Clip The Apex
As a young man growing up on the south coast Derek Warwick was a bit of a celeb, at least in the Portsmouth Evening News, as he grew up in Four Marks, near Alton and as his racing career progressed the local press showed a very keen interest.
Derek was runner up to Brian Henton in the European F2 Championship in 1980 in a Toleman car, having won the British F3 Championship in 1978. Based on their success in F2 Toleman took the brave decision to move in to F1 and, with money from Italian white goods manufacturer Candy, asked F2 engine maker, Brian Hart, to make them a turbo engine and Pirelli to supply them with tyres. Henton and Warwick went in to F1 with the team and the Toleman TG181 arrived at the San Marino GP in 1981. Both the car and engine were well off the pace and Henton and Warwick only qualified for one Grand Prix each during the season, Henton making to the grid in Italy and Warwick in Las Vegas.
Henton left the team for Tyrrell in 1982 whilst Toleman provided the TG181C, or The Belgrano as it became known (a reference to the Argentine warship sunk in the Falklands war), for Warwick and Teo Fabi. The highlight of the season was Warwick's run at the British Grand Prix at Brands Hatch. Although never formally confirmed it's believed that Toleman sent the car out on half tanks for a glory run and Derek certainly made good use of it, running as high as second and passing many of the front running cars, including Didier Pironi's Ferrari before stopping not long after half distance. The TG183 arrived at the end of the season but both cars were dogged by poor reliability as the arms race for more and more powerful turbo engines proved troublesome for Brian Hart.
So after what feels like an eternity Formula E’s Round 5 is only now a few weeks away and will take place on Saturday 14th March along the coast of Biscayne Bay in the heart of downtown Miami. As you’ll see from the track layout it doesn’t look the most exciting of tracks but the racing has been close in the previous rounds so it might be more exciting than you think.
It’s a massive weekend for the Formula E championship for two reasons. The first is that it will be a great indicator on the fanbase of the series as to whether they can match the viewing figures they’ve achieved on previous rounds after such a long break from racing. The cancelation of Rio was unavoidable but I’m sure the series organisers are biting their nails wondering if people will still remember the series. The other is that Formula E has now arrived in North America and this will be a big tell for the series. So far the series has managed to attract quite an interest for the US market with big Hollywood names sponsoring teams and well known American race teams entering. The proof, however, is always in the pudding and it will the be the 2 races in the US that determine if there is fan interest and therefore if that investment will continue. If it does then Formula E is very much on a good footing as an international series. It was recently reported that the viewing figures in Japan were huge as well so things are looking fairly good for them but lets remember that the F1 season is about to kick off again and people could very well lose interest. It seems a strange coincidence to me that the F1 season opener just happens to fall on the same weekend that Formula E arrives in the US. That your doing Bernie?
The penultimate test before the start of the season is under way so time for us all to speculate on what will happen in Australia as the teams actually race one another for the first time under the revised eco-regs. Gone are the anteater snouts, although the cars still aren't particularly pretty (to my eye at least) and we have a mix up on the driver front.
Mercedes continue with double World Champion Lewis Hamilton, who won't use car No.1 (BOO!) and Nico Rosberg whilst their likely challenges have been playing musical chairs. Fernando Alonso has gone back to McLaren and Ron Dennis is doing his Basil Fawlty impression "don't mentioned 2007. I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it" and JB retains his seat after fevered speculation that he would be dropped in favour of K Mag to see how well Honda can do on their return to F1 after a 6 year absence.
Vettel slips into Fernando's seat at Ferrari with the hope of dragging the red menace back to it's Schumacher glory days or perhaps even back to it's real glory days of being "The" F1 team. Kimi Raikkonen carries on Ferrari, presumably the team management saw something else last season compared to us humble fans to justify keeping him on for another bash. Either that or they discovered that Alonso had been feeding Kimi Magnum's laced with mogadon.
The Honey Badger will smile his way through the season as Red Bull's defacto No.1 with Danni Kyvat taking his place as the junior driver. What chance of a repeat of 2014 with the new boy at Red Bull showing the incumbent how it's done? Will Renault have manged to close the gap to the Mercedes power unit? As the only other team to win a race in 2014 Red Bull should be best placed to challenge the Mercedes but who knows what the other teams have been up to over the winter.
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