Simon's snapshots #24


For the most part, Formula 1 support cards tend to be homogenised: GP2 and GP3 in Europe and the Middle East, the Porsche Supercup or a regional equivalent at all points around the compass and welcome historic diversions in North America and Australasia. Every so often, though, a fresh initiative adds a little extra sparkle. Potentially, at least.

It’s a given that the Australian Grand Prix will feature a series of V8 Supercar races, but then the local organisers have scope to accommodate extra events because track activities commence on Thursday – 24 hours earlier than any other GP weekend – and continue more or less non-stop until Sunday (daylight permitting). The V8s are a home-spun tradition, loud, hefty, spectacular and regarded by some as a headline act that happens to have F1 as a sideshow.

In 2012, these marvellous leviathans were also added to the bill at the Abu Dhabi GP. And unlike the Melbourne races at the campaign’s dawn, this triple-header counted towards the championship – so a representative field was guaranteed, despite the lengthy commute.

Trouble was, the timetable had been scripted in such a fashion that the V8s took to the track much earlier in the day than anything else, to the extent that the Yas Marina grandstands bordered on empty. Conspiracy theorists – and there were many – felt this had been done purposely, to keep the V8s from the spotlight for fear that they might show up what followed. Perish the thought…

F1 drivers tend to be greedy with the kerbs at the left-right-left complex of Turns 11-13 (as the accompanying shot, below, of Valtteri Bottas’s Williams testifies), so it was a safe bet that their V8 counterparts would be more voracious still. Worth a lengthy walk in 40-degree heat to find out, then.

They didn’t disappoint – and were similarly animated at other points around the circuit. Holden driver Jamie Whincup’s dominance (he won all three races) didn’t dilute the spectacle, but the V8s haven’t supported the event since.

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