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Archives for March 2010

Your classic grand prix - race three

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Andrew Benson | 09:40 UK time, Wednesday, 31 March 2010

We have chosen the 2001 Malaysian Grand Prix as our highlighted event for the third edition of our classic races series this year.

Although the general perception is that Kuala Lumpur's Sepang circuit , like many of Formula 1's new generation of purpose-built tracks, does not produce particularly good races, most of the five choices we gave you to debate were actually very good. And 2001 was rather better than that.

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F1 answers critics in style

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Andrew Benson | 11:12 UK time, Sunday, 28 March 2010

So the obituaries were premature - as they were always going to be. Two weeks after a soporific opening race of the season prompted newspaper headlines proclaiming the death of Formula 1, the world's best drivers put on a show to remember at the Australian Grand Prix.

Helped by a dollop of changeable weather, but also by the mixed tyre strategies prompted by the much-criticised decision to ban refuelling, Melbourne provided the spectacle that had been expected of the most eagerly anticipated F1 season in more than 20 years.

Perhaps it was the contrast between the pre-season billing and the boredom of Bahrain that sparked the opprobrium that followed Ferrari's one-two in the desert.

Whatever, Sunday's events in Albert Park proved the folly of writing off one of the world's most unpredictable sports so early and the wisdom of those - such as the world championship leader Fernando Alonso - who said that the new season should be given more time before being condemned.

Bahrain was indeed a poor race - but then it often is. Melbourne's circuit, though, lived up to its reputation for providing thrills and spills. A start on a wet track, some big crashes, and clever strategy decisions by Jenson Button and others, provided the recipe for some thrilling action and suddenly the F1 season has come alive.

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Your classic grand prix - race two

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Andrew Benson | 06:00 UK time, Wednesday, 24 March 2010

We have chosen the 1990 Australian Grand Prix as our highlighted event for the second edition of our classic races series this year.

It was actually the 500th world championship Formula 1 grand prix, and it provided a fitting spectacle for such an important milestone.

The F1 field was particularly strong in 1990, with all-time greats Ayrton Senna, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell and Nelson Piquet all in front-running cars (thereby having echoes of this season's line-up of Michael Schumacher, Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso and Jenson Button all competing at the front).

It was a gripping season, in which Senna and Prost fought out a third consecutive bitter world title battle.

This had ended the previous race in Japan with the Brazilian's McLaren spearing into the back of the Frenchman's Ferrari at 160mph at the first corner of the Japanese Grand Prix, thereby settling the title in Senna's favour, and leaving Australia to stage a final event free of the tension of a championship showdown.

Any fears of a damp squib were quickly dispelled, though, as the leading drivers went at it hammer-and-tongs around the streets of Adelaide, which was hosting the sixth of its 11 Australian Grands Prix before Melbourne took over in 1996.

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McLaren and Magnussen come full circle

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Andrew Benson | 09:55 UK time, Friday, 19 March 2010

Formula 1 is often a brutal, unforgiving world, and it is certainly not known for its sentimentality, but every now and again something happens to remind you that there is room for humanity and warmth in the harshest of sporting environments.

McLaren, regarded by some as a cold and clinical team, have recently signed up to their young driver programme a 17-year-old Dane called Kevin Magnussen. And while such information would normally not rate a mention here, there is a poignant story, laden with irony, behind this latest move.

Magnussen's father is the ex-Formula 1 driver Jan Magnussen, himself a product of the McLaren young driver programme, who made an impressive F1 debut for the team as a replacement for an ill Mika Hakkinen in the 1995 Pacific Grand Prix and went on to race for Stewart Grand Prix for a season and a half in 1997-98.

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Pick your classic grand prix - race two

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Andrew Benson | 10:30 UK time, Thursday, 18 March 2010

Welcome to the second edition of our 2010 classic grand prix series.

The Australian Grand Prix, which has been on the calendar for 25 years, provides rich pickings, so we have not had to scour the archives from other events as we did for Bahraintwo weeks ago.

As ever, we are asking you to tell us which is your favourite race and why. We will read your comments and use them to make a decision on which race to feature in the run-up to next week's 2010 Australian Grand Prix.

If the race we pick is from the era when the BBC owned the rights to F1 - i.e. until 1996, and from 2009 - we will show the full 'Grand Prix' highlights programme of the time as well as the shorter highlights we cut for all the races.

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Impressive Alonso throws down the gauntlet

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Andrew Benson | 17:09 UK time, Sunday, 14 March 2010

In the wake of Jenson Button's world championship victory last season, I asked an engineer at his Brawn team, which morphed into Mercedes over the winter, what he thought about the prospect of Fernando Alonso in a Ferrari.

"Worrying," was his reply.

It was a view shared by many in Formula 1, whose participants are well aware of what a formidable competitor the Spaniard is, and of the power and potential of Ferrari.

After the Spaniard's impressive victory in the season-opening Bahrain Grand Prix on Sunday, it is easy to see why everyone was so concerned.

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Your classic grand prix - race one

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Andrew Benson | 10:40 UK time, Wednesday, 10 March 2010

We have chosen the 1982 South African Grand Prix as the race to highlight in the first edition of this year's classic races series.

There was an overwhelming response when we posted the five picks last week, so thank you for that. It is very gratifying to see that you are all so excited by the return of 'classic grands prix', as well as, of course, by what promises to be a brilliant Formula 1 season.

As regular readers will know, this is not a 'vote' per se. We ask you which of five races is your favourite, then we use those responses to decide which event we give the 'full treatment' to. The winning selection gets the full Grand Prix programme from the time, as well as the shorter edited highlights we cut for all the events.

In this case, though, the race we have chosen was also the most popular - and with good reason. Something of a forgotten classic it may be, but the South African Grand Prix of 1982 is a classic nonetheless.

The full Grand Prix programme of the time is embedded below, with the five short highlights linked below it.

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Pick your classic grand prix - race one

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Andrew Benson | 14:29 UK time, Thursday, 4 March 2010

Welcome to the first edition of BBC Sport's Classic Grand Prix series for the 2010 season.

It seems like only yesterday that Sebastian Vettel was romping to victory for Red Bull in the final race of 2009 and here we are about to head off to the Middle East again for the start of what everyone seems to agree could be one of the greatest Formula 1 seasons for years.

To whet your appetite for the main event on 14 March - and indeed every other race throughout the season - we are, as promised, running this series again.

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