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“The Noise”

From some absurd Friday showers, the night has folded into a warm, beautiful sunny morning.

The damp streaks, marked so starkly with dark patches – obvious offline – was soon to be swept and scrubbed dry by fierce German technology.

But it’s the sounds of the morning at Brands Hatch that truly astounds. The DTM cars are bloody loud at the Kent circuit, probably moreso than anywhere else on the calendar. Brands Hatch acts like a bowl and the engine sound – note, not noise, but tuneful sound – reverberates in glorious undiluted fashion.

There is no point using headphones to listen to the circuit radio – you will never hear it.

It is not a shriek, but rather a guttural roar that really punishes, as the eighteen DTM machines – mixtures of Audi’s, BMW’s and Mercedes’ – ease through the gears exiting the final bend at Clark Curve and extending the throttle down the Brabham straight, before hanging on for dear life through Paddock Hill Bend.

There is only a few seconds before the cars briefly fall out of sight as they ascend Hailwoods Hill and into the hairpin at Druids, returning then down toward Graham Hill Bend.

As the second practice session finished, all three manufacturers were represented in the top four and they were close – thoughts on gaps and advantages or otherwise seem to pale into nothing when times are so close.

When the DTM was last here at Brands Hatch, the short Indy circuit was used – the thought being that the fans would see the cars loop more often and therefore provide more action; however the actual racing on the Indy circuit was dreadful.
Approximately ninety laps of follow the leader on a circuit where overtaking was impossible due to cars that had huge amounts of downforce and no straights long enough to build momentum to pass.

The Grand Prix loop of Brands Hatch may not necessarily provide more overtaking, but it will be more of a challenge for drivers pushing their machines to the edge.
It is in this and through the simplest of errors that Brands Hatch will bite.


“A short story about a most ridiculous young man”

Silverstone brought back some memories of a driver self-destructive wrapped up in paranoia and conspiracy. It served as a reminder that careers can be set on fire with the fiery thoughts and the turn of a tongue.

It would be very easy to bite one’s lip hard when the lights went out, signing the start of another Formula 3 and later GP3 race. In recent years, one could probably look to the middle of the pack and find a young chap who had, again, qualified lower than his talent or car warranted.

This chap – an American lad, followed and propelled by his parental entourage – had entered Formula 3 the previous year and was largely overshadowed by the now celebrated competitors by those at the front, but come the following year had moved teams and was pushing to establish himself.
This is something that should be encouraged of course, but in this instance, the results were slow to come. So slow that they never really actually came at all.

Qualifying pace was always an issue and one that never quite the issue of the car and often left the young man lingering around the 15th-20th mark on the grid. As a racer, the young man was very aggressive and uncompromising, which in some situations worked and in others really didn’t. While he had little issue pulling off overtaking manoeuvres on some of the lesser talented drivers in the field, there lacked a real finesse as to how he did his business.

For example, when one looks at Daniel Ricciardo’s overtaking methodology, the Red Bull man pulls off some extraordinary moves that seem to come from nowhere while carrying far too much speed.
Yet Ricciardo rarely extends his machine beyond the physics of a track’s conditions at any given time and often manages to still unload the energy from the inside front tyre without significant locking or fuss. The same can also be said of the likes of Max Verstappen or Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel when push comes to shove and want becomes need.

Yet this is where the young chap falters for the first time. His overtakes in the past have often amounted to little more than dive-bombs down the inside line into a corner, that force the issue in a “let me through or be crashed” kind of way – and it works when those lower placed drivers either jump out of the way or carry so little pace into or out of corners that they become easy meat on the following straight. These were also the occasions when shoving competitors almost off the track became a norm if required; the forcefulness became expected.

However the young man often began to struggle when approaching drivers more in sync with his natural pace. In these situations, he would occasionally get stuck – no great shakes there – but in these situations, he had also been known to attempt outlandish moves on his newer/quicker opposition, only to discover that they do not fall out of the way and / or are less inclined to on-track intimidation.
Ayrton Senna may have been able to pull that off, but he had the skill and nuance to do so. And a bright yellow helmet. The young man had none of this in his favour.

Thus the damage mounted up and the excuses began – and this was where the young man’s second, and more significant, issue lay. Every week, it would be something different. Following difficult weekends, the range of excuses would become long and tiresome and the burning of bridges would begin in earnest, but the novelty would never really get old.
Anything and everything, such as;

  • “The team are favouring all of my teammates over me”;
  • “My engineer deliberately sabotaged my session, by giving me the wrong wing/damper/etc. settings”;
  • “The team gave me the wrong tyre pressures to ensure everyone else in the team was ahead”;
  • So on, so forth…

    The pinnacle came when the young man felt he was blocked in a qualifying session by a teammate, so he decided to bypass the team completely and personally report the issues to the stewards in an effort to get a penalty for his teammate. Those bridges that were lightly burning earlier were now fully ablaze.
    There were other complaints and accusations too – almost too many to mention – that revolved around people who disliked him because of his nationality and his nature, but as a colleague once said, “isn’t amazing how all of these incidents seem to revolve around a single person…”
    To this day I have no idea how much was paranoia, spite or even a mixture of both.

    Amidst all this, the young man and his single entourage lamented the fact that they had passed on a seat at Van Amersfoort, as they felt they were quicker and more talented than a young Monegasque driver who is currently doing very well in Formula One. Alas, the young man is not as talented as the Monegasque star – not even close.

    To be fair, his lack of results in the years up to now meant he was always going to fall a long way short in terms of super licence points, but circumstances means he may never have the opportunity to compare himself to Leclerc on the world stage.

    Oh well.
    His loss, not ours.

    “FIA F3: Ticktum scores super-close win in Norisring finale”

    Motopark’s Dan Ticktum scored his second FIA European Formula 3 win of the season at the Norisring this afternoon, beating teammate Jüri Vips by just 0.057s across the line.

    Marcus Armstrong came home 3rd to score another podium in his Prema Powerteam entry and take the points lead.

    In yet another chaotic race interrupted by the safety car three times and red flagged once, Ticktum moved to 2nd place at the start, having passed Vips on the opening tour.

    As the field exited the Schöller chicane, Alex Palou (Hitech) was clipped from behind and spun, collecting the unsuspecting Jonathan Aberdein and Nikita Troitskiy. The three cars locked together and the marshals were unable to clear the track, forcing race officials to eventually call a red flag.

    Following a lengthy delay, the race restarted on lap 13, but was almost immediately halted when Keyvan Andres found the barrier on the entry of the Dutzendteich hairpin.

    This safety car period proved less tricky to clear and a clean circuit was ready for a lap 18 restart, only for Mick Schumacher and Artem Petrov to clash as the green came out, with the pair clattering into the unfortunate Sacha Fenestraz, bringing out safety car number three.

    As it got going for a final time on lap 24, Vips sneaked up the inside of Armstrong through Dutzendteich to secure 2nd place, allowing Ticktum to build a small gap. Through the final five tours, Vips closed back in on Ticktum, with the Estonian setting his fastest lap of the race with four to go.
    The pair was especially close as Ticktum lost 0.1s on the penultimate lap and then another 0.3s on the final tour, but it was not quite enough. Emerging out of the final corner under greater acceleration, Vips drew alongside Ticktum approaching the finish line, but Englishman held his nerve and took the win by 0.057s.

    Having led early (mostly behind the safety car), Armstrong was passed first by Ticktum at the (very brief) restart following the 2nd safety car, before dropping behind Vips. The Kiwi held the final podium spot thereafter, keeping a volley of rivals at bay after the final restart.

    Behind Armstrong, Guanyu Zhou took Jehan Daruvala for 5th at the lap 24 restart, with Ralf Aron doing the same to Enaam Ahmed for 6th and 7th at the same point. Robert Schwartzman and Schumacher also did the same to Ahmed on laps 25 and 26 respectively, only for Ahmed to retake 8th from Schumacher on lap 27.
    Schumacher finally sealed 8th place and four points on the penultimate lap when he took the reigning British F3 champion. Ferdinand Habsburg took the final point for Carlin in the late laps following a brief battle with Petrov and Sebastián Fernández.

    It was, at best, a haphazard race weekend that showed some of the best (and worst) of Formula 3. While there plenty of moments where drivers shined and allowed their skill to come to the fore, there were far too many occasions where on track moves appeared ill-considered or just stupid.
    We should talk more of the great racing. Let’s see what Zandvoort delivers in three weeks.

    “Vips takes first FIA F3 win at chaotic Norisring”

    Jüri Vips secured his first European Formula 3 victory in a chaotic race at the Norisring this morning.

    In his Motopark machine, Vips headed championship leader Enaam Ahmed (Hitech Bullfrog GP) and Marcus Armstrong (Prema Powerteam) to complete an all-rookie podium.

    Starting 4th, the Estonian enjoyed a reasonable start, only for the race to be red flagged immediately, when Motopark’s Dan Ticktum stalled and was rammed in the back by Ameya Vaidyanathan (Carlin).

    It was a bizarre incident, with Ticktum having stalled from 5th on the right-hand side of the grid, while Vaidyanathan smashed into the rear of the Englishman, as he appeared to be looking at traffic to his left. The crash destroyed the rear of Ticktum’s car, while Vaidyanathan’s Cralin also took severe damage on the front.
    In the meantime, poleman Shwartzman had contact with Ahmed, damaging the Prema’s right-front against the wall and taking him out of the race. After a fifteen-minute stoppage, the race restarted under safety car with twenty minutes remaining.

    Ahmed led from the restart, but was pushed hard by Vips for several laps, with the pair going side-by-side on several occasions, before Vips finally edged ahead into turn one at the start of the seventh tour.
    From there, the Motopark man pulled a small gap from Ahmed, but it was enough to neutralise the threat from behind, ensuring his first victory of the season.

    Armstrong followed home in 3rd place, after a less eventful race that saw him complete 2.2s ahead of Kayvan Andres (van Amersfoort). Alex Palou (Hitech) ended the day just behind Andres, with Ferdinand Habsburg taking the flag 6th in his Carlin entry.
    Jehan Daruvala (Carlin) took points for 7th, only 0.8s ahead of Marino Sato (Motopark), while Sacha Fenestraz (Carlin) and Mick Schumacher (Prema) completed the top ten. Schumacher battled ahead of teammate Guanyu Zhou, Motopark’s Fabio Scherer and Nikita Troitskiy (Carlin) to secure a point from 20th on the grid.

    “DTM: Mortara leads field home in Norisring Race 1”

    #48 Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM. © DTM.

    Eduardo Mortara claimed his 2nd win of the DTM season at Norisring on Saturday.

    Gary Paffett came home next to make it a Mercedes 1-2, while Marco Wittmann took the final podium spot in his BMW M4.

    Mortara led from pole, heading Wittmann, with Mercedes trio Paul Di Resta, Paffett and Lucas Auer chasing close by. Front row qualifier Philipp Eng pitted early, as did the Audi’s of Rene Rast, Nico Müller and Loïc Duval and Mercedes’ Dani Juncadella.

    Mortara, Wittmann and Paffett pulled away from the pack, only to pit on laps nine, eight and twelve respectively. The stop was enough to give the trio a tyre advantage, while also dropping them far enough behind the field to run undisturbed.

    With fresh rubber, Wittmann pushed Mortara hard for a time, but the twice DTM champion could not find a way past his rival. The three stayed close for the next forty tours, but despite the use of DRS, neither Wittmann nor Paffett could break Mortara.
    Eventually it was Wittmann who succumbed to pressure, as Paffett got a nice run down the start/finish straight, slotting down the inside of his BMW rival at turn one.

    #48 Edoardo Mortara, Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM

    Thereafter Paffett pressed Mortara, but with his DRS also running out, the Englishman’s opportunities were limited. The last of the stoppers, Robin Frijns, finally pitted on the penultimate lap, bringing Mortara back into the lead, which he then converted into a victory moments later.

    Paffett crossed the line only six-tenths shy of the win, with Wittmann ending up another six-tenths behind Paffett. Despite his inability to steal a win, it was good effort for the 2005 DTM Champion and propelled him into the points lead ahead of BMW Team RMR racer Timo Glock.

    Di Resta claimed 4th spot, some 5s clear of a struggling Eng, who managed to bravely keep Bruno Spengler (6th, BMW), Auer (7th), Juncadella (8th), Joel Eriksson (9th, BMW) and Glock at bay.

    Jamie Green headed an awful day for Audi. The Ingolstadt marque could only manage a best of 11th after the Briton suffered a lengthy stop and Frijns ending up 12th after his long run strategy. Audi also took up the final four positions with Mike Rockenfeller, Rene Rast, Duval and Müller all taking 15th-18th respectively.

    Pascal Wehrlein and Augusto Farfus enjoyed a hard fought mid-race battle, albeit for the lower positions in the field. They would take 13th (Wehrlein) and 14th (Farfus).

    There did appear to be some tyre warming issues early in the tyre stints with both Mortara and Di Resta weaving significantly to bring some heat into their Hankooks.

    Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM, #2 Gary Paffett, Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM. © DTM

    “World in Motorsport”

    Launching in 2018, World in Motorsport is a feature-based motorsport magazine conceived and produced by racing journalist Leigh O’Gorman; creator of

    The concept of World in Motorsport is to produce a short, feature-based publication that brings the reader closer to the drivers, teams, cars and championships that drive international motorsport.

    In a full calendar year, a catalogue of six issues of World in Motorsport is planned, with each issue published approximately every two months.
    The inaugural issue is set to published in June.

    World in Motorsport will be funded through donations on a voluntary “pay what you feel” basis, rather than operate as a for-sale product with a set price. Through funding technique, the initial goals for World in Motorsport are as follows:

    • Produce six issues per calendar year;
    • Employ a designer to create an attractive and legible template;
    • Introduce, where possible, additional contributors.

    More information regarding funding avenues will be released shortly.

    Fundamental to this publication is the policy that all contributors, designers and additional personnel shall be fairly compensated for their works.

    “Manual Calculations”

    For those in the know, please correct me if I’m wrong, but following the manner in which Mercedes lost the Australian Grand Prix on Sunday, does this look like the basic formula required to work out the gap needed under VSC?

    “Discussions and Bonding in Departures”

    Sometimes more than race circuits, airport departures are the places where tired minds meet, professional bonds created and tales told when race weekends draw to a close. These environs, so often misunderstood and underused, are where the most intriguing stories are woven.

    Often in the European Formula 3 Championship, it would not be unusual for large portions of the paddock (in this case, the British-based contingent) to reconvene in varied groups in departures on the Sunday evening of a race weekend, all having devised different routes to the airport, yet still somehow arriving at the same time.

    As all wait for the (inevitably delayed) last flight back to Heathrow / Gatwick / Stansted / Luton / etc (take your pick), it becomes oddly comforting to find solid portions of a paddock throw down a long weekend and breathe a little, just enough to pull thoughts into some sort of relatable order. There will be those relaxed bodies, happy with collected silverware, victories, podiums and points and most likely kicking back with a drink of some kind, as they wait to get back to home, partners, children and the inevitable school run.

    Naturally there are others who have endured more trying meetings; they’re often twinned with baggier eyes, that have probably sank in the mire of set-up loss and crash damage. In the case of the latter, the race weekend is sometimes the last thing that paddock folk want to talk about, for they have just lived through unfulfilled potential and have little desire to repeat the details.

    It reminds me of when Måns Grenhagen drove for Van Amersfoort in 2013. Although touched with occasional speed, Måns crashed a lot and frightened numerous marshals, but nothing came close to his thunderous crash in the wet at Monza, when the Swede became airborne after ramming the rear of Jordan King, before landing on top of Will Buller’s car and settling into a series of barrel rolls.
    Grenhagen jumped unharmed from his destroyed Dallara F313 and wandered away from the scene. Running down to the paddock afterward to see how he was, I was surprised to see an upbeat Grenhagen chewing on some fruit and grinning wildly, while one of his mechanics – already bored by the regularity with which the car needed to be repaired – looked on at his driver disapprovingly. In my years in various paddocks, so rarely have I seen such a withering stare. Grenhagen, meanwhile, smiled wildly and prodded me, saying, “Hey man, do you think I will be big on You Tube now?” “Hmmmm…” I thought. “Yes Måns, you’ll be huge…”
    By the fourth round, Grenhagen had finally received a race ban when in the opening race at Brands Hatch, he arrived into a double-waved yellow flag zone at full-tilt and with locked, screeching tyres, scattering marshals who were attempting to recover a stricken car from the gravel trap. By the time the series met at Norisring in June, Grenhagen was history.

    Back in Departures, there can be much talk about the sessions, the races and incidents therein and developments that have occurred within the team or on the car and particularly if a notable incident occurred. A key moment took place in the lounge at Vienna Airport last September, when the Lando Norris / Ralf Aron crash was relayed over and over again across various smartphones, viewed by drivers, parents and team personnel alike, all of whom huddled over the tiny screens, offering up comments, debate and discussion.

    Of course, drivers do like to talk about racing and their competitors and are often quite knowledgeable about other categories of motorsport. For many it’s because they love the sport passionately and take part in lengthy discussions about all that is developing around them. On these occasions, you discover just many racers speak longingly of disciplines such as rallying or endurance racing, although Formula One is not necessarily as big a topic as one might imagine, almost as if that desire to reach the pinnacle of single-seater racing stutters the tongue.

    There are, of course, far more mundane subjects up for discussion, such as upcoming geography tests or some foreign language lesson that is coming via the classroom or (more likely) private tutors the following morning. One must not forget that at Formula 3 level, several of these competitors, ranging between sixteen-to-eighteen years – are still to finish secondary school; not that it’s too high on the agenda for drivers. Parents might think differently though.

    Occasionally when talking to engineers or team bosses, this is where one is told that “x driver is a real talent”, “y driver is good in this condition” or that s/he “works well under these circumstances”. It’s also where one is sometimes told “z driver is just shit…” The amount of times I have been told the latter…
    Engineers hate having their time wasted and when placed with drivers of minimal talent, it can leave team members rather beleaguered and demotivated. Everyone wants to engineer and run a champion; a race winner and podium scorer presents chance and opportunity, while a regular points scorer often offers a platform on which elements can built. A driver whose best pace is 16th is less likely to instil confidence.

    Amidst the competition between drivers, engineers and team principals have often been relatively open about the technical developments proudly fashioned onto a respective chassis. That talk has all but gone away now, with nearly every category outside of Formula One cloaked under the shroud of spec formula technical regulations, with thoughts of innovation drowned out by shouts of lowering costs and equal equipment.
    If only such a thing worked. I have yet to see a genuinely cost effective single-make series that properly levelled playing fields. Those with endless bags of money always restrict such evenness.

    As of next year, the specification formula under F1 becomes official as a single-chassis, single-engine International F3 replaces the GP3 Series and while numerous chassis and engine options will be available for regional F3 categories globally, each region will be bound to choose a single chassis and engine.
    This ensures the new Formula 3 will be a reflection of Formula 4, albeit with more bells, whistles and horsepower. The engineers I spoke to were quite vocal about their disappointment in this development, sensing the long term damage that may come due to the trap of exclusivity.

    “Thoughts on Henry Hope-Frost”

    I am not going to pretend that I knew Henry Hope-Frost in any great way, although we did meet on quite a number of occasions, either at a race track somewhere or at the NEC in Birmingham, particularly during my earlier years in motorsport.

    Henry was always a patient, funny and charming. He possessed an infectious vibrancy, especially when it came to cars and racing in general.
    During a time earlier in this decade when I was struggling to get things started, he was happy to offer advice and encouraged me to keep pressing on. It was always genuine, never forced or practiced.

    In later years, I bumped into him far less frequently, as I concentrated on international racing and consider that a great shame, as his was always humoured and informed company, even if only for a few moments at a time.

    My thoughts and condolences naturally go to Henry’s wife Charlotte, three children and the rest of his extended family. They have lost a beloved husband and father, while motorsport has lost a gentleman.


    “Thoughts on WRC All Live”

    Sebastien Ogier (FRA) and Julien Ingrassia (FRA) perform during FIA World Rally Championship 2018 in Monte Carlo, Monaco on 28.01.2018

    The début of WRC All Live at last week’s 86th Rally de Monte Carlo showcased a championship willing to take risks with its coverage.

    It may have been shaky at times, but it worked and is a step in the right direction.


    After a time, there was a notable groan, or a slight sinking in the voice or breath from Becs Williams – lead commentator for WRC Live.

    These deep breaths came relatively regularly during the first running of Monte Carlo Rally’s famed Sisteron stage – run in reverse for the first time since the early-80s – when the onboard cameras chopped and slipped froze, before eventually cutting to a rendering of the stage tracking map.

    If it was frustrating in the studio, it was equally as frustrating for the viewer and yet at the back of one’s mind, it didn’t matter as much as it should or could have. The future – it seems – is finally here.

    The World Rally Championship has for so many years been dogged by poor television or online coverage, while their rally live radio package has excelled. Those years in the doldrums has mostly been characterised by a variety of maladies, such as lack of investment or simple lack of interest. To a degree, the WRC has been a championship that no one quite knew what do with.

    With time, the series has found a purpose again. The introduction of live stages a few years ago helped and while this form of coverage has existed in various forms before, rarely was it as polished.
    Yet the creation of WRC All Live is something entirely different. Logistically, the project is deeply ambitious and shows a measure of courage and belief on behalf of WRC Promoter. Utilising onboards on each car, a helicopter feed and several stage cameras, directing a constant feed of the stages was always going to be a mammoth task, but the WRC All Live crew managed it – just about.

    Come the Friday stages, the dropouts decreased – probably helped by more stable weather conditions – and the turning of the stages gave hosts Kiri Bloore and Jon Desborough more meat to play with, while Molly Pettit, Paul King and Julian Porter added much from the service park.
    The exploitation of live pictures from the stages also lifted the commentary significantly. Rather than merely feed listeners information using just tracking maps and split times, Williams, Porter and Colin Clark were able to describe the scenes and situations in a more vibrant manner.

    By Saturday, expanded sets of on-screen graphics told more of the story in stage; however if one did not have a live track map to hand, there was little indication as to where a driver was on stage. Losing the radio crew for the live television broadcast stages was a bit jarring, but it is nothing that a better lead-in couldn’t solve.

    Was it perfect? Of course not. The expected dropouts and camera cuts were annoying, but hopefully these are merely teething problems and the relative lack of in depth WRC-2 or WRC-3 coverage often meant that the eleven car WRC covered the entirety of the twelve hour broadcasts over the Friday and Saturday.

    These are small things however. For a first run, WRC All Live was very impressive and I – and many others – will be keen to see how this develops over the coming events and seasons.

    Kris Meeke (GBR), Paul Nagle (IRL) perform during FIA World Rally Championship 2018 in Monte Carlo, Monaco on 27.01.2018

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