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The new generation of F1

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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The new generation of F1 | The Thaiger

PHUKET: Far from the boiling heart of Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur, wrapped in the steamy green of endless palm oil plantations, lies another heart. It doesn’t beat all the time like the city, but when it does, it pounds hard and loud and forces adrenaline to course through the veins.

Sepang International Circuit, found 13 kilometers from Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA), is the heart that pumps fuel through the arteries of the potential 80,000 racing fanatics and speed junkies that the venue can hold. Inaugurated in 1999, the track hosts a number of big-ticket racing events, including the Moto GP Malaysian Grand Prix, A1 Grand Prix, Formula One Malaysian Grand Prix and a number of other major races.

The 5.5km-long track is known for its unusual design and environmental challenges that the cars and drivers are confronted with. High temperatures, high humidity and frequent precipitation pose unique problems for racing teams to solve.

This year’s F1 Malaysian Grand Prix saw racing teams with a whole new host of challenges to contend with, as many F1 fans are certainly aware of. Coming off the heels of a seven-year stint utilizing 2.4 liter fuel injected V8 engine configurations, the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA) has changed many of its stipulated rules, including the engine designation. Now, teams representing Mercedes, Ferrari, Lotus and more, have had to go back to the drawing board to see what they can squeeze out of a 1.6 liter turbo-charged direct injection V6.

To further complicate the vehicles, which are considered the crowning glory of open-wheeled racing cars, the FIA has also deemed it necessary to double the output of the energy recovery system (ERS). Implemented in 2009, the ERS has a similar function to regenerative braking systems found in consumer hybrid vehicles. Previously, the system provided about 80 horsepower for 6.67 seconds per lap – now those numbers are up to 160 horsepower for 33 seconds per lap, leaving it up to teams to carefully develop strategies for finding the appropriate time to take advantage of this extra power.

Formula One racing regulations have undergone drastic changes in the 2014 season. Photo: Jeremie Schatz

The regulations have undergone more changes, both mechanically and physically, such as a minimal weight that is 49 kilograms heavier, variations in body structure, different exhaust specs and, notably, a maximum fuel usage per race and flow per hour. This last change is quite the contrast compared to the unlimited fuel consumption allowed before, to the 100kg per race cap that is now enforced.

In case you haven’t gleaned the message from all of the latest regulatory changes, the new generation of F1 racing is about doing more with less. Efficient. Fast. Smart. This is the new mantra. Are people accepting the changes with open arms? Not so much. A big complaint, somewhat surprisingly, is the different sound of the engines. A smaller turbo-charged engine sounds much more like a screaming jet than the roaring gurgle of the previous V8s. This may be a judgment being passed by those who are only watching the races on TV, but I can assure you, they are plenty loud in person and certainly continue to exude a sound of raw power, but perhaps more refined.

Contrary to prior concerns, the cars continue to be ridiculously fast, reaching speeds upwards of 300km/h. Although lap times are slightly slower, drivers are still settling in to the new cars and honing the strategies which will enable them to utilize the cars to their full potential. After all, the Petronas Grand Prix at Sepang was only the second race of the season.

So what makes racing at Sepang challenging? To start with, the track is located in equatorial jungle which is blistering hot most of the time. The huge turbos, which can push 50psi, which is three to four times that of a consumer turbo-charged car, have to work harder to build compression as air density is inversely proportional to temperature. Of course, the entire engine will run hotter, reaching upwards of 900-degrees Celsius, making many aspects of efficiency, reliability and power production difficult to control and maximize.

The tropical humidity found at Sepang is palpable, to say the least, and poses another hurdle for teams to contend with. The day before the Grand Prix saw drivers racing in the qualifiers in 33-degree heat accompanied by an oppressive 94 per cent humidity. Even when it is not raining, which it often does to the dismay of all involved, the track is slick and subjects drivers to a learning curve in order to adapt their braking, acceleration and cornering to the reduced traction.

CELEBRATION: Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg douses teammate Lewis Hamilton following their seond and first place finishes at Sepang on March 30. Photo: Jeremie Schatz

The racing world is buzzing, or maybe shrieking, about all of the new changes and regulations. Some are concerned that Formula One is being reduced from an adrenaline-drenched, head-to-head, elite racing showdown to an over-conservative procession of sissy-sounding Prius’ burdened by stifling regulations.

However, there are a variety of perspectives to view these changes from. Yes, the engines are smaller and quieter, but the end result is a greater weight to power ratio than before. Drivers have access to a considerable amount of extra power that they must use sparingly and strategically. And maybe the cars aren’t as loud, but it is a sound with purpose… and they are still painfully loud in person. F1 racing is far beyond raw, furious power. It is full of strategy and sophistication, and the new sound is the refined auditory representation of the product from the world’s leading automotive engineers.

The new bodies are not only works of art, but safer. The fuel restrictions show two things: that the FIA isn’t afraid to change and continue to develop the sport despite the naysayers, and that instead of force-feeding fuel to big engines, they aim to prove that engineers have the ingenuity to create machines that can do the same thing, if not more, while consuming considerably less. The fact that teams were previously allowed eight engines per season, which has now been reduced to five, further reinforces this point.

There you have it. Things have changed, and maybe F1 is now less like arm wrestling and more like chess. Some will hate it, but some will interpret the next generation as a step towards the future. They will lose some followers along the way, but those who can appreciate the sport’s desire to push the limitations of the latest technology to the limit will witness the evolution of intelligent automotive racing unfold.

— Jeremie Schatz

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Patong

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms

The Thaiger

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Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | The Thaiger

by Sophie Deviller

Hotels on Thailand’s most popular holiday island are being forced to slash prices, with rooms left vacant and beaches sparse as Thailand’s tourism chiefs struggle with a plunge in Chinese visitors caused by the US trade war and a stronger baht. Phuket was the most visited destination in the country last year, after Bangkok, and a good gauge of the state of its crucial travel industry.

Tourism accounts for 18% of Thailand’s gross domestic product and Chinese holidaymakers make up more than a quarter of total arrivals. But while 2.2 million people from the country visited in 2018, according to official figures, the numbers for January-September were down almost 20% year on year.

Claude de Crissey, the French Honorary Consul in Phuket and owner of about 40 rooms in the Patong Beach area, says Chinese tourists are usually present even during the current low season.

“That was not the case this year,” he said, adding he had to lower his prices by as much as 50%.

The problem is not only in Phuket, with hotels also struggling to fill rooms in the seaside resort of Pattaya on the mainland and on Koh Samui.

Trade tensions with the US have already made some Chinese reluctant to take holidays owing to uncertainty back home, while the Thai baht has risen about 10% against the yuan this year.

A boating disaster off Phuket’s coast that killed 47 Chinese holidaymakers in July 2018 also scared some off.

“We are worried,” said an industry insider, declining to be named due to the sensitivity of the topic in a country where tourism provides tens of thousands of jobs. Adding to the headache is the fact that more than 3,000 new hotel rooms are being constructed on the island, raising the question of who will fill them.

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

“In terms of business, it’s not good,” said Kongsak Khoopongsakorn, vice-president of the association of hotels in Thailand and director of Vijitt Resort.

“Because … we have more hotels, more rooms to sell, we have more restaurants, more coffee shops.”

Still, tourism authority chairman Yuthasak Supasorn said he remained “optimistic.”

“We should reach our goal of 39.8 million foreign visitors.”

However, that is only up from 38.2 million in 2018, much less than the jump seen from the previous year’s total of 35.6 million.

Counting on India

Now hoteliers and tour package operators are targeting visitors from elsewhere, particularly India, which experts see as a huge untapped market.

A rapid expansion of the middle class in India, increased direct flights and visa-free travel have prompted Thailand to revise forecasts upwards.

It now expects two million Indian tourists this year, after an increase of nearly 25% on-year in the first seven months. But for now, the lower arrivals is evident on the streets of Phuket.

“I’ve never seen anything as bad as what it is at the moment,” said Paul Scott from Australia, who said he has been coming to Thailand for 15 years.

He mainly blamed the stronger baht for the drop-off but also the fact that Thailand wasn’t the untouched vacation paradise it once was. “Now it’s not so new … and it’s not cheap,” he said.

SOURCE: AFP

Phuket hotels slashing the price of rooms | News by The Thaiger

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Events

The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners

The Thaiger

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The 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle fun run attracts more than 4,000 runners | The Thaiger

4,000 runners from Thailand and overseas took part in the 15th Mai Khao Marine Turtle Fun Run and Half Marathon 2019 yesterday, starting from the Phuket Gateway.

The event is expected to raise 700,000 baht for the charity, now in its 15th year. The money raised goes towards to The Mai Khao Marine Turtle Foundation, which is committed to protecting the marine and coastal environment, and ecosystems, for the wellbeing of sea turtles that nest in the Mai Khao beach and the surrounding areas.

The annual race also provides funds for thePhuket Marine Biological Centre’s Injured Turtle Rehabilitation Program and The Third NavalArea Command’s Turtle Hatchery Program.

The race was in its 15th year and runners of all ages and abilities took part in the race. The morning’s racing was divided into five categories – the 21.1km half marathon, 10.5km mini- marathon, 5km fun run and 3k family run and VIP participants for all the races. The route of 21.1 kilometre race took runners northwest along the Haad Sai Kaew beach towards Thao Thepkasattri bridge, past the rural road No. 3006, run along the road – Pi Lai viewpoint area returned back along the T. Baan Tha Nun to the iconic Sarasin bridge before finished the half marathon in the Phuket Gateway.

For Mini Marathon 10.5 km – Over all category, Mr. Chinnawat Changlek clocked 39 minutes and 40 seconds to clinch victory in the male half marathon, winning prize money and a trophy with the signature of Phuket’s Governor. The winner in the female mini marathon was Surakarn Wanna with a time of 47 minutes and 47 seconds.

Winners also received a prize gift voucher as well as a medal. Congratulations to all participants.

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Events

‘Phang Nga Bay and Beyond’ exhibition by Marilyn Band at Mom Tri’s WOK Gallery Kitchen in November

The Thaiger

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‘Phang Nga Bay and Beyond’ exhibition by Marilyn Band at Mom Tri’s WOK Gallery Kitchen in November | The Thaiger

The Art exhibition “Phang Nga Bay and Beyond” by Marilyn Band is being held at Mom Tri’s WOK Gallery Kitchen, Chalong, Kata Hill, Phuket from November 30, 2019 – January 31, 2020. The opening will take place on Saturday November 30, 2019 at 6.30 pm.

Artist’s Statement

“For the current exhibition, I am presenting recent work, a more abstract expression of Phang Nga Bay’s beauty, which intends to encourage the viewer the opportunity to interpret and appreciate a little bit of paradise. I am quite excited about these more abstract works as it has allowed me to explore the essence of these limestone monuments in the bay.

“I find the natural world a beautiful, magical place. My paintings are inspired by many sea voyages. Though based on reality I try to introduce my own feelings and vision which will delight others.”

Biography

Marilyn Band has been creating art since childhood, influenced by a family who surrounded her with paintings and the creations of several generations of her ancestors who were famous stained glass artists. She went to Florence, Italy for life drawing and then went on to study graphics at High Wycombe Technical College in Buckinghamshire, England and started her career as a graphic designer in a variety of advertising agencies in London.

On Holiday in the Seychelles, she met her future husband, Nick Band, and they have been sailing around the Indian Ocean and SE Asia for more than forty years allowing Marilyn the chance to draw and paint the now disappearing tropical cultures from Zanzibar to Sri Lanka to Phuket, and beyond.

She arrived in Phuket in 1980 and immediately built a studio that has been the center of her art projects. Between sea voyages and other travels, Marilyn has become one of Phuket’s most significant artists with one person exhibitions at Mom Tri’s Boathouse and Villa Royale Galleries.

She has also designed and developed the graphics for the island’s world famous Phuket King’s Cup Regatta media.

She continues to explore new avenues of self- expression in acrylic, oil, watercolour, ink, collage and silkscreen.

'Phang Nga Bay and Beyond' exhibition by Marilyn Band at Mom Tri’s WOK Gallery Kitchen in November | News by The Thaiger

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