WEC

HEROIC VICTORY FOR ALPINE AT SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS!

Success for the N°36 Alpine A460 after a breath-taking fight that went down to the wire at the WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps.

A forceful last stint from Nicolas Lapierre rounded off the work of his team-mates Stéphane Richelmi and Gustavo Menezes.

The run of the N°35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine car in the hands of Nelson Panciatici / David Cheng / Ho-Pin Tung was halted just before the finish because of damage incurred in a collision with a backmarker.

In contrast to the wintry weather encountered at Silverstone, the FIA WEC teams enjoyed summery weather at Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, where the championship’s regulars kicked off the race at 2:30pm local time in front of a packed house.

The N°36 Signatech-Alpine started from second place on the LMP2 grid, while the N°35 Baxi DC Racing Alpine car lined up in 10th position after Spa rookie David Cheng’s ‘out’ lap during qualifying was spoiled by a red flag incident. By the time the green flag reappeared, his tyres had cooled down excessively for his flying lap when he was also hindered by traffic.

During the early part of the race, both Alpine A460s set a strong pace while also complying with the fuel and tyre management recommendations of the team’s engineers.

The first two hours saw the N°36 car defend third place as the N°35 prototype fought its way up the field in the hands of Nelson Panciatici, who was succeeded at the wheel by Ho-Pin Tung. By the halfway point (three hours), the N°36 Alpine was running second and the sister car was up to fourth!

Stéphane Richelmi lost a little ground in a spin after he was hit by the N°7 Audi but he was still second when he handed over to Gustavo Menezes who inherited the class lead when the leading car made a mistake.

The N°36 Alpine A460 continued at a strong pace to build up a handsome cushion over its chasers. The N°35 machine fell back, however, when it was issued with a ‘drive through’ penalty after two airguns had been used simultaneously during a pit stop.

There was a dramatic conclusion to the six-hour classic when the Safety Car was despatched shortly before the start of the final hour due to a GT car which had smashed into the guardrail at Eau Rouge.

The ensuing queue saw the leading car’s margin slashed to nothing, while the N°35 Alpine lost a lap due to its position on the track relative to the Safety Car. When racing resumed, Nicolas Lapierre succeeded in pulling clear once more but he was compelled to make one last ‘splash and dash’ refuelling stop with around 10 minutes remaining.

The Frenchman re-joined in second place behind rival Derani and the two drivers were soon battling again. The Alpine driver recovered his lead thanks to a daring passing manoeuvre with the chequered flag in sight!

While the team was celebrating the move, the N°35 car was reported to be running slowly with a puncture and broken rear suspension followinga collision with a backmarker, an incident which ended up side-lining Nelson Panciatici for good.

Meanwhile, Nicolas Lapierre kept his head to collect Alpine’s second victory at world championship level after the team’s success at the 2015 6 Hours of Shanghai. The result at in Belgium was the first win for the new Alpine A460.

Saturday’s result promoted Lapierre / Menezes / Richelmi to the top of the provisional Endurance Trophy for LMP2 Drivers classification, equal on points with Senna / Albuquerque / Gonzalez after two rounds.

The team’s next public appearance will be the official pre-Le Mans 24 Hours Test Day on Sunday, June 5, ahead of the calendar’s showpiece itself on June 18-19.

DTM

EDOARDO MORTARA WINS ACTION PACKED SEASON OPENER

Edoardo Mortara is the first winner of the 2016 DTM season. With his Audi RS 5 DTM, the Italian won Saturday afternoon’s opening race at the Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg in dominant style. Mortara already laid the foundation for his fourth DTM race win at the start, in which he moved up into the lead from second place on the grid. In an action-packed and thrilling race with many position battles, Mortara’s lead was never in jeopardy. Second place in the 40 minutes’ race went to Robert Wickens. With his Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM, the Canadian took the chequered flag 1.6 seconds after the winner. There was also huge joy for the man in third place: Nico Müller, who started from pole position, scored his first podium finish in the DTM. Bruno Spengler became the best-placed BMW driver in the first race of the season. With his BMW M4 DTM, the 2012 DTM champion finished sixth.

In temperatures around 28 degrees, the action was particularly hot in the opening stages of the race. In best touring car racing style, there were battles for every position and not always without damage. From the 24 cars that took the start, 16 made it to the finish after 25 laps. Among the most prominent drivers to retire were Timo Scheider and Timo Glock, for whom the race was over after the first (Scheider) and the second (Glock) lap respectively. For Mike Rockenfeller, who competed in his 100th DTM race, the season opener came to an early end as well.

After the first of 18 season races, winner Edoardo Mortara is in the lead with 25 points. Robert Wickens and Nico Müller are second and third with 18 and 15 points respectively. Audi is leading in the manufacturers’ standings with 43 points from Mercedes-Benz (40 points) and BMW (18 points). The second DTM race at Hockenheim starts on Sunday afternoon at 14:30 hrs. The starting grid positions will be determined in qualifying from 12:30 hrs.

FORMULA 1

MAX VERSTAPPEN REPLACES KVYAT

Red Bull have dropped Daniil Kvyat and replaced him with Max Verstappen for the remainder of the Formula One season.

Verstappen, 18, who made his debut last year as the sport’s youngest ever driver, makes the move up from Red Bull’s junior team Toro Rosso following Kvyat’s display at his home race in Russia.

Verstappen will team up with Daniel Ricciardo at Red Bull from next week’s Spanish Grand Prix, with Kvyat, 22, moving in the other direction and rejoining Toro Rosso to partner Carlos Sainz.

“Max has proven to be an outstanding young talent,” the Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said in a statement released on Thursday.

“His performance at Toro Rosso has been impressive so far and we are pleased to give him the opportunity to drive for Red Bull Racing.

“We are in the unique position to have all four drivers across Red Bull Racing and Toro Rosso under long-term contracts with Red Bull, so we have the flexibility to move them between the two teams.

“Dany will be able to continue his development at Toro Rosso, in a team that he is familiar with, giving him the chance to regain his form and show his potential.”

Kvyat had forced Ferrari’s four-times world champion Sebastian Vettel out of Sunday’s Russian Grand Prix won by Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg.

The Russian thumped into the back of Vettel at turn two before crashing into him again moments later. The force of the second impact sent Vettel spinning into the wall, ending his race, and causing the German to launch an extraordinary expletive-fuelled rant over the team radio. Vettel immediately stormed into the Red Bull garage and began berating Horner, his former principal at Red Bull.

Formula 1

WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING RUSSIAN GRAND PRIX REPORT

Race Notes:
  • Valtteri Bottas finished fourth and Felipe Massa fifth in the Russian Grand Prix
  • Valtteri had a great start, running as high as second after overtaking Raikkonen in the early stages of the race. He made his only pitstop on lap 16 but ended up losing out to Hamilton and Raikkonen to remain comfortably fourth for the remainder of the race
  • Felipe maintained fourth place in the opening laps but eventually lost out to Hamilton. He stopped on lap 18 and remained comfortably in fifth, giving him enough of a gap to make a second pitstop for supersoft tyres as he began struggling with degradation on the soft tyre
  • The team picked up 22 points, which has helped close the gap to third-placed Red Bull to just six points in the Constructors’ Championship
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: It was a good race, and it was a really good weekend. Every day we got our heads down and have done what we needed to do. The car performance is going forward, even in race trim today. We had improving pace against Ferrari and Mercedes and that’s what we need to keep heading towards. I think our pace against Red Bull this weekend has been really good; they’ve had a bad weekend and we’ve absolutely capitalised on that. Felipe’s tyres were degrading a bit towards the end so we made a precautionary stop and let him run on the supersofts again, as we had enough of a margin to easily stop him and retain fifth. The race played out just as we expected it to really, so it was very good from that point of view. We’ve gained 22 points over Red Bull and Toro Rosso, so that’s really good, and third is well within our sights now; we just have to keep heading towards it. As I’ve mentioned before, we’ve developed the car a lot, but we need another two or three tenths, and we just need to keep developing it, in all areas. Nobody is free from finding performance in Formula One, and certainly not at Williams, but I think we got the most we could have done out of today.
Valtteri Bottas: The beginning of the race was pretty good and we managed to defend against some of the quicker cars behind. I think being aggressive with the early pitstop was good but unfortunately the cars with more pace managed to get through, and at the end of the race there wasn’t much happening for me. All-in-all the team has done a good job this weekend. It’s positive to get a lot of points for Williams. There’s definitely progress, this is a good track for us so that helped, but we just need to keep improving. I definitely had more in mind today than fourth so we need to keep pushing.
Felipe Massa: I think it was a very positive weekend for us and a very positive race. I would have loved to finish fourth and not fifth, but that’s just part of the game so I’m happy with the result. We managed to score a lot more points than Red Bull, and that’s the target for us right now. They have a very good team and a very good car, but we need to keep believing. This weekend was a very good weekend so we need to keep fighting like that. I think for the team the best position was fourth and fifth. Valtteri was able to manage the tyres better here, whilst I was able to manage them better in China. That’s the way it goes, but today’s result is very good for Williams.

F1Weekly podcast # 702

CLARK AND NASIR HAVE SOME PEKING DUCK WHILST DISCUSSING LE GRAND PRIX DE CHINE RESULTS, ANOTHER OUTSTANDING MOTORSPORTS MONDIAL AND OF COURSE FIFTY WORDS FROM THE F1W FORUM. WE ALSO WANT TO SHARE SOME GOOD NEWS FROM OUR FRIENDS AT RENAULT…

Russian race driver Sergey Sirotkin, 20, has joined Renault Sport Formula One Team as a Test Driver with a long term development plan, including running in FP1 at this week’s Russian Grand Prix.

Sergey will use Kevin Magnussen’s R.S.16 car for the 90 minute practice session on Friday morning

Renault has been an active supporter of Russian motorsport for many years and boasts a long history of participation in various sporting events. For eight consecutive years, Renault has been an official partner of the annual Za Rulem Celebrity Race. This long-standing partnership between Renault and Za rulem magazine is part of the company strategy to popularize and promote motorsports in Russia and beyond. Last year, a new sports version of Renault Logan was the official race car and in previous years Renault has brought many eminent stars of global motorsports to the event, including Alain Prost, Jérôme D’Ambrosio, David Coulthard, Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean.

Furthermore, Moscow has hosted World Series by Renault rounds on three separate occasions. The series became very popular amongst Russian fans of motorsport, thanks in part to invited drivers such as Daniil Kvyat.

Frédéric Vasseur, Racing Director Renault Sport Racing:
Sergey is one of the most promising drivers from the junior categories so it is great for us that he is joining Renault Sport. We saw that he was the most promising rookie in the GP2 Series last season, where he achieved a race win and podiums, and for 2016 he is very well placed to fight for the title. He has driven the Sochi Autodrom in a GP2 Series car previously so we have confidence in the job he will be able to do for us this weekend. For Renault Russia it is a good opportunity to harness the growing popularity of Russian motorsports, starting this weekend with the Russian Grand Prix and looking forward to the Moscow ePrix, which will be held again near the walls of the Kremlin on 4 June.’

Sergey Sirotkin:
‘This is a great opportunity for me, although it has all come together so quickly. I still can’t quite believe it. This is, however, the moment that all young racing drivers are working towards, and I am determined to learn as much as I can, as quickly as I can, doing the best possible job for the team while driving in Free Practice 1. Renault Sport, which I would like to thank, has shown many times that it is the best place for a driver to start his Formula One career, and I intend to make the most of this opportunity. My commitment to challenge for the GP2 Series title will be enhanced by such a great chance and I would like to thank SMP Racing for the great support given to my career, commencing in Sochi, in front of my compatriots.’

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F3 EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIP

MAXIMILIAN GUNTHER WINS AND TAKES POINTS LEAD

Having missed out on a podium finish in the first race at the 4.381 kilometres long Hungaroring earlier today, German driver Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam) made the best of his second pole position of the weekend and won from Estonian Ralf Aron (Prema Powerteam) and Chinese driver Guanyu Zhou (Motopark). At the track near the Hungarian capital Budapest, Aron was classified as the best-placed rookie in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship field. After a pit stop due to tyre issues, New Zealand’s Nick Cassidy (Prema Powerteam) had to make do with 16th position and lost his lead in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings to Maximilian Günther. Ralf Aron also went ahead of his team-mate in the drivers’ standings.

Maximilian Günther took the lead at the start and drove an undisputed lights-to-flag victory home. Ralf Aron, the winner of the first race at the Hungaroring, slotted in behind his team-mate and brought second place home in an equally safe manner.

Behind the Prema Powerteam duo, George Russell (HitechGP) initially was running in third place, but Guanyu Zhou managed to overtake the Brit on lap eleven after a successful attack. Because his two new rivals Alessio Lorandi (Carlin) and Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark) were busy attacking each other, Russell was able to pull a little gap that he managed to defend until the end. Sette Câmara finished fifth behind Russell, Lorandi took the flag in sixth place. Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam), Callum Ilott (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Ben Barnicoat (HitechGP) rounded out the top ten.

Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam): “My start was good, much better than in the first race. After that, we had analysed the problem and I knew what I had to do. Once in front, I was able to control the race and secured the 1-2 for the Prema Powerteam, together with my team-mate Ralf Aron. This first place is also a nice gift for my mother, who is celebrating her 50th birthday today. The fact that I am now leading in the drivers’ standings is nice, but, of course, I know that there are still 25 races remaining.”

Ralf Aron (Prema Powerteam): “At the start, I slotted into second place right behind Maximilian. In the first corner, I was really closely behind him, but it wasn’t enough to mount a challenge. After that, I preferred to save the tyres. In hindsight, I probably was too defensive in the opening stages, but I am still happy with my second place.”

Guanyu Zhou (Motopark): “Here at the Hungaroring, our car is very strong, which my team-mates Niko Kari and Joel Eriksson already proved with their podium finishes in the first race. In the second race, I had a good start, but I almost lost control of my car in the first corner. After that, I was in fourth behind George Russell and I needed some patience before I was finally able to overtake him. All in all, I am happy with third place.”

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast