Sebastain Vettel to drive F1 Ferrari through Milan as part of festival

The German four-time World Champion will drive his Ferrari through the heart of the city as part of the F1 Milan Festival.

Sebastain Vettel to drive F1 Ferrari through Milan as part of festival
Sebastian Vettel and his Ferrari will be driving around Milan's city centre this week. Photo: Vladimir Simicek/AFP.

The celebration of Formula 1 in Milan will take place from from Wednesday August 29th to Saturday September 1st and is scheduled to coincide with the weekend's Grand Prix in the northern Italian circuit of Monza. 

“The F1 Park will offer a live car run in an unprecedented city circuit, giving fans a unique opportunity to experience the thrill of seeing modern F1 cars up close on the streets of Milan,” reads a statement about the event in Milan released by Formula 1. 

The celebration of racing cars will take place in the Darsena area of Milan amidst the ancient yet recently-restored Navigli quarter.

The Navigli quarter takes its name from the two canals that run through it: the Naviglio Pavese and the Naviglio Grande, partly designed by Leonardo Da Vinci.

The F1 Live racing, in which visitors will be able to see the Formula 1 drivers and their cars racing through the heart of Italy's fashion and business capital Milan, will take place on Wednesday August 29th starting at 4.25pm in the Piazza XXIV Maggio (details here).

Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Räikkönen and other drivers will race their cars around the city centre's streets for the first time.

Classic racing cars will also be on parade on Wednesday afternoon. From Thursday August 30th to Saturday September 1st events are scheduled from 6pm to 11pm. 

Besides exhibition racing by some of the sport's leading drivers, the F1 event in Milan  – the city home to motor racing brands such as Alfa Romeo and Pirelli – will feature “events, music and iconic installations.” The F1 House, a hub on the chosen grounds, will also host “DJs and personalities from the world of sport, music and entertainment,” every evening.

The event is open to the public and free entry, according to a press release by Formula 1. Milan is the fourth city to welcome the racing car festival after London, Shanghai and Marseille. 

READ MORE: Steve McQueen's family sues Ferrari over use of actor's image



From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla’s giant Berlin car factory

In the green forest outside Berlin, a David and Goliath-style battle is playing out between electric carmaker Tesla and environmental campaigners who want to stop its planned "gigafactory".

From lizards to water, eco-bumps snag Tesla's giant Berlin car factory
Tesla's gigafactory outside the doors of Berlin. dpa-Zentralbild | Patrick Pleul

“When I saw on TV that the Tesla factory was going to be built here, I couldn’t believe it,” said Steffen Schorch, driving his trusty German-made car.

The 60-year-old from Erkner village in the Berlin commuter belt has become one of the faces of the fight against the US auto giant’s first European factory, due to open in the Brandenburg region near Berlin in July.

“Tesla needs far too much water, and the region does not have this water,” said the environmental activist, a local representative of the Nabu ecologist campaign group.

Announced in November 2019, Tesla’s gigafactory project was warmly welcomed as an endorsement of the “Made in Germany” quality mark – but was immediately met with opposition from local residents.

Demonstrations, legal action, open letters – residents have done everything in their power to delay the project, supported by powerful
environmental campaign groups Nabu and Gruene Liga.

Tesla was forced to temporarily suspend forest clearing last year after campaigners won an injunction over threats to the habitats of resident lizards and snakes during their winter slumber.

READ MORE: Is Germany’s Volkswagen becoming ‘the new Tesla’ as it ramps up e-vehicle production?

And now they have focused their attention on water consumption – which could reach up to 3.6 million cubic metres a year, or around 30 percent of the region’s available supply, according to the ZDF public broadcaster.

The extra demand could place a huge burden on a region already affected by water shortages and hit by summer droughts for the past three years.

Local residents and environmentalists are also concerned about the impact on the wetlands, an important source of biodiversity in the region.

Tesla Street

“The water situation is bad, and will get worse,” Heiko Baschin, a spokesman for the neighbourhood association IG Freienbrink, told AFP.

Brandenburg’s environment minister Axel Vogel sought to play down the issue, saying in March that “capacity has not been exceeded for now”.

But the authorities admit that “the impact of droughts is significant” and have set up a working group to examine the issue in the long term.

The gigafactory is set to sprawl over 300 hectares – equivalent to approximately 560 football fields – southwest of the German capital.

Tesla is aiming to produce 500,000 electric vehicles a year at the plant, which will also be home to “the largest battery factory in the world”,
according to group boss Elon Musk.

In a little over a year and a half, swathes of coniferous forest have already been cleared to make way for vast concrete rectangles on a red earth base, accessed via the already iconic Tesla Strasse (Tesla Street).

German bureaucracy

The new site still has only provisional construction permits, but Tesla has been authorised by local officials to begin work at its own risk.

Final approval depends on an assessment of the project’s environmental impact – including the issue of water.

In theory, if approval is not granted, Tesla will have to dismantle the entire complex at its own expense.

But “pressure is being exerted (on the regulatory authorities), linked to Tesla’s significant investment”, Gruene Liga’s Michael Greschow told AFP.

In early April, Tesla said it was “irritated” by the slow pace of German bureaucracy, calling for exceptions to the rules for projects that help the environment.

Economy Minister Peter Altmaier agreed in April that his government “had not done enough” to reduce bureaucracy, lauding the gigafactory as a “very important project”.

Despite Germany’s reputation for efficiency, major infrastructure projects are often held up by bureaucracy criticised as excessive by the business community.

Among the most embarrassing examples are Berlin’s new airport which opened last October after an eight-year delay and Stuttgart’s new train station, which has been under construction since 2010.

Brandenburg’s economy minister, Joerg Steinbach, raised the possibility in February that the Tesla factory could be delayed beyond its July planned opening for the same reason.

SEE ALSO: Tesla advertises over 300 jobs for new Gigafactory near Berlin