Formula One: On and off track - week 18

Formula One: On and off track - week 18

Silverstone's new Arena, Subliminal messages, FIA and FOTA plans for the future Silverstone's new Arena Last week FIA Safety and Technical delegate Charlie Whiting visited the Silverstone circuit to inspect the new Arena complex. The 760...


Silverstone's new Arena, Subliminal messages, FIA and FOTA plans for the future

Silverstone's new Arena

Last week FIA Safety and Technical delegate Charlie Whiting visited the Silverstone circuit to inspect the new Arena complex. The 760 meter long new Arena layout got the official FIA stamp of approval, and last Saturday British F3 driver James Calado, driving for the British Carlin Motorsport team, wrote history when he won the inaugural race on the new Grand Prix circuit layout. The new section starts just before the Abbey chicane, drivers now turn right into Farm Curve, and to the right into Village Corner before entering The Loop, a tight left handed hairpin. Then they turn left into Aintree Corner which leads to the Wellington Straight, and at the end of the straight the Arena complex joins the old circuit again at the existing tight left-handed Brooklands corner.

The official launch of the Arena complex at Silverstone.
Photo by xpb.cc.

David Coulthard was the first to drive a Formula One car on the new circuit, and he loved it. He also believes it creates new overtaking opportunities at the Village and Aintree corners, but not all drivers are happy with the new layout. Former F1 driver Romain Grosjean: "We have lost Bridge and the complex which was very nice and we didn't gain much with the new part. In F1 it is going to be very fast, I don't think it gives any overtaking opportunities, I'm not 100 per cent convinced."

FIA GT driver Jamie Campbell-Walter said that the designers had done nothing more than add a "stop-start chicane", while his team mate Warren Hughes said: "For me they have taken away two really challenging corners at Bridge and Priory and replaced them with some good kinks, but also a slow- speed section which is very frustrating." The new Arena section is part of the plans for a ?30 million revamp of the famous British circuit. The pit and paddock complex will be renewed as well, and it is expected the work will be completed before the race in 2011. If you want to see the changes at the circuit, watch the British Moto GP on June 20, the first big worldwide event for the renewed Silverstone circuit.

Subliminal messages

Ferrari is the only F1 team who still gets sponsor monies from the tobacco industry, the team signed a contract with Philip Morris in 2005 which extends to the end of 2011, and is said to be worth $1 billion dollar. Ferrari has now been accused of 'subliminal tobacco advertising". Subliminal advertising is a technique whereby consumers are reminded of a product without actually seeing it, and the bar code on the Ferrari looks like the bottom half of a packet of Marlboro cigarettes. There is solid scientific evidence that subliminal images do work, but in the world of advertising it is a highly controversial technique because it attracts the brain's attention on a subconscious level. It is so controversial that subliminal advertising has been banned in the UK, but in the US it is still legal. Ferrari pretends to be deaf and blind at the same time and claims the barcode is part of the car design, and not an advertising message.

Tobacco sponsoring in F1 started at the end of the sixties when Lotus boss Colin Chapman painted his cars in the red and gold livery of their Gold Leaf sponsor. In the seventies and eighties, Lotus was sponsored by the John Player Special tobacco company. The black and gold livery was so effective that even to this day every F1 fan still can visualize the beautiful, sleek looking JPS sponsored Lotus cars of that era. Philip Morris started sponsoring the BRM and Iso Marlboro-Ford teams in the early seventies. In 1974 Philip Morris switched to the McLaren team, and during their heydays with Emerson Fittipaldi, James Hunt, Alain Prost, Niki Lauda and Ayrton Senna, the red and white McLaren's were a familiar sight on circuits all over the world.

Every F1 fan remembers this car, the JPS Lotus 79 of Mario Andretti.
Photo by xpb.cc.

There are still many subliminal tobacco messages on a race track today, the kerb stones, guard rails, tyre stacks, lines and sometimes even the grandstands are painted in the familiar red and white pattern, they are the heritage of 40 years of tobacco sponsoring. Tobacco and alcohol sponsoring is today, in any form or in any sport, no longer acceptable. In 2000 all F1 teams have agreed to ban tobacco and alcohol advertising, and EU laws prohibit tobacco related sponsorship of all sporting events. The decision Ferrari made when they signed the contract with Philip Morris in 2005 was a poor moral decision, and hopefully Ferrari will end their relationship with Philip Morris after 2011. If not, perhaps the FIA should intervene and add an article to the Sporting Regulations that tobacco or alcohol sponsoring in any form is prohibited.

FIA and FOTA plans for the future

The FOTA is thinking of reviving the KERS energy recovering system, but this time it should be a system developed by an independent manufacturer. It has now emerged the British Flybrid company has proposed the FOTA to use their flywheel based version of the system. The company wants to supply all teams and it is said the company has offered their services for a 'commercially attractive' price for all teams. Many teams have opposed the KERS system because it was expensive to develop, and the 2009 versions didn't really deliver enough power, the battery system wasn't really 'green' after all, and it was not mandatory.

The FIA is still pushing for more greener technology in F1, and they will introduce new engine regulations for 2013. The FIA is thinking of the revival of a power limited 1.5 liter turbo-charged engine, and thinks it's a good idea to introduce an independent flywheel based KERS system at the same time. Renault introduced the turbo engine in 1977, the engines with a very high turbo boost pressure were very powerful, they developed more than 1000bph. Other teams laughed about the Renault engine and called it the "yellow teapot", but after some time Renault started winning races and soon there was nothing to laugh about anymore. The other teams and manufacturers soon followed and developed their own turbo-charged engine, but because they were so ridiculously powerful, turbo engines were banned after 1988.

Again, not all teams are happy with the return of KERS, and want to postpone it to 2013, when the new engine regulations will be implemented. The problem at the moment is that KERS could be re-introduced next year, Ferrari, Williams and Renault are in favor of the return of KERS in 2011. But the smaller teams are still very reluctant to use the system next year, because they don't have the money and resources to develop and build a KERS system for 2011. For the smaller teams it would better to have a system produced by an independent manufacturer, and the costs should not exceed $1milllion per year,

They also think the system should be mandatory, they don't want the same situation like last year, when the 'rich' teams used the system, while the 'poor' team couldn't afford it. The rich teams already had an advantage in speed over the poor teams, and without a mandatory low cost KERS system, the rich would become richer and faster, and the poor even poorer and slower, which is obviously not a very good idea. FOTA and FIA are now on a quest to solve the problems, and are looking for a healthy and equal competition in 2013, which will take some time, but they will eventually get there.

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


See also: Formula One: On and off track - week 17

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About this article
Series General , Formula 1
Drivers David Coulthard , Mario Andretti , Niki Lauda , Alain Prost , Ayrton Senna , Jamie Campbell-Walter , Emerson Fittipaldi , Romain Grosjean , Philip Morris , James Hunt , James Calado , Colin Chapman
Teams Williams , Carlin