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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.

FORMULA 1

SAHARA FORCE INDIA DRIVERS AUSTRALIAN GP PREVIEW

Sergio Perez revs up for the new season and one of his favourite races in the calendar.

Sergio: “The first race of the year is always good fun. We’ve had a long winter to recharge the batteries, but now I just want to go racing again. Australia is the best place to start the season: it’s a great country and I really enjoy going there. There is so much to do in Melbourne and it’s a fun weekend, even if it’s busier than some of the other races.

“It’s important not to get distracted: we want to start well and get back into the race weekend rhythm, and get on with our work. The track itself is quite enjoyable and it’s a challenge to drive because it’s almost a street circuit. It starts the weekend very green and as you go on, you get more grip and more confidence in your new car.

“I am confident we can do well and score points from the first race: Australia is a place where anything can happen and we have seen some very unpredictable races there in the past. You never know what opportunities turn up in a race so you have to be ready at all times to take them.”

Esteban Ocon prepares for his Sahara Force India debut and his first full season in Formula One.

Esteban: “I am feeling great after a long winter and I’m very excited to go to Melbourne. It will be the first time racing at Albert Park for me, so I do not really know the track, but last year I went there and I liked what I could see. It’s a proper old-school track and those are the sorts of circuit I really enjoy. Of course it’s not easy when you don’t know the track in advance, so it’s especially important to learn quickly in the Friday sessions and listen to the feedback from the engineers – whether it’s where I can be faster or where we can make the car quicker. I think I have all the tools and all the people around me to do that.

“Joining this team has gone very smoothly from my perspective. The team welcomed me and made me feel at ease straight away. I feel very comfortable about the way we work and I feel this will help me give my best in Australia.

“I think we did a good job as a team during winter testing and I also feel confident because of all the simulator work we did over the winter. We continue to push on the simulator and I was at the factory a few days ago doing the final preparation for Melbourne. I was very open to the team – I told them I’d be available at HQ as much as they needed me over the winter and I feel satisfied with the work we’ve done together so far. I think we’re on track to extract everything we can from the car, which is our objective. We’ll go out and do the best we can and see where we are.”

INDYCAR SERIES

FLORIDA FRESH. FIRESTONE GRAND PRIX OF ST. PETERSBURG.

BOURDAIS AND COYNE RACING ARE HOT ON A COOL BREEZY DAY.

The 2017 Verizon IndyCar Series got off to a great start with the opening round won by Sébastien Bourdais over French countryman and 2016 IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud. Scott Dixon was third, the Kiwi still not successful here after 13 attempts.

Penske-star Will Power started from his seventh St. Pete pole position, next to him was Dixon, the Ganassi team now powered by Honda. Josef Newgarden, the man from Tennessee, qualified on the second row in his first drive for Penske. Sato-san was fifth, having jumped from Foyt’s stable to Andretti Autosports.

Setback & Comeback

Sébastien Bourdais crashed his Coyne operated car in qualifying and was relegated to the back of the grid. Compadre Pagenaud also did not fare well, qualifying only 14th.

Power led the first few laps before the Mayor, James Hinchcliffe, laid down the law and took the lead. This was just the beginning of Power’s problems; a puncture, running over air hose and fuel-feed issues led to his retirement.

Bourdais avoided tangle with other competitors and on lap 37 passed Pagenaud for the lead. The Penske driver started his charge in the closing stages of the race but the ex-Toro Rosso F1 racer kept his cool and gave Coyne racing team a well deserved win, a very happy reunion not only for the two and but also for the driver and crew chief Craig Hampson – the last time they worked together was in their glory days at Newman-Haas.

Behind Dixon in third, Florida native Ryan Hunter-Reay and Takuma Sato completed the top five.

Victory for Le Mans-native & St. Pete-based Bourdais was 36th of his stellar career on this side of the pond and elevates him to 6th on the all time wins list.

Look back

Paul Tracy was the winner of the inaugural St. Petersburg event in 2003, then held under the CART umbrella. Helio Castro Neves is the only three-time winner of the event, 2006/7 & ‘12. And, surprisingly, Graham Rahal is the only American winner.

Penske has been the dominant team here with eight wins, but their winner from the past two years, Juan Pablo Montoya, was missing in action but will be activated by the Captain and self ‘percolated’ during the merry month of May.

American heavy weights in Indy Lights

The future of IndyCar racing is bright as two young Americans won their first race in the series in dominating fashion. The season opening race was led from start to finish from pole position by Wisconsin native Aaron Telitz. Last season he won the Pro Mazda (formerly Star Mazda) championship.

F1Weekly will feature an exclusive interview with this young talent in an upcoming podcast.

On Sunday, second generation and 16-year-old driver Colton Herta took victory after a race long duel with Santiago Urrutia, the Uruguayan driver is in his second year in the series. Colton made papa Bryan proud by becoming the youngest ever winner in Indy Lights history.

— Nasir Hameed

Photo: IndyCar.com

FORMULA RENAULT EUROCUP

THIRTY DRIVERS AND NINE TEAMS ARE READY TO BATTLE IN THE FORMULA RENAULT EUROCUP

Two weeks before the first collective tests, the Formula Renault Eurocup is assured of having 30 young and talented drivers for the 2017 season. Defending their chances on Europe’s finest circuits, they also represent nine of the most respected teams in motorsport.

Spread among nine teams, the 30 title contenders will come together on March 15 at Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours for the tests which will kick off a campaign that will take them to 10 European tracks, including Pau and Monaco. With the presence of two F1 driver development programmes, the Red Bull Junior Team and Renault Sport Academy as well as those of SMP Racing and Escudería Telmex, the season promises to be outstanding!

Josef Kaufmann Racing
Sacha Fenestraz (FRA) – Luis Leeds (AUS) – Ye Yifei (CHN)

Eurocup Driver Titles (2011, 2012, 2016) and Teams (2012, 2015, 2016)
NEC Driver Titles (2015, 2016) and Teams (2014, 2015, 2016)

Lars Kaufmann, Team Manager: “We are very much looking forward to the 2017 Formula Renault Eurocup with all the modifications Renault has made. As usual, we have been preparing our cars during the winter with all the needed precision. Our 2017 driver line-up is a good mix of experienced and rookie drivers and they have all shown good pace so far. We will continue to carry out the same work we’ve done for the past six years in the Formula Renault Eurocup and hope that this year will be another successful one!”

Tech 1 Racing
Gabriel Aubry (FRA) – Max Fewtrell (GBR) – Thomas Maxwell (AUS) – Thomas Neubauer (FRA)

Eurocup Driver Title (2013) and Teams (2010, 2013)
Alps Driver Title (2011) and Teams (2011, 2013)

Simon Abadie, Team Manager: “I am very happy with the team we will enter for our eighth season in the Formula Renault Eurocup. The team is a mix of talent, experience and performance fully invested in its work. Winter testing confirmed our choices. We have excellent chemistry and one objective: win back the two European Championships after the title we won in 2010 and our two crowns achieved in 2013. We look forward to returning to the track and see our drivers run up front in one of the most competitive categories in motorsport.”

R-ace GP
Max Defourny (BEL) – Raúl Guzmán (MEX) – Will Palmer (GBR) – Robert Shwartzman (RUS)

Eurocup Runner-up Teams (2013)
NEC Runner-up Drivers (2016) and Teams (2015, 2016)

Thibaut de Mérindol, Team Manager: “We are currently putting our organisation in place and preparing our cars. It is a crucial step that will ensure the season runs smoothly. We are now operational and we have to now painstakingly work on the details just until the start of the season. We are confident about the quality of the team that we have built over the past several seasons. I sense the team is stimulated by the level of the drivers that we will enter. R-ace GP will enter four extremely quick drivers, of which three enjoyed success in the Formula Renault Eurocup last season. Their objective is to capitalize on their experience in order to fight for the title. We only have one team order, may the best win! Raúl Guzmán, who finished third in F4 Italia in 2016, confirmed his potential during our winter test. He will have the chance to quickly learn the subtleties of the category from his team mates in order to position himself as the most threatening of the outsiders. Without a doubt the titles are, more than ever, our objectives!”

AVF by Adrián Vallés
Henrique Chaves (PRT) – Axel Matus (MEX) – Rodrigo Pflucker (PER) – Grégoire Saucy (CHE)

Eurocup Rookie of the year (2015)
Formula V8 3.5 Teams Champion (2016)

Adrián Vallés, Team Manager: “Each season brings its share of new things and we never know what to expect. Nevertheless, we are ready and confident to race for the victory even though the field consists of solid contenders among the returnees and newcomers. We will continue our collaboration with Henrique, who should take a step forward in his second complete season. We hope to see him consistently in the top five. His team mate Rodrigo could spring a surprise if he continues to improve as he did during winter testing. Axel won the NACAM F4 and Formula Panam titles and was also competitive in the French F4 Championship. Grégoire knows the car after starring in V de V. Both of them should quickly be on pace and we are happy to have them in the team.”

Fortec Motorsports
Frank Bird (GBR) – Alexey Korneev (RUS) – Alex Peroni (AUS) – Najiy Ayyad Bin Abd Razak (MYS)

NEC Driver Titles (2012, 2013, 2014) and Teams (2012)
Alps Junior Titles (2014) and Runner-up Teams (2014)
UK Driver Titles (2002, 2004, 2006, 2007) and Teams (2006, 2007, 2008, 2011)

Martin Young, Team Manager: ”Everything is ready! The cars are built, we have done a lot of preparation and simulator work. We are looking forward to being back on the track! Alexey returns for his second season in the Formula Renault Eurocup and we want to build on that. After his impressive winter testing and outing in Estoril, we have exciting expectations of Alex and the team rates him highly. The same goes for Najiy. He knows the car, he finished 3rd in Asian Formula Renault, but the European tracks will be new to him. Finally, Frank comes from F4 and we’re looking forward to contributing to his development and see him run in the top 10. This season should be challenging but we really want to return to the top!”

JD Motorsport
Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (FRA) – Alexander Vartanyan (RUS) – Sun Yue Yang (CHN)

Eurocup Driver Titles (1996, 1997, 1998, 1999) and Teams (1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2003, 2006)
Germany/NEC Driver Titles (2002) and Teams (2001, 2003, 2006)
Alps Runner-up Teams (2015)

Roberto Cavallari, Team Manager: “The 2017 Formula Renault Eurocup will be one of the most competitive seasons in these past few years with 30 cars in the hands of first-rate drivers and teams. With all three of our drivers being rookies, the title may be hard to add to our 11 drivers and teams titles, but of course we will fight flat-out and hope our drivers can be the ‘surprise’ of this extremely competitive championship.”

Mark Burdett Motorsport
Presley Martono (IDN) – Julia Pankiewicz (POL)

BARC Runner-up Drivers (2008)
Third in Formula Renault UK Winter Series (2010)

Mark Burdett, Team Manager: “Mark Burdett Motorsport has been racing in Formula Renault since its introduction in the UK series and the NEC. The team is now ready to step up to the Formula Renault Eurocup. We are delighted that Julia and Presley will be racing for the team this season. Julia tested with us over the winter and made great progress working with the engineer and driver coach. Presley has a good background in karting and was the first winner of the FIA South East Asia Formula 4 Championship. We are looking forward to working with both drivers to achieve our goals.”

MP Motorsport
Jarno Opmeer (NLD) – Neil Verhagen (USA) – Richard Verschoor (NLD)

Eurocup Runner-up Drivers (2013)
NEC Runner-up Drivers (2012) and Teams (2012)

Sander Dorsman, Team Manager: “With a majority of F1-grade circuits, two classic street tracks and ample driving time, the Formula Renault Eurocup’s new format is appealing to teams as well as sponsors, and that’s why we’re back. It’s the ideal training ground for ambitious drivers. With Richard and Neil supported by Red Bull, we hold two strong cards for Formula Renault Eurocup honours. Last year, we all saw Jarno’s huge talent and it is well deserved that he appeared on the Renault F1 team’s radar. The Formula Renault Eurocup will be an amazing education for them, as it’s one of the strongest championships in Europe. At the same time I expect them to be up there right from the start. Their level of talent is that high.”

Arden Motorsport
Ghislain Cordeel (BEL) – Zane Goddard (AUS) – Dan Ticktum (GBR)

Newcomers in Formula Renault
International F3000 Titles (2002, 2003, 2004), Italian F3000 (2000), GP3 Series (2012, 2013) and Formula V8 3.5 (2016)

Ben Salter, Team Manager: “The team is really looking forward to what will be our inaugural season in the Formula Renault Eurocup. I believe that with the line-up we have put together it will enable us to hit the ground running and challenge for race wins from the off. With Arden now competing in the Formula Renault Eurocup it completes the ladder all the way through the junior categories for both drivers and personnel, where drivers can enter Arden on the YRDA (Young Racing Driver Academy) programme and advance all the way through the junior programmes right up to GP2. I’m looking forward for official testing to get under way.”

FORMULA 1

RED BULL RACING

PRE-SEASON TEST #1, BARCELONA – DAY TWO
Driver:                     Max Verstappen
Car:                         RB13
Laps:                       89
Best time:               1:22.200
Circuit length:        4.655km
Fastest Lap:           K. Raikkonen (1:20.960)
After a stop-start opening day in Barcelona, the new RB13 got into its stride on day two of testing, with Max Verstappen posting 89 trouble-free laps of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The Dutchman’s first taste of the new car resulted in a best time of 1:22.200 and also a thumbs up for the increased pace of the new cars.
Commenting, Max said: “We had a very positive day with not too many issues and we’ve done quite a lot of laps so we can be happy. For us it’s not about showing how quick we can be at the moment. It’s the first test week and the second day, so it’s much more important to get some mileage in and to check if all the parts are okay. We’ll focus on lap time later on. The speed difference compared to the cars from last year is a good step; it’s definitely more enjoyable through the faster corners. You also have a lot more traction going through the slow corners and that was very difficult to find a good compromise with last year. But with such wide tyres and such big cars that’s a lot better now. Of course it’s more demanding but that’s what we trained for in the winter so you have to be up for it.”
Head of Race Engineering Guillaume Rocquelin added: “After clearing the niggles we had yesterday, today went very much according to plan. We were a little tentative in the morning as it was pretty chilly and a few people were sliding around a bit. Because of that we focused on short runs and aero mapping. We then had a pretty long stop over lunch to make some changes to the car in preparation for what we wanted to achieve this afternoon. We knew it would mean taking a hit in terms of track time but we were willing to do that in order to get the information we wanted. And we did that. It’s an interesting process this year. Obviously the new cars behave quite differently to the last generation and therefore you can only draw so much on historical reference. As such these first couple of days are really about establishing a platform of understanding and once you have that you can really start to build from there. It’s also been very interesting to work with the new tyres. The deg is good; they’re consistent, they’re a good step I think.”