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FORMULA 1

RED BULL RACING ON FRIDAY PRACTICE IN MELBOURNE

DANIEL RICCIARDO
First Practice Session: 1:24.886, Position: 3, Laps: 19
Second Practice Session: 1:24.650, Position: 5, Laps: 27
“We looked pretty strong this morning and then we tried a few things this afternoon but I don’t think they worked in our favour. I’d like to learn a bit more from this afternoon’s session and then if we could pull all of that together with the strength of this morning I’ll be happy. Mercedes sure is quick but it’s more Lewis at the moment than Valtteri, who looks like he’s more in the group of Ferrari. I think we can be there as well. Pole might be a stretch but I think we can be in that next little group with the right set-up and the right lap in quali. If Lewis does the perfect lap then that’ll be a challenge to take the pole away from him but we’re not too far off. You certainly feel more traction with the new tyres. I thought the times would have been quicker though; this morning I felt a big chunk of grip but I was expecting low twenties. There is still time to improve tomorrow. I think the wind changes so that’ll make a quicker lap time but the traction is nice. It felt awesome to be out on the track this morning, I just felt I was back in my happy place and it was cool to already see so many fans on a Friday. It’s also a circuit I enjoy because it’s a fun layout. I think we can have a very good weekend from here.”

MAX VERSTAPPEN
First Practice Session: 1:25.246, Position: 4, Laps: 19
Second Practice Session: 1:25.013, Position: 6, Laps: 8
“Today was about trying to find and improve the balance of the car after getting out on track for the first Friday practice of the year. We are about where I expected us to be, we have some work to do overnight to make sure we are in a good position for tomorrow and can get the best out of the car. It was nice to try the RB13 for the first time here at Albert Park, it definitely felt faster and a bit more enjoyable through the corners, being a street circuit it will improve by qualifying quite a lot which means more fun for us. I ran wide and ended up on the grass which unfortunately damaged the floor and cut short the second session for me. Mercedes seem quick once again so they are the target to beat but we must also do some work overnight to be ahead of Ferrari who also look strong. Hopefully we will have a good start on Sunday, then we are at the front and can make it hard to overtake.”

GP3

GP3 SEASON OPENS WITH ESTORIL TEST

Portugal circuit hosts first action of 2017

The 2017 GP3 Series season opens this week with the first pre-season test, to be held at the Circuito de Estoril on 22-23 March. The teams and drivers will use the 2 day test to start preparations for the opening race of the season, at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on 12-14 May.

Reigning champions ART Grand Prix carry car numbers 1-4, with Jack Aitken given the honour of carrying #1: the Anglo-Korean driver moves to ART this year after a strong debut season last year, and will hope to build on the race-winning experience he picked up with DAMS. Nirei Fukuzumi returns with the French squad to prove that the promise he showed can bear fruit, while Mercedes junior George Russell and FFSA member Anthoine Hubert step up to make their series’ debuts with the squad.

Arden International will be looking to build on their successful 2016 with a mixture of experience and speed: Red Bull junior Niko Kari has signed with the British outfit for his debut season, as has young Italian charger Leonardo Pulcini, while Steijn Schothurst carries the hopes of the Netherlands as he moves across to Arden following a learning season last year with Campos.

Over at Trident the Italian team will host the experienced line up of Kevin Joerg (who moves to Trident after racing last year with DAMS) and Giuliano Alesi (who returns with his Italian hosts once again). Joining the pair for this test will be American Ryan Tveter and Frenchman Dorian Boccolacci, who will be hoping to impress their hosts as they look to organise their seasons.

DAMS are also combining experience with fresh blood, as Haas F1 tester Santino Ferrucci returns to lead their driver line-up, with newly announced Sauber test driver Tatiana Calderón moving across for her tilt at the title. Joining the pair will be rookie Bruno Baptista, who will be leaning on the experience picked up last year by his new teammates and the squad.
Jenzer will play host to signings Alessio Lorandi, who is new to the series this year, and returnee Arjun Maini, who will be looking to build on the relationship he built with the Swiss squad last season. Unfortunately Korainen GP will not be in the garage next to them, as they are not taking part in the test.

Finally Campos will host Julien Falchero as he has his first taste of GP3, and the Frenchman will be hoping to get plenty of miles under his belt across the two day test. Joining him for the test will be South African Raoul Hyman and Italian F4 champion Marcos Siebert from Argentina, who will be looking to show their worth to their hosts.

The teams will be using the Drag Reduction System (DRS) for the first time in preparation for the coming season, and will be restricted to use only within the 2 nominated DRS zones, as is usual in FIA Formula 2 and F1. With respect to tyres, all drivers will be allowed 7 sets of Pirelli’s medium compound for the test, and 3 sets of wets.

The sessions will start each day at 09:00 local time and run until 12:00: on Wednesday the afternoon session will run from 14:00 to 17:00, while on Thursday this will be pushed forward an hour to 13:00 before closing at 16:00.

GP3 Series – Estoril Test Session: Drivers’ Entry List

ART Grand Prix
1. Jack Aitken
2. Nirei Fukuzumi
3. George Russell
4. Anthoine Hubert

Arden International
5. Niko Kari
6. Leonardo Pulcini
7. Steijn Schothurst

Trident
8. Kevin Joerg
9. Giuliano Alesi
10. Ryan Tveter
11. Dorian Boccolacci

DAMS
14. Santino Ferrucci
15. Tatiana Calderón
16. Bruno Baptista

Jenzer Motorsport
22. Alessio Lorandi
24. Arjun Maini

Campos Racing
26. Julien Falchero
27. Raoul Hyman
28. Marcos Seibert

DTM

GERHARD BERGER TAKES OVER FROM HANS WERNER AUFRECHT AS ITR CHAIRMAN

The world’s most popular touring-car series will be comprehensively enhanced

ITR is being restructured for the future: Today, former Grand Prix winner, BMW Motorsport Director and Formula One team co-owner Gerhard Berger was confirmed as Chairman of ‘Internationalen Tourenwagen Rennen e.V’ (ITR). He takes over from DTM founder Hans Werner Aufrecht who has been at the helm of the series for more than 30 years. In order to successfully enhance the series, Berger will work – in cooperation with the board and the advisory board of DTM – on setting the strategic course for a successful future of the world’s most popular touring-car series.

Gerhard Berger is looking forward to his new leading role at DTM: “I started my motor-racing career in touring-car racing and always followed DTM with a lot of interest. DTM is a top-class product with independent, powerful regulations, with strong manufacturers, top sponsors, important international partnerships and many fans. This is a good starting point with great potential for the future. The first task I will focus on in the coming weeks is gaining a deeper insight into the details with the support of my colleagues. We will then use this strong basis for creating a joint strategy for the future. While doing so, I consider the further development of our international partnerships – also with regards to new manufacturers –, spectacular racing cars that also command the drivers’ respect as well as a format combining both sport and entertainment as particularly important.”

As a highly successful long-term Formula One driver, Gerhard Berger completed 210 GPs among others for Benetton BMW, the Scuderia Ferrari and Honda McLaren from 1984 to 1997. After having retired from Formula One, he returned to the world of motor sport as BMW Williams Motorsport Director (1998 to 2003) and co-owner of Toro Rosso (2006 to 2008). Afterwards, he became President of the FIA single-seater commission (2012 to 2014). At the same time, Berger also pursued his career away from the racetrack: He is the owner of a company group based in Tyrol which focuses on vehicle construction and logistics. But he always remained closely connected to motor racing.

As ITR Vice-Chairman and CEO of ITR GmbH, Florian Zitzlsperger assumes the operational management of DTM. “We are glad to have a man as experienced as Gerhard Berger at the helm”, he said. “Due to both his outstanding experience in motor racing and as entrepreneur, he is the ideal successor of Hans Werner Aufrecht, who laid the strong basis for the planned enhancement of DTM. Without Hans Werner Aufrecht, DTM wouldn’t exist. For his passionate and successful work he deserves our maximum appreciation, our respect and our gratitude.”

As ‘the Father of DTM’, Hans Werner Aufrecht is inseparably connected with DTM: he left a unique mark on the popular touring-car series and was the driving force for it to achieve a leading position in international motor sport. Hans Werner Aufrecht explained: “I’m proud of what my colleagues and I experienced and achieved in the past three decades. But now it’s time to hand over this unique race series.”

Apart from Hans Werner Aufrecht, Hans-Jürgen Abt and Walter Mertes also resign from the ITR e.V. board. Nonetheless, both will remain closely connected to DTM: Hans-Jürgen Abt – just as before – as Team Principal of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline and Walter Mertes as partner for the series’ sponsorship relations. In addition, as current and future Managing Director of the ITR subsidiary ‘F3 GmbH’, Mertes is responsible for the marketing of the FIA F3 European Championship, which is considered the most successful feeder series for Formula One and DTM.

The change at the helm of DTM forms part of a comprehensive strategy aiming to further develop the touring-car series. The strategy is intended to be implemented gradually from this year onwards. The most important modifications of the technical regulations were announced recently and focus on more power, less downforce and softer dry-weather tyres. The modifications of the sporting regulations will be announced soon.

DTM

THE TECHNOLOGY OF THE 2017 DTM CARS: MORE POWER AND LESS DOWNFORCE REPRESENT A BIGGER CHALLENGE FOR THE DRIVING SKILLS THAN EVER

To let the skills of the drivers gain even more importance, the technical regulations for the 2017 season were revised in crucial areas. So, the horsepower output of the new cars was increased while the aerodynamics were restricted at the same time. This means that driving this year’s cars is a bigger challenge and the drivers have to work even harder.

The technology of the 2017 DTM cars differs from the one of its predecessors in several significant areas:

The engine
In 2017, the four-litre V8 engines of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-AMG will produce – for the first time – more than 500bhp. The increased horsepower output mainly was achieved by bigger intake-system air restrictors. The engines are equipped with one air restrictor per cylinder bench and their diameter has been increased from 28 to 29 millimetres. Furthermore, the new regulations allow for enhancement in special intake-system areas special areas to optimise the engine’s performance even more. Nonetheless, maximum longevity still represents a top priority of the DTM engines’ design. Blown engines are extremely rare in DTM and usually, the engines survive the entire season. During the course of the season, cost-intensive engine revisions aren’t allowed in DTM as the sealed engines only may be subjected to services in this period of time, according to the regulations.

Aerodynamics
The guidelines of the new regulations comprise a reduction of the aerodynamics. To achieve this goal, the geometry of the front splitter, underbody and rear diffuser was changed and the ride height was increased.

Meanwhile, the rear wing and the DRS (Drag Reduction System) make for a major and visible difference. The DRS allows the driver to reduce his vehicle’s drag for a short time, thus increasing its top speed. In the past this made for many battles and overtaking manoeuvres. Other than last year’s rear wing that could be hinged down completely, only the so-called Guerney Flap, the upper of two fins of the rear wing, is flapped down what even increases the DRS efficiency.

The tyres
Combined with the new Hankook tyres that provide more grip for a short period of time but force the drivers to cope with a higher performance decrease over the distance, these changes make for a handling of the new DTM cars that is clearly more demanding for the drivers than it was in the past.

New control components
The body design of this year’s DTM touring cars of Audi, BMW and Mercedes-AMG complies with the latest generation of their production brethren. To restrict the cost-intensive high-tech developments, the new regulations feature clearly more areas for jointly developed control components. The development of these components is controlled by the umbrella organisation ITR in close cooperation with the manufacturers’ engineers. For 2017, the range of control parts was extended – inter alia – by components for the suspension area. Furthermore, the DTM control wheel also will make its debut. From this year, all the 18 cars will race on ATS wheels while every manufacturer could opt for the wheel it preferred, in the past.

Drivers feel pleasant anticipation
After the first tests for the 2017 season, the drivers proved to be really happy with their new cars. “The changes made on the car are clearly noticeable – particularly the combination of less aero, more power and the new tyres,” said Mattias Ekström, the senior driver on the DTM grid, representative of all the DTM drivers. “As I see it we are heading in the right direction and I think we are going to have a lot of fun, this year.”

The testing was continued this week at Vallelunga, Italy from 14th to 16th March, and many of the components were subjected to acid tests for the coming season.

In addition to the alterations on the technical regulations, those responsible also intensely work on the sporting regulations. Next week ITR is going to inform on the planned changes for the coming season that will be kicked off at Hockenheim from 05th to 07th May.

FORMULA 1

WILLIAMS APPOINTS PADDY LOWE AS CHIEF TECHNICAL OFFICER

Williams Grand Prix Holdings PLC (Ticker: WGF1) is pleased to announce the appointment of Paddy Lowe as Chief Technical Officer for the Williams Group.

Paddy will join Williams today, 16 March, and will take overall management responsibility for the engineering operation at Grove. Paddy will also join the company’s Board of Directors and take a shareholding in the company, underlining his passion and commitment to working with Claire Williams and Mike O’Driscoll to drive the Williams Group forward.

Paddy moves to Williams from current Formula One Constructors’ Champions Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport, where he held the position of Executive Director (Technical) since June 2013 and helped lead the Mercedes team to record dominance in the Formula One Drivers’ and Constructors’ World Championships.

Paddy started his Formula One career with Williams in 1987 as a control systems engineer, working with Sir Patrick Head and Adrian Newey. In his six years with the team he helped pioneer the active suspension system that took Nigel Mansell to the 1992 World Championship in the FW14B. Paddy then moved to McLaren in 1993 and spent two decades at the Woking based team in the positions of Head of Research and Development, Chief Engineer, Engineering Director and finally Technical Director, helping the team secure three Drivers’ Championships and one Constructors’ Championship during that time.

During his 29 years in the sport, Paddy has contributed to 158 race wins, 7 Drivers’ Championship titles and 5 Constructors’ Championship titles: an impressive CV making him one of the leading engineers in the Formula One paddock.

Commenting on his appointment Paddy Lowe said; “I‘ve always had a deep respect for Williams – my first team in Formula One. It is a huge honour to return in this leadership position and to have the opportunity to become a shareholder. I am extremely motivated to play my part in bringing success back to the team. The vision for the future set out by the Williams Board is powerful and has compelled me to join an organisation committed to building on its unique legacy and to reaching the pinnacle of Formula One once again. I’m looking forward to this exciting new phase to my career working with Claire, Mike and Nick and with the rest of this great team – especially Frank himself, who is one of the most committed “racers” I know!”

Claire Williams, Deputy Team Principal, added; “I am delighted that the team is welcoming Paddy back to Williams in the role of Chief Technical Officer. Having someone of Paddy’s calibre and engineering competence is not only a morale boost for everyone at Williams, but I know it will also significantly support our efforts to return this team back to the front of the grid. Our ambitions at Williams are unwavering, we want to win races and championships, but to do that you need the best talent in the business. In Paddy we believe we have just that as well as a leader who will drive change. This is a game changer for us and once again makes us extremely excited about this team’s future.”

Commenting on Paddy’s appointment to the Board of Directors, Chairman of the Board, Nick Rose added: “Paddy will be a great addition to our Board bringing his deep technical expertise and overall business knowledge and management skills. Alongside Claire and Mike, he will be one of the three key executive directors running our business day-to-day.”

WRC

A MAIDEN WIN AND HIGH HOPES

Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle emerged victorious in Mexico to claim the Citroën C3 WRC’s first win. Secured on gravel – the surface on which the majority of the World Championship is contested – this result confirms the potential of the car developed by Yves Matton’s troops. The season is now really up and running for Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT, which will be entering three cars at the forthcoming Tour de Corse.

THE STORY OF THE RACE: BREATHTAKING RIGHT TO THE FINISH!

From the very outset, it seemed that this year’s Rally Mexico would be like no other. To begin with, the organisers managed to pull off something of a feat in holding a super special stage right in the middle of Mexico City, on the famous Zócalo square. Despite the rain, this new experience gave fans in the huge city an exclusive opportunity to witness the WRCs up close.

Unfortunately, the journey back to the service park in León, 400km from the capital, ended in disarray. A road traffic accident unrelated to the rally led to the road being closed, leaving the convoy transporting the cars stranded for several hours overnight. Their late arrival back in León resulted in the first two stages on Friday morning being cancelled.

The race therefore only really began with the rally’s 55km-long marathon stage, El Chocolate. Making the most of his tyre choice and a good starting position, Kris Meeke grabbed the stage win to move into the overall lead. The Briton also won one of the evening’s super special stages to end the first full day as leader, having already established a healthy 20.9s lead over Sébastien Ogier.

Meanwhile, in the other Citroën C3 WRC, Stéphane Lefebvre also made a good start to the race. He ended the day sixth overall, following the plan drawn up for him by the team to the letter on his first appearance at Rally Mexico in a WRC. However, the young Frenchman was then forced to retire in somewhat unfortunate circumstances on day three. Following a minor error, the no.8 C3 ended up stuck on a slope just off the road on a corner on SS10. The car was undamaged in the incident, so he was able to rejoin the next day under Rally2 rules.

Meanwhile, Kris Meeke continued his dominant display, tying for first place on El Brinco (SS11) and setting the fastest aggregate time over the morning’s stages. On the second pass, he claimed a stage win on Lajas de Oro (SS13) and extended his lead over Sébastien Ogier to 30.9s.

On Sunday, there “only” remained two stages to complete in order to see out this maiden win for the Citroën C3 WRC. On El Calera, the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi WRT drivers scored an impressive team result, with Meeke taking the stage win and Lefebvre finishing third.
On the Derramadero Power Stage, Kris Meeke looked like he was on course to seal the victory… when he went off the road just a few corners from the finishing line! The Northern Irishman ran wide after a big compression, through the hedge and into the middle of spectator car park! He nonetheless stayed calm, managed to find a way back onto the road within a few seconds and made it across the finishing line to win the rally by 13.8s!

After such an incredibly dramatic, stressful finish to the race, there were scenes of joy and excitement in the Citroën Racing team and they celebrated with Meeke and Nagle at a very noisy, passionate podium ceremony in León.