INDYCAR SERIES

PAGENAUD WINS CLOSEST LONG BEACH FINISH IN RACE HISTORY

Simon Pagenaud has knocked on the door of victory lane in each of the first two races of the 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Today at the 42nd Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, the Frenchman broke through to earn the win.

Pagenaud, in the No. 22 PPG Automotive Refinish Chevrolet, edged reigning series champion Scott Dixon across the finish line by 0.3032 of a second, the closest finish in the 33 Indy car races held at Long Beach and the fastest ever with an average speed of 100.592 mph. It gave Pagenaud five career Verizon Indy Car Series wins and his first since joining Team Penske in 2015.

Pagenaud, who finished second in each of the first two races this season, takes a 14-point championship lead over Dixon into the next event, the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park on April 24 (3 p.m. ET, NBCSN).

“This is my favorite street course,” said Pagenaud, a two-time winner in sports car races on the 1.968-mile temporary street course, but who took his first Indy car victory here today. “To win here, especially in INDYCAR, given the level of competition, is amazing. The PPG car is good luck on me. Every time I’m in that car, I’m on the podium.”

Starting the 80-lap race third, Pagenaud took his first lead on Lap 52 when teammate and pole sitter Helio Castroneves made his final pit stop. Pagenaud was able to push two laps farther before stopping for fuel and tires, exiting the pits just ahead of Dixon and Castroneves.

INDYCAR race stewards warned Pagenaud for improper lane usage exiting the pits, but he was able to lead the final 25 laps to collect the win in the first Verizon IndyCar Series caution-free race since Mid-Ohio in August 2013 and the first completely green-flag race on the often-chaotic streets of Long Beach since 1989.

Dixon, in the No. 9 Target Chip Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, believed Pagenaud should have been assessed a stronger penalty, but was resigned with the runner-up finish that kept him second in the standings. Pagenaud leads with 134 points after three of 16 races, Dixon has 120 and Team Penske’s Juan Pablo Montoya is third with 106.

“It appeared that Simon turned a little early and crossed the line (exiting the pits) that you’re not meant to cross,” Dixon said. “But it is what it is, so second place today and Team Target did a hell of a job.”

Castroneves finished third in the No. 3 Auto Club of Southern California Chevrolet, leading a race-high 47 laps. Montoya finished fourth in the No. 2 Verizon Team Penske Chevy after a frenetic late-lap battle with Takuma Sato, who wound up fifth in the No. 14 ABC Supply AJ Foyt Racing Honda.

Pagenaud finished 11th in last year’s standings, in his first season with Team Penske, with best finishes of third at Belle Isle-1 and Mid-Ohio. Despite going winless in 2015, he focused on the long-term plan.

“I knew it was coming because we’ve been so competitive since the beginning of the year,” Pagenaud said. “I knew I could win races. It’s not my first win; I’ve been around. It was just a matter of when and it’s when we were going to put ourselves in that position.”

FORMULA 1

RED BULL RACING CHINESE GRAND PRIX REPORT

DANIIL KVYAT, Finish Position: 3rd, Start Position: 6th
“I really enjoyed the race today. Our pace was very strong and to get this result at this track where we didn’t expect to be so strong is really great. The car is performing really well, the chassis is easy to drive and with further upgrades coming to the power unit, we should be in an even stronger position. I think it was a fair move on Vettel. I saw the gap and I went for it. We didn’t touch, unfortunately for him, Kimi was on his other side. For me it was a logical move and it paid off with a podium. It’s a nice boost for our side of the garage after a couple of tricky races. It’s also good for the team to be consistently fighting for podiums this year. It’s very encouraging for the season. I’m a very happy man today and it’s nice to carry this feeling heading into my home grand prix in Russia.”
DANIEL RICCIARDO, Finish Position: 4th, Start Position: 2nd
“I think there were some incidents on the first lap and I remember on my second lap there was a little bit of debris here and there. But it didn’t seem like there was one big bit which I caught so it was still unexpected when I was coming through Turn 11 and 12 and was feeling the rear start to slide so I just came on the radio straight away to let them know the tyres were gone. The puncture became noticeable when I got on the straight as I could feel the car start to wobble and then my tyre went. Then the safety car put us even further back so that was like a double whammy, which felt like getting punched in the stomach by a heavy weight. But in the end the second part of the race I drove probably one of the best races of my life. The package is really promising for sure. Right now, three races in every weekend we’ve shown our strength at some point and it’s been a strength we didn’t think we’d have this early in the season, so it definitely feels more like 2014 when we had potential. I felt like I would have sprayed champagne today and part of me is smiling because I am optimistic that will happen this year so that’s a really good feeling and I’ll keep fighting.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “It’s been a great day for the team, especially after that unfortunate start. For Daniel to take the lead and then get that puncture was desperately unlucky after he hit some debris. The safety car then came out at exactly the wrong time for him and put him on the back foot, but it was a fantastic recovery drive. Dany took up the baton and drove a fantastic race, racing with Sebastian for a large part of the race to achieve his second podium. A third and fourth place finish, lots of constructors points so yes, a great day for the team.”

F1Weekly podcast # 701

CLARK AND NASIR GO OVER THE RESULTS OF THE GRAND PRIX IN BAHRAIN, WE HAVE A TERRIFIC MOTORSPORTS MONDIAL AND 50 WORDS FROM THE F1W FORUM.

Here is some news from our friends at Renault Sport…Renault Sport expands Asian presence!

Groupe Renault today confirmed its plans to stimulate the development of the burgeoning Chinese motorsport scene. Renault Sport and Dongfeng Renault Automotive Company announced upcoming Chinese karter Sun Yue Yang will join the Renault Sport Academy. In parallel, a new scholarship was announced for Chinese drivers competing in Asian Formula Renault.

Sun Yue Yang to join Renault Sport Academy

Yue Yang will join the prestigious Renault Sport Academy, which aims to identify hot young talent at global level and prepare them for the multi-faceted challenges of top-level motorsport.

Fifteen-year-old Yue Yang, who hails from Shanghai, is the first Chinese driver to finish on the podium in the competitive World Series Karting Champions Cup. Currently fifth in the hard-fought series, he also races in the WSK Super Master Series across Europe and was the first Chinese driver to win a round of the German Karting Championship, the DKM. He started karting in 2014, winning seven heats in 2015 and becoming the first Chinese driver to finish in the top 30 drivers.

Alongside current Academy members Jack Aitken, Louis Delétraz, Kevin Jörg and Oliver Rowland, Yue Yang will be given expert guidance on the best career path to reach F1. Signed on a multi-year development deal, Yue Yang will follow a long-term plan that will see him hone his racecraft in karts before making his single-seater debut at the end of the year. In subsequent seasons, he will be given set objectives and continuously evaluated on his increasing technical knowledge and fitness with the target of reaching F1.

The Renault Sport Academy was rejuvenated this year but Renault has long supported young drivers. The first Formula Renault series took place in 1971 and many eminent drivers cut their teeth in the formula, including Jacques Laffite and Jean Ragnotti. Subsequently, Renault offered the winner of the Elf-Winfield Racing school a full year of Formula Renault, with Alain Prost winning the series in 1976. Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen and Lewis Hamilton have also been through the ranks of Formula Renault to win multiple Formula 1 titles, while the likes of Robert Kubica, Heikki Kovalainen and Loic Duval have graduated from the Renault Development programme to become race winners.

Fred Vasseur, Racing Director of Renault Sport Racing, commented: ‘The Renault Sport Academy is a highly beneficial tool for young drivers. Firstly, we thoroughly evaluate them to give the right steer through the vast motorsport landscape. Then, they are exposed to the pinnacle of technology through the F1 team and what is required to get there. In short, we aim to turn each Academy driver into an elite athlete, capable of performing to his or her absolute best.

‘The Academy is also a tool for the Renault markets to better engage with motorsport within their own regions. We are pleased and proud to give Renault China the opportunity through the Academy to bring Yue Yang through the ranks. Yue Yang has shown strong potential in WSK to, with the right preparation, work his way to Formula 1. The opportunities for both Yue Yang and Renault China to benefit from this partnership are huge.’

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FORMULA 1

WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING CHINESE GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

Aerodynamic performance is tested at the Chinese Grand Prix thanks to the circuit’s 1km back straight and its combination of sweeping turns. The back straight is a great place for overtaking, but not the only opportunity on the track. The layout’s demanding corners test the Pirelli tyre whilst fans cheer on their heroes in the 24,000 capacity grandstand. An addition to the calendar in 2004, the first sequence of corners on the track have been described as one of the hardest in Formula One as fast entry speeds are quickly discarded under heavy breaking due to a tightening track for almost 270° before quickly changing direction. The Chinese Grand Prix is host to the continuing growing fan base in Asia.
For Shanghai, Pirelli have made available the supersoft (for use in Q3), soft and medium compound tyres for dry-weather running. The intermediate and wet tyres are also available. Pirelli have allocated three sets of tyres to each driver, but each driver can now choose their remaining ten sets from the available compounds. In China, Williams has chosen to allocate each driver with different sets of tyres. Valtteri will be racing with two sets of medium tyres, four sets of soft tyres, and seven sets of supersoft tyres. Felipe will be racing with one set of medium tyres, five sets of soft tyres, and seven sets of supersoft tyres.
Pat Symonds
The Shanghai International Circuit has quite long straights with average corner speeds on the low side. However, Turns 7, 8 and 13 do exercise the high-speed characteristics of the car. The long duration of the corners puts a lot of energy through the tyres, therefore tyre wear is generally the limiting factor for strategy choice. Whilst in 2015 we generally saw two-stop strategies, experience so far in 2016 shows that teams are pushing to more aggressive strategies due to the freedom of tyre choice. The championship is extremely close, therefore we must keep pushing to remain competitive.
Felipe Massa
I think Shanghai is a nice track and it’s always fantastic to go back to China. I have a lot of fans there, and I always enjoy going to see them. We get people waiting outside the hotel all day, so it’s really amazing to be with them. I’m really looking forward to that. The fans always have a lot of gifts for me and my family, which is amazing. I’ve had good races there, including last year when I finished fifth. I look forward to another good race, and maybe even finishing on the podium.
Valtteri Bottas
China is a good track to drive. It has a massive long straight, which boosts overtaking. It has some high-speed corners which I very much like, and our car is not bad in those kind of conditions either. The weather can normally play a part in the China race weekend. It’s still the beginning of the year, and we are still looking to see improvements in our performance all the time. I’m looking forward to going to China and meeting all the fans. We have great support over there, and I thank our Chinese fans for that.

FORMULA 1

SAHARA FORCE INDIA CHINESE GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

Q&A with Vijay Mallya
Team Principal, Vijay Mallya, reflects on the opening couple of races ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.
 
Vijay, the team was out of luck in Bahrain, but there were some positives…
“Bahrain was a missed opportunity. Two front wing changes in the space of two laps put us on the back foot and prevented us from playing a part in the outcome of the race. It’s disappointing because we know the car has the speed to be right up there fighting for points. So that’s the positive we must focus on as we prepare for the upcoming races.”
 
What can we expect this weekend in China?
“It feels as though we’ve yet to unleash our true potential this season. Both the races so far have been heavily compromised, either by our own mistakes or outside circumstances, so I’d like to see what we can achieve with a clean, trouble-free race to the flag. When things go to plan, we know we can compete well inside the top ten and I expect everyone in the team to be pushing hard to reverse our recent fortunes.”
 
Did you enjoy watching the close midfield battle in Bahrain?
“The battle in the middle of the pack is too close to call this season and it means that there’s even more pressure on teams and drivers to deliver, especially in qualifying. It’s going to be very exciting for the fans and that is what we want to see in Formula One.”
 
 
Nico on China
Nico Hulkenberg aims to realise the potential of the VJM09 this weekend.
 
Nico: “When I think of the race in Shanghai I always remember the impressive towers on the main straight and the cool paddock buildings by the lake. It’s definitely a circuit with a special character and its own personality. The city of Shanghai is also a cool place to visit and I enjoy trying real Chinese food and exploring such a different culture. I’m always fascinated by big cities and feeling the buzz of the place.
 
“The track is also famous for the never-ending turn one. It’s a tricky corner because it’s easy to go in too hot, especially during qualifying, and it’s a corner that eats your tyres. In fact, looking after the tyres is always hard work because turn 13 is another long right-hander that takes even more life out of them. The rest of the lap has a bit of everything from low-speed to high-speed, which makes it challenging to find a balanced set-up.
 
“My expectations for this weekend are high and, after the disappointment of Bahrain, I hope we can have a clean race in China. There’s good pace in the car and reaching Q3 in Bahrain was proof of that. We had to work very hard with the car set-up to find the sweet spot, but we learned a lot of things that will carry over into this weekend.”
 
 
 
Sergio on China
Sergio Perez hopes for a change of fortunes in Shanghai.
 
Sergio: “I’ve always enjoyed going to China. Shanghai is an interesting city to explore and you always get huge support from the fans. They always wait outside our hotel every day just to say hello and give us special gifts.
 
“They did a great job with the track design in Shanghai because there is a good mix of corners. Turn one is what everybody talks about and it’s my favourite part of the lap. It’s such an unusual corner and you have to judge your speed perfectly because you can lose a lot of time if you don’t attack it enough. Then, on the back straight, we always see lots of drag races and it’s a question of who will brake latest going into the hairpin.
 
“After two disappointing races I want to get my season started properly in Shanghai. The results in Australia and Bahrain could have been so much better, but things just didn’t work out for me. That’s part of racing and I know things will turn around soon. It was a similar situation as the start of last year before my luck started to change. The atmosphere in the team is still upbeat and everybody is pushing to get more performance from the car. We made a good step in Bahrain with the upgrades so we are definitely moving in the right direction.”

GP3

JANOSZ FASTEST ON DAY ONE IN VALENCIA

Trident driver leads the way at second pre-season test in Spain
Trident’s Artur Janosz recorded the best time on day one of pre-season testing in Valencia with a 1:21.755 which was set in the morning session. Koiranen GP’s Matthew Parry topped the afternoon times in a 1:21.932 at Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
The second pre-season test of the campaign opened under clear blue skies. There was one change to the driver line-up compared to the first pre-season test with newly announced Richard Gonda from Slovakia driving for Jenzer Motorsport.
DAMS’ rookie Jake Hughes was first on track but it was Akash Nandy from Jenzer who first lapped into the 1m23’s. DAMS and Haas F1 Team development driver Santino Ferrucci found some extra pace to dip into the 1m22’s before Oscar Tunjo rose to the top of the timesheet in a 1:22.029. There was a short break in proceedings when Parry stopped on track.
At the midway point, the Colombian continued to lead the standings with Campos Racing’s Alex Palou and ART Grand Prix’s Nyck de Vries within one tenth. Arden International’s Jack Aitken shot to second before Janosz rocketed into the 1m21’s to top the session with just over 30 minutes remaining. Charles Leclerc jumped into P2 before his teammate Alexander Albon displaced him. Konstantin Tereshchenko improved to third as the clock ticked down.
Janosz remained unchallenged as the morning test session came to a close ahead of Albon, Tereshchenko, Leclerc, Tunjo, Aitken, Palou, de Vries, Tatiana Calderon and Giuliano Alesi.
Following the two hour break for lunch, the temperature increased and Leclerc was first to set the pace. The Arden duo of Jake Dennis and Aitken led the way for the majority of the afternoon – separated by just 0.027s. The session was studious with the drivers focusing on long runs.
In the final thirty minutes, Parry shot to the top of timings and was first into the 1m21s. At the chequered flag the Brit remained P1, two tenths ahead of fellow compatriot Dennis. Aitken, Nirei Fukuzumi, Leclerc, Albon, Tunjo, Steijn Schothorst, Ferrucci and Matevos Isaakyan completed the top ten.

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