AGP TIME

HOW AWESOME is it that, once again, Australia is hosting the opening round of the Formula 1 World Driver’s Championship?

Now firmly-established as the traditional season-opener, the Australian Grand Prix is a great event for a whole bunch of reasons that includes the Albert Park track, the beautiful lakeside setting and near-CBD location and the way it’s run.

But what makes it even more special each year is that it’s the first time we see the season’s new cars, new drivers and new driver combinations, and this year, the biggest regulation shake-up since the introduction of hybrid turbo power units in 2014.

Physically the 2017 cars look different … both the bodywork and tyres are wider, increasing downforce and therefore grip, so they’re going to be physically harder to drive … and much faster.

Despite a small increase in mandated overall weight, the cars are still predicted to be around four seconds a lap faster at Albert Park!!

There’s new rules too around front wing width, rear wing height, overall car width, the allowable shape and length of the diffuser … it all adds up to a Formula 1 car that’s going to be harder to drive and quicker.

It's nice to hear the enthusiasm in the drivers’ interviews. 

These cars are seriously fast now, I was super impressed by the on-board laps from Barcelona, flat in T3 at Barcelona with the current engine power/torque means serious downforce. And the cars will only get faster as the teams develop. 

This is going to test the drivers physically and make it harder to be fast, especially for young inexperienced drivers. The way it should be! 

And they look tough, and from an enthusiast point of view, look seriously impressive on track. 

I do think we will see some decent shunts throughout the year. The cars are stuck, commitments levels in high speed corners will be tested and it looks like when they snap, they snap proper. This will lead to some big offs. 

There is an argument as to what the new regs will do for the racing, and this is always the sticking point. Braking distances are less, downforce and disturbed air is greater. 

Cars following will be affected more, and it sounds like tyres are more durable and can be driven harder for longer. In a way I like this with the tyres, because mistakes will be more frequent and could lead to (passing) opportunities. 

In the last few seasons, drivers have been driving to a number. They are under their limit, they play with the proceeding car. They have time up their sleeve when they need it. They know how sensitive the tyre is to temperature. 

So you would see cars backing one another up, knowing they couldn't get a run and pass, they would be quick in the corners where they needed to be. Things will be spiced up and I'm looking forward to it!

‘Winter’ (for the northern hemisphere) testing has seen the usual mix of speed and foxing … at various times Mercedes, Red Bull, Ferrari, Renault and Williams have been quick, while McLaren has struggled for reliability.

But you never know what teams are really doing in those test programs, so no-one is betting against the hitherto dominant Mercedes team just yet.

Probably the greatest interest there will be to see how ex-Williams driver Valtteri Bottas goes in his new role, replacing retired World Champion Nico Rosberg, against team kingpin Lewis Hamilton.

Closer to home, I’ll be hoping the new Red Bull-Renault is a major leap forward in terms of performance and it’ll allow Dan Ricciardo the chance to properly challenge for race wins and his first World Championship.



SPEAKING OF FORMULA 1, one of the highlights of my Grand Prix weekend will be the chance to do some passenger rides in the two-seater Minardi.

Many of you will know that I actually tested for the Minardi Formula 1 team back in 2004, when I was racing in Europe, but even though the test went well we just didn’t have the money to get onto the Grand Prix grid.
Minardi these days runs a two-seater Grand Prix car at selected events, giving lucky passengers the ultimate ride, and they enlisted me a couple of years’ back at Bathurst to do some laps.

Any time you get the chance to drive a Formula 1 car, even in short blasts like the passenger Ride laps, is great fun. There is nothing like a Formula 1 car, even one with two seats!!

There's nothing like the scream of the old V10 and I look forward to waking a few people up each morning!

It's still a real buzz to drive this car, the acceleration & braking is just something else. 
Should be a lot of fun, I am looking forward to driving it at the Albert Park track, and I can guarantee there will be some pretty thrilled passengers aboard!



IT WILL BE interesting to experience the transition from Grand Prix car to Supercar, this weekend.

I’ve been racing Supercars so long now that it has become second nature, it’s my office, and really you don’t think too much about it … other than trying to extract the most amount of speed that you can, of course.

So no doubt it’s the Formula 1 car that will feel a bit alien … but I wonder if the Tekno Commodore Supercar is going to feel slow by comparison?

I'll be sure to remind myself to readjust my braking zones, getting back in Tekno Commodore from the Minardi. 

Irrespective, it’s going to be an important weekend for our Tekno team.

Things certainly didn’t go to plan at the season-opener in Adelaide, a couple of weeks’ back, so we head to the Grand Prix meeting aiming to kick start our year properly.

You have weekends like that, and all you can do is put them behind you and hit the ‘reset’ button.

Since Adelaide we’ve had the car apart and rebuilt it thoroughly, making sure there was no residual damage from the Saturday accident and that everything is brand new again heading into the Grand Prix weekend.

So we go to Albert Park this weekend with a fast car and a sorted package, aiming to put ourselves back at the sharp end of the field and state our claim for a strong season.

There mightn’t be points on the line this weekend but it’s an important one for us … and hopefully a successful one.

I least I can guarantee one thing … I'll be the fastest Supercar driver on track this weekend, thanks to the F1 two seater!



Will.
 

« back
CONSOLIDATING CHAMPIONSHIP CHANCES
18.05.2017
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MOMENTUM BUILDING IN THE WEST
11.05.2017
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THE RACE AGAINST THE CLOCK
20.04.2017
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TASSIE BOUND
06.04.2017
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AGP TIME
23.03.2017
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JUMPING IN THE DEEP END
09.03.2017
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THE SEASON OPENER IS HERE
01.03.2017
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2017 TEST DAY WRAP
14.02.2017
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BATHURST 12 HOUR WRAP UP
10.02.2017
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2017 AUSTRALIAN MOTOR RACING SEASON IS UPON US!
03.02.2017
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SYDNEY FINALE
09.12.2016
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PASSING IN PUKEKOHE
11.11.2016
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STACKING UP THE NUMBERS
28.10.2016
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CONQUERING THE MOUNTAIN
12.10.2016
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SUCCESS AT SANDOWN
21.09.2016
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POWERING ON TO SANDOWN
12.09.2016
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MID-SEASON
11.08.2016
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QUEENSLAND RACEWAY BLUES
27.07.2016
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TAKING ON TOWNSVILLE
18.07.2016
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THE WILD WEST
13.05.2016
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TASSIE TRIUMPH
08.04.2016
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HEADING SOUTH
31.03.2016
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WE'RE BACK
16.03.2016
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THE HOME STRETCH
18.11.2015
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WELCOME TO BATHURST
08.10.2015
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PUSHING FORWARD IN QUEENSLAND
13.08.2015
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LESSONS FROM THE NORTH
08.07.2015
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WINTON WOES
19.05.2015
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PERTH PERFECTION
11.05.2015
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ONE YEAR LATER
15.04.2015
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ROCKY START TO THE YEAR
16.03.2015
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