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“F1: For Kubica and the Fairytale, the Dream is Over”

Robert Kubica’s decision to leave Williams at the end of this season may prove to be the final hurrah for the Polish driver.

It is a sad epilogue for a driver who looked so promising and whose potential was unfulfilled.

The writing has been on the wall for quite some time. Such has been the colossal gap between Williams F1’s two drivers – Robert Kubica and George Russell – this season, it was looking desperately unlikely that the Pole would be retained for 2020.

Reports from Poland say that Kubica’s move from Williams may be a joint decision between the driver and his key sponsor PKN Orlen; however, both are looking for further opportunities at the top level of the sport. Whether that is as reserve or development driver with another team is unknown at this stage.

Should Kubica find a reserve/development seat with another F1 team, it does leave open the door for Pole to pursue at DTM drive for 2020 following discussions Kubica’s management recently had with Audi’s top brass.

It is a shame that Kubica’s F1 career may be ending in such a way. Prior to his accident at the Ronde di Andora rally in February 2011 – which partially severed his right arm – Kubica had taken one Grand Prix and was seen as a driver who could have been Poland’s first world champion.
Kubica’s recovery was slowed when he broke his leg a year later, but in 2013 he returned to second-tier rallying in the WRC2 class, before a stint in the European Rally Championship a year later. He progressed to the top level in the WRC in 2015; however, while he showed speed, he appeared to lack the finesse and the control often associated with rallying’s best and crashed numerous times as a result.
Toward the end of that bruising season, a colleague of Kubica mused that he was sometimes trying to drive the rally car as if it were a circuit racing car.

Kubica took part in the Monte Carlo Rally in 2016, before moving back to racing in GT3 competition, before testing the ByKolles LMP1 car with a view to racing in 2017, although he split with the team prior to the opening race of the WEC season. It is not known whether the ByKolles car was on fire at the time or not.
The Pole returned to F1 in 2017 and tested with Renault and later Williams and while the former declined to take the tests any further, Williams signed Kubica as reserve driver for 2018, before being promoted to the race seat at the start of this season.

In returning from such devastating injuries, Kubica displayed a tenacity and determination that could only impress. The background of his story may always be a case of “what could have been”, but the manner in which he fought against all odds to return to motorsport’s top category was truly fascinating and a incredible to watch.

Kubica’s departure increases the likelihood that Formula 2 racer Nicholas Latifi will move to a race seat Williams next year, with the Canadian bringing sponsorship from his father’s food company Sofina Foods Inc. among others.
Latifi has 24 of the required 40 points for his Super Licence and is currently sitting 2nd in the Formula 2 standings – albeit a long way adrift of championship leader Nyck de Vries – meaning the Canadian should have more than enough points to qualify to race in F1 next year {note 1}.

Whether Latifi’s promotion will result in expanded financial commitments from Sofina Foods (etc.) remains to be seen, but if nothing else, it would certainly prove a boost for a team who have been struggling for several years now.
There is no doubt that Latifi is a fine driver, but I have yet to be convinced that the Canadian is at the level of George Russell, although Latifi has impressed somewhat in the free practice sessions that he has driven in.

As an aside, Latifi’s father, Michael, controls Nidala (BVI) Ltd – an investment company that in 2018 invested £200 million in the McLaren Group.

{note 1}
Latifi only requires a 5th place finish in the F2 standings to qualify for a race Super Licence, a position he could solidify with ease at F2’s penultimate round in Sochi next weekend.

“F1: Haas re-sign Grosjean”

American Formula 1 squad Haas F1 have re-signed Romain Grosjean, continuing a partnership with Kevin Magnussen for the 2020 season.

With seats disappearing fast, it is a move that pushes Renault refugee Nico Hülkenberg to the sidelines.

Romain Grosjean has signed for another year with the Haas Formula One team, despite what has been a trying season to date for the Frenchman.

Grosjean – a former GP2 Series champion – has only scored eight points thus far in a year hammered by a problematic car and several notable run-ins with teammate Kevin Magnussen.

As such the team has dropped from 5th in last year’s Constructor’s Championship and currently languishes in 9th position – ahead of only Williams – with just seven races left this season.

With an option to maintain Magnussen for another year, Haas’ decision to re-sign Grosjean seems to be based on the desire for consistency at a time when the American squad has stumbled somewhat.

According to Team Principal Guenther Steiner, “Experience, and the need for it, has been one of the cornerstones of Haas F1 Team, and with Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen racing for the team in 2020, we continue to have a driver line-up that offers us a solid platform to continue our growth.”
Steiner added that, “Their understanding of how we work as a team, and our knowledge of what they can deliver behind the wheel, gives us a valued continuity and a strong foundation to keep building our team around.”

Haas have not been shy about the relative lack of performance an inconsistency of the VF-19 machine, to the point where Magnussen and Grosjean ran two different specifications of the car at several Grand Prix this year in order to gain an understanding of where their performance has fallen away. “It’s been a tough year for us in 2019 with the fluctuation in performance of the VF-19,” continued Steiner. “Our ability to tap into our combined experiences will help us learn, improve, and move forward as a unit in 2020.”

Despite this, there has also been plenty of criticism of Grosjean’s performances this season. While the VF-19 has proven inconsistent, Magnussen has clearly made the best of the situation, whereas Grosjean has repeatedly fallen behind or become involved in several incidents, particularly with his teammate
This opened the door to questions regarding Grosjean’s future and with 2015 Le Mans winner Hülkenberg cast aside by Renault for 2020, there was speculation that the German racer would move to Haas to race alongside Magnussen.

If nothing else, it appears that Steiner may have looked to Hülkenberg’s performances through recent seasons and concluded that there was not enough there to move Grosjean aside. It is a situation not too similar to that faced by Ferrari in recent seasons. For all the calls that Kimi Raikkonen was past his best, there were no available drivers thought to be good enough to do a better job – Grosjean and Hülkenberg included.
Alas, such is the strength of the talent pool in Formula One’s midfield at the moment, few of the veteran’s truly stand-out and those who do are either locked into long term contracts or are linked to manufacturer teams (or both).

As noted here previously, while Hülkenberg is certainly a driver of some quality, he is perhaps guilty performing just well enough to defeat teammate, while his stints at Force India and Sauber earned him a spot in the permanent lower points scoring division. From 170 Grand Prix starts, Hülkenberg has still scored no podiums and has fallen behind 2019 teammate Daniel Ricciardo as the Australian has found his feet.

Impressions of Youth (or “The Variables that Deposit Themselves Upon the Youth of Today in a Manner Unlikely to Win Friends, Enemies or Influencers”)”

It is also conceivable that – having borne witness to Haas’ performance this year – Hülkenberg may have opted out of a potential drive with the American team; however, if that is the case, then he may also have shut the door n his Formula One career.
There are possible seats at Alfa Romeo and Williams; however, it is thought that either Robert Kubica or Nicholas Latifi will take the Williams drive, while the list of drivers fighting over the Alfa seat is long.

All that aside, one can’t help but think that 2020 may be Grosjean’s last hurrah. A new generation of drivers is coming through the lower divisions – as seen with the promotions of Lando Norris, George Russell, Alexander Albon and (relative rookie) Antonio Giovinazzi.

Grosjean stated that, “I’ve always stated that it was my desire to remain with Haas F1 Team and keep building on the team’s accomplishments. Having been here since the very beginning and seen the work both Gene Haas and Guenther Steiner put into the team to make it competitive, I’m naturally very happy to continue to be a part of that.”

“DTM: Rast makes it two from three”

© DTM. René Rast took a 2nd DTM title.

Rene Rast reclaimed the DTM crown in stellar fashion at the Nürburgring this weekend, as rivals Nico Müller and Marco Wittmann stumbled.

This year’s DTM was always going to go one of two ways – it could have been an ultra-close-knit three-way fight for the crown, or it would turn in a moment, gifting the title to Rene Rast with not much fanfare.

Sadly, it was the latter.

That the crowning of Rast came on a difficult weekend for Müller and Wittmann merely emphasised the matter somewhat. At the Nürburgring, Rast was – for the most part – imperious, as he maximised his resources, while others floundered.

And he does seem so unflappable. When events have not gone Rast’s way, his demeanour tends to be calm, but still with a serious glint. In the open – at least – there is rarely drama, toys are not thrown, and petulance is absent.

One could argue that Assen was Rast’s weakest round of the season, with the champion taking a 3rd and 5th place finishes, despite starting on pole and the front row in the weekend’s two races. Whereas he did retire from races at the Hockenheimring, Zolder and Lausitzring, he also won races on each of those weekends and took several points from qualifying as well.

Yet tyre struggles at Assen hampered Rast somewhat, dropping him down the order relative to his usual finishing positions. When a driver still manages to score a podium on what might be considered his weakest weekend of the season, that is the form of a champion.
It has often been said that tight championships like DTM are decided by which driver makes the most of the bad weekends. One could also look to Pascal Wehrlein’s DTM title in 2015 and come to the same conclusion.

But let’s not underestimate Rast. He is, after all, also a multiple Porsche Carrera Super Cup and Carrera Cup Germany champion and an ADAC GT champion, as well as an overall winner of the Spa 24 Hours and the Nürburgring 24 Hours and a class winner at Le Mans and the Daytona 24 Hours.

Even when Audi’s struggled early on in 2018, Rast emerged as the leading man for the four rings and even then, still only just missed out on the title to the departing Gary Paffett, despite Rast ending the season with six consecutive wins.

Amidst all this, Müller, too, has stepped up. The Swiss racer has taken the consistency he began to show in 2018 and stepped it up as Audi’s RS5 DTM became the series’ primary performer. Such has been the upturn in performance, Müller’s went from achieving a few 10th place finishes, to scoring more significant points and podiums by year end.
This year, he finally began to turn those performances into victories, but it still wasn’t quite enough and for all his improvements, Müller will need to take yet another step next year if he wants to challenge Rast.
If nothing else, Müller must be disappointed that on the weekend Rast took the title, he did not feature or finish as strongly as he had at earlier rounds, leading to something of a damp squid conclusion.

For BMW’s Wittmann, realistically, the championship had begun to slip after the second race at Brands (he finished 10th) but was dented further by a 4th and a 6th at Lausitzring, while the leading pair of Audi’s won a race each.
It put the German in a position where he would have had to blitz race wins across the final few rounds, but that has never really been Wittmann’s style – he has often been a consistent runner, taking big points and podiums wherever possible. The kind of driver who was often just there at the end of each race.

On the appearance of 2019, “just there” may not be enough for BMW in 2020.

© DTM. Audi Sport Team Rosberg celebrate victory.

“F1: Leclerc – the Prince of Monza”

GP ITALIA F1/2019 – DOMENICA 08/09/2019
credit: @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

In winning last week’s Belgian Grand Prix, Charles Leclerc raised notice to Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel that change was coming.

By repeating that success at Monza seven days later, the Monegasque became the Scuderia’s new leader in Ferrari’s heartland.

“There are no words to describe the emotions I felt during the race, after the race, or on the podium. It felt ten times stronger than anything I have ever experienced in my whole career. It was very special.”

Raw nerve and steel. If any four words could best describe the last ten days of Charles Leclerc’s life and career, those four would be quite apt.

From taking pole at Spa-Francorchamps, to the tragic death of friend and Formula 2 racer Anthoine Hubert, to victory under pressure from Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton, Charles Leclerc succeeded.
But to then take yet another pole – albeit amidst chaotic circumstances – this time at Monza, to securing victory in front of the Tifosi, this time being chased by both Mercedes’ in turn, Leclerc has come out on top of it all.

Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, these two races were Grand Prix that even pre-season looked like they might favour Ferrari. However, pre-season was six months ago already and prior to arriving in Belgium, the Italian team looked well beaten.

In the end, Ferrari made the most of the straight-line advantage, but it certainly didn’t produce the utterly dominant pace that was expected during testing in February and March. They certainly were not quick enough to escape the Mercedes’ but given the season the German marquee have had thus far, that will doubtful surprise.
That the anticipated “third team” – Red Bull – had claimed two victories before Leclerc achieved success is indicative of just how off the mark pre-season predications have been.

What was originally thought to be a fight between Mercedes and Ferrari for top honours week-in/week-out has, for the most part, been a bit of a Hamilton benefit, with the other Mercedes of Valtteri Bottas playing occasional guest star alongside the two Ferrari’s and Max Verstappen.
Were it not for Pierre Gasly’s poor form in the first half of the season, this might have turned into a tense fight for 2nd in the Constructor’s Championship, but alas that has not been the case and Ferrari now face an easy run to the runners-up spot, as the Formula One circus departs Europe for events abroad.

Leclerc’s run since Canada – Hockenheim error aside – has been very impressive and – as noted last week – his mistakes of before are becoming less common, whereas Vettel’s continued dip… continues.

Let’s be clear on this though, Leclerc has learned. He took some hard lessons from Austria when Verstappen mashed him to one side in order to take a late win and the Monegasque was not prepared to let that happen again.
At certain times during the race, Leclerc displayed a certain toughness in his defence against the Mercedes and it something that Hamilton and co will certainly be far more aware of now.

Those who saw the race will instantly think of the 24th lap, when Hamilton on medium Pirelli tyres – having stopped at the end of lap 19 – closed right up on Leclerc, who had changed to hard tyres a lap later.
Such was the chase, at nearly at the halfway point in the race, Hamilton was just four-tenths shy of Leclerc, having shadowed him closely in the initial portion of the race. Emerging from the Parabolica corner at the end of the previous lap, Leclerc lost some pace getting by Renault’s Nico Hülkenberg, while Hamilton slipped by with the aid of DRS on the start/finish straight moments later.

Showing his nose on the approach to the Retifilo chicane, Hamilton also showed his intention and with the slipstream working in his favour, the Briton closed in around the long lingering Curva Grande and was on the outside of Leclerc on the approach into the Roggia chicane – not alongside, but certainly three-quarters of the way there.
As Hamilton edged into view, the Ferrari pulled to the right slightly, removing the gap from Hamilton and forcing the Mercedes wide on to the run-off area. There are two ways to view this of course – one: Leclerc moved across and denied Hamilton racing room; or two: Hamilton as the attacking driver has the capability to brake as well as accelerate. “Since Austria it’s clear that we can go a bit further in the way that we defend and overtake and yeah, just the aggressivity of us drivers,” commented Leclerc.

It is debateable as to whether Hamilton could have made the move stick or if he would simply have run out of road, but either way, the message was clear: you shall not pass. That toughness that Leclerc learned about in Austria had now become part of his own armoury, with the Ferrari man adding, “I believe that Austria helped me to change this approach and today it’s also thanks to this that I’ve managed to win. It was obviously very on-the-limit but… yeah, I’m happy to race like this.”
Hamilton, while initially furious over the radio, seemed somewhat sanguine following the race. “Yeah, it’s just racing, I guess. I had to avoid colliding with him a couple of times, but I guess that’s how the racing is today. You just move forwards…”

With both Hamilton and Leclerc locked in battle, and rarely more than a second apart, strategy played a part, with Hamilton’s gamble for an earlier stop failing to overhaul the Ferrari.
Although the Mercedes racer had the better initial pace – a result of medium vs hard tyres – Hamilton’s inability to get by Leclerc would eventually bring Bottas into play. As the leading pair played out their fight and with no one challenging from behind, Bottas stayed on what would be considered to be the optimum strategy.
Inevitably Hamilton’s earlier stop would potentially see his pace fall away in the later laps – it did – while Ferrari’s move to the slower hard tyres left Leclerc under threat from the rear, but with the possibility to run a solid pace to the end (also true).

Bottas, meanwhile, stopped for new mediums on lap 27, allowing a free and easy run to the flag. Having fallen some five seconds behind the Leclerc/Hamilton squabble, Bottas settled into a pace in the early-1’23s, matching the front runners. That gap would inevitably shrink as Bottas’ pace held and – in particular – Hamilton faded. Leclerc lost pace too, but not by so much that he would be overhauled.
The change came on lap 42 when a mistake by Hamilton – overshooting the Retifilo chicane – saw him take to the escape road, allowing Bottas to move in 2nd place and challenge the leader.

This was not Bottas’ first attempt to take Hamilton. From the start, both Mercedes’ challenged the polesitting Leclerc into the first corner, with Hamilton on the inside and Bottas on the outside and the Ferrari-man firmly in the middle. “I was giving everything I could for the win,” Bottas said.

As the first crucial metres unfolded, Hamilton began to run out of room on the inside, as Leclerc took the racing line, causing the five-time World Champion to check up slightly, giving Bottas a run to take 2nd on the exit. Yet as the chicane unravelled, the boot was switched to the other foot – now as the outside of the corner became the inside of the corner, Bottas too had to lift-off slight, allowing Hamilton to accelerate earlier and reclaim 2nd spot.

Thereafter the Finn sat in wait, but when 2nd position did eventually come back to him, Bottas hit the same brick wall that Hamilton had for so many laps before him. “The tricky bit was that they were so quick on the straights. It required us to be so close in the corners that it was not really possible to follow, leading the straight, and also getting issues with brakes locking up once getting so close to the car ahead.”

Bottas had one significant opportunity in the final six miles. With just two laps left on the books, Leclerc made a slight mistake exiting the Roggia chicane, gifting Bottas a chance to close on to the tail of the Ferrari.
Staying close, Bottas used both the slipstream and the DRS to bolt himself on to the rear of Leclerc… only to run too deep in the Retifilo chicane on lap 51. “I was pushing hard, so what can I say? Just not quite enough.” Such was the time loss in that one mistake, it all but confirmed Leclerc’s and Ferrari’s victory. “It felt amazing. I have never had a podium with… I’ve never been on a podium with so many people underneath it,” claimed a jubilant Leclerc. “To see that the whole straight was full of people – mostly red – 99 per cent red – was great to see. Yeah, as I said earlier, hearing them cheering, singing was just… a lot of emotions.”

This new aggressive Leclerc is also one that will endear him to the Tifosi – a fandom that still sing the praises of Gilles Villeneuve, Nigel Mansell, Jean Alesi, Gerhard Berger, Fernando Alonso and, of course, Michael Schumacher.

One never quite gets the feeling that the Tifosi feel the same about Vettel, particularly now that his stock is dropping. Although a race winner in red, there has seemingly been a marked distance between the four-time World Champion and the Scuderia’s fanbase, and the distance is now growing.
Never moreso than on Sunday. Having played 2nd fiddle to Leclerc at Spa-Francorchamps last week, Vettel seemed somewhat distant in the early laps at Monza. While the gulf in time was not hugely significant, there did not really seem to be a time when from 4th Vettel would challenge the leading pair.

His spin, unaided, through the second part of the Ascari chicane on lap six was clumsy; however, his attempts to re-join the track as traffic approached must be marked as one of the most astonishingly stupid recoveries performed at a Grand Prix track in a long time.
On one hand, it is not unreasonable to note that Vettel was somewhat unsighted to his left-hand side due to the high cockpit sides and safety structures, yet his re-joining of the circuit blind, during which he narrowed the width of the road to a few metres, before hitting the rear of Lance Stroll was both astonishing and amateurish.
That Stroll did the same thing moments later – sending Gasly flying off the road – despite having complained of Vettel’s action, was quite typically Stroll.

Having damaged his front wing in the incident, Vettel took to the pits at the end of the sixth tour and ran toward the second half of the field for the duration and was eventually lapped by the leaders on the 33rd lap. In the end, Vettel came home a distant 13th place…

As Leclerc and Bottas made their final bids for glory, Hamilton pitted again, this time for used soft tyres. With no challenger from behind, the time loss was insignificant, and it allowed for the Briton to have a final dash for fastest lap, which he duly took – one more point for the driver who is still the odds-on favourite for the title.

It is unlikely that it mattered. All eyes were on the red car out front. A 2nd victory for Leclerc in Ferrari colours and he did it at the most important venue of all. “The first stint was quite controlled,” said Leclerc after the race. “The second stint was a bit less strong on my side, because I had to focus on the car behind me a lot as the gap was closing. It was very difficult, and I had a lot of pressure on me.
“Finally going on the line, I let go all my emotions through the radio. I don’t think you can understand anything that I have said on the radio, but it felt absolutely amazing, and the podium also. It’s going beyond all the dreams I’ve had since I was a child. To see so many people cheering for one team, singing all together, it’s amazing.”

The 21-year-old has placed himself as both the figurative and literal team leader at Ferrari, with this result propelling Leclerc ahead of Vettel in the championship standings. On his current form, it does not seem likely that will change any time soon.

Leclerc wins at Monza. © Scuderia Ferrari

“F1: Is Ferrari’s Inner Fight Already Over?”

Incredible as it may seem, August 26th marked a year since Sebastian Vettel last won a Formula One Grand Prix, when he triumphed at Spa-Francorchamps.

In that year, his form has been blighted by errors and a marked loss of form, while new teammate Charles Leclerc goes from strength-to-strength.

But is this the continued sign of a driver frustrated with his lot, or one limping toward the end of his Formula One career?

GP BELGIO F1/2019 – DOMENICA 01/09/2019
credit: @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

If one happened to be a Ferrari fan, the 2019 season would not have made for the prettiest of readings.

Naturally, Charles Leclerc’s emotionally charged victory would have raised the heartbeat somewhat, particularly as he so expertly kept Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton at bay in the final tours.
But for the most part, this year has proved disappointing for the Italian squad. Considering they were talking and being talked up as the team to finally take dethrone Mercedes, helped largely by the 2019 evolution of their power unit, for the most part have been disappointing.

There have been potential shots of victory that have gone away – Bahrain, Monaco, Austria, and Canada come to mind – yet there has been a notable change in form, as it has been Leclerc who has generally shone for Ferrari.

For far too often, Vettel has been absent. With former teammate Kimi Raikkonen now with the Alfa Romeo team – formerly Sauber – Vettel‘s position as the primary driver has been threatened and following Leclerc’s Belgian success, may finally have been overturned.

There are still the occasional flashes of brilliance. During June’s Canadian Grand Prix, Vettel was exceptional for the most part, but as the race aged, Hamilton closed in and Vettel cracked under pressure.

Again.

Just as he had at Hockenheim last year, just as he had at Singapore the year before that and just as he had during his final year with Red Bull Racing in 2014, when he was outperformed by Daniel Ricciardo.
The German racer may have taken 1st position on the road on that day in Canada – only to lose it when he received a five-second time penalty for re-joining the track too forcefully in front of Hamilton when the Briton pressed Vettel beyond his capabilities.

His off whilst defending against Hamilton earned him a controversial penalty that gave the Mercedes driver victory and left Vettel and Ferrari seething, but the takeaway from the incident was that Vettel had erred yet again.
It had been an excellent performance up until his mistake, but it did not mark a return to permanent form. Alas, one Swallow does not make a summer.

Until now, Vettel’s experience has helped keep his head in front of Leclerc in the points and arguably, with more nuance, Leclerc may well have been heading Vettel. The young Monegasque driver has made mistakes – crashing during qualifying for Baku being the most obvious – but in general pace, Leclerc is looking stronger now and the 32-year-old Vettel may finally be feeling the push.

As the European season draws to a close, Leclerc sits 5th in the points standings, trailing Vettel by just 12 points, with Red Bull’s Max Verstappen a further 12 points ahead in 3rd place.
Both positions are up for grabs and while Verstappen may press harder against the charging Ferrari man, Vettel comes across as a driver already beaten.

On Sunday, for the first time in recent memory, Vettel played wingman to another racer – certainly a far cry from the charging driver who became embroiled in the “multi-21” fiasco with Mark Webber in 2013.
At Spa yesterday, Vettel spent laps 28-32 keeping Hamilton at bay, allowing Leclerc to build a decisive gap that would eventually win him the race, while Vettel would eventually drop behind to assume 4th place.

Next weekend’s race at Monza is expected to be the final track this year that will favour Ferrari’s outright speed. Should Leclerc continue to show the kind of pace he has so far and beat Vettel again, it’s not inconceivable that their positions will in the points standings will swap.
But that would merely be a formalisation of what may have already taken place within the team.

© Ferrari

“Thoughts on Anthoine Hubert and Humanity”

Death, with its noble inevitability, strikes hardest when it so suddenly silences youth in its prime.

Yesterday was a reminder that science and technology, for so long chaperones and guardians in our sport, cannot always protect.

When fate’s hand casts those guardians away, then death’s almost prosaic brutality becomes exposed.

And then everything stops, and the pantomime that are life’s joys and squabbles are bequeathed to mourning.

I met Anthoine Hubert on several occasions – firstly during his time in the FFSA backed Formula 4 championship in France and then again during his stint in the European F3 Championship in 2016 when he drove for van Amersfoort Racing.

Admittedly, there were times that I found him difficult to place. With little of the funds necessary to rise through the annals of motorsport, I did wonder just how far he could make it before reaching the ceiling.

His more recent connections with the Renault Sport Academy finally offered up the possibility and opportunity that he otherwise may well have missed and at the age of 22 and with reverse grid victories in the Monaco and France Formula 2 rounds, there were indications of the potential that lay beneath the surface.

There was still so much to unlock, but the possibilities…

Anthoine Hubert was affable, kindly and good natured. He loved motorsport and he loved racing. He will be greatly missed by his loved ones, friends and colleagues – my thoughts are with them all.

“F1: Thoughts on Gasly, Albon, Red Bull and Maturity”

Alexander Albon. © Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

Monday’s announcement that Alexander Albon was to replace Pierre Gasly at Red Bull Racing may not have been the biggest shock in the world, but its timing most certainly was.

With Monday morning came another change in Red Bull’s Formula One roster, as Alex Albon and Pierre Gasly swapped seats at Red Bull and Toro Rosso.

It marked an early shift in the Formula One driver market. A move, of some sort, had been expected, but not until the end of the season; however, British Grand Prix aside, Gasly’s continuing poor performance – particularly when compared to his race winning teammate Max Verstappen – proved impossible for the Red Bull top brass to ignore.

On the other side of the paddock, the likeable Albon has proved something of a revelation at Toro Rosso. While not soundly beating his experienced teammate Danni Kvyat, Albon has shown enough speed, nuance and intelligence to prove that he is a race driver of high calibre – something that wasn’t always obvious as he rose up the junior ranks.

Through these years, Albon did a reasonable job, but rarely showed himself to be an out-and-out star. From his sole year in Formula 3, he took five podiums with the returning Signature team and showed himself to be quick. It was form that followed through his time in GP3 and Formula 2 as well – numerous race wins and podiums, but there was little to say he was heading for a top seat in Formula One.

And yet, with Toro Rosso, Albon has for the most part looked at home. The definition of his inner speed is improving and his understanding of the task at hand must not be understated.

But… it still feels very soon. Let’s not forget Albon’s Formula One career is after all only twelve races old. The Anglo-Thai racer is still a young man and is still developing and maturing.
In partnering Verstappen, Albon needs to be careful that the swimming pool he has just dipped his toe into is not filled with piranhas and sharks looking for blood. His performances will be closely scrutinised, but if he can keep to a reasonable measure of performance against Verstappen, then he may be in a position to carve a career at Red Bull.

“The Prince of Motorsport: B Bira”

However, factors outside of his control will also be playing their part. There is little doubt that the Albon/Gasly swap plays against Sebastian Vettel’s rumoured return to the Red Bull team, following a stint at Ferrari that has left him damaged.
Should Albon not perform to the required level, will he be moved aside and if so, what to do with Gasly should he still be seen as destabilised material with Toro Rosso? And were Vettel to return, would that further demotivate and disenfranchise both Toro Rosso and the junior programme as a whole?

Beyond their Formula One quartet (Verstappen and Kvyat included), the Milton Keynes based squad and their little sister team from Faenza, near Bologna, are running short on spare drivers that can promptly move to Formula One should the need arise.

For now, there are a total of nine drivers in the Red Bull young driver programme, but only three – Jüri Vips, Liam Lawson and Yuki Tsunoda – have the possibility of entering Formula One in 2020 on the basis of accumulated Super Licence points {note 1}.
Having dropped Dan Ticktum following a disappointing start to the Super Formula season (and an undistinguished part-season run in Asian Formula 3), Red Bull imported Patricio O’Ward from IndyCar to take his place; however, the Mexican O’Ward has no Super Licence points to his name {note 2}. Even then, there is a big question as to whether they would be remotely ready for such a leap – my belief is “no”.

Such is the focus on Super Licence points, the value of maturity has been all but forgotten. Drivers need to grow, to develop and mature – not just as racing drivers, but as people – so that they can acknowledge, process and properly deal with events that happen in and around them at such an extraordinary pace.

Back in 2014, Carlos Sainz’ situation was a rare one indeed, as he was allowed the space to evolve as a person and that evolution and gradual maturing did as much to save his young career as did his Formula Renault 3.5 title. That helped hugely when it came to dealing with the consequences of Verstappen’s promotion ahead of him to Toro Rosso.

Meanwhile for Gasly, this marks not just a very public demotion, but deeply difficult time. Whereas the Frenchman showed well at Toro Rosso last year, it is difficult to gauge just how to good that performance was, given then teammate Brendon Hartley’s difficulties with the 2018-generation Formula One car.
For now, how he deals with this demotion is just as important as the results he can obtain on the track. Should he re-align his head, he could get his career back on track; however, if he struggles to accept his new place in the order and his performance continues to suffer as a result, then his career could be finished very quickly.

Like Albon, there is little doubt that Gasly is a very quick driver; however, his stints in GP2 and Super Formula in 2016 and 2017 respectively took some time to come alive.

Yet underlying all of these movement is the concept of development and maturity and the manner in which it is lacking from the Red Bull’s driver development programme and many of its competitors therein. Not everyone absorbs the world by the age of 18.

{note 1}
Jüri Vips has accumulated Super Licence 22 points over the course of the past two years and he would require a 3rd place finish in the FIA Formula 3 Championship standings to qualify – he currently sits 2nd in points.
Of the three that could go to Formula One, he has the most relevant experience. Liam Lawson and Yuki Tsunoda could also qualify for a Super Licence, but both are desperately far from ready to make the move.

{note 2}
Although O’Ward won last season’s Indy Lights series, there were not enough full-time competitors in the category for Super Licence points to be applied. He will also not qualify for any Super Licence points from 2019, as he is required to complete 80% of a qualifying championship’s season in order to earn them.

“DTM: Wittmann takes Brands race one victory”

BMW racer Marco Wittmann closed in on DTM championship leader Rene Rast today, following victory at the opening Brands Hatch race of the weekend.

The double champion only just edged Rast over the line, taking the win by a mere 0.3s from his Audi rival.

Nico Müller – currently 2nd in points – ended the race a solid 3rd position.

From pole position, Wittmann initially dropped to 2nd place behind the fast starting Paul di Resta (R-Motorsport Aston Martin); however it was quickly deemed that the Scot had just jumped the start, earning di Resta a five second pit penalty for his mandatory stop.

Until his stop, the Aston racer stayed out in front, with Wittmann holding station and keeping the gap to approximately 0.5s, until di Resta pulled off for his stop on lap 16, with the additional five seconds stationary costing di Resta at least seven positions.

Wittmann had already pitted at this stage, having stopped on lap 14 – a factor that came close to altering the final outcome. Emerging on the periphery of the top ten, Wittmann rose back through the order as others pitted for new Hankook’s.
A spectacular move splitting the tyre-worn Jamie Green (Audi) and freshly pitted Rast through Paddock Hill Bend, followed by a slip by Bruno Spengler (BMW) temporarily slowed Wittmann’s progress on the clock, but gave him a few more positions. As final stoppers Robin Frijns (Audi) and Philipp Eng (BMW) pulled away for new rubber, Wittmann took the lead with Rast chasing, some 5.9s adrift with 24 laps in the books.

With two-thirds of the race in the bag, this was proving a vital save for Rast, who had started poorly, with a different starting procedure and wheelspin dropping the 2017 champion from 2nd to 4th by the first turn. Rast changed his Hankook’s one lap after Wittmann – enduring a sluggish stop – but like his German rival, garnered several positions as strategies un ravelled around them.

For a time, it seemed as if the gap between Wittmann and Rast was going to stay at the 5s-5.8s mark, only for the gap to reduce slightly as race entered its final six laps. With four tours to go, that shrank to under five seconds for the first time, before Wittmann dropped another 1.8s and 1.6s in the next two laps.
As the battling duo started the final tour, Wittmann led by 1.4s, as Rast visibly gained on the BMW with each turn, but it would not be enough. As Rast charged hard exiting Clark Curve, Wittmann moved across the racing line to disturb Rast’s efforts and held the lead as they crossed the line to take a close and hard-fought victory.

Behind the Wittmann/Rast battle, Müller secured the final podium position, albeit some eight seconds adrift and with a further seven seconds of a gap behind him. Starting 8th, Müller took three places at the start, but stopped early on, as his Hankook’s began to fall away in the early tours.
It proved a clever strategy. Once his tyres came to temperature, Müller set a good pace, eventually gifting the Audi racer several positions as those ahead set slower times on aging tyres. Müller found himself ahead of Rast once the latter stopped, but could not hold the championship leader at bay, once Rast was in DRS range in the back end of the circuit at the half way mark, dropping Müller to 5th.
Knowing his Hankook’s were going to have to last, Müller kept a solid pace, dropping off of Rast’s tail, but also allowing him to build a gap on those still on their starting tyres and allowing the Swiss racer to claim 3rd once the last of the stoppers removed themselves from the action out front.

Frijns secured 4th with a late charge. As the last driver to stop, the Dutchman led for a brief period in the middle section of the race, but fell to 8th when he peeled off on lap 25. Passes on Green (lap 26), di Resta (lap 27), Rockenfeller (lap 35) and Duval (lap 36) gave Frijns a reasonable top four finish – a reasonable result following a bad start from 5th left him 7th by Druids on the opening tour.

Duval came home 5th in his Audi. From the second row, he lost a place as strategy unfolded and then another when Frijns when by. Duval had to work hatrd to keep a charging Eng at bay in the final tours. A good start from the sixth row propelled Eng to 9th on the opening tour, with the Austrian Eng staying out late in a similar fashion to Frijns.
Eng emerged further down the order, but a late charge taking Jonathan Aberdein (R-Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage), Sheldon van der Linde (BMW), di Resta (around the outside of Paddock Hill Bend, before finishing the move around Druids) and Rockenfeller brought Eng to the tail of Duval. It was as much as he could do – the BMW racer ended the day some sixth-tenths shy of Duval at the line, but still earning solid points in the process.

Mike Rockenfeller enjoyed a quiet race to claim 7th. Once Eng had passed, the former Le Mans winner fell away from the top six fight but held more than enough of a gap over van der Linde to ease his RS 5 DTM home.
Van der Linde secured 8th and four points, several seconds ahead of the Aberdein and Dani Juncadella fight over 9th and 10th places. It may have a case of “what if” for both drivers, as Aberdein went off during qualifying, forcing him to start last, while Juncadella was involved in a clash with Timo Glock at the start that earned the Spaniard a drive through penalty.

Green endured a tough race to finish 11th, ahead of Spengler (12th), while a hampered Glock took 13th and last. After being hit at the start, the former F1 driver was helpless and could not avoid Jake Dennis (R-Motorsport Aston), with the Briton receiving severe damage, forcing him to retire immediately.
Ferdinand Habsburg’s (R-Motorsport Aston) race became a test session, when his internal jack failed during his pitstop. This forced his team to manually jack up the car to allow a tyre change. He pitted a second time later in the race, as the Austrian secured unfussed laps around the Kent circuit.

Joel Ericsson did not start. The Swede had his qualifying times deleted when his car was worked on during Parc Ferme conditions. The BMW was hampered by broken front and rear anti-roll bars, ending Ericsson’s day before it had even started.

“DTM: Fittipaldi out of Brands Hatch Race 1”

Pietro Fittipaldi will not be taking part in today’s opening DTM race at Brands Hatch, following the Brazilian racer’s big crash during qualifying this morning.

According to WRT Audi’s Sporting Director and Team Manager Thierry Tassin, the team ran out of time to repair Fittipaldi’s car – a task made all the more impossible when the other WRT Audi of Jonathan Aberdein also crashed during qualifying, albeit suffering far less damage as a result. Aberdein will be starting from the pitlane.

Tassin acknowledged that the team are working hard to ensure Fittipaldi’s car will be ready for day two at the Kent circuit.

Meanwhile BMW’s Joel Ericsson had his qualifying time deleted when his M4 DTM machine was worked on during Parc Ferme conditions.

DTM: Wittmann takes Brands Saturday pole”

Marco Wittmann made the best of damp, but drying conditions at Brands Hatch this morning to claim his fourth DTM pole position of 2019.

The twice-champion jumped to the top of the standings late in a disrupted session, heading Audi’s Rene Rast and Loïc Duval.

Before drying out, Jake Dennis led the standings for a time, but he fell down the order as the BMW and Audi runners settled into slick running. Initially Rast took control, setting laps over a second ahead of the pack, with only Duval and fellow Audi racer Robin Frijns getting close.

Then with only ten seconds left on the clock, Wittmann set the marker, putting his BMW M4 beyond his Audi rivals – his best of 1:15.654 taking his seven-hundredths adrift of Rast. Wittmann had enough time for one more lap, but could not improve, whereas those chasing began to filter back to the pits, having completed their respective runs.

Rast maintained his front row start at least, with Duval taking 3rd, albeit it three-tenths off of his Audi stablemate.

Paul di Resta end the session the best of the R-Motorsport Aston’s, with the Scot assuming 4th place, just a few hundredths shy of Duval.

Frijns scored 5th place, sharing the 3rd row with BMW DTM rookie Sheldon van der Linde. Dennis fell to 7th, just heading championship challenger Nico Müller and BMW stalwart Timo Glock, the latter of which was lucky to escape an off in the gravel at the beginning of the session. Dani Juncadella rounded out the top ten, having run as high as 4th at the halfway point of the session.

Philipp Eng secured the sixth row alongside Mike Rockenfeller, while Jamie Green will take row seven alongside Bruno Spengler, the latter of whom missed the early portion of the session due to a technical issue in the pits.

Joel Ericsson (15th), Ferdinand Habsburg (16th) will line up on row eight, while the final row of the grid is made of two drivers whose session ended very early. In 17th, Pietro Fittipaldi ran wide at Paddock Hill Bend, going hard into barrier backward, while Jonathan Aberdein ended the session last having gone off and nosing into the barrier at Clark Curve.

“Motorsport Diaries, Episode 6 (July 21st 2019) – DTM, W Series, Assen & reverse grid races”

In this episode of Motorsport Diaries, I look at DTM’s 2nd race at Assen and a first win in two years for Mike Rockenfeller ahead of wonderful race through the field by Marco Wittmann, and some odd tyre strategies.

Also, I look at the reverse grid W Series race, and why I think points paying reverse grid races are a mistake.

Twitter: @LeighOGorman and @WorldInMSport

Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe and then come back for more.

“DTM: Rockenfeller steals Assen victory”

© DTM Mike Rockenfeller (GER), Audi

Audi’s Mike Rockenfeller claimed his first DTM victory in two years at Assen today, heading Marco Wittmann (BMW) and Nico Müller (Audi) to the flag.

Championship leader Rene Rast led for much of the race but dropped down the order following a second stop for tyres mid-race.

From 3rd on the grid, Rockenfeller surged past the slow starting Jonathan Aberdein, to slot into 2nd place behind the polesitting Rast, who maintained a reasonable, if not overly comfortable lead in the opening stint.

With rear tyre wear a primary concern, drivers began to stop within the opening third of the race, as excessive damage to the front left took hold on many entries. Loïc Duval (Audi) and Bruno Spengler (BMW) were the first to give way on laps six and eight, while the fast starting Wittmann stopped on lap 13.

With a lead of just 1.7s, Rast stayed out for a further two tours, taking new Hankooks and a drop to 8th position. For the 2017 champion, his next set of tyres lasted only six laps, before dramatically falling off of the cliff to the point where he was losing over four seconds per lap to the chasing Wittmann and Rockenfeller.

As Wittmann also began to struggle, Rockenfeller pressed and took the BMW racer and then assumed the lead once Rast made an additional stop for new rubber, dropping him down to 10th.

Having driven a relatively uneventful race up until that point, Rockenfeller drew a solid gap over Wittmann, as the BMW-man continued to suffer on his now ageing Hankook’s. Bring the lead to just over 5s, Rockenfeller eased the pace and brought his RS 5 machine home for 25 valuable points, promoting ahead of Spengler in the standings.

Despite his slowing pace, Wittmann spread his own gap to Müller, whose championship charge is beginning to take shape.

Aberdein assumed 4th place following his torrid start. With overheating brakes on the grid, Aberdein fell from the front row to 8th by turn one. The South African set a solid pace in the opening stint, losing out only to Wittmann in the opening laps, but managed to climb up the order as pitstops played out.
On fresher tyres, Aberdein made his Hankooks keep shape and a series of moves on Jamie Green, Pietro Fittipaldi and Robin Frijns promoted him up the order, as did several 2nd stops for top and midfield runners. The Audi man had built enough of a lead to keep the charging Rast at bay come the chequered flag to score his best result of the season.

Rast had to make do with 5th come the end, but considering he was 10th with four laps remaining, this represented a key drive for the Audi racer. Despite his extra stop – which could have dropped him further down had he not stopped – Rast drove exceptionally well and fought hard to go around the outside of Frijns and Dani Juncadella on the final tour.

Frijns held on to 6th, despite losing nearly 4s per lap in the final few miles. He was challenged hard by the Aston Martin Vantage of Juncadella in the final tours, but even though he scored reasonable points, he rued a race where he had run as high as 3rd during its mid-point.
Juncadella took some good points for Aston Martin, ending the day just half-a-second ahead of teammate Paul di Resta at the flag. This was a good result for a happy di Resta, who had lost positions with an off on the first lap.

Jamie Green took 9th ahead of Fittipaldi, while Duval could not recover fully from his 2nd stop and came home 11th. Habsburg ended the day 12th ahead of Philipp Eng (BMW, 13th), Timo Glock (BMW, 14th), Sheldon Van der Linde (BMW, 15th) and Joel Eriksson (BMW, 16th).

Neither Spengler nor Aston’s Jake Dennis finished the race, with the latter suffering from brake issues.

© DTM Mike Rockenfeller (GER), Audi

“Motorsport Diaries, Episode 5 (July 20th 2019) – DTM, W Series, Assen & Super Formula”

In this episode of Motorsport Diaries, I look at DTM’s first race at Assen and a great battle between Marco Wittmann, Nico Müller and Rene Rast.

Also, I look at the penultimate round of the W Series, with its finale coming at Brands Hatch next month.

And finally, a brief look back at last week’s stellar Super Formula race at Fuji Speedway.

Don’t forget to like, comment and subscribe and then come back for more.

“DTM: Wittmann takes first blood at Assen”

BMW’s Marco Wittmann claimed the first DTM win at a sodden Assen track this afternoon, with the double champion edging Audi’s charging Nico Müller to the flag.

Rene Rast took the final podium place in his Audi RS 5, having run in 2nd place for much of the race.

With heavy rain having rolled in for the hour prior to the start, the race began behind the safety car, before finally getting going on lap four.

Poleman Wittmann kept a feisty Rast at bay, but the race was neutralised almost immediately after Dani Juncadella’s Aston Martin Vantage DTM stopped on track with a mechanical issue, necessitating another – albeit brief – safety car.

Restarting on lap six, Wittmann spun a gap to Rast, building a lead to 1.2s within a tour and then further extending it to over two seconds by the one-third marker. Rast kept the gap in and around the margin until he stopped for fresh Hankook tyres on lap 15, dropping the 2018 champion to a temporary 6th place.

Müller, meanwhile, having started 6th, gained two positions when Pietro Fittipaldi suffered a brief off on lap seven in a battle with Timo Glock, Müller assuming Glock’s place in the melee. That became 3rd when Loïc Duval pitted on lap ten, leaving the charging Müller under five seconds shy of Rast and seven behind Wittmann.

With Rast out of the way, Wittmann pitted a lap later to counteract any advantage Rast might obtain, but in doing so, Müller was released into the lead and the Swiss racer went about building a gap.

By now, the rain has eased and was beginning to filter away into nothing and the track – slowly – began to form a less wet line; however, it was by no means going to dry out. From laps in the 1’53s, the times dropped to 1’48s come halfway and a further three seconds was taken off of that as the race aged.

Sensing an opportunity, Müller stayed out for a further eight laps, building a 43s lead by the time he entered the pits, but as he stopped for fresh rubber, his stop was just slower than that of Wittmann.
He emerged from the pits some five seconds ahead of the chasing BMW man, but in cool conditions on already cold tyres against Wittmann’s warm rubber, Müller fell towards former champion, before eventually losing the lead in a helpless manner as the lap drew to a close.

Wittmann made the most of Müller’s struggles and drew a lead of over 3.6s within a couple of tours and held it there as the race drew to a close on 31 laps.

Once up to speed, Müller lodged a couple of faster laps and he chased the BMW-man, but it was too late. Whenever Müller clocked a quicker lap or sector, Wittmann responded in kind, leaving to assume a 3.1s gap come the chequered flag.

In a race that marked the halfway point of DTM 2019, this was a stellar performance by Wittmann who claimed his 3rd win of the season, but remarkably he remains 45 points adrift of Rast in the standings.

For Müller, the Audi man was happy with his effort – after all, he took the runner-up spot despite qualifying 6th and it was a result that promotes him to 2nd in the standings. With this run of results, for the first time in his DTM career, Müller looks like a real championship challenger.

After the pitstops, Rast could do nothing to keep up with the leading pair, with the points leader falling some eight seconds adrift of the win come the flag. Useful points, but Rast showed some frustration late in the race, gesticulating at Müller from inside his RS 5 as the runner-up kept Rast at bay.

Philipp Eng took a confident 4th place in his BMW M4, albeit only two-tenths ahead of fellow BMW racer Timo Glock (5th). Starting 9th, Eng instantly claimed two places when he passed Bruno Spengler after the latter tapped Sheldon Van der Linde into a spin. That became 6th when Glock had a brief off on lap eight and 5th when Duval stopped for new tyres on lap ten.
The Austrian made another place when Fittipaldi ran wide on lap 12. Eng stayed out until the 21st tour, where upon he slotted back into 4th place once all the stopped panned out. Thereafter he kept Glock at bay, while Jonathan Aberdein closed in somewhat to take 6th.

Jamie Green enjoyed a quiet race to 7th, finishing ahead of Duval, who struggled for balance after his stop. Mike Rockenfeller claimed 9th position for Audi. The former Le Mans winner held Van der Linde and Fittipaldi at bay, with Van der Linde taking 10th and the final points position from Fittipaldi on the last lap.

Jake Dennis (12th) led home a trio of R-Motorsport-run Aston Martin Vantage’s. The Briton managed to stay ahead of Ferdinand Zvonimir Maria Balthus Keith Michael Otto Antal Bahnam Leonhard von Habsburg-Lothringen (the Archduke of Austria, Royal Prince of Hungary, Bohemia and Croatia) and a charging Paul di Resta – the latter of whom lost 35s during a confused pitstop early in the race.

Spengler came home a dispirited 15th having taken a drive through penalty early in the race, following his collision with Van der Linde, while Joel Eriksson was classified last in a race once again hampered by a constantly shifting balance.

Robin Frijns did not finish his home race – the Audi racer spun into the barriers after putting a wheel on the kerb on lap 22. He had some choice words post-race, questioning why his car failed repeatedly, which in this instance left him at the back of the field for the race.

“DTM: When it Rains, All Signs Point to Assen”

The TT Circuit Assen is a new one for me. Known primarily as a motorcycle track, one is met by a large sign on the way to the paddock declaring Assen to the be Cathedral of Speed.

It is a warranted designation. On a motorbike at full pelt, I can imagine that this is might be something of a daunting venue, but for DTM and its catalogue of high downforce, high speed – in comparison to Moto GP – tanks, the circuit is somewhat less daunting, but still challenging.

For many years, Zandvoort had been the base for any Dutch adventure, but with the machinations of Formula One ticking under the surface of the famed seaside venue, the winds of change were signalling.

From the heat of Friday, Saturday started bright, but come midday had turned windy, while trickles of mist took shape and began laying damp seeds. Within an hour, the weather had turned to the worse – hard rain is falling and falling harder.

So, it was a pleasant surprise that in spite of these conditions, there was a reasonable turn out for the DTM’s Saturday schedule. Not many people in the grand stands admittedly, but the foot traffic around the general admission areas is impressive and a great start for a new era of DTM in the Netherlands.

In the dry of Friday, BMW’s Marco Wittmann hadn’t fully shown his hand, but with qualifying taking place under much cooler conditions, the twice champion took charge and took pole, while Friday fast-man Robin Frijns – of Audi – was disqualified from his mid-pack position. With Frijns starting from the rear, Rene Rast assumed the mantle of leading Audi and will start from 2nd position.

Meanwhile, the R Motorsport-run Aston Martin Vantage’s continued to struggle in dry conditions, but have shown well in the damp and cooler climes, as long as tyre wear does not inhibit their progress.

But with the rain continuing to press had, now it remains to be seen if Wittmann can hold his lead…

© Leigh O’Gorman

“Motorsport Diaries, Episode 4”

In this episode of Motorsport Diaries, I talk about about the upcoming 4th round of the 2019 Super Formula Championship from Fuji and go through events in qualifying.

Also, I discuss the driver swap between Pato O’Ward and Dan Ticktum at Team Mugen and Red Bull.

Coverage starts from 5.30am (UK) at Youtube.com/LetsGoRacing

“The Pink Cards”

Following this morning’s Super Formula race on Let’s Go Racing’s YouTube channel, I was asked about the info cards I use for comms.

It’s all quite simple really, but helps a great deal for live, fast-paced sessions, such as races or qualifying.

I always try to make the info shorthand, so it’s easy to digest in a moment. A lot of it is already known or memorised, but it is always good to have something to flick to in a moment.

In this sample are four “driver cards.”

Here are Naomi Yamamoto (reigning champion), Nirei Fukuzumi (rookie), Kamui Kobayashi (international driver) & Nick Cassidy (successful continental driver, with potential international success.

The section under driver and team names is key info of career successes and other notes.

“Best Res Track” is best results at each given circuit (denoted by a three letter abbreviation), when it was achieved, and/or how many times. Then there are columns noting 2019 Super Formula qualifying and race results.

Lastly on the bottom right is live championship position and points. As the year passes, more info will be added, but must remain as shorthand as possible.

Very, very useful aids.

Motorsport Diaries, Episode 3

Ahead of Sunday morning’s 3rd round Super Formula race at Sportsland SUGO, Racecar Engineering’s Sam Collins and I discuss qualifying, the upcoming race and other random stuff.

“Motorsport Diaries, Episode 2”

 

After a little bit of a delay, I finally got around to recording the 2nd episode of ‘Motorsport Diaries’ last night. In this edition, I talk briefly about last weekend’s Le Mans 24 Hour Race and the conclusion of the World Endurance Championship Super-Season.

From that, I discuss the events of last weekend’s Rally Sardinia and a surprise victory for Hyundai’s Dani Sordo.

Lastly, I look toward this weekend’s action, particularly the 3rd round of this year’s Super Formula Championship, which will shown live from SUGO Sportland at youtube.com/letsgoracing
Commentary will come from Racecar Engineering’s Sam Collins and myself and the broadcast goes live from approximately 5.50am (UK).

“DTM: Eng takes pole for Hockenheim Race 2″

Philipp Eng heads an all-BMW front row for today’s second DTM race at Hockenheim, ahead of Marco Wittmann and Audi’s Robin Frijns.

On a dry, sunny – but cold day, the team RMR driver headed yesterday’s race winner Wittmann with a late run that capitalised on improving track conditions, to earn pole by four tenths.

Wittmann had, for the most part, been the star of the qualifying and spent much of the session at the top of the standings, but once Eng jumped to lead of the times with a 1:28.972, Wittmann could take any more out of his BMW stablemate.

The pole gives Eng his first points of the season and came as a pleasant surprise for a driver who sat out second free practice and yesterday’s qualifying session, following issues with his new-spec M4 DTM.

Frijns ended the session some eight-tenths shy of the pole in his Audi RS5 DTM, but he led a close knit fight, with only half-a-second covering the next twelve drivers. Frijns has Audi teammate Nico Müller next to him on row two

Row three was an all-BMW affair with Bruno Spengler heading former-F1 driver Timo Glock, Jamie Green and Loïc Duval made the most of conditions to place their Audi’s 7th and 8th respectively.
Joel Ericsson and Sheldon van der Linde secured row five in the BMW machines, ahead of Audi duo Mike Rockenfeller and Jonathan Aberdein; however Pietro Fittipaldi recorded the 13th quickest time in his WRT-Audi entry.
It was a difficult session for Rene Rast in the remaining Audi. The former champion ran wide over a kerb through the stadium section and hit a kerb hard, propelling the front of his RS5 into the air briefly, before coming down hard on his front end. He could not improve and ended the session 16th.

This dry qualifying session proved to be a rude awakening for the new R-Motorsport team with their quartet of Aston Martin Vantage DTMs. In dry conditions, the team could do no better than 14th (Dani Juncadella), 15th (Paul di Resta), 17th (Ferdinand Habsburg) and 18th (Jake Dennis).

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