Formula 1


ROMAIN GROSJEAN INTERVIEW

After seeing a top ten start thwarted by a rare gearbox issue at Shanghai, Romain Grosjean is determined to see the team’s progress rewarded in Barcelona…

Is it a case of glass ‘half full’ or ‘half empty’ after China?

The gearbox problem was obviously a big disappointment. But the overall picture for the whole weekend was 90% positive. We didn’t get a reward at the end, but we know we made a step in the right direction with the car. Before the problem in the race we were the second Renault team, also in front of the McLarens and fighting with Force India. That was positive.

Do you think the car is now delivering its potential?

I think it is getting there. It is still not as good as we believe it can be. The aim in Barcelona is to keep improving, but we know we have a decent platform to work from and solve the remaining issues. Of course power unit wise we are not yet equal to the best and from our side we are still behind the top Renault team.

How do you explain the progression made at the last race?

On the exterior the car looks the same however we had a number of mechanical upgrades and also improvements that came from Renault Sport F1. Also, we continue to learn and understand the E22 and how to exploit areas we can continue to improve on.

It seemed the team made a bigger step than the other Renault teams in China?

Yes. On paper we made a big relative improvement in China but it wasn’t just one thing. We took the Renault updates and our own updates as well and moved forward. Altogether we made a big step, even though there were no massive changes on the car – we’re just trying to make everything work together better. There is more to come for Barcelona.

What does returning to Barcelona mean for you?

Barcelona means the start of the European season. That also means we can travel less, which is good because I’ve now seen every single movie on the plane! But seriously it’s easier for the engineers to bring new parts to the track and it’s always nice to see European fans. I’m happy to be back in Barcelona. I have some good memories and it’s a track where I finished 4th back in 2012. It is a circuit everyone knows well, so as a team we go to Barcelona intent on getting much more performance from the car. We are concentrating on this goal. We just have to push as hard as we can and stay as positive as possible even when the going gets tough. As a team we have to stay united, it will make us stronger as a unit.

F3 Euro Championship

Lucas Auer wins at Hockenheim

Season race: 4 of 33
Track: Hockenheim
Winner: Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport)
Pole position: Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport)
Weather: overcast

At the 4.574 kilometres long Hockenheim Baden-Württemberg, Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) celebrated his first victory of the season in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. Starting from pole position, the 19-year-old Austrian took the lead and went on to win after 22 laps from Edward Jones (Carlin) and Jordan King (Carlin). Lotus F1 junior driver Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam), who dropped back from third to ninth place due to a technical problem on the final lap, remains points’ leader in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship.

The race started with plenty of action: on the opening lap already, Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Nicholas Latifi (Prema Powerteam) collided at the hairpin and retired. Only a few metres later, the following collision involved Michele Beretta (Eurointernational), Gustavo Menezes (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Alexander Toril (ThreeBond with T-Sport); Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) already retired on the opening lap. The clerk of the course sent out the safety car for one lap.

Auer retained his leading position at the restart, followed by Edward Jones and Esteban Ocon. While Auer continuously extended his lead, Jones failed to pull clear from Ocon. Jordan King (Carlin) also remained closely behind Jones and Ocon. On the final lap, when Ocon’s third place already looked safe, the Frenchman suddenly dropped back and only finished ninth. Thus, Jordan King inherited third place and brought this result home.

Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) took the chequered flag in fourth place and moved up to only three points behind leader Ocon in the drivers’ standings. Felix Rosenqvist (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Mitch Gilbert (Fortec Motorsports), Jake Dennis (Carlin) as the best-placed rookie, Félix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3), Ocon and Richard Goddard (ThreeBond with T-Sport) followed in fifth to tenth place.

Lucas Auer (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport): “My start was good and the pace was great throughout the race. Nevertheless, it wasn’t an easy race. Driving consistent lap times during the entire race distance was an important factor and I managed to do so. Being on the top step of the winner’s podium for the first time this season is a great feeling.”

Edward Jones (Carlin): “I had a good start and already managed to take over second place in the first corner. Lucas was too quick for me, but I succeeded in keeping Esteban at bay. That wasn’t easy, because he was quick.”

Jordan King (Carlin): “My first few laps in particular were very good. At the start, I managed to gain one place, I got another one in the second corner and I made up more places on the inside line at the hairpin. Finally, I overtook another opponent in the Mercedes arena and thus I was already fourth after only one lap. After that, I tried to save my tyres a little bit. Esteban’s technical problems were the reason that I still ended up third.”

F1Weekly podcast # 654

Clark and Nasir go over the Chinese Grand Prix we have a packed Motorsports Mondial with a bonus Motorsports Mantra! and…Tech Talk with Tim.

Obituary: Ayrton Senna

Ayrton Senna da Silva (Ayrton Senna), racing driver: born Sao Paulo, Brazil 21 March 1960; World Formula One Champion 1988, 1990, 1991; married (marriage dissolved); died Imola, Italy 1 May 1994.

WHEN Jim Clark died after crashing at Hockenheim, in Germany, in 1968 his passing stunned the motor racing world. Chris Amon, one of the few men with the talent to challenge the brilliant Scot, summarised every other driver’s feelings when he said: ‘We were all left feeling totally exposed, vulnerable. We all felt, ‘If it can happen to Jimmy, what chance have we got?’ ‘

On a weekend when motorsport plunged back to the nightmares of the Sixties, Ayrton Senna’s death after crashing during the San Marino Grand Prix yesterday has had precisely the same effect.

Though he had been beaten in the first two races of 1994 by the German prodigy Michael Schumacher, Senna was the yardstick not only by which all other racers were judged, but by which they judged themselves. To the real stars, matching or even beating Senna was the highest possible triumph. An endorsement of one’s own greatness. Few could ever achieve that, let alone aspire to it. To lesser lights, finishing second to him was as good as a victory.

Born of wealthy parents in Sao Paulo in 1960, Ayrton Senna da Silva began racing karts when he was four, with the encouragement of his father, Milton. His phenomenal progress through the motorsport ranks marked him clearly for greatness; a world championship was inevitable.

When he arrived in Britain in 1981 he raced with Denis Rushen, a colourful owner of a Formula Ford team. ‘He was so quiet,’ Rushen recalled, ‘that he was always the guy you found standing shyly in the kitchen at parties.’ He remained thus for many years, although it was only a short time before his English improved to the point where he could no longer be duped into greeting fresh acquaintances with earthy Anglo-Saxon.

Senna brought an extraordinary level of commitment to his motor racing, to such an extent that clashes with fellow rivals and the media were inevitable. He had a towering self-belief that sometimes bordered on zealotry. The first manifestation of that belief came at the small Cadwell Park track, in Lincolnshire, in 1983. Senna had won nine consecutive Formula Three races, but crashed heavily in practice for this 10th round. But even when his car was out of control, he kept his foot hard on the power. He would never surrender anything without a fight. He won the championship that year and sprang into Formula One with the Toleman team for 1984. He scored his first world championship point in only his second grand prix, when, despite heat exhaustion, he came home sixth in South Africa.

Later that year came the first signs of the other side of his nature, when he left the team in acrimonious circumstances to join Lotus. Once the news of Senna’s impending defection had been revealed, Alex Hawkridge, the manager of Toleman, suspended him from the Italian Grand Prix before the end of their relationship. Senna was stunned. ‘I did it,’ Hawkridge revealed, ‘because it was important to teach him that for every negative action you perform in life there is a penalty.’ It was a lesson that Senna never forgot, even if he never came to approve of any sanction against himself.

With Lotus he won his first grand prix, in Portugal in 1985, but by 1987 he had lost patience as he covetously eyed Alain Prost’s situation at McLaren. Their partnership at McLaren in 1988 made all other sporting feuds look tame, but by the end of that season the first world championship had been delivered, in true Senna style. He stalled his car at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, before storming home to win on a track rendered greasy by rain. On the way he beat Prost soundly.

Earlier that year he had demonstrated the dark side of his character by deliberately swerving at Prost as they raced wheel to wheel down the long straight at the Estoril track in Portugal. Time and again Senna’s blend of impetuosity and self- righteousness led him into trouble. He railed against exclusion from victory in the 1989 Japanese Grand Prix after a collision with Prost, accusing the sport’s governing body of cheating him out of a second title. He was forced to make an apology of sorts before he was granted a licence for the following year. By then Prost had left for Ferrari, and the two fought for the championship again at Suzuka. There, in a move that prompted some to question what his sheer competitive intensity and his feeling of being wronged could push him to, Senna drove into the back of Prost’s Ferrari when the Frenchman beat him to the first corner. With both retiring on the spot, Senna clinched his second championship at Prost’s expense.

Two weeks later, when I showed him a series of photographs of the incident, and asked him why he had apparently driven Prost off the road, Senna refused to accept the damning evidence in front of us, denying the physical positions of the cars, despite what the photographer had recorded. A year later, in an extraordinary outburst following victory in the Japanese Grand Prix which had clinched his third world championship, he finally admitted that he had deliberately driven Prost off the track, that it would be tit-for-tat for what he had seen as Prost’s role in his downfall in 1989.

Without question Ayrton Senna was an extraordinary individual. Over the years his relationships were often like a roller-coaster, but to his friends he was intensely loyal. In 1983, when he was racing in Formula Three, he struck me as a lonely man who felt that the British press preferred his rival Martin Brundle. And to an extent he remained a vulnerable character despite his overt aggression on the track and the occasionally disdainful manner that his successes had developed. Much of it seemed like a protective wall, and there was another Ayrton Senna deep within.

This was an altogether kinder man, the sort who would give up his seat to usher an old lady down the stairs while once waiting for an appointment with Professor Sid Watkins, of the London Hospital, the regular chief medical officer at grands prix, and the man who yesterday administered to him at the Tamburello corner which claimed his life. In his homeland he was lionised, and he made significant charitable donations which he never remotely attempted to publicise. He loved children, too. ‘They are the honest ones,’ he once said.

If he didn’t like you, you knew it; in 1986 he was at war with the British press after preventing Derek Warwick from joining him at Lotus. Over the years that animosity mellowed, but often the feeling he nurtured that his trust had been betrayed caused flare-ups. He was roundly condemned last year for striking his rival Eddie Irvine – again, almost inevitably, at Suzuka – and the cold war began again.

But, whatever some of his failings may have been, Senna was a man with whom you always knew where you stood, and though his tactics on the track were frequently and deliberately intimidatory, he was without question one of the greatest racing drivers the world has ever known. To see Senna on a quick lap was to be awed by majesty.

On Friday afternoon he took pole position for the race in which he died, the 65th time he had been fastest in practice for a grand prix. With a commanding success in his last race for the McLaren team in 1993 he had taken his total of grand prix victories to 41, second only to that of his arch-rival Prost.

When he finally joined the Williams team for 1994, he spoke of the need for a fresh challenge, and he was determined to redress the points imbalance between himself and Schumacher that had made this season so exciting after the first two races. His outstanding ability to relate to his engineers precisely what his machinery was doing at any given point on a circuit, on any given lap, had passed into grand prix legend, and already last weekend it was clear that Williams had made significant progress in developing its car.

To all who witnessed him at work it seemed that Ayrton Senna’s artistry and air of invincibility would always protect him no matter what befell him. In a weekend when motorsport was thrown into despair, it lost one of the greatest kings it will ever know. To many, especially those with whom he worked, he will always be the greatest.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

World Rallyx

WORLD RX PREPARES FOR PORTUGUESE SEASON-OPENER

The opening round of the all-new FIA World Rallycross Championship presented by Monster Energy will kick off in Portugal this weekend (3-4 May) with more than 50 of the world’s best rallycross drivers set to battle it out across the Supercar, Super1600 and TouringCar categories and in the supporting RX Lites Cup.  The line-up will also include two former World Champions as former F1 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve and former WRC Champion Petter Solberg join the Supercar line-up.

World RX – which is promoted by IMG, the global sport, fashion and media company – is the FIA’s newest World Championship and in 2014, the race action will be broadcast in more than 100 countries with a combined household reach of 816 million homes. The Championship is made up of 12 rounds: Portugal, Great Britain, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey and Argentina.
 

Round 1, World RX of Portugal, will be based in Montalegre: a municipality in northern Portugal, located in the district of Vila Real on the border with Spain.  The draw for Saturday’s first qualifying heat will be made on Friday afternoon (2 May).  The second qualifying heat also takes place on Saturday with the remainder of the heats plus the semi-finals and finals to take place on Sunday (4 May).

There will be six World RX two-car teams present in Portugal including the manufacturer-backed squads of Ford-OlsbergsMSE (Andreas Bakkerud and Reinis Nitiss), VW-Marklund (Topi Heikkinen and Anton Marklund) and Peugeot-Hansen (Timur Timerzyanov and Timmy Hansen).  Also in Portugal and fighting for Supercar victory will be PSRX’s Petter Solberg with team-mate Alex Hvaal.

“There are a lot of very good drivers in RX this year – it’s going to be tough but I will fight – I promise you!” explained Petter Solberg who will pilot a Citroen DS3 Supercar. “Last year we had some problems with the car but now we have good experience of the circuits and we will come back even stronger. I want to win the title.  I’ll be flat out from the start!”

Monster Energy World RX Team’s Liam Doran and Poland’s Krzysztof Skorupski will also be present in Portugal with their Citroen DS3 Supercars, with the addition of Albatec Racing’s Jacques Villeneuve and Andy Scott.  Villeneuve spoke positively ahead of his World RX debut: “Rallycross is both fast and exciting. The power in the cars is unbelievable, they’re like rockets but driving is what I know – it’s what keeps me alive.  The extra elements that make up rallycross are what I need to learn this year – the strategy, the close driving, the tyres – that’s what’s new for me.”

Other notable entrants in Portugal include top female driver Ramona Karlsson who will be driving a Per Eklund Motorsport run Saab 93.  Belgian driver Jos Jansen will also be competing, as well as Poland’s Bohdan Ludwiczak and Frenchman Alexandre Theuil. Two-time European Rallycross Champion Derek Tohill will also join the Supercar line-up in his Citroen DS3 Supercar and flying the flag for Portugal will be local favourite Joaquim Santos in a Ford Focus.

Martin Anayi – Managing Director for World RX at IMG Motorsport – added: “All the ingredients are now in place to make World RX the must-watch motorsport series in 2014. In Portugal, we’ve got a star-studded line-up of drivers who will also be joined by some great local drivers, which is fantastic for the home fans. It’s very positive to have so many entries at our first World RX event, and of course this will be the first ever time that we see the RX Lites in action too. The circuit is nestled in the mountains of Montalegre and creates a stunning backdrop for what is expected to be a fast and furious weekend of racing ahead.  Over the past few months, a lot of hard work has been going on behind the scenes and now we can’t wait to get the season up and running.”

INDYCAR SERIES

HUNTER-REAY REPEATS AT BARBER MOTORSPORTS PARK

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Sunday, April 27, 2014) – The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama Green Flag waved 2 hours, 30 minutes late, but for Ryan Hunter-Reay it was well worth the wait.

Hunter-Reay, driving the No. 28 DHL car, led Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti across the finish line under caution to win at Barber Motorsports Park for the second-straight season. A severe thunderstorm forced the race into a delayed start with a 100-minute time limit.

“I’ve been anxious (to compete) since we left Long Beach,” said Hunter-Reay, who started from the pole in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach on April 13 but was involved in a multi-car incident on Lap 56 of 80 that dropped him to the rear of the field. “With the rain and the wet conditions on how we started out there, it was tough. Then we went to the Firestone reds, and man – on a wet surface that was just really tough to keep the car on track. Once we got out front though, we started checking out and it was a dream to drive the DHL car.

“(Long Beach) should have been a great result, but we got it today.”

It was the 12th IndyCar victory for Hunter-Reay, who moved 18 points behind championship leader Will Power heading into the inaugural May 10 Grand Prix of Indianapolis on the reconfigured road course. Hunter-Reay capitalized on a Lap 16 mistake by Power, the pole sitter, whose No. 12 Verizon Team Penske car slid off the wet road course in Turn 5. Power, also a two-time winner at Barber, quickly recovered but was 4.0830 seconds behind at the completion of the lap.

Marco Andretti, who started ninth in the No. 25 Snapple car, went almost the entire distance without radio communication with his pit lane crew. He overtook Power for second on the Lap 34 restart and held off repeated challenges by reigning Verizon IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon.

Dixon, the runner-up in each of the previous four races finished third ahead of Simon Pagenaud and Will Power. Power and Pagenaud are the only two drivers with top five finishes in every race.

HONDA INDY GRAND PRIX OF ALABAMA POST-RACE QUOTES:

MICHAEL ANDRETTI (Owner, Andretti Autosport): “I’m really proud of this whole team. Marco (Andretti) did a hell of a job. He drove his way to the front there and Ryan (Hunter-Reay drove a perfect race. Feels good after the last one for sure.” (On Hunter-Reay strategy): “It just played out that way. We were lucky that Will (Power) made that mistake, and that gave up the top position. That was really important. Just the way everything fell with the rain and how it dried out. It came to us. It was a great day.”

RYAN HUNTER-REAY (No. 28 DHL Honda): “I’ve been anxious (to compete) since we left Long Beach. What a dream to have a car like that at that distance. Great to get the No. 28 DHL car with a Honda at a Honda (sponsored) race into Victory Circle. (Long Beach) should have been a great result, but we got it today.”

SIMON PAGENAUD (No. 77 Schmidt Peterson Hamilton Motorsports Honda): “It was fun. If you look at the onboard, the start was incredible. Very treacherous and very difficult to see. We had a little moment with Montoya at the start and dropped to 13th. The SPHM team did a great job and the car was fast and the Honda power was great. The car was really good all race and I was able to go forward. It’s a good start of the season for us.”

WILL POWER (No. 12 Verizon Team Penske Chevrolet): “The Verizon Chevrolet was really fast on the wet tires and I just got in trouble in turn 5. I keep moving my braking point further and further into the corners and I got caught going too far. It’s tough to not push past the limits with wet patches everywhere. We really didn’t have the pace in the dry anyway, but that sure didn’t help our cause when I went off course. We may have just been a bit heavy on downforce. Still a fifth-place finish today and we have the points lead going into the month of May.”

SEBASTIEN BOURDAIS (No. 11 Hydroxycut KVSH Racing): “I had another fast car and another disappointing result.  Once again, I feel bad for the KVSH Racing guys.  They did a great job.  I want to thank my sponsors, especially Hyrdoxycut for their support this weekend. We just have to move on and try and win the Grand Prix of Indianapolis.”

Formula Renault 3.5

CARLOS SAINZ JR WINS AT HOME

Carlos Sainz Jr (DAMS) becomes the first Spanish driver to win in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series at the Motorland Aragón circuit. After taking the pole, the member of the Red Bull Junior Team went on for a green to chequers victory ahead of Nikolay Martsenko (Comtec Racing), followed by Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports), the top rookie finisher on the day. The Spaniard now sits alone atop the general classification.

During Saturday morning qualifying, Carlos Sainz Jr took his third consecutive pole. The Spaniard posted best time of the session in 1:40.418. Oliver Rowland shared the front row, while Nikolay Martsenko, Roberto Merhi (Zeta Corse) and Zoël Amberg (AVF) completed the top five.

The Comtec Racing driver put in an excellent start, which allowed him to threaten Carlos Sainz Jr at the first corner, but the Spaniard held on to the lead. Zoël Amberg moved up to third place ahead of Oliver Rowland, Marlon Stöckinger (Lotus) and Roberto Merhi. In contrast, Matias Laine (Strakka Racing) had to return to the pits to change the front wing, while William Buller (Arden Motorsport) and Oliver Webb (Pons Racing) retired.

In stringing together one fastest lap after another, Carlos Sainz Jr pulled away from the field. Back in the chase group, Matthieu Vaxiviere (Lotus), 13th in qualifying, passed several cars, including those of Pietro Fantin (International Draco Racing) and Sergey Sirotkin (Fortec Motorsports) to move into seventh place. On lap 13, Oliver Rowland got past Zoël Amberg. Marlon Stöckinger made the most of the situation to get around the Swiss driver.

Carlos Sainz Jr went on for the win with a more than 14-second margin of victory from Nikolay Martsenko. Top rookie, Oliver Rowland made his first trip to the podium in the category ahead of Marlon Stöckinger. Zoël Amberg held on for fifth place ahead Roberto Merhi and Matthieu Vaxiviere. Sergey Sirotkin, Pierre Gasly and Pietro Fantin complete the top ten.

Quotes

Carlos Sainz Jr: ”It is an incredible feeling to win at home, with all my compatriots who support me. It is a huge achievement. After a delicate start, where I honestly thought I would lose a few spots, I didn’t expect the gap to increase so quickly, in as much as qualifying was very close!”

Nikolay Martsenko: ”My good start was probably due to the fact that I was the only car at the front of the grid that had a high-downforce configuration. I managed to overtake Oliver before having a good battle with Carlos at the first corner. Then, he pulled away, so I made the most of it to assure this first podium finish.”

Oliver Rowland: ”My start was a little difficult, in as much as I had already messed up at Monza. The race pace was good, but it is so hard to overtake on this track. We now need to work to improve and do better tomorrow.”

Provisional General Classification* : 1. C. Sainz Jr – 50 points, 2. N. Martsenko – 36, 3. M. Stöckinger – 30, 4. R. Merhi – 28, 5. P. Gasly – 27, …
*Subject to confirmation of the results following the technical and sporting verifications

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast