wtcc Paul Ricard 2014


AUTO - WTCC LE CASTELLET 2014– The French round of the FIA WTCC, a real festival of motorsport, had got off to the best possible start for Citroën Racing, with its three C-Elysée WTCCs claiming the top three spots in qualifying.

– However, Sébastien Loeb and José-María López saw their times cancelled after scrutineering, due to faulty fuel shut-off valves.

– Third-fastest qualifier Yvan Muller will therefore start the first race in pole position.

As in Marrakech, the Citroën C-Elysée WTCCs put in a superb team performance from the start. On Friday, during the first session of free practice, José-María López clocked the fastest time, ahead of Sébastien Loeb.

On Saturday, however, the tables were turned, with Loeb picking up the fastest time in the late-morning practice session. Despite recording the fourth-fastest time of the first practice session, Yvan Muller was frustrated to have damaged the front end of his car by hitting a tyre stack. Everything was back in order for the second half-hour practice session, however, which the Citroën drivers spent working on their worn-tyre setup.

When the time came for qualifying, the sun was shining brightly and the stands were packed full of spectators eager to witness the return of FIA World Championship action to the Paul Ricard Circuit. Yvan, Seb and Pechito had little trouble securing their place in Q2. Picking up the pace in the second qualifying session to fend off attacks from their increasingly speedy competitors, Yvan Muller, Sébastien Loeb and José-María López were the only three drivers to dip under the 1 minute 30 barrier.

In Q3, with a single flying lap to clock the fastest time he could, José-María López shaved a few hundredths of a second off his Q2 time. Sébastien Loeb then produced a perfect performance to record a lap time 92 thousandths of a second quicker than his Argentine teammate! Yvan Muller, the last to go, also drove impressively, but ultimately fell 0.33 seconds short of the nine-time World Rally Champion.

During the technical inspections, the scrutineers noticed that the fuel shut-off values on Sébastien Loeb and Pechito Lopez’s cars were not working. This component was, however, functioning properly on the C-Elysée WTCC driven by Yvan Muller. The race stewards decided to cancel the times clocked by Seb and Pechito, who will now start from the back of the grid in both races. Yvan Muller, meanwhile, will start from pole position in race 1.


Yves Matton, Team Principal, Citroën Racing: “We couldn’t wait to get out and race on a ‘real’ circuit to assess our cars’ true potential in relation to the competition. It was fantastic to claim the top three spots in qualifying, but we were disappointed when we heard about the punishment handed out to Seb and Pechito. It was a failure in a standard component sold by one of our suppliers. The valve doesn’t do anything to improve performance: it’s there to ensure safety, an area in which Citroën Racing has always tried to be ahead of its time. Our drivers will have their work cut out to recover tomorrow, but they have the talent to go out and get a positive result.”

Yvan Muller: “The day didn’t get off to the best start, with a minor collision in the first free practice session. But the mechanics did a great job again and I was the fastest driver in Q1 and Q2. I thought I put in a good lap in Q3, but it wasn’t enough to beat Seb and Pechito. Like all the drivers who were used to the old cars, I think we’re not getting the most out of our tyres yet. I’ve been handed pole position by default, but I don’t take any pleasure in it. Now I’m going to go out and try to win to make up some of the ground I lost in Marrakech.”

Sébastien Loeb: “It was really close between the three of us! We did some good work in free practice and my car was perfect, which meant I was able to push it close to its limits. I didn’t make a mistake. It was a faultless lap.”

José-María López: “We went out for qualifying without really knowing who would come out on top. I wasn’t that confident with my braking today, particularly at the Bendor corner. I’m not complaining, because the car was perfect, but I think that’s where Seb had the edge.”


Formula 1

LCH PoleChina2014


Lewis Hamilton took pole position in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix this afternoon, with Nico Rosberg fourth after a challenging, wet qualifying session.

• Lewis took his third wet weather pole this season after qualifying 0.595 seconds ahead of his closest challenger, Daniel Ricciardo
• Nico Rosberg qualified fourth fastest but was unable to improve his lap time during his final run in Q3
• Both drivers ran wet tyres in Q1, then four sets of intermediate tyres for the rest of the qualifying session
• It is Lewis’ 8th pole for the team and his 34th in Formula One, which is a new record for a British driver and fourth on the all-time list.

Lewis Hamilton

It was a tough session today, but I really enjoyed it. It’s definitely the most satisfying feeling to come away with pole position in these wet conditions because the track is so slippery and you need to find the grip to put the lap together. The car felt great and the team have done a fantastic job this weekend. Our rivals look closer in the wet conditions, so we’ll be hoping it’s a dry race to take advantage of the position we’re in. We go into the race with a little bit of an unknown because after I struggled in practice on Friday. We made a lot of changes to the car and I haven’t yet had a chance to try them in the dry. It felt pretty good in the wet, though, so I’m hopeful that we can convert our pole position into a strong race performance tomorrow.

Nico Rosberg

I had two main problems today. I wasn’t totally happy with the feeling on the brakes, which resulted in me locking up and going off on my fast lap on the second to last lap. Then on my final timed lap, I was half a second quicker going into the last corner – but my time delta on my steering wheel display said that I was two tenths slower. So I just took a big risk and spun because I mistakenly thought I had nothing to lose anyway. However, fourth place is not a disaster. I was quick on Friday doing the race preparation so I am still confident that there is everything to play for tomorrow. 

Toto Wolff

Another wet qualifying session which doesn’t make life easy for anyone. We looked very strong on the full wet tyres at the beginning and the field seemed to close up as we moved onto the intermediate tyres. It was an exceptional performance from Lewis; he was in a league of his own today. Nico was very competitive and right there but unfortunately he wasn’t able to get a clean lap on the final run and that’s what cost him in these difficult conditions. It shows how competitive it is at this time, as we had the pace to put both cars on the front row.

Paddy Lowe

Qualifying is always tricky when we’re running in wet conditions, which meant that it was even more fantastic to see Lewis deliver a great lap to qualify in pole. There’s a slight disappointment on Nico’s side because it looked like he had the pace. However, both of his laps in the final run of Q3 were compromised and he was unable to improve his lap time. However, overall it was a positive afternoon and a good job from the drivers and the team to get through qualifying safely and in good positions. Congratulations to Lewis on becoming the most successful British driver in terms of pole positions; it’s a great achievement.


FIA Formula 3 European Championship, round 1, Silverstone (GBR)

Rookie Ocon claims a pair of pole positions at Silverstone

Season rounds: 1 to 3 from 33
Track: Silverstone
Pole position race 1: Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin)
Pole position race 2: Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam)
Pole position race 3: Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam)
Temperature air / track: 9.1 – 8.3 °C / 7.3 – 6.9 °C
Weather: mix of overcast and sunny

Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin) and Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam) secured themselves the pole positions for the FIA Formula 3 European Championship season opener at the 5.891 kilometres long Formula 1 circuit at Silverstone in the UK. In first qualifying, Blomqvist beat rookie driver Esteban Ocon by the minimal margin of 0.002 seconds. In the second session, the Frenchman claimed the best starting grid position from Nicholas Latifi (Prema Powerteam). Rookie drivers Ocon and Antonio Fuoco (Prema Powerteam) locked out the front row of the grid for the third race.

Starting grid race 1:
After rookie drivers Max Verstappen (Van Amersfoort Racing, 1:51.402 minutes), Esteban Ocon (1:51.329 minutes) and Antonio Fuoco (1:51.378 minutes) had dominated proceedings in free practice, stalwart Tom Blomqvist (1:51.327 minutes) succeeded in setting the fastest lap time in the first qualifying session of the season. With seven minutes remaining, the 20-year-old Brit moved up to the top of the time sheets and demoted the trio of fast rookies Ocon, Fuoco and Verstappen to second, third and fourth place. Lotus F1 junior Ocon was beaten by only 0.002 seconds. Félix Serrallés (Team West-Tec F3, 1:51.795 minutes) provided a good FIA Formula 3 European Championship debut for his team West-Tec F3 by claiming fifth place. He ended up ahead of the second-fastest British driver, Jordan King (Carlin, 1:51.808 minutes), who was sixth.

Starting grid race 2:
In second qualifying, Esteban Ocon (1:51.322 minutes) reversed the order and secured first place. His team-mate Nicholas Latifi (1:51.460 minutes) ended up second from Tom Blomqvist (1:51.517 minutes), who only moved up into third position in the final stages of the session. He demoted Antonio Fuoco (1:51.536 minutes), the best-placed rookie, to fourth place. Also in the final minutes, Antonio Giovinazzi (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin, 1:51.755 minutes) moved up into fifth place from Max Verstappen (1:51.808 minutes). The Dutch driver shone as the third-fastest Formula 3 novice.

Starting grid race 3:
The second-fastest laps of every driver in second qualifying are used to determine the starting grid positions for the third race of the weekend. Esteban Ocon (1:51.327 minutes) also proved to be unbeatable in this ranking and secured two of the three possible pole positions for his FIA Formula 3 European Championship debut. With second place, Antonio Fuoco (1:51.557 minutes) made sure that rookie drivers locked out the front row of the grid. On Sunday morning, Tom Blomqvist (1:51.577 minutes) and Nicholas Latifi (1:51.777 minutes) will be lining up behind the two young talents. Max Verstappen (1:51.810 minutes) and Antonio Giovinazzi (1:51.894 minutes) will be on the third row.

Tom Blomqvist (Jagonya Ayam with Carlin): “In first qualifying, the car was running really well and it wasn’t too bad in the second session either. Especially this morning, things were really close, but I managed to pull off a perfect lap and I am very happy with the first pole position of the year. After the good results in testing, being up front in first qualifying as well is nice. I hope for good starts and especially for good races. However, the season is still very long.”

Esteban Ocon (Prema Powerteam): “I didn’t expect these two pole positions, but we worked really hard during the winter and in the official test sessions. The two fastest lap times are the result of the huge effort by the entire team. The fastest time was within reach in first qualifying, too, but I didn’t manage to get it, which was somewhat disappointing. Now, I am looking forward to the three races that I definitely want to win, because that is what we are all are here for.”