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F1Weekly podcast # 724

CLARK AND NASIR DISCUSS THE CHINESE GRAND PRIX RESULTS AND COVER OTHER RACING EVENTS AROUND THE GLOBE IN THE MOTORSPORTS MONDIAL SEGMENT AND…WE BRING YOU ANOTHER GREAT NASIR INTERVIEW WITH INDYCAR DRIVER MIKHAIL ALESHIN!

MIKHAIL ALESHIN’S CAREER:

Aleshin competed in karting from 1996 to 2000. Since 2001 he has taken part in various international open wheel series. On 14 April 2007 he became the first Russian driver to win a major international single-seater race when he won the opening round of the Formula Renault 3.5 Series season at Monza. He then deputised for the injured Michael Ammermüller in the ART Grand Prix team at the second round of the 2007 GP2 Series season, becoming the second Russian after Vitaly Petrov to race in the series. He remained in FR3.5 for 2008, taking his best finish in the championship so far despite not winning a race.

He joined the relaunched FIA Formula Two Championship for 2009, driving car number 15. He finished third in the championship, with a single win coming at Oschersleben.

Aleshin returned to Formula Renault 3.5 for the 2010 season, partnering Jake Rosenzweig at Carlin. Scoring three victories, he became the champion of the series. He tested for Renault F1 in the young drivers’ test in Abu Dhabi and stated that he was confident for a Formula One drive in 2011, but did not obtain one.

Aleshin remained with Carlin to drive in 2011 GP2 Series and 2011 GP2 Asia Series, the team’s first season in the category and Aleshin’s first attempt at the series since 2007. He was partnered by Max Chilton, another driver who had previously been employed by Carlin in lower formulae. He endured a frustrating Asia series, afflicted by technical problems which left him last in the drivers’ championship, before announcing that he did not have a budget to compete in the main series, and would henceforth be stepping back to the ATS Formel 3 Cup. He then, however, secured a last-minute temporary GP2 deal with Carlin, only to crash in qualifying for the first round of the season in Turkey, injuring metacarpals in both hands which prevented him from racing. He returned to action for the following round of the championship at Catalunya, but was then replaced by Oliver Turvey as his money ran out. After eight races on the sidelines, he returned to racing action with Carlin at the Hungaroring. He was replaced again by Parente for the season finale at Monza, and finished 32nd and last in the overall standings.

In 2014 Aleshin began racing in the IndyCar Series with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

Fontana Crash

At Fontana in the final race of the 2014 IndyCar season, Aleshin was practicing his race-car before the race. The first driver from Russia to race in the Verizon IndyCar Series, was in Turn 4 of the two-mile Fontana track—a track where the cars travel at more than 200 mph—when the accident occurred.

Aleshin’s No. 7 car was driving low on the track before clipping the apron at the bottom, this unsettled the car and subsequently sent it into a spin. Charlie Kimball, who was running the high line, had no time to react to Aleshin’s car that was sliding up the track before him and he slammed into Aleshin at almost full speed. The impact sent both cars into the outside retaining wall where the upwards momentum of Aleshin’s out of control car caused it to vault up and over Kimball and the nose speared through the catch fencing, causing it to pirouette against the fence. Aleshin’s car then fell back onto the track as pieces of the car were scattered for yards and a large section of the catch fencing was ripped down. Kimball was able to get out of his car on his own, however, Aleshin was rushed to the hospital in a critical condition.

“The 7 car spun from the bottom and I really had nowhere to go,” said Kimball, who was not hurt. Aleshin, meanwhile, was diagnosed with a concussion, fractured ribs, a broken right clavicle and chest injuries.

[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/mp3.f1weekly.com/podcasts/04-11-17f1weekly724.mp3]

BRITISH F3

ADIDAS MOTORSPORT ON BOARD FOR 2017 BRITISH F3 CAMPAIGN

2016 BRDC British Formula 3 Autumn Trophy champion Enaam Ahmed will again be supported by Fyshe – Adidas Motorsport during the 2017 season.

17-year-old BRDC Rising Star Enaam, who races for renowned single-seater outfit Carlin, will be fully-backed by Fyshe – Adidas Motorsport throughout the 2017 BRDC British F3 Championship campaign, as global sportswear giant adidas continues to make great strides in motorsport.

Adidas Motorsport drivers include two-time F1 world champion Fernando Alonso, 11-time F1 grand prix winner Rubens Barrichello and 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans victors Nick Tan-dy and Earl Bamber.

Speaking about the partnership, Ahmed said: “I’m really happy to be an Adidas Motorsport driver and to be involved with one of the world’s leading sportswear brands. I’m proud to be wearing Adidas Motorsport racewear. They have helped me a lot so far and their race suits are simply the best I have ever worn.”

Alex Laszlo, Assistant Manager of Fyshe Limited, (Adidas Global licensee and distributor) added: “We’re delighted to extend our partnership with Enaam, one of the top young tal-ents in British Motorsport, and have him continue to represent Fyshe / Adidas motorsport during 2017. We believe Enaam has the potential to reach the very top in motorsport and we will play our part in helping him reaching that potential.”

INDYCAR SERIES

HINCHCLIFFE TAKES VICTORY AT LONG BEACH

The Schmidt Peterson Motorsports driver, seriously injured in an Indianapolis 500 practice crash nearly two years ago, recorded his first Verizon IndyCar Series win since the incident by taking the checkered flag at the prestigious Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. Driving the No. 5 Arrow Honda, Hinchcliffe crossed the finish line 1.4940 seconds ahead of Dale Coyne Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais, the winner of last month’s season opener.

Hinchcliffe’s last win came at NOLA Motorsports Park in April 2015, a month before the crash caused when a suspension piece on the car broke at 220-plus mph on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval. Hinchcliffe returned to racing last season and captured the Indianapolis 500 pole position, but had yet to win another race until today.

“To finally do what was goal No. 1 when we set out at the start of the season, to get back into winner’s circle, to do so as early in the season as we have, as convincingly as we did, was great,” said Hinchcliffe, who recorded the fifth victory of his seven-year Verizon IndyCar Series career.

The Canadian and “Dancing with the Stars” Season 23 runner-up took the lead for good on the 63rd of 85 laps around the 1.968-mile, 11-turn temporary street circuit that hosted Indy cars for the 34th consecutive year. A full-course caution on the same lap to tow in the disabled car of Alexander Rossi helped Hinchcliffe save enough Sunoco E85R fuel to make it to the end and he held off Bourdais in a three-lap dash to the finish following another yellow when Ryan Hunter-Reay, who had been running second, stopped on course with an electrical issue.

“After Indy and personally me for Toronto, this is the biggest one to win,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve had a lot of luck here. We’ve been really quick here in the past and to finally get to victory lane here is more than I can put into words.

“This place has a lot of history, that’s what drivers really care about. The greatest of the greats have won here. Toronto, Indy and this place were on my bucket list to win before I die, and it’s nice to check one off.”

Bourdais, driving the No. 18 Trench Shoring Honda, recovered from rear wing damage sustained from debris when the cars of Graham Rahal and Charlie Kimball made contact on Lap 1. Coupled with his win March 12 in the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg, it gave Bourdais a 19-point lead over Hinchcliffe in the championship after two of 17 races.

“The fuel saving we could achieve today with the performance we had on the Honda was amazing,” said Bourdais, the four-time Indy car champion who won three straight Long Beach races from 2005-07. “I’ve always been pretty comfortable saving fuel and that one sort of came to us today.”

Josef Newgarden finished third in the No. 2 Verizon Chevrolet, earning his best Long Beach result and first top-three finish since joining Team Penske this season.

“It’s always good to get the first podium out of the way for the Captain,” Newgarden said of team owner Roger Penske. “It was a pleasure to drive this weekend. Verizon gives us great tools at Team Penske. It’s nice to get this one out of the way. Hopefully now we can hunt down some wins.”

Last year’s Long Beach winner and Verizon IndyCar Series champion, Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, charged from last on the 21-car starting grid to finish fifth. Bourdais’ teammate at Dale Coyne Racing, Ed Jones, placed sixth to notch his second straight top-10 finish to start his rookie season.

FORMULA 1

LCH HITS A GRAND SLAM IN CHINA

The Mercedes ace notched up the landmark achievement by taking pole position, leading from start to finish, and setting the fastest lap.

Ironically, the Brit did that on lap 44, in car number 44 — which is his lucky racing number.

Hamilton’s victory in Shanghai was his fifth in 10 years at the track and drew him level with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel in the championship after the German’s win in Melbourne.

Hamilton said: “It has been a dominant weekend. It has been remarkable that this is my 10th year here and I have had six poles and five wins.

“I have a great record he and I have been very fortunate to work with some intelligent and hard-working people who have helped elevate me to the top step.

“This is a track that suits my driving style, whether it is in the wet or the dry and I am really happy with how I performed today.

“The strategist made the right decision in terms of coming in for tyres and the guys in the garage did a fantastic job with the stops, so it was a very on-point weekend.”

FORMULA 1

LCH BEATS VETTEL TO POLE POSITION IN CHINA

LCH claimed his second successive pole position of the new season in China. He was, however, pushed to the limit again by Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who finished second, just one-thousandth of a second in front of Hamilton’s team-mate Valtteri Bottas.

Hamilton saved the best to last, setting a flawless pole lap on his final run in Q3 that Vettel was unable to match. But Ferrari have proved once again they have the pace this season to match Mercedes and with rain forecast for Sunday in Shanghai, the race could be a feisty spectacle.

“We knew it was going to be close,” said Hamilton. “It was going to mean we would have to pull out all the stops and really have a very, very perfect lap. I managed to just chip away at it from session to session. No major issues. But the last lap was my best lap, which is always the plan.

Lewis Hamilton’s battle with Sebastian Vettel could match F1’s great rivalries
“It is more exciting than ever for me because we are really fighting with these guys. It is amazing and that is what racing is all about, and it really pushes you to raise the bar every time you go out, which I love.”

The second Ferrari, driven by Kimi Raikkonen, will start from fourth but the best Red Bull could manage was fifth, with Daniel Ricciardo over a second back from the pole-sitter’s pace. Max Verstappen, suffering from a power problem in his Red Bull, was knocked out of Q1, and will be 17th on the grid.

Vettel, however, who started from second at Melbourne and went on to win, was optimistic for Sunday. “I think we can still improve. Let’s see what the race looks like tomorrow. The conditions will be quite different,” he said. “I think it should be an exciting race. The car is good, so I’m confident, no matter the conditions that the car is working, and we will try to do the fastest race.”

Hamilton has not driven on the full wet tyre this season, having not done so in testing due to an electrical fault on his car. Should the rain come on Sunday – and the forecast is that it is very likely – it will bring a fresh challenge.

“Tomorrow will be a new lesson for me to learn if it is wet and it will be interesting to see,” he said. “Ferrari have a very, very strong car, particularly a step up more so in the race pace and how they treat their tyres, particularly when it’s warm, so it will be interesting to see what the weather brings us tomorrow. Whatever the case it’s going to be close between us and that bodes well for one of the most exciting days to come for a long time.”

This was the 63rd pole position of Hamilton’s career, putting him only two behind Ayrton Senna and five behind Michael Schumacher in the single lap discipline. Hamilton’s time of 1.31.678 was two tenths in front of Vettel – with the new regulations having seen the previous lap record, 1.32.238, set by Schumacher in 2004, comprehensively demolished. The top four were separated by less than four tenths and clearly the pace Ferrari showed in Australia was not a one-off peculiar to Albert Park.

“It is more exciting than ever for me because we are really fighting with these guys,” said Hamilton. “It is amazing and that is what racing is all about, and it really pushes you to raise the bar every time you go out, which I love.

BRITISH F4

ERICSSON TO RACE IN BRITISH F4 WITH FORTEC MOTORSPORTS

Fortec Motorsports and Hampus Ericsson, younger brother of Formula 1 driver Marcus Ericsson, have agreed terms on a deal which will see the talented Swedish karter race in the F4 British Championship certified by FIA – powered Ford EcoBoost. Ericsson will compete in the series’ Ford F4 Challenge Cup where entrants contest a maximum of seven out of 10 meetings during the season.

“I’m really excited and happy to race in British F4 with Fortec Motorsports,” said Ericsson. “I cannot wait to start my first race at Donington Park.

“I wanted to make the step up from karting to cars and British F4 is the best place to do that. The championship is so competitive and the tracks look very interesting to drive.

“I raced with Alex Quinn in karting and he’s really strong. I also know Logan Sargeant well. To compete against talented drivers like them is what every driver wants to do to prove themselves.”

Ericsson finished runner-up in the Swedish Karting Championship’s KJ Junior class last year and in the top three in the Junior 60 class two years prior.

The 15-year-old joins fellow rookie Oliver York at Fortec Motorsports, who impressed in his maiden outing at the opening round of the UK’s leading single-seater series.

“I’m looking forward to racing alongside Oliver,” added Ericsson. “I think we can work really well together and achieve excellent results.”

Older brother Marcus was no stranger to success with the Fortec Motorsports team, winning the Formula BMW UK Championship in his rookie year and then recording a number of podiums with the team in Formula 3 before climbing his way up to Formula 1.

While Hampus will hope to emulate his brother, he’s keeping his feet firmly on the ground: “I did a couple of testing days in November with the team, but I definitely need to build up my experience of the car and that will happen as I do more and more laps.

“This year is very much a learning year. It will be my first year racing in cars. At the moment I’m not looking too far ahead in my career beyond British F4. I need to take things one step at a time, but it would be nice to be overtaking my brother Marcus in a Formula 1 race one day.”

Fortec Motorsports team owner Richard Dutton echoed the sentiments of his newest recruit: “2017 is very much a learning year for Hampus. He has missed pre-season testing so it’s not going to be easy for him, but we’re looking forward to the rounds at the end of the season to see how much he has developed. The first part of the year will definitely be about learning and building experience.

“Hampus has been very competitive throughout his karting career and I think he has the ingredients to succeed in cars. He set the lap record at the World Junior Karting Finals in Bahrain and performed very well so there’s no doubting his raw speed and talent.

“He tested with us in Valencia last November. It was his first time in the car, but he impressed. In an ideal world he would have done plenty of pre-season testing, but we’ll do the best we can.

“We have put together a very exciting programme for Hampus and I think he will become part of the Fortec Motorsports young driver programme too.”