Pechito- Separated by less than 0.15 of a second, the three Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs finished first, second and third in qualifying in Suzuka. Jos� �María López notched up his sixth pole position of the season, ahead of Yvan Muller and Sébastien Loeb.

- The Argentine’s performance takes him one step closer to the world title. One fourth-place finish in tomorrow’s races will be enough to see him crowned champion.

The FIA WTCC drivers, who are using the “big” 5.807 km track for the first time, were clearly delighted to be plying their trade on one of the world’s leading circuits. José María López clocked an excellent lap time of 2’06’’987 in Friday’s half-hour practice session. Yvan Muller was a little off the pace on Friday, but showed what he could do the following morning by recording the fastest time in each of the other two free practice sessions.

Despite the red flag being brought out during Q1, all three Citroën drivers made it through to the second qualifying session with ease. Q2, too, went off without a hitch for Yvan Muller and José María López, who quickly rose to the top of the timing screens. Sébastien Loeb, however, had to change his tyres after crashing off. Nevertheless, he managed to snatch third place just before the chequered flag!

The nine-time World Rally Champion continued his good form in Q3, going faster than both Tom Chilton and Hugo Valente on his flying lap. A few moments later, José María López did better still. Last out was Yvan Muller, who looked set to eclipse his teammate, but ended up less than a tenth of a second short.

With this, his sixth pole position of the season, Pechito López has moved a little closer to the FIA WTCC title. One fourth-place finish tomorrow would be enough to see him secure the championship crown, regardless of how Yvan Muller does here and in Macao.


José María López: “It’s fantastic for Citroën to have achieved another treble in qualifying. It shows just how competitive our C-Elysée WTCC is. This pole position was hard-won. I thought that I would do a little better in Q1 and Q2. But just like in Spa, my teammates gave me some work to do. We made a few changes to the setup for Q3, but I made a few little mistakes in the first sector. I gained in confidence from corner to corner and it was in the third sector that I really made the difference. I’m one step closer to the title, but I’m going to continue to approach the weekend as normally as I can. There is still some uncertainty about tomorrow, particularly as far as the weather goes: it could rain.”

Yvan Muller: “I’m really happy with my second place. I was worried after free practice on Friday, as the car wasn’t working as I would have liked. Thanks to some hard work with my team, we managed to turn things round. In Q3, I tried to attack a little more on bend 15, the fastest on the circuit. It didn’t work and I ended up with exactly the same time as in Q2, give or take 2 thousandths of a second! The races are likely to be very competitive: we’ve got the same cars, we work together, and we know each other’s setups. I hope that we will be able to give Citroën a clean sweep, hopefully not in the same order as today, though!”

Sébastien Loeb: “I made it into Q3 by the skin of my teeth. I tried to get into Tiago Monteiro’s slipstream in Q2, but Mehdi Bennani managed to dart in between us before making a mistake. In trying to avoid him, I crashed off and wrecked my tyres. So I had to go to the pits and get them changed. My Q3 lap was pretty good, until my brakes failed at the last chicane. In qualifying, the slightest error can cost you dear, and the tenth of a second I lost probably cost me pole position.”


Romain Grosjean, Lotus F1




Is it true that you will ride to Austin on your Harley Davidson motorcycle?

No. I do have a Harley and I will be riding one in Austin before the Grand Prix, but riding a Harley all the way to Austin is not part of my training programme. Though it does sound like fun! At home I have a custom Harley which is one of my favourite vehicles. They’re obviously an iconic US machine so it’s great to be able to ride one in its home country which is what I’ll be doing ahead of the Grand Prix. Maybe all the drivers should ride one for the drivers parade!

What do you think of the Circuit of the Americas?

It looks great and the first time I walked around it in 2012 I thought wow! The gradient up to turn one is really something and it makes for a fun first corner when you’re in the car. It’s a really well presented facility with an interesting circuit layout.

What particular challenges does the Circuit of the Americas present?

It’s quite a balanced circuit in that you don’t need one particular thing over another for the car to perform well. In the first year the challenge was finding the level of grip we want and we did see the same to a certain extent last year too. This year, we should be helped a bit by the race being a couple of weeks earlier, but we’re always wanting more grip!

What do you think of America?

The only times I have visited the US are for the Grands Prix. It’s such a big place which I would love to explore more. Austin is a great city to visit and my crew have told me all about the great bars and live music on offer!

There’s been some recent positive news from the team for 2015?

This is something we’ve known about internally for quite some time and I know the engineering department are very excited. For myself I can’t wait to get to testing next season as that’s when we’ll know if next year’s car is any good.

Why haven’t you announced where you’ll be driving in 2015 yet?

Maybe we think it’s fun to keep the media speculating! Honestly, we’re very close to having something to announce but there’s no pressure on when we say something.

How are you approaching the final races of 2014?

It’s amazing just how quickly this season has passed, even if it seemed a long, hard slog at times. We head to Austin, Brazil and Abu Dhabi determined to get the most we can from the race weekends and also using some of the practice time to evaluate different aspects of the car to gain more data for 2015.

Talking of which, there’s a different nose to be tested in Austin?

The E22Õs nose is pretty distinct so it will be unusual seeing it with something different on the front. This is part of the team’s evaluations for 2015, and the nose is designed to gather information for next year. I’m looking forward to seeing what it looks like, but my main focus is the race weekend.

We received the sad news about Christophe de Margerie this week Ð he was someone you were close to?

He was one of those men that you meet very rarely in a lifetime. I knew him for many years and he believed in me and helped me to achieve my motorsport dream. It was such a tragic accident and my thoughts are with his family, as well as the families of the other victims of the plane crash.

Pastor Maldonado

What are your thoughts of the Circuit of the Americas?

Austin is a good track, it’s a challenging layout which is good to drive and it’s an enjoyable event. The first turn is quite something with its very steep climb and the rest of the lap flows well. The atmosphere at the circuit is really special, even for the first time we visited. It’s great to see the RVs at the side of the track and people staying at the circuit to enjoy the full weekend. The circuit can be a difficult one for tyres and we had some unusual delays and interruptions on the Friday last year so it will be interesting to see what happens this time. Certainly, there can be a variety with the weather and in the past we’ve seen it be quite cold at the start of the day. The race is earlier this season so let’s see how that makes a difference.

How about Austin as a place?

It’s really a fantastic location with a lot to do. It’s certainly the type of city I’d like to visit even if there wasn’t a race there! It’s a really lively place with a lot going on. Great food, great music and great people are three things I think about when we go to Austin. The fans are superb too. It’s only the third time we will visit Austin, but already it’s one event on the calendar that we really look forward to visiting.

What’s your outlook for this race?

Obviously we want to perform better than we did in Sochi. That was a difficult weekend for many reasons. We think the Austin layout should suit our car a bit better so that’s a positive. Hopefully we won’t have any more technical issues. I know we’ll have good support from the fans so we’ll be pushing for a good result.

How was the Sochi debrief?

That was a tough weekend, for sure, but we are used to tough weekends in 2014! As always, there was a lot to learn, we gained a lot of information for how to approach Sochi next season. In Russia this year we lost too much time because of issues which stopped us running over the course of the weekend and that was especially bad for us when it was a new track. You don’t want to lose practice time at any track, but it really hurts at a new one. And no-one ever wants technical issues during qualifying.

How much are you thinking about 2015?

We still have three races left in 2014 so that is our priority, but it’s no secret that we are all looking to 2015 with a lot of excitement. It will be my second season with Lotus F1 Team and we have worked well together in 2014. There will be a lot of changes to the car and the team is very positive about the potential of next year’s chassis. At the end of the season I will get some quality time with my family then I’ll return in 2015 fresh for the next challenge

One back-to-back combo and Abu Dhabi then that’s this season done…

Nineteen races seem to fly by, even when you’re not having the season performance you want. There have been so many changes for this year. Though the year has gone quickly, it still seems like Albert Park was such a long time ago! We have three races left to try to get some more points on the board. We know that won’t be easy with the strength of the competition, but it’s something we still try for. The final three races of 2014 are all great events so we really want to finish as strongly as we can.




Before wrapping up its 2014 European Championship campaign on home soil in Corsica early next month, the Peugeot Rally Academy travels to Switzerland this week for the 55th Rallye International du Valais. Craig Breen and Kevin Abbring will be looking to steer the official Peugeot 208 T16s to the car’s second ERC success of the year on the twisty Alpine stages.

The Rallye du Valais: happy hunting ground for Peugeot Sport…

The penultimate round of the 2014 FIA ERC features a total competitive distance of 260km divided into 19 stages around the event’s base in Martigny. Victory for the 208 T16 this weekend would see the car join the 207 S2000 (1st in 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2012) and the 206 S1600 (1st in 2004) on the list of the Swiss event’s past winners. In addition to the Peugeot Rally Academy pair, there will also be 208 T16s in the hands of Bruno Magalhães and Jonathan Hirschi (HRT Rally Team), plus a Peugeot UK-backed 208 R2 for Chris Ingram (Peugeot UK) in the FIA ERC Junior class. The total number of entries is 83. image

Craig Breen and Scott Martin: still in contention for the le title

Since his victory at the beginning of the season in Greece, Craig Breen has had something of a troubled season. Even so, the Irishman is still in contention for the 2014 title and is particularly buoyed up ahead of the Swiss round. He feels at home on asphalt and will benefit from his knowledge of the rally acquired thanks to the third place he scored last year in the Peugeot Rally Academy’s Peugeot 207 S2000. He is currently 49 points short of the current ERC leader Esapekka Lappi, however, so his only tactic can be to aim for first place. Along with his co-driver Scott Martin, he is pleased with the way last week’s pre-event test went and is confident that he can count on a competitive, reliable package in Switzerland. image

Kevin Abbring: hungry for victory…

The Dutch youngster and his co-driver Sebastian Marshall travel to the event after their only previous participation in 2010 intent on claiming a top result. Kevin Abbring’s ERC record so far this season includes second place in the Azores and 18 stage victories after featuring in the fight for victory on all of his outings. He feels particularly comfortable behind the wheel of the 208 T16, as demonstrated by his RC2 class success on the WRC’s Rallye de France earlier this month, so he is understandably hoping to put the cat among the pigeons once more this weekend. image

Ten victories already for the 208 T16 across Europe and a national title in Italy…

The Peugeot 208 T16 enjoyed an emphatic maiden campaign in the Italian Rally Championship where Peugeot Sport Italia’s Paolo Andreucci took the car to four victories from eight. He clinched his first national crown just days ago on the Rally Due Valli, the final round of the year. The 208 T16, Peugeot Sport’s latest rally challenger, has also enjoyed success in Portugal (with Bruno Magalhães), Denmark (Christian Jensen) and Slovenia (Claudio De Cecco).
FIA Formula 3 European Championship, round 10, race 3, Imola (ITA)

F1Weekly podcast # 666

Clark talks about his deep depression over the fact that Fernando may not be on the grid next season, we have Motorsports Mondial with El Guru and an interview with young American driver Santino Ferrucci and here is some news on Max Verstappen from Hockenheim…

Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1:32.002 minutes) set the fastest time in first qualifying and thus claimed pole position for the 31st season race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. The 17-year-old is one of the three candidates who are battling for second place in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. On his best lap of the 4.575 kilometres long Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg, he was 0.018 seconds faster than Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, 1:32.020 minutes). Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:32.076 minutes), who also still has chances of claiming second place in the drivers’ standings, follows in third place, 0.074 seconds down on pace-setter Verstappen.

Halfway through first qualifying, the battle for pole position became intense: Blomqvist had just claimed the top position from Verstappen and Auer was biding his time in third place. Soon after that, the 20-year-old Austrian moved up into the lead, but Blomqvist and Verstappen also continued to run fast. Six minutes later, the Dutchman succeeded in toppling Auer from the leading position while Blomqvist stayed in third place. This order remained unchanged until the end of qualifying, so that Verstappen secured himself pole position for the first race of the final weekend of the 2014 FIA Formula 3 European Championship.

Italian Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:32.341 minutes) and Jordan King (Carlin, 1:32.379 minutes) from Great Britain in fourth and fifth place also succeeded in keeping the already-crowned FIA Formula 3 European Champion, Frenchman Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam, 1:32.414 minutes) at bay. Swede Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport, 1:32.485 minutes) ended up seventh from Indonesian Sean Gelael (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:32.535 minutes), Félix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3, 1:32.676 minutes) from Puerto Rico and US-American Gustavo Menezes (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1:32.760 minutes) rounded out the top ten.

Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing): “Qualifying went well. It was pretty close between the three of us in front, but my lap time wasn’t so bad and, of course, I am delighted with my pole position. The track is very demanding for the tyres, so you don’t have many laps to set a fast time. For me, it worked out quite well today.”

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Rossi GP2 test 2014


Status Grand Prix takeover Caterham Racing and joins GP2 Series

GP2 organisers confirm that UK based GP3 team Status Grand Prix have signed an agreement to acquire Caterham Racing. The GP2 team will compete as Caterham Racing for the remainder of the 2014 season, and will become Status Grand Prix in 2015. The current driver line up is unaffected by the takeover for the final round at Yas Marina Circuit.
Status Grand Prix have been successfully racing in GP3 Series since the category’s inception and thus become the sixth outfit to run in both Series. By acquiring the Caterham Racing team and personnel, Status Grand Prix are building on the Malaysian squad’s strengths and experience.
GP2 Series CEO Bruno Michel said: “I am pleased to welcome Status Grand Prix to GP2 Series. They’ve been in GP3 since the beginning and have been successful over the past five seasons. I have no doubt that with the help and the experience of the current staff, they will be able to achieve the same level of performance in GP2 and will adapt quickly to the demands of the category.”
Status GP team principal Teddy Yip said: “Status Grand Prix has been part of the GP2 family for 5 years and, having been multiple race winners in GP3, we have always had the ambition to move up into the senior formula when the time is right. The opportunity to take over an established and highly-regarded team such as Caterham Racing makes that time now. I would like to thank Tony Fernandes and Mia Sharizman at Caterham Racing for their constructive approach to this agreement, and Bruno Michel at GP2 for his valuable support during the negotiations.”
Caterham Racing Team Owner, Tony Fernandes said: “I would like to say that this announcement is very positive for us and Status Grand Prix. We have built a strong GP2 team with excellent personnel over the last four years, and we can be proud of the multiple race wins and podiums we have achieved in the Series.
“Following in-depth discussions with Status Grand Prix, we have reached an agreement that will strengthen and secure the future of the GP2 team. I would like to thank Bruno Michel and the GP2 Series for four successful years and wish Status Grand Prix the best of luck for the future.
FIA Formula 3 European Championship, round 10, race 3, Imola (ITA)

F1Weekly podcast # 665

Clark and Nasir share their thoughts on F1W family member Jules Bianchi. We have Tech Talk with Tim and special interview with up and coming race car driver Jehan Daruvala.  We also have some updates on Max Verstappen.

Verstappen wins, Ocon is the 2014 FIA Formula 3 European 

Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) claimed his ninth victory in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in an action-packed 30th race of the season. At the 4.909 kilometres long Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari, the 17-year-old Dutchman won from Italian Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) and Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam). For 18-year-old Frenchman Ocon, who is backed by the Lotus Formula 1 team, third place was enough to win an early title in the 2014 FIA Formula 3 European Championship. As a reward, he will do a test with a Ferrari Formula 1 car at the Fiorano circuit on October 29.

Antonio Fuoco already took the lead from Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon before the first corner. With a very good start, he thus managed to move up from third on the grid to first place. Later on the opening lap, Edward Jones (Carlin) ploughed through the gravel trap and hit Antonio Giovinazzi’s (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) car as he swerved back onto the track. The Italian spun and retired and so did Jones. The race director sent the safety car out after the incident.

Only a few laps later, an off-track excursion by Sandro Zeller (Jo Zeller Racing) prompted the second safety car intervention. At the restart on lap nine, Verstappen overtook race leader Fuoco and claimed back first place. On lap eleven, the safety car was deployed again after Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) had collided with Jordan King (Carlin) and couldn’t avoid an impact into the barriers.

Max Verstappen also held on to his first place after the third restart of the race. He then safely brought this position home after the remaining laps and celebrated his first win of the weekend. Antonio Fuoco took the flag in second place and his many fans hailed him as the best-placed Italian in the race. Esteban Ocon was buoyant as well as his third place was enough to wrap up the 2014 FIA Formula 3 European Championship title early. Nicholas Latifi (Prema Powerteam) finished fourth in the final race of the Imola round, followed by Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and William Buller (Signature). Thus, Buller scored not only his first points of the season, but also the first points for the Signature team that contested its first race weekend of the 2014 season at Imola. Jake Dennis (Carlin), Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Félix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3) and Gustavo Menezes (Van Amersfoort Racing) rounded out the top ten.

Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing): “I lost a position after the start, but I knew that my car was fast and that the race was long. Therefore, I kept cool and I waited for an opportunity. My car was already fast on the two days of testing and that was the case today as well.”

Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam): “I am happy with second place and I am not disappointed for having missed out on victory. It was clear to me that Max was quicker and that I wouldn’t have had a chance against him. I wasn’t happy with my first two races, but now, I am glad by my podium finish in my home round. I would like to dedicate this second place to my friend Jules Bianchi.”

Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam): “I am really happy that I am the new FIA Formula 3 European Champion. It is unbelievable, I simply don’t know what to say. I will celebrate the title in style with my team tonight. My race wasn’t too bad. I didn’t want to take too many risks in the first corner and I slotted into third place. Later on, I simply followed my team-mate Antonio, who was in second place. I knew that third place would be enough for me, too.”

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The Premiere Motorsport Podcast