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F1 news Sydney Grand Prix, Melbourne, latest news, Sydney street circuit track plans, when, report

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A harbour, a tunnel, some iconic landmarks and the 20 best drivers in the world revving up the most expensive and fastest cars in the world in front of the eyes of celebrities, billionaires and Bond villains watching from aboard their multimillion-dollar yachts while sipping on martinis and champagne.

That’s Monaco, the flagship and recognisable race on the Formula One calendar and what the blueprint for the latest incarnation of plans for what a Sydney Grand Prix might look like.

Seven News is reporting that the New South Wales state government is interested in bidding for the race rights for when the current contract with Melbourne’s Albert Park expires after 2025.

Yes, the martinis might be schooners, the yachts might be the Circular Quay to Manly ferry, the tunnel might be the cross-city tunnel and the casino might not have a gaming licence but the image is still there for the NSW government. It wants to build a street circuit around the Sydney Harbour which can rival that of F1’s most iconic race.

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(Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)
(Photo by Ian Waldie/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

Now, stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Because you have. Twice.

In 2010, the then-NSW premier Kristina Kenally hatched a plan to take the Australian Grand Prix to Homebush, even floating it as a potential night race. Then, ahead of the 2015 state election, another former NSW premier in Mark Baird set aside nearly $200m in a bid to host the race from 2021 onwards.

Evidently, both bids never got off the ground and the race has been held in Melbourne annually since 1996, bar the last two years, at Albert Park.

Baird’s 2015 plans were to see the race include Sydney’s Cahill Expressway, go past the Museum of Contemporary Arts, through The Rocks and across the Harbour Bridge.

But shutting down such a busy area of the city for the nearly three months it reportedly takes to set up a complex street circuit of that ilk is a large obstacle, while the CBD’s tram tracks are hardly ideal for a car travelling 250km/h and typically raised less than 80mms above the ground.

The idea of having Ferraris tussle with McLarens, Red Bulls and Mercedes over the Harbour Bridge is one that would have jaws dropping over at Liberty Media, the owners of F1, given the instant global appeal it would gain but sadly, that prospect has already been ruled out.

While going over the bridge would provide F1 with the kind of Mario Kart-style jeopardy which it has been lacking for so many years, it simply isn’t feasible. The road is too narrow to fit the needed chicanes to account for the slanted road surface and the barrier to separate the bus lanes would need to be completely ripped out, just for a single weekend.

You’d also have to make space to build grandstands, hospitality boxes, a media centre, pitlanes for support categories as well as the F1 teams, a medical centre and enough room for the fans to get a good view of the winner shipping champagne from his shoe.

REPORTS: Sydney to nab Aussie GP? | 00:32

The estimated cost in 2015 for hosting the event over a three-year period was around $300m. It would be in excess of that now, given the bidding war with Melbourne that these latest reports would be sure to spark.

A long shot it might be, but a pipedream it is not.

There is a reason winners of the Australian Open often go to get their photos taken in front of the Opera House, or why sports teams on a preseason tour of the country hold press conferences in view of the bridge. It’s instantly recognisable and globally iconic and that’s what F1 wants.

It was only two years ago that talk of a London Grand Prix was on the cards, as F1 wanted to move away from purpose-built circuits and more towards city tracks, like the one in Monaco. It’s a money-spinner, and that’s what F1 is built on.

When the plans were mooted in 2015, iDEM chairman, John Howe, whose company was responsible for turning Singapore into a racetrack, said there was no reason why the same could not be done to the streets of Sydney.

“No one should say it is impossible because it isn’t,” said iEDM chairman John Howeat the time, who worked alongside F1 track designer Hermann Tilke. “My partner is Tilke and he is building the street circuit in New Jersey at the moment. If that is possible than Sydney certainly is. I don’t see any problems there.”

Mark Webber drives his BMW Williams car across the Sydney Harbour Bridge in 2005.Source: News Corp Australia

F1 isn’t afraid to change it up either. Melbourne tabled the bigger cheque to take the Australian Grand Prix from Adelaide in 1996 and with it ended 10 years of motorsport history in the country.

After the frustration of two cancelled GPs in two years, one while all of the drivers were actually at the track, and another after it was moved from the start of the year to the end, F1’s patience could be wearing thin.

A third cancellation next year would cause a serious rethink and recent reports from overseas have suggested that the Victorian government’s hardline policy in the face of the COVID pandemic has led to some levels of disenchantment.

It’s already been moved from its traditional home in the F1 calendar as the season curtain raiser and changes to the Albert Park track have been made in order to make it more exciting for fans after drivers struggled to overtake around the previous layout.

“We have got a commitment to stage the race with F1 and the Victorian government on April 10 next year,” Australian Formula One Grand Prix chief Andrew Westacott told the The Age.

“We expect that this is going to occur. We are very close with F1 and have a relationship that goes back decades. We have a relationship that will see us host the event here until 2025, and we want to look to the future as well.

“We are happening next year and it will continue to happen. Our remit is to look beyond 2025.”

Whether it be the streets of Sydney or the more logistical option of Sydney Motorsport Park, Albert Park will have a fight on its hands to keep one of Australia’s biggest global sports events past the current deal.

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Daniel Ricciardo features in song on Triple J’s Hottest 100, reaction, Gang of Youths

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Daniel Ricciardo is a man of culture.

The Australian Formula One driver has many interests outside of motorsport, including wine and fashion. And now he has officially hit the big time as a (budding) musician, making one of the most sought-after lists in Aussie pop culture.

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As hipsters across Australia gathered around their portable speakers on Saturday for Triple J’s Hottest 100, they might have missed Ricciardo’s cameo in one of the songs.

In a strange twist, the 32-year-old made his Hottest 100 debut, having played “percussion” on Gang of Youths’ song The Man Himself.

The track, from Gang of Youths’ third studio album Angel in Realtime, came in at number 57 on the list, and features Ricciardo playing some very basic drum beats in the background.

He even features on the song’s credits, although it must be said the band’s drummer Donnie Borzestowski did the heavy lifting as the proper percussionist.

The Australian band released The Man Himself in October last year and shared a clip on social media of Ricciardo playing the drums in their studio.

On the band’s Instagram post listing Ricciardo in the credits, the McLaren driver commented: “This makes me happy”.

Ricciardo is an avid listener of music and often shared videos of himself singing along to tunes while driving (in normal life, not during races). He is also an ambassador for the headphones brand Beats by Dre.

Daniel Ricciardo on the drums for Gang of Youths.Source: Instagram

The West Australian also isn’t afraid to try his hand at strumming a few tunes on the acoustic guitar.

As for the rest of the Hottest 100, The Wiggles took out top spot for their cover of Tame Impala’s song Elepant.

Olivia Rodrigo, Lizzo and Cardi B also featured alongside some Triple J favourites including Gang of Youths, Tame Impala and ARIA winner Genesis Owusu.

Hopefully Ricciardo can take the momentum from featuring in the Hottest 100 to help him finish higher on another list of sorts — the F1 grid in the 2022 season.

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Australian F1 Grand Prix organisers won’t allow Covid vaccine exemptions, Albert Park circuit Melbourne, vaccine rules for F1 drivers

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Organisers of the Australian Formula One Grand Prix have confirmed there will be a “zero tolerance” approach on vaccine exemptions, making it mandatory for all participants to be vaccinated.

Australian F1 Grand Prix chief executive Andrew Westacott said the conditions for the event were clear — all drivers, pit crew, staff and spectators have to be fully vaccinated to be involved in the race.

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“The rules are simple to get into the country and the rules are simple to operate in Formula One,” he said.

“To come into the event you’ll be 100 per cent vaccinated and there won’t be an exemption sought for anyone from anyone.”

The Grand Prix’s hard line policy means there will be no repeat of the Novak Djokovic exemption saga that overshadowed the lead-up to the Australian Open.

“Our arrangements have been in place well before the recent goings-on at the Australian Open,” Westacott said.

“These rules are understood by Formula One, they’re understood by the FIA, they’re going to be written into the sporting regulations and I’m very confident that (it) is just going to be a rite of passage to come into the country.

“There’s zero tolerance. Whether you’re Lewis Hamilton or Valentino Rossi in MotoGP, if you test positive, you don’t race that weekend.”

Every F1 driver including Daniel Ricciardo will be fully vaccinated for the Australian Grand Prix. (Photo by Antonin Vincent / POOL / AFP)Source: AFP

The entire F1 grid is believed to be fully vaccinated, and several leading drivers including Daniel Ricciardo have voiced their support for vaccines.

On top of the drivers, fans and all staff in the paddock will have to be vaccinated to attend the Grand Prix in Melbourne on April 10.

Aussie motorsport fans have been starved of a local F1 race. This year’s edition will be the first Australian Grand Prix since 2019 after the 2020 and 2021 races were cancelled due to the pandemic.

But the organisers have declared it will be a case of third time lucky and there is no chance of it being cancelled this year.

“I’ll go on record and say zero chance of cancellation,” Westacott said.

The Albert Park circuit in Melbourne has undergone a revamp, with the track resurfaced for the first time in 25 years.

The freshen-up is expected to cut lap times by five seconds, while the widening of several turns is expected to create more overtaking opportunities.

“The widening of five other turns, particularly the increase of speed at Turn 6 where they’re going to go from about 90 km/h to 150 km/h, that really does set it up for speeds in excess of 330 k /h around Lakeside (Drive), pulling four and a half Gs,” Westacott said.

The Australian Grand Prix is the third race of the F1 season and will run from April 8-10.

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McLaren boss Zak Brown ‘wouldn’t be shocked’ if Lewis Hamilton quits before 2022 season

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McLaren CEO Zak Brown says he “wouldn’t be shocked” if Lewis Hamilton chose to quit Formula One before the start of the 2022 season.

The seven-time world champion has kept his cards close to his chest since he missed out on last year’s title to Max Verstappen, who overtook him on the last lap of the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in controversial circumstances.

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Speculation has been rife about Hamilton’s future after he was beaten to the world championship for the first time since 2016.

The 36-year-old and Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff snubbed the end-of-season F1 gala, even though they were required to attend.

Hamilton, who is contracted with Mercedes to the end of 2023, is yet to publicly confirm whether he will race on this year, but Wolff is hopeful his charge will return to the grid.

Brown, who is the boss of Daniel Ricciardo and Lando Norris, said he wouldn’t be surprised if Hamilton called it quits and walked away from F1.

“I wouldn’t be shocked if he stopped, so I don’t think anyone should take for granted he’s coming back,” he said.

“My personal opinion is he’s going to (continue racing), but I don’t think we should discount or not recognise his frustration and his anger.

Lewis Hamilton’s F1 future is up in the air. (Photo by Kamran Jebreili – Pool/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“Maybe he hasn’t made a decision and maybe what he’s doing is taking time to make that decision to make sure, because once that decision is made, that decision is made.

“So, I don’t think we should rule it out or make light of it. I just personally think he still has a burning desire to race and that will ultimately drive his decision.”

Ultimately Brown believes Hamilton will continue to race in F1, driven by the desire to win a record-breaking eighth world championship.

“I think he’ll be back,” he said.

“He’s a racing driver. I think he’s at the top of his game.

“I’m sure he’s very angry, but I think race car drivers want to race and I think he’s a fighter, and he’ll want to come back and try to win an eighth championship.

“I don’t think he’s ready to retire; this is my own personal opinion, I’ve not talked to him, because once you hang it up, you hang it up.

“I guess you could come back as some have done, but I don’t think he’s ready to hang it up and I don’t think he’s going to let an incident put him into retirement.”

Hamilton lost the 2021 world championship to Max Verstappen in controversial circumstances. (Photo by ANDREJ ISAKOVIC / AFP)Source: AFP

Brown’s comments come after former F1 chief executive Bernie Ecclestone predicted Hamilton will retire before the 2022 season, which begins with the Bahrain Grand Prix on March 20.

The Brit reportedly also reportedly ignored messages from newly-elected FIA president Mahamaaed Ben Sulayem as time ticks on towards the start of the 2022 season.

Hamilton is expected to attend the virtual launch of Mercedes’ 2022 car on February 18.

Meanwhile, the fallout from the dramatic season finale in Abu Dhabi has continued.

The FIA, F1’s governing body, will reveal the results of their investigation into the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on March 18, just two days before the season gets underway in Bahrain.

There have been calls for the FIA to sack Australian race director Michael Masi, after he came under fire for his use of the safety car in the dying stages of the race.

Many F1 fans criticised Masi for his decision to move only the lapped cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to set up a final lap shootout between the two rivals.

Verstappen, on fresh tyres, overtook Hamilton to win the world title.

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