Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 18th December 2013

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Lotus not yet paid Raikkonen

A glimpse at Signor Spagnolo

Sochi and F1 logistics (Updated 13:01)

Williams F1 competition

Ferrari engine launch confirmed

McLaren and the Mexican flag


Following the much publicised spat over the pit to car radio with Alan Parmane, Lotus director of trackside operations’, Kimi decided to make public comments on his gripe over non-payment by the team styating, “I’ve not had a euro this year”. He threatened not to race in Abu Dhabi and only arrived in the nick of time to participate in Friday’s Free Practice 1.

untitledThe venue which saw a great Raikkonen win in 2012 and coined a phrase or two was to be a huge disappointment for both the Finn and his team. As it turned out, an ageing Stirling Moss could have done no worse in the race, as Raikkonen’s misjudgement meant he was out at the first corner. Maybe his mind was elsewhere.

Some kind of arrangement was thrashed out prior to Abu Dhabi between the Finn and the Lotus team financer’s because Kimi told the media, “I came here only because hopefully we found an understanding on the certain issues we have been having.”

Of course Raikkonen then missed the Austin and Interlagos races following his decision to undergo necessary back surgery – earlier than was expected.

Finnish broadcaster MTV3 yesterday asked the representative of the owners of Lotus, Gerard Lopez, whether Kimi had now been paid. He replied, “Some of it, yes, we reached an agreement on the payment in Abu Dhabi.”

untitledFrom a philosophical perspective, at least Kimi is sharing in the plight of many Lotus employees, who have been paid late consistently, and may even have to wait until the end of this month for their November and December remuneration.

Lopez admits there are cash problems and payments outstanding. “There have been delays. But the amounts that I have heard [reported] are completely ridiculous”.

Rumour has it Lotus are in fact in big trouble. Some mainstream F1 media are reporting the team has huge debts, but Lopez refutes this. “I will not go into detail, other than to say that the amounts we owe are not big. We will pay, just as we always have done,”

The debts are not large ie tens of millions, when the loans from Genii are excluded. However, the investors behind Genii are looking for an exit, and the cash they have used to fund the team so far has now reached the agreed limit.

It would take a change in the terms of the investment by all parties, for further advances to be made to Lotus, and that isn’t happening. This is why Quantum was afforded such obsequious favour and why Boullier appeared on TV doing an impression of a faithful Bernese mountain dog at the side of Mansoor Ijaz.

The bad news for the Lotus team is that the term prior to the repayment for some of the capital advanced by Genii has now expired. To begin making these repayments would seriously compromise their ability to compete as they did last year,

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Rumours of a deeper Renault involvement in the Enstone team persisted throughout the year and indeed Gerard Lopez said in Spa, “We are discussing how to be closer with Renault, in whatever shape it is.”

Though with Red Bull’s preferential arrangements, the French car manufacturer is unlikely to be buying their works team back any time soon.

It may be dark times for the Lotus team, though on the bright side, the investors of Genii are unlikely to pull the plug completely – as this may see their ‘asset’ liquidated or sold for 1$.

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A glimpse at Signor Spagnolo

TJ13 reported yesterday that Antonio Spagnolo will be Kimi Raikkonen’s race engineer for 2013. Not much is known of this younf gun, however, he did work on Alonso’s car this year. Here’s a couple of pictures to help us get into the mindset of SIgnor Spagnolo.

Kimi and Spagnolo will be reacquainted in no time.

Ferrari.com confirms they had a visit this week from, “someone who shares his nationality with the best loved Father Christmas by kids of all nationalities, given that according to legend, he operates out of a base right in the north of Finland”.

(God I miss Luca Colajanni… arrgh)

Today in Maranello, that other resident of Finland, Kimi Raikkonen was on hand to meet Stefano Domenicali and the senior engineers from the Scuderia. It was an opportunity to go over the current state of play on the design of the 2014 car, as well as a chance for Kimi to meet up with many old friends who, in a few weeks time will once again be his team”

Tomorrow there is a media lunch with Il Padrino, and whispers suggest the launch of the Ferrari 2014 engine.

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Sochi and F1 logistics

It appears that even though the Winter Olympics in Sochi are due to begin in less than 2 months, there has been a logistical oversight for later in the year when F1 comes to town.

Whilst the teams ship certain items up to 8 weeks in advance to the flyaway venues, obviously the cars and key race equipment can only leave for a venue when they’ve finished at the previous race weekend.

FOM will have to ship 60 tonnes of equipment and 22 cars in its 6 Jumbo Jets as close to Sochi as possible, but the Sochi runway is too small to admit a 747 should it be raining.

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For UK F1 fans the timing of this announcement may be slightly amusing. Yesterday we heard the latest in the 40 year old debate about extending Heathrow airport – which if agreed will take forever even if the solution were be to extend the Northern runway to facilitate simultaneous take off and landing.

It was during a recent meeting between FOM logistics and the race promoter the runway problem came to light and it will now need to be extended to 3.5km, several hundred metres longer than it is at present.

The difficulty will be that the only direction possible is across the river Mzymta.

Sochi is part of Russia’s Krasnodar Krai region and the nearest other large civilian airport is in Krasnodar, the regional capital. However, the longest runway at Krasnodar is again just 3km.

The closest airport capable of admitting 747 aircraft is in Mineralnye Vody which has a runway some 3,900 metres in length, though this is a 600km drive away.

This does rather beg the question whether the FIA scheduling of the Russian GP back to back after the Japanese GP means that Sochi must necessarily go to the expense of building a larger runway because there is not enough time to haul the 60 tonnes and cars the 600km by road from Mineralnye Vody.

Oleg Zabara is bullish. “Speed, team play, accuracy and calculation are required not only for Formula 1 teams, but also for specialists who organize the race. As a promoter of Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix, we are responsible for the technical organization for the project. One of the top priorities is to ensure the equipment delivery and to organize effective logistics and operational customs clearance of cargoes. The infrastructure required is an important aspect – we are aware of our responsibility”.

Wow Olga… loving the can do attitude – tell that to the British government and Heathrow airport lobbyists….

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Williams F1 competition

I know many of you abhor twitter which is of course fine. However, Williams F1 are running an amusing competition for their followers today which I thought you may enjoy. Guess the Williams F1 drivers from their hairline….

Answers on a self addressed and stamped post card 😉

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Ferrari engine launch confirmed

Following the whisper we shared with you yesterday, Ferrari (12:30 GMT) have confirmed they will launch their bright and shiny new V6 Turbo F1 engine tomorrow at 14:00 CET.

Details to follow on how we may be able to view this

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McLaren and the Mexican flag

McLaren were forced to tear down the Mexican flags they had flying outside their merchandising booths at the Grand Prix in Austin, following a complaint from the Mexican government.

The offense caused is clear below, as a cannabis leaf appears as part of North American nation’s emblem of sovereign identity.

The cock up is now clear. The supplier of flags to McLaren, had instructed an office hand to get them an image of the Mexican flag for reproduction. The intern found this image on the internet, not realising that it had been humorously doctored.

Prior to the mistake, the intern was believed to have a excellent prospects of a career ahead of them commercial side of F1.

Now, they may have even proved themselves capable of taking over from Ecclestone to run the whole sport.

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73 responses to “Daily #F1 News and Comment: Wednesday 18th December 2013

  1. If it does become available for $1, who fancies clubbing together and running an F1 team with me? I’ve seen football clubs bought by fans, why not an F1 team?

        • Aaawww, that was the part I looked forward to the most. Fat hippo at the command center ranting away at the poor chauffeurs. Certainly more entertaining than most races this year 😉

        • If they do anything other than winning? 😊 no, i think if you’re on the pitwall you would swear the most at the drivers who are battling your own drivers 😋

      • I want to hold the dictaphone in the drivers interview area. Just so I can go ‘oh for f*** sake’ under my breath and roll my eyes ever time the words “for sure” are used in an incorrect context.

        I’m going to need throat lozengers I reckon……

        • …. also the Horner and Whitmarsh habit of buying time when asked a tricky question should be banned…. “Yes….No….”, they begin and then pause for thought ultimately giving the corporate line which is an either/or answer.

          F1 is lacking journalists who can cut to the chase like bulldog-esque Brian Woolnough (late British football writer) and this is probably because in the UK the likes of SKY is awash with ex-drivers untrained in the art of catching their prey.

          The written press with years of experience aren’t much better… and this is a legacy of the threats to their press passes should they upset anyone too important…

          There should be an independent commission who approve F1 press accreditation, not the current nepotistic system which is in place…

          What the hell is happening, when SKY are pulling critical stories of Ecclestone….. Its not worth reading a word they write as opinion anymore.

        • Hahaha, this is great Colin! I saw a feature once about the driver ‘managers’ who have the timetables and do all the interview stuff etc. it was on Seb I think. She seemed a bit like a mum, trying to get the kid to every place on time!

        • Judge – is it not the FIA that issue the press passes? It seems so far that it is Ecclestone that does it – and that he only lets those who he knows he can keep onside have one.

    • I´m in. I pick the position of first driver if you don’t mind. Paid driver, I can contribute with $0.50, half the cost of buying the team. How about that Pastor Maldonado? I choose number 9, if somebody can notify le président.

        • With Maldonado onboard, I’m pretty sure I can sign up an insurance company for sponsorship.

          • It’s not Maldonado who I’m nominating as first driver but myself. But go ahead with the sponsorship, with my experience driving Formula 1 cars I can assure you that I´ll make Maldonado look like an amateur.

  2. Sochi airport:

    Sochi is part of Russia’s Krasnodar Krai region. The other large civil airport is in Krasnodar, the regional capital, but the longest runway at Krasnodar is again just 3km. I am guessing, that the closest passable airport is in Mineralnye Vody (literally means: mineral waters) in the Stavropol Krai neighboring region. Wikipedia says they have a 3900m runway at Mineralnye Vody. Flying there could be a headache as it is many hours away from Sochi.

    • That’s just typical of FOM’s modus operandi. Do not pay one cent more than neccessary and instead push the costs towards the hosts. Instead of extending the airport to a size it won’t need very often afterwards, why not simply use a plane that doesn’t need a runway the size of Belgium? Adler/Sotchi easily takes AN-124’s, of which you wouldn’t need six to get all the junk shipped over. Four flights would do the trick. But of course chartering an AN-124 costs money.

      • Why not just hire the pilots who rescued the Dreamlifter in Wichita recently? 🙂

        Alternatively, how about a boat trip from Turkey?

        • Well, that was a dangerous stunt. They took off from a runway that was shorter than the minimum takeoff/landing requirements. Adler/Sotchi’s runway however is longer than what a fully packed AN-124 needs to land and take off and that birds takes quite a bit more payload than a B747F.

          • Actually, I wonder where the figures for runway length required come from. I don’t know what variant of the 747 FOM have, but according to Wikipedia the -200 needs 3190m and the -400 needs 3018m. This is also at maximum weight – the could easily reduce the fuel load to allow them to perfectly safely take off from a 3km runway and if necessary make a stop at another airport if their destination isn’t within range of the lower fuel load.

            The takeoff from Wichita wasn’t dangerous at all – the minimum takeoff requirements are based on a full load. As this includes around 200,000L of fuel which weighs around 160,000kg you can see that there is plenty of scope to reduce the weight well below this maximum and safely take off from a much shorter runway.

          • …I think its about 2.7km at present…

            ….but why wasn’t it done as part of the Winter Olympic logistical upgrade… definitely politics at play here…

          • The minimum takeoff requirement is calculated by the length you need to reach V1 + the braking distance you need in case of a rejected takeoff. The minimum landing distance is determined by the breaking distance without thrust reversers. Both are calculated at maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) and maximum allowed landing weight respectively. I doubt FOM are using B747-200F as those are quite old bangers by now. They either use a vanilla 747-400F, which need 3100m or longer range 747-400ERF, which need only 3.000m. Both should theoretically be able to land at AER as they’ll have burned quite a bit of fuel for the flight from Nagoya.

          • It is perfectly allowable to operate an aircraft from a shorter runway at a lower weight.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maximum_Takeoff_Weight

            If the runway is too short for takeoff at MTOW then the allowable weight for the length of runway available can be calculated and provided the aircraft is below that takeoff is permissable and perfectly safe.

            There are plenty of airports within a few hundred miles where a 747 can take off at full MTOW so if worst comes to worst they just need a short hop from Sochi to somewhere they can refuel.

          • The Dreamlifter stunt was still dangerous as the runway was too short for the weight they actually took off at. It was long enough to reach rotation speed, but in case of a rejected takeoff it would have ended in a runway excursion as there was not enough runway to brake to a standstill from V1.

          • This has actually led to a very interesting lunchtime learning more about minimum takeoff weights. Boeing themselves have this on their website:
            http://www.boeing.com/assets/pdf/commercial/airports/acaps/7474sec3.pdf
            Take a look at page 14. This shows the runway needed vs takeoff weight. It also highlights that shorter runways are necessary at lower altitudes and as Sochi is at sea level this will help things a lot.

            The longer runway at Sochi is 9482ft according to Wikipedia. Referring to the Boeing document, a 747 could take off from such a runway provided the take-off weight is under about 825,000lb at sea-level. This is unlikely to be a problem as they have over 400,000lb for fuel and payload.

          • … okay so 2890 metres – then you’re in the river….

            … Considering the engineering effort they’re going to have to make building a bridge over the river – its all rather strange…

            … who said the close season in F1 was dull

            Next TJ13 class – rocket science…. 😉

          • Page 36 shows runway lengths required for landing. The runway is a tad too short for a fully laden 747 freighter in the wet, otherwise it is plenty long enough for a landing.

          • The critical parameter is always the take off length. Landing distances are usually shorter than takeoff distances, so if a plane can take off somewhere, it can land there easily.

          • …. Mmm. Surely this is weather dependant. In blighty, we have discovered that trains struggle to stop when the wrong kind of leaves are on the track….

          • Most of the breaking upon aircraft landing is done with thrust reversers, so while landing distances get longer in the wet it’s not as dramatic as with cars or trains. Things like leaves and other contamination do not stay on a runway for any period of time. The usually stop landings for a while and clean the runway regularly in tricky conditions, while aircraft circle in the holding pattern.

          • Sorry to pedantic, Judge, but it isn’t trains stopping that is the main problem during leaf-fall season, it is the fact that the leaves break the electrical continuity between the train and track meaning it disappears from the signalling system. The safety protocols mean they can’t send a train in to a section of track unless they know it is clear so when a train disappears it causes them problems.

            Trains do slide on the laminated leaves but that is quite easily fixed with a bit of sand.

          • … Pedantic is fine…. though I’m not so sure the traction problem is easily fixed. It appears this causes a lot of disruption and remedial action.

            It’s the case that in the UK a number of rail companies change their timings and publish special “leaf fall timetables”.

            The cryptic nature of rail company explanations for slippery rail and related phenomena has led to the phrase “leaves on the line” becoming a standing joke, and, along with variants such as “the wrong type of snow”, is seen by members of the public who do not understand the problem as an excuse for poor service.

            Particularly problematic local trees include the sycamore, lime, sweet and horse chestnut, ash, and poplar, which regrow or coppice after cutting back, and have large, flat leaves, which stick to the line and cause severe slippery rail. Other types of tree that cause problems are quick-growing, pioneering trees, or those producing a substantial amount of leaves. Poplars are particularly troubling because they tend to shed limbs.

            The current term for cutting down or cutting back trees near the lines is “lineside vegetation management”.

            In 2013 Greater Anglia reported that the compressed leaves had resulted in a “teflon-like substance” which has baffled scientists. Attempts to mitigate this phenomenon with gels have failed to provide enough traction to provide safe passage.

            Railways’ mitigation measures generally involve some system to jet or blast the accumulated deposit away, or to coat it with a high-friction material. Blasting is usually carried out with water jets, often in combination with mechanical scrubbing apparatus. The coating method usually involves depositing sand in a paste on to the rail; as the sand may exacerbate the risk of unwanted insulation, the sand mix sometimes contains ferrous particles. The coating is applied from special trains (colloquially referred to as “Sandite” trains after the original proprietary mixture applied) and in some cases locally by hand.

            Both of these processes are effective for a limited duration; the jetting method is ineffective as soon as the next leaf falls; the sand deposition method is more durable, although rainfall usually removes the deposited sand quickly.

            Train handling is modified in areas and at times when leaf fall is expected; sharp acceleration and braking are avoided. In the UK a special, somewhat less congested, timetable is published and operated at these times.

            Removal of deciduous trees at the lineside is a management method to control the problem; however, there is political resistance to this in populous areas. (Wiki)

            😉

          • A few things to add, and forgive me coz it’s 3am with 1 more work day before my hols start (and I won’t mention that I’m a wee bit inebriated 😉

            First up, Danilo. Understand that English is not your first language so take this as friendly education not a swipe – “braking” is retardation of speed, “breaking” means you can’t use the aircraft again (my flight instructor told me the definition of a good landing is one you walk away from – a great landing is one you can use the aircraft again after).

            Secondly, again to Dan (you have some good knowledge of aviation). Did you ever wonder about the definition of minimum takeoff runway lengths, given that once you hit V1 you’re committed? Remember Concorde?

            Lastly, the restriction on the Sochi runway is (as Dan has already pointed out) more than likely not on the landing but on the takeoff. Meaning, they could make it happen with less cargo, more flights (even to the nearest acceptable runway), but who would foot that bill? If it’s FOM then Bernie will complain ’til the cows come home – those guys from CVC will be destitute soon if we allow any extra expenses into the business!

      • Really enjoyed this comments thread, it’s technical shit like that that really get my juices going LOL, that’s where my true interest in F1 lies, with the cars. I see them as things of beauty, to be admired. Especially the really quick ones, they are marvels of engineering. The drivers are just a necessary evil……..

        • I completely agree with you except for the driver part. They are high tech machines too. Idk if you ever saw how they train both physical and mental. But in my opinion there aren’t any top sporters who are a bigger package. A footballer doesn’t have to be smart and mentally prepared, as long as he kicks the ball in the goal (or keeps it out of his own goal) everybody is happy. But these days drivers are much more than someone who can turn a steering wheel.

          • The driver comment was very tounge in cheek. Drivers are indeed top flight athletes on par with marathon runners and cyclists. Jenson Button, no matter what anyone’s opinions of him might be, is one fit dude, no doubt about it. They train hard and diet hard to do their jobs and sacrifice a more ‘normal’ lifestyle in persuit of the dream.

            Hats off to em.

    • Another option would be Gelendzhik Airport north of Sotchi by the way. it has a 3.100m runway, which should be enough for a 747 freighter.

        • Well, I think they most likely also hope to attract more charter flights from the far east reagions. Prime candidates for that would be Transaero with their old 747 bangers. So far such flights were limited to 767’s or had to be split onto smaller planes at Moscow. Just read on a russian site that the runway extension was already planned before the F1 date was fixed.

          • …. So some political ‘heel dragging’ in Russia over this extension means Sochi representatives get Ecclestone to schedule the race as it is, to force the runway extension up the agenda….

          • I wouldn’t put it past them. Putin is pouring quite some money into Sotchi at the moment, so they might have tried to increase the ‘urgency’ of the extension to get their hand on some of Putin’s extra money as opposed to having to pay it all by themselves when Olympia is over.

          • I subscribe to the NYRB and there was an article in September about Sochi and the Olympics. The article is here: http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/sep/26/putins-downhill-race/
            but most of it is currently behind a paywall. Still, the bit that is readable is entirely worth your time and does begin to make one wonder a bit. If your Honor is interested, and not a subscriber, I can try an email a copy of the full article to you. Or anyone else who’s interested 😉

          • Ughh hate Amazon right now (my subscription is through them). Still working on it. Just a question of whether my blood pressure gets me or I figure it out first LOL

          • Cheers. Looks like Putin is now trying to end any possible ‘slaps in the face’ before the games begin! Khodorkovsky to be freed, Arctic 30 to be freed, Pussy Riot to be freed..

      • But with those new heavy V6 engines, they probably will need the full spec length runway to be able to take off 🙂

  3. I’ll start the guessing…

    1) Webber
    2) Bottas
    3) Hill
    4)
    5) Montoya
    6) Rosberg
    7) Mansell
    8) Zanardi
    9) Prost
    10) Coulthard

    • No 1 looks more like Alan Jones to me, and I thought No 4 could possibly be Thierry Boutsen?

      • I think you’re right about no 1, that’s Alan Jones. No 4 though is definitely Daly. Boutsen had the hairline on the other side.

    • Well I was supposed to be prepping a presentation tonight but the science of plane takeoff, the truth behind leaves on tracks, Putin’s follies and driver hair dos have been infinitely more attractive. This site just gets better and better!
      My guesses:

      1. Alan Jones
      2. Bottas
      3. Hill (Damon)
      4. Rosberg (Keke)
      5. Montoya
      6. ?????? Was Roger Federer ever a little-known f1 driver? Or maybe Susie Wolff trying to hide a bad hair day? 🙂
      7. Mansell
      8. Piquet (Snr)
      9. Prost
      10. Coulthard

  4. Re: Sochi.
    Not as bad as CART travelling to Texas Motor Speedway to find out that drivers couldn’t stay conscious after 10 laps or A1 GP travelling to Beijing to find out that a hairpin was too tight to allow the cars to turn, but for what has happened in the last days nobody can say that Formula 1 isn’t trying.

    • What about today: “FIA bans Formula E testers from driving the series”
      Minutes later: “Formula E tester Lucas di Grassi quits role”

  5. I always found the Heathrow runway argument a bit puzzling, why not just put another one in at Gatwick and Stansted, and also build a better rail link to Stansted (while the debate on HS2 continues)? There’s loads of fields around Stansted for one. Barely any housing would be affected there. It seems like the Gatwick one could work as well with minor disruption. But then there’s the problem of getting from Gatwick to central London..

    Airport planning is a funny thing. Who would put the London hub airport at Heathrow… I think it was an old RAF site? Also, where Manchester Airport is situated, there was an old RAF site just nearby with space for expansion of runways; RAF Burtonwood could have been a hub airport for the whole North West, perfectly situated half way between Liverpool and Manchester. But, instead there is a separate small Liverpool Airport now by the old RAF Speke.

    And it seems they could just stick more runway over the M25 and make a ‘double-runway’ anyway? Well, if it solves the problem of knocking down some villages to the north, they might as well just do that.

    • Lestyn I cannot agree with you more on this one. Anyone on the South side of London has a very awkward job of trying to get to Stansted. Driving is long and the train connection is terrible.

      The problem with Stanted is the surroundings being villages and countryside. The airport should never have been built there in the first place. It’s the reason why they’ve had so many controversies over people parking in nearby villages for a week when they go on holiday. Very hard to limit this, as yellow lines in a tiny village is madness.

      For my money (and perhaps a slightly off the wall proposal), we should have a big airport in Milton Keynes. No landscape to ruin as it is full of warehouses.

      • So (following on from below) linking Stansted properly to the system (it has excess capacity for now, post-recession), and reversing the biggest Beeching cuts like no rail line between Oxford and Cambridge should probably be a higher priority.

        Also, linking the north up better would be good (Liverpool to Leeds is faster by car than rail I think, but Newcastle via York is good). The ‘original rail line’ Liverpool to Manchester is 45 mins on the fast line and 1 hr 15 on the slow line.. could be most of the way to London instead of being on that one!

        Looking at Stansted, I saw that it was meant to be the hub airport for London (1951), but the cabinet decided on Heathrow instead. I’m guessing they were looking at old RAF sites suitable. Stansted has a lot of fields and space around it (and even a site that looks like a grass runway, with space for a full runway and separate buildings etc. nearby), so I can understand why it was considered. It does seem a bit far out, and better suited to being a small relief airport, like Luton, Southend etc. but parking in the villages sounds barmy; there are enough fields nearby, just turn a few into extra airport parking!

        I think your idea for a Milton Keynes hub is good actually – and there is good infrastructure to MK as well as it is so new and planned out? I guess our problem is that with no hub, we are short of space for big flights, while having excess capacity for smaller flights with so many medium sized airports.

        I guess we might see the northern Heathrow runway extended now over the M25 and thus double usage of the runway (after a take-off, a landing immediately after behind it) to in effect have ‘3 runways in the space of 2’! Knocking down a whole village is too impractical to achieve for another Heathrow runway. But noise (I’m under the Liverpool airport flight path, 10 miles out from the runway, notice planes occasionally but it’s no biggie, actually it’s a nice reminder that there are other places out there) could be reduced via technical innovation (‘feathers’ on the wings).

        • The problem is they are greenbelt and therefore protected. Luton would make sense yo expand as the old city Thameslink rail is super quick getting there

    • Forgot to add….
      Gatwick would be tricky to extend as much of the land around is estate owned, or similarly protected. The train links are not an issue. I can say this with experience, it is easy to get directly to London Victoria in 40 mins

      • I asked my friend who takes flying lessons and wants to be a pilot one day, and he said that Gatwick actually already has two runways?! Just that the inner one is too close to the buildings/plane moorings. Sounds like that could be made into a dual runway setup by just moving the buildings and plane moorings back or around to somewhere else? But, he said the other thing is that no one really wants to fly into Gatwick (bigger flights I’m guessing, not short-hauls and chartered).

        True, the train to central London is good.. I was thinking about car trips via Croydon (not much motorway), but perhaps that is not an issue. I went to London from Liverpool on the train the other month and at just over 2 hours I didn’t think that was too long a trip. So, I can’t see why HS2 is needed asap, except for capacity (rail use is definitely increasing)..

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