image As the countdown to the 2015 Dakar Rally begins to accelerate, the Peugeot-Total squad is continuing to develop the fearsome 2008 DKR at a frenetic pace with its three star drivers, including Cyril Despres, who is getting to grips with competing on four wheels for the first time.


From 7am, Team Peugeot-Total is in action. Like a commando unit on a mission, the mechanics invade the test centre at Château Laostours, where the 2008 DKR is about to begin a new phase of its development – generating impatience and anticipation in equal measure. Every single minute counts. For the first time, the three crews that constitute Peugeot’s dream team will all take turns behind the wheel. Following shakedown tests at Freneuse, Montlhéry and Creusot elsewhere in France, the beast now has the opportunity to demonstrate its mettle across rocky terrain that offers a foretaste of the kind of adventure that awaits it in South America. Now that Carlos Sainz has drawn upon his experience to identify the inevitable initial teething troubles, his two new team-mates have also come along to help out. On the programme is validation of the modifications made to the chassis and cooling system. image


Stéphane Peterhansel settles into the high-perched cockpit of his new mount. The French multiple Dakar winner wastes little time in heading towards this trock, which represents a real challenge – even for a vehicle that aspires to the life of a trailblazer. As the kilometres poss by, Stéphane confesses to experiencing a genuine culture shock: “Switching over to two-wheel-drive changes everything!” he cheerfully reflects. image


Subsequent runs only serve to confirm this first impression: ” l’ve never previously driven a car with so much suspension travel. The first big surprise is the manner in which the 2008 DKR soaks up potholes and compressions. l’ve always been accustomed to getting thrown around like a rag doll inside the cockpit, but the behaviour of the 2008 DKR is infinitely more efficient and smooth. Whenever you fear an impending impact, the suspension and large-diameter wheels absorb it. That is a reassuring feeling, which allows you to pass over potholes at 120kph or 130kph rather thon just 80kph. l’ll need to adapt my driving style accordingly … ” All the more so, indeed, as this beast is truly alive! “Being two-wheel-drive, the 2008 DKR is a bit livelier and as such, demands a defter and more precise touch behind the wheel since it is not quite as easy to control. You really need to always be at the point of sliding. Apart from that, the engine and gearbox both feel good, and while we are still inevitably a long way From finding the ideal set-up, initial impressions are excellent – there is plenty of potential here”. image


So what awaits Cyril Despres? The former motorcyclist – a five-time Dakar winner on two wheels – is embarking upon a new career on four wheels. As the clock ticks down towards his leap into the unknown, he is oscillating between impatience and a hint of anxiety that he is doing his best to conceal. Following a sighting run in the passenger seat alongside Peterhansel to establish his bearings, the moment comes to take to the wheel himself for the first time: with his eyes full of wonder and grinning from cheek-to-cheek, he is like a kid at Christmas. Under the watchful gaze of team members – who are well aware that they are witnessing history being made – he fires up the engine and sets off in determined mood for his maiden test outing. After completing several dozen kilometres, he returns to base, with tears of emotion intermingling with beads of sweat. “That was crazy!” he exclaims, visibly awestruck by the experience. “ln every possible area, it’s far better than 1 had ever imagined it would be! And what’s more, l’m still a long way from pushing flat-out and exploring its full potential… “ image


He does admit to the engineers, however, to having made a small mistake: “At one stage, 1 briefly relaxed my concentration. I missed a down shift and must have overrevved the engine slightly… ” Gilles Picard, two times a Dakar winner alongside Luc Alphand and a former motorcyclist himself, is nonetheless very satisfied with the four-wheeled debut of his new driver: “He’s impressed me, this kid. He has a very neat driving style!” image


Not far away, Carlos Sainz is already in the process of settling himself into the 2008 DKR’s snug cockpit. He was on-site for Cyril’s debut and watched over him with the nurturing and encouraging manner of an older brother: “I am convinced that he will do a good job, and to that end, I am ready to help him where needed. Stéphane and others have demonstrated that motorcyclists possess the necessary mind-set to also perform well in cars, and I know that Cyril is a formidable competitor.” The programme drawn up by the team’s engineers filled the summer months and did not really allow the three crews to take any long holidays. The test sessions will continue to come thick and fast right up until the eagerly-anticipated expedition to South America.


MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS driver Lewis Hamilton took an impressive victory in the 2014 Singapore Grand Prix this evening, while Nico Rosberg was forced to retire in a tense race at the spectacular Marina Bay Street Circuit and a double podium for Red Bull.

– Lewis completed a clean sweep of pole position, fastest lap and victory for the fifth time in his Formula One career
– This marks Lewis’ 29th career Formula One win – his eighth for MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS
– Nico was forced to retire on lap 13 after a steering column wiring loom failure
– The malfunction was first detected on the laps to the grid and eventually left him stuck in neutral at his first pit stop
– Lewis now leads the Formula One World Drivers’ Championship by three points from his team-mate

Lewis Hamilton
It was great to come here after winning in Monza and start the final leg of the season with such a competitive car. It would have been a really hardcore race if Nico had been at the front, as we clearly had the pace. It was all running pretty comfortably until the Safety Car came out, which gave me some problems. I was driving hard to build the gap but then the tyres started dropping off and I wasn’t sure what to do – keep pushing or back off to look after them. So we pitted straight away and I came out behind Seb. But I knew they were on a two-stop strategy and that his tyres were old. I went for it down the back straight – the gap was pretty small and maybe I could have chosen another point on the circuit. But I luckily squeezed through and made it stick. Of course, it’s not an ideal result with Nico retiring, so that shows we still have work to do to get on top of reliability. But it’s been a great job from the team at everyone at the factories to make this mega car. Now we need to keep pushing hard for Japan in two weeks’ time.

SEBASTIAN VETTEL, Finish Position: 2nd, Start Position: 4th
“It’s a circuit I like here, the atmosphere‘s great and it’s a tough event. I had a good start and got past Daniel and had a decent race. We played a bit with strategy after we got undercut by Alonso, the safety car came at the worst time for us but we made the tyres work at the end which was tough. There was no point fighting Lewis at the end, he was on fresh tyres and I had to manage mine to the end as they were pretty old by then; that was the focus. It was nice to get the cold champagne on the podium.”
DANIEL RICCIARDO, Finish Position: 3rd, Start Position: 3rd
“We were really close to the Mercedes in qualifying and we expected the race pace to be a bit faster today to be honest. We weren’t quick enough in the first stint and we had a few other issues going on, with brakes and some power issues that were coming and going, but in terms of points we still got a good handful to take away from here. It actually feels a bit like a home race here. Singapore to Perth is like Melbourne to Perth, so for West Australians it’s not too far. Suzuka is in two weeks and that’s another track we can be optimistic for, so I’m looking forward to that. All in all it was a solid weekend.”




MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS secured a dramatic front row lockout for tomorrow’s Singapore Grand Prix, as Lewis Hamilton took pole by just seven thousandths of a second from team-mate Nico Rosberg.

– Lewis took his 6th pole position of 2014 this evening in Singapore and the team’s 13th from 14 races this year
– This means that Mercedes-Benz power has so far taken pole at all 14 rounds of the world championship
– Nico finished second to make it the team’s 7th all-Mercedes front row in 2014 and the third in a row
– The gap between the two of 0.007s equates to just 33.5 cm around the 5.065 km lap!
– Both drivers used one set of prime tyres and three sets of option tyre during the qualifying session

Weather: Clear, dry, humid
Temperatures: Air 27 – 28°C, Track 31 – 37°C

Lewis Hamilton
That was one of the most exciting qualifying sessions I can remember. I lost a lot of time at the beginning of my last lap and at that point I thought pole was lost. But I just kept going and managed to pull some time back. As a driver, through the weekend you plan to have the last lap in qualifying as your best. By that time the track has improved and you should have the settings as close to their optimum as they’re going to get. But there was so much happening out there and I was just trying not to look at what was going on around me. I was surprised by how close everyone was – the Red Bulls and Ferraris looked quick all day – and it was really fun to be a part of that session. The team have done a fantastic job to bring the car here, to a circuit where downforce is so important, and be at the front once again, so a big thank you to them. It´s going to be a tough race tomorrow. Coming into the weekend we had an opinion about how the tyres would behave, but the long runs yesterday changed all that. Trying to manage them will be a big challenge but hopefully it will be an entertaining one for the fans. I’m on the clean side of the track so I’m hoping for a clean start and a strong race.

Nico Rosberg
In general that was the most difficult qualifying session of my career so far. It was really tough to find my rhythm. I had to change my brakes for qualifying and then had to find the right balance in the early runs which was a struggle. I just thought, “that’s it, you will be 6th or 7th”. Then, at the end, I was really happy with the balance and feeling good. When I heard that Lewis was that tiny margin quicker I thought “damn”! I directly reviewed my lap and thought there were so many places to gain seven thousandths of a second – especially in the last corner. But in the end he did seven thousandths of a better job today, so fair play to him. P2 is still good for tomorrow’s race and I’m focused on having a good start. Last year I overtook Sebastian at Turn One, so it’s definitely possible to win from here. It’s going to be all about managing the tyres and I learned some good lessons in my long runs yesterday, so I hope it will be an exciting race for the fans.

Toto Wolff
That qualifying session was great to watch and a strong advert for Formula One. From our point of view, it’s clear that we don’t enjoy the advantage here that we have had on previous weekends. But this is a unique circuit and to produce a car which can be fast at every venue on the calendar is a big task, so we must be very pleased with a 1-2 front-row lockout. Our performance this weekend so far hasn’t been totally consistent and that is what we will need tomorrow evening. But the demands of racing are different to those of a single lap. I’m optimistic that we are capable of performing well when it comes to managing the energy levels, the fuel and the brakes in the race. So, a good job today but still a lot to do tomorrow.

Paddy Lowe
We came to Singapore expecting drama and that’s exactly what we got – and it’s not even Sunday yet! It’s great to have locked out the front row after a very tense session. It was all about putting a lap together with the tyres in the right condition and we weren’t managing to do that consistently during the session. It all came down to the final laps – with Lewis and Nico in P6 and P7 respectively – and they each delivered phenomenal performances. Well done to both of them. Looking to tomorrow, we know there are still many challenges to overcome. We need to get through the first corner cleanly, make the right calls in the race and history has shown that a Safety Car period is almost inevitable at some point. There is still a very long way to go – but we’re starting from the best possible positions.

F1Weekly podcast # 663

Clark & Nasir share a pasta dish whilst discussing the Italian Grand Prix.

DRS to be introduced on GP2 cars in 2015
GP2 Series organisers have announced today that a DRS device will be introduced in the Series next season. CEO Bruno Michel talks about the decision.
Why has GP2 Series decided to introduce DRS next season?
We’ve always said that GP2 was able to produce some amazing races without the addition of DRS or any other devices, and once again the 2014 season has proved that with some close racing and exciting on-track battles. However, we also have to make sure that we keep in line with our mission statement: preparing the drivers for the next step, Formula One. Since the inception of the Series, we designed a car for a three-year cycle, but for the first time this year, we decided instead to keep the third generation car for six seasons, in order to cut the costs and support our teams. Therefore, the next generation car will be introduced in 2017 and our current chassis is already four years old. But, it is important to keep adding modifications – at a reasonable cost – that will slightly tweak the technical features of our car. Formula One is constantly evolving. It is impossible for GP2 to remain with the same car over a long period of time when its philosophy is to prepare the drivers for F1. Bearing this in mind, we thought that DRS was the best technical development to introduce and we discussed it with the teams over a year ago. They were all in favour of it as they felt it would make GP2 even more attractive to the drivers, but only if it was an identical system to the one used in F1. Finally, it is well known that some of the circuits on the calendar are renowned to be difficult in terms of overtaking opportunities – even for GP2. DRS will be an added value on those tracks.
What will the DRS device be like on the GP2 car?
It is imperative that the device we introduce is exactly the same DRS as the one used in Formula One. As I said before, we decided to add it to our cars in order to prepare the drivers for the next step. As such, it will not be a push-to-pass button or a way to be quicker on a lap. Our DRS will be the exact copy of the one used in F1, with the same DRS zones since we’re racing on the same tracks. The drivers will be able to activate it within one second of the car in front at the DRS detection point, with the same level of safety, and with the same suppliers. It will have a hydraulic activation to ensure there’s a very fast movement of the flap with a capacity to open at high speed.
How is that going to affect the budget for the teams?
When we discussed this with the teams over a year ago, they told us that the drivers who they are in contact with were eager to see DRS on the GP2 cars. So we evaluated the feasibility of it, and we could have introduced it last year, but we decided not to for economic reasons. We took the time to investigate ways to introduce it for a minimal cost, as our goal remains to keep on supporting our teams. The cost-cutting plan put in place this year will continue for next season in order to make sure that the introduction of DRS will not affect the teams.
The DRS will be tested on GP2 Series development car for the first time in late October in Europe and then again in December in the Middle East. The teams will receive the kit in January.

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RACE 14 OF 19
Described by former Williams driver David Coulthard as a ‘modern day classic’, the Singapore Grand Prix has its place firmly etched on the F1 calendar – despite this being only the seventh edition of the race. The spectacular city state gives the race a colourful backdrop, made all the more glamorous by the darkness that comes with this being F1’s original night race. The drivers and teams have got used to the nocturnal routine of the race weekend, and the heat and humidity remain as arduous as ever. The drivers lose up to three kilos in sweat during the race, as they do in the Malaysian Grand Prix just across the border, and the race’s propensity for Safety Car periods makes it one of the longest of the season. The bumpy track surface and the stop-start nature of the 3.147-mile layout make traction and braking stability crucial to lap time. Unlike other street tracks, overtaking is possible, but it requires bravery and pin-point accuracy from the driver making the move.
Rob Smedley
Singapore is a night race and even though that brings certain challenges for those who work there, it offers a great spectacle for Formula 1. The track has a few issues that we have to work around, such as the lack of grip that on a normal track would improve, but here doesn’t. This results in a lot of wheel spin and oversteer which affects the balance of the car. The main focus for the team is the Constructors’ Championship now and we have to establish ourselves in third position, which we regained from Ferrari in Monza.
Felipe Massa
The Singapore race is fantastic, but also exceptionally difficult. The temperatures are so high and the humidity really affects the drivers physically. The track is similar to Monaco but almost twice the length which adds to the challenge. Staying on European time helps with it being a night race, but it’s still a bit strange going to bed at 3am. I really enjoy the race and hope to carry the success we had in Monza into the remaining races of the season.
Valtteri Bottas
I’m looking forward to Singapore, it’s a very special race – the setting there is really cool, the track is very challenging and there’s no room for mistakes. It’s a night race but the lights are very bright so it doesn’t make a big difference to drive, everything just looks awesome which is great for the fans and builds the atmosphere. The race is long. Normally it goes up to two hours, so it’s a challenge for the cars with tyre degradation, and for the drivers physically it will be probably the toughest race of the season due to the heat and humidity. Singapore could be a little more difficult for us compared to Monza, but we have some aero upgrades which should give us more downforce. We go there hoping to fight with Ferrari and Red Bull but we know Mercedes will be very strong

WSR 3.5


Following his successes at the Moscow Raceway and the Nürburgring before the summer break, Roberto Merhi (Zeta Corse) continued his strong form in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series. With a fantastic start from seventh place on the grid, the Spaniard soon took control of the race to score his third triumph of the season. Second place, Pierre Gasly (Arden Motorsport) overtook pole man Oliver Rowland (Fortec Motorsports) in the final corner of the race. Eight days after his maiden Formula 1 test with the Caterham F1 Team, Roberto Merhi is now just 26 points adrift of his compatriot Carlos Sainz (DAMS), who finished fourth on Saturday.

This morning, Oliver Rowland took his second pole position of the year with a lap of 1:30.203 ahead of the French trio of Pierre Gasly, Norman Nato (DAMS) and Matthieu Vaxiviere (Lotus). Will Stevens (Strakka Racing) completed the top five, while championship leader, Carlos Sainz had to settle for 14th position.

A shower before the start of the race soaked the track surface. When the lights went out, Oliver Rowland held on to the lead ahead of Roberto Merhi who put in a splendid start from seventh place on the grid. Pierre Gasly, Will Stevens and Matthieu Vaxiviere followed at the end of the opening lap while Carlos Sainz was already up to sixth place.

Oliver Rowland and Roberto Merhi quickly pulled away from the rest of the field. Meanwhile, Carlos Sainz continued his march forward, passing Matthieu Vaxiviere and Will Stevens. After several unsuccessful attempts, Roberto Merhi moved into the lead on lap seven when Oliver Rowland went a bit wide at the first corner.

Now in lead, the Zeta Corse driver pulled away and went on for the win with a 29-second margin of victory from Pierre Gasly, who passed Oliver Rowland in the last corner of the final lap. Carlos Sainz finished fourth ahead of Matthieu Vaxiviere, Will Stevens, Marco Sørensen (Tech 1 Racing) and Norman Nato. FIA F3 European Championship leader, Esteban Ocon (Comtec Racing) claimed ninth place in his first race in the Formula Renault 3.5 Series while Jazeman Jaafar (ISR) was the final driver in the points.


Roberto Merhi: “We were not able to run to our potential in qualifying due to a red flag. Happily, we made up for that at the start. There was a lot of water spray behind Oliver and I wasn’t able to see. He then made a small mistake that allowed me to get by. Afterwards, I was able to pull away while taking care of my tyres because this track is very demanding when it comes to tyre wear, especially in drying conditions. “

Pierre Gasly: “The opening laps were very tough. I just tried to stay on the track because the grip was really low. We all had different strategies in terms of tyre pressure today. When Carlos caught me, I had to defend my position, and then the car became better in the drying conditions. I was able to pick up the pace and I saw Oliver in the final laps and I gave it everything I had!”

Oliver Rowland: “Right from the opening laps of the race we struggled with the traction. Roberto caught up to me very quickly and I could only defend my position for a few laps. We must remember the positive things today: a pole position in the dry, which is a good step forward. I hope the conditions tomorrow will allow us be in front of them.”

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast