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F1Weekly podcast # 722

NASIR BRINGS BACK MORE INTERVIEWS FROM THE INDYCAR SERIES OPENER IN ST. PETERBURG FLORIDA AND THE 12 HOURS OF SEBRING. ON THIS EPISODE WE FEATURE AN INTERVEW WITH INDYCAR OWNER DALE COYNE AND…HERE ARE SOME WORDS FROM PADDY LOWE ON THE F1 SEASON OPENER DOWN UNDER.

Paddy Lowe:
It is an exciting time of year for everyone in Formula One including the huge number of fans around the world, as we head to Australia for the first race of the season. This year is particularly exciting as the regulations have changed substantially concerning the bodywork of the cars and the dimensions of the tyres, so we expect to see quicker cars and far more challenging racing for the drivers.

Coming back to the paddock has that feeling of being “back to school” after our winter away: everybody energised for the new season ahead, meeting friends again and welcoming new faces. I always feel that the first qualifying session of the year is the most intense and interesting hour in the entire Formula One calendar, as that is the point when all the smoke and mirrors of winter testing must stop and the real pace is finally put on the table. It is only then that we will see how the cars and drivers perform and get our first true indication of the season which will unfold.

The race itself is always eventful with more than the usual degree of incident and car failure as the cars and drivers engage in their first competition of the year. And the spectators bring extra enthusiasm to Albert Park, many of them having come from all over the world to see this first race of the F1 season. From a technical point of view, the tyres for this year’s race are not only wider but also softer – having the ultrasoft in play at Melbourne for the first time – so we will without doubt see some record breaking lap times this weekend and perhaps more evidence of driver fatigue in the race than we have seen in recent years.

For me personally, I’m very happy to be back at Williams, the team where I started my Formula One career. We have a very talented group of people here and two great drivers with whom I haven’t worked before, so I’m looking forward to stepping into the paddock with them in Melbourne to start the 2017 season.

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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.”

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

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.

F1Weekly podcast # 721

JOHN SURTEES PASSED AWAY MARCH 10, 2017

NASIR HAMEED ACCEPTED AN INVITATION TO HAVE A CONVERSATION AND A CUP OF TEA WITH JOHN SURTEES IN THE SPRING OF 2016. ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED ON PODCAST # 706 PART 1 AND PODCAST # 707 PART 2. F1W IS BRINGING BACK THE INTERVIEW IN IT’S ENTIRETY WITH PODCAST # 721

John Surtees, CBE (born 11 February 1934) is a British former Grand Prix motorcycle road racer and Formula One driver. He is a four-time 500cc motorcycle World Champion – winning that title in 1956, 1958, 1959 and 1960 – the Formula One World Champion in 1964, and remains the only person to have won World Championships on both two and four wheels. He founded the Surtees Racing Organisation team that competed as a constructor in Formula One, Formula 2 and Formula 5000 from 1970 to 1978. He is also the ambassador of the Racing Steps Foundation.

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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.”