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Phuket Sports: F1 – Strategies, stars and stripes

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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Phuket Sports: F1 – Strategies, stars and stripes | Thaiger

PHUKET: The USA GP has been run sporadically since the “American Grand Prize” of 1908. Since then, 41 GPs have been held at nine locations – most recently at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway from 2000-2007.

The USA is an important market for F1 and for team sponsors, so a USA GP is highly desirable. But American fans historically have been less than enthralled, and of course there is no American team in F1.

Indianapolis was never a great F1 venue. To make matters worse, the 2005 GP was a fiasco. Following tyre failures before the race, Michelin advised that the tyres they had brought were not safe for the whole race; 2005 rules did not allow tyre changes.

The FIA refused all proposed compromises. Fourteen entrants, on Michelin tyres, completed the mandatory parade lap, and immediately retired. We were treated to Ferrari, Jordan and Minardi effectively parading their six Bridgestone shod cars when spectators had paid to see a race.

Bernie Ecclestone, failing to negotiate new financial terms, vowed “never to return” to Indianapolis.

In 2010, Bernie announced plans for a New Jersey GP for the 2012 season. Two months later, Austin, Texas, was awarded the race on a ten-year contract. Austin has the USA’s first purpose built F1 track, so American fans should finally get to see a real F1 GP. And it looks like the bleachers will be full, which is great news.

The 5.51 kilometer anti-clockwise track was designed by Hermann Tilke, who also designed the Sepang, Shanghai, Yas Marina, Istanbul, Bahrain, Yeongam, and Buddh circuits. We do not know what it will be like, but we can try to guess.

It looks to be most similar to Abu Dhabi, but it seems to have pieces of many great tracks, with the sweeping Suzuka Esseses and Turn 8 from Istanbul.

There are several gradient changes, particularly in sector one. The lap starts with an uphill straight leading to a blind apex at the hairpin which is Turn 1, and then to a number of high-speed corners like the Maggotts-Becketts-Chapel sequence from Silverstone. This leads to Turn 11, another hairpin, and a long back straight followed by a couple of slow-speed corners where the DRS zone should be. A multi-apex long right hander brings up Turn 20 and the Start/Finish straight. There looks to be good conventional overtaking opportunities.

Weather will be cool. Cars will have similar downforce settings to Abu Dhabi, and Pirelli will bring the same hard and medium tyres. This is conservative, as is usual on a new track, and probably means two stop strategies, with a possibility of some one-stoppers.

Whom will it suit? McLaren will be very bullish, as long as they can evict their gremlins. Lotus is going to be confident as well, and Alsonso will almost certainly get a podium position.

So, Vettel has his work cut out to seal the Championship in his 100th GP.

HRT looks unlikely to trouble the scorers, and the team in now up for sale. Mercedes is talking up its “Double DRS”, but while Schumacher may not win at Austin, he will compete in the Race of Champions at Rajamangala Stadium in Bangkok, December 14-16.

The US GP is at 2am on Monday. Qualifying is at 1am on Sunday. If they had started the race at their breakfast time it would have been much more convenient for us; perhaps they did not consider that.

But nevertheless I shall be watching, together with Evan Williams and my Security Director, and any other hardy souls who care to join us at the Greenman, Chalong.

The race will be shown live at the Green Man on Monday at 2am. Click here for more information.

— The Digby

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge

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Hotel blog suggests Phuket should push ahead with July reopening despite Covid surge | Thaiger
PHOTO: Hotels and other tourism business are hoping the July 1st reopening goal can still be achieved.

A hotel information blog is claiming that, despite growing Covid-19 numbers, Phuket should stick to its schedule in reopening to travellers without quarantine in July. That’s only 2 and a half months away.

In an interview with the Director of Travel and Tourism Consulting at GlobalData, they stressed that while it is crucial to reign in the spread of Covid-19 and the B117 strain now manacing Thailand, the risk must not overshadow the need teo push forward with vaccinations and the march towards eliminating the quarantine by July in order to save the tourism industry and all those dependent on it.

“The Phuket pilot program is essential in creating a path towards economic recovery for Thailand, a country heavily dependent on tourism. More than 17% of Thailand’s gross domestic product is attributed to tourism and the Covid-19 pandemic has lead to the worst economic free-fall in over 20 years”

The blog acknowledges the inherent risk and possible appearance of foolishness to prioritise the plans to reopen and carry on with the same rollout schedule. But they urge Thai authorities to consider that July 1 is still 2 and a half months away, leaving ample time to recover and make progress towards the approaching Phuket reopening. A vital aspect of the reopening plan lies in vaccinating over 70% of Phuket’s provincial residents, a sizable task, but one that brings great benefit with or without the scheduled reopening.

“Pushing ahead to achieve this goal puts Phuket on track to welcome back tourists, perhaps in a “bio-bubble”, and restart the economy. The economy is desperate with household debt growing, pushing the government to enact emergency decrees to provide relief. These households need the return of tourism and the influx of cash international tourists will bring.”

The blog hopes that Thai authorities can balance the necessary Covid-19 safety measures in Phuket to protect the Thai population with the economic need to bring back tourism. They believe that with sufficient measures in place, vaccinated locals could welcome vaccinated international tourists back to Phuket reopening safely in July.

SOURCE: Hotel News Resource

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand

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UPDATE: Field hospitals being established in Covid hot zones around Thailand | Thaiger

UPDATE: The field hospital in Bangkok’s Bang Bon district, west of the Chao Phraya river, had its first 10 Covid patients today. The director of the medical services office of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration says that the 10 patients into the makeshift hospital, located at the Chalerm Phra Kiat Stadium, will enable assessment of the performance by the medical team, before more patients arrive – Thai PBS World

ORIGINAL STORY: Despite the confident posture and Songkran going ahead, amid restrictions, there is a lot of background activity which suggest the authorities are getting ready for a surge of new infections at the end of the Songkran break, officially this Thursday (but in reality, next Sunday at the end of the weekend when most people who travelled home will return for a resumption of work).

The Thai lunar new year celebrations – Songkran – are the largest mass movement of Thais each year, a source for a huge leap in road deaths and accidents. And, this year, a potential super-spreader event.

Quietly, at least 3,000 extra beds have been prepared in 10 field hospitals around Bangkok. The government has also confirmed that additional field hospitals are being set up in other potential ‘hot zones’, including Phuket, Chiang Mai, Chonburi and Hua Hin. Some of them were set up last year, and since closed, and now being prepared for new positive infections.

One Thai person who had been in one of the field hospitals put together a check-list of things to take IF you end up as an invited ‘guest’ HERE.

The CCSA say they are looking for additional beds in hotels and previous state quarantine facilities (where repatriating Thais were housed for their free quarantine) to be used if needed.

This year’s Songkran had bad timing, coming just a week after a number of major clusters were identified around some of Bangkok’s popular nightlife areas in 3 key inner city districts. Even before Songkran these isolated clusters had already spread into the provinces. In the weekend before Songkran the government had already listed 37 provinces which had instigated some form of paperwork or restrictions for people who had been in any of the 3 Bangkok districts.

The government also leapt on the source of the new outbreaks – bars, clubs and entertainment venues – and promptly shut them down for at least 2 weeks. At this stage it looks likely that that ban will be extended beyond the 2 weeks and, depending on the extent of new infections following the Songkran holiday, additional restrictions will also be added.

Even today the Civil Aviation Authority published a number of new in-flight restrictions for passengers – another blow to the hard-hit domestic aviation sector.

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Chiang Mai

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half

Tim Newton

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Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | Thaiger

The TAT, ever the optimists regarding anything tourism related, even domestic tourism, predict that the Bangkok clusters that have emerged in the week before the Songkran break could reduce traffic and spending by up to half.

Today the CCSA is reporting 789 new infections and one additional death. 522 were local infections, mostly walk-ins to Bangkok hospitals, 259 were discovered through track and tracing. The remaining 8 were found in quarantine from overseas arrivals. In Phuket, another 17 cases have been reported today, taking the island’s week total to 43.

Tourism officials slash Songkran travel expectations by half | News by ThaigerGRAPH: Worldometer figures for Thailand, up to April 9

A 68 year old man from Nakhon Pathom province died on April 4 but wasn’t reported until today. The CCSA report that he died from Covid and “complications”. 33 other former patients have recovered and been discharged.

Last week the TAT estimated 3.2 million domestic trips would circulate 12 billion baht for the Thai economy. But the Tourism Authority has now slashed their estimates by half after hotels, airlines and bus companies reported mass cancellations in the last few days. Other provinces are reporting less than 20% cancellations. Although this weekend will see a lot of travel, Songkran doesn’t formally start until next Tuesday and the TAT expect there could be additional fallout as travellers decide to have a staycation for Songkran instead heading home.

Bangkok Post reports that 70% of travellers to Prachuap Khiri Khan and Hua Hin have already cancelled hotel bookings. Similar cancellations have been reported in Pattaya, Phuket and Chiang Mai. Many other provinces, particularly in the north east and north, are also enforcing quarantine on arrivals or additional paperwork to try and protect their provinces from any of the Bangkok clusters.

8 north eastern provinces rare now requiring 10 or 14 day quarantine periods for anyone arriving from areas where new clusters have been reported. Chiang Mai provincial officials say that tourists from Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Nonthaburi – basically Bangkok and surrounding provinces – must complete a 14 day mandatory quarantine or conduct a test for Covid when they arrive.

The reality is that the travel and quarantine changes are outstripping the ability to communicate them all. Anyone crossing into other provinces in the next few day, especially if you’re travelling from Bangkok and surrounding provincial ‘red zones’ can expect some additional paperwork or a Covid test. Or even quarantine.

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