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Formula 1

F1 Revival in South East Asia: Racing Returns?

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South East Asia: A Promising region for Formula 1 South East Asia has long been a hub for Formula 1, with notable events like the Indian Grand Prix (2011-2013) and the Malaysian Grand Prix, which has been a staple since 1999 up until 2017, drawing significant attention from motorsport enthusiasts. The Indian Grand Prix held at the Buddh International Circuit, showcased the region’s potential by attracting large crowds and significant international interest during its short tenure. Similarly, the Malaysian Grand Prix, held between 1999 and 2017 at the Sepang International Circuit, provided fans with some of the most memorable races in F1 history due to its challenging track layout and unpredictable weather conditions. The Sepang track still holds MotoGP races where legendary rider Valentino Rossi has taken victory seven times. The Sepang track is also the host of many endurance races, like the Asian Le Mans Series, The Sepang 1000 km, and the Intercontinental GT Challenge. Despite this interest, various challenges, such as logistical issues, financial constraints, and political factors, have prevented the region from becoming a permanent fixture on the F1 calendar. This has been a source of disappointment for local fans who crave the high-octane thrill of F1 cars racing through their cities and the economic boost such events typically bring. However, recent developments from Liberty Media, the owner of the Formula One Group, offer a glimmer of hope for fans in this region. Greg Maffei, CEO of Liberty Media, has hinted that a race in South East Asia is increasingly likely. This is particularly exciting news for F1 enthusiasts in countries like Thailand, Indonesia, and Malaysia, all of which have shown a keen interest in hosting such an event. Maffei’s statements have reignited discussions among local motorsport authorities and business stakeholders about the feasibility and benefits of hosting F1 races.

The race start of the 2024 Bahrain Grand Prix

Potential Venues for Races

Malaysia: Should Formula 1 make a return to Malaysia, the Sepang International Circuit is the favored venue. Known for its two long straights connected by a tight hairpin, Sepang has been the site of some of the most thrilling races in F1 history. The circuit, also known as the Petronas Sepang International Circuit, would be a perfect fit given that Petronas is a major sponsor of the Mercedes F1 team.

Sepang’s infrastructure is well-equipped to handle the logistics of an F1 race, with its modern facilities and history of hosting major international events. The track’s combination of high-speed sections and technical corners presents a significant challenge for drivers, adding to the excitement for spectators. Moreover, Malaysia’s strategic location in Southeast Asia makes it an accessible destination for international fans. This is the venue for the Petronas Grand Prix of Malaysia (2024), the Asian Le Mans Series, The Sepang 1000 kms, and the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

Sepang International Circuit - Wikipedia
Track Layout of the Petronas Sepang International Circuit

Indonesia: For an Indonesian Grand Prix, the Sentul International Circuit is the top candidate. This 3.9 km track features a sharp right-hand first turn and a total of 11 turns. Though it has never hosted a Formula 1 race, it has a history with GP2 events, with Bruno Senna holding the race lap record. Sentul shows great promise as a new F1 venue, with potential upgrades to meet F1 standards. Its location near Jakarta, a major urban center, could attract a large local and international audience. The Indonesian government’s support for motorsports and ongoing infrastructure development in the region further enhance Sentul’s viability as a host for an F1 race. The circuit’s unique layout, which blends fast straights with tight corners, promises to deliver an exciting spectacle for racing fans.

Sentul International Circuit - Wikipedia
Track Layout of the Sentul International Circuit

Indonesia has another option to hold a Formula 1 race, at the Mandalika Circuit, the host of the Indonesian MotoGP Grand Prix. Descriptions of Indonesia’s Mandalika MotoGP and World Superbike-hosting track as a ‘street circuit’ are somewhat misleading; rather, this is a purpose-built race track that incorporates some existing public roads and is then handed over for normal traffic usage when not used for racing. This 16-turn, 4.3 km long track gives some very interesting bike races and may even make for a good Formula 1 race track.

Mandalika International Street Circuit - Wikipedia
Track Layout of the Mandalika Circuit

Thailand: The Chang International Circuit, also known as the Buriram International Circuit, is the obvious choice for a Thai Grand Prix. This 4.5 km track, with its 12 turns and wide straights, has hosted several MotoGP races, including the event where Marc Marquez secured his eighth world title. A Formula 1 race here would certainly be a spectacle, offering fans a mix of speed and technical challenges. The track’s long pit lane with a tricky entrance adds another layer of complexity, making it a suitable venue for F1. Additionally, Buriram’s robust tourism infrastructure and Thailand’s popularity as a tourist destination could boost attendance and international interest in the event. The circuit’s design, which emphasizes overtaking opportunities and high-speed action, is well-suited for the demands of F1 racing. It has recently hosted a race in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Asia.

Buriram International Circuit - Wikipedia
Track Layout of the Buriram (Chang) International Circuit

India: While discussing Formula 1 in SE Asia, we cannot forget India. India is a country of 1.4 billion people, filled with adrenaline junkies and octane thrill-seeking fans. Just this weekend, Mumbai hosted a drag racing series at the Juhu Airport runway! This drag race was previously held since the 1970s, stopped for some reasons, and has now been finally renewed. The Hyderabad E-Prix, a wonderfully organized street race through Lumbini Park on the banks of Sagar Hussain Lake, not only fulfilled the dreams of Indians to see a street race in India but also boosted the local economy by a whopping $84 million. Another instance in which motorsport in India would be discussed is the age-old Madras Motor Racetrack. Work began in the 1980s and was finally inaugurated in 1990. This track served as the backbone of Indian motorsport. This FIA-certified Grade 2 track still holds regional races like the MRF championship. Unfortunately, this track cannot hold Formula 1 races as it is a Grade 2 track and only Grade 1 tracks are eligible to hold Formula 1 races. However, there is another track in India which can and has in the past held Formula 1 races. The Buddh International Circuit, located in Noida, hosted races between 2011 and 2013, all of them won by Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, who celebrated winning his fourth title at this very track.

Due to political interference and bureaucracy, the races stopped. But, during the launch of Formula 1 and Fancode’s streaming partnership, Formula 1 released data showing there are 100 million fans in India of the pinnacle of motorsport, Formula 1. In the last four years, the sport has grown from 60 million to 100 million fans. Seeing this outburst of fans in India, the Formula One Group may even think about returning to the subcontinent. Currently, there are two under-construction race tracks being built: CoASTT High Performance in Coimbatore and Bren Raceway in Bengaluru. These are not Grade 1 circuits but are circuits of lower grade, helping to create a junior series of motorsport infrastructure in the country.

Buddh International Circuit | Formula 1 Wiki | Fandom
Track Layout of the Buddh International Circuit

Vietnam: Vietnam has recently become a top choice for a tourist destination due to its cheap flight tickets, lower food and stay costs, making it a beautiful foreign destination for family trips with delicious food. Adding our favorite organic compound—octane—Vietnam was all set to host the Vietnam Grand Prix in 2020, sponsored by Vinfast at the Hanoi circuit, but 2020 was the year of the coronavirus, and the race was canceled. After that, it was indefinitely postponed. This 5.6 km track with 22 turns was all set to provide a banger weekend, but it wasn’t possible. This track contains one very long back straight, complemented by two medium-long straights. It is filled with high-speed bends and a very long hairpin. All these factors make this track a personal favorite among all these tracks. Until its formation, it hasn’t seen much track action, except a few regional bike and car championships. Weather Considerations The weather in Southeast Asia is notoriously unpredictable, which could add an extra layer of excitement to the races. The region’s climate can swiftly change from scorching sunshine to heavy rains, potentially affecting race strategies and outcomes. Teams would need to prepare for a wide range of conditions, making these races uniquely challenging and thrilling for both drivers and spectators. Rain, in particular, has historically added drama and unpredictability to F1 races, as seen in past events at Sepang, where sudden downpours have led to unexpected results and dramatic moments on track. The ability to adapt to rapidly changing weather conditions will be crucial for teams, adding an element of strategy and unpredictability that enhances the overall spectacle.

Hanoi circuit map revealed for 2020 Vietnam GP

When can these races take place?

While the prospect of new F1 races in Southeast Asia is thrilling, these events are unlikely to materialize before 2026-27, as the 2025 calendar is already set. Organizers will face stiff competition from the expanding number of American GPs, which are increasingly popular. If these Southeast Asian races do come to fruition, they could be scheduled at the start of the season, following the East Asian rounds in China and Japan, to optimize logistics and fuel efficiency. This scheduling would make the races more affordable and accessible for fans, including those from neighboring countries like India, potentially drawing a larger crowd and increasing the region’s appeal to global motorsport audiences. Additionally, aligning the Southeast Asian races with the East Asian rounds could reduce transportation costs and logistical complexities for the teams, making it a more sustainable option for the sport. Stay tuned to Desiracingcompany for updates on whether these exciting developments will come to pass, bringing F1 action back to Southeast Asian tracks and fulfilling the dreams of many local F1 fans. The potential return of F1 to this vibrant and diverse region promises not only to reignite local interest in motorsports but also to showcase South East Asia’s capacity to host world-class events, further integrating it into the global F1 calendar.

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.

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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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