• Talented international field gathers at Brands Hatch for the launch races of MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, Powered by Ford EcoBoost
  • Young racers bidding to win FIA Formula 4 Champion of Great Britain title as well as Superlicence points
30 March, 2015 – A new chapter in Ford’s 48-year history at the forefront of junior single-seater motor racing will open this weekend (4/5 April) at Brands Hatch with the launch of MSA Formula. A natural evolution from the highly successful Ford-backed Formula Ford Championship of Great Britain, MSA Formula has attracted young drivers from around the globe to compete in Britain’s FIA-accredited Formula 4 championship.

Pilots from Brazil, India, Romania and the United States will join their British counterparts to compete in technologically advanced carbon fibre chassis powered by Ford’s 1.6-litre EcoBoost engine. In so doing they are putting their feet firmly on the first rung of the FIA’s new single-seater career ladder, designed to prepare them for international racing careers up to and including F1.

MSA Formula – Certified by FIA, Powered by Ford EcoBoost carries the junior motorsport torch lit at Brands Hatch in June 1967 by the first-ever race for Formula Ford, the formula which was to prove instrumental in the career development of World Champions Ayrton Senna, Nigel Mansell, Michael Schumacher, James Hunt, Emerson Fittipaldi, Jody Scheckter, Damon Hill, Mika Hakkinen and Jenson Button.

Competitors hoping to follow in the wheeltracks of past Formula Ford champions will find MSA Formula a real career-booster – the winning driver will hold the title FIA Formula 4 Champion of Great Britain and will earn 10 Grand Prix Superlicence points. In conjunction with Hankook, the champion will also receive a test with a leading FIA F3 team, while Ford is funding a £30,000 prize purse.

Talented field
MSA Formula is the only UK single-seater series open to drivers under the age of 16, and it has attracted a clutch of 15-year-old stars from the world of karting, including reigning British Super 1 Rotax Champion Sandy Mitchell, multiple kart title winners Dan Ticktum and Lando Norris, reigning X30 Junior International Champion Josh Smithand 2014 CIK FIA World and European Champion Enaam Ahmed.

Ironically the youngest driver – at 15 years and five days old – is one of the most experienced in terms of car racing. He is Californian Colton Herta, son of IndyCar race winner Bryan, who won the Pacific F1600 Championship when he was all of 13. Herta and Norris make up two-thirds of the crack Carlin team; their running mate is impressive 16-year-old Romanian Petru Florescu.

Joining TRS Arden team-mates Mitchell and Ahmed is a driver familiar with single-seater success at Brands Hatch: 18-year-old Ricky Collard, son of BTCC driver Rob, who was twice a Brands Hatch podium finisher last year in Formula Ford. Collard is probably, alongside JHR Developments driver Sennan Fielding, the most experienced in the field.

Nick Tandy’s JTR team won the Formula Ford championship the last three seasons and has two top kart stars on its roster for MSA Formula in the form of Dan Baybutt andJames Pull, both of whom have shone in pre-season testing. They will be joined from the Donington Park rounds onwards by young Indian rookie Ameya Vaidyanathan.

The real star of the pre-season has been Ticktum, who topped the times for the Fortec team at the Snetterton, Silverstone and Rockingham test days. Racing Steps Foundation-backed pilot Smith is Ticktum’s Fortec running mate.

Another team synonymous with Formula 3 can be expected to make a big impact: Double R Racing will field cars for exciting teenage Brazilians Matheus Leist andGustavo Myasava, and Indian MRF Formula 1600 Champion Tarun Reddy. Another rapid young Brazilian, Rafael Martins, will be at the wheel of one of the SWB Motorsport MSA Formula machines, alongside promising Jerseyman Jack Butel.

Kent’s own MBM team will field a car for highly rated 19-year-old Jack Barlow – a Formula Ford podium finisher at Brands Hatch last year – while Falcon Motorsport, Formula Ford championship runner-up in 2014 and ’14 – will be running Romania’s first female single-seater racer, 15-year-old Alexandra Marinescu, and Rochdale-based racing novice Darius Karboli, 17.



A stunning job by Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari to get the win today. They have outperformed Mercedes today in every department and the Silver Arrows have some head scratching to do ahead of the Chinese Grand Prix in two weeks time. We have waited for a challenge to be launched to Mercedes, and Ferrari have responded today.

Hamilton finishes second and Rosberg third. Still a healthy return for Mercedes in terms of points, but Ferrari have rattled them today. The Italian side look to have the pace to challenge them seriously like nobody else has been able to do. It’s not just Vettel’s drive, but the way Raikkonen has recovered today from 11th on the grid, a puncture and an extra pit stop to finish fourth shows how good their car is.

Massa and Bottas the two Williams drivers had a fight to the finish for 5th place, and Bottas made the pass on the final lap. What will worry Williams is that Ferrari have left them for dead today when there didn’t look to be much between the teams

Vettel says: ‘It’s been a while since I have been on the top step, it was my first time with Ferrari and I’m speechless. I am very happy,. This is a great achievement and we have a great car. Today is a very special day and will always remain a part of me. I want to celebrate today and get p***** tonight.’

Hamilton humble in defeat on the podium.

He said: ‘Huge congratulations to Ferrari and Sebastian they did an amazing job. We knew coming into this weekend they had made a step but we didn’t know how big but they were too fast today. My balance wasn’t great and I’m sure we can find places to improve and fight for the next race in China.’

Rosberg also delivered a message: ‘All I can say on behalf of my team is “Game on Ferrari”. Ferrari did an awesome job today and deserved to win but we will be back at the next race.



Lewis Hamilton won pole position for Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix with a blistering lap in the wet after Q3 had been delayed by the weather.

It was Hamilton’s 40th pole and his third on this track after he was almost knocked out in Q2. He said: “I think the first lap was good, it’s always difficult in conditions like that and not one of us have driven in the wet this weekend.”

The Mercedes’ of Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were split by the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel in a replica of last year, though then Vettel was a Red Bull driver; this year’s Red Bulls will start fourth and fifth.

At one point in Q3 Rosberg appeared to slow and impede Hamilton just as the British driver had posted the quickest first sector time. Hamilton, though, gained a small measure of revenge by passing Rosberg and then slowing himself, suggesting there are still mind games going on between the duo. At one point Rosberg asked his Mercedes team to tell him the lines Hamilton was driving. But they replied: “We can’t tell you that.”

As qualifying started the high temperatures started to plummet, the clouds gathered and the thunder and lightning arrived. By the time Q2 started the priority was to bank a lap time before the rain arrived – and when it rains here it really means business.

When the heavens did open and the session was aborted it was particularly bad news for Kimi Raikkonen. He had been held up by Marcus Ericsson’s Sauber and was in 11th place when the driving came to a halt, putting him out of Q3. He said: “We got it wrong. We should have been out earlier but that is how it is. The lap time is there or thereabouts so we expected to be strong in qualifying. We finally find some speed and this happens, that’s part of the game but it is disappointing.”

There was also a close call for Hamilton, who was in eighth place. And he was annoyed by it. “You got us out too far behind everyone,” he told his team.


Fernando Alonso finished last of the 18 cars that ran in Q1, when he was out-qualified, in the final seconds, by his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button. Alonso said: “We know we are struggling with the pace but we are much closer now and I don’t think I will be [giving interviews] after Q1 for long.”

Beating Alonso was at least some consolation for Button on another difficult day for the Woking team. He said: “It is a lot closer than in Australia and I think our race pace is better than our qualifying pace. We should be happy with the step taken, but there is still a long way to go.”

But it was even worse for Manor, for whom Will Stevens and Roberto Merhi did not even get onto the track. Stevens’ car was still in pieces a short time before the start of qualifying. He said: “It’s been a tough day. Not getting out in qualifying was disappointing. There was a fuel issue. We will have to see if we can get sorted overnight.” The other driver to miss out was Felipe Nasr in his Sauber.

The Red Bull duo of Daniel Ricciardo and Daniil Kvyat line up fourth and fifth on the grid, with 17-year-old Max Verstappen sixth for Toro Rosso. The Dutch youngster becomes the first teenager in 54 years to start in the top six.

The eye-catching performance in the first session was that of Carlos Sainz, who was fourth. But the eye-catcher of the afternoon was once again Lewis Hamilton.

Final Positions after Qualifying
1 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1min 49.834sec, 2 Sebastian Vettel Ferrari 1:49.908, 3 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:50.299, 4 Daniel Ricciardo Red Bull 1:51.541, 5 Daniil Kvyat Red Bull 1:51.951, 6 Max Verstappen Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:51.981, 7 Felipe Massa Williams 1:52.473, 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus F1 Team 1:52.981, 9 Valtteri Bottas Williams 1:53.179, 10 Marcus Ericsson Sauber-Ferrari 1:53.261, 11 Kimi Raikkonen Ferrari 1:42.173, 12 Pastor Maldonado Lotus F1 Team 1:42.198, 13 Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1:43.023, 14 Sergio Pérez Force India 1:43.469, 15 Carlos Sainz Scuderia Toro Rosso 1:43.701, 16 Felipe Nasr Sauber-Ferrari 1:41.308, 17 Jenson Button McLaren 1:41.636, 18 Fernando Alonso McLaren 1:41.746, 19 Roberto Merhi Manor Marussia F1 1:46.677, 20 Will Stevens Manor Marussia F1 No Time

F1Weekly podcast #674

Nasir tries to convince Clark the Australian Grand Prix was an exciting race to behold! We have a special report from long time listener and F1W forum member Jason Bentley and I also want to share some news from the BTCC testing at Donington Park…

Team BMR sets the pace in Season Launch test at Donington Park

Two-time Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Champion Jason Plato laid down the gauntlet to his rivals today (24 March) at the Season Launch official test at Donington Park. The seasoned campaigner set the fastest time during the afternoon running – a 1:10.249s – just pipping his new Team BMR stable-mate and reigning BTCC champion Colin Turkington by 0.006s.

In identical VW CC machinery, the pair look set to lock horns throughout what will undoubtedly be another thrilling campaign, and with times already so close at the top there are sure to be fireworks when racing commences at Brands Hatch in Kent on 4/5 April.

With the top two from last year’s championship setting the pace, it was a very impressive showing from the two Mercedes A-Class machines of Aiden Moffat and Adam Morgan that saw them placed third and fourth in the time sheets for Laser Tools Racing and WIX Racing respectively. Morgan secured his first ever BTCC win at the Brands Hatch finale last October, and as Moffat makes the switch to a new car it looks like an exciting season in prospect for the ambitious young duo.

A team pairing took up station in fifth and sixth, as Triple Eight Racing drivers Jack Goff and Andrew Jordan put in a formidable tally of laps around the Donington Park National Circuit. Indeed the only driver to complete more circulations than Goff was Team BMR owner Warren Scott, who managed to post the eighth fastest time having lapped the 1.98-mile track an impressive 68 times.

Hunter Abbott was seventh fastest in his Exocet AlcoSense Audi A4,  with the returning Honda Civic of Martin Depper in ninth. Sam Tordoff secured top BMW honours in his first timed session for the newly-announced Team JCT600 with GardX squad in tenth, just ahead of Dave Newsham who has switched to a Power Maxed Racing Chevrolet for this year.

Honda Yuasa Racing unveiled the stunning new Civic Type R this morning in front of a huge media gathering, and the car will surely grab headlines as the it hits the track in earnest even before the production car hits the showroom floor. Matt Neal piloted the #25 car to the 12th fastest time.

Attentions now turn to Brands Hatch for the first three BTCC battles of 2015.

Jason Plato said: “We had an issue which cost us about an hour today which is a little frustrating as we had a plan of things we’re trying to get though and it’s left us with a couple of questions on the set-up that aren’t 100 per cent answered. It was a good day though – the guys have had a tough six weeks and I think now it’s time to down tools, get everything ready and checked for Brands Hatch and make sure we don’t have any reliability issues. We’ll be on the pace at Brands – if we’re not quickest we’ll be there or thereabouts and I think we can win races.”




Kuala Lumpur’s Sepang International Circuit was first in the spate of modern tracks in emerging markets for Formula One. The likes of Bahrain, China, Singapore, South Korea and India would later follow, but Hermann Tilke’s first foray into Asia set a new standard and lay pressure to modernise on the historic European circuits. One feature the more traditional venues could not apply is the tropical Malaysian climate, which has unleashed spectacular downpours on Formula One sessions over the last 15 years. Williams’ only victory at Sepang came in 2002 with Ralf Schumacher leading home teammate Juan Pablo Montoya in a 1-2.
Rob Smedley
We are heading to Malaysia after a good start to the season, very much in a position to be finishing with both cars scoring good points. We have been working hard on all areas of performance and to close up any margins we had in Australia. Sepang is one of the first of the Herman Tilke circuits and the drivers like it as it includes fast corners and overtaking opportunities. The ambient conditions always play quite a big part in the weekend and the drivers have to be ready for those challenges. The circuit itself starts off with quite a lot of front graining and finishes being rear limited during the race. As it is a purpose built circuit we should be able to see more of the strengths of the FW37 and it should suit us a bit better.
Felipe Massa
Malaysia is always very hot and very humid, so very difficult physically for the drivers. The car also has its challenges as the temperature plays its part, so our cooling is very important. The rain is an issue as it always rains at the time of day when the race is, but we will be prepared for it. I have trained very hard in the heat just for this race and cardio has been important.
Valtteri Bottas
As always, Malaysia is a very hot and humid race, and although these aren’t the ideal conditions for the car we have had some exciting races in Sepang over the years. There is also always a risk of rain which we have to be aware of, but it brings some more spice in the suspense. After Melbourne I have stayed in Asia to acclimatise to the hot conditions and adjust to the right time zone. I trained a lot over the winter to prepare for these physically difficult conditions. After such a frustrating Sunday in Australia, I have taken the necessary measures to make sure I arrive in Malaysia fit to race and ready to bring the results home.


2015 Formula 1 Petronas Malaysia Grand Prix Preview …Sahara Force India gets ready for this weekend’s Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang.

Vijay’s Vision
Vijay Mallya reflects on Melbourne and looks ahead to this weekend’s race in Malaysia.
“Starting our season in Melbourne with both cars in the points was the ideal way to open our 2015 account. Those seven points were an important reward for all the hard work of everyone in the team over the winter and give us something to build upon as we head for Malaysia.
“Despite scoring well in Melbourne, we know the VJM08 is only just beginning its development journey and that we need to add performance if we want to finish consistently in the points. There will be some small tweaks this weekend before bigger steps can be made during the European season.
“Malaysia is an interesting track for us. We had a good race there last year with Nico and it’s a track that generates good racing. The hot weather usually plays to our strengths and the risk of rain can add another dimension to the strategy. Hopefully we can capitalise on these elements to be competitive and come away with another strong result.”
Nico on Malaysia
Nico Hulkenberg gets ready for racing in the heat of Malaysia.
Nico: “I am really looking forward to getting back to action in Sepang after a fairly positive start of the season. We knew the VJM08’s reliability was one of our strong points and we were able to play that card well. We didn’t make any mistakes and we had a good strategy, and that helped us capitalise on a day when others ran into trouble. We need to keep our feet on the ground, however, because we know the circumstances in which we got this result and we know the next races will be tough.
“The track in Sepang is quite challenging and is very different compared to Melbourne. The various sectors have unique characteristics: there is a nice variation of high and low-speed corners and two very long straights. You need to balance your setup between top speed and downforce to make the most of your car in each of them. The high temperatures and humidity add to the challenges of this track, and you always have a threat of rain, especially at the start of the race.
“I have spent the week after Melbourne in Indonesia, having a bit of a holiday, but also training and getting used to the climate. It’s always better to stay on the local time zone and I’m feeling in good shape for this weekend.”
Sergio on Malaysia
Sergio Perez looks forward to round two of the season in Sepang.
Sergio: “Malaysia is a very special place for me. It is where I got my first podium in Formula One, in one of the best races of my career in 2012, so I will always have happy memories about this circuit. The track is really interesting and the three sectors each have their own character. The track is physical but it has some very technical parts as well. You also have some very long straights at the end of the lap that offer a lot of opportunities for overtaking.
“The weather always makes it interesting. When you are racing in Sepang it is something that is always in the back of your mind, because you know a sudden rainstorm can throw up some unexpected strategies and opportunities you can exploit. The heat and the humidity are a big challenge, but as a driver you are prepared for this. You work really hard during the pre-season and every day with your trainer to be at your best in these circumstances, so I know I am ready.
“I am looking forward to going racing again after our first run in Melbourne. We are still learning a lot about the full potential of the VJM08 and every time we hit the track we are going to find some improvements. We are aware of the work needed to make our car more competitive, but we also know it is going to take time. The car feels really promising but it needs development and I look forward to getting some upgrades soon.
“Malaysia is a very beautiful country, but I can’t say I have any favourite spots. You don’t get to see much of a place when you arrive for a race weekend, but sometimes you manage to squeeze in some nice experiences. I heard Kuala Lumpur has a lot of great dining opportunities so I hope to be able to try a few – I really like Asian food!”