I don’t know if you have already noticed, but there is an airport just next to the Spielberg’s circuit, in which the Formula 1 Grand Prix will take place this weekend.
Nothing really serious, but the “Flughafen Hinterstoisser” was an inspiration, for me, to explore the underrated links between motorsport and aviation.
The first aspect, that you should already know, regards some special liveries that Etihad has been painting over the last few years.
One of the most famous liveries was made on their A340, the livery in the photo celebrates, in particular, the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but it clearly refers to the whole ‘Circus‘.
The Arab company painted also a new Boeing 787 for the F1 season, which reminds the typical design on the fin, but the colors changes in order to represent a checkered flag.
In my opinion it’s a masterpiece, just look at the reflections… wow!
Among these two examples, there were also many other planes painted with the typical F1 colors.
There’s another Etihad plane, this time an A320, and the official “Formula 1 experiences” Boeing 737-500.
The widely famous GulfAir, has been (and still remains) the main sponsor of the Bahrain Grand Prix for years, but there were even some cases in which the airlines placed their names on the Formula 1 cars.
Another great example is Singapore Airlines, title sponsor of the Singapore Grand Prix, that placed its name on various cars during the GP, in particular on the LOTUS you see in this picture.
Stretching the discussion to the motorsport in all its expressions, who can forget the Lancia HF Integrale sponsored by Alitalia? (Even though it became more famous in the Martini’s livery…)
Most of the F1 teams are based in Europe, so they ship the various cars, aerodynamic kits and components including the hospitalities using trucks, but the problem comes when the race weekends are disputed in America or Asia.
In this case, aviation, is a valid ally.
The aerodynamic kit and the car is shipped using specific containers that are made either to occupy the littles space possible, and to avoid excessive vibrations to the components, in order to exclude any possibility of damage.
The other parts like tools aren’t fragile, so they can be placed in standard containers, and they can reach any destination using ships, instead of planes, in order to keep the shipment as cheap as possible.
Even though the word “cheap“, in Formula 1, doesn’t exist.
The teams based outside Europe, like HAAS for example, usually open a branch in our continent.
I’ll just leave this here.
Maybe the most important section of this brief editorial.
Various circuits, including Silverstone, were built basing on existing airports.
The first layout of Silverstone’s circuit contained the three runways (the military base had been built following the typical triangular layout) linked together by three turns.
It was one of the fastest circuits that ever existed in the history of this sport.
From 1950 the circuit had started to include the peripheral streets (still inside the base) that are still visible in the modern circuit.
Even the Hinterstoisser Airport was transformed into a circuit – known as Zeltweg’s Circuit – in 1957 and it hosted the GT categories, while in 1965 even the Formula 1 disputed a race weekend there.
Due to the uneven surface, that wasn’t suitable for the F1 cars, the circuit remained active only for other categories.
As an answer to the growing interest around the Austria’s Grand Prix, the Österreichring (known as Red Bull Ring, where we’re racing this weekend, and just 1km far from the airport) was built and inaugurated in 1969, and in 1970 this racetrack returned into the official F1 calendar.
Today this airport is still active and, for example, it hosts the private jets of the pilots reaching the Red Bull Ring.
In Formula E we have the best example of an airport transformed into a circuit: the E-Prix of Berlin is disputed on a former airport, and the typical pavement of the apron generates a lot of vibrations, but FE cars are less fragile, and those vibrations are only cool, not damaging.
Speed is dangerous as long as you’re on the ground.
And the ensure the drivability of the cars, the aerodynamic that has been developed during the years of activity, is actually the opposite of the one developed for planes.
Using the opposite profile of a typical aircraft’s wing, the F1 cars generate a downforce which keeps the car on the ground.
The downforce intensifies as the speed rises, just as the lift in an airplane.
To understand the importance of the downforce we can mention Roland Ratzenberger.
During the Imola’s GP in 1994 (tragically famous also for the death of Ayrton Senna), he lost the front wing at high speed.
The car wasn’t drivable any longer, and the following incident was terribly violent.
Roland had passed away just 24 hours before Ayrton Senna.
Cover from Quora