GP3

LECLERC TAKES THE GP3 CHAMPIONSHIP DE VRIES WINS DRAMATIC RACE

ART Grand Prix’s and FDA’s Charles Leclerc champion in Yas Marina
Ferrari Driver Academy and ART Grand Prix rookie Charles Leclerc started the 2016 GP3 Series season as a title favourite and today his dream became reality after a very eventful Race 1 at the Yas Marina Circuit. His title rival Alexander Albon (also from ART GP) started from reverse pole but suffered damage and retired during a battle for the lead of the race. Dutchman Nyck de Vries was victorious from the Arden International duo of Jake Dennis and Jack Aitken. The Monegasque also retired in dramatic fashion but he had done enough already to clinch the prestigious crown.
Albon started from pole and made a good getaway to retain the lead. Dennis from the front row lost several positions after a sluggish start, thus promoting Aitken and De Vries. It was a frenetic first lap with the top four drivers glued together. Leclerc remained in fifth at this point until DAMS’ Santino Ferrucci passed the ART driver at the close of the opening lap.
Lap 1 saw Trident’s Antonio Fuoco suffer a right front puncture after contact with Jenzer Motorsport’s Arjun Maini: the Italian finished outside of the points. Meanwhile a huge train of cars were sat behind Leclerc in P6 with Kevin Joerg the next one eager to make a move on the Series leader.
Aitken posted the fastest lap of the race in second place, putting the pressure on Albon in P1 who was leading by 2.6s, with Leclerc 7s adrift. The safety car was briefly deployed after Tatiana Calderon spun and stopped at Turn 1. Once the race resumed, the Thai racer controlled his getaway from Aitken well, but the Arden driver was ready to attack as the duo enjoyed a superb wheel to wheel battle for a number of corners with Aitken coming out on top.
Aitken held a half a second advantage over the ART driver but Albon was quick to retaliate and fought back into the lead of the race, knowing a win was vital to help his chances of remaining in the title battle.
On lap 11, disaster struck for Albon as he ran over the kerb whilst dicing for the lead and his ART machine went airborne, making contact with Aitken. Albon’s race was over, as were his hopes of becoming champion. This promoted De Vries into the lead who had been holding off Dennis for the large majority of the race.
Ferrucci was holding onto the final podium position ahead of Leclerc. The Ferrari Driver Academy star was eager to celebrate his newly gained GP3 crown on the podium by passing the American driver but unfortunately there was a small contact between the pair, which resulted into the Monegasque having a puncture and retiring. Still, Leclerc had done enough to clinch the title and returned to the pitlane to celebrate with his ART GP squad.
Aitken carved his way past Ferrucci for P3 in a feisty battle; the DAMS driver was then issued with a 10s time penalty for forcing the Briton off track. Amidst all of the excitement, De Vries continued to drive a mature and confident race, keeping Dennis at bay to pocket his second GP3 win of the season by 1s. Aitken completed the rostrum ahead of Kevin Joerg – his best result in GP3 with fourth. Nirei Fukuzumi, Steijn Schothorst, Jake Hughes, Konstantin Tereschenko (also his best result), Ferrucci and Alex Palou completed the top ten.

GP3

THIRD POLE FOR ALBON AT YAS MARINA

ART Grand Prix’s Alexander Albon could not have looked happier after pocketing pole position at the season finale at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi. The Thai racer’s best laptime of 1:55.274 earned him four bonus points for pole, which cuts his deficit to Series leader Charles Leclerc to 25 points. The Monegasque qualified P5, with fellow title challenger Antonio Fuoco in P11. Arden International’s Jake Dennis and Jack Aitken completed the top three.
Cloudy conditions with a strong breeze set the scene for the thirty minute qualifying session for Round 9 of the 2016 GP3 Series season. Albon immediately set the early place in the 1m56’s before Dennis bettered his time by two tenths. ART Grand Prix’s Nyck de Vries then dipped into the 1m55’s with a best lap six tenths clear of the Briton.
Albon retaliated but could only do enough to split the Dutchman and his teammate to grab P2 before the Arden driver bounced back to second place. Meanwhile Leclerc’s best efforts earned him third position in the first part of qualifying; the Ferrari Driver Academy ace lapped a mere 0.005s faster than Albon. Dennis found some more time but was still three tenths shy of the McLaren junior on provisional pole.
The drivers returned to the pitlane for set-up adjustments and to switch to a new set of the super-soft Pirelli tyre. Dennis lit up the timing screen to go quickest: almost half a second ahead clear of his rivals; but once again Albon was on the attack and he reclaimed his position at the head of the timesheet by two tenths.
Leclerc was also on a charge as he went fastest in sector one but he failed to improve on the rest of his lap. Dennis was also giving it his maximum on his final attempt but gave up his lap when he realised it would not be enough. His fellow Arden teammate Aitken shot up to third place as the chequered flag was waved.
Albon was overjoyed to achieve his third pole of the campaign and reduce Leclerc’s lead in the standings. Dennis grabbed his third front row start of the season with Aitken completing the trio. De Vries qualified fourth, ahead of Series leader and teammate Leclerc. Santino Ferrucci, Arjun Maini, Kevin Joerg, Steijn Schothorst and Nirei Fukuzumi completed the top ten. Fuoco starts just outside of the top ten in P11.
Race 1 takes place tomorrow at 12.25 (GMT+4) and it is one not be miss as a new GP3 Champion could be crowned.

FORMULA 1

WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING ABU DHABI GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

25 – 27 NOVEMBER
YAS MARINA CIRCUIT
ROUND 21 OF 21
It’s just seven years since Abu Dhabi arrived on the calendar with Formula One’s first ever twilight race, yet the Yas Marina circuit has already established itself as a staple of the season. The ultra-modern design stands apart thanks to its unique features, including the LED-lit hotel sprawling over the circuit and tunnelled pit lane exit, as well as joining the likes of Monaco and Singapore in boasting a trackside yacht-filled marina. The long straights and open nature of the circuit promote entertaining racing, and the venue was the scene of celebrations for Williams in 2014 as a double podium for Felipe Massa and Valtteri Bottas secured the team 66 points in the double points system, the most points scored by a team at a single grand prix.
For Abu Dhabi, Pirelli have made available the ultra soft, super soft and soft tyres.
Pat Symonds
After two high altitude races we now head right down to sea level in Abu Dhabi. Although a modern circuit, it is quite challenging with the high-speed areas of turns two and three, and turns 15 and 16, really testing the cars. However, the set-up also needs to allow good low-speed change of direction. The two long straights have independent DRS zones giving drivers two bites at overtaking, or conversely, if they accomplish the overtake on the first straight, they must defend on the second. Pirelli are bringing the ultra soft tyre to this race for the first time, which could prove a difficult tyre to use as the numerous corners that make up sector three may well push this tyre above its ideal operating temperature, particularly as the prescribed pressure is significantly higher than we have used with this tyre before. Unlike Brazil, we can be pretty sure of a dry race here in the desert and, in spite of the introduction of the softer tyre, we would still expect a two-stop to be the favoured strategy.
Valtteri Bottas
Abu Dhabi is a nice place to finish the Formula One season. The facilities are great there and it seems like more and more people come to this race every year. It’s the place where I had my first ever Formula One test in 2011. It’s a good track for racing and it looks very cool with the sunset. We ended the 2014 season there with a double podium so it would be nice to finish this season with another strong result. Normally it’s a good track for our car because of the long straights and short corners and chicanes, so I look forward to it.
Felipe Massa
It’s going to be another emotional one! You try not think about it too much when you’re in the car, you just try to do as good a job as you can. It’s a really nice track to drive, there are lots of fans who really enjoy themselves at the track and outside of the track and it is, of course, a twilight race which is interesting for us and everyone watching. I really hope the final, and 250th race of my Formula One career, can be a fantastic one. We will of course have a big party! Hopefully we can celebrate with a great result.

FORMULA 3

DA COSTA CLAIMS SECOND MACAU VICTORY AHEAD OF ROSENQVIST

Antonio Felix da Costa fought through to his second Macau Grand Prix victory on Sunday following a race-long battle with Red Bull youngster Sergio Sette Camara.

Andretti Formula E driver Da Costa won the Macau Formula 3 event back in 2012, but was afforded the opportunity to return to the streets of the principality by Carlin for this weekend’s event.

Da Costa stamped his authority on proceedings by winning Saturday’s qualifying race ahead of British youngster Callum Ilott, securing pole position for the main event on Sunday.

Ilott made the best getaway off the grid to initially take the lead, only for da Costa and Camara to make use of the slipstream to sweep past on the opening lap.

Camara was able to slingshot his way from third into the lead of the race, with da Costa closing to within a second before the safety car was called after a crash for Force India junior Nikita Mazepin.

Da Costa eventually battled past on the restart on Lap 7, leaving Camara struggling to keep on his tail until being handed a reprieve by a second safety car period following a shunt for Nick Cassidy.

Da Costa fended off Camara on the restart before pulling out a healthy lead that would remain to the checkered flag, handing the Portuguese driver an emotional second victory around Macau’s streets.

Camara was unable to keep da Costa’s Formula E colleague Felix Rosenqvist back in the dying stages of the race, with the Swede taking second. However, it did mark the end of his stint as Macau champion after winning for the past two years.

WTCC

A NIGHT TO REMEMBER FOR THE CITROËN C-ELYSÉE WTCC

After a long hiatus, the FIA World Touring Car Championship 2016 draws to a close in Qatar with two night races at the Losail circuit. Though the titles are all sewn up already, with Citroën and José María López* claiming the honours, there is sure to be plenty of emotion as the Citroën Total team completes its final race in the competition. Yvan Muller, who is in contention for the championship runner-up spot, is also calling time on a fabulous career in top-class racing. The four-time World Champion is also the WTCC’s most capped driver – a record that looks set to last for many years to come! 

Citroën Racing’s foray into global track racing, which began in 2014, will end on Friday 25 November 2016 after sixty-nine races for the official C-Elysée WTCCs. In three years, the car, the most sophisticated ever built for the discipline, has dominated its competitors, winning 88% of available pole positions (30 out of 34) and 73% of its races (49 out of 67).

After five Cross-Country Rally World Cups and eight World Rally Championships, Citroën has added three more titles in the WTCC, bringing its total world trophy haul to sixteen!

The Citroën Total team will feel that their mission is already accomplished, but will nonetheless be seeking to round off their WTCC adventure in style. Two months after the Shanghai meeting, everybody involved will be eager to get back to work at Losail International Circuit.

In the FIA WTCC’s second visit to Qatar, the drivers will once again experience the rare sensation of driving at night, albeit with the 5.38km track bathed in the glow of powerful spotlights. Designed for MotoGP, this circuit is perfectly suited to touring car racing, too, with plenty of overtaking opportunities.

Last year, the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs appeared at ease here, with José María López claiming pole position before winning Race 1. Yvan Muller then completed the set by emerging victorious in Race 2.

As he says goodbye to a discipline that has brought him international recognition at last, Pechito López makes no secret of his ambition to make it onto the top step of the podium one last time. That would be a great reward for the team, but also for his Argentine fans, who have closely followed the fortunes of their country’s first world motorsport champion since Juan Manuel Fangio!

Emotion will be running at least as high on the other side of the garage. Yvan Muller’s retirement marks the end of an era in the FIA WTCC. Once again, the stats are astounding: in eleven seasons and 248 starts, the man from Alsace has set the records for number of pole positions (29), number of race wins (48), number of laps in the lead (571), number of fastest laps (38), points scored (2901) and, of course, world titles, with four championship crowns.

Yvan is a legendary driver who has decided to call it a day while he is still at the top. His aim for this weekend will be to hold on to second spot in the World Championship and thus secure a one-two for Citroën. With Yvan the Terrible currently lying 31 points ahead of Tiago Monteiro, that target should be well within his reach!

Citroën’s cars will once again be carrying the maximum ballast of 80kg at the last meeting of the season. It is worth noting that, since they debuted in the discipline in 2014, the C-Elysées have systematically been burdened with the maximum handicap. Over three years, those compensation weights add up to 2340kg, almost twice as much as the second most penalized team! That figure shows just how brilliantly the team and its drivers have performed.

 

FORMULA 1

MAX “BRAVO BRAVO BRAVO” VERSTAPPEN ON THE BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX

“I think the word for today is ‘Exciting’. I overtook Nico around the outside of turn 3 which was really fun to do, I just seemed to find a bit more grip out there. I then started chasing Lewis which resulted in me having a massive moment in the final sector, I was really lucky to keep it out of the guard rail. After that scare my pace was still good and I held onto P2. The rears then started to lose grip and I was told Daniel had pitted for Intermediates and was going fast so I followed that plan. For a lap or so it was really good but then more rain came which resulted in no grip in the last sector. There was no way we could carry on so had to pit again for wets. From there on the race was really good fun, plenty of overtakes around the outside because if you stay behind them there’s too much spray, I had to find another line. I just kept my head down and managed to get past quite a few cars in the remaining laps. I could hear the crowd going crazy when my engineer was on the radio, so I’m very thankful for the Brazilian fans for getting behind me.  At the end when I crossed the line it felt like a victory, it was almost as beautiful as my race in Barcelona.”

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