@DieterRencken made a stop-off at Force India’s base to hear the latest on Formula 1’s plans for 2021 ahead of this weekend’s British Grand Prix – including a “10%” increase in the number of races.
Here’s his first paddock diary from Silverstone.
I’d decided to drive across from my village the previous evening for two reasons: Rock Werchter, Belgium’s annual “Woodstock” is staged a few miles from my home and scheduled for this weekend, so massive jams are predicted for early Thursday, plus I’d been invited to attend the Motorsport Industry Association’s Business Growth Conference – hosted by Force India – so need to be in Silverstone by 9:30am at the latest.
I exit the car train in Ashford at 630am BST – by which time I’d been up and about for two hours – so have exactly three hours to sort the 140-mile drive to Silverstone, including a lengthy peak-hour M25 stretch. Using a combination of satnav, Waze plus local knowledge as I approach Silverstone I make it with three minutes to spare.
Break for lunch. The first half of the conference has been wonderfully informative. The presentation by F1 CTO (technical director) Pat Symonds about F1’s post-2021 regulations was especially enlightening – we’ll bring you details soon.
Force India COO Otmar Szafnauer spoke about the effects of budget caps on major teams, then revealed that at the previous day’s Strategy Group meeting, a low-key session by all accounts, Liberty announced that it was planning a 10 per cent calendar growth going forward. However, added Pat said, 23.1 races somehow doesn’t work. Isn’t that what red flags are for, Pat?
I wander about the exhibits during the lunch break. Two things strike me. First, the number of people who remark about RaceFans – it’s always encouraging to know we’re read within the industry. Second, an exhibit of Halo, displayed by SST Technology. Interestingly, the company’s senior engineer is the son of Alan Henry, our highly esteemed departed colleague. Seems F1 is in the bloodline.
The company produces thin-wall exhausts for F1, and thus diversification into another lightweight fabrication makes perfect sense. The device weighs 6.7kg and is produced under FIA licence, three of which were granted, with the two other manufacturers being based in Germany and Italy. Identical devices are mandated for F1, F2 and FE, with only their aero shrouds differing by team.
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Although the conference is far from done, I depart for Silverstone to catch some of the late afternoon interviews. My lot is the two Toro Rosso drivers and both McLaren pilots while editor Keith, who has joined me at the track this weekend, hears from Raikkonen, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg. For once we get to communicate face-to-face rather than via phone and instant messaging.
Head for my B+B situated in Charwelton, between Silverstone and Daventry. It’s a glorious summer evening, so I drop the roof down and enjoy the leafy British lanes for the next hour. There are few more pleasures greater than a good British summer day – and this weekend we’re set for three more.
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