FORMULA 1

SAHARA FORCE INDIA CHINESE GRAND PRIX PREVIEW

Q&A with Vijay Mallya
Team Principal, Vijay Mallya, reflects on the opening couple of races ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix.
 
Vijay, the team was out of luck in Bahrain, but there were some positives…
“Bahrain was a missed opportunity. Two front wing changes in the space of two laps put us on the back foot and prevented us from playing a part in the outcome of the race. It’s disappointing because we know the car has the speed to be right up there fighting for points. So that’s the positive we must focus on as we prepare for the upcoming races.”
 
What can we expect this weekend in China?
“It feels as though we’ve yet to unleash our true potential this season. Both the races so far have been heavily compromised, either by our own mistakes or outside circumstances, so I’d like to see what we can achieve with a clean, trouble-free race to the flag. When things go to plan, we know we can compete well inside the top ten and I expect everyone in the team to be pushing hard to reverse our recent fortunes.”
 
Did you enjoy watching the close midfield battle in Bahrain?
“The battle in the middle of the pack is too close to call this season and it means that there’s even more pressure on teams and drivers to deliver, especially in qualifying. It’s going to be very exciting for the fans and that is what we want to see in Formula One.”
 
 
Nico on China
Nico Hulkenberg aims to realise the potential of the VJM09 this weekend.
 
Nico: “When I think of the race in Shanghai I always remember the impressive towers on the main straight and the cool paddock buildings by the lake. It’s definitely a circuit with a special character and its own personality. The city of Shanghai is also a cool place to visit and I enjoy trying real Chinese food and exploring such a different culture. I’m always fascinated by big cities and feeling the buzz of the place.
 
“The track is also famous for the never-ending turn one. It’s a tricky corner because it’s easy to go in too hot, especially during qualifying, and it’s a corner that eats your tyres. In fact, looking after the tyres is always hard work because turn 13 is another long right-hander that takes even more life out of them. The rest of the lap has a bit of everything from low-speed to high-speed, which makes it challenging to find a balanced set-up.
 
“My expectations for this weekend are high and, after the disappointment of Bahrain, I hope we can have a clean race in China. There’s good pace in the car and reaching Q3 in Bahrain was proof of that. We had to work very hard with the car set-up to find the sweet spot, but we learned a lot of things that will carry over into this weekend.”
 
 
 
Sergio on China
Sergio Perez hopes for a change of fortunes in Shanghai.
 
Sergio: “I’ve always enjoyed going to China. Shanghai is an interesting city to explore and you always get huge support from the fans. They always wait outside our hotel every day just to say hello and give us special gifts.
 
“They did a great job with the track design in Shanghai because there is a good mix of corners. Turn one is what everybody talks about and it’s my favourite part of the lap. It’s such an unusual corner and you have to judge your speed perfectly because you can lose a lot of time if you don’t attack it enough. Then, on the back straight, we always see lots of drag races and it’s a question of who will brake latest going into the hairpin.
 
“After two disappointing races I want to get my season started properly in Shanghai. The results in Australia and Bahrain could have been so much better, but things just didn’t work out for me. That’s part of racing and I know things will turn around soon. It was a similar situation as the start of last year before my luck started to change. The atmosphere in the team is still upbeat and everybody is pushing to get more performance from the car. We made a good step in Bahrain with the upgrades so we are definitely moving in the right direction.”

GP3

JANOSZ FASTEST ON DAY ONE IN VALENCIA

Trident driver leads the way at second pre-season test in Spain
Trident’s Artur Janosz recorded the best time on day one of pre-season testing in Valencia with a 1:21.755 which was set in the morning session. Koiranen GP’s Matthew Parry topped the afternoon times in a 1:21.932 at Circuit Ricardo Tormo.
The second pre-season test of the campaign opened under clear blue skies. There was one change to the driver line-up compared to the first pre-season test with newly announced Richard Gonda from Slovakia driving for Jenzer Motorsport.
DAMS’ rookie Jake Hughes was first on track but it was Akash Nandy from Jenzer who first lapped into the 1m23’s. DAMS and Haas F1 Team development driver Santino Ferrucci found some extra pace to dip into the 1m22’s before Oscar Tunjo rose to the top of the timesheet in a 1:22.029. There was a short break in proceedings when Parry stopped on track.
At the midway point, the Colombian continued to lead the standings with Campos Racing’s Alex Palou and ART Grand Prix’s Nyck de Vries within one tenth. Arden International’s Jack Aitken shot to second before Janosz rocketed into the 1m21’s to top the session with just over 30 minutes remaining. Charles Leclerc jumped into P2 before his teammate Alexander Albon displaced him. Konstantin Tereshchenko improved to third as the clock ticked down.
Janosz remained unchallenged as the morning test session came to a close ahead of Albon, Tereshchenko, Leclerc, Tunjo, Aitken, Palou, de Vries, Tatiana Calderon and Giuliano Alesi.
Following the two hour break for lunch, the temperature increased and Leclerc was first to set the pace. The Arden duo of Jake Dennis and Aitken led the way for the majority of the afternoon – separated by just 0.027s. The session was studious with the drivers focusing on long runs.
In the final thirty minutes, Parry shot to the top of timings and was first into the 1m21s. At the chequered flag the Brit remained P1, two tenths ahead of fellow compatriot Dennis. Aitken, Nirei Fukuzumi, Leclerc, Albon, Tunjo, Steijn Schothorst, Ferrucci and Matevos Isaakyan completed the top ten.

FORMULA 1

RED BULL ON THEIR BAHRAIN RESULTS

DANIEL RICCIARDO, Finish Position: 4th, Start Position: 5th
“The race start was interesting. I didn’t get off the line very well and I could see it was getting a bit chaotic into Turn 1. I tried to capitalize on it but ended up with damage on the front wing when Bottas and I came together. There was a moment that I thought I would have to pit for a new wing as the chunk that came off looked pretty substantial but we were able to hang in there for a few laps, racing with the Williams. The damage didn’t affect me too much and we had a good race, although a little lonely towards the end, with some decent points scored.”
 DANIIL KVYAT, Finish Position: 7th Start Position: 15th
“I am very pleased with today. It was quite difficult in the beginning but I would say the race went very well considering where we started from. We had good pace and a good result which I am very happy with. The strategy worked well and the team managed to avoid traffic on the track, when we saw an opportunity we went for it and it made the race good fun. We found a nice rhythm during the race. It was also good to see we were challenging the front runners, at the right tracks I think this will be interesting. We need to work on our qualifying and not repeat the disaster of yesterday, for China I will sit down with my side of the garage and analyse qualifying to improve that. It was a really good wheel to wheel race which I think is good for TV and I’m really happy to have been involved in that action. I leave here with the glass half full.”
 CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “A great performance from both drivers today. They both sustained damage in the first lap on an identical part of the car losing their front wing end plates which wasn’t ideal. But the strategy from the team and with the pace of the cars, we were able to finish in a respectable fourth and seventh place. Dany made a great recovery from his difficult qualifying yesterday to put some decent points on the board. Daniel got absolutely everything out of the car he could to deliver another excellent race. All in all, it was a decent weekend for us with some valuable points in the bank.”

F3 EURO CHAMPIONSHIP

LANCE STROLL TAKES VICTORY IN LE CASTELLET SEASON OPENER

Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam) got his second season in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship underway to the best possible start. In the first race of the year at the 3.841 kilometres long Circuit Paul Ricard, the 17-year-old Canadian beat his team-mate Nick Cassidy (Prema Powerteam) and took victory. British driver George Russell (HitechGP) claimed third place, finishing ahead of the best-placed rookie driver, Ben Barnicoat (HitechGP) in fourth. The winner of the first race of the season, Lance Stroll is also the first points’ leader of the 2016 FIA Formula 3 European Championship.

Having started from pole position, Lance Stroll initially had to hand the race lead to Nick Cassidy. However, he already claimed back the lead on lap two and held on to it until the finish of the race after 25 laps. 21-year-old Cassidy was able to follow his team-mate, but didn’t have a chance to mount a successful challenge.

Behind the Prema Powerteam duo, George Russell finished third. The 18-year-old Brit had a better getaway than rookie driver Niko Kari (Motopark), who was third on the grid, and moved up into third place on the opening metres of the race. After a collision with his team-mate Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark), the Fin lost even more ground and went on to finish his maiden FIA Formula 3 European Championship race in eighth place.

Ben Barnicoat, Maximilian Günther (Prema Powerteam), the second-best rookie driver Joel Eriksson (Motopark) and Ralf Aron (Prema Powerteam), who collected the trophy for the third-best rookie, filled the positions between Russell and Kari. After entertaining battles in the midfield, Harrison Newey (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Callum Ilott (Van Amersfoort Racing) claimed the final point-scoring positions by finishing ninth and tenth respectively. Ilott did so after impressive progress, because he had to start from the back of the grid following an engine change after an issue in testing on Thursday.

Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam): “This was a good start into the season, both for myself and for the team. However, we have worked hard over the winter to achieve this. My start of the race didn’t go to plan, which certainly was also due to the fact that the track wasn’t entirely dry yet. That was too bad, because I always had very good starts during testing. Fortunately, only Nick got past me and when he made a mistake at the end of the first lap, I was able to overtake him again.”

Nick Cassidy (Prema Powerteam): “For me, the first few metres were very good, although my starts over the winter had been terrible and I wasn’t too confident about my starts either. Unfortunately, I made a mistake when shifting at the end of the opening lap and hence I lost the lead again. After that, overtaking proved to be difficult, even though my car was really good. This weekend, conditions are changing all the time, but the team always had the right answer.”

George Russell (HitechGP): “I managed to move up into third place at the start, but I was left without a chance against the two Prema drivers. They were simply quicker and thus also deserved the first two places. However, I feel slightly sorry for Nick, because he was faster than Lance, but had to let him get past in the opening stage of the race already. Personally, I am happy with my third place, especially as my tyres degraded heavily in the second half of the race. Both for me and for my team HitechGP, this is the first time at Le Castellet and the team has done a great job.”

F1Weekly podcast # 700

CLARK AND NASIR BRING YOU OUR SEVEN HUNDREDTH ATTEMPT AT DOING A MOTORSPORTS PODCAST, WE HAVE ANOTHER EPISODE OF LOOSH ON THE LOOSE! AND AN INTERVIEW WITH TALENTED AND BEAUTIFUL USF2000 RACE CAR DRIVER AYLA AGREN.

Ayla has been driving since she was 7 years old. She started driving go-karts and has competed in the World, European, Dutch, German, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian Championships. In addition, she also competed in the European leading karting series called WSK. 2012 was her first season in Open Wheel racing, where she competed in the Skip Barber summer series, bringing home 4 podiums.

Just from looking at her, you may think that Ayla Agren is no different from your typical 21 year old girl. But behind the blonde hair and blue eyes lies a burning desire to be the best, no matter what it takes. No ordinary teenage girl would leave the comfort of home to go over 5,000 miles away and pursue the sport of professional auto racing, unless there was a true desire, and talent, to make it to the top.

In addition to her talent on track, Ayla is also a full time student and will commence her last year of University this spring. She also works with several organizations in Norway to educate youth on defensive driving.

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WTCC

THE 2016 WORLD TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP BEGINS AT THE PAUL RICARD CIRCUIT,a happy hunting ground for the Citroën Total. For the final season of its track racing adventure, the two-time World Champion team is lining up two Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs on the grid, with José María López and Yvan Muller the men at the wheel. The Argentine and the Frenchman, who between them have claimed six of the last eight titles awarded in the competition, will be looking to continue their winning streak!

As in 2014, the FIA World Touring Car Championship gets under way at the majestic Paul Ricard Circuit. After a four-month hiatus, which the teams spent fine-tuning their cars, the moment of truth has come!

By winning 92% of the pole positions and 81% of the races contested over the last two seasons, Citroën Total has made itself the team to beat. As the aggressive new livery of the Citroën C-Elysée WTCC shows, the team will be fighting hard to retain that status in 2016!

To do so, they will have to overcome regulations designed to handicap the reigning World Champion manufacturer. The Citroën cars will carry 80 kg of ballast in the first two meetings of the season, before a rebalancing based on results. Other changes that will force the team to adapt its strategy include the reverse grid for the opening race and the MAC3 (“Manufacturers Against the Clock”) contest to be held after qualifying.

Over the winter, the engineers and drivers worked on some subtle technical improvements. The most visible are in the car’s aerodynamics, with a redesigned front end. Citroën Racing is also counting on its finely honed knowledge of the car and the range of setups available, as well as the healthy rivalry between José María López and Yvan Muller, to help it fulfil its potential. More than ever, team spirit will be crucial to success!

Team spirit is a quality shared by the drivers of the three cars competing for Sébastien Loeb Racing. In his second season in a Citroën C-Elysée WTCC, Mehdi Bennani will be setting the standard for Tom Chilton and Grégoire Demoustier. All three will be competing in the WTCC Trophy, which is for private drivers only. 

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY

Yves Matton (Team Principal, Citroën Racing): “With several big-name drivers switching teams and a new manufacturer in the mix, this FIA WTCC season looks set to be open and closely contested. We are delighted about that, but we will still be aiming to claim as many wins as we possibly can and to retain our Manufacturers and Drivers titles! Our team also has a new look, with two official Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs and three private cars. Alongside Pechito and Yvan, we will be counting on Mehdi, Tom and Grégoire to notch up plenty of points, both in MAC3 and in the races. Results in testing aren’t the be-all and end-all, but it is worth noting that we did clock the seven fastest times over eight sessions in Vallelunga. That was doubtless no accident, but testament to the work the whole team put in over the winter. I hope we leave the Paul Ricard Circuit with a convincing result: in other words, a win!”

José María López (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC No. 37): “I’m really excited about beginning a new season. It’s one of my favourite times of the year! After all the work we have done in recent months, the slate has been wiped clean and we can’t wait to see how we measure up against the competition. The only thing I know for sure is that we have put in some great work. But we’ll have to wait for qualifying, when everyone will put on new tyres at the same time, to get a real idea of the hierarchy. The 80kg of ballast will certainly be a big handicap, and might cost us over a second a lap on some circuits. It’s going to be tough, but we’re prepared for it. I am also really happy to be starting the season in France. It’s like a second home meeting for me! The team has fond memories of Paul Ricard, having won all four races we have competed in here. My win in 2014, when I recovered from last place, remains one of the best of my career!”

Yvan Muller (Citroën C-Elysée WTCC No. 68): “I haven’t competed for four months. That’s too long for me! I can’t wait to get back behind the wheel of my Citroën C-Elysée WTCC for a racing weekend. We don’t know yet how good our rivals are, but we will definitely suffer during the first two meetings. Any predictions at this stage are based solely on speculation. A win might be hard to achieve, but we need to do the best we can and see how the pecking order stands. Like the whole team, I am always enthusiastic about coming back to Paul Ricard. In the eighties, I used to come and watch the F1 Grand Prix from the stands, and this is where I took part in my first single-seater race back in 1988! Since then, I think I’ve driven on every track layout and in every kind of car!”

The Premiere Motorsport Podcast