What an incredible weekend for motorsport. A great deal of which was snuggled up in front of the television, while trying to rid myself of a cold and a bad back.
Le Mans and an Obsessive Sickness
Boo hoo me, etc… I don’t get too many opportunities to shout at televisions and when Allan McNish and Mike Rockenfeller crashed hard in separate incidents on Saturday, I shouted like an abusive 4-year-old.
Come the chequered flag point at Le Mans, I had notched up nineteen hours in front of the television (including pre and post race); something that is clearly not healthy. (It is still shy of the 21-and-a-bit hours I managed a couple of years back, but it is really not something that should be attempted too often.)
Add in a Grand Prix and a delayed flight on top of that and one may understand my frazzled mood. Perhaps next year I will just go to the great race instead – it least there will be plenty of fresh air.
Beyond that, a few bits of news flew around the place, only for exhaustion to render them meaningless at the time.
Block and Pirelli
One such announcement was the revelation that Ken Block – of Gymkhana fame – is to get behind the wheel of Pirelli’s Formula 1 test car at Monza on August 5.
Also at the test will be Pirelli’s current full-time tester, Lucas di Grassi. The Brazilian will be running in the modified Toyota during the two previous days as the tyre company assesses its latest compounds and developments.
Block currently runs a partial schedule with Ford’s Monster World Rally Team in the WRC, scoring a best finish of 9th in the Rally Spain last week.
This year has been somewhat more frustrating for the Californian – after competing in four of the six rounds so far, Block has yet to score a point and even crashed out prior to Rally Portugal.
Until last year, the Gymkhana star also competed in the Rally America Championship, taking ten victories and finishing runner-up in the series twice; however even this is something of a different prospect for Block.
“I’ve been lucky enough to do some pretty spectacular stunts in my career so far, but this is something else! Everybody talks about Formula One being the pinnacle of world motorsport so I can’t wait to discover it for myself. I’m very grateful to Pirelli, which has been one of my partners since 2010, for this amazing opportunity.
These cars are so specialised that I need to be realistic about what I can do, but I know that it’s going to be a lot of fun and take hooning to a whole new level.”
Block was in Montreal all weekend in preparation for the announcement, only for it to be overshadowed somewhat by one of the best Grand Prix in recent memory.
Something tells me there’s a YouTube video in this somewhere.
Topsy Turvy Bahrain
More important was the eventual cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix. Considering the potential reaction from sponsors and associates (let alone fans), this wasn’t too much of a shock.
Admittedly I did like the teams’ angle, that logistical and insurance issues were the biggest hurdle to re-instating Bahrain and moving the Indian Grand Prix. What a brilliant way to have the race removed without bringing any actual politics officially into the equation. Bullet dodged.
Regardless of the eventual outcome, Formula 1 and the FIA came out of this debacle looking very, very dirty.
This decision may yet need to be ratified by the teams by means of a vote, although Bernie Ecclestone’s assertion that votes may be taken by fax was probably one of the funniest things I have read in a very long time.
This kind of technology puts the DRS and KERS to shame – it almost makes me wish for a return telex.
British Formula 3
Apart from all that, Carlin-pair Felipe Nasr and Kevin Magnussen topped the two days of British Formula 3 testing at Rockingham last week ahead of this weekend’s fourth round at Brands Hatch.
The test was dominated by Carlin, with Nasr pipping Magnussen, Pietro Fantin (Hitech Racing) and Rupert Svendsen-Cook (Carlin) by less than two-tenths on day one.
Carlin’s sixth pilot, Jack Harvey, missed the day due to exams, while British Formula Ford racer Garry Findlay took Riki Christodoulou’s Hitech seat.
Day two saw Magnussen on top ahead of Carlos Huertas (Carlin), with Fantin taking 3rd once again and Jazeman Jaafar (Carlin) in 4th. Fortec’s William Buller also gatecrashed the Carlin party. The Northern Ireland racer stole 5th ahead of Nasr and Svendsen-Cook.
GP3 regular Alexander Sims joined Sino Vision Racing in place of Adderly Fong, recording the 8th best time. The Briton will be sitting in with the team over several sessions, in order to offer feedback to the team regarding their Mercedes-powered Dallara car.
Both Harvey and Christodoulou returned to the fore to record the 9th and 15th best times respectively. Remarkably the top 16 were all covered by a single second by the end of the second day.
Alas, Brands Hatch may be my last British F3 race for a while. The sheer stretch of budgets and continuing travel problems (i.e. – I can’t drive) may leave the summer European rounds out of my grasp this year.
Maybe. Maybe not. I suppose we’ll just have to see.
British Formula 3 In-season Testing (Rockingham, June 7th) Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Felipe Nasr Carlin Dallara-VW 1m12.687s 2. Kevin Magnussen Carlin Dallara-VW 1m12.830s + 0.143s 3. Pietro Fantin Hitech Dallara-VW 1m12.843s + 0.168s 4. Rupert Svendsen-Cook Carlin Dallara-VW 1m12.857s + 0.170s 5. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW 1m12.969s + 0.282s 6. Carlos Huertas Carlin Dallara-VW 1m13.047s + 0.360s 7. William Buller Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m13.085s + 0.398s 8. Scott Pye Double R Dallara-Merc 1m13.184s + 0.497s 9. Lucas Foresti Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m13.238s + 0.551s 10. Menasheh Idafar T-Sport Dallara-VW 1m13.293s + 0.606s 11. Harry Tincknell Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m13.402s + 0.715s 12. Pipo Derani Double R Dallara-Merc 1m13.747s + 1.060s 13. Hywel Lloyd Sino Vision Dallara-Merc 1m13.750s + 1.063s 14. Adderly Fong Sino Vision Dallara-Merc 1m14.206s + 1.519s 15. Yann Cunha T-Sport Dallara-VW 1m14.209s + 1.522s 16. Fahmi Ilyas Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m14.461s + 1.774s 17. Bart Hylkema T-Sport Dallara-Mugen 1m14.816s + 2.129s 18. Garry Findlay Hitech Dallara-VW 1m15.584s + 2.897s 19. Kotaro Sakurai Hitech Dallara-Mugen 1m16.502s + 3.815s British Formula 3 In-season Testing (Rockingham, June 8th) Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap 1. Kevin Magnussen Carlin Dallara-VW 1m12.633s 2. Carlos Huertas Carlin Dallara-VW 1m12.689s + 0.056s 3. Pietro Fantin Hitech Dallara-VW 1m12.705s + 0.072s 4. Jazeman Jaafar Carlin Dallara-VW 1m12.890s + 0.257s 5. William Buller Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m12.892s + 0.259s 6. Felipe Nasr Carlin Dallara-VW 1m12.962s + 0.329s 7. Rupert Svendsen-Cook Carlin Dallara-VW 1m12.963s + 0.330s 8. Alexander Sims Sino Vision Dallara-Merc 1m12.982s + 0.349s 9. Jack Harvey Carlin Dallara-VW 1m12.985s + 0.352s 10. Scott Pye Double R Dallara-Merc 1m12.987s + 0.354s 11. Hywel Lloyd Sino Vision Dallara-Merc 1m13.130s + 0.497s 12. Menasheh Idafar T-Sport Dallara-VW 1m13.137s + 0.504s 13. Harry Tincknell Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m13.193s + 0.560s 14. Lucas Foresti Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m13.222s + 0.589s 15. Riki Christodoulou Hitech Dallara-VW 1m13.364s + 0.731s 16. Pipo Derani Double R Dallara-Merc 1m13.655s + 1.022s 17. Fahmi Ilyas Fortec Dallara-Merc 1m14.038s + 1.405s 18. Bart Hylkema T-Sport Dallara-Mugen 1m14.182s + 1.549s 19. Yann Cunha T-Sport Dallara-VW 1m14.207s + 1.574s 20. Kotaro Sakurai Hitech Dallara-Mugen 1m15.981s + 3.348s