, for children $45, premium tickets which include access to all the rides are $102 for adults and $74 for children.

Join us again next week for the weekly "Formula One: On and off track".


See also: Formula One - On and Off track week 44

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Series GENERAL , F1