F1Weekly podcast # 540

Photo: renaultsport

 Fuji Speedway – Nissan GT-R Testing

Stefano Comini shows his poise in the Nissan GT-R

Like the 2010 champion Nick Catsburg before him, 2011 Eurocup Megane Trophy winner Stefano Comini was rewarded for his successful season with a drive in the Nissan GT-R GT1 last week, following an invitation from Renault Sport Technologies and Nissan Motorsport International (Nismo). Receiving expert advice from Nissan’s FIA GT1 world championship-winning duo Michael Krumm and Lucas Luhr, Comini made light of some tricky weather conditions to impress all onlookers, doing his hopes of receiving more test invitations in the future no harm.

The winner of 11 of this year’s 14 Eurocup Megane Trophy races, the 21-year-old Comini jetted out to Japan last week to get to grips with the Nissan GT-R, the car that took Germany’s Krumm and Luhr to the 2011 FIA GT1 world title. Following in the footsteps of 2010 Eurocup Megane Trophy champion Nick Catsburg, who impressed in the snow at Motegi last year, Comini had some wet conditions to contend with at the Fuji Speedway, which lies at the foot of Mount Fuji, about 100 km from Tokyo.

Arriving at the track, the Swiss driver was greeted by Krumm and Ryo Watanabe, the head of Nissan’s Driver Development Program. “Nismo gave me a fantastic welcome,” said Comini. “The first thing that really struck me was arriving in Tokyo, which is an amazing city. What with the time difference and my excitement at getting a drive in a Nissan GT-R, I didn’t get much sleep on Thursday night. The whole team’s been fantastic though, starting with Ryo Watanabe, Michael and Negishi Keisuke, an engineer I’ve worked with before. In spite of the rain, they did everything they could to help me. This is the first time I’ve worked with the team and they were very professional and focused. They take a different approach to things, but the guys in the team are very open and welcoming, and it was a fantastic experience.”

“I felt at ease straightaway because they work in pretty much the same way as we do at Oregon Team in the Eurocup Megane Trophy,” continued Comini. “The only negative thing was the heavy rain. I’ve never been the biggest fan of driving on a wet track.” After taking his time to acquaint himself with the car in the morning and fine-tune his set-up, Comini managed to put 20 laps together in the afternoon. “It didn’t take me long to get used to the car. I didn’t find it hard to drive and it was an amazing feeling to be behind the wheel. You could really feel the power, even in the wet. I was lapping about a second slower than Michael, and all because of Turn 6. The carbon brakes took some getting used to, but working with Nismo has really been worthwhile. We managed to make a few changes to the set-up and I felt more and more at home in the car.”

Comini and the Nismo team were greeted by a downpour on Saturday morning, prompting this year’s Le Mans 24-hour winner Benoit Treluyer and Krumm to declare the track out of bounds. Eventually venturing out at 10.30 am, Comini quick found his rhythm and strung together 17 laps, setting a steady pace and slipping on a new set of tyres towards the end of the session. “The most important thing wasn’t the performance but getting the chance to work with Nismo. They were impressed by Nick Catsburg last year and my aim was to be just as helpful as he’d been. Now that I’ve won the Eurocup Megane Trophy, the GT looks really interesting, and I’d love to do some more testing and try and put a programme together for the event, which is what Catsburg’s done. He’s driven a lot for Nissan this season.”

Renault COO and seasoned racing driver Carlos Tavares put in a surprise appearance at the end of the day to offer Comini his encouragement, exchanging his views with the Swiss on the testing conditions. Just as they had been with Catsburg 12 months ago, Renault Sport Technologies and Nismo were greatly impressed with Comini’s dedication and application in the wet, further proof, if it were needed, that it takes a special kind of driver to win the Eurocup Megane Trophy.

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Motorsports Mondial

Home Coming King

 

Felipe Nasr, 2011 British F3 Champion, is given a Champion’s reception upon arrival in native Brazil.

This mega-talent from Brasilia has won two very competitive championships in the past three years in the cut-throat world of European road racing. In the prestigious Macau F3 Grand Prix last month, he was second in both the qualifying race and feature event.

The Felipe file features race and championship winning ways before he was 10-years-old. He was 2000 Brasilia Champion in the cadet class at the age of eight. He repeated the feat the following year and finished an impressive second in the same category in the Brazilian championship.

Nasr notched up a championship win every year for the next six seasons.

Pointing in the right direction. Uncle Amir Nasr runs a team in Brazilian stock car racing and is a guidance force in the career of Felipe.

Grand debut. Grand finale.   

The 2008 Formula 1 race at Interlagos saw an epic, emotion-filled season finale. But behind the scenes, in a supporting race, a new talent was emerging.

Nasr finished on the podium in his first weekend of single-seater racing, in the final race of the Formula BMW Americas.

For the 2009 season, like the legion of talented Brazilian drivers before him – from Fittipaldi to Felipe Massa – he moved to Europe, and joined Antonio Ferrari’s Euro International team to compete in Formula BMW Europe.

Racing against a host of second year and much more experienced drivers, Nasr dominated the season, winning the championship with 392 points against 288 for runner-up, Spaniard Daniel Juncadella.

From 16 races Nasr took seven victories, claimed eight pole positions and was on the podium in all but two races. A one-off appearance in the Pacific variant of the same series saw two wins, two poles and two fastest laps from three races.   

La Familia.

This command performance in his first season of motor racing naturally sparked interest from various teams and driver management programs. After careful evaluation of various offers, Nasr, who is ably guided his father, Samir and uncle Amir, decided on the management of Steve Robertson, the man who brought us the soft-spoken but oft-winning Kimi Raikkonen.

What Robertson saw in Nasr, as in Kimi, was a driver winning races of brief duration by a wide margin. “Pure racing talent,” said Robertson in an F1 Weekly interview earlier this year.

Success breeds success. Two championships in three years for Nasr. The 2009 Formula Formula BMW Europe and this year’s British F3.

Felipe in F3

Fittipaldi, Piquet and Senna all arrived in F1 on the back of their success in British F3. For the 2010 season Nasr entered the series driving for Double R Racing – as in Räikkönen Robertson – with Mercedes powerplant.

In only his second full season of single-seater racing, Nasr finished the season in the top five, taking maiden victory at Rockingham. He also made three other podium appearances and recorded three fastest laps.

Change of team to Carlin Motorsports for the 2011 season saw Nasr open the season with a pair of victories, and a second, from the first weekend at Monza in a Volkswagen-powered Dallara.

Five other victories, and podium finishes in more than half of the 30 races, helped Nasr amass 318 points to win the British F3 Championship, ahead of Dane Kevin Magnussen on 237 points.

Street smart. Hustling in the streets of Macau, Nasr was quick all weekend in the former Portuguese colony. A late race yellow prevented him from mounting a challenge for victory.

Nasr signed-off on his F3 career with strong showing in the streets of Macau. The inaugural F3 race here in 1983 was won by fellow Brazilian Ayrton Senna.

The Final Frontier

The 2012 season will bring Felipe Nasr to the gates of Formula 1. A decision is expected in the near future on his future plans.

He recently tested World Series by Renault machinery at Motorland Aragon and was quoted on their website saying:

“Driving a single-seater like this is all part of preparing for F1.”

 

Forza Felipe!

 

— Nasir Hameed

 

   Greetings and racing regards from California.

Motorsports Mondial

Photo: Renaultsport

DACIA LODGY GLACE ON THE PACE AT VAL THORENS

After picking up its first Trophée Andros podium finish in the hands of Evens Stievenart on Saturday, the new Dacia Lodgy Glace came close to claiming its first win in the series on Sunday. In the end, Alain Prost and Evens Stievenart harvested valuable points by securing fifth and sixth places in the second race, while Nicolas Prost continued to make progress. Evens Stievenart emerged from the 2011/2012 championship’s opening clash at Val Thorens in third place. Action continues next week in the principality of Andorra where Team Dacia will be looking for victory.

Competitors were greeted by a slight covering of snow for the weekend’s second day of racing. Following its top-three finish the previous day, Evens Stievenart’s Dacia Lodgy Glace was forced to carry 20kg of ballast.

The first qualifying heat soon saw the track conditions evolve quickly, however, as patches of bare asphalt began to appear in the snow. Nicolas Prost continued to familiarise himself with the car, while Alain opted for a bold tyre pressure strategy which failed to pay dividends, since one of his tyres came off its rim on his last lap and he was forced to settle for 13th place. Evens Stievenart’s consistent effort bagged fourth place.

The Dacia trio continued to take risks in the second qualifying session which saw Alain Prost post two perfect laps before being caught out last time round. The four-time F1 world champion ended the second heat with the third best time.

Alain Prost, Evens Stievenart and Nicolas Prost consolidated their positions in their respective finals, the latter going as far as to win his finale after a daring passing manoeuvre and thanks to six consistently fast laps. Alain Prost’s qualifying times and race result allowed him to clinch fifth place, while Evens Stievenart and Nicolas Prost ended the day in sixth and 19th places respectively.

The first weekend of the season taught the team a great deal, despite the delicate track conditions owing to a lack of ice, but the results point to an exciting championship to come, with 10 or so drivers capable of challenging for the title. Dacia Lodgy Glace celebrated its Trophée Andros debut with a podium finish, with action due to resume in Andorra where Team Dacia will do everything in its power to do even better.

Alain Prost (5th): “I had a good chance of winning the second qualifying heat but my chances took a blow on my last lap. The tenths of a second I lost were enough to drop me from first to third place. We showed that we will be able to fight for the title and Dacia has already claimed a podium finish. The car clearly has potential. The level is very high and it’s a shame that we didn’t come away with more points than we did, but there’s a long way to go before the end of the season.”

Evens Stievenart (6th): “I continued to drive as though I was on ice today, but a racing driving style would have been more appropriate. That’s a lesson for the future. The positives are that I’ve scored points and been able to get an idea of Dacia Lodgy Glace’s potential. I am third in the provisional Trophée Andros standings, so that’s satisfying. We will work as a team to ensure that Alain Prost catches up with the leaders to challenge for what promises to be an extremely competitive championship.”

Nicolas Prost (19th): “The conditions were different today. There was more exposed asphalt and fewer ruts. That suited me better because the car jumped about less. I learnt so much this weekend. I now need to take a close look at all the data we collected in order to up my game in Andorra next weekend. It was great for morale to win my final.”

Val Thorens 2 – final positions: 1, Olivier Panis (Skoda Fabia). 2, Jean-Philippe Dayraut (Mini Countryman). 3, Jean-Baptiste Dubourg (Renault Clio III). 4, Franck Lagorce (Skoda Fabia). 5, Alain Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace). 6, Evens Stievenart (Dacia Lodgy Glace). 7, Julien Maurin (Ford Fiesta). 8, Jacques Villeneuve (Skoda Fabia). 9, Bertrand Balas (Mini Countryman). 10, Pierre Llorach (Renault Clio III)… 19, Nicolas Prost (Dacia Lodgy Glace).

 

Motorsports Mondial

2012 Classic F1 Calendar

Photo. Grand Prix Photo

Bravo, Bravo for Jarno. Veteran Italian Jarno Trulli is seen leading Renault team’s illustrious ‘numero uno’ and el machismo “Nando” through the streets of Monte Carlo.

Michael Schumacher brake-tested Juan Pablo Montoya in the tunnel, opening the way for Trulli to triumph in the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix. The popular victory has remained ‘won and only’ for the man from Pescara, a two town which hosted an F1 championship race in 1957, won by Stirling Moss in a Vanwall.

The 2012 Calendar Won & Only, featuring Kubica, Kovalainen, Herbert, Panis, Cevert, Brambilla and other one hit wonders of F1, is now available on our merchandise page.

To order please click here.

Motorsports Mondial

Photo:gp3media

Daniel Abt back on top in Jerez

Lotus ART driver sets quickest time on final day of post season testing

Today marked the final day of GP3 Series™ post-season testing at Circuito De Jerez and the teams were greeted with cool temperatures in the morning. There was just one new face in paddock with Aaro Vainio returning to Lotus ART. Tom Blomqvist switched teams to Status Grand Prix, Facu Regalia also switched to the Irish team for Day 2. Conor Daly moved back to Carlin and Fabio Gamberini to RSC Mücke Motorsport.

After his impressive test in Valencia last week Daniel Abt was back on top of the time sheet this morning for reigning champions Lotus ART. The young German slotted straight into P1 at the start of the session until David Fuminelli took over the reins after twenty minutes. During the first hour of running sophomores Michael Christensen, Marlon Stockinger and Matias Laine also took their turns at the top until Abt moved ahead once again with a 1:33.885 lap leaving the rest of the field to battle it out for second.

With one hour left on the clock rain began to fall over the Spanish track and Abt’s place at the top of the time sheet was secured for the remainder of the session. Laine was just 0.055 seconds behind in second ahead of Fumenelli, Stockinger and Maxim Zimin.

By the time the lights turned green to mark the start of the afternoon session the rain had stopped and the sun was starting to break through once more. Vainio was top for Lotus ART until after thirty minutes Abt snatched P1 from his teammate and Daly then moved up into second for Carlin. As the track started to dry and the times dropped Gabby Chaves, Robert Visiou, Gamberini and Christensen all fought for the top spot until Tio Ellinas snatched P1 with 45 minutes left in the session. 

As the clock counted down the GP3 machines all headed out with fresh rubber, but a high number of red flags meant it was tough for the young drivers to put together flying laps. The final battle for P1 looked like it was going to be between Fuminelli, Visiou and Patric Niederhauser who were swapping quickest times, but with just six minutes left in the session Laine snatched the top spot with a 1:36.446 lap bumping Visiou down into second. Nigel Melker then moved up into third ahead of Niederhauser and Fumanelli.

Motorsports Mondial

Vettel Gives You Wings

Photo. Grand Prix Photo

A Won & Only from the 2012 Calendar. Parco Monza, 2008. Sebastian Vettel was singing Neil Sedaka tune, Laughter in the rain. He sure loved the rainy days and winning way of an historic weekend.

The German kid, flying on the wings of success and supported by Red Bull before he was a teenager, became the youngest pole-sitter after a wet qualifying. On Sunday, he left the competition in his mist to become the youngest race winner.

His machine, Toro Rosso, was powered by a Ferrari engine and was formerly known as Minardi. The Red Bull-owned junior team is still based in the Italian town of Faenza.

This historical Won & Only victory for the little team is captured in the 2012 Vintage Formula 1 Calendar from Saison 73, and now available on our merchandise page.

To order please click here.

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