The Reuters global sports blog
The Nordschleife. Just the word sends shivers down the spine of even the best motor racing driver. Sir Jackie Stewart nicknamed the old track in western Germany the “Green Hell” and although it is extremely dangerous, they all loved racing it really.
Talks about exhilarating. I was lucky enough to be driven round the fearsome circuit by a specialist driver in a Mercedes two-seat sportscar ahead of this weekend’s German Grand Prix at the adjacent Nuerburgring.
It was wet, so we only went half pace but my heart was still beating faster than I can ever remember. Given the conditions, the driver did remarkably well and dealt admirably but a couple of inevitable skids on a track deemed too dangerous in 1976 to continue racing F1 there.
“If we hit that kerb, we’d fly straight into the wall,” he said twice as we topped 120 mph in places.
From the very first moment he arrived in Formula One as a curly-haired teenager, new world champion Sebastian Vettel was a young man in a hurry.
The 23-year-old Red Bull Driver, who became the youngest winner of the drivers’ championship with victory in Sunday’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, has set records from day one.
When Germany’s best-selling tabloid Bild sends two reporters to an overseas Formula One test in the depths of February, you know something big is brewing.
The return of Michael Schumacher, and the seven times world champion’s first drive of the new Mercedes W01, in Valencia on Monday triggered scenes reminiscent of the glory days when the German was so dominant with Ferrari.
Maranello is the spiritual home of Formula One glamour team Ferrari, but there is very little glitz in the working class northern Italian town.
Mark Meadows was there for the launch of Ferrari’s new 2010 car, which will have to go up against former favourite Michael Schumacher this season. Click on the video to hear more.
Formula One has moved on since Michael Schumacher retired in 2006, even if the German will be eager to roll back the years when he makes his comeback with Mercedes next season.
Despite turning 41 next month, the seven times world champion can be expected to show the same passion for racing, the same hunger for winning and the same ruthless determination.
It is not by any means something that can be taken for granted in Formula One, but commonsense seems to have prevailed at last.
Silverstone’s deal with Bernie Ecclestone for the circuit to host the British Grand Prix for the next 17 years makes sense on so many levels and yet has been tougher to resolve than any of the controversies and scandals of recent years.
A lot of people are getting quite excited about the possibility of Michael Schumacher coming out of retirement to race for the new Mercedes F1 team (formerly known as champions Brawn) at the age of 41.
The German’s spokeswoman Sabine Kehm feels it is highly unlikely while Mercedes said at the weekend that “some speculations are nothing but dreams which will not come true” (although note the carmaker did not specifically say this particular piece of speculation was one of them).
Abu Dhabi’s new Formula One circuit has given the Middle East seemingly unbeatable bragging rights as home to the world’s most modern and lavish track.
“No one is going to top this,” commented Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone on his arrival at Yas Marina and he may well be right.
Mika Hakkinen has the air of a man who has seen it all before.
He stared death in the face when only an emergency trackside tracheotomy saved his life after a crash at the Australian Grand Prix.
He returned to Formula One to win the drivers’ title in 1998 and 1999. He enjoys homes in Monte Carlo, France and his native Finland.
The news has just come in from Paris, where Renault have been handed a suspended ban from Formula One, while their former boss Flavio Briatore has been banned from all F1 activities, including driver management, and ex-technical chief Pat Symonds is barred for five years.
So the immediate result of the inquiry into race-rigging at last year’s Singapore Grand Prix is that Renault can stay in the sport, provided they stay on their best behaviour for the next couple of years, even though the offence was described by the FIA as one of “unparalleled severity”.