F1Weekly podcast # 685

Clark struggles to cope with another Mercedes 1-2 at Silverstone and Nasir tries to alleviate the pain with an outstanding Motorsports Mondial report which includes this weeks WTCC results…

LÓPEZ AND MA, THE TRUE KINGS OF REAL!

FIA WORLD TOURING CAR CHAMPIONSHIP 2015 - CIRCUITO DE VILA REAL - RACE OF PORTUGAL - WTCC-10/07/2015 A 12/07/2015 - PHOTO : @World <p– The European portion of the FIA WTCC season ended in triumph for the Citroën Total team, which scored two one-two finishes in the streets of Vila Real.

– In race one, José María López and Sébastien Loeb built on their qualifying form to take an uncontested one-two finish.

– Marked by a multitude of incidents, race 2 brought a smile to Ma Qing Hua. The Chinese driver won his second career race in the FIA WTCC ahead of Yvan Muller.

– The four Citroën drivers hold down the top four places in the World Championship: José María López (322 pts) ahead of Yvan Muller (267), Sébastien Loeb (230) and Ma Qing Hua (146).

Race one got underway just before lunch time, while the temperature began to rise in the streets of Vila Real. For José María López and Sébastien Loeb, the big unknown was the grip level of the starting grid, which isn’t part of the circuit’s racing line.

When the lights went out, Pechito managed to get the best launch ahead of Seb, and the two Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs pulled away from the rest of the field. Third on the grid, Valente blew his start and squeezed Yvan Muller, who was trying to get by on the inside. Ma Qing Hua took advantage to overtake Van Lagen and Castburg and close up to Valente… who then made contact with the Chinese driver! Valente dropped out a few minutes later and Ma Qing Hua was up to sixth place behind López, Loeb, Michelisz, Tarquini and Monteiro. Yvan Muller followed in seventh place.

As the laps ticked down, the gap between the leading drivers rose steadily. While Ma Qing Hua narrowed his deficit to Tiago Montiero late in the race, the positions stood pat all the way to the chequers. In triumphing for the sixth time of the season, José María López also scored maximum points, while Sébastien Loeb secured yet another one-two finish for the Citroën Total team.

Following a long break, the cars were back on the starting grid late in the afternoon. This time, Ma Qing Hua and Yvan Muller shared row one. Thanks to two perfect starts, the team mates led the way, while contact eliminated Van Lagen and Monteiro. The safety car was called into action to allow marshals to clear away the damaged cars.

When the race resumed, Ma held on to the lead in front of Muller, Catsburg, Tarquini, Michelisz, Loeb and López. While the two leading Citroëns pulled away, the chase group was tightly bunched due to the absence of overtaking opportunities on the Vila Real circuit.

On lap 10, Catsburg made a mistake, allowing Michelisz then Loeb to close the distance. But the three cars made contact under braking and Seb’s race ended prematurely in the tyre barrier! The race continued without the nine-time World Rally Champion, who also lost valuable points along the way.

Two laps later, Catsburg had a big shunt. His car was stopped on the racing line and the marshals made the wise decision to bring out the red flag. This didn’t alter the joy of Ma Qing Hua, who scored his first win in the FIA WTCC since Moscow 2014. Second, Yvan Muller helped Citroën to score maximum points over the weekend. Championship leader José María López picked up valuable points with his fifth place result in race 2!

WHAT THEY HAD TO SAY

Yves Matton Team Principal Citroën Racing: “We end this first long portion of the season with everything looking strong; 14 victories in 16 races, our four drivers leading the World Championship and a nice lead for Citroën in the manufacturers standings… We are delighted with the performance of Ma Qing Hua, who solidified this increase in performance with a win. Our four drivers have all won this season, and we can head to the Asian swing with confidence.”

José María López: “While it may have looked easy from the outside, stringing together 13 laps on this circuit is a proper challenge. It was a real mystery for the start; we didn’t know how the car would react on this piece of the circuit. In the end, everything went well and I was able to keep my advantage over Seb. I had good pace and managed to pull away rather quickly. Then, I had to cope with the heat and look after my Citroën C-Elysée WTCC. I could feel the car suffering on the bumps and curbs. I had to stay focused all the way to the end! I am very happy to have won on such a demanding circuit. Race 2 was chaotic, but I managed to avoid the incidents to move from 10th to 5th place. With a 55-point lead with four meetings remaining, I am in an ideal situation!”

Sébastien Loeb: “Pechito and I both got a good start in race 1. It was a bit intense at the first chicane, because we made the same the mistake in exiting a little wide. Then, I tried to stay close, but it was hard due to the slipstream that created a little more under-steer for me. The gaps grew because Pechito was a little quicker. For my part, I tried to maintain a sufficient gap to Michelisz. I got a good start in race 2, by avoiding the accident in front of me. Then, a pack of cars formed and I couldn’t try very much. In a corner, I saw that Catsburg was nearly completely stopped. He got going, but Michelisz was in the midst of passing him on the inside. I came up on them way to fast and I couldn’t brake to stay behind them. I was trail braking and then I was hit on the right-rear; the car began to slide and came to rest in the tyres… The result isn’t very good for the championship. I was faster than Yvan, but the pure performance wasn’t rewarded.”

Ma Qing Hua: “I want to especially thank my team of engineers and mechanics. In betting on the reverse grid in qualifying, the objective was clearly to win race 2. Everything strung together nicely, with a perfect start and very good race pace. I was focused on not creating a possibility for Yvan to catch up to me. Even though the race ended with the red flag, it was a huge moment when I realized I had won. And it was an even bigger moment when I heard the Chinese national anthem on the podium. I am proud for my country and for Citroën, and I think that this new victory will be beneficial in the development of motor racing in China. “

Yvan Muller: “After a difficult time in qualifying, I couldn’t have hoped for much better this weekend. I am all the same satisfied to be on the podium. Ma Qing Hua was very fast in the race and he totally deserves his win. I tried to attack to threaten him, but it was to no avail. Even though the World Championship situation isn’t going my way, I haven’t given up and I will attack the second half of the season with the firm intention to catch up to Pechito!”

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DTM

WITTMANN LEADS BMW TO HISTORIC SUCCESS

Probably, hardly anyone had expected this after the results from the first six DTM races of the season: BMW dominated the race at Zandvoort in The Netherlands on Saturday and saw seven of its eight BMW M4 DTMs lock out the first seven places. Reigning DTM champion Marco Wittmann was the dominant winner in the 40 minutes’ race. “A dream result,” a delighted Wittmann said after the finish. “I wouldn’t say no when things continue like that tomorrow.” António Félix da Costa, who scored his best DTM result in second position, and third-placed Belgian Maxime Martin rounded out the podium at Zandvoort. Augusto Farfus, Bruno Spengler, Timo Glock and Tom Blomqvist in fourth to seventh place completed the historic success for BMW.

On Saturday, Audi and Mercedes-Benz had no luck. Both Gary Paffett with his Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM and points’ leader and Audi’s spearhead Jamie Green failed to score points in spite of their good stating grid positions. Green slid into the gravel trap following a driver’s error on lap 18 and had to retire. “That was a little error with a big effect,” Jamie Green commented. Only a slight consolation for the brand from Ingolstadt: Mike Rockenfeller and Nico Müller were the best-placed Audi drivers in eighth and ninth place.

In the battle for fourth on the penultimate lap, Paffett also took too many risks while trying to overtake Augusto Farfus. After slight contact, he slid off the track and thus lost his fifth place that seemed to be certain until that mishap. Eventually, Paffett took the chequered flag in eleventh place. “Augusto did a good job in defending his position and briefly tapped the brakes there, which really surprised me,” Paffett explained. “I knew that consistency would be the key to success and that I could only make up positions towards the end of the race. Unfortunately, that didn’t work out.” A few metres after the start, Paul Di Resta caused a five laps’ safety car intervention: after contact with Robert Wickens, the Scot crashed into the Armco barriers. At Zandvoort, Pascal Wehrlein was the best-placed Mercedes-Benz driver in tenth position.

Wittmann already laid the foundation for his first win of the season and the fifth victory of his DTM career at the start. The 25-year-old had a significantly better getaway than his fellow BMW driver and pole sitter Augusto Farfus and took the lead. In the course of the race, only second-placed Félix da Costa remained within striking distance to Wittmann. The Portuguese placed several attacks on his fellow BMW driver, but eventually didn’t take any risks and safely brought second place home. “For the first time this season, we were really quick,” Félix da Costa said. “Second place is wonderful, and tomorrow, I already have the next chance to score a good result.”

BMW’s success is a historic one in the DTM: never before did a manufacturer succeed in locking out the first seven places. Mercedes-Benz had a clean sweep of the first six places at Hockenheim in 2001 and at Barcelona in 2007. Audi also scored a top six lock-out in the DTM, at Valencia in 2011. “Of course, such a success is sensational,” BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt says. “The track suits our car and the performance weights have contributed to this success, too. However, we have to be realistic: since the race at Norisring, the balance of power hasn’t changed as much as it looks. For the motivation of our team, today was very important.”

After seven races, Jamie Green remains on top of the drivers’ standings with 81 points from Mattias Ekström (70 points) and Pascal Wehrlein (68 points). After his first win of the season, Marco Wittmann has moved up to sixth behind Edoardo Mortara (58 points) and Robert Wickens (57 points). He now has 39 points.

The second race at Zandvoort gets underway on Sunday at 14:10 hrs (live on ARD). Prior to that, grid positions for the race will be determined in qualifying from 11:35 hrs.

F3 EURO CHAMPIONSHIP

Markus Pommer takes his maiden win

Season race: 21 of 33
Track: Circuit Park Zandvoort
Winner: Markus Pommer (Motopark)
Pole position: Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin)
Weather: sunny

For Markus Pommer, the trip to Zandvoort in The Netherlands paid off: on Saturday, he scored his first-ever FIA Formula 3 European Championship podium finish at the 4.307 kilometres long ex-Formula 1 circuit; one day later, he scored his maiden victory. Thus, he also secured the first win for his team Motopark in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship. Behind the German, Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam) took the chequered flag in second and third place respectively. As Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing), who started the race as the points’ leader, only finished tenth, Giovinazzi took over first place in the FIA Formula 3 European Championship drivers’ standings.

Markus Pommer already laid the foundation for his success at the start as he overtook pole-sitter Antonio Giovinazzi on the way to the first corner and took the lead. On lap three, Matt Solomon (Double R Racing) spun into the gravel trap and got stuck. In order for his car to be recovered, the safety car was deployed. Within two laps after the restart, a crash by Mikkel Jensen (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) brought out the safety car once more.

Racing resumed on lap eleven, but this time, the youngsters from the FIA Formula 3 European Championship didn’t get much further either. Gustavo Menezes (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Nicolas Pohler (Double R Racing) collided, which triggered the third safety car intervention. After the third restart, there were only three laps remaining, which Markus Pommer completed without any problems to drive his first FIA Formula 3 European Championship victory home.

Behind Pommer, Antonio Giovinazzi took second place from Felix Rosenqvist. Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam), the best-placed rookie Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam), George Russell (Carlin), Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motopark), Alexander Albon (Signature), Santino Ferrucci (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) and Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing) completed the top ten.

Markus Pommer (Motopark): “The start was key to this success. In the early stages of the race, my car was fast, but because we had opted for a relatively aggressive set-up, I was slightly concerned that my tyres could degrade too much. Therefore, I didn’t mind the three safety car interventions that much. Of course, it is great that I finally pulled off my first victory. When we started our preparation for our maiden FIA Formula 3 European Championship season, we were over a second down on the fastest drivers. And now, we are all the way up front. My team Motopark has done a tremendous job and I am delighted to be a member of this team. For this weekend at Zandvoort, I also had the benefit of the data from Max Verstappen, who won the Masters of Formula 3 at the same venue with Motopark last year.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin): “Of course, I am really happy that I am now back in the lead of the drivers’ standings again. Prior to this weekend, I would never have thought that I would make up my gap to Charles Leclerc. In this race, Markus had a great start, which allowed him to take the lead. In the three restarts, I couldn’t overtake him either. He has done a good job and I congratulate him on this victory.”

Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam): “Once again, I didn’t have the best of starts, which we now have to analyse. My car was good and I tried to be particularly aggressive during the restarts. Too bad that it was not enough to mount a challenge. Nevertheless, I am happy with my third place and my three podium results of this weekend.”

F3 EURO CHAMPIONSHIP

Revenge succeeded: Rosenqvist wins from Giovinazzi

Season race: 20 of 33
Track: Circuit Park Zandvoort
Winner: Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam)
Pole position: Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam)
Weather: sunny and warm

In the 20th season race of the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam) was successful in his revenge against Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin), who had managed to defeat the Swede in the 19th race of the year. Now, it was Rosenqvist’s turn and he won at the 4.307 kilometres long dune circuit at Zandvoort with the Italian in second place. Third position went to Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam). Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing), who came to Zandvoort as the FIA Formula 3 European Championship points’ leader, retired after an accident, but retains first place in the drivers’ standings.

The race began with an accident right after the start. Still on the main straight, Lance Stroll (Prema Powerteam) and Charles Leclerc collided, putting an early end to the race for Canadian Stroll. To allow for the damaged car of the rookie to be removed from the track, race control sent the safety car out. At this time, Felix Rosenqvist was in the lead from Antonio Giovinazzi, Jake Dennis and Markus Pommer (Motopark).

Racing resumed on lap four, but two laps later, Charles Leclerc crashed into the Armco barriers due to consequential damage from the collision after the start. That caused the second safety car intervention that lasted until the start of lap eleven. At the second restart, Rosenqvist again stayed ahead of Giovinazzi, even though the Italian made it exciting. The young drivers made it through the next laps without any problems. Rosenqvist set off with fast lap times and went on to score a safe win from Giovinazzi.

Jake Dennis took the chequered flag in third place from Markus Pommer, the best-placed rookie Alexander Albon (Signature), George Russell (Carlin), Sérgio Sette Câmara (Motorpark), Maximilian Günther (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport), Santino Ferrucci (kfzteile24 Mücke Motorsport) and Ryan Tveter (Carlin), who scored his first-ever top ten finish.

Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam): “For the first time this weekend, we have been able to show our pace, which really is good here. The start was very important and I got it right. For me, the rest of the race was trouble-free as well. After the second restart, I didn’t really feel a lot of pressure from Antonio, even though I didn’t get the restart perfectly right.”

Antonio Giovinazzi (Jayonya Ayam with Carlin): “Second place is quite all right for me, because I have scored many points and championship leader Charles Leclerc didn’t get any. At the start, I managed to take second place ahead of Jake and nothing changed after that, because it is very hard to overtake here.”

Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam): “The past four races haven’t been good for me and I am happy to be back on the podium. In the first race, I had a clutch problem which we managed to solve for the second race. At the start, I tried to attack Antonio, but I didn’t manage to do so. Then, I wasn’t able to keep up with Felix and Antonio by my own means, but I had no pressure from Markus Pommer behind me either.”

FORMULA 1

LOTUS F1 REFLECT ON THEIR DISASTER IN THE BRITISH GRAND PRIX

Lotus F1 Team’s hopes for the British Grand Prix evaporated before the completion of the first lap after an incident instigated retirement for both Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado. Contact between Daniel Riccardo’s Red Bull and Romain’s E23 led to contact with and damage to Pastor’s car; Romain retired almost immediately whereas Pastor was able to complete more of his lap before being told to park and retire.

Romain Grosjean, DNF, E23-04
“That was a very short race for the team and I feel for everyone here at Silverstone and at Enstone. Daniel must have thought his brakes and tyres would be able to slow him better than they did and the result was the end of both my and Pastor’s race. No-one likes to end a Grand Prix like that as so much effort goes into making and preparing the cars. I know we have many fans who want to see us race so I feel for them too. Budapest is next, and we’ve gone well there in the past. I’m pumped-up to fight for every single point available.”

Pastor Maldonado, DNF, E23-03
“At first I thought I had a puncture and would be able to return to the pits and re-join the race but unfortunately the damage to the car was more serious than that and I had to retire. There is nothing you can do in situations like these as it’s all part of racing. Now my focus is on the next race where we’ll be trying our very best as always.”

Federico Gastaldi, Deputy Team Principal
“Motorsport is sometimes a cruel sport and we saw that today. There was nothing either of our drivers could have done to avoid the first lap incident and that was our race over. It’s been a frustrating home weekend for us. We weren’t able to show the pace we have in the car, we’ve suffered from a few niggles, then it was a very early bath for both our guys. Our focus is now very much on Budapest and doing everything we can to ensure we perform at the best of our ability there.”

Nick Chester, Technical Director
“Both Romain and Pastor were the victims of over-exuberance at the start of the race meaning that both returned to the garage for a very short debrief after only a lap on track. It’s now a rapid return to Enstone to put everything we can into preparing the cars for Hungary and our next opportunity for a points haul.”

BRITISH GT

British GT grid set for Spa Francorchamps


A 34-car grid featuring no less than 19 GT3 entries will take to the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium this weekend (July 10/11) for the Avon Tyres British GT Championship’s fifth round of the season and annual ‘away day’.

The 4.3-mile, 20-turn Ardennes venue oozes atmosphere and history, and also offers drivers of all abilities one of the toughest tests in motor racing. It’s these factors that have undoubtedly helped attract a number of new names for this Saturday’s two-hour points-and-a-half-paying encounter.

An additional BMW Z4 GT3 run by crack Belgian outfit Marc VDS & Friends Racing for Cancer featuring the talents of Pascal Witmeur and Bas Leinders should be at the sharp end. There are also two additional Aston Martin Vantage GT3s on the entry list courtesy of Aston Martin Brussels’ Michael Schmetz and reigning Belgian GT champion, Tim Verbergt, and Leonard Motorsport AMR’s Silver Cup driver pairing Stuart Leonard and Michael Meadows.

Elsewhere, series regulars Rosso Verde return with their Ferrari for Hector Lester and Benny Simonsen, while FF Corse’s similar 458 Italia features Ollie Hancock alongside Gary Eastwood.

There’s also a fresh GT4 entry following the arrival of Track Group’s Lotus Evora, driven by Adam Balon and Ben Clucas.

2015: THE GT3 STORY SO FAR

Four rounds contested over three different distances have already been completed, but so competitive is this year’s entry that GT3 still awaits its first multiple winners of 2015.

Indeed, it’s consistency rather than outright pace that has proved vital to reigning Drivers’ champion Marco Attard and Ecurie Ecosse team-mate Alexander Sims establishing their slim 11.5-point lead atop the standings. Scoring big in the championship’s two points-and-a-half races, including a victory at Rockingham, helped them overcome a slow start at Oulton Park where their closest title pursuers, Liam Griffin and Rory Butcher, won the hour-long opener for Oman Racing Team.

As if to emphasise the point Triple Eight pairing Lee Mowle and Joe Osborne have yet to finish first this season but remain very much part of the fight thanks to their knack of picking up solid points’ finishes. Second place at Silverstone last time out suggests they’re in contention to make it five winners from as many rounds in Belgium.

Beechdean AMR’s former champions Andrew Howard and Jonny Adam have been at the sharp end all season but have so far struggled converting potential into big points. A victory on the opening weekend at Oulton, plus two pole positions, proves they have what it takes to close the gap.

AND WHAT OF GT4?

With plenty of points still up for grabs the destination of this year’s GT4 titles remains anyone’s guess, even if one pairing has come to the fore in recent months…

Indeed, Jamie Chadwick and Ross Gunn’s back-to-back victories at Rockingham and Silverstone’s two endurance events have helped them seize control of the Drivers’ standings. After letting their enthusiasm slightly get the better of them at Oulton neither Beechdean AMR youngster has since put a foot wrong en route to establishing a 31.5-point advantage over ISSY Racing duo Oz Yusuf and Gavan Kershaw.

They, along with third placed Mike Robinson and Graham Johnson, chalked up the other two victories at Oulton, meaning three manufacturers – Aston Martin, Lotus and Ginetta – have shared the GT4 spoils thus far.

Looking to get in on the act at Spa-Francorchamps will be the Graham Coomes/Jake Hill peddled AmDTuning.com Porsche 911, which ran at the front for much of Silverstone’s three-hour race. The same can also be said of Academy Motorsport’s Dennis Strandberg and Will Moore in light of the latter’s impressive display in wet conditions last time out.

TYRE CHATTER 

Mike Lynch, Avon Tyres Technical Manager – Motorsport, runs the rule over Spa-Francorchamps.

“Spa is our only trip abroad with the British GT Championship. The nature of the track and the weather bring unique challenges for the tyres. The long lap with very high speeds and the huge compression at Eau Rouge creates loads in the tyres not seen at other circuits on our calendar.

“Set in the Ardennes, the weather is unpredictable at best. The tyres might have to cope with track temperatures ranging from 10 to 40ºC, from dry, hot surfaces to wet and greasy – often on the same lap. However, the new-for-2015 tyre has been optimised to perform more consistently in all of these conditions. We can expect faster lap times and the racing to be even closer than last year.”

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