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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 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.


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.


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.


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.”



Race Notes:
·         Felipe Massa finished fourth and Valtteri Bottas fifth after running 1-2 in the first stint of an exciting British Grand Prix today.
·         After a brilliant start, Felipe took the lead of the race, holding on to the position until the first round of pitstops.
·         Valtteri was racing for second off the start, eventually holding third until he was able to capitalise on a mistake from Hamilton to retake the position after a brief safety car period.
·         Hamilton jumped both cars in the first pitstops before rain played havoc with the field allowing Rosberg and Vettel to move ahead as they stopped for intermediates.
Rob Smedley, Head of Performance Engineering: There were a few moments in the race where things didn’t go our way. We have to remain positive and proud of our result. The pace we showed throughout this weekend was great, we had a stunning race up until the rain came. We raced two cars against both Mercedes for a majority of the race which shows the hard work and upgrades we are bringing to the car are all working. We closed the gap on second position and moved further ahead of fourth, so it has been a good weekend.
Felipe Massa: It is a frustrating result because the race was amazing today. I had a fantastic start and we were fighting with Mercedes the whole time, it could even have been possible to win the race if it had stayed dry, which is great to see. It was a shame to lost positions in the rain. We waited one lap longer on the second stop which is where we lost the opportunity to be on the podium. That shower also highlighted the car’s weakness in the wet.
Valtteri Bottas: In some ways it was an incredibly frustrating race, and others it was very pleasing. Both cars had great starts and we raced the Mercedes with genuine pace, but when the rain came I really struggled with the intermediate tyre. I was allowed to race Felipe, but it was hard to get through, and I didn’t want to make any mistakes. We have to have a look the race data and make sure we continue to learn from this.


Arden International’s Kevin Ceccon takes victory in GP3 Race 2

 The smile could not be bigger for Kevin Ceccon: The Italian started today’s race from the front row in second place and made a strong start to sneak into the lead. The Arden International driver held off ART Grand Prix’s Esteban Ocon to collect his first win in the GP3 Series and pocketed two bonus points for posting the fastest lap. Jenzer Motorsport rookie Ralph Boschung achieved his debut rostrum in the category with third position.
Race 2 at Silverstone of the third round of the 2015 season was run in much cooler and overcast conditions compared to yesterday’s heatwave. Boschung started from reverse pole but had too much wheel-spin which dropped the Swiss debutant to third, with Ceccon and Ocon making good starts to pass him. Yesterday’s race winner Marvin Kirchhöfer started from eighth on the grid and was up to P5 after an excellent start but as always the opening lap is frenetic with positions changing and after the first lap he had dropped to P8. Koiranen GP’s Jimmy Eriksson was up to fourth ahead of Emil Bernstorff, Matthew Parry and Series leader Luca Ghiotto (Trident).
Ocon was all over the rear of Ceccon’s car on the opening lap, desperate to find a way through into the lead but the Italian covered off his advances and built up a small advantage of 1.2s early on. His Arden International teammate Bernstorff was also on the attack, the Brit was aiming for P4 and attempted a brave move on the outside of Eriksson but unfortunately he carried too much speed into the corner and ran wide. In the process he lost a place to Parry.
All eyes were on the battle of the Koiranen GP teammates: Eriksson and Parry. The Brit was fresh from his first podium yesterday was seeking another and glued himself to the Swede’s machine. This was a titanic tussle that raged throughout the 15 lap race.
Meanwhile at the front Ceccon had control of the race and was busy posting fastest laps and building his lead to 2.3s, but with four laps to go, his French rival Ocon began to light up the timing screens, reducing the deficit to just over a second. The Italian responded however and pulled a small advantage with a mature and confident drive to achieve his debut win in the GP3 Series.
On the penultimate lap, Parry went for the move on his teammate Eriksson and the duo raced side-by-side towards Maggots but the Brit got huge over-steer coming out of Becketts, costing him crucial time in the battle.
At the chequered flag, Ceccon’s joy was clear to see, finishing 1.5s ahead of Ocon, with Boschung seven seconds adrift. Eriksson withstood the gigantic pressure from Parry to clinch fourth, with Bernstorff, Ghiotto and Kirchhöfer completing the top eight.
Ghiotto retains the lead in the Drivers’ Standings: The Italian now has a five point lead over Kirchhöfer (the duo on 82 and 77 respectively). Ocon has moved up to third place on 64, one point ahead of Bernstorff.
ART Grand Prix remain on top inthe Teams’ Standings on 142 points, with Trident next up on 101 and Arden International on 96.
Round 4 will take place at the Hungaroring in Budapest on July 24-26.

F1Weekly podcast # 684

Clark and Nasir share their British Grand Prix preview with all the listeners. This weeks Motorsports Mondial has a special bonus…Peter Brazier’s Formula E report from London. And our extra bonus… some thoughts from Nico Hulkenberg on this weekends Grand Prix.

Nico: “I’m really looking forward to Silverstone – the team’s home race. We go there with a lot of momentum following the strong performance in Austria where we really maximised everything. The circuit suited us, of course, but the field was really close and it was up to us to get a good result, which we did. Finishing sixth was probably the maximum we could get from the race and to come away with a good bunch of points was very satisfying. I am really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of the upgraded VJM08 at Silverstone, which will give us the first impression of what we can expect in the second half of the season.
“Silverstone is one of the best races on the calendar. The fans are great and it’s hard to find an empty seat anywhere. The atmosphere is buzzing and that always gives me an extra boost. I usually go to the campsites to see the fans and it’s great to see everybody having such a good time. Because it’s our home race, I also get to spend more time at the factory with the team members who don’t usually go to races.
“As a circuit, Silverstone gives you a great feeling when you’re driving, especially in the fast corners: to get a good lap together on such a difficult track is an amazing feeling.”

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Haryanto leads the way in Silverstone

Rio Haryanto’s good form has carried over to Silverstone where the Indonesian topped the timesheets in this morning’s free practice session, leading the way ahead of Williams test driver Alex Lynn and McLaren tester (and points leader) Stoffel Vandoorne by less than a tenth.
The Indonesian driver stopped the clock with a time of 1:40.659, half a second quicker that Raffaele Marciello’s best time in this session last year, a third of the way through the session on a clear track when most of his rivals had returned to the pits for fresh tyres and, despite having plenty of time left, they were unable to match his time.
The session got underway under glorious sunny conditions, with Pierre Gasly, Johnny Cecotto, Marciello, Alexander Rossi and Vandoorne all setting the early pace. The Belgian looked to have the session under control when he returned to the pits for new tyres and a debrief, but Haryanto stayed out to take advantage of the clear track, stealing the top spot in the process.
Alex Lynn had been close to the quick times all session long, and threw everything he had at the top spot with 8 minutes remaining: the Englishman ran a great lap by missed out by just 3 thousandths in a period where few of his rivals improved, a good sign for qualifying this afternoon, but just behind him countryman Nick Yelloly, Rossi, Arthur Pic, Gasly, Marciello, Sergey Sirotkin and Jordan King, who will all be looking to break into the top 3 in just a few hours’ time.