Motorsports Mondial

Oh Canada at Eau Rouge

Photo: World Series by Renault

Robert Wickens wins from pole at Spa-Francorchamps. He also started the season opener at Aragon from pole position.

After grabbing his second consecutive pole position the Canadian commented, “Our car was exceptional and it’s great to have two Carlin drivers in the top three. I was behind Jean-Eric and I took advantage of his slipstream especially in sector three. It’s another pole for me and now I have to turn it into a victory.”

Wickens led the 22-lap race from start to finish beating French teammate Vergne by 2.694s. Spaniard Albert Costa started from the front row and was third man on the podium for Epic Racing.

Brendon Hartley, like Wickens once part of Red Bull programme, was fourth for his new employer Gravity-Charouz.

Race winner from round one, American Alexander Rossi, was seventh for Fortec Motorsport and will start Sunday’s reverse grid race from front row.

Daniel Ricciardo was tenth for Czech Red Bull supported ISR Team. The Australian missed the season opener due to his F1 reserve driver duties in Shanghai.

— Nasir Hameed

Greetings and racing regards from Raidillon.


Photo. Autosport

More Canada on top. Bruno Spengler will start Sunday’s DTM season opener from pole in his Mercedes. Mattias “Nascar Swede” Ekstrom shares the front row in his Audi. Ralf Schumacher in his Mercedes is third on the grid.

The pole for Portuguese Moto GP was claimed by Jorge Lorenzo, his first of the season. The man from Mallorca will be looking for four-in-a-row at Estoril on Sunday.


Motorsports Mondial

Maple Leaf and Marussia

Canadian Robert Wickens is reported to be in line to join Marussia Virgin F1 racing team as test and reserve driver. The 22-year old racing talent from Toronto area is currently competing in World Series by Renault, and started the season opener at Aragon from pole position and finished second to fellow North American racer Alexander Rossi.

Wickens was dropped from the Red Bull in 2009 despite an impressive performance in the inaugural season of the revised Formula 2 Championship, which included winning both the opening races in the Williams-built and powered by Audi turbo engine car.

Last season Wickens worked his magic in the new GP3 series, winning races for Teddy Yip Jr owned team, Status Racing, and finished runner-up to Mexican Esteban Gutierrez.

He also represented Canada in the now defunct A1GP World Series.

The last Canadian to race in Formula 1 was the 1997 World Champion Jacques Villeneuve.

Wickens with Carlin Motorsport and Rossi with Fortec Motorsport

will resume battle this weekend in the Ardennes forest at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit.


— Nasir Hameed


Greetings and racing, eh.

F1weekly podcast # 498

Lotus Renault GP’s2011 Turkish Grand Prix Preview

Nick, three races in, can you summarise your feelings on how things have been going so far this season?

It’s been a bit up and down. On the positive side, the car is very innovative and it is quick. It is also responding well to set-up changes, it has got a good straightline speed and has already proved to be competitive on different track layouts. We’ve already achieved two podiums from three races, which is a real plus. But on the other side, we haven’t yet fulfilled our potential and I hope both we, as a team, and I can improve on that. The first three races gave us a good picture of our strengths and weaknesses, and with the break we’ve just had we’ve been able to analyse where we can improve further.

Do you feel you are coping well with the new additions to F1 this season, namely the Drag Reduction System (DRS) and the return of KERS?

Well, like with everything, the more you use it the easier it gets but we’re still working on getting the perfect switch positions which we should have ready for Turkey. I think it’s all working fine and going to plan, even though I’m not a fan of the rear wing because I don’t particularly like things which artificially aim to improve racing. The biggest difference is the tyres. With the rear wing active and the car in front having similar tyres, overtaking might still be difficult which is exactly as what was planned with DRS, however if you have fresher tyres it might be much easier to overtake. I think we’ve seen far more overtaking than in the past.

How are you settling into the team?

Everything has gone so fast since February, which means that it’s been a very quick learning process. I joined the team for most of the winter tests and then went straight to the first race. It’s an ongoing challenge to have everything working perfectly at once but having said this, I’m impressed by the quality of the relationship we’ve built up over just a few weeks. People at Lotus Renault GP really want the driver to feel comfortable in the car and they give you a lot of confidence. They’ve really listened, as have I, and this has helped us develop constructively as a team. Above all, I’m really enjoying this open, two-way approach that we have.

Looking ahead to Turkey, you’ll no doubt be looking to come back strongly?

Definitely, yes. I think we’ve shown over the first three races that we have a good car and Istanbul could be very interesting because it is the first European race and a lot of teams will bring updates, including us. Hopefully we’ll be able to give a good performance again.

Vitaly: “We’ll be doubling our efforts to catch the teams in front.”

Russia’s first F1 podium man describes the team’s progress and looks forward to the start of the European races

Vitaly, the Turkish GP marks the start of the European season in the Formula 1 calendar – how would you summarise the first part of the season?

We have made real progress this year with the design of the car and innovations and it looks very strong. We have had some good races and took two podiums. We’ve also had some bad luck but we’ve still remained strong. Things are looking good for us I think. I’m pleased with my performance so far and with the results we have obtained but we need to stay focused and continue to work at the same rate.

What are your memories of Istanbul Park?

I have very good memories from Istanbul Park, I like racing there. I had some big successes in GP2 there (winning in 2009). My first race there as a Formula 1 driver in 2010 was also memorable, as it was the first time I entered Q3 in qualifying and then I had a good race with great battles with both the Ferrari’s – unfortunately I didn’t score any points in the end due to a puncture but my race was still very good.

What particular characteristics does Istanbul Part circuit offer?

I like the layout of the circuit; it has a lot of slow and fast corners, a good mix of everything but at the same time quite a technical circuit, we all know about the famous Turn 8 in Istanbul. Another aspect is that it is quite a wide track which makes it quite safe. Also, the track allows overtaking manœuvres are possible so that should help make a great race.

You are currently 7th in the Drivers’ Championship, what are your ambitions for the Turkish GP?

I will of course do the best we possibly can to get the best possible result. We’re expecting upgrades for Turkey which is good, and of course the other teams will react too and work hard to beat us. We’ll be doubling our efforts in order to catch the teams in front. You never know what can happen during a race weekend but both my team and I will fight hard.

What do you think of the track?

Nick: It’s a nice track, Turn 8 is a bit special as it is a unique corner with multiple apexes.

Vitaly: It presents a good mix of everything with fast and slow corners and it’s quite a technical track.

A word with the boss:

After a satisfying start to the2011 campaign, Eric talks about how the team will continue to push even harder.

Eric, as Formula 1 heads to Europe, what conclusions can you draw from the season so far?

The first three races are always a challenge as we take the car straight out of the box to compete on the other side of the world. We had quite a satisfying campaign with two podiums in three races. Having said that, we encountered some disappointment in China but we put our heads back down to try and analyse and come back from this. We have shown good competitiveness in this first leg, including in China. So we now are looking forward to the start of the European campaign.

The start of the European season has traditionally been synonymous with big upgrade packages; how well is the team prepared for Turkey?

We have a good upgrade package coming for Turkey. I think that historically the teams were preparing to introduce their development packages for Europe, but I think that in the last couple of years the development race is continuous and this competition has already started. Teams have already been bringing new packages in Malaysia and China. Still, the first race in Europe remains significant in terms of improvements that teams will bring and this will be clear again this year.

You know Istanbul Park very well, how does the circuit inspire you?

It reminds me of a great fight Vitaly had with Fernando (Alonso) last year, and a very strong race that both Robert and Vitaly had. I know that our car is looking more competitive this year and our drivers know like the circuit, so we hope that it will be a good weekend for us.

Both Nick and Vitaly showed great performance in the first few races, are they ready for the European season?

I think that they can do even better. During the last three races, they were still getting to know the car and they showed good pace and results. I’m pretty sure that they now have the near-to-victory taste in their mouths so they need to keep on pushing. I know the team is absolutely 100% behind both of them to help pushing them to deliver.

Tech Talk with James Allison

The R31 is sufficiently fast to be top 10 in qualifying, which always gives you a chance come Sunday.

James, two podiums from the first three races for the R31. Overall, are you happy with the start to the season?

Overall I’m pleased. However I tend just to remember the last race and that wasn’t a very good one for us, so we’re looking to put that right in Istanbul.

Looking back to China, what were the biggest challenges LRGP faced in what proved to be a frustrating weekend?

Much of what went wrong for us came from failing to qualify in the position that the car merited. Not getting the car through into Q3 meant that we had to fight an uphill battle in the race. Furthermore, we didn’t make quite such a good start as we had done during the previous two races and all of this combined with the result that we had to struggle through the race just to finish in the minor places.

Three races in, have you been able to draw any conclusions of the car’s performance so far? What do you consider are its main strengths and weaknesses?

It’s sufficiently fast to be healthily-placed in the top ten in qualifying, which gives you half a chance come Sunday. The car also quite kind on its tyres and so it tends to run more strongly in races than it does in qualifying. I don’t want to tempt providence, but it has also been reasonably reliable so far.

Can we expect any significant upgrades to the car for Turkey?

Yes, like all the teams we’ll be bringing some parts. There will be a different front wing, some modifications around the nose, updates to the air intake area of the car and some tweaks to the floor.

How far in advance do you begin planning for such an upgrade package?

It depends on the component. Some simple upgrades are found in the tunnel in the days running up to the race, but most of the parts would have been conceived around 6-8 weeks ago, would have run in the tunnel around 4 weeks ago and then been designed and made for the car in time for the Turkey GP.

How do you think the car will fare at the Istanbul Park Circuit?

It’s a fairly regular type of track, not especially dissimilar to Malaysia and China I would hope that we can continue compete at a high level.

What’s new for Istanbul?

The R31 will have an epic journey to Turkey after it left the factory on Thursday evening. Lotus Renault GP uses five trucks to drive the cars down to Italy where they will take a boat to cross the Mediterranean, arriving in Istanbul Port on Tuesday morning. For the motorhomes, there will be more than 5,000 pieces for seven people to construct over three days. Bon voyage!

Stay tuned for Podcast number 498

Motorsports Mondial with Nasir Hameed.


Motorsports Mondial


The Flying Kiwi

Photo © ATS Formel 3 Cup

Richie “Runaway” Stanaway. The 19-year old New Zealander made a perfect start to the 2011 German Formula 3 Championship by winning both races of round one.

The season started at Oschersleben, in what used to be East Germany, with Stanaway qualifying on front row beside pole-sitter Tom Blomqvist, who is racing under a British license but was raised in New Zealand.

Stanaway got the jump on Blomqvist at the start and led the race from start to finish. The two rookies occupied the top two steps of the podium. Marco Sorenson of Denmark was third. Alon Day of Israel was fourth and Dutch driver Hannes van Asseldonk made it three rookies in the top five.

Hannes had pole for second race with Stanaway again sharing the front row. The race was more of the same, the Kiwi keeping his cool and grabbing the lead at the start which he kept till the checkered flag. Sorenson was second. Austrian Rene Binder took third. German rookie Tony Halbig finished fourth ahead of another German rookie Patrick Schranner.

Pole-sitter van Asseldonk came in eighth after surviving an early contact with Blomqvist.

Stanaway leads the championship with 22 points. Sorenson is second on 14 points and Blomqvist third with 9 points.

Stanaway Story. Richie was born on November 24, 1991 in Rotorua and currently resides in Milton Keynes. His motorsport career began in motocross. He was regional Rotax Max champion in his first year of karting.

Championship winning performance in the 2008/09 New Zealand Formula Ford series, scoring 11 wins and 15 podium finishes from 21 races, set him on his European campaign.

He made his debut in the German ADAC Formula Masters series in 2009 and last year won the championship in dominating fashion; winning 12 races and podium finishes in 17 of 18 races.

Stanaway is now part of Gravity Management and racing in the German F3 with Dutch van Amersfoort Racing. The quick Kiwi hopes to follow in the steps of other graduates of this series, Jarno Trulli and Michael Schumacher, to the promised land of Formula 1.

— Nasir Hameed

Greetings and das racing regards.

Motorsports Mondial


Tuesday 26th April: Fortec Motorsport driver, Alexander Rossi heads to the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit as current World Series by Renault Championship leader to contest rounds three and four of the series this weekend.

Rossi took a commanding win in the opening round of the series and came home in second position in race two at Motorland Aragon earlier this month. With a current total of 43 points and a 15 points lead over his nearest rival, he now heads to Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Rossi, a past winner at Spa in 2009 Formula Masters and 2nd in 2010 GP3 Championship, is no stranger to what is considered by drivers and fans alike to be one of the most challenging race tracks in the world.

Alexander Rossi comments, “Coming off the opening rounds in Aragon a few weeks ago, I can confidently say that the team and I met our goals to open the season. However, we are still looking to improve a few key aspects of our overall performance to ensure that we can maintain this current momentum. I am very much looking forward to the event in Spa this week as it’s personally one of my favourite circuits and I have a good track record there in previous championships. The weather always plays a factor at Spa, but we feel that our wet set-up is on par with other teams, so we are relatively confident in that respect. Our focus this weekend remains the same as always, to win, but with the added pressure of coming in as Championship leaders, we cannot get complacent. We need to keep pushing, there’s a lot of work to do.”

Jamie Dye, Team Manager, Fortec Motorsport, concludes, “Alexander’s pace over the winter, and in race rounds 1 and 2 earlier this month, shows that he is one of the men to beat this season. We go to Spa this weekend leading the Drivers’ and Teams’ World Series by Renault Championships and will aim to take away maximum points once again. Spa is another circuit where we have a good set-up, so for the Fortec team our goal is to extend the lead in both points tables and keep up the fight at the business end of the grid. Good luck to our drivers and the team and we hope to see plenty of fans support in Spa.”

World Series by Renault rounds three and four, April 30th – May 1st, Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium.

Motorsports Mondial

The Red Line Oil Karting Championship will shift gears and use the tight Sprint track configuration for round two on Sunday, May 1st at the Jim Russell International Karting Center. The GoPro featured class will be 80 Masters, where the race winner will take home a GoPro HD Hero Camera.

Several classes will feature some very close and competitive racing. The Rotax Senior class with nine strong drivers in the field last month should again highlight a very competitive race with several drivers taking a shot at de-throning round one winner Carlos Calderon. First time 80 Masters winner Charles Hastings should expect a strong challenge from at least three other past winners including defending class champ Tom Nelson. Look for a battle royal in the Sanzaru Games Rotax Mini Max class where competive racing was experienced by all ten drivers last month. Expect Michael Avansino, Michael Michoff and Scott Huffaker to once again fight for the win and $50 in cash. Second and third places will take home $30 and $20, respectively. Mini Max class sponsor Sanzaru Games will be awarding cash prizes all season long. With seven drivers, the ‘club’ IAME TaG class started the season with good driver interest and competitive racing. With nine drivers, the SKUSA rules based S2 and S4 race group not only saw good numbers for the season opener, but also provided some outstanding racing.

Saturday practice is available from 10:30 am to 5:30 pm with pre-race registration also available at Saturday. Entry fee for the race is $100 plus $10 for transponder rental, $10 for pit passes and $50 for Saturday practice. Sunday’s schedule starts at 8:20 am with the first heat taking the green flag at 10:45 am.

Spectator information: With a second event at Infineon Raceway on this race weekend, all spectators, crew and drivers must go to the old Jim Russell building to buy a pit pass and to sign in for the karting event. Your wrist band will admit you into the raceway. When you pull into the Infineon Raceway entrance, look to the right and you will see the Red Line Oil Karting Championship sign with the arrow pointing to the right. Park next to the brick wall and go behind the wall to the old Russell building.

For additional information about the Red Line Oil Karting Championship, visit: or