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GP Week : Issue 176
F1 >>> NEWS w BRIEFLY » The future of the German Grand Prix was called into question this week when a spokesman for NAG, the holding company that oversees the Nurburgring, publicly stated that the odds of an F1 race taking place at the track in 2013 were slim and decreasing by the day. The issue was further compounded when officials at Hockenheim revealed they were not in talks to replace the ‘Ring as a back-up venue, and that they would struggle to find the money to host three races in three years. But there is a concerted effort being made behind the scenes to save the 2013 German Grand Prix – while the race is obviously of great importance to Mercedes, it is also a key historic event that benefits all of Formula One’s key stakeholders. It is also in the interests of the local government to save the race, as they will have guaranteed the hosting fee to FOM irrespective of whether or not the grand prix goes ahead. » According to Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport there will be something of a sea-change in F1 engine supply for 2014, and not just because of the new specification. The German publication – which is right more often than it’s wrong when it comes to these predictions – claims that Toro Rosso will be moving to Renault engines, breaking their ties with Ferrari, while Force India will be leaving Mercedes power for the Scuderia. Representatives from the teams in question have yet to confirm the news. DON’T MESS WITH TEXAS The Lone Star State became the Five Star State this weekend, with the debut of the United States Grand Prix in Austin. While the concept of a race in Texas was widely derided when first announced by Bernie Ecclestone, all the naysayers have been forced to eat humble pie after a hugely successful weekend. On Friday, the Circuit of the Americas played host to 65,000 fans from around the world, while Saturday and Sunday saw sell-out crowds of 120,000 people per day. While the majority of US motorsport fans spent the weekend gearing up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup season finale – which clashed with the grand prix in an F1 own goal of scheduling – the COTA grandstands were heaving with a passionate crowd made up of fans from across the Americas, not least a sizeable American contingent. For media and F1 personnel, COTA offered impressive facilities. But more importantly, the track itself proved to be both challenging and exciting, a true test of a drivers’ skill. COTA is “a very difficult track, with very big gradient changes and very challenging because most of the corners, the apexes are blind,” said old hand Pedro de la Rosa. Mark Webber agreed, although the Australian was quick to point out the extent to which the pick n’ mix circuit reminded him of other racetracks: “It's a pretty good track, it's quick, especially the first sector which is quite full on, although sectors two and three are more traditional and similar to other tracks,” he said. “It was very slippery to start with, which was quite frustrating probably for all of us, but in the end the track rubbered in pretty well and we got into a good rhythm.” Overtaking turned out to be much, much netter than most predicted. The wider entry points going in to certain corners, coupled with the Turn 11 hairpin leading onto the long back straight, afforded the drivers with overtaking opportunities boosted by the location of the DRS activation zone on that long stretch of asphalt. For the attendant fans and members of the F1 circus, the icing on the cake of the Austin Grand Prix weekend was the town itself. The self-styled live music capital of the world came alive for the race weekend, reminding paddock regulars of Montreal’s passionate enthusiasm for its own grand prix. Don’t mess with Texas? Think again – this is one event no passionate Formula One fan will want to miss out on. 7 GPWEEK.com // 7 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: