March Motorsport Madness

March and motorsport are intrinsically connected. As the calendar progresses into it’s third month testing draws to a close, track garages become stocked and fans fill grandstands in expectation. Chief Editor Mark Payne looks at three motor racing season’s that he has marked in indelible ink on his calendar. 

Formula One

The Formula One season is undoubtedly the biggest headline grabber of the year and the new season sees a dedicated Sky channel launching to cover the sport. The controversial new addition to the Satellite channel’s roster will begin broadcast on March 9th as it aims to give unparalleled coverage of the sport. The return of former World Champion Kimi Raikkonen has made many a writer at SportUpdatesUk draw a smile over the cold winter months, his ability to outdrive a cars ability is probably only matched by the unfortunate Robert Kubica whom he replaces. Everyone’s favourite Polish Formula One driver will have to spend even longer recovering from his horrific rally smash after a tumble on the ice at home led to a broken leg. Kubica had been linked with Felipe Massa’s drive though given the Italian outfit’s pre-season pace one can only assume that the hottest of hot seats is that which Steffano Domenicalli occupies.

McLaren and Red Bull appear to have bought the quickest cars to the party while, as of yet, Marrussia and HRT have yet to bring any cars, one can only assume that both are doubtful to make the grid in Australia. After showing a slight return to form and with a fresh vote of confidence to his name Michael Schumacher will partner Nico Rosberg in the improving Mercedes team once more as the Silver Arrows look to secure their first win since their 2010 reboot. Also experiencing a revival in 2010 was the Lotus name. So much so that by 2011 we had two Lotus teams on the grid. Fortunately, for clarity’s sake, 2012 sees Team Lotus become Caterham while the former Renault team will continue the Lotus name and traditional black liveries made famous by the John Player car in the 1970s. Williams too have left F1 fans dewy eyed with nostalgia as they reunited the Senna name with the team. Veteran Rubens Barrichello’s unseating was one of many in the offseason as Adrian Sutil, Sebastien Buemi, Jaime Alguersuari and Jarno Trulli were all unceremoniously dumped by their teams in favour of new blood. Jean Eric-Vergne (Torro Ross) and Charles Pic (Marussia) are the only rookies on the grid while Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) and Lotus teammates Raikkonen and Roman Grosjean also make their return to F1. The season begins on 18th March with the Australian Grand Prix with races shown live on the BBC and SkySports F1HD.

Indy Car 

IndyCar will be looking forward again after the devastating loss of Dan Wheldon in the curtain closer last year. The new Dallara designed DW12 chassis is a named after Wheldon who developed the car during the 2010 season. The field is bolstered by evergreen ex-f1 driver Rubens Barrichello who has completed a move to KV Racing Technology where his new teammates will include his close friend and fellow Brazillian Tony Kanaan. The IndyCar field has also benefited from Peugeot’s withdrawal from sportscars as former teammates Sébastien Bourdais and Simon Pagenaud move into single seat competition again. Danica Patrick’s decision to move to NASCAR may have irked the sponsors but there are two female drivers on the grid including Britain’s Katherine Legge who will be compete in her first full season in 2012. 

Add into the mix multiple series winners Scott Dixon and Scotland’s Dario Franchetti, Indy500 winners Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves and the news that Jean Alesi is looking to compete at the Indy500 in May and it’s easy to see why the season opener on the 25th of March is so anticipated. The season begins on the 25th March with the Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg and Races with races shown live on SkySports 

 World Endurance Championship

The inaugural World Endurance Championship’s premier LMP1 catergory appeared to be hampered by predictability when Peugeot announced their withdrawal from the sport, then the whole thing went bananas. Toyota arrived, took most of the driving talent from Peugeot and announced a hybrid entry. As if that wasn’t dramatic enough then Audi announced they too would be running a pair of hybrid’s all season including the de facto number one entry driven by Messrs McNish, Kristensen and Capello. A Lotus entry in LMP2 and an ongoing feud between Porsche, Ferrari, Chevrolet and Aston Martin in the GT categories highlight why this one isn’t WEC season isn’t one to miss. Oh, and did I mention that this years Le Mans also features an extra two diesel powered Audi’s, Martin Brundle and his son in the prototype class and Highcroft Racing’s bizarre looking aerodynamic free invitational entry? It’s set to be a hell of an opening season. The season begins on the 17th March with the 12 Hours of Sebring with races shown live on MotorsTV. We will also be providing live text updates for a number of events including the 24 hours of Le Mans. 

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