Friday, 21 July 2017

Top 10 Formula 1 Demonstrations

Formula 1 cars are powerful and expensive precision instruments. They're certainly not toys, but every now and again they're allowed to come out to play.

Recently, F1 cars took to the streets of London for the first time in 13 years as part of 'F1 Live', an initiative from the sport's new owners Liberty Media to bring it closer to the fans.

In light of that occasion, here's my rundown of my top 10 F1 demonstrations:

Mark Webber crosses the Sydney Harbour Bridge

In 2005 mark Webber switched from the struggling Jaguar team to Williams. The Australian's first act with his new team was a promotional event for his home Grand Prix in which he drove across the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

The iconic bridge in the heart of the New South Wales City was closed to traffic for five hours while a reported TV audience of 300 million watched Webber make the historic crossing.

There was a 56 mph speed restriction in place for the event, but with the police looking the other way, Webber appeared to be racing across the six-lane suspension bridge in the FW26B much quicker.

Webber's move from Jaguar to Williams was supposed to allow him to challenge for victories and championships, although ironically it'd be a return to Milton Keynes two years later in the team's new guise as Red Bull that would bring that.


Giancarlo Fisichella the Bologna Motor Show 2012

Ferrari have been a fixture at the Bologna Motor Show, the biggest show of its kind in Italy, for a number of years.

As well as the traditional static element, the car park at the Bologna Exhibition Centre is transformed into a makeshift race track for a number of live demonstrations, including one from Scuderia Ferrari.

The Italian, who raced five times for the Scuderia in 2009 took part in pit stop demonstrations, and performed a number of burnouts and high speed runs on the tiny circuit, putting on a fantastic show for the Tifosi.




David Coulthard takes to the Lincoln Tunnel

Red Bull are something of a firm fixture on this list. The Austrian-owned team are the only outfit to have their own dedicated show car team, taking cars all over the world to perform demonstrations in far reaching locations.

As part of the promotions for the ill-fated Grand Prix in New Jersey, Red Bull took former F1 driver David Coulthard Stateside for few show runs in and around New Jersey.

The final act of the trip had police shut down the 1.5 mile long Lincoln Tunnel. Coulthard then screamed under the Hudson River at an astonishing 190 miles per hour. Try doing that at rush hour!




Martin Brundle on Regent Street

Back in 2004 half a million people lined the streets of London to see Formula 1 cars pass through the capital for the first time. Almost all of the teams from back then took part, with only Sauber missing out.

Amongst the drivers taking part, Jordan had drafted in 1992 world champion Nigel Mansell, while Jaguar (coincidentally the precursor to Red Bull)  handed an R4 over to ITV's Martin Brundle, who was producing a film for the broadcaster's 'Meet The Team' feature.

The veteran of 158 Grand Prix starts put on an impressive display, making the Cosworth V10 sing and the tyres squeal. I guess we can gloss over that truly terrible donut attempt at the end.




Sergio Perez wows home crowds

Sauber may have passed on Regent Street in 2004, but they make the list with a dedicated run for a young Sergio Perez on home soil.

Perez made his F1 début with the Swiss team back in 2011 but before then he became one of very few drivers to drive Grand Prix machinery in his home town.

Approximately 200,000 people lined the streets of Guadalajara to catch a glimpse of their new hero as he raced by in a 2010 Sauber C29 (sans shark fin).

He certainly wasn't afraid of pressing the loud pedal.




2015 Finali Mondiali

Ferrari take playing around rather seriously. So much so that they have a weekend event at the end of every season dedicated to all things relating to the Prancing Horse.

A big draw to the Finali Mondiali, or World Finals, event is the F1 show. In recent years we've seen this being run with two or three cars, but every now and again, the boys from Maranello roll out four cars for the occasion.

This was the case in 2015, with Kimi Raikkonen and long-time tester Marc Gene being joined by new signings Esteban Gutierrez and Sebastian Vettel at the Ferrari-owned Mugello circuit.

The four took to the track in the team's race winning cars from 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 as thousands of passionate fans cheered from the grandstands.

Donuts at the Burj

Red Bull's show runs have taken them to some remarkable places. Deserts, mountains, beaches, shopping centres... and over 200 metres in the air with no safety net.

Once again, David Coulthard was on hand for the monumental stunt. The car was lifted into place by helicopter, while the 13-time Grand Prix winner had to make do with the stairs.

Up on the helipad of the world's first seven star hotel, Coulthard had only 24 metres in which to spin one of the team's priceless championship-winning RB7s.

One wrong move and it would have been all over, completely.




Red Bull on Ice

Strangely, Coulthard's exploits at the Burj wasn't the craziest thing that Red Bull have got up to away from the track.

In early 2016 Max Verstappen drove a snow chain-clad F1 car at Kitzbühel ski resort n the Austrian Alps.

It wasn't the first time an F1 car had been driven in sub zero temperatures - Nick Heidfeld drove a BMW Sauber on a frozen lake in St. Moritz nearly a decade before - but the undulations at

Kitzbühel, home of the biggest challenge in downhill skiiing, the Streif course, made for one incredible sight.




Juan Pablo Montoya screams through London

Back to Regent Street for number two on the list and Juan Pablo Montoya in the polarising FW26.

The car with the imposing 'walrus' nose wound its way through the streets of the capital with two-time Indy 500 winner Montoya taking every opportunity to make the BMW V10 sing.

After drifting though Picadilly Circus and roaring past Hamleys, Montoya ended his run with arguably the greatest donut ever done in an F1 car.




F1 Live London eight car parade

Montoya would probably have won this contest if it wasn't for the events of last week.

After more than a decade away F1 returned to London, this time to Whitehall and Trafalgar Square. Nine cars took to the streets, including three 'classics': The Renault RS01, the first ever turbo F1 car; Ayrton Senna's magnificent Honda V12-powered McLaren MP4/6, and a slightly less impressive Tyrrell-based Minardi two-seater.

Each of the cars took to the streets individually, with Jenson Button stalling the Minardi to bring an early end to his run, but not the day.

Once the stricken car had been cleared, the remaining eight cars returned, together, for a beautiful display of colour, noise, and smoke.

A collection of cars covering almost 40 years, V6s, V8s, and that Honda V12 thrown in for good measure, the end result was a sight to behold.


Images: Dominik Wilde (1,11), Getty (via ABC AU) (2), Ferrari Media (3,7) , Red Bull Content Pool (4, 8, 9), LondonLovesBusiness (5), Sauber F1 Team (via F1Fanatic) (6) , Autocar (10)

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