FORMULA 1

Pascal Wehrlein to test with Sahara Force India in Barcelona

Sahara Force India is pleased to announce that Pascal Wehrlein will drive for the team at the upcoming testing session in Barcelona, Spain beginning on 19 February. The 20-year-old German, who is the official reserve driver of the MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS Formula One Team and a works Mercedes AMG DTM driver, will spend two days behind the wheel of the team’s 2014 car, the VJM07.
Sahara Force India’s testing programme will focus primarily on evaluation of the 2015 Pirelli tyres. The test will also provide the opportunity for Pascal to continue his Formula One learning and build on the strong performance he showed with MERCEDES AMG PETRONAS at the season-ending test in Abu Dhabi last year.
The test in Barcelona marks the beginning of Pascal’s association with Sahara Force India with the Mercedes-Benz junior driver also scheduled to participate in two in-season tests.
Pascal will drive the VJM07 on Thursday and Saturday. Sergio Perez will drive on Friday and Nico Hulkenberg on Sunday. Given the team’s current build schedule, the VJM08 is now expected to make its debut at the second Barcelona test scheduled to begin on 26 February.
Pascal Wehrlein: “I am very happy that Sahara Force India has offered me the opportunity to drive their car for two days at the official test in Barcelona and that Mercedes-Benz has supported me to make this happen. As a young driver, any time youcan spend in the car is extremely important and you can learn a lot. I know the simulatoralready, but I don´t have much experience on the track. My first goal in Spain will be to do a great job together with the team, to learn as much as possible and to give good feedback to the engineers. I have already driven the world champion Mercedes-Benz F1 W05 Hybrid and the comparison with Sahara Force India will be very exciting for me: the way the team works, how they improve the car and handle problems - all this will help me to gain experience and to reach the next level in my development. Everybody knows that lap times only play a secondary role when you’re testing. But of course I want to be as competitive as possible. Sahara Force India performed very strongly last season and Ihope I will be able to make a small contribution to push the team forward and be ready for the opening race in Melbourne.”
Dr Vijay Mallya, Team Principal and Managing Director: “I’m pleased to give Pascal a chance to work with us in Barcelona. He’s an exciting young talent who has already proved he has what it takes to be successful at the highest level in motorsport. As a reserve driver for Mercedes-Benz, he’s clearly destined for a career in Formula One and I’m sure the test will be a positive experience on both sides. Being able to call upon Pascal for testing duties is also a clear demonstration of our strong working relationship with our engine partner, Mercedes-Benz, and I thank them for their collaboration.”

ITALIAN F4

Joao Vieira gets ready for the new season at “Piero Taruffi” circuit

The new season of Joao Vieira is ready to really getting going on Saturday 14th and Sunday 15th of February. On “Piero Taruffi” the Capitoline track in Vallelunga, the young Brazilian driver, whose career is managed by Minardi Management of Giovanni Minardi, will come back at the wheel of Antonelli Motorsport’s Tatuus F.4, to take part in the first two-days of pre-season test.
After his debut last season in the Italian F.4 Championship powered by Abarth, Joao will continue working with the team of Marco Antonelli, taking advantage of the gained know-how, aiming for the tricolored title. The challenging circuit of Campagnano will inaugurate the first (of seven) round of the 2015 Championship. Subsequently, F.4 Circus will travel to Monza, Franciacorta, Mugello, Adria, Imola and Misano for the grand finale. Last year, along the 4,085 meters of the circuit, Joao stood out with amazing battles, resulting consistently among the fastest drivers and closing the three races with points.
I’m really happy to be back behind the wheel, after four months from Adria race. Weather forecast rain and this will allow me to become familiar with the circuit in these conditions, working on the set-up. Last year I had to get to know all quickly: team, car and tracks. This year, instead, I will have the opportunity to make the most of all the work done in one year. The goal is to start immediately determined from the first race in Monza”, Joao Vieira says, ready to go to Vallelunga.
I am glad the engines finally switch on. After the positive experience of 2014, I am sure that this year will be a successful for Joao and he can fight for the Championship win“, the manager Giovanni Minardi comments.

WTCC

MA QING HUA TO RACE FULL FIA WTCC SEASON WITH CITROËN RACING!

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  • Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua will take part in every round of the FIA WTCC 2015.
  • Having already won one race last year, he has once again been entrusted with an official Citroën C-Elysée WTCC driver’s berth.
  • This commitment is a key component of Citroën’s development policy in China.

 

The experience gleaned in 2014 by Chinese driver Ma Qing Hua and Citroën Racing in their first season together in FIA WTCC is opening up new horizons for both parties.

Last year, Ma Qing Ha lined up in a Citroën C-Elysée WTCC at five meetings, and made motorsport history at the Moscow Raceway by becoming the first Chinese driver to win an FIA World Championship race. His potential was confirmed by a podium place in the first race at Shanghai.

The decision to continue and expand this fruitful collaboration in 2015 is a key component of Citroën’s development policy in China, the Brand’s biggest market.

Ma Qing Hua will once again team up with Yvan Muller, Sébastien Loeb and World Champion José Maria Lopez. Four Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs will be entered in the competition by Citroën Racing.

The 2015 FIA WTCC calendar comprises twelve meetings. The first takes place at the Autodromo Termas de Rio Hondo in Argentina from 6th to 8th March.

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY

Julien Montarnal, Director of Marketing, Communication and Sport, Citroën: “China has become Citroën’s biggest market in terms of sales. Welcoming Ma Qing Hua, a high-quality Chinese driver, into our team has already enabled our brand to boost its profile among a population that is just beginning to discover motorsport. Our ambition is to continue to move forward together. Ma is a perfect ambassador for Citroën, on track and off.”

Yves Matton, Team Principal, Citroën Racing: “Last season, we tested lots of drivers to find one that had the potential to shine at the wheel of a Citroën C-Elysée WTCC in the FIA WTCC. Our decision to go with Ma Qinq Hua was vindicated in his second race, in Russia, which he won. We hope to build on the experience he has gleaned from his first five meetings with a full racing programme in 2015.”

Ma Qing Hua: “I’m really happy to be carrying on with Citroën. As soon as I arrived in the team, I felt like part of a family. I have learnt a huge amount with Citroën Racing and through the other drivers. Competing in every round of the championship marks a new stage in my career. I know that Citroën are counting on me, and I promise to give it my all.

WRC

SNOW AND ICE FOR THE DS 3 WRCS

Preview

 

  • Mads Østberg/Jonas Andersson and Kris Meeke/Paul Nagle will drive the two DS 3 WRCs entered by the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT at Rally Sweden.
  • The only full winter event on the World Championship calendar, the Swedish round is expected to provide perfect conditions for this year’s rally.
  • Five DS 3 R5s are also entered, including one driven by the talented young Frenchman, Stéphane Lefebvre.

 

Snow, ice and even more snow! Over the last few weeks, the Hagfors region has enjoyed perfect wintry weather conditions. Very cold temperatures followed heavy snowfall to create a thick layer of icy snow on the roads. And more recent snowfall has consolidated the white covering just a few days from the start.

It is a long time since conditions for the Rally Sweden have been so promising. If the situation doesn’t change in the coming days, the surface should remain consistent throughout the event. The studs will therefore become less worn and all the fans will be treated to a great show!

THE 2015-SPEC DS 3 WRC PUT TO THE TEST

A few days after making a successful debut at Monte-Carlo, the 2015-spec DS 3 WRC will be faced with another challenge in Sweden. The work on the car’s aerodynamics this winter will give it a significant advantage on these high-speed stages. The engine’s power will be fully unleashed and the drivers will also be able to use the steering wheel-mounted paddles for every gear change.

Featuring the revised rear suspension geometry, which makes the car easier to drive, the 2015-spec DS 3 WRC is significantly quicker and more efficient.

Having claimed podium finishes in Karlstad for the last four years, this is practically Mads Østberg’s home rally. Some of the stages held on Friday cross over the border into Norway and his co-driver Jonas Andersson is Swedish. Mads made his WRC debut in Sweden during the 2006 season, at just 18 years of age. Fourth in Monte-Carlo, he has a good opportunity to shine on the Värmland ice. And to prepare for the forthcoming WRC round as effectively as possible, he will be competing at the Finnskog Rally, the Norwegian Championship event, this Saturday, 7 February in the DS 3 WRC.

In the second car entered by the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, Kris Meeke has more limited experience here. With only one previous appearance at Rally Sweden in 2014, the Briton is less familiar with the snow and icy conditions than the vast majority of his rivals. His performances with the DS 3 WRC would nonetheless suggest he has real potential on this surface.

Five crews will be taking part in DS 3 R5s. Winner of the opening round of the FIA WRC2 Championship, Stéphane Lefebvre continues to learn about rallying at this level with his debut appearance in Sweden. The Frenchman has decided not to nominate this round as one of his points-scoring rallies. Competing in the WRC2 category, Anders Grondal will be one of the favourites. The Swedish drivers Robin Friberg and Thomas Thunström and the Estonian Karl Kruuda have also opted to drive in a DS 3 R5, but they are not competing in the championship. Meanwhile, after finishing on the podium on his first outing in the FIA Junior WRC, the Norwegian Ole-Christian Veiby will be trying to win the two-wheel drive category in a DS 3 R3-MAX.

 

FORMULA 1

WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING Jerez Test – Day Four

Driver: Felipe Massa
Chassis / Engine: FW37-01 / PU106B Hybrid
Location: Jerez de la Frontera 4.428km
Objectives: Aero work, systems and reliability checks
Weather: Mild and dry
Air & track temps: 9 – 14ºC / 8 – 16ºC
Rod Nelson, Chief Test & Support Engineer: Today was another trouble-free day and so we completed our programme for the week. Today’s focus was on aero and mechanical set-up, as well as working through systems reliability. We have highlighted areas we need to improve before Barcelona and leave here with a reliable package that is straight forward to work with. I think we are all very happy.
Felipe Massa: The FW37 once again proved how reliable it was with an error free day. The car has been consistent over the last four days and we have made good progress. We have highlighted certain areas that need work and so will make sure the car is improving every time we take to the track. We have our feet on the ground and are focused on making this car quicker when testing continues in Barcelona.

RENAULT ALPINE

Alpine celebrates its 60th anniversary at France’s Rétromobile show

Alpine celebrates its 60th anniversary at France’s Rétromobile show

An event not to miss for motoring aficionados, the Salon Rétromobile (February 4-8) will officially kick off Alpine’s 60th anniversary celebrations.
The area set aside for the brand will highlight the two models that led Jean Rédélé towards the design of the iconic A110 Berlinette: the A106 Coach and  Willys-Interlagos, which was produced in Brazil.
Just days after its launch at the Festival Automobile International, the Alpine Vision Gran Turismo concept is set to delight both video game fans and those who are simply eager for clues about the first 21st Century Alpine!

When he founded Société des Automobiles Alpine on June 25, 1955, Jean Rédélé could never have imagined that his creations would still inspire such enthusiasm and passion six decades later… Be that as it may, in 2015 we are celebrating the 60th anniversary of a brand that has attained legendary status.

The Rétromobile Show is an event where each year, we come across a host of diehard Alpine fans. This year, they will be able to congregate around a dedicated area that brings to life the brand’s past, present and future.

Alongside the historic A106 and Willy-Interlagos models, our Alpine Vision Gran Turismo concept car is sure to leave many of them mouth-agape in amazement! Seamlessly blending the past, present and future and at the crossroads between racing and road cars, this exclusive model crystallizes Alpine’s 21st Century DNA.

Complementing our ongoing commitment to motorsport, events like the Rétromobile Show enable us to keep the fire burning for those who eagerly await the unveiling of our forthcoming production car. But that’s another story, with chapters to be written all the way through to 2016!”

Bernard Ollivier, CEO, Société des Automobiles Alpine

SIXTY YEARS AGO… THE BIRTH OF ALPINE

With the benefit of hindsight, Jean Rédélé’s destiny was clear to see. Raised from a very young age in a world dominated by cars, racing and Renault, he also distinguished himself through an avant-garde vision of technology and business.

Born on May 17, 1922, Jean was the eldest son of Émile Rédélé, a Renault dealer based in Dieppe and formerly an official mechanic for Ferenc Szisz, the brand’s first ‘factory driver’ back at the beginning of the century. Once he had completed his studies at HEC business school in Paris, Jean came to the attention of Renault’s management for his ground-breaking business ideas. At the age of just 24, he became the youngest car dealer in France as he followed in his father’s footsteps.

Reasoning that ‘motorsport is the best way to test production cars and victory is the best sales tool’, Jean Rédélé entered his first competitive events four years later, at the age of 28.

After a trial run at the Rallye Monte-Carlo in 1950, he triumphed in the inaugural Rallye de Dieppe behind the wheel of the new 4CV, defeating a plethora of significantly more powerful rivals! This nationally-acclaimed victory convinced Renault to entrust him with a 4CV ‘1063’ – the special racing version – for the following season. While this enabled him to maintain his run of success, Jean Rédélé worked hard to improve the performance of his vehicle. This quest led him to Giovanni Michelotti, from whom he ordered a 4CV ‘Spéciale Sport’, whose chief attribute was an aluminium body that was rather more aerodynamically streamlined than the original vehicle. Over the course of time, this collaboration between the French rally driver and the Italian designer gave birth to three unique models.

While awaiting the delivery of his new car, Rédélé continued to compete in his ‘1063’ as his friend Louis Pons – a Renault dealer in Paris and Etampes – became his co-driver. Always seeking to enhance performance, the pair funded the development of a five-speed gearbox, designed by André-Georges Claude. This played a particularly important role in their record-breaking class victory in the Mille Miglia, the famous road race held between Brescia and Rome.

Jean Rédélé’s career path next took him to the Le Mans 24 Hours and Tour de France Automobile. In 1953, he finally got his hands on his 4CV ‘Spéciale’, and on his very first outing in the car, he won the 4th Rallye de Dieppe ahead of two Jaguars and a Porsche! The following year, the Rédélé/Pons pairing triumphed in their class for the third time on the Mille Miglia, before going on to prevail in the Coupe des Alpes. “I thoroughly enjoyed crossing the Alps in my Renault 4CV, and that gave me the idea of calling my future cars ‘Alpines’, so that my customers would experience that same driving pleasure,” he would later reveal.

The notion of creating his own brand preyed upon Jean Rédélé’s mind, and it was his father-in-law who helped him to turn his dream into reality. Owner of the Grand Garage de la Place de Clichy on rue Forest, Charles Escoffier was one of the leading Renault dealers of the era. When he asked his son-in-law to assist with the development and marketing of a series of ‘Coaches’ already commissioned from Gessalin & Chappe, it proved to be the catalyst for the foundation of the ‘Société des Automobiles Alpine’ on June 25, 1955. By the same token, it marked the end of Jean Rédélé’s driving career.

THE A106: THE BEGINNING OF AN INCREDIBLE ADVENTURE

When envisioning his future creations, Jean Rédélé was keen to focus on the following basic principles: simple yet competitive mechanicals, using the highest proportion of production parts possible and all clothed by a lightweight and attractive body. In some respects, Charles Escoffier’s ‘Coach’ adhered to these prerequisites… even if Jean Rédélé did not take the credit for it!

Designed by Jean Gessalin and built by the Chappe brothers, the first prototype was presented by Escoffier to Renault’s management board in February, 1955. Once its homologation had been confirmed, Jean Rédélé set about working his magic. He made a number of modifications, borne out of the 4CVs developed in tandem with Michelotti. The ‘Coach’ took on the name A106: ‘A’ for Alpine and ‘106’ in reference to the code name of the 4CV, which served as a source for parts.

At the beginning of July, three Alpine A106s in the colours of the French flag – one in blue, one white and one red – paraded through the courtyard of Renault’s headquarters in Boulogne-Billancourt. Even if he was not particularly fond of the design of the first Alpine, Jean Rédélé was nonetheless extremely proud to have become a full-fledged car manufacturer in his own right.

Mechanically, the Alpine A106 used the same chassis and suspension as the 4CV. The 747cc, four-cylinder in-line engine was offered in two versions – one producing 21hp, the other 38hp. This first Alpine stood out above all for its polyester body, fitted to the original chassis of the 4CV.

As options, it was possible to equip the A106 with the ‘Claude’ five-speed gearbox or the ‘Mille Miles’ suspension, composed of four rear shock absorbers.

True to his principles of continuous improvement – at a time before ‘Kaizen’ had entered the motor industry vocabulary – Jean Rédélé relentlessly sought to make advances to the A106. Tiring of Gessalin & Chappe’s reluctance to evolve the vehicle, the Dieppe native elected to open his own body shop: RDL. This spirit of independence was further evinced in the launch of a cabriolet version, designed by Michelotti and unveiled at the 1956 Paris Motor Show. A third variation saw the light of day in 1958: the A106 ‘Coupé Sport’ – effectively the cabriolet but with a hard-top!

With 251 cars produced between 1955 and 1960, the A106 enabled Jean Rédélé to successfully establish his business – but that was only the first phase…

A108: THE FIRST BERLINETTE

Should we talk about the A108 or the A108s? There were so many different body types and configurations that it is difficult to paint an accurate picture of the history of a model of which 236 examples were built between 1958 and 1965.

The A108 appeared for the first time at the 1957 Paris Motor Show. The body of the A106 ‘Coach’ – produced by Chappe & Gessalin – and the RDL cabriolet were initially retained, with the real changes taking place under the bonnet: the engine from the 4CV was replaced by the 845cc ‘Ventoux’ powerplant from the Renault Dauphine. Over time, it became possible to instead opt for a re-bored 904cc unit prepared by Marc Mignotet, or the 998cc engine from the Dauphine Gordini.

The style evolved too, based on a variant of the A106 conceived by Philippe Charles, a young designer aged just 17! Using the Michelotti-designed cabriolet as his starting-point, he covered the headlights with a Perspex bubble and made the rear of the car longer so as to achieve a slimmer and more streamlined shape. Baptised ‘Berlinette’, this car was entered into the 1960 Tour de France Automobile by Jean Rédélé himself, and its critical success was such that the new look was soon transferred across to the cabriolets and ‘Coupé-Sports’ produced by RDL.

Another significant corner was turned in 1961, with the generalisation of the ‘beams and backbone’ chassis across all models. This architecture was based on a robust central beam, onto which were grafted side rails that supported the front and rear sub-frames. Enhancing stiffness and reducing weight, this innovation would be the secret behind the superb handling of Alpine cars throughout the generations.

THE WILLYS-INTERLAGOS: TESTAMENT TO AN INNOVATIVE EXPORT POLICY

Whilst well aware that international expansion would likely yield fresh channels of growth, Jean Rédélé came up against insufficient finances, meaning he was unable to create and develop a traditional export network. Undeterred, he found another way in suggesting to industrial partners that they manufacture his cars under licence.

It must be said that Alpines were relatively easy to assemble, even for unqualified labour. They were also highly-regarded for their reliability, since they used mass-produced mechanical components from Renault.

Following a failure in Belgium – where just 50 A106s were manufactured by the Small factory – it was in Brazil that Rédélé achieved a breakthrough. The Willys-Overland firm, which already manufactured Dauphines under a Renault licence, began production using equipment supplied by the Dieppe factory. From 1960, ‘Interlagos’ models – named after the famous Brazilian motor racing circuit – left the Sao Paulo workshop. At first glance, only the trained eye could distinguish an ‘Interlagos’ from its Alpine A108 sister car.

This partnership continued with the A110, and in total, 1,500 coupés, Berlinettes and cabriolets were produced up until 1966.

As in France, these Alpines manufactured across the other side of the Atlantic proved to be very capable in motorsport, most notably in endurance races such as the Mil Milhas. Indeed, it was after starting out in ‘Interlagos’ models that the likes of Carlos Pace, Emerson Fittipaldi and brother Wilson Fittipaldi headed to Europe in order to climb the career ladder all the way up to Formula 1.

This collaboration served as a model for similar agreements in Mexico (Dinalpine), Spain (Fasa) and Bulgaria (Bulgaralpine). All-in-all, nearly 15 per cent of Alpines were built under licence abroad.

THE A110: QUITE SIMPLY A LEGEND

In providing the visual identity conceived by Philippe Charles and the ‘beams and backbone’ chassis architecture, the A108 laid the foundations for the A110, which appeared in 1962. As the 4CV had done for the A106 and the Dauphine for the A108, it was the Renault 8 that acted as a parts bank for Jean Rédélé’s latest creation.

The relationship with Renault – close from the very first day – was further strengthened when the French manufacturer tasked Alpine with representing it in motorsport. What’s more, from 1967, every car produced would bear the official name ‘Alpine-Renault’.

Buoyed by the brand’s excellent results in rallying, the Berlinette went on to achieve tremendous commercial success. In order to respond to increasing demand, Alpine found itself needing to adapt its manufacturing set-up, with production henceforth shared between the workshop on avenue Pasteur in Paris, the original Dieppe factory and the new plant in Thiron-Gardais (Eure-et-Loir).

Over the course of its different versions, the A110 evolved constantly. The 1108cc engine was succeeded in-turn by 1255cc, 1565cc and 1605cc units. Outward changes were minor, but frequent: a grille incorporating four headlights, extended wheel arches, front radiator, removable rear apron… In 1977, production drew to a close with the 1600SX, fitted with a 1647cc powerplant.

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