FORMULA 1

LOTUS F1 AUSTRALIAN GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

ROMAIN GROSJEAN

Heading into his fourth full season with Lotus F1 Team, Romain Grosjean predicts an exciting and intriguing first race of the year at Albert Park.

The season start is with us already Ð are you ready to go?

I am ready! On the one hand it seems like it was ages since the last race in Abu Dhabi, on the other, it seems like we’ve only just seen the new car and pre-season testing finished so quickly!

What are your thoughts when you think of Albert Park and the first race of the year?

Albert Park is still one of my favourite Grand Prix circuits, so it will be good to get there and get the season started and there’s always a great atmosphere. It’s a fantastic track and the changing scenery as you drive through the park is incredible. Of course it’s a great country and I always enjoy visiting Australia, although as someone who loves their sleep, I still haven’t found the perfect strategy to counter jet-lag!

Is it a challenging venue for the first race?

It is, and not only because of the jet-lag! We know it can be a tricky circuit; it’s not a permanent track so the surface and its layout gives us plenty to think about.

We’re still quite early in our understanding of the E23 and how it works so we’ll be kept busy finding the correct set-up and getting everything working as we want it to. The weather can make things pretty difficult too Ð three years ago we had lots of rain and even had to finish qualifying on Sunday morning! Hopefully the weather will be good this year! You can say that everyone will be in the same position of not knowing what to expect, and with all the car changes I imagine there will be a few surprises! For us the weekend will be maximising the time on track, aiming to finish the race and getting the best result possible.

This will be your fourth full season with the team – what are your goals?

This season will be very much about reminding people how good Lotus F1 Team and Romain Grosjean can be! People have very short memories in Formula 1 and it’s true we had a tough fight for results in 2014 so some people have forgotten the performance we showed in 2013 and 2012. We have a lot more potential for strong results this season so we’ll be pushing to show that at every race, and what better a place or time than at Albert Park?

Where’s your ‘head at’ coming into the season opener?

I’m in a good place. I’ve had a great winter where I’ve been able to spend time with my wife and son. I’ve done plenty of training. I’ve been at the factory and I’ve been out in the new car so everything’s been going well in the pre-season build-up. I head to Australia very eager to jump in the car and get out on track.

How much change do you expect there to be through the field relative to last season?

Certainly for us there is a lot of change! This time last year we were nowhere, so this year is particularly positive. For sure, we still have work to do and our car’s not perfect, but we have a great platform from which to build and I’m sure we’ll have lots of good developments to come with the E23.

The Australian Grand Prix can be quite an eventful race with numerous incidents over the years: how frustrating will it be if things don’t go to plan?

It’s the nature of motorsport that results don’t always go your way, but we’re approaching this race like any other; trying to achieve the very best result we can. It’s one race in twenty, but it’s always nice to start the season with a strong result, let’s hope we can get that in 2015.

Pastor Maldonado 

Starting his second season with the squad, our Venezuelan squeeze readily recognises that 2015 offers great potential for strong results in the E23 Hybrid.

How excited are you heading to Australia?

I’m very excited and I can’t wait to start racing again. We have a new car, it’s a new season, I’m fitter than I’ve ever been before, so we’re all eager to get back to action.

How happy are you with the team’s pre-season preparations?

I’m happy with what we’ve learnt this winter, and it’s a completely different situation from last year. We’re much stronger and better prepared for 2015. We’ve done more than 4500km in testing so it’s interesting what we’ve learnt and we’ll be able to put everything into practice in Australia and with the development of the car.

What are your impressions of the E23 Hybrid?

My feeling is this car is much better that last year’s car and not just in one area but with every aspect of the car. Obviously, it’s been good to work with the Mercedes power unit, but that’s just one part as the whole package is very promising and it looks to have good potential for the rest of the year.

What do you think of Australia?

It’s a great country and Melbourne is a wonderful city. It’s just great. I always love races that are close to the city because you have more people coming and it really feels like you are involved and part of their life for the short time you are there. There are all the benefits of the city to appreciate and the fans really get behind the event. It’s maybe one of the best races of the year.

What are the challenges of Albert Park?

To be honest I love the track. The main challenges are that the track surface changes a lot over the weekend, especially from free practice to qualifying. The drivers and engineers need to try to predict how the track is going to evolve, especially for qualifying as this is crucial for the final position on Sunday. Another challenge is the weather as you never know what it will do Ð even during the course of each day.

Where do you expect Lotus F1 Team to be in the pecking order?

Certainly we’ll be in the fight! We’re working hard to improve and we’ve seen that the reigning champions have set a very high standard with their 2015 car. The difference between them and the rest of the field looks quite big after pre-season testing, but behind them the group is getting more compact. There should be a good mix of Williams, Red Bull, Ferrari and us which should make things interesting.

Should the Australian Grand Prix give a good guide for the rest of the year?

In terms of how the car performs, Albert Park is probably not the best gauge as it’s not a permanent race track and it’s unique in many different ways. Certainly, if we go well there we’ll be happy, but if it doesn’t go to plan then that won’t be the end of the world as it’s one of twenty races and it’s a very distinct circuit.

How much potential is there for development of the E23 from its starting point?

It’s quite exciting as it’s our first season with a new power unit supplier so in some respects we’re starting from zero while others are developing more from where they were last year. Our package is much better than last year’s, but against others we have to wait and see; we won’t know where we stand until after the first few races. We’ll try to develop in every way. It’s interesting with the car feeling have improved as well as engine response. A lot depends on how the first few races go, and then we will make developments for the future. 

BRITISH GT

VON RYAN RACING AND McLAREN CONFIRM TWO-CAR BRITISH GT ATTACK

Von Ryan Racing will return to the Avon Tyres British GT Championship this season with a pair of all-new McLaren 650S GT3s to be driven by Andrew Watson/Ross Wylie and Euan Hankey/Salih Yoluc.

The McLaren GT customer squad, which made several guest appearances in 2013, will contest all seven rounds this year following an intensive winter testing programme.

But perhaps of most interest will be the progress of McLaren Young Driver Programme members Watson and Wylie who, at a combined age of just 42, will be eager to prove their worth against a raft of more experienced drivers.

Wylie is no stranger to the championship having won last season’s GT4 title alongside Jake Giddings at the wheel of a Beechdean AMR Aston Martin Vantage, while 19-year-old Watson finished fourth overall in the Ginetta GT4 Supercup.

Team manager Dave Ryan confirmed both were already up to speed after a busy pre-season.

“I have been very pleased with the rate of progress by Andrew and Ross, and they have both come on as drivers so much already through working closely with my team,” he said. “We are confident they are a strong pairing to contest the British GT Championship, and we are looking forward to working with them this season. It is also a true test of the new McLaren 650S GT3 which has shown some real potential in testing.”

McLaren GT Managing Director Andrew Kirkaldy expects the pair to be competitive from the start.

“Andrew and Ross have shown themselves to be extremely professional and motivated since joining the McLaren GT Young Driver Programme,” he said. “The British GT championship has earned a reputation as one of the most competitive national GT series in Europe, and it will be a steep learning curve for them both, but I am confident that they will be a formidable pairing from the first outing in a couple of weeks. They will be working closely with [factory driver] Rob Bell throughout the season, and have access to extensive motorsport knowledge and expertise throughout the Von Ryan Racing team, not least from Dave Ryan, so they will learn a lot just from being around such a professional outfit.

On the other side of the Von Ryan Racing garage will be two British GT debutants in the shape of Hankey and Yoluc. The former’s credentials include scholarship titles in both Porsche Carrera Cup GB and Formula BMW, while his Turkish co-driver will be making a first foray into GT3-spec racing after spending last season in Britcar. The duo already know each other well having claimed SP3 class honours in January’s Dubai 24 Hours.

FORMULA 1

Fernando Alonso Pulls out of Australian Grand Prix.

Having performed an exhaustive series of tests and scans – some of them as recently as yesterday evening – McLaren-Honda driver Fernando Alonso’s doctors have informed him that they find him asymptomatic of any medical issue; that they see no evidence whatsoever of any injury; and that they therefore describe him as entirely healthy from neurological and cardiac perspectives alike.

However, Fernando’s doctors have recommended to him that, following the concussion he sustained in a testing accident at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on February 22nd, for the time being he should seek to limit as far as is possible any environmental risk factors that could potentially result in his sustaining another concussion so soon after his previous one, so as to minimise the chances of second impact syndrome, as is normal medical procedure when treating athletes after concussions.

In order to limit those environmental risk factors, specifically, his doctors have advised that he should not compete in the imminent Australian Grand Prix meeting, which will take place on March 13th, 14th and 15th.

Fernando has understood and accepted that advice, and the two McLaren-Honda cars will therefore be driven in Australia by Fernando’s team-mate Jenson Button and the team’s test and reserve driver Kevin Magnussen.

Fernando’s doctors acknowledge that he feels fit and well, and that he regards himself as ready to race, and, that being the case, they are comfortable with the fact that he has already recommenced physical training, with a view to preparing for a return to the cockpit of his McLaren-Honda car for the Malaysian Grand Prix meeting on March 27th, 28th and 29th. Indeed, his doctors are supportive of that ambition, satisfied as they are that he sustained no damage whatsoever during his testing accident on February 22nd.

All at McLaren-Honda fully support Fernando’s decision in respect of his doctors’ advice

FIA MIDDLE EAST RALLY

SHEIKH ABDULLAH WINS SHARJAH RALLY AS SULAYEM TURNS BACK THE CLOCK

Al Qassimi hails 14-times FIA Middle East champion for great comeback; now both aim to attract new generation of drivers into rallying

Dubai, UAE, 1 March, 2015: Sheikh Abdullah Al Qassimi won the Sharjah Rally after a great battle with Mohammed Ben Sulayem, and then paid tribute to the 14-times FIA Middle East Champion for a stirring comeback 12 years after retiring from competitive motor sport.

“Mohammed was much faster on the technical sections, and it was as if he had never been away,” said Al Qassimi, who was partnered by Ghaby Khoury in a Mitsubishi Evo 9 for the second round of the UAE Rally Championship.

They had a winning margin of 45 seconds over Sulayem and his long time Irish co-driver Ronan Morgan, who were back together in the Ford Escort WRC which they took to victory in the 1999 Jordan International Rally before the car was retired.

A time penalty accounted for 30 of those seconds, and but for mechanical problems in the 20-year old Escort it might have been a different story at the finish on Saturday.

Oman’s Khalid Al Manji and Saif Al Aisiri in a Subaru Impreza took third place, and the top six was completed by two more Omanis, Faisal Al Rashidi and Walid Al Rashidi in another Subaru, Emiratis Ali Mater Al Ketbi and Rabab Al Tajir in a Nissan Patrol, and Saudi Arabia’s Ibrahim Al Mohana with the UAE’s Rashid Al Ketbi in another Nissan Patrol.

Sheikh Abdullah was full of praise for Sulayem at the finish, and both men are determined to work together to bring about a revival of rallying in the UAE where it has fallen behind other motor sport disciplines in recent years.

“Mohammed’s car had been parked for the last 15 years and it gave him problems,” said Al Qassimi, founder and President of the Emirates Motorsport Club, organisers of the UAE National Rally Championship. “But he was back up to speed. Really, he was the winner.

“We are trying our best to revive rallying, and it seems to be coming back better than I had expected, but now I hope it will go better and better. We are working together as friends to rebuild the spirit of rallying. We want to bring a new generation of drivers into this sport, and I think in the next rally we will see many more.”

Sulayem said: “Getting in a rally car for the first time in 12 years, the memories came flooding back and it was fun. But this is not about me. It’s about encouraging youth to come into rallying.

“Abdullah is doing a great job to bring more drivers into the sport. He is working hard and I’m very grateful to him. This was a very well organised rally, supported by the Government of Sharjah, and we will work together now to attract the next generation of drivers.”

Sulayem had not competed since scoring his 15th victory in the Dubai International Rally in December 2002, but he won the first special stage, beating Al Qassimi by one second, despite a broken rear drive shaft.

That meant he was reduced to 2WD power on the next stage which Al Qassimi won by 43 seconds. Sulayem took the next three stages to close the gap to 15 seconds, but his challenge faded when he lost fuel pressure and punctured on the last stage.

Sharjah Rally results:

  1. Shk Abdulla Al Qassimi, Gaby Khoury (UAE) Mitsubishi Evo 9             43:59.659
  2. Mohammed Ben Sulayem , Ronan Morgan (UAE)/ Ford Escort               44:45.721
  3. Khalid Al Manji / Saif Al Aisiri (Oman) Subaru Impreza                          50:32.708
  4. Faisal Al Rashidi / Walid Al Rashidi (Oman) Subaru Impreza                  50:45.231
  5. Ali Mattar Alketbi / Rabab Al Tajir (UAE) Nissan Patrol                         51:20.222
  6. Ibrahim N.Al Mohana / Rashed R. Al Katbi (KSA/UAE) Nissan Patrol 52:40.710
  7. Ian Barker / Sheila Hutton (UAE) / Nissan Patrol                                      53:04.456
  8. Ali Al Shawi / Ali Obaid (UAE) Chevy Blazer                                           53:57.978
  9. Nooh Buhmaid / Suhail Al Ali (UAE) / Nissan Patrol                                54:44.210
  10. Mansoor Parol / Srinivasa Thota (UAE) / Ford Fiesta                             56:18.558

FORMULA 1

Carmen Jordá announced as Lotus F1 Team Development Driver for 2015

Carmen Jordá today joined Lotus F1 Team as a Development Driver for the 2015 season. Carmen will attend Grands Prix and Formula 1 tests throughout 2015 for Lotus F1 Team as well as undergoing a significant simulator programme at the team’s base in Enstone. Carmen will drive the E23 Hybrid on track during the course of 2015.

Carmen, daughter of former racer José Miguel Jordá, has a distinguished racing career having participated in the European Open Formula 3 Championship – where she achieved three podiums – the American Indy Lights Championship and most recently the GP3 Series.

Matthew Carter, CEO, Lotus F1 Team:
“We are happy to announce Carmen Jordá as a Development Driver for Lotus F1 Team and we are looking forward to working with her over the course of the season and ultimately seeing her behind the wheel of the car. Carmen will bring a fresh perspective to the team. We have a strong programme for her attending Grands Prix as well as extensive time in our sophisticated simulation facility at Enstone. She is a unique addition to the team and we are looking forward to helping her progress her goals as well as receiving the benefit of her insights and contributions to the development of the E23 Hybrid.”

Carmen Jordá:
“It feels like a dream come true to join Lotus F1 Team. I’ve been racing since I was ten years old so it was my dream to drive a Formula 1 car since I was very young. Joining Lotus F1 Team is a big step towards my goal. I will be working to improve myself as a driver as well as helping the team to develop the car by testing new developments in the simulator; it’s such a fantastic opportunity. I know this is just the beginning and the biggest challenge is yet to come but already being part of a team with such a history is a real honour. This is a great achievement, but an even greater opportunity which will lead to bigger and better things

MSA FORMULA

KARTING STAR TICKTUM CONFIRMED FOR MSA FORMULA

  • 15-year-old Daniel Ticktum joins his karting rival Josh Smith at Fortec Motorsports for his first car-racing experience
  • Team says there’s ‘no question’ about his talent at the wheel
24 February, 2015 – Another superstar driver from the world of karting is to step up to car racing with MSA Formula. The crack Fortec Motorsports team today announces that 15-year-old Daniel Ticktum is to join its squad this season to race one of its Ford EcoBoost-powered chassis.Sussex-based Ticktum rose to prominence in cadet karting in 2011, when he won the ‘grand slam’ of four national titles, including Formula Kart Stars and the British Open Championship. Two seasons later he finished second in the CIK FIA European championship and British Super One. Last year he contested the WSK Champions Cup with Zanardi Strakka Racing.He’s excited to be taking on the challenge of the FIA-certified MSA Formula championship: “It’s amazing to make the step up from karting and I’m really happy to have signed with Fortec to race in the new MSA Formula. It’s the perfect place to kick-start my single-seater career. I’ve already done a bit of pre-season testing and the car feels great.”

Fortec team manager Daniel Mitchell said of his new charge: “It’s a great signing for Fortec: there’s absolutely no question of his talent so it is down to us now to provide him with the equipment. Pre-season testing so far has been positive but we feel as a team there is still a lot more to come.” Fortec is one of the largest and most successful teams contesting MSA Formula, with a long history of victories in Renault World Series, Formula 3, Formula Renault and GT racing.

Ticktum is the seventh teenage British karting frontrunner to opt for MSA Formula as the launchpad for their car-racing careers. Racing Steps Foundation-backed driver Josh Smith will be Daniel’s Fortec running mate, while the Carlin team has signed Lando Norris and TRS Arden have Sandy Mitchell and Enaam Ahmed on board. JTR will meanwhile field James Pull and Dan Baybutt.

Frontrunners for the inaugural MSA Formula crown will take part in the first collective test of the season on Thursday at Brands Hatch, gaining vital experience of the Kent circuit which will host the opening rounds of the live-televised championship 4/5 April.

MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, Powered by Ford EcoBoost is Britain’s official version of the FIA’s Formula 4 concept and will be the British Touring Car Championship’s single-seater support series, enjoying live TV coverage and bumper raceday spectator attendance. The championship will be decided over 30 races; three at each of the 10 BTCC meetings to be held between April and October.

The winning driver will hold the title FIA Formula 4 Champion of Great Britain, and will earn 10 Grand Prix Superlicence points to get his or her career off to a flying start, in addition to being awarded a career-enhancing test drive with a leading FIA Formula 3 team.

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