Tag Archives: Monza


Formula 3 European Championship ready for the Spa-Francorchamps challenge

Venue: Spa-Francorchamps
Track length: 7.004 kilometres
Lap record FIA F3 EC: Max Verstappen 2014 (2:11.111 minutes)
Distance: 15 laps

The fifth round of the 2015 FIA Formula 3 European Championship season will be held this weekend at the tradition-rich circuit of Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium. With Eau Rouge, the 7.004 Ardennes rollercoaster features one of the most famous sections in the motor-racing world and the young drivers are keen on mastering this challenge. Just in his home event at Monza, Italy’s championship leader Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) failed to secure a podium – for the first time this year – so, he is determined to make it back to the rostrum, in Belgium. Tatiana Calderón (Carlin), the only woman in the field, has particularly fond memories of Spa-Francorchamps.

In the current season, Calderón who scored a total of 29 points last year still is waiting for her first points. So, it’s the same situation as last year when the 22 Colombian also travelled to Belgium with no points on her tally – to score her first points at the particularly challenging circuit of Spa-Francorchamps by finishing fifth in the second round of the meeting. On the following six race weekends, the fast Colombian established as regular top-10 contender and always left the race venues with additional points under her belt.

Meanwhile, Antonio Giovinazzi, Charles Leclerc (Van Amersfoort Racing) and Felix Rosenqvist (Prema Powerteam) are battling for the positions on the very top of the championship standings, with the gap between the three drivers amounting to a total of just 22 points. At the same time, Jake Dennis (Prema Powerteam) in fourth position works hard on closing the gap to the leading trio. The 19-year old Britain is the only one of these four drivers who already secured an FIA Formula 3 European Championship podium at Spa-Francorchamps. Even slightly more successful in last year’s FIA Formula 3 European Championship appearance at the Ardennes track than Dennis, who clinched a third place, was Gustavo Menezes (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin). The 20-year old American with Brazilian roots, currently 10th in the championship, secured two third positions last year, thus being the driver with the best Spa result under his belt on the 2015 grid.

Tatiana Calderón (Carlin): “I always look forward to Spa-Francorchamps as this circuit is just fantastic. Eau Rouge is particularly special although you can go flat out, there, with a Formula 3 car. The entire track is extremely varied – and I am talking not only about the traditionally very changeable Ardennes weather. There are slow, medium fast and several fast sections. You have to find a good set-up for your car and a suiting style of driving – a good compromise between aggressiveness and smoothness. And I think that’s what I succeeded in doing particularly well, last year. My goal for the forthcoming weekend: to score points as you are clearly more relaxed regarding the tasks to come when you have got the first points on your tally. This worked very well for me in 2014 and I hope I will be able to repeat it now.”



wtcc20150607070– The 2015 FIA World Touring Car Championship will reach its halfway mark next weekend at the Slovakia Ring. A week later, the competitors will be at it again at France’s Paul Ricard circuit.

– After his excellent showing at Moscow Raceway, Yvan Muller will be looking to continue to gain ground on José María López, who has led the overall standings all season.

– Sébastien Loeb will be seeking to repeat his 2014 triumph in Slovakia to close the gap on his teammates.

– And in the fourth and final Citroën Total team C-Elysée WTCC, Ma Qing Hua will also be fighting hard for a win or a podium place.

The FIA WTCC has a frenetic period in store before the summer break! In the space of a little over three weeks, the teams and drivers will battle it out at the Slovakia Ring, the Paul Ricard Circuit and Vila Real (Portugal). Six races – a quarter of the season – which could swing the World Championship.

For the moment, José María López has the mathematical advantage. Over the first five weekends, the Argentine driver notched up three pole positions and four race wins. Despite having a leaner time of things at Moscow Raceway, Pechito is still 35 points clear at the top of the table. And he’s planning on returning to winning ways in Slovakia!

“It’s going to be a special weekend. The Slovakia Ring is one of my very favourite circuits,” warns the reigning World Champion. “The surface is totally smooth and I particularly like the sequences of high- and mid-speed bends. Bend n°2, which you can go through at full speed as long as you are totally confident, is one of the most exciting features of the season. Last year I got pole position, but I didn’t really take advantage of it in the race. It was raining so hard! I’m hoping for more clement weather this time around, for the spectators as much as for us. I can’t wait to get out there to defend my position and get some good results for Citroën.”

Like López, Yvan Muller has one zero-point outing on his 2015 record. After knocking 16 points off his rival and teammate’s lead in Russia, the four-time World Champion is now aiming to rein him in further: “Since the Hungaroring, I have felt that the work we have put in is paying off. I’ve changed lots of little things, in my preparation, my setup and my driving. A combination of those factors has allowed me to perform better in qualifying and in the races. It’s a long season and we’re not even halfway through yet. I’m going to keep fighting till the end! The Slovakia Ring has some similarities with the Hungaroring and Moscow Raceway, two circuits where I felt at ease. So I’ m feeling pretty confident.”

Having occupied second spot in the World Championship since the beginning of the season, Sébastien Loeb was overtaken by Muller in Russia. After a weekend that saw his chances go up in smoke in qualifying, the former rally driver will be hoping everything comes together this time around: “I have to bounce back and hope things turn out a little better for me. In Moscow, I didn’t really feel comfortable with the car in free practice, and I paid a heavy price in qualifying. I think I’ll do better in Slovakia, not least because the circuit is better suited to our Citroën C-Elysée WTCC. After a rough time of late, I’ll have to score plenty of points to make sure my teammates don’t p ull too far ahead at the top!”

With one podium finish to his name this season, Ma Qing Hua is continuing to improve as he gains experience. In Moscow, the team’s youngest driver showed admirable consistency, as well as the capacity to withstand pressure from his competitors in the pack!

“Pechito, Seb and Yvan have all won races already this season, so I want to emulate them and get a victory under my belt,” says the Chinese driver. “That would allow me to close the gap on Tiago Monteiro and challenge him for fourth place in the World Championship! I don’t know the Slovakia Ring, but I was here with the team last year and the track seems exciting to drive on. I want to build on my positive weekend in Moscow by putting in a good performance.”

As a result of the evening-out of performance levels at Moscow Raceway, the compensation weights have been significantly altered. The Hondas will now, like the Citroëns, carry 60 kg of ballast, while the RML Chevrolets will have 50 kg. Only the Ladas will continue to compete ballast-free.


The 2015 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans was a “great race” according to one man who should know: Tom Kristensen, the nine-time record winner and Rolex Testimonee. Mr Le Mans himself. The overall winners at the 83rd running of the race were without question the best in the field, the other class winners also deserving of praise. Luck may play a part in the race; this year’s victors could claim fairly to have earned any that came their way following exceptional performances in overcoming the stresses, strains and competition at the world’s oldest and most renowned endurance motorsport race.

This year’s contest was touted as an exceptional prospect with four major automotive manufacturers represented by eleven of the impressive fourteen strong LM P1 class. Organizers of the race, since founding it in 1923, the Automobile Club de l‘Ouest (ACO) have always placed great store by the fact that the race is a breeding ground for innovation in the automobile industry. The current regulations, introduced in 2014, place great emphasis on fuel efficiency and in the top category encourage the development of advanced hybrid technology to recover and reuse energy generated by the car during racing.

The LM P1 Hybrids receive a set allocation of energy per lap based on their chosen engine/ERS (energy recovery system) combination. Teams can make the choice between big engine/small hybrid system or small engine/ large hybrid assistance. For those teams that raced the 24 Hours of Le Mans last year, 2015 would be about evolution rather than revolution in terms of development.

Porsche returned to the LM P1 echelon in 2014. Although quick neither of its cars finished the race, both sidelined with reliability problems. The team made some bold decisions according to its principal Andreas Seidl: “Our objective for this year is to finish on the podium. We have added a third car, which was a big step since it is a lot more than just adding more people to the team but it gives us increased chances to do well at Le Mans.”  Every element of the car design was looked at over the winter, and a big change was made to the ERS: “The way the regulations are designed there is an incentive to go in the highest hybrid class. It was pretty clear for our concept that an 8 megajoule system was the way to go.” Early season results suggested it was a good decision: a blisteringly fast car and podium finishes were achieved if not the highest step.

For Audi, winners here last year, improvements were needed to keep ahead of their rivals and results – two wins from two races – in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) indicated the cars might not be as quick as Porsche but could depend upon the highest level of reliability in mechanical and human terms. Unlike Porsche, without a win at this level of endurance motorsport for 16 years, Audi has won 13 of the last 15 races at Le Mans.

Toyota arrived at the temple of sportscar racing on the back of winning the 2014 WEC with spirits low. Their rivals appeared to have progressed further in their close-season developments. The team was putting a brave spin on their situation, as explained by Pascal Vasselon, team Technical Director: “We have made a big step in performance, something like 3 seconds per lap. It should have been enough to keep the lead. The problem is we are facing opposition that have achieved 4 seconds. We definitely believe we have a chance because at Le Mans reliability dominates performance. If we manage the race well we can do well, but no room for mistakes.”

By contrast to the three others, Nissan were the new boys on the block. Similar to Porsche in 2014, it is a manufacturer with considerable racing experience, simply not at this rarefied level. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. In this case Ben Bowlby, Team Principal, engineering virtuoso and maverick genius: “The wish to come to Le Mans has been alive for a long time. Ours is a ground up project – an engine from scratch, build a chassis, build a team of people taking all sorts of specialists and making them work together to achieve team spirit. We are going up against15 years of detailed knowledge. If we did exactly the same as the others it would take us a long time. By using innovation we are attempting to leapfrog the design cycle. “

And innovative it has been: a front-engine, front-wheel drive design that immediately sets Nissan apart from the rest of its competitors and every other prototype seen at Le Mans in a decade. Innovation comes at a price at a 24 hour race, especially untested, unproven innovation: “This is a very, very tightly defended crown and very hard to win. If you could just come here and win, it would be worthless. It will take us time but we have set ourselves up with the intention to be competing for victory.”

The 24 Hours of Le Mans is not just about the LM P1 Hybrids. 56 cars formed the grid and included a highly competitive group of LM P2 cars, whose regulations promote efficiency and economy one rung down the technology ladder from the top, and is no less closely fought.

The GTE categories – Professional and Amateur – are, according to the ACO rules, open to cars with  “an aptitude for sport with 2 doors, 2 or 2+2 seats, open or closed, which can be used perfectly legally on the open road and available for sale.” The result is a collection of highly desirable gran turismo (grand touring) sports cars from the like of Ferrari, Aston Martin, Porsche, Dodge and Chevrolet.

Slower than the prototypes the racing is no less fierce and the category forms a true link back to the origins of the race, when road going cars would be entered. The Amateur tag is another link to tradition, encouraging gentlemen drivers to participate alongside the professionals.

F1Weekly podcast # 681

Clark and Nasir cover the Canadian Grand Prix we have another fantastic Motorsports Mondial and here is Pastor Maldonado’s take on the Austrian Grand Prix.

Pastor Maldonado finally opened his 2015 championship points account at the Canadian Grand Prix and is looking to build on his Montréal seventh-place with a strong drive at the Red Bull Ring.

Do you like the Red Bull Ring?

It is an interesting circuit and one I enjoyed visiting last year, even if it was a weekend where we didn’t have the best of results. I think we have much better potential this year with the car and we’ve been looking quite strong recently. It’s great to be able to visit a different type of location for a Grand Prix and the event was really impressive last year; I’m looking forward to returning.

How does it feel to finally open your points account for 2015?

Of course it’s good and there’s a lot of potential yet to come. There are twelve races left in the season so still a lot of opportunity to do well. It’s been frustrating waiting for a points finishing race to come, but now it’s happened it’s like the monkey is off my back and we can push forward for a good season. Certainly, it was a positive weekend for the team in Canada and there’s still lots of potential in the season ahead

How was the Canadian Grand Prix for you in the car?

It was quite an uneventful one and one where I had to do a reasonable amount of managing behind the wheel especially as we went so long on one set of tyres. We weren’t sure how we would be with the tyre degradation, but actually the car felt fine. Of course, I couldn’t push flat out as we wanted to keep to a one-stop strategy as that offered the best opportunity for a good result, but everything worked as we wanted it to. It was good to have an uneventful race and finish in the points.

What was the team’s reaction to you getting those points on the board?

There was a fantastic reaction from everyone in the team and it was great to be part of the team at that moment when I walked back to the garage seeing how everyone was happy for me. Everyone has worked so hard this year and last year too, so it’s really great when you finish a race in the points. This is what we want to do at every Grand Prix and what we want in Austria next

Do you feel that yourself and the E23 Hybrid are a good combination this season?

I think we are a good combination. We do have a good car this year and it’s one which we seem to be able to get working well at different tracks. We know it’s not the fastest car as the Mercedes performs exceptionally well, but it’s one which we can push hard and put up a fight. The other positive is that we seem to be getting on top of all the small reliability issues we had earlier in the year so there’s potential for us to score good points in the races ahead.

What will you be focusing on in Austria?

Just like any Grand Prix we’ll be looking to get the maximum from the car. You need good power in Austria especially with the decent hill there. There are a couple of straights and we’ve been looking good through the speed traps so hopefully we’ll keep that pace. If we can qualify well we should have a great race.


Do you know how to yodel?

This is not something which comes up in our simulation programme but I’m happy to give it a go! Last year’s race in Austria was a great event and left me wanting to see more of the area so why not try some of the local customs!

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24 Heures du Mans

Ford Returning to Le Mans in 2016 with All-New Ford GT, Marking 50th Anniversary of 1966 Victory

LE MANS, France – Ford announced today it is returning to one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world with its new Ford GT race car, based on the all-new ultra-high-performance supercar that goes on sale next year.
The Ford GT race car will compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans – referred to by many as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency – starting next year. Revealed today at the famous circuit in Le Mans, France, Ford GT will compete in the Le Mans GT Endurance class for professional teams and drivers (LM GTE Pro).
The new race car – a further proof point of Ford innovation – is based on the all-new Ford GT supercar unveiled in January. Both the production car and race car will arrive in 2016 to mark the 50th anniversary of Ford GT race cars placing 1-2-3 at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ford went on to repeat its victory at Le Mans in 1967, 1968 and 1969.
“When the GT40 competed at Le Mans in the 1960s, Henry Ford II sought to prove Ford could beat endurance racing’s most legendary manufacturers,” said Bill Ford, executive chairman, Ford Motor Company. “We are still extremely proud of having won this iconic race four times in a row, and that same spirit that drove the innovation behind the first Ford GT still drives us today.”
The new Ford GT race car will run the full 2016 schedules of the FIA World Endurance Championship and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, making its competition debut in January 2016 in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Florida. The two Ford teams will be operated by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS). Both series teams intend to compete with a four-car effort at Le Mans. Drivers will be announced later.
The all-new Ford GT serves as the pinnacle product of the new Ford Performance group, a division dedicated to providing innovation through performance.
Set to deliver more than 12 new performance vehicles by 2020, Ford Performance will leverage its racing efforts and expertise to speed innovations on dedicated performance models and performance parts in order to more quickly iterate the latest technologies that can ultimately be applied to the full Ford vehicle line-up.
The performance segment is a growing business for Ford, as the company recognises its customers’ desire for vehicles that offer excellent fuel economy, leading technology and a great driving experience. The Ford Performance line-up includes Ford GT, Focus RS, F-150 Raptor, Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT350R, Focus ST and Fiesta ST.
“Ford remains focused on three priorities globally – accelerating our One Ford plan, delivering product excellence with passion and driving innovation in every part of our business,” said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company president and CEO. “All three came together to create the new Ford GT. We also know from our rich history in motorsports that world-class competition is a great incubator for even further product innovation.”
The Ford GT race car features a number of innovations Ford believes will not only make it competitive in LM GTE Pro, but ultimately positioned to provide benefits to each vehicle in the Ford line-up. These include state-of-the-art aerodynamics to deliver outstanding levels of downforce for improved stability with minimal drag, advanced lightweight composites featuring carbon fibre for an exceptionally rigid but light chassis, and the power and efficiency of EcoBoost technology.
“As we developed the Ford GT, from the outset, we wanted to ensure we had a car that has what it takes to return Ford to the world of GT racing,” said Raj Nair, Ford Motor Company group vice president, Global Product Development and chief technical officer. “We believe the Ford GT’s advances in aerodynamics, light-weighting and EcoBoost power will make for a compelling race car that can once again compete on a global stage.”
Joining Ford in this project are Multimatic Motorsports, Roush Yates Engines, Castrol, Michelin, Forza Motorsport, Sparco, Brembo and CGRFS. The race car has undergone extensive design and testing within Ford and Multimatic, with CGRFS providing input into the development. Roush Yates is supporting development of the 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 – the most powerful EcoBoost production engine ever.
The 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 engine debuted in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in 2014. Since then, Ford, with CGRFS, has captured significant overall wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring and Rolex 24 At Daytona. Besides great success in sports cars, Ganassi race teams achieved major victories in the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and Indianapolis 500.
“We’ve won races and championships, but we’ve never run Le Mans,” said team owner Chip Ganassi. “When presented the opportunity to compete with the all-new Ford GT on the world’s biggest sports car stage, and on the 50th anniversary of one of the most storied victories in racing history, how could any race team not want to be part of that? Will it be a challenge? Absolutely, but we couldn’t be with a better partner than Ford.”

24 Heures du Mans

The 2015 24 Heures du Mans race promises much.

Four major automotive manufacturers are challenging for the elite category LM P1, and in all likelihood the overall win of the race; an achievement that secures the winning drivers a place in sporting history along with a specially engraved Rolex Oyster Cosmograph Daytona, the iconic chronograph created for racing drivers in 1963. The 24 Hours of Le Mans, founded in 1923, is organized by the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), and Rolex has been Official Timepiece since 2001 – a partnership which is driven by a shared passion for excellence and the pursuit of perfection.

Porsche, the most successful manufacturer in the history of the race with 16 wins spread over 28 years, made an almost perfect return to the prototype class last year after a 14-year absence. Its challenge to the hegemony of Audi, the second most successful constructor with 13 wins spanning a compact 14-year period, faltered only in the latter stages of the race. Porsche will be aiming for greater things this time. Its hybrid car is undeniably quick. One of its driver line-ups – Brendon Hartley, Mark Webber and Timo Bernhard – has secured pole position at this season’s two previous FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) races. It was quickest too on a rain affected test day. Yet the key to winning any endurance race lies beyond pure speed.

Defending champions and three-time winners, Marcel Fässler, André Lotterer and Benoît Tréluyer, know full well that it takes a combination of factors to beat the 24 hours. They may have only been fifth fastest in testing, but with two wins from two in the WEC series the threesome must head into the race proper with real confidence.

On the surface, the 24 Hours of Le Mans may be all about cutting edge engineering, breakthrough technology and futuristic design. The ACO, though, has huge respect for the traditions of the race, its long history and the car marques and characters that have helped shape its reputation and status.

William Clay Ford Jr., the Executive Chairman of the Ford Motor Company, has been named the honorary starter for the race. The great-grandson of Henry Ford will wave the French ‘Tricolore’ to get the race underway just as his uncle, Henry Ford II, did in 1966 the year the American manufacturer’s GT40 broke the dominance of Ferrari, setting in train a four-year winning streak.

Tom Kristensen, the most successful driver in the 90 plus years of the race with 9 wins from 18 starts, including six consecutive wins from 2000-05, is also being recognized by the organisers following his retirement at the end of the 2014 season. For his extraordinary contribution over the years, Kristensen, a Rolex Testimonee, has been named the Grand Marshal and will drive the pace car during the formation lap.