Quantas Australian Grand Prix 2011 – Preview

Thursday, March 24th, 2011 No Comments

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So, we’ve previewed the new F1 season as a whole, and now it’s time to take a closer look at the opening race: the always entertaining Australian GP. Aussie race fans go crazy once the Formula 1 roadshow rolls into town and this year’s contest promises to be as dramatic as they come.

On the 27th March, the preparation comes to an end and the racing starts in earnest. Will McLaren have sorted themselves out in time? Will Ferrari make a statement of intent, or will Red Bull put everybody else in their place from the beginning?

Nobody knows how things are going to pan out by the time 58 furious laps have been run, this Sunday afternoon, but it’s sure to be eventful and Karting Nation will definitely be strapped to our sofas, taking every corner and powering down every straight.

All eyes have been on Australia since it was announced that the original season opener, the Bahrain race had been called off due to the ongoing anti-government protests taking place within the country. F1 followers have had to wait a week longer for their first racing fix of the year, but now that wait is very nearly over.

The Quantas Australian Grand Prix takes place at Albert Park. The whole circuit lies within the park and is a smooth, flowing drive with no 90 degree street corners to tackle. This is sure to make for a fast and exciting showdown.

Last year, McLaren man Jenson Button took victory from fourth position on the starting grid to secure back to back Australian GP wins. He’ll be looking for a magic number 3 this year.

Thus far, the only driver to win 3 Australian GP’s in a row is Michael Schumacher. The German racing legend has 4 in total and he’ll be looking to help Mercedes to some early season points, and maybe even help himself to a fifth title.

Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton have also enjoyed victory in recent years, while driver’s champion Sebastian Vettel will be chasing his first chequered flag on this leg of the tour following his supreme 2010 season.

Top spot on the grid has romped to victory 5 times out of the last 7 races, here, so qualifying runs are sure to be hotly contested this year too. But there’ll be plenty of talking points throughout the course of the race, while the driver’s get to grips with their new vehicles, and in particular those Pirelli tyres.

Breathtaking scenery and outstanding action, the Quantas Australian Grand Prix 2011 is guaranteed to be a fantastic spectacle.

If you want to learn more about the world’s premier motor sport visit the official Formula 1 website.

For a wheel spinning, wild ride of your own drop by the Karting Nation website and book a Go-Kart Grand Prix at any of our magnificent racetracks around the UK. Perfect for a team building day, corporate event, or fun with your friends and family.

Karting Nation’s Formula 1 2011 Season Preview

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2011 No Comments

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The wait is over. Formula 1 is back. It’s time for engines to roar, war to be forged and new stars to be born.

No less than 5 world champions will compete in this year’s tournament, plus they’ll be joined on the tarmac by a host of familiar faces, and some hotly anticipated rookies.

Here’s the Karting Nation guide to what promises to be another pulsating series of races.

The Players

Sebastian Vettel returns as reigning driver’s champ, behind the wheel of the heavily fancied Red Bull car. Red Bull took home last year’s constructors championship and once again set the pace during pre-season tests in Spain with their RB7. With Vettel and a resurgent Marc Webber behind the wheel the Red Bull team looks formidable.

The Ferrari team have been right there with them during the tests and are likely to be their biggest rivals throughout the campaign. The team missed out on a championship chance at Abu Dhabi last year, and they’ll be chomping at the bit this time around. As will their main man Fernando Alonso. He’s still one of the best driver’s in the game and he’ll be out to knock Vettel from his perch.

Don’t write off Mercedes just yet. Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg are no mugs, and after a slow start, the team ended the practice runs on a high, following some timely tweaks to their new MGP W02.

After disappointing practice performances McLaren and Renault are expected to battle it out for fourth place. Technical problems and a lack of track time have hampered progress for McLaren and their MP4-26 doesn’t look ready for a title push. But appearances can be deceptive and both Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have expressed their confidence in the car once all the pieces of their preparation fall into place. The guys at Renault are reeling from the loss of Robert Kubica but certainly won’t be bringing up the rear come November.

A little further down the pecking order, competition is sure to be tight, and there’ll be plenty of interest in teams like Williams, Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso, not least because of promising new drivers like Pastor Maldonado (Williams), Paul Di Resta (Force India) and Sergio Perez (Sauber).

Team Lotus, HRT and Virgin look, arguably, stronger than ever to round off a very competitive field. But don’t expect them to pose a great deal of problems to the big guns. All in all the standard of racing is set to be as high as spectator pulse rates.

The Game

Tension is building in the final days of preparation before the season opener in Australia, not least because of a number of rule changes. The game continues to evolve and organisers guarantee that the action will be as competitive as ever.

One of the biggest talking points has been the introduction of a movable rear-wing. The controversial addition is activated remotely at certain points of the circuit when a signal is given. Once activated, a gap is opened between the upper and lower wing planes, reducing drag and increasing speed. Crucially only the signalled car is able to activate the rear wing, offering a temporary advantage over the driver in front. This in turn makes overtaking a greater possibility.

Out go front wings, double diffusers and F-ducts, not to mention Bridgestone tyres. This year, burning rubber will be provided by Pirelli. Much has been said about the new tyres and in particular the fact that they degrade much quicker than their predecessors. For this reason, a busy year for pit crews seems likely. Last year Ferrari and Virgin managed to record 3.6 second pit stops. Will that time be bettered in 2011?

Kinetic Energy Recovery Systems (KERS) make a return this year. This technology transforms the waste energy produced by braking into additional power at the driver’s disposal throughout the race.

Perhaps most ominous of all the changes takes the form of the new 107% rule, which states that tailenders won’t be allowed to race if they finish more than 5 or 6 seconds outside the top qualifying time on Saturday afternoon.

For a great number of reasons it’s sure to be yet another great campaign in the world’s most high profile motor sport.

For the inside track on everything that happens check the official Formula 1 website.

For a wheel-spinning Grand Prix in which you’re in the driving seat, book a great go-karting event at any of our racetracks around the UK. To take a look at the impressive selection of venues, race types and special offers click here.

Tomorrow, we’ll take a closer look at the opening meeting, the magnificent Quantas Australian Grand Prix 2011. Don’t miss it.

The History of Karting

Friday, March 26th, 2010 2 Comments

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Karts, and karting as a sport or activity, have come quite some way since starting out in the USA as little more than feisty ride-on lawn mowers ridden by the odd amateur enthusiast.

The karts driven in the professional sport itself are now capable of speeds of around 160mph and are raced by aspiring F1 world champions, whilst karting as a leisure activity migrated across the Atlantic into Europe during the 60s and has steadily grown in popularity on this side of the pond ever since.

Karting’s origins in the USA

Art Ingels is generally accepted to be the father of karting. A veteran hot rodder and a race car builder at Kurtis Kraft, he built the first kart out of scrap metal and a surplus two-stroke cycle engine in his garage in Southern California in 1956, and his new invention immediately caught the imagination of an audience of a few hundred people when he tested it in the car park of Pasadena’s famous Rose Bowl.

In 1958, American outfit Go Kart Manufacturing Co became the first kart manufacturer, whilst another American company, McCulloch, was the first to produce engines for karts. Its first engine, the McCulloch MC-10, was an adapted chainsaw 2-stroke engine.

Karting quickly caught on, with karting facilities springing up in many towns and cities across the USA.

This initial widespread enthusiasm, however, lasted only until a lack of finances towards the end of the 1960s saw many of these facilities begin to disappear and karting become a much more select sport with only those who could afford it able to take part. Karting as a sport also suffered at this time from lacking a governing body, meaning it had no basis on which to develop a bona fide professional sport, so for decades was predominantly enjoyed on a recreational basis.

The shift to Europe

Unlike other motorsports with origins in the USA such as Demolition Derbies, Drag Racing or Stock Car Racing, karting and kart racing has succeeded in making the transition from the States to Europe, becoming a highly popular leisure activity as well as a key learning ground for professional drivers.

In the late 1960s, European engine manufacturers became more popular than their American counterparts. This trend continued into the 1970s as McCulloch, the leading American Go Kart engine manufacturer, was bought by Black and Decker, who had no interest in producing kart engines. It was during the 1970s that today’s modern Go Kart designs came into force. The engines were at the side, rather than at the back of the kart.

Karting becomes a sport for real

The creation of several regulatory bodies in the 1980s strengthened the idea of Go Karting being more than just a hobby. Karting had, for several decades, predominantly enjoyed on a recreational basis, but the introduction of regulatory bodies helped it to open up to people who wanted to get a good grounding in motor sports.

Though it is a relatively short one, the history of karting as an organised sport is extremely illustrious, to say the least. Karting has acted as a high-octane kindergarten for some of the greatest drivers in the history of modern motorsport. Senna. Prost. Schumacher. Alonso. Räikkönen. Button. Hamilton. All of them used competitive karting as their first stepping stone towards the eternal glories that F1 world championships bring with them.

Karting as a leisure activity

Kart racing is generally accepted as the most economic form of motorsport available. As a free-time activity, it can be performed by almost anybody, and as a motorsport in itself, it is one of the sports regulated by FIA (under the name of CIK), permitting licensed racing for anyone from the age of 8 onward.

Besides traditional kart racing, many commercial enterprises offer karts for rent, often called “recreational” or “concession” karts. The tracks can be indoor or outdoor. Karts are rented by sessions and use sturdy chassis complete with dedicated bodywork to provide driver safety. These karts also often contain limiters, which allow those running the circuit to slow down or even completely stop karts remotely if they feel that there might be any danger to drivers out on the track. Most of these enterprises use an ‘Arrive and Drive’ format which provide customers with all the safety gear (helmets, gloves and driver outfits) and allow them to show up any time to race at a reasonable price, without the hassle of owning one’s own equipment and gear.

Karting, then, has enjoyed a varied history, but has now firmly established itself as one of the most popular motorsports in the world.

Jenson Button Wins 2009 F1 Championship

Saturday, October 24th, 2009 No Comments

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How can a country that struggles to make it mark on the international sporting scene have so many motor sport champions?

Brazilian champions Ayrton Senna and Nelson Piquet had a wealthy family to finance their considerable expenses as they climbed to the top of the prestigious motor sport ladder. But British champions had a much harder time. Damon Hill was penniless when he started racing, despite his father’s achievements on the track. Lewis Hamilton’s father financed his son by taking on several jobs to enable his son to practice on his local karting track and Jenson Button’s father’s pockets were not deep enough despite his forays into the world of Rally Driving

You would be right to look for the answer at your local go karting circuit where children as young as 8years, and on some tracks even younger, can get behind the wheel of a go kart and feel the thrill of racing at a very young age and their parents can see if they have any talent before applying for a loan or a second job to finance their rise to fame and glory.

We spoke to Karting Nation, the UK’s only network of karting circuits for their take on Jenson Button’s success.

“This country has a huge numbers of karting circuits, both outdoor and indoor. We have best of them on our network. Jenson Button, like Lewis Hamilton had the advantage of access to tracks up and down the country to hone their skills on their way to the top. Many countries only have tracks for an annual spectacular of motor sports so we are lucky here. A future champion will show their potential very early on and if it is there the atmosphere and the smells will get into their blood and they will be hooked. It is very easy to get your kids booked in just visit www.karting-nation.co.uk and check out the circuit nearest to you. Good luck!”

So British racing fans can celebrate the achievements of the last two world champions, and maybe be involved in the next generation training hard to join them. But, be warned, other countries are seeing the pattern of success too and will be getting their youngsters booked in to go karting at the earliest opportunity. Most of them have a way to travel to get to their local circuits but it is all about determination and persistence and for that the rewards will be great.

Congratulations Jenson!