Vandoorne on top in free practice

Series leader Stoffel Vandoorne was back on top this morning: the Belgian ace set the quickest laptime in today’s free practice session at Budapest in a 1:28.969, a clear four tenths from title rival Rio Haryanto. Alex Lynn completed the top 3.
The session opened in high temperatures with the cars feeding onto the short and twisty track on Medium Pirelli tyres. Pierre Gasly set the early pace ahead of his teammate Lynn in heavy traffic, but Vandoorne dipped under 1m30s on his first push lap moving up to the top of the standings, Alexander Rossi in tow. Lynn found some extra pace to better the Belgian’s laptime, with Haryanto also able to move up to P2. Vandoorne however was on a mission and went even quicker to break the 1m29s barrier and sit pretty at the top.
The remainder of the session was trouble-free and studious as the drivers and the teams mainly focused on race simulations. Haryanto pipped Lynn out of P2 whilst Arthur Pic took full advantage of a clear track with most of the cars back into the pits to set the fourth best laptime of the session.
At the chequered flag, Vandoorne looked mighty strong ahead of today’s qualifying session. He will once again be the man to beat in a session that promises to be hot with many drivers looking to break into the top 3 and challenge the ART man.

F1Weekly podcast # 686

Clark and Nasir talk about the passing of Jules Bianchi, we have Motorsports Mondial and, we are featuring our first Jules Bianchi interview which took place at Mugello in 2008.

In 2007, Bianchi left karting and raced in French Formula Renault 2.0 for SG Formula, where he finished as champion with five wins. He also competed in the Formula Renault Eurocup where he had one pole position and one fastest lap in three races.

In late 2007, Bianchi signed with ART Grand Prix to compete in the Formula 3 Euro Series.

In 2008 Bianchi won the Masters of Formula 3 at Zolder, and also finished third in the 2008 Formula 3 Euro Series season.

Bianchi continued in the F3 Euroseries in 2009, leading ART’s line-up along with rookie team-mates Valtteri Bottas, Esteban Gutiérrez and Adrien Tambay. With eight wins, Bianchi sealed the title with a round to spare, at Dijon-Prenois. He then added a ninth win at the final round at Hockenheim. He also drove in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series atMonaco, after SG Formula acquired the cars formerly run by Kurt Mollekens.

Bianchi drove for ART in the subsequent GP2 Asia season and the 2010 GP2 Series season. He competed in three of the four rounds of the GP2 Asia championship. In the main series, Bianchi took two pole positions and a number of points positions before he was injured in a first-lap crash at the Hungaroring. In the feature race, he spun into the path of the field exiting the first corner, and was struck head-on by Ho-Pin Tung, sustaining a fractured second lumbar vertebra in the process. Bianchi was fourth in the drivers’ championship at the time of his injury. Despite initial pessimistic assessments of the severity of his injury, he recovered to take part in the next round of the championship.

Bianchi remained with ART for 2011, and was partnered by 2010 GP3 Series champion Esteban Gutiérrez. He starred in the first two rounds of the 2011 GP2 Asia Series, holding off Romain Grosjean for victory in the feature race and gaining fourth in the sprint race, but he was later penalised. He finished runner-up to Grosjean in the drivers’ championship. In the main series, Bianchi finished third in the championship, behind Grosjean and Luca Filippi.

Bianchi opted to switch to the Formula Renault 3.5 Series for 2012, following his one-off appearance in the category in 2009. He signed for the Tech 1 Racing team, and was partnered with Kevin Korjus, and later with Daniel Abt.

In August 2009, Bianchi was linked by the BBC and various other media sources to the second Ferrari Formula One seat occupied by Luca Badoer during Felipe Massa’s absence. Bianchi tested for Ferrari at the young drivers test at Circuito de Jerez for two of the three days, over 1–2 December 2009. The other drivers tested on 3 December included Daniel Zampieri, Marco Zipoli and Pablo Sánchez López as the top three finishers in the 2009 Italian Formula Three Championship. Bianchi’s performance in this test led to him becoming the first recruit of the Ferrari Driver Academy and signing up to a long-term deal to remain at the team’s disposal.

On 11 November 2010 he was confirmed by Ferrari as the team’s test and reserve driver for the 2011 season, replacing Luca Badoer, Giancarlo Fisichella and Marc Gené, as well as confirming he would test for the team during the young driver test in Abu Dhabi over 16–17 November. Bianchi carried on his GP2 Series racing, as Formula 1 allows test and reserve drivers to race in parallel in other competitions. On 13 September 2011, Bianchi tested for Ferrari at Fiorano, as part of the Ferrari Driver Academy, with fellow academy member and Sauber F1 driver Sergio Pérez. Bianchi completed 70 laps and recorded a quickest lap time of 1:00.213. For the 2012 season, Ferrari loaned him to the Sahara Force India team, for whom he drove in nine Friday free practice sessions over the course of the year as the outfit’s test and reserve driver.

On 1 March 2013, Marussia announced that Bianchi was to replace Luiz Razia as a race driver after Razia’s contract was terminated, due to sponsorship issues. Bianchi qualified 19th for the Australian Grand Prix, out-qualifying team-mate Max Chilton by three-quarters of a second. Bianchi overtook Pastor Maldonado, and Daniel Ricciardo on the first lap and he eventually finished 15th on his debut. He was 19th on the grid again in Malaysia, 0.3 seconds away from Q2. Bianchi fell behind the Caterhams at the start of the race, but moved up the order after the pit stops, eventually going on to finish 13th, ahead of his teammate, and both Caterhams. As of the Hungarian Grand Prix, Bianchi had beaten his teammate in all qualifying sessions and all races that both of them had finished. In the Japanese Grand Prix he and Charles Pic of Caterham were given ten-place grid penalties for receiving three reprimands over the season, and at the race, his race ended early after a collision with Giedo van der Garde.

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Are you looking forward to Budapest?

The Hungarian Grand Prix is one of the best of the season. We are very close to the city of Budapest which is a place that I like very much. There is a big community of fans at the race weekend and the people are very friendly. On track it can be very challenging. The weather is usually very hot there meaning that it is very demanding from a physical point of view. It is one of the races that I enjoy best because of these demands and I really like the challenge that it presents.

What are your thoughts on the Hungaroring?

It is a very demanding circuit for drivers as it is often very hot and there are limited overtaking opportunities. It has quite a slow speed layout and we’ve looked quite good with the E23 in low speed corners so it will be interesting to see how quick we are here. Qualifying is so important at this track because of the small number of overtaking opportunities, but I’ve qualified well there in the past so hopefully I can deliver a strong performance. I have won in Budapest in other categories so the track has good memories for me. The fans create a good atmosphere and it’s always nice to race at a track where there is a good feeling like this. I am looking forward to the weekend.

Your Silverstone race was rather short…

It was a great race at Silverstone; I know this as I was sat in the motorhome watching it! For sure, this was not how I wanted to spend my race; I wanted to be sat in my car racing. It’s such a satisfying feeling when you’re racing in mixed conditions like we saw for the British Grand Prix. It’s also such an unsatisfying feeling when you realise your race is over so early.

What happened?

My car was hit by Romain’s as he had been tipped into a spin by Daniel Riccardo. I actually thought my car was okay except for a puncture so I tried to get back to the pits to change tyres. Unfortunately, what I could feel from the back of my car was not a puncture, it was oil leaking and making the tyre lose traction. As soon as Mark, my engineer, come over the radio to tell me to switch the car off I knew it was game over.

What do you do after a short race like that?

Your first thought once you’ve seen that everyone is okay and you realise your race is over is ‘how do I get back to the garage?’ I spoke to the guys in the garage when I did get back, then there wasn’t really much you can say in the debrief. After that I watched the race with guests and personnel in our motorhome. As a racer you never want to be watching the race live on TV as you should be in it, but it was a good race to watch nevertheless!

The Hungarian Grand Prix represents the halfway mark in the season and it’s the final race before the summer break; what would your half term report card say and what are your targets for the second half of the season?

My target is the same as for all the races at the start of the year; to score as many points as possible and finish the race in the best position I can. I think my first half report card would say good things for effort, but the results didn’t come. Certainly I believe we’ll get better finishes in the second half of the season.


All-American Podium Sweep at Iowa Speedway, Hunter-Reay Claims Win

NEWTON, Iowa (July 18, 2015) – American drivers swept the top four positions – and six of the top seven – as Andretti Autosport driver Ryan Hunter-Reay captured his first victory of the Verizon IndyCar Series season Saturday night in the Iowa Corn 300. Hunter-Reay prevailed by .5046 of a second over Josef Newgarden to become the ninth different winner in 13 Verizon IndyCar Series races this season.

Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate Sage Karam finished a career-high third. Graham Rahal placed fourth for his third consecutive top-five finish, and Carlos Munoz, who won at Detroit in May, was fifth.

The last time Americans swept the podium in a Verizon IndyCar Series event was the 2006 Indianapolis 500 Mile Race, when Michael Andretti followed winner Sam Hornish Jr. and Marco Andretti across the finish line in one of the most historic finishes at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It was the sixth consecutive victory for Andretti Autosport at Iowa Speedway and the third victory at the track for Hunter-Reay, who was also battling Newgarden for the win one year ago, when he beat the CFH Racing driver to the finish line by .5814 of a second.

“The No. 28 DHL Honda was on rails at the end,” said Hunter-Reay, who had only one top-five finish this season entering the race. “This one we really had to work for. After a tough season, this one is really nice.”

Following a Lap 278 restart, Hunter-Reay held off multiple challenges by Newgarden in the No. 67 Wichita State University/CFH Racing Chevrolet.

“To finish second was bittersweet,” said Newgarden, who qualified seventh. “We had a winning car, but it’s a credit to the team to finish second.”

Juan Pablo Montoya’s championship points lead appeared to take a hit when the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet made right-side contact with the Turn 2 SAFER Barrier on Lap 10 of the 300-lap race. It was his first DNF of the season and the first in 18 races since the 2014 race at Iowa Speedway.

“We had a good car. It was a little loose the first couple of laps, so I was just really taking it easy, biding my time,” said Montoya, who qualified third. “Something broke.”

A mechanical issue in the final third of the race plagued the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet of Scott Dixon, who entered the race 54 points behind, and an 11th-place finish by pole sitter Helio Castroneves, allowed Montoya to enter the Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio on Aug. 2 relatively unscathed.

Rahal moved to second in the standings — 42 points behind — while Dixon, who finished 18th, is 48 points back and Castroneves is 54 points out of the lead.



Here is the full statement from the Bianchi family released today:

It is with deep sadness that the parents of Jules Bianchi, Philippe and Christine, his brother Tom and sister Mélanie, wish to make it known that Jules passed away last night at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire (CHU) in Nice, (France) where he was admitted following the accident of 5th October 2014 at Suzuka Circuit during the Japanese Formula 1 Grand Prix.

“Jules fought right to the very end, as he always did, but today his battle came to an end,” said the Bianchi family. “The pain we feel is immense and indescribable. We wish to thank the medical staff at Nice’s CHU who looked after him with love and dedication. We also thank the staff of the General Medical Center in the Mie Prefecture (Japan) who looked after Jules immediately after the accident, as well as all the other doctors who have been involved with his care over the past months.

“Furthermore, we thank Jules’ colleagues, friends, fans and everyone who has demonstrated their affection for him over these past months, which gave us great strength and helped us deal with such difficult times. Listening to and reading the many messages made us realise just how much Jules had touched the hearts and minds of so many people all over the world.

“We would like to ask that our privacy is respected during this difficult time, while we try to come to terms with the loss of Jules.”

Our thoughts are with Jules’ family, friends and fans all over the world.




Motorsport enthusiasts return year after year to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion (RMMR), because it never gets old. One can always count on a special marque being rotated in (for 2015, it is the Shelby GT350 Mustang, celebrating its 50th anniversary), an arrival that creates a splash from which ripples – both fleeting and magical – emanate.

At the 13-16 August event, Rolex’s close ties with motor racing and speed, in particular its partnership with Formula 1®, will be uniquely reflected in what is sure to become one of this year’s most unforgettable Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion moments: Saturday’s Group 8A race where 37 Formula 1 race cars will shriek at full revs down the front straight at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, their sound echoing through the hills of Monterey and stirring up memories of glory days when speed, glamour and extreme competition were synonymous with constructors’ names such as Lotus, Ferrari, Tyrrell, Brabham, Shadow, Hesketh, March, Surtees, Williams and Wolf and driver’s names such as Lauda, Hunt, Revson, Hill, Peterson, Andretti, Fittipaldi,Villeneuve and, of course, long-standing Rolex Testimonee Sir Jackie Stewart.

The Formula 1s are from the three liter era between 1967 and 1984, and they are organized by FIA Masters Formula One Championship. The series, founded by Ron Maydon in 2004, travels annually to eight countries across Europe and to the USA.

“Of the 37 Formula 1 cars entered in the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion there will be eight or nine of our cars coming from Europe, and at least five of them have not raced in America since their last active year,” said Maydon. “The film industry has definitely added value to our Masters Historic Formula One Championship with films like Rush, Weekend of a Champion and 1. I spent three days during the filming of Rush driving the Shadow that Tom Pryce raced in the day. Rush is a great mix of storyline for those interested in the James Hunt/Niki Lauda drama, and it also gave the viewers a look at what we do with Historic Formula 1 racing.”

Maydon says his group’s support races at several of FIA Formula 1 Grand Prix events have elicited telling comments from current drivers. At the Canadian GP, two-time world champion Fernando Alonso reportedly said to one of the Master’s Ferrari drivers, “That car looks dangerous just standing next to it, but I sure would love to have a drive in it.” At last year’s Singapore Grand Prix, two-time world champion and current championship points leader Lewis Hamilton watched the Master’s Formula One Championship race after his qualifying session and told a newspaper reporter, “It was one of the coolest battles I have ever seen. I like it because they look like they have more mechanical grip with those big tires . It looks like a lot of fun. Those cars are pretty dangerous, though. In ours, if you go head-on into the wall you can get out, but in those cars you might not be able to.”

In further comparing historic Formula 1 racing with the modern-day version, Maydon said, “The old hands look at us and remember the good old days, and the young drivers and crew members look at us and ask ‘how the heck did they ever race these cars?’ I think there is a passion for our historic Formula 1 cars that is totally different from how the enthusiast regards today’s Formula 1 cars. For example, when our cars are in the paddock, fans can come close to look at them and talk to the drivers. The modern Formula 1 races are so huge and commercial that you can only see the cars when they are out on the circuit.”

Indeed, getting up close and personal with drivers in the unrestricted paddock areas is another one of those organic, ripple-effect elements that make the larger ecosystem of RMMR so special. The event starts with practice on Friday,14 August followed by full-on racing over the weekend for 550 period correct racing machines in 15 different groups. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca’s challenging 2,238 mile circuit has drivers negotiating its undulating twists and turns while spectators freely roam to watch from whatever perch they prefer, whether it be in a particular grandstand or on a certain patch of grass. And there are non-racing options such as enjoying a multitude of exhibits, including Automotive Alley; shopping or cheese- and wine-tasting in the Marketplace; and attending various special events, including Friday’s popular Picnic in the Park with notable guests and legendary drivers, held throughout the venue’s 542 acres.

The Shadow Knows
There have only been a handful of American drivers in Formula 1 over the years and only three American constructors who have raced more than a season or two.  One of those three American teams, Shadow, competed in F1 for ten years beginning in 1973. In the 112 Grand Prix events the team entered during that time it scored one victory, three pole positions, two fastest laps and six podium finishes.

Within earshot of the racing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca lives the American icon, Don Nichols, who founded Shadow Cars and whose race teams were among the most recognized of the 1970s. (A 1975 Shadow DN6 is entered in Saturday’s Formula 1 race by Craig Bennett and will be driven by David Arrowsmith.)

“I wanted to compete at the very highest level, so when I decided it would be motorsports I went for the top,” said Nichols, a World War II veteran who formed the company Advanced Vehicle Systems in 1968, naming the cars he would race after his favorite childhood radio show “The Shadow.” “Our goal was to compete internationally, so in 1973, with UOP sponsorship, we entered Formula 1 with George Follmer and Jackie Oliver as drivers.” (Graham Hill also famously drove a Shadow DN1 with Embassy sponsorship.)

Stunningly all-black with white UOP graphics, the Shadow DN1 Formula 1 was designed by Tony Southgate and was out-of-the box fast. “George finished sixth in the car’s first race, and later in the season both he and Jackie had podium finishes,” said Nichols. “These were great results considering it was our first year in Formula 1.” Then, on August 14, 1977 at the Osterreichring in Austria, all of Shadow’s efforts paid off when Alan Jones came from 14th on the grid to win that Grand Prix in the UOP Shadow DN8. “This is what our team was waiting for and it was a truly rewarding experience.”

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast