One brave battle

To be told you have cancer is devastating, especially when you have been diagnosed for the 4th time and you’re 18. But this time, there is no sugar-coating it; the cancer has spread to different places. You have secondary tumours, also known as metastatic cancer.

I wanted to tell you Esther Greene’s story. She is my best friend and the bravest person I know; my hero.

Esther was first diagnosed with cancer when she was just three years old, a child oblivious to how serious her situation was. Mercifully she responded to the treatment well and was given the all clear. This was until a year later – now aged five, it had come back and there were once again cancerous tumours in her spine.

Another intense course of therapy, brave Esther entered remission for the second time. Despite her spine being heavily damaged and her bladder working at half of the percentage it should be, Esther had all of the fight in the world.

For ten years Esther remained cancer-free, and all thought that the horrible disease was gone for good. Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be.

Due to her previous treatment she’d had, her spine was left fragile and damaged. It was painful for Esther and she couldn’t wait to have it corrected. It was only when the scan before the operation took place, the doctors found something no one wants to find. The cancer had come back for the third time.

A tough 12 weeks of proton therapy in America followed before Esther was once again given the all clear. In July last year, she was finally able to have her spinal surgery and it has been wonderful to see her in less pain with her back since. Visiting her in hospital in London, looking forward to the future, made me cry.

A month or so back she told me that her back had been hurting again; she had slipped over and thought this was probably why. Then a rather large lump appeared on her neck, her breastbone as we later found out. “It’s nothing,” she told me. “The doctor says it’s nothing to worry about, it’s just from where I had that fall and it’s just displaced fluid.”

I felt it, asked if it was painful to which Esther said no. “No, not really!”

The following Monday, everything changed.

Esther started radiotherapy the following week in an attempt to shrink the tumour on her neck and the one on her spine. The one on her spin was of the greatest concern because of how close it was to her vital nerves.

My friends and I often tell her how brave she is; because Esther is insane. Not once has she complained or questioned why me. Putting others before herself, she has been relentless in the past month. In fact, all of the time.

The prognosis isn’t good, but Esther has kicked this diseases’ ugly butt three times already. Who is to say that she can’t do it a fourth time?

I wanted to take this opportunity to publically say what an inspiration Esther Greene is. She is kind-hearted, caring, funny, and the most thoughtful person I know. Her amazing Christian faith has kept her and her family – two sisters, a brother, and her parents – strong through these dark times showing there is light even in the most horrendous circumstances.

On Saturday, a ‘Coffee Morning for Esther’ was held. It started out being a small-scale event but it quickly snowballed into a huge fundraiser to make as much money as possible in order for Esther to do her bucket list.

On it, items include going to Sixth Form Prom, with hair, and attending Cambridge University.

Yes, that is right. Despite missing nearly half of her A Level studies and critical points of her GCSEs, Esther holds a conditional offer for the University of Cambridge to study Modern and Medieval languages. If that is not breathtaking, I do not know what is.

In a short space of time, over £8,800 has been raised for her and her family, by loved ones, friends, and complete strangers. It is completely fair to say that the support Esther has received has been overwhelming but, of course, greatly deserved.

Whilst the future may be uncertain for Esther, she is going to live life to the maximum whilst she can. She’s is truly an extraordinary young lady, fighting this battle with grace and strength.

I hope you agree with me.

I know people are always being asked to donate to some cause or another, and I go it can get tiring with people always asking you for money. But, if you could spare just £1 for my beautiful friend, I have including a link to the Just Giving page. Thank you x

https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/esthergreene

Girls like motorsport too, you know?

Girls like motorsport too, you know.

I, for one, am growing tired of the petty little comments about being a female and liking racing.

It does not make me special, it does not make me any different to any other fan of speed.

Whilst we still may be the minority gender when it comes to motorsport, it does not require endless sexist comments and inappropriate remarks.

I’m not trying to play the victim here, I am just trying to be real.

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The horror when I opened this, from an official Formula 1 team’s Snapchat.

 

The raw speed, the aggression, the split second decisions – racing is my life. But hold up, I am a girl. I can’t like racing. I shouldn’t like racing. Racing is for men.

Why are we being shamed for our passion?

If I want to wear race gear, I will wear race gear. Like any other fan, I support teams, I like to wear and own merchandise. It is not attention seeking, it is simply expressing that I like racing. I will don on a Red Bull polo for me, and me only, to show my support. So I shall wear my merchandise proud, without replying to the comments. I don’t want to be told to take my bra off and I certainly will not go to bed with you.

It is not attention seeking, it is simply expressing that I like racing. I will don on a Red Bull polo for me, and me only, to show my support. So I shall wear my merchandise proud, without replying to the comments. I don’t want to be told to take my bra off and I certainly will not go to bed with you.

The derogatory comments are another thing. Through different publications, I’ve been named, by professional and respected journalists, everything from ‘that bitch’ to ‘hoe’ and ‘slag’. It’s not nice, not pleasant, and it is happening time and time again to females in the racing community and not just from those employed in the sport. It is an endless tiresome cycle which seems to be getting worse.

I really do struggle to apprehend the fascination and the surprise people have with ladies liking racing. It’s no different to men liking cooking. That is accepted, so why can’t this be?

It’s the 21st Century. Girls like cars. Deal with it.

Helena 🙂 xx

 

Suzi Perry: “Just be yourself”

“I tell you, I was talking about this the other day to somebody who works in television,” Suzi Perry, a motorsport broadcaster, begins. “We were discussing how different television presenting jobs are. They are literally night and day between shiny floor entertainment and autocue sport presenting.

“She works for Sky and she was saying people that work in entertainment were coming to look at how sports presenters work because it is completely different.”

Broadcasting is notoriously tough. But when you mix in live sport, where just about anything can happen, the bar gets raised even higher. You have to think and act on your feet, as well as making what you are saying appear extremely effortless. It is a juggling act and one you must perfect in order to make easy viewing.

Suzi Perry, who has worked in the profession for over 21-years, insists that you “just have to be yourself” which, of course, comes from knowing all of your facts. Granted that is no easy task in the ever-changing world of motorsport.

“I think the biggest challenge is always getting the story right,” Perry tells me. “I think in the media people are so fraught to get there first, but it is more important to get the facts straight.

“For me, the biggest challenge is getting the story right and then after that what you want to do is – in a sports area what you’re supposed to do is create entertainment – so you want to make it entertaining as well.

“In order to do that you need to be able to unlock information from whoever you’re talking to. It is finding the right way of getting the information you want in a fun and entertaining way.”

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Suzi Perry presented Formula 1 for the BBC.

 

Perry has had a long and successful career in presenting – most notable being the lead figure with BT Sport covering MotoGP and BBC1 presenting Formula 1.

“I wouldn’t say I get nervous but I get a rush of adrenaline and it’s physical. It is a shortness of breath and a slightly shaky hand sometimes.

“It is more about the anticipation of what is about to happen. I am still as excited today presenting as I was 21 years ago when I started.”

Perry acknowledges that she holds a role that many aspire to. Many young girls and boys strive to make a career out of sport presenting.

“When presenting MotoGP, really anything can happen. You cannot call anything. It is all very much about speculation and lots of ifs and buts,” she says.

“You know that you are just going to be treated to an incredible spectacle and you’re lucky enough to have a patch on your neck and you’re right there in the heart of the action. It is an extremely privileged position to be in.”

And the passion you feel is key. Perry believes so, in order to succeed in achieving your dream job. It is an intense and competitive world, but you have to love what you do.

“What you have to do is know your subject. And love your subject. If you do know and love what you are talking about, then you just have to be yourself and that’s it,” she tells me.

“I have given that advice to a few people. Natalie Quirk included, who is now presenting on BT Sport. I met her and she was 14. She came up to me and asked that question when I was in the pits doing Speedway for Sky back then.

“It is nice now how all these years later, those girls are going ‘oh yes, you! Now I am doing this, doing that and writing here.’ It is lovely to meet young girls that want to be involved in media and broadcasting.”

And I could not agree more…

Motoring version of Netflix launches in the UK

  • Motoring fans able to access more than 2,000 hours of premium automotive content, live and on demand
  • Racing highlights include European Le Mans series, Pirelli World Challenge, FIA Formula 3 European Championship and 24-hour Nurburgring
  • Coverage of special events including Goodwood  and the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, complemented by original programming and live exclusives

Until now the news has been strictly embargoed but, finally, it can be revealed that the motoring of Netflix shall be launching in the UK and Europe as of today.

Motor Trend On Demand – as the platform is called – will house thousands of hours of motoring related content available to stream across all devices, the perfect package for any petrol head.

Millions of motorsport fans in the UK and Europe will now be able to choose and watch seemingly endless hours of live racing via their phones, tablets or desktop computers, including the 24-Hour Nurburgring, Blancpain GT series, FIA Formula 3, FIM Motorcycle Racing, Virgin Australia Supercars and the Pirelli World Challenge.

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Motor Trend On Demand

 

Motor Trend was launched in the US last year and has continued to expand unprecedentedly. As a result, it is making the jump across the ocean to the UK and beyond.

Speaking to Suzi Perry, she told me: “The motoring version of Netflix has worked really well in America. As a broadcaster, I can see that we are at a huge crossroads in terms of the way we digest content.

“You were talking about younger viewers watching motorsport and generally, they don’t switch on the TV. That has got to be catered for. Something like this streaming service is invaluable.

“I think it will be really popular in the UK and the rest of Europe as a go-to place to watch motorsport. There are thousands and thousands of hours of content and what better for a petrol head than to just be able to go to one place to see DTM whether that is live or highlights. They generate their own content as well – this is going to go really well.”

Valentino Rossi and Suzi Perry with crowd at FOS
Suzi sees herself as a petrol head, claiming Motor Trends On Demand to be ‘great’

 

The service will be available for a small fee, much like Netflix and other on-demand streaming services. Currently, it is difficult to watch motorsport all in one place. Motor Trend On Demand aims to change this going forward.

“It is really important because at the moment motorsport is all over the place in the UK and Europe,” Perry explains. “It’s on different channels and you’re paying different companies to watch. If you like watching different motorsport, then you have got to pay BT, you have got to pay Sky – at some point, it needs to be put and wrapped together in some way. In terms of streaming motorsport content, this is brilliant. This is great. I mean, why not?

“Netflix has been so hugely successful and now it is just the go-to place to watch movies, original content and that kind of thing. This will be exactly the same to people who like two wheels and four-wheel action. I can only see the market growing – this is a welcome platform for us in the UK and it couldn’t have come sooner.”

Music and motorsport: the perfect combination?

One of the world’s biggest pop stars – Justin Timberlake – is set to perform ahead of the US Grand Prix in October later this year. A crucial move to secure ticket sales for the event.

After the phenomenal success of last year’s Austin act Taylor Swift, the organisers of this season’s event have looked to go even better and greater.

Bobby Epstein, president of the Circuit of the Americas, says music artists see the weekend as a global stage and Timberlake “fits right in.”

Organisers behind the event last year signed up Swift to drive larger crowds to the big race and introduce more people to the sport, and they are hoping to do the same with Timberlake.

“Last year did what we hoped it would do, which is not only enhance an already great event but also give us the chance to expose a lot of new people to the sport,” COTA chairman Bobby Epstein tells Reuters. “And it worked. I think where we saw a big change was in the average number of tickets sold per transaction, which told me that families were buying. And so I think we’ll see that continue.”

Timberlake will play to an expected enormous crowd on 21st October, ahead of Sunday’s race. The booking comes at a critical time in Formula 1 as ticket sales of the sport appear to be struggling.

2017 has already lost the German Grand Prix after reports circulated in November last year that the race weekend would be cancelled.

There are other races where their futures’ remain uncertain too, another dent to the sport. The German race is the third event as of late to make headlines about departing the calendar, following Malaysia’s announcement that the 2018 race will be its last, while Singapore is also reportedly thinking heavily about its F1 future.

With race fees on the rise, tracks are doing their utmost to attract fans to their events.

Timberlake has a huge following, being one of the most successful solo artists of all time. His appearance will be sure to bring in a different audience to the US race.

Going forward, it seems essential for organisers to take music artists into consideration. Granted that not all events can afford such big bookings, but it is at least something to keep in mind as Formula 1 enters the next generation of the sport.

With social media more prevalent than ever, music and F1 shall make a perfect partnership for the sport to grow. Now it is vital to appeal to a wider audience. COTA have caught onto that, demonstrating how to put on a show for all.

Music and motorsport are a well-paired couple, securing the all-important ticket sales for those who are on the fence about attending.

Artists have often featured at races, although no one, arguably, has set the standard higher than the organisers of the Austin GP.

One thing remains certain, F1 and music have to keep collaborating.

Destination Guide: Melbourne

Formula 1 returns this weekend, and ahead of the first race of the season, I spent some time finding out what to do if you are lucky enough to be attending the 2017 season opener.

Melbourne is the capital of the Australian state Victoria and is home to over 4 million people. Founded in 1835, the area is steeped in diverse culture, which is near impossible to experience anywhere else in the world.

Situated in the vibrant city, Albert Park has plenty to offer. At just 3 kilometres from the central business district, the green space has played host to the Australian Grand Prix since 1996. In that time, it has had some of the biggest names in motorsport grace its tarmac.

The suburb is a hit with tourists, with its many streets featuring shops, bars and restaurants – a must, especially if the sun is shining. Whilst out and about, take advantage of Bridport Street with its cafes and Victoria Avenue which is renowned for boutiques and delicatessens.

Eating Out

Melbourne is home to many restaurants, providing cuisines from just about any culture imaginable. A firm must is Chinatown – the food is very good value and freshly prepared. The atmosphere at night is incredible, too. Lucy Liu Kitchen and Bar and Laksa King are among my favourites. The Railway Club Hotel Steakhouse is said to be one of the best places to eat if you’re looking for steak, but their grills are also highly commended. Situated on Raglan Street, you’ll be a little further away from the hustle and bustle, but within walking distance of the other bars along the Yarra River.

Like anywhere else in Australia, food and drink can burn a hole in your wallet. However, if you’re prepared to venture further out of the CBD, then meals become more reasonable and some even say more quirky. There are many urban eat-outs along side streets which are becoming more and more popular with both locals and tourists. Don’t be afraid to try somewhere new!

Nightlife: The city is famous for its vast array of nightlife and there’s no doubt that all the stops will be pulled out for the Grand Prix weekend.

If you’re looking for something a bit different, then head to Art Nouveau Curtin House. The Bar & Rooftop is a cinema on top of a skyscraper – they say champagne tastes better at altitude. Screening movies throughout the week,  ensure you book upon arrival in the city to avoid disappointment. Watching Indie classics with a beer in hand, there’s not much to not like.

There are half a dozen places to choose from on Swanston Street, (a tad to the north of the Central Melbourne Station) while a night out in the clubs and bars of King Street (over to the west of the CBD) bowls along at a blistering pace. Either way, bars and clubs in Melbourne are rated as some of the best on the planet. However, if you are truly looking for the best, then the districts of Collingwood and Fitzroy (to the northeast of the city) are the places to hit up. They are what earn Melbourne its unique partying label.

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Seeing the Sights: If you are lucky enough to have a few days to get over the jet-lag then there’s plenty of places to visit in and around Melbourne. From beaches to river cruises and amusement parks to botanical gardens, there is, quite literally, something for everyone.

The Royal Botanic Gardens are perfect to take a stroll around, even if there’s rain in the air (which there can often be, as Melbourne is famous for its four seasons in a day). Take a rug, a picnic and pick a good spot by the lake. It’s an idyllic space to take five away from the mayhem of the race track. The grounds are beautiful and there are many different pathways to explore. Within easy distance of the city centre, you’d be crazy not to get up that little bit earlier and have a walk around. They’re open from 7:30 a.m. daily and entry to the Melbourne Gardens is free.

If that’s a bit too tame for you, head to Eureka Skydeck to see if you have a head for heights. It’s known as the highest vantage point in the southern hemisphere. And if just the viewing floor is still not enough for you, then experience Edge, which allows you to tower over the rest of the city at over 300 metres up. Oh, and the cube is made of glass. Unsurprisingly, there’s not other experience in the world like it.

Lastly, if none of those are taking your fancy then head to St. Kilda. Home to theme parks, species of penguins, markets and much, much more, it’s no surprise that St. Kilda is Melbourne’s beachside playground. Luna Park is a family friend amusement park. Celebrating its 100th anniversary in 2012, Luna Park mixes traditional rides with more modern day attractions. In fact, it boasts the title of having the oldest continually operating wooden roller coaster in the world and the only one of its kind with a standing brakeman in control aboard its moving carriages. Whatever your age, it is a great day out. Even if you don’t visit Luna Park itself, St. Kilda is an essential.

You can find more about things to do in Melbourne here: https://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attractions-g255100-Activities-Melbourne_Victoria.html

Transportation: Wherever you’re staying in Melbourne, I’m sure it comes without saying to allow plenty of time to get to the race track. Like any city, the roads can often become gridlocked. Not so fun, but the tram runs through the city is a great aid in keeping things moving.

Several tram routes service Albert Park. You’ll be pleased to know that they are inexpensive too. Oh, and on Friday and Saturday, the service runs all day and night and on Sunday until 11 p.m, giving tourists plenty of time to do a bit of sightseeing before vacating the race track.

Last year, Melbourne introduced a ‘free tram’ which permits travel from the iconic Queen Victoria Market, across to Victoria Harbour in Docklands, up to Spring Street and over to Flinders Street Station and Federation Square. Most of Melbourne’s bus routes run well within social hours.

Of course, if you are staying in the city centre then there’s always the option to walk. The streets are clean and always well lit. It’s also good to take in the view on foot. Melbourne is unique, to say the least.

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Conclusion: I fully admit that Melbourne is one of my favourite cities in the world. There is something for everyone and truly unlike any other place I’ve visited. Be sure to pack for all weather occasions; even if it’s forecasted to be sunny then it’s not unfamiliar for rain clouds to appear out of nowhere.

The race track itself is one of the best on the calendar, providing a great weekend no matter what happens out on the circuit. Just be sure to take a look around the city too!

Let’s talk about Autism

We are sat in Costa in our town centre, chatting over a cup of coffee. It’s general chit-chat at first, but then we get down to business.

Autism isn’t talked about much, you see. Yes, it is known and, yes, it is recognised, but there is a stigma attached to it that isn’t as prominent with other disabilities. It’s the one people aren’t familiar with…Autism, what’s that?

Steph Gowers looks at the bill, confused at the total. We are meant to get 10 percent off. Steph asks the barrister and he bluntly points out that the discount is written at the foot of the bill. He isn’t what I would call nice about it.

“See it’s things like that, I have never been very good in social groups or with people,” Steph, who is Autistic, says. “I have been picked on ever since I went to school. Always in my own little world, could never get out of my routine. I am quite brutally honest, blunt. I don’t realise I hurt people’s feelings and I definitely don’t pick up sarcasm very well.”

The Costa employee looked at Steph as if she was a bit stupid. But she isn’t stupid, far from it.

“I am cleverer than people think. Often people with Autism are very bright people,” Steph comments. “We lean towards one of numbers or words. My speciality is words. Oh, I love reading too, I always have my nose in a book!”

When I turned up Steph was popping a book back in her bag – it being the famous Treasure Island.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.

Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured‘. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.

Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support. All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop. With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing.

“It is important that there are charities to help with Autism as not many people understand it. Like my mum says: Our brains are wired differently, we are not all the same,” she recalls. “I want there to be more charities out there; I am Autistic and also have Aspergers, which is part of the Autism spectrum. I didn’t really know I had it when I was younger

“I have never liked being in bring groups, and I still don’t like it now. I feel edgy around new people, and find talking to new people very difficult. If I get angry, I can rant for hours. And I have to get it all out. If it happens at work, I can hide it until I get home, but it is extremely difficult. When I get home, I let go. I get it all off my chest.

“If I don’t like people, I find it really hard to express that I do like them. Some people can cover up how they feel but I can’t hide it. I can’t help it. I’m not being horrible, it’s just the way it is. If something comes into my head, I can’t help but say it…and sometimes that’s a very bad thing. There are certain things that I have to bite my tongue at.”

Growing up was difficult for Steph, she was bullied constantly as she explains.

“When I was younger, I was at school and sitting in a big class. I didn’t fit in and I didn’t know why. I mean, I was tall, lanky and awkward but I didn’t know what they had against me, I just thought it was the popular group being up themselves. I just didn’t know what was wrong with me. I realised then that many people were only pretending to be my friends and the friends that I did have would come and go quickly.

“I didn’t get diagnosed until I was older, in my teens. I felt that I had another label attached to me. Nowadays I don’t really care, but it affected me vastly back then. I didn’t like being different. I just wanted to be normal…I wanted to be accepted.

“I hated school, getting bullied made it horrible. I didn’t want to go, I wanted to stay at home. I would speak to my teachers about what was going on and then they would pick on me further for telling on them. It was a vicious circle. I was called horrible names, they picked on one boy and forced him to go out with me. I didn’t realise until we met later on in life and he confessed to me. The whole school situation was awful. I couldn’t wait to leave so I wouldn’t get laughed at anymore.”

There was, however, one escape that made school more tolerable.

“I loved learning, I still do. I am not stupid…I’m great at English despite having dyspraxia. I got excellent grades. My drama lessons were my escape, I felt like I could be a different person. That was the only time that people didn’t bully me.”

Now, Steph’s message is clear. She doesn’t want other people to hate school because they were teased. Teased by people who were neither educated nor understanding of her disability.

“I want to help now because there are so many people out there that have Autism worse than me, I don’t think that there’s enough support in place at the moment,” she says. “You know, I want them to see that there is a place out there for people who don’t know how to deal with it. I was lucky that my parents were brilliant but, even for them, it was difficult to understand the full extent of my disability.

“I am lucky to have an excellent boyfriend. At the beginning, his mum and dad found me hard to understand, and I can see why. But now they have become more understanding; I gave them a book called “Every cat has Autism”. Since then they have been incredibly supportive. His mum is a great person to talk to and her and my boyfriend always look out for me. We look out for each other. He makes me laugh and that is excellent for someone like me.

“In a decade’s time, I want there to be more awareness of Autism, in schools especially. If my classmates had understood my disability, perhaps my time at school would have been more enjoyable.”

Steph urges you to donate whatever you can here: www.autism.org.uk ; even 50 pence will help to make a difference. Let’s ensure that the next generation is educated on Autism. It’s important to talk about.

National Autism week is from the 27th March to the 2nd April.

Zoom Action Gala 2017 Preview

The words Zoom Auction will most certainly ring a bell for those accustomed to the world of Formula 1. And, ahead of the annual gala on Friday, I exclusively reveal Nico Hulkenberg’s picture that he submitted to be auctioned in aid of charity.

But, for those who are unaware of what exactly Zoom’s function is, this should hopefully help explain their role.

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Exclusive photo: Nico Hulkenberg’s entry into this year’s auction. All rights to Zoom and Nico.

Nico Hulkenberg’s photograph took the above photo of him during the summer break last year. He said “I took this photo during my summer break in Majorca. I climbed this mountain from the very bottom to the top as part of my training. It was a tough session, but I still had some time to take in the view and when I saw this I thought it was a beautiful landscape. I wanted a memory of it and that’s why I took this photo.”

“ZOOM, which has raised almost £100,000 for charity since it was launched in late 2012, is the only auction of signed photos taken by the stars of any sport. It gives fans a glimpse behind the scenes at the track and reveals how F1’s superstars enjoy themselves away from it. The photos are like personal postcards from the sport’s biggest names and they come from all over the globe.

“Each year, the drivers and team principals of every F1 team are asked to take a photograph of their chosen subject. Images range from Fernando Alonso’s podium shot of the Monza crowd to Lewis Hamilton’s photo of his dog Roscoe visiting Rome and Nico Rosberg at the wheel of a 1938 Mercedes W154.

“Zoom is an initiative from Money Sport Media, the publisher of Formula 1 business data guide, Formula Money (www.formulamoney.com). The first event took place in September 2012 and the fifth event will be held on Friday 3rd February 2017.”

Source: a press release from Zoom.

In late 2012, Caroline Reid and Christian Sylt – authors of Formula 1’s industry monitor: Formula Money – decided that they wanted to create a new charity initiative, one that would unite the world of motorsport in aid of an incredibly worthwhile cause. And so, Zoom was born.

Now five years on, in 2017, Zoom Auction will support the charity Starlight – a UK based organisation which grants wishes for terminally ill children. The charity is remarkable, having brightened many young lives during extremely difficult periods for them and their families.

Wishes granted include taking a group of teenagers to the Monaco Grand Prix last year, where they got to spend time with their heroes. Something that they shall, no doubt, cherish forever.

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Rebecca takes a selfie with Fernando Alonso – all rights to Starlight UK

The event has been a huge success in the past, with the sport’s biggest names making an appearance. Most notable names include Damon Hill, Christian Horner, Claire Williams, Eddie Jordan, Suzi Perry and Bernie Ecclestone himself.

“ZOOM is a super project. We are proud to be supporting it again, helping to raise money for charity while showing what the stars of F1 get up to away from the TV cameras. We’re also very pleased to welcome ZOOM’s charity partner, Starlight Children’s Foundation. They do a fantastic job making sick children’s dreams come true and it’s great to see the kids every year at the Monaco Grand Prix. It’s good to have them on board”

Bernie Ecclestone, former chief executive of the Formula One Group

“So far Zoom as raised nearly £100,000 for children’s charities and this year is on track to be the best yet thanks to our new partner Starlight which is both the event manager and charity partner,” Christian Sylt told me. “Every year Starlight takes a group of ill children to the Monaco Grand Prix to introduce them to the drivers and make their F1 dreams come true.

“It makes Starlight an ideal fit for Zoom which is the only event, except for a Grand Prix, involving all of the drivers and team bosses. They all come together for a very good cause and one of the photos illustrates this perhaps better than any of the others. You’ll have to wait till Friday to find out which!”

Friday promises to be an excellent night and I for one cannot wait to be a part of something which is for such a great cause.

ENDS

www.starlight.org.uk

 

8 reasons why we can’t lose the Silverstone GP

When you think about motorsport, more often than not Silverstone will spring to mind. Why? Why is Silverstone a world-renowned race circuit, and how has it evolved to become so special?

When the news broke earlier on in the week that the  2017 Silverstone Grand Prix could be in danger, I decided to look into why we couldn’t lose this special circuit from the Formula 1 Calendar.

My 8 reasons are as followed.

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One: It is the home of British motorsport.

Silverstone is often regarded as the home of British motorsport, and one of the most prestigious events on the Grand Prix Calendar. The track has it all – fast corners, long straights and demanding sectors. It’s no wonder the drivers and fans love it. It’s a classic – and it’s more than special. It’s hard to imagine that it was once a fully functioning military airfield!

Two: It’s important for the economy.

The small, quaint English town of Towcester and the surrounding villages rev into life come summer, with thousands of racing fans embarking on the journey to the British Grand Prix. Racing fever strikes the county as Motorsport hurtles into town. From an economic perspective, the Grand Prix is vital for local businesses and the county’s tourism industry.

Three: It is a historic event.

Silverstone held its first Grand Prix event in 1948, but its official start, under the new reformed Driver World Championship system, was 1950. From then on the British Grand Prix alternated among Northamptonshire, Aintree and Brands Hatch until, finally, in 1987, Silverstone became the permanent home of the yearly extravaganza. And in that time it hasn’t disappointed.

Four: It has seen unforgettable racing.

There is no doubt that the iconic track has been the setting for some unbelievable racing moments. Who can forget Nigel Mansell giving Ayrton Senna a lift in 1991 after Senna’s McLaren ran out of fuel on the last lap? Mansell, winning in front of a home crowd, transported his rival back to the pits of the newly reformed circuit. Sportsmanship at its strongest and outright best.

Pre the Formula 1 World Championship days, 1948 hosted a formidable duel on the much-changed race track. The hospitality units and gravel run-offs were rudimentary, the track making use of the old airfield runways. The start/finish line was before Woodcote Corner and the turns in the Copse and Stowe section were much tighter than would be permitted today. The favourites for the race, Alberto Ascari and Luigi Villoresi, started from the back of the grid. After a race of nail-biting moments, Villoresi was the first man to cross the line with Ascari second.

FiveIt’s Hamilton’s home race.

Fast forward 60 years to 2008, where Brits were treated to local-boy Lewis Hamilton mastering the wet conditions to take the victory. He drove sensationally on a sodden circuit, after what had been a tough period of mistakes and poor results, to take the chequered flag, a minute in front of the next best man. Brits go to the Silverstone GP to see Hamilton. Simple.

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Credit to ITV.com

Six: It has always been a favourite

The fast flowing and technically challenging circuit has been a firm favourite among drivers throughout history and many of them praise the track today for its uniqueness. There’s an abundance of overtaking at this mecca of motor racing, too. Since 2010 the first corner now sees cars two abreast at full throttle as they fight for position. Copse is one of the most unforgiving corners on the circuit – even the most experienced driver, taking Copse, flat out, with speeds in excess of 170 mph, can be daunting. Maggots-Becketts-Chapel is also a hair-raiser. Buckle up because the cars enter flat out, and exit the roller coaster ride in fourth gear. The right- left- right formation is up there with the likes of the Eau Rouge in Spa-Francorchamps. Now THAT is special.

Seven: Money has been poured into it. 

2010 saw some major changes to the circuit with several fundamental alterations being made. The updated course brings a new dimension of challenge to the drivers and enables the fans to get even closer to the action. Racers turn right at the old Abbey Chicane and head towards the new Arena section in what was formerly the infield, turning left onto the National Circuit straight and then rejoining the original Grand Prix circuit at Brooklands.

Eight: It is a real gem.

From a fan’s point of view, Silverstone is one of the best races on the calendar. The atmosphere cannot be replicated anywhere else on the planet. Fans travel from all over the world to experience a British Grand Prix weekend. More often than not Britain does live up to its reputation for unpredictable weather. Regardless, the weather doesn’t dampen the festival mood. It may rain but that won’t affect the spirits of some 120,000 avid Grand Prix fans who travel the length of the country and beyond to watch a brilliant weekend of racing.

 

A beginner’s guide to…Formula E

I am not going to lie to you now, I am a complete rookie when it comes to the motorsport series of Formula E. But, everyone is raving about it. And, as the third race of the third season looms in the not too distant future, I thought I would share with you a beginner’s guide to the sport – as I learn about it for myself.

The Intro

First things first, the cars are electric. The clue is in the name. The electric version of Formula 1, if you like. But the two series couldn’t be more worlds apart.

The series claims to reinvent racing, and I have to say, it is doing exactly that.

The races take place across the globe – from Africa to Asia, to America. Unlike Formula 1, it seems to reach all four corners of the planet. But that isn’t all. Formula E uses social media tools like no other form of motorsport. They ensure that the fans take center stage.

Fan Boost

This leads us nicely to a popular feature called the ‘FanBoost’. Audiences vote for their favourite drivers via any social media channel, and the three drivers with the most votes get a 20% boost in horsepower, for five seconds, during the race. This is rather handy if a driver is trying to execute an overtake. It seemingly pays to be a favourite among the fans, unlike other motorsports.

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Race Weekend Format

All events begin with two practice sessions in the morning. The first is a 45-inute session followed by a 30-minute one. Drivers each have two cars which they are able to use, with 200 kW available throughout.

The qualifying session normally happens in the afternoon and lasts for one hour. The drivers are divided into four groups of 5, and each group has six minutes to set their fastest times. Full power of 200 kW is available but unlike practice, they are only allowed to use one car.  Since the second season, the five fastest drivers then go out again, one-by-one, in the ‘Super Pole’ shoot-out to form the top-five grid positions. The pole-sitter is also named.

The race itself lasts for 50 minutes or there abouts, with drivers making one mandatory pit stop to change cars. This usually happens at the half distance mark. During a race, the maximum power is restricted to 170 kW. Points are awarded using the standard FIA system – 25 for first and so on.

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An emotional Buemi after his championship win, all rights and credit to Rob Watts

Fact File

  1. The races are called an ePrix – pretty clever, huh?
  2. The 2016/17 season features ten teams – Abt Schaeffler Audi Sport, Andretti Autosport, DS Virgin, Dragon Racing, Jaguar Racing, Mahindra Racing, NextEV NIO, Renault e.dams, TECHEETAH and Venturi.
  3. Generally, racing takes place on street circuits in the heart of cities. In 2017, the series will head to New York.
  4. Founded by motorsport giant Jean Todd, the inaugural Formula E race took place in 2014, in Beijing. The first season consisted ten different countries, and from that, Nelson Piquet Jr became the first champion of the sport.
  5. Sebastien Buemi was crowned champion of the second season. Lucas di Grassi narrowly missed out, by finishing two points behind Buemi.

Formula E poses more than just the physical challenges associated with motorsport. Science and technology are evolving 24/7, and the sport has to adapt and evolve with new advancements.

The sport still features the usual crashes that motorsport is famous for, and there is still overtaking too.

“You will see more overtaking than entire F1 season,” Sam Bird once claimed.

Formula E is still in its development stages; of course, it isn’t going to be perfect. But, in its defense, look at the shambles of the qualifying F1 briefly introduced for the 2016 season.

The point is, Formula E’s audience is expanding. And people are raving about it.

Here’s the biggest different then, perhaps: people talk about Formula 1, but they rave about Formula E.

Doesn’t that tell you something?

That was something a little bit different from me. Please give me some feedback – and if any corrections need to be made about FE’s information, let me know. I am, like a said, a rookie.