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Formula 1

2024 Japanese Grand Prix Preview

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It’s been 2 weeks since the last race, and the F1 circus has now arrived in Japan’s Suzuka int’l Racing course. With Redbull suffering technical difficulties in the last race, and Ferrari being quick on the draw by seizing the opportunity to cross the finish line with a 1-2, is there a possibility that the championship has been opened wide now? Or will Red Bull continue dominating the ground effect era?

Around the Circuit

The Suzuka International Racing course in the Mie Prefecture of Japan is regarded as one of the most technical circuits on the Grand Prix Calendar. The 5.807 km (3.608 mi) long racetrack sports everything from long highspeed corners to slow chicanes and everything in between.

Suzuka International Racing Course Track Layout

The 130R, notably one of the most famous corners in the world of motorsports, is one of many that make the race track challenging, unassumingly named so due to its 130m radius, and has had some of the most thrilling high-speed overtakes on the circuit.

F1 2022 results: Japanese Grand Prix – Race (Suzuka Circuit) : PlanetF1

An even more unmistakable feature of the track is its figure-of-8 configuration, where a part of the racetrack crosses over itself on a bridge, possibly due to the track following variations in the height of Japan’s hilly terrain. Suzuka is also the only track on the calendar that has the figure-of-8 configuration.

Key Storylines

Can Ferrari retain their podium?

With Max Verstappen out of the Australian Grand Prix, following a mechanical failure, Ferrari was in a prime position to win the race. The prancing horses looked mighty following the practice sessions and with Sainz qualifying P2 on Saturday, the Spaniard was quick to pick up the scraps, leading the Italian outfit to a 1-2, their first since Bahrain 2022, another occasion where the Redbulls were out of contention. Thus it is crucial to ask, whether Ferrari can keep their place on the top step of the podium, or will Verstappen be the one to challenge and win the race?

Carlos Sainz and Charles Leclerc on the podium after the 2024 Australian GP


Max Verstappen’s Reliability vows; a one-off issue or trouble in paradise?

Redbull has been bulletproof in terms of reliability, their last reliability caused DNF to occur ages ago. But have reliability concerns resurfaced? According to Max Verstappen, it was only a matter of time before he faced a mechanical DNF, following a perfect run of 43-point finishes since Australia 2022. “We had a lot of good races in a row, a lot of good reliability, and I knew that the day would come that you end up having a retirement.” – said the 3x world champion in an interview with Redbull.

F1 news: Max Verstappen inadvertedly exposes Red Bull 'vulnerability' at  Aus GP? : PlanetF1

Max Verstappen’s Redbull slowing down as the brake catches on fire


Mercedes’ Reliability dilemma

Speaking of reliability concerns, Mercedes had one of their worst weekends in F1, with their first double DNF since Austria 2018, Lewis Hamilton being out due to an engine failure and George Russell driving himself off the track in a last lap attempt to overtake Fernando Alonso, who was given a post-race penalty as determined by the stewards. But the question is, have Mercedes now run into engine troubles? The team that dominated the V6 Hybrid era due to their engine superiority and reliability, has found itself at a crossroads. Are Mercedes outdriving their engines, in an attempt to catch up to the frontrunners in Redbull and Ferrari? The team has been conducting internal investigations at the factory in Brackley, and we hope they come up with an answer soon.

Lewis Hamilton's damning 'not the case' verdict amidst 'worst start ever'  to a season : PlanetF1

Lewis Hamilton pulls off the track after an engine failure


McLaren brings new colors to the grid

McLaren becomes the first team in 2024 to bring a special livery, the Woking outfit working with Japanese artist MILTZ, designing a livery to highlight their “Driven by change” initiative. The livery, inspired by the Edomoji art style, features “a dragon racing through the clouds, with elements inspired by Japanese calligraphy from the Edo period.”

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McLaren’s Special Livery for the Japanese GP


Yuki Tsunoda; Home Hero

With a great start to the F1 season so far, Yuki Tsunoda heads to his home GP with a promising future, as the Japanese driver did his best to finish the previous race in the points, getting a P7, Racing Bulls’ highest finish yet. On the other side of the garage, Daniel Ricciardo seems to be facing issues with the car, as he’s been unable to finish the races within the points so far.

Upgrades for the Japanese GP

Multiple teams intend to bring upgrades to Japan, with teams like Redbull, Racing Bulls and Mercedes bringing in parts upgrades, while Aston Martin brings a brand new floor for their AMR24. It will be interesting to see whether these parts bring much-needed pace and reliability for each of these teams, as Suzuka’s very technical and variable layout provides ideal testing grounds for upgrades. With the track moved up on the Calendar to the 4th race as opposed to traditionally being in the final few races of the calendar, it’s crucial to find out the actual pecking order of the teams, for the season to come.

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Formula 1

A Three way Battle in Budapest: The 2024 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview.

Formula One returns to the historic Hungaroring, a tight twisty and unpredictable race track. Read DRC’s race preview here.

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As Red-Bull and Mclaren pull away from the field, Mercedes joins the party. With three race winning cars on track, all three will look to bag good points, while Ferrari will be hopeful for a better result. Welcome to DRC’s F1 Hungarian Grand Prix Preview.

Read the British Grand Prix Review here.


Know the Hungaroring

The tight and twisty Hungaroring track is located in Mogyorod, 11 miles west of the Hungarian capital, Budapest. Described as an enlarged go-kart circuit, it is one of the most technically challenging circuits on the calendar.

The Hungaroring Circuit.
The Hungaroring circuit. Photo credits: F1

The 14 corner track is also called Monaco without the walls, owing to it’s high downforce requirements. Even though overtaking is very difficult here, the track has undergone only one major revision, which was in 2003. The main straight was extended another 200 meters to make it 900m long, and the first corner was tightened to promote overtaking.

The track contains two back-to-back DRS zones, followed by a technical middle sector full of chicanes and esses. The final sector is a short one, only featuring two hairpins that feed back into the main straight. A good middle sector is crucial here.

Historically, Hungary has been a circuit full of firsts. It was the first and only circuit to host a race beyond the Iron Curtian. It is also famous for giving drivers their first wins. Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso, Heikki Kovalainen and most recently, Esteban Ocon have taken their first wins here. Max Verstappen took his first pole back in 2019 at the Hungaroring too.

The 2024 F1 Hungarian Grand Prix will consist of 70 laps around this 4.381 kilometer circuit, with a two stop strategy as the norm.


Red Bull look to fight back blow for blow

Over the last few races, Red Bull has fallen off the pace and is slowly falling into the clutches of McLaren, and even Ferrari. Right now, Red Bull lead Ferrari by 71 points, closely followed by McLaren. With both McLaren cars consistently finishing in the top 5 in the last races bar Norris’s retirement in Austria, and Checo only scoring 8 points in the last five races, it has become difficult for Max and Red Bull to outscore the Papaya clad team.

McLaren’s last upgrade has significantly improved their performance, while Red Bull is still struggling to find and mend the issues with the RB20. Verstappen recently tested the RB18 at Imola, in an attempt to figure out the problem with the new car. As Red Bull work hard to rectify their problems, McLaren seems to be getting better and better. And now with Mercedes back in the fray, a new challenger is rising to take their throne.

Max Verstappen testing the RB18 at Imola.
Max Tests the RB18 in Imola. Image cradits: Autosport

Another factor is the two on one that Max has to face. With Checo qualifying poorly, Max has to take on the McLaren, and sometimes the Mercedes pair alone. Two cars in the mix would greatly help Red Bull, and Checo will be motivated to improve his Qualifying and Race records.


Mercedes on the up as Hamilton eyes another record

The Hungaroring has always been kind to Mercedes. They have the most wins here in the Turbo-Hybrid era. Russell and Hamilton snatched pole here in 2022 and 2023 respectively. Hamilton has also won eight races here, and his first victory with Mercedes came here in 2013.

Mercedes usually nail the set-up here. With the team riding high after back-to-back victories in Austria and Silverstone, they would love to go for a treble. Lewis Hamilton will also eye a record equaling nine victories. After his win in Silverstone, he now holds the record for most wins at a single circuit with 9.

George Russell also has a fantastic track record here, finishing in the points every year since 2021, where he came eight for a struggling Williams. A podium and a top 5 finish followed in 2022 and 2023.

Mercedes will want to secure a large bag of points here, to reduce the 152 points defecit they have to the leaders Red Bull and to catch up with McLaren and Ferrari.


A Ferrari Renaissance on the Horizon?

Ferrari seems to have dropped off after their excellent performances in Melbourne and Monaco. This year, Ferrari seem to be a heavily down-force reliant car, with podiums for Charles and Carlos in Sakhir, Jeddhah, Melbourne and Suzuka, all tracks which require downforce. Of course their victories on the streets of Melbourne and Monte-Carlo confirms this.

Charles Leclerc Wins in Monaco.
Ferrari have dominated the Downforce heavy circuits. Image Credit: Anonymous

Their struggles at the more balanced tracks of Canada and Barcelona, along with power heavy tracks like Austria and Silverstone have cost them dearly. It is also evident that the Ferrari is one of the more draggy cars on the straights and struggle with straight line speed.

As the Hungaroring is a heavy-downforce track, it seems like Ferrari have a shot at victory here. This might be one of the few chances for them to get points during the European Leg of the season, along with Zandvoort and Baku. Consequently, Ferrari have bought new floor upgrades to make most of this valuable chance. A huge points haul in the Hungarian Grand Prix will solidify their chances against McLaren, Red Bull and even Mercedes who look threatening.


Dark Clouds loom over the race

An alarming video was shared by Mikey Brown, a mechanic at Aston Martin, shows the Pitlane flooding in what he described as “a HUGE storm” . McLaren, having barely repaired their motorhome in time for the British GP after the fire in Catalunya, have suffered another issue. The repaired motorhome has lost it’s roof multiple times over this week, thanks to the speedy winds.

Even though Meteorologists predict a dry weekend, a small rain shower, combined with the high humidity in Hungary this time of year can put the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend in doubt.


Championship Standings

This is how the championship looks as we head into the race weekend:

The 2024 Formula One world championship standings as of 18/07/2024.
Credits: F1

Race Weekend Schedule

All events during the weekend are available to watch on F1TV and Fancode. The times given below are in IST(GMT +5:30).

DRC's Hungarian Grand Prix Race weekend schedule.

Follow Desi Racing Co to keep up to date with the speedy world of motorsports.

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Formula 1

Toyota rumoured to partner with Haas in an exhilarating return to F1

Toyota rumoured to partner with Haas to back a sensational return to F1.

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As the F1 silly season continues, a rather surprising bit of rumour is that the world’s largest automaker, Toyota, is set to return to the F1 grid as early as 2025 with the Haas F1 team.

Credits: Haas F1 team

The partnership is said to start out with a sponsorship deal, possibly with a renaming on the cards. A deal akin to that of Alfa Romeo and Sauber. With the possibility of a future technical partnership on the chassis/engine development. Toyota will likely join Dallara in assisting Haas for the chassis. Other talks suggest that Haas will use Toyota’s facilities for development and manufacturing. While this means Toyota won’t be directly involved in the construction of the F1 car, it means Haas gets a huge boost in infrastructure, experience, etc; and Toyota gets a new source of income.

Toyota’s history in F1

The Japanese manufacturer has seen immense success in WEC, taking 5 consecutive 24 hours of Le Mans victories from 2018 to 2022 and WRC, clinching the manufacturers’ championship in 2018, 2021, and 2022, and the championship for drivers and co-drivers every year since 2019. It wasn’t so for its time in F1, or at least according to Toyota’s standards and ambition.

Credits: Toyota-europe.com

Toyota made their debut F1 in 2002. The team scored 17 podiums, and 3 pole positions but never achieved a victory. Only securing 2nd place as their best finish till they dropped out of the sport in 2009, midway through the development of the 2010 car.

What does this mean for Haas, Toyota, and F1?

Toyota’s failure was blamed on a lot of factors, this deal gave the Japanese manufacturer a second chance to right their wrongs. Haas has been on a consistent upward trajectory throughout the 2024 season. With Nico Hulkenberg scoring back-to-back P6 finishes at the Austrian and British GP, and Kevin Magnussen backing that up with commendable performances. The deal could help Haas gain the brute force of employees, resources & financial aid. Something that they have been lacking to make a meaningful impact in the sport.

F1 would most certainly benefit from having a Japanese Manufacturer in the sport. The Japanese GP attendance and the growing popularity of F1 have been steadily increasing in the country. Toyota’s return could also provide F1 with a boost to their competitiveness and financial gains.

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Formula 1

GIFT City’s Formula 1 Racetrack Plans Hit a Roadblock

GIFT City’s ambitious plan to build a Formula 1 racetrack has stalled due to structural issues and high costs, sources reveal. Initially flagged off with a feasibility study, the project now faces uncertainties.

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Gujarat’s GIFT City’s ambitious plan to build a racetrack for holding Formula 1 (F1) races has come to a grinding halt just four months after initiating a feasibility study and selecting consultants, according to sources familiar with the matter.

Earlier this year, on March 11, the Gujarat Sports Authority announced that top international F1 racetrack designers were invited to present the feasibility of constructing an F1 racetrack at GIFT City. The project saw intense competition among global designers, with the consortium of renowned German designer Hermann Tilke and India’s Arcop architects emerging as the frontrunner for the feasibility study.

GIFT City (Photo: Amit Dave/Reuters)

However, GIFT City’s plan has been halted, insiders revealed. “Designers had given feedback that given the layout of GIFT City, it may be difficult to build a racetrack that conforms to F1 standards due to structural issues,” said one source.

The financial implications also pose a significant hurdle. Estimates place the cost of building such a racetrack between Rs 5,000 and 10,000 crore.

R.S. Ninama, Director General of the Gujarat Sports Authority, and Hermann Tilke have not responded to inquiries from ET. Another source indicated that the project might be integrated into a larger plan for developing infrastructure for the Olympics. “So, you may get a racetrack, but not one that can host F1 races,” the source added.

GIFT City, located in Gandhinagar, has been developed as a financial hub. The city is aimed at attracting international businesses with various tax incentives. The government is focusing on enhancing the city’s livability by developing entertainment and leisure infrastructure. Notable projects include an underwater aquarium, water sports facilities, and a retail zone featuring a 158-meter-high Ferris wheel.

This story has been derived from a story reported by Economic Times.

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