Valsecchi on top in free practice in Hockenheim-
Italian leads the way in damp session-
Davide Valsecchi has got his weekend under way in fine style by topping the timesheets in a rain (and red flag) affected free practice session this morning in Hockenheim, claiming the top spot just in time to sneak past Luiz Razia and Esteban Gutiérrez.
The session got underway under overcast skies but on a dry circuit, with the field storming out on track to make the most of the conditions while the teams kept an eye on the radar screens forecasting rain on the way. Gutiérrez and Marcus Ericsson set the early pace, swapping the top spot each time across the line as many of their rivals went too wide at turn one and paid the price with their times.
Around the ten minute mark Giedo van der Garde and Razia got into the mix too, with the Dutchman just catching some traffic in the complex to slow his ultimate lap times, before Valsecchi nailed a lap to steal the top spot. It looked as though this time was going to fall too, but for Giancarlo Serenelli running slightly wide coming into the complex and getting caught on the grass, which flicked the Venezuelan across the track and heavily into the wall, bringing out the red flags instantly.
As the marshals retrieved the various pieces of the broken Venezuela GP Lazarus car the rain started to come down, spitting at first and then raining heavier just before the session restarted with six minutes remaining: given the conditions there was no chance of any improvement in times, so Stefano Coletti, van der Garde, Fabio Leimer, James Calado, Max Chilton, Ericsson and Fabio Onidi were unable to take the fight to the top three.
With 18 drivers within a second of the quickest lap, and the rain falling even heavier after the session, this afternoon’s qualifying session promises to be more dramatic than ever at the famous German circuit.

Formula One


MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg today completed a flying tour of Mercedes-Benz facilities near the company headquarters in Stuttgart, Germany. After visiting the production facilities for the new A-Class and B-Class compact models in Rastatt, the drivers tried their hand at assembling the pistons and cylinder heads of a high-performance AMG engine at Mercedes-AMG in Affalterbach. The 5.5 litre twin-turbo V8 engine will power the new Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake, which will be given its world premiere at the “Night of the Stars” on 21st July in Hockenheim.

The Rastatt production facility in Baden celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year and is the centre of competence for production of Mercedes-Benz compact class vehicles. Daimler has invested around €1.2 billion for the production of the new compact vehicles in Rastatt. 500 new jobs will be created this year, and the factory will employ around 6,600 people by the end of 2012. The B-Class has enjoyed record sales in the first half of 2012, while the first models of the brand new A-Class rolled off the production lines in July 2012. Next year, will see production of a third model – the compact SUV – begin in Rastatt.

During their visit, Michael and Nico entered their names into the ‘Golden Book’ of Rastatt in the presence of Oberbürgermeister Hans Jürgen Pütsch, then took part in the personalised delivery process at the factory’s Customer Centre, handing over the key of two brand new B-Class vehicles to two lucky customers. The opportunity to exchange a few words with their colleagues was a priority for the day – and both drivers entertained their colleagues with an extended Q&A session on an outdoor stage. Lucky winners were then treated to high-speed rides on the Rastatt test track at the wheel of two Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG super sports cars before the drivers got a look at the state-of-the-art production line for the all-new A-Class.

“You can never fail to be amazed when you get a chance to see behind the scenes of a facility like Rastatt,” commented Michael. “The scale of the factory and the high technology here are very different to what we know in Formula One – but it is clear that here, just like in our world, Mercedes-Benz is aiming to set the standard. We had the chance to drive the new A-Class earlier this year and it’s a great car – the design promises performance, and the chassis delivers exactly that.”

“There are over 6000 people working here in Rastatt,” added Nico. “That’s probably the same number as all the Formula One teams put together! As a works Silver Arrow driver, it’s always a great feeling to visit our colleagues in the rest of the company – it’s not only a boost ahead of our home Grand Prix, but also reminds me that we carry their hopes and represent them every time we take to the track. That’s a big responsibility – and we want to make sure we do them proud this weekend in Hockenheim.”

Formula One stars turn master engine builders at Mercedes-AMG

After seeing the heart of the production facilities for the Mercedes-Benz compact class, the drivers then headed to Mercedes-AMG for a taste of something completely different – the world of refined high performance at the Affalterbach production facilities. The drivers then put their own mechanical skills into practice as they followed the traditional AMG production philosophy of “one man, one engine” with a unique twist – “one team, one engine”, assisting with assembly of the new highly efficient M 157 V8 engine. This unit develops 410 kW (557 PS) and will be used in numerous AMG high-performance vehicles such as the new GL 63 AMG, the ML 63 AMG and the E 63 AMG as well as the all-new Mercedes-Benz CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake.

The drivers were accompanied by an AMG master engine builder as they installed pistons and assembled the cylinder heads. The completed V8 engine for the CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake will carry an AMG engine plate signed by Michael, Nico and, as per AMG tradition, the master engine builder. The experts from the AMG Performance Studio then began installing the 5.5 litre twin-turbo unit in the CLS 63 AMG Shooting Brake that will get its world premiere at the “Night of the Stars” in Hockenheim.

“It’s fascinating to see behind the scenes of the ultra-modern facilities here at Mercedes-AMG,” enthused Nico. “We met a lot of true Formula One fans among the people here. Like us, they work to the highest levels of precision and can really show the art of engineering, as they develop the highest performance Mercedes vehicles. It was an interesting challenge to help assemble the AMG V8 engine – and an interesting comparison to when I did the same with our Formula One engine last year. It gives me even more respect for all the people who work in the AMG engine build facility.”

“It’s amazing to see how AMG has developed since I last visited in the 1990s, when I made a guest start in the DTM,” commented Michael. “The people at AMG are incredibly enthusiastic, and have real spirit for performance and passion for motorsport. I was impressed by the ultra-modern AMG engine assembly facilities, where they produce the most powerful but also most efficient V12 and V8 engines in the world.”

“It’s fantastic to be able to welcome our MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS drivers Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg as our guests at Mercedes-AMG,” commented Mercedes-AMG GmbH Chairman Ola Källenius. “Michael and Nico did a perfect job as build technicians for the AMG M 157 power unit! And I am sure that they got a real insight into what our AMG brand promise ‘driving performance’ really means. On behalf of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, I would like to thank both drivers for visiting Affalterbach and wish them every success at this weekend’s German Grand Prix in Hockenheim!”

An insight into the wide world of Mercedes-Benz

Following their experiences in the engine build workshops of Mercedes-AMG, the drivers will head to the inaugural German FOTA Fan Forum in the Mercedes-Benz Niederlassung Stuttgart, where they will be joined by Formula One colleagues Nico Hülkenberg and Timo Glock for a Q&A session in front of 300 members of the public and Daimler employees. This event, held for the first time in Germany, will round off the drivers’ preparations for the German Grand Prix, just a stone’s throw from Daimler headquarters in Untertürkheim.

“The German Grand Prix is a highlight for our MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Silver Arrows works team,” commented Norbert Haug, Vice President, Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. “The drivers have been given a real insight into what Mercedes-Benz is all about today – from the exciting new compact class models produced in Rastatt, to the exclusive high-performance world of Mercedes-AMG. It is always a fantastic boost to feel how much support our motorsport programmes enjoy from within the company. That enthusiasm only strengthens our determination to deliver a strong performance this weekend in Hockenheim to reward our fans and colleagues.”

Formula 3 Euro Series

Big field expected at Spa British Formula 3 races

The biggest European Formula 3 grid of the year is set to gather at the Belgian Grand Prix circuit of Spa-Francorchamps next week (26-28 July) for the latest rounds of the Cooper Tires British Formula 3 International Series.

Twenty-nine cars have provisionally entered the event, which in addition to counting towards the British championship is a round of the FIA European F3 Championship. Top Euro teams including Mücke Motorsport and Prema Powerteam will be joining their UK counterparts Carlin, CF Racing, Double R, Fortec and T-Sport for a celebration of top-level single-seater racing in support of the prestigious Spa 24 Hours sports car race.

“Spa is always special,” said SRO’s championship manager Benjamin Franassovicci, “but this year with 29 cars on track for the three British F3 races it will be doubly memorable.”

Britain’s Jack Harvey leads the field into battle as the championship enters the final third of the 2012 season. The Lincolnshire-based Carlin driver nosed ahead of his chief title rival Jazeman Jaafar late last month and, with only four points separating them, there is everything to play for in Belgium – not least because Fortec’s Puerto Rican racer Felix Serralles has accelerated into third place within 10 points of the championship lead.

Harvey and Jaafar will be joined at Carlin by regular team-mates Pietro Fantin (who scored his first win of 2012 in Germany last month), Carlos Sainz Jnr and Harry Tincknell, and also – it is hoped – by a sixth Dallara for a yet to be named driver.

Padua-based Prema Powerteam will field a four-car squad for FIA F3 points leader Raffaele Marciello, Euroseries frontrunner Daniel Juncadella, Sven Muller and Michael Lewis, while in addition to Serralles, Fortec will have Dallaras on track for Brazil’s Pipo Derani and impressive young Brit Alex Lynn, as well as for Dutch driver Hannes van Asseldonk, who will be keen to build on his podium success (behind Juncadella and Marciello) in last weekend’s F3 Masters at Zandvoort.

The National class battle looks like being a four-way fight for the first time this season, with T-Sport expecting to confirm later this week a class running mate for category points leader Spike Goddard. CF Racing is to return with Brands Hatch triple class winner Adderly Fong, and Double R will field its young Aussie Duvashen Padayachee.

Double R’s Geoff Uhrhane and Fahmi Ilyas and T-Sport man Nick McBride complete the UK side of the field, and there will additionally be two-car teams from Mücke (Felix Rosenqvist and Pascal Wehrlein), ma-con (British drivers Emil Bernstorff and Tom Blomqvist), Jo Zeller Racing, and single-car entries for URD Rennsport and Angola Racing Team.

Provisional championship standings after Round 17
1 Jack Harvey (GBR/Carlin) 186 points; 2 Jazeman Jaafar (MAS/Carlin) 182; 3 Felix Serralles (PUR/Fortec) 176; 4 Alex Lynn (GBR/Fortec) 144; 5 Carlos Sainz (ESP/Carlin) 140; 6 Pietro Fantin (BRA/Carlin) 137 etc.
National class: 1 Spike Goddard (AUS/T-Sport) 270; 2 Duvashen Padayachee (AUS/Double R) 232; 3 Adderly Fong (CHN/CF Racing) 62

Spa timetable (all timings local)
Thu 26 Jul 1125-1155 & 1445-1515 free practice; 1730-1800 qualifying
Fri 27 Jul 1200 Race 1 (30 mins); 1535 Race 2 (20 mins)
Sat 28 Jul 1155 Race 3 (40 mins)

Live timing

TV schedule 4 August, 0700 Channel 4 & 1720 Motors TV

Formula One

Driver quotes for the German Grand Prix preview-

Sebastian Vettel: “I’m looking forward to the German GP, hopefully there will be at least as many people supporting the German drivers as there were in Silverstone last weekend. Hockenheim is only half an hour away from my home town, so I have a lot of friends and family there and it’s always a special crowd to race in front of. I’ve driven on that circuit in different series and it’s always been great. The campsites near the new circuit are fun and it’s special to meet the fans there. I haven’t won the German GP before and of course, I would like to!”

Mark Webber: “Obviously the German GP now switches between Nürburgring and Hockenheim with this year’s taking place in Hockenheim. We were last there in 2010 and it’s always a good atmosphere. There are plenty of German drivers on the grid and the support for them is always massive. There’s a long, long straight around the back into the hairpin, so we have a high top speed there and it’s always important to get the last sector together due to the combination of corners in quick succession. The temperatures will be interesting as it can sometimes be a hot race, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Heikki Kovalainen: “Next up it’s Hockenheim which will be my hundredth Grand Prix weekend. That’s a good milestone to reach and I’m pleased I’ll be able to celebrate it with a really good team of people, and a lot of friends in the paddock.
“On track we’re back to a track that is more of a low speed circuit compared to Silverstone, but one that still has quite a lot of the lap on full throttle. It used to have one of the longest flat out sections of all F1 tracks but since that was taken out of the lap you need a car that has a balance between good traction for the low speed corners and good top speed to take advantage of the overtaking opportunities into turn six.
“One of the main objectives for us will be to have as much track time as we can to keep working on the upgrades we brought to Silverstone. We definitely didn’t get as much out of them as we had hoped, mainly due to the lack of dry running we had, so hopefully we’ll be able to have a dry Friday so we can work through the setup options and unlock more of the speed we know is there.”
“Whatever happens with the weather the race weekend will definitely be good. The German fans are about as passionate as anywhere we go in the world and there’s always a great atmosphere around the whole place. I remember when I was at Mclaren, going past the Mercedes stand and seeing all the fans holding up boards with my name on – that’s pretty cool and even though this year it’ll be other drivers’ names they’re holding up I’m always given a really warm welcome.”
Vitaly Petrov:  “Now we’re going to Hockenheim which is a good track. It’s quite technical and it’s a good challenge to find the right set-up. That will be extra important for us as we need track time to get the updates we brought to Silverstone right. The basic improvements are there but we need to work on the aero balance and then I think everyone will see what they’ve given us.
“One of the really good things about Germany is the atmosphere, which is particularly positive in Hockenheim. The track is always full of fans and the fans are a lot like the British guys. They know a lot about the sport and the promoters put on a good range of events for the fans so they have a really good weekend, whether we’re on track or not.
“The whole circuit is good and if you pick the right spot you can see a lot of the lap, but one of the best places around the track is the stadium section. One day maybe I could put on a mask and go and see what it’s really like in the middle of the fans there! It would be good to go and hang out there but I think that if I didn’t wear a disguise I’d never come back!”

Pedro de la Rosa: “Hockenheim is a circuit which is a little bit more favourable for us than Silverstone because it’s made up almost entirely of slow corners, except for the first one which is quick. We haven’t brought any upgrades to this track so we’ll try to get the most out of the car with the different options at our disposal. In England we anticipated a tough weekend and we performed better than expected, which is positive. In Germany we will work to continue in this manner and try to take things one step further”.

Narain Karthikeyan: “The new Hockenheim circuit is quite different to the old one, which for my liking was more exciting. Before it was quick but now it is slower and a high-downforce track, it is also quite short, not too complicated and very stop-and-go. In the last few races we have proved that our car is quick in qualifying but we haven’t yet shown it over a race distance. We’ve been working on that and in Germany we are aiming to give our main rivals a fight throughout the entire race”.

F3 Euro Series

Daniel Juncadella victorious in Masters of Formula 3-

In front of 26,500 spectators at Zandvoort, Spaniard Daniel Juncadella (Prema Powerteam) scored one of his biggest achievements in motorsport to date: having already won last year’s Macau Grand Prix, the current points’ leader in the Formula 3 Euro Series now claimed victory in the ’RTL GP Masters of Formula 3’. After 25 laps at the 4.307 kilometres long Circuit Park Zandvoort, he crossed the finish line 7.594 seconds ahead of Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam). Thus, the winning streak of the Formula 3 Euro Series in the Masters of Formula 3 continues: since the Euro Series was established in 2003, only Euro Series drivers won Europe’s most important Formula 3 race.

Daniel Juncadella took the lead at the start and defended his position on the first few laps against Raffaele Marciello. After that, he pulled clear from the rest of the field with a couple of fastest race laps in a row and then drove an undisputed victory home. Behind him, Raffaele Marciello finished an equally undisputed second while Carlos Sainz (Carlin) tried everything to claim third place from Hannes van Asseldonk (Fortec). However, the Spaniard didn’t succeed and finished fourth. In total, eight drivers from the Formula 3 Euro Series were classified in the top ten, once again underlining the high level of the Euro Series.

Daniel Juncadella (Prema Powerteam): “I am really delighted to have won Europe’s most important Formula 3 race, too. I knew that the start would be decisive and I did very well. After that, I just concentrated on avoiding any mistakes. I dedicate this victory to Spanish Formula 1 test driver Maria de Villota, who has had a serious accident and is still in hospital.”

Raffaele Marciello (Prema Powerteam): “Bearing in mind that this was my first time racing at Zandvoort and with Kumho tyres, I am happy with my second place. Daniel was simply quicker.”

Carlos Sainz (Carlin): “I started from the dirty side of the track and that was not a good beginning. I didn’t expect the attack by Hannes van Asseldonk on the second lap. After that, I tried everything to overtake him again, but it didn’t work out. He did a good job, congratulations to him.”


Schumacher and Green claim victory for Mercedes-Benz in Munich

Munich. The DTM provided an extraordinary motoring show in Munich’s Olympiastadion on Saturday. In an action-packed relay competition of the three manufacturers Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz, Ralf Schumacher and Norisring winner Jamie Green with the DTM Mercedes AMG C-Coupé beat two times’ DTM champion Timo Scheider and Adrien Tambay with the Audi A5 DTM in a very close final. After twelve laps in the final heat, the Audi drivers were only two tenths of a second behind the winners. “Of course, I am happy with our first place. This was a perfect day for me. I could get used to this”, said a buoyant Schumacher. “The team competition was a very special thing, it was great fun”, was the verdict of French DTM rookie Adrien Tambay after his successful day.

In the race for third place, Gary Paffett and Christian Vietoris (Mercedes-Benz) finished ahead of Dirk Werner and Joey Hand (BMW). In front of a good crowd in the impressive surroundings of the Olympiapark, the drivers presented themselves in optimal shape. “Driving in the stadium is a special feeling. On the short track, you have to be extremely concentrated”, said Vietoris. In the battle of the brands, BMW was defeated in front of its home crowd, but Bruno Spengler showed his competitive spirit for the races on Sunday: “Things didn’t run optimally in the relay, but the individual competition is a totally new affair.”

The Munich event isn’t counting towards the official DTM standings, but that didn’t affect the drivers’ ambitions at the narrow stadium track. The unusual team competition, during which two drivers per team completed distances ranging from three to five laps after each other, required the right mix of driving precision and speed. Two times’ DTM champion Mattias Ekström (Audi) had bad luck, retiring in the quarter finals on his 34th birthday.

An extraordinary effort was completed before the event: 45 dump trucks were used to transport 21,000 tons of gravel. Workers installed 4,800 tons of asphalt for the two courses of 614 metres each. To make the competitions even more thrilling for the spectators, the drivers were simultaneously on two identical track lay-outs, making it clear immediately which car was in front.

The attractive side event programme with sport, music and show enthused the crowd on Saturday. Autograph sessions with the DTM drivers were just as popular as photo sessions with the grid girls and numerous concerts in the paddock area.

The event continues with the individual competitions on Sunday. The 22 DTM drivers will be competing against each other in a head-to-head format. ARD is broadcasting live in its ’Sportschau’ programme from 14.15 h CET.

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