F1Weekly podcast # 777


FIA Formula 2

Russell competing at the Red Bull Ring during the 2018 FIA Formula 2 Championship

On the podium after winning the Austrian feature race in 2018

On 18 January 2018 Russell was confirmed as a driver for ART Grand Prix for the 2018 FIA F2 Championship, which would see the new Dallara F2/18 make its debut in the expanding 12-race calendar. He was also confirmed as the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport F1 Reserve Driver, sharing duties with Pascal Wehrlein on the 22 February 2018.

Russell qualified in 2nd position on debut at Bahrain, finishing 5th in the opening round of the championship.

At Baku for the second round of the championship, Russell led the majority of the Feature Race before a late safety car caused drama at the restart, denying him a maiden victory in the series. Coming through from the back in the Sprint Race, Russell set the fastest lap on his way to taking victory from 12th on the grid.

Russell took his second victory of the season at Barcelona, after prevailing in a nail-biting duel with Nyck de Vries, taking his maiden Feature Race win of the season. He followed that up with 4th in the Sprint Race to move up to 2nd in the Championship Standings.

In Monte-Carlo, Russell had an engine failure in Free Practice which severely limited his running. Russell was on the back foot, qualifying in 16th position and endured two races outside of the points.

Russell hit back in France at the Le Castellet (Paul Ricard Circuit), taking his maiden pole position in FIA F2. He led a wet / dry challenging race from lights-to-flag and took his third victory of the championship.

Formula One

On 19 January 2017, Russell joined Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport as a part of their junior driver programme. It was announced that Russell would take part in both days of the Budapest Test on the 1–2 August, which followed the Formula One World Championship and support series races at the same circuit from the weekend before. On 7 November 2017 it was announced that Russell would make his Formula One practice debut at the 2017 Brazilian Grand Prix driving in the first practice session for Force India. Subsequently it was announced that he would also drive for them in first practice session for the 2017 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Russell was announced as one of the Pirelli Tyre Test Drivers for Force India at the post-Spanish Grand Prix test on 1 May 2018. He completed 123 laps for the team at the test, his first in a Formula One car with 2018 specifications. In October 2018 it was announced that Russell would be driving for the Williams Formula 1 Team at the start of the 2019 season where he will be partnered by Robert Kubica.

Play Podcast: 12-13-18f1weekly777.mp3



  • Last joint test of the three manufacturers that contested the 2019 DTM season
  • Habsburg surprises with switch from Audi to HWA at short notice
  • BMW is looking for the last available cockpit in a works team

The Mercedes-AMG C 63 DTM will go into extra time: HWA AG, the long-term development and operation squad of the Stuttgart-based manufacturer in DTM, will once again be involved in the ‘Young Driver Tests’, from 10th to 12th December at Jerez, with this year’s Mercedes-AMG car. Yes, the manufacturer bowed out of DTM at the end of the 2018 season but in Andalusia, a DTM car with the star on the bonnet will appear one more time at a racetrack together with Audi and BMW. Reference driver in the Mercedes-AMG racer will be long-term DTM driver Daniel Juncadella.

In addition to the Spaniard, HWA nominated the young guns Jake Dennis (23), Jake Hughes (24), Thomas Preining (20) and Ferdinand Habsburg (21) for the tests. Especially the appointment of the Austrian Habsburg comes as a surprise because the talent, coming from Formula 3, had originally been nominated by Audi for the tests at Jerez. This had already been communicated by the Ingolstadt-based brand.

Audi announced the drivers of their RS 5 DTM last week. A total of six drivers will get the chance of going for it at the wheel of the Ingolstadter’s DTM vehicle: 27-year old rally cross ace Star Andreas Bakkerud, three-time Le Mans winner and former Japanese SUPER GT Champion Benoît Tréluyer (42), Belgium’s successful Audi customer-sport driver Frédéric Vervisch (32), Italian Mattia Drudi (20) and the Formula 3 drivers Jonathan Aberdein (20/South Africa) and Sacha Fenestraz (19/France). Fenestraz will replace Habsburg at short notice.

Aberdein and Fenestraz will test for WRT, the first customer team in this new era of DTM. Vincent Vosse told DTM.com: “The tests at Jerez represent our first opportunity to work with a 2018 spec in the DTM environment.” According to the Team Principal, the two WRT drivers for the 2019 season will be announced in late December or early January. The squad based in Baudour, Belgium, gained international reputation by securing numerous wins and championship titles with the GT3 racer Audi R8 LMS.

The Young Driver Tests following the end of the season are a DTM tradition. In this screening event, the manufacturers offer skilled drivers from Formula 3 or other series the opportunity to demonstrate their talent in the cockpit of a DTM car.

BMW will be represented by – in addition to their works driver Nick Catsburg (30) – Denmark’s BMW Junior Mikkel Jensen (23), South African Sheldon van der Linde (19) and Briton Nick Yelloly (28). The Munich based manufacturer will need one new driver for the 2019 DTM season as Augusto Farfus will focus on GT racing for BMW, from 2019. BMW’s reference driver for the four aspirants will be this year’s DTM rookie Philipp Eng. Just like Audi, BMW also will use a 2018-spec car and a ‘CLASS 1’ prototype for the tests in Spain. The latter will be tested by the former DTM champions Bruno Spengler and Marco Wittmann.

Meanwhile, R-Motorsport who will make their DTM debut in 2019 as exclusive Aston Martin team, haven’t announced any drivers for their first season with the British luxury sports-car manufacturer. The Aston Martin DTM cars will be designed and developed by a joint venture of HWA AG and the Swiss AF Racing. The new DTM team will not yet be involved in the tests at Jerez.



In the coming season, the Formula European Masters will succeed the FIA Formula 3 European Championship in the DTM support programme. The junior series that will be contested with the existing single-seaters used in the FIA F3 European Championship and will take part at each race weekend of the 2019 DTM season. Registration is possible since 15th of November.

Grid photo with all drivers and cars, FIA Formula 3 European Championship Test Spielberg (AUT) – 26. – 27. March 2018

The Formula European Masters continues the tradition of the most competitive junior race series worldwide on the DTM platform. As it was the case in the Formula 3 Euro Series and the FIA Formula 3 European Championship, the new Formula European Masters will also be promoted by the ‘Formel 3 Vermarktungs GmbH’. Since 2003, the Formula 3 championships have been held in the support programme of DTM and continuously offered young, gifted drivers perfect conditions on their way to the top categories of motor racing.

In the top-class grids of the preceding Formula 3 series, the greatest talents of their days prepared for their future international careers: F1 World Champions, such as Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg, learned their trade in the Formula 3 Euro Series and made a name for themselves. From 2013, the FIA Formula 3 European Championship – successor to the Euro Series – attracted many more major talents, such as Max Verstappen, Esteban Ocon and Charles Leclerc who are racing in Formula One today.
It goes without saying, that DTM also offers young Formula 3 drivers’ fantastic prospects. Some of the drivers who achieved successful careers in DTM via Formula 3 are Marco Wittmann, Paul Di Resta, Jamie Green and Joel Eriksson.
Another significant advantage of the junior race series is the extensive track time the young drivers are offered during the race weekends. This means the young Formula European Masters talents can cover maximum mileage with their single-seaters, allowing them to learn – in cooperation with the professional teams – how to squeeze the most performance out of themselves and their racing cars.

“The F3 single-seaters are extremely sophisticated, well-engineered and safe. Both the technical and sporting regulations have proven their worth for years.Our premium series on the highly professional DTM platform offers the young drivers’ perfect conditions and the chance of demonstrating their skills in front of the eyes of those responsible at top-class brands such as Aston Martin, Audi and BMW. In addition, the Formula European Masters also benefits nationally and internationally from the professional marketing and top-class TV partners.” says Walter Mertes, CEO of ‘Formel 3 Vermarktungs GmbH’.

F1Weekly podcast # 776



Charles Leclerc enjoyed a successful first test as an official Ferrari driver as he closed the F1 2018 season on top in Abu Dhabi.

Leclerc will become the Scuderia’s second-youngest driver in history when he makes his race debut for the team next season, and he completed 135 laps on his first and final day in the 2018 car at the post-season test

The Monegasque driver, who had a superb rookie season at Sauber, was one of several drivers testing for his new team as Pirelli’s tyre compounds for next year were put to work.

Leclerc finished ahead of Pierre Gasly on the final track day of the 2018 season, with the Frenchman making his official bow for Red Bull as he prepares to replace Daniel Ricciardo.

Lance Stroll, not officially announced at Force India but in the car for the second day in a row, was third.

Play Podcast: 11-28-18f1weekly776.mp3



The giant-killing performances were what caught your attention first: hustling an uncompetitive Minardi around Suzuka to finish a barely credible 11th in 2001; seemingly appearing from nowhere to grab his first pole position (Malaysia 2003); and becoming the then-youngest-ever grand prix winner (Hungary, again in ’03, appropriately nabbing the honour from Bruce McLaren himself, who’d achieved in way back in 1959) in truly effortless fashion.

With his intent signified, his move to the Renault team gave him the firepower to fulfill his ambition.

Armed with 2005’s R25, the greatness that had been glimpsed in snatches was quickly and thoroughly refined. It was immediately apparent at that year’s San Marino Grand Prix, where his incredibly precise defence of the lead kept no less than keening, hungry world champion Michael Schumacher at bay. It was a performance marked by the skill of an old veteran rather than a hungry newcomer.

The trickle of victories quickly turned into a torrent: seven wins by the end of the season, but – just as important – a steady stream of podium positions (five runner-up spots and three third places) that cemented his ascent to the title. Underlining the point, his was a world crown won with the seasoned experience of a master, not that of a fresh-faced youngster feeling his way nervously toward his first championship.

He was crowned in Brazil, finishing third behind – presciently – two McLarens. Standing on the podium, his ear was turned by Ron Dennis, who quietly assured the Spaniard that his future surely lay in one of Woking’s silver cars.

A deal was quickly signed – but for 2007, leaving him to once again race for Renault in ’06. That season, the old enemy – Schumacher – was back in contention, and both he and his Ferrari team used every weapon in their sizeable armoury to peg back Fernando’s progress.

It made for a tense, nervy and paranoid season – but one where Fernando once again triumphed by playing the numbers game whenever he lacked the outright competitiveness to win. For the record, he still scored seven victories, and backed those up with seven further runner-up spots.

His 2006 title made him the sport’s then-youngest-ever double world champion.

Buoyed by this momentum, he quickly made his mark at McLaren in 2007, winning his second race for the marque and quickly re-establishing the team at the competitive vanguard after a disappointing ’06 season.

More victories followed – he led home an emotional McLaren one-two at Monaco, showcased his controlled aggression to snatch victory at the Nurburgring, and pummeled the opposition into submission at Monza. But his winning progress was matched by his rookie team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who also took four victories – and, at season’s end, the McLaren challenge wasn’t concerted enough to stem the singular charge of Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen, who took the title by just one point at the final race in Brazil.

If the title near-miss was a blow, it wasn’t the most problematic issue in a season that was overshadowed by competitive rancour both on and off the track. The fallout was intense, both McLaren and Fernando parted company – the Spaniard returning to Renault for two largely uncompetitive seasons before joining Ferrari for 2010.

Fernando’s time at the Scuderia was a rollercoaster of highs and lows – he won his very first race in a red car, at the 2010 Bahrain Grand Prix, but went on to lose the title by the narrowest of margins after a strategic error cost him dearly at the final race of the season in Abu Dhabi.

In 2011, he scored a solitary victory at Silverstone, then wrestled a less-than-competitive Ferrari to three magnificent victories in 2012 as he spearheaded the charge to usurp world champion Sebastian Vettel. While Fernando gave his all, his brave campaign once again came undone at the final race.

While his final two seasons at Ferrari coincided with a dip in the Scuderia’s competitive fortunes, his period with the Maranello squad would repeatedly underline his credentials as the greatest, and most respected, driver in the sport. And while the record books won’t fully reflect his successes, history will tell us that Fernando Alonso stood a shoulder above his peers in terms of reputation and ability.

At McLaren Honda, he resolutely vowed to take the reunified giants back to the top step of the podium, while at the same time replicating the past successes of his favourite driver and his childhood idol, Ayrton Senna.

While he was unable to drive a McLaren Honda that did full service to his considerable talents, his drive and ambition remained undimmed. His races throughout 2016 and 2017, when given the merest sniff of an opportunity, were sublime.

For 2018, and armed with a Renault-powered McLaren MCL33, Fernando has the utter conviction that he can help return the McLaren name to the front of the Formula 1 grid.



Italian leads sprint race from lights to flag

Antonio Fuoco has closed the FIA Formula 2 Championship season with a strong win, his second of the season, in this afternoon’s Sprint Race at the Yas Marina Circuit in Abu Dhabi, leading all race long for victory ahead of Lando Norris and Roberto Merhi.

The win was set up when the lights went down: poleman Merhi has a poor getaway while his fellow front row starter Fuoco had a great one, easily leading the Spaniard into turn 1 ahead of Nyck de Vries, Norris, new champion George Russell, Louis Delétraz, Luca Ghiotto and Dorian Boccolacci up the hill to the top of the circuit.

FIA Formula 2 Series – Round 12. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Sunday 25 November 2018. Antonio Fuoco (ITA, Charouz Racing System), celebrates in Parc Ferm Photo: Zak Mauger/ FIA Formula 2. ref: Digital Image

Norris was soon moving forward, slicing up the inside of de Vries at the marina for P3, while further back Sean Gelael tagged Niko Kari and spun, leaving Tadasuke Makino nowhere to go: the pair were out on the spot and the VSC signs came out as the Finn limped back to the pits and retirement on the first lap.

The race was live again 2 laps later, with Delétraz making a lovely move inside Russell at the marina to move up to P5: Artem Markelov was looking for more too, easily dispatching Boccolacci: Russell soon repaid the favour to take his position back, while the Russian continued his forward momentum by dispatching Ghiotto on lap 7, just as Russell nicked another place by mugging de Vries at the marina for P4.

FIA Formula 2 Series – Round 12. Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.Saturday 24 November 2018. George Russell (GBR, ART Grand Prix), celebrates on the podium. Photo: Glenn Dunbar / FIA Formula 2.
ref: Digital Image

Russell was soon closing on Norris and looking for a last F2 podium, but too many laps in his countryman’s slipstream meant his front tyres were soon unable to assist him, while further back Markelov has tyre troubles of his own, running wide all around the circuit and forcing him to look closely at his mirrors as Ghiotto started to come back at him.

Having held off his rival behind, Norris started to look at what he could find ahead of him, closing the gap to Merhi as the laps rolled down until he pounced on the final lap: the Spaniard locked up under pressure at turn 9 and simply didn’t have enough left to retake the position at the marina.

And at the flag it was Fuoco who took all the plaudits, controlling the pace for a strong 2nd victory of the season, with Norris delighting his team by stealing 2nd before almost blotting his copy book by losing control of his car as he waved to them on the pitwall, and Merhi bringing home a second podium of the weekend for Campos. Russell hung on for a lonely 4th, with de Vries following a few seconds back ahead of Delétraz, Markelov and Alexander Albon, who dispatched Ghiotto for the final point of the season in the closing laps of the race.

At the end of the 2018 season George Russell has been declared the FIA Formula 2 champion, with Lando Norris grabbing the vice-championship position ahead of Alexander Albon with today’s podium finish. In the teams’ title fight Carlin have claimed the honours in their debut F2 season, ahead of ART Grand Prix and DAMS.

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