The final countdown has begun with less than a week to go before the start of a 3-day weekend of F1 Powerboat racing in London.
After an absence of 33 years the F1H2O U.I.M. World Championship returns to the Royal Victoria Dock in Newham, East London.
Over the course of the event, which runs from Friday to Sunday 15th – 17th June 2018, a total of 20 drivers from 9 teams and representing 12 countries will undertake free practice, followed by Saturday qualifying and culminating in the Grand Prix on the Sunday.
In addition there will be 2 races featuring drivers taking part in the F4-S championship which acts a feeder class for new drivers alongside other demonstrations.
The F1H2O boats are single-seater, enclosed cockpit, tunnel-hull catamarans that are made out of carbon fibre composite material. The boats are 6 metres long and weigh 390kgs and each has a Mercury 2.5 litre engine generating approximately 400 HP which gives them a top speed of 220km/h (136mph).
The main viewing area for the racing is along the dockside near ExCeL London and tickets can be obtained here but there are numerous other vantage points around the Dock.
The same part of Royal Victoria Dock was also used for a different class of Powerboats to do some drag racing back in 2014 – some details can be seen here.
The following video has been produced in association with volunteers from the Heritage Newham group and sets the historical context behind this event and further videos will be produced during the event.
Update 15th June 2018
Today is the first day of the F1H2o London race weekend with technical scrutineering and driver briefings taking place during the day followed by a free practice session later this afternoon.
The event in London is notable as being the first time that F1H2O powerboating will run a 100% carbon offset Grand Prix and they have teamed up with Treedom to plant new trees around the world to increase the amount of carbon absorbed from the atmosphere.
Marking the historical connections of this event, which was last run London’s Royal Docks back in 1985, included the attendance of four-times Powerboat champion Jonathan Jones who also won the 1985 London Grand Prix. He is still involved in the event as a TV Commentator and event ambassador.
During the buildup to the actual Grand Prix on Sunday afternoon there have also been a number of demonstration runs taking place in the Royal Victoria Dock using a 2-seater powerboat to give invited guests the chance to experience the speed and power of these boats.
Update 17th June 2018
So Saturday was Qualifying Day for the F1H2O powerboats but we also had the first of the weekend’s two races of the F4-S class of powerboats, these are a slightly smaller boat with a less powerful engine and the F4-S class is designed as an introductory class for more junior / less experienced drivers.
The race course in the Royal Victoria Dock is the most challenging on the race callender due to the tight confines of the water space and the fact the water gets very choppy – this leads to plenty of thrills and spills.
There was plenty of close racing as the boats headed to the Canary Wharf end turn and the boats are very fast and maneuverable
.The drivers were not holding back…
Unfortunately there were a couple of incidents in which the conditions got the better of the drivers but the safety features of the boats are well designed and the Osprey rescue crews are well practiced and very efficient – all drivers safe and well (and only small amounts of repair work needed on the boats).
Then it was time for the bigger, more powerful, F1 powerboats to take centre stage to undertake qualifying for the Sunday Grand Prix. Qualify takes place in three stages to find the fastest driver on the day.
As with any qualifying session being on track in the right place at the right time is critical and so the pit lane was a busy place to be.
With lots of high speed boats on a short circuit there was plenty of action to see.
This is a short video clip showing the powerboats leaving the pits and then taking part in qualifying.
Eventually after all the spray had settled it was confirmed that the pole sitter for the 2018 Powerboat Grand Prix of London would be Erik Stark driving the number 74 boat of Maverick F1 Racing – looking forward to the race now!!
As this is a major event for London, and one that has lots of historical connections for the Royal Docks area, alongside #dlr_blog we also have volunteers from Heritage Newham covering the event – in this video British four-times powerboat champion Jonathan Jones explains the features of an F1 Powerboat.
Update 18th June 2018
So, the waters of the Royal Victoria Dock have returned to their normal state of quiet emptiness with just the Sea Cadets doing their training courses.
However, yesterday London was privileged once again to be the host city for an international F1 motorsport event – it had been a wait of 33 years but the 2018 F1H2O Grand Prix of London didn’t disappoint.
The afternoon of racing started off with the second of the F4-S races, F4-S being a feeder category for less experienced drivers,
At the end of the race German driver Max Stilz racing the #46 boat for Blaze Performance emerged as the winner – making that 2 from 2 at the London event.
This video shows some of the action from the F4-S race.
Then it was time for the main event – the F1H2O Grand Prix of London. The London circuit was a throw-back to the early days of Powerboat Racing with a small, confined, track with constantly changing water conditions (made more exciting given it was quite windy too) – to win in London in 2018 it would take exceptional skills as a driver.
This video gives you an insight in to the sights and sounds of F1 Powerboat racing.
The race was fast and furious and there were plenty of good vantage points for ticket holders and the general public alike. Everyone was treated to the sound and smells of 16 very high powered F1 Powerboats racing around the Royal Victoria Dock are very close quarters – few other venues on the calendar offer that experience.
After nearly an hour of racing a winner emerged – it was the pole sitter Sweden’s Erik Stark racing for Maverick F1 Racing Team. He was followed across the line by Philippe Chiappe in second and Peter Morin in third. both driving for the CTIC F1 Shenzhen China Team.
The winner thanks his team and celebrates the win.
The winner reflects on the race and the top three drivers prepare for the press conference.
During the press conference Stark was asked what it was like to be racing at high speed so close to the concrete dock walls – his response was that he hadn’t noticed them!!
Thank you to F1H2O for bringing top flight Powerboat Racing back to London and hope to see you next year.