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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.”

FORMULA 1

WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING CHINESE GP PREVIEW

7th – 9th APRIL
SHANGHAI INTERNATIONAL CIRCUIT
ROUND 2 OF 20

Aerodynamic performance is tested at the Chinese Grand Prix thanks to the circuit’s 1km back straight and its combination of sweeping turns. The back straight is a great place for overtaking, but not the only opportunity on the track. The layout’s demanding
corners test the Pirelli tyre whilst fans cheer on their heroes in the 24,000 capacity grandstand.
An addition to the calendar in 2004, the first sequence of corners on the track have been described as one of the hardest in Formula One as fast entry speeds are quickly discarded under heavy breaking due to a tightening track for almost 270° before quickly changing direction. The Chinese Grand Prix is host to the continuing growing fan base in Asia.

For China, Pirelli has made available the supersoft, soft and medium tyres.

Paddy Lowe, Chief Technical Officer: “The Shanghai International Circuit is the first track this season which will test the all-round performance of the car and so we will arguably see a truer measure of the relative performance of the cars within the new regulations. It is a great track with some demanding high-speed corners and a long back straight which is traditionally good for overtaking, but requires good set-up to ensure speed can be carried onto the straight. It is great to be heading to China as there is a growing fan base with more local fans each season showing remarkable dedication to the sport. It is also an important race for us understand where we are in the Championship to address the challenges for the season with our continued aim to improve and make progress.”

Felipe Massa: It’s always nice to go to China. I really like the track. It has a very old style, with many high speed corners and one of the longest straights in Formula One. It’s definitely a fun track to drive. I also love the Chinese fans. They have a lot of love and whenever I leave my hotel they’re always outside waiting! So I’m really looking forward to seeing them all again.

Lance Stroll: This will be my first time in mainland China, as in the past I have just been to Macau where I raced in F3. I don’t know a lot about the circuit. I have only done some simulator work on the track, so I still have to wait to see what it is like in reality. However, I have watched some of the races there so have an idea about the scale of the track. After Melbourne, which is a narrow track, I am going to change my approach a bit as it is a little more forgiving with the large run off areas. Having said that, I shall just prepare in the normal way as well as I can for the race.

LAGUNA SECA

JENSON BUTTON TO DRIVE ICONIC MCLAREN M23 AT ROLEX MONTEREY MOTORSPORTS REUNION

McLaren ambassador Jenson Button will delight fans when he gets behind the wheel of Emerson Fittipaldi’s 1974 world championship-winning McLaren M23 at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion on August 17-20.

The event, held at the similarly iconic Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, represents all that is good and glorious about classic motorsport, with more than 550 historic entries on the race card for the weekend.

For Jenson, who notably drove the M23 at Silverstone and in London’s Leicester Square at the premiere of the Rush movie in 2013, the Monterey event will mark his first outing in Formula 1 machinery since hanging up his F1 helmet in Abu Dhabi at the end of 2016.

“It’s always special to drive a grand prix car with an illustrious history, and the M23 wrote one of the most significant chapters in motorsport history throughout much of the 1970s,” said Button. “It’s a somewhat strange sensation to drive a car from this era – you sit much more upright in the cockpit, and you feel like you could almost reach out of the cockpit and touch the front wheels. But, once you drive it, you quickly start to understand what made it so successful – it’s incredibly easy to drive, has a really consistent balance, and plenty of feel. Everything you put into it, you get out of it, which is very rewarding for a driver.”

The McLaren-Ford M23 contested 80 grands prix between 1973 and 1978, winning 16 grands prix and three world championships (1974 drivers’ and constructors’; 1976 drivers’).

“We are honored to host Jenson Button at the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion and showcase a car with such great history,” said Gill Campbell, CEO and general manager of Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. “Formula 1 is the pinnacle of racing advancement and Jenson’s spirited exhibition laps will provide a superb link to motorsport’s past that fans will assuredly enjoy.”

This year’s Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion honors the Diamond Jubilee of Formula Junior and the 70th anniversary of Ferrari, as well as celebrating the 60th anniversary of the raceway itself. The Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion has matured over the decades to become much more than a showcase of exemplary historic and period-correct cars racing at an iconic venue. It is a lifestyle experience where like-minded premium brands assemble to celebrate motoring’s finest cars with enthusiastic collectors, racers, fans, and journalists.

Advance hospitality, VIP, preferred parking and general admission tickets to the Rolex Monterey Motorsports Reunion are on sale at www.MazdaRaceway.com. For additional information, please call the Ticket Office at 831-242-8200.

FORMULA 1

RED BULL RACING ON FRIDAY PRACTICE IN MELBOURNE

DANIEL RICCIARDO
First Practice Session: 1:24.886, Position: 3, Laps: 19
Second Practice Session: 1:24.650, Position: 5, Laps: 27
“We looked pretty strong this morning and then we tried a few things this afternoon but I don’t think they worked in our favour. I’d like to learn a bit more from this afternoon’s session and then if we could pull all of that together with the strength of this morning I’ll be happy. Mercedes sure is quick but it’s more Lewis at the moment than Valtteri, who looks like he’s more in the group of Ferrari. I think we can be there as well. Pole might be a stretch but I think we can be in that next little group with the right set-up and the right lap in quali. If Lewis does the perfect lap then that’ll be a challenge to take the pole away from him but we’re not too far off. You certainly feel more traction with the new tyres. I thought the times would have been quicker though; this morning I felt a big chunk of grip but I was expecting low twenties. There is still time to improve tomorrow. I think the wind changes so that’ll make a quicker lap time but the traction is nice. It felt awesome to be out on the track this morning, I just felt I was back in my happy place and it was cool to already see so many fans on a Friday. It’s also a circuit I enjoy because it’s a fun layout. I think we can have a very good weekend from here.”

MAX VERSTAPPEN
First Practice Session: 1:25.246, Position: 4, Laps: 19
Second Practice Session: 1:25.013, Position: 6, Laps: 8
“Today was about trying to find and improve the balance of the car after getting out on track for the first Friday practice of the year. We are about where I expected us to be, we have some work to do overnight to make sure we are in a good position for tomorrow and can get the best out of the car. It was nice to try the RB13 for the first time here at Albert Park, it definitely felt faster and a bit more enjoyable through the corners, being a street circuit it will improve by qualifying quite a lot which means more fun for us. I ran wide and ended up on the grass which unfortunately damaged the floor and cut short the second session for me. Mercedes seem quick once again so they are the target to beat but we must also do some work overnight to be ahead of Ferrari who also look strong. Hopefully we will have a good start on Sunday, then we are at the front and can make it hard to overtake.”

F1Weekly podcast # 722

NASIR BRINGS BACK MORE INTERVIEWS FROM THE INDYCAR SERIES OPENER IN ST. PETERBURG FLORIDA AND THE 12 HOURS OF SEBRING. ON THIS EPISODE WE FEATURE AN INTERVEW WITH INDYCAR OWNER DALE COYNE AND…HERE ARE SOME WORDS FROM PADDY LOWE ON THE F1 SEASON OPENER DOWN UNDER.

Paddy Lowe:
It is an exciting time of year for everyone in Formula One including the huge number of fans around the world, as we head to Australia for the first race of the season. This year is particularly exciting as the regulations have changed substantially concerning the bodywork of the cars and the dimensions of the tyres, so we expect to see quicker cars and far more challenging racing for the drivers.

Coming back to the paddock has that feeling of being “back to school” after our winter away: everybody energised for the new season ahead, meeting friends again and welcoming new faces. I always feel that the first qualifying session of the year is the most intense and interesting hour in the entire Formula One calendar, as that is the point when all the smoke and mirrors of winter testing must stop and the real pace is finally put on the table. It is only then that we will see how the cars and drivers perform and get our first true indication of the season which will unfold.

The race itself is always eventful with more than the usual degree of incident and car failure as the cars and drivers engage in their first competition of the year. And the spectators bring extra enthusiasm to Albert Park, many of them having come from all over the world to see this first race of the F1 season. From a technical point of view, the tyres for this year’s race are not only wider but also softer – having the ultrasoft in play at Melbourne for the first time – so we will without doubt see some record breaking lap times this weekend and perhaps more evidence of driver fatigue in the race than we have seen in recent years.

For me personally, I’m very happy to be back at Williams, the team where I started my Formula One career. We have a very talented group of people here and two great drivers with whom I haven’t worked before, so I’m looking forward to stepping into the paddock with them in Melbourne to start the 2017 season.

[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/mp3.f1weekly.com/podcasts/03-20-17f1weekly722.mp3]

FORMULA 1

SAHARA FORCE INDIA DRIVERS AUSTRALIAN GP PREVIEW

Sergio Perez revs up for the new season and one of his favourite races in the calendar.

Sergio: “The first race of the year is always good fun. We’ve had a long winter to recharge the batteries, but now I just want to go racing again. Australia is the best place to start the season: it’s a great country and I really enjoy going there. There is so much to do in Melbourne and it’s a fun weekend, even if it’s busier than some of the other races.

“It’s important not to get distracted: we want to start well and get back into the race weekend rhythm, and get on with our work. The track itself is quite enjoyable and it’s a challenge to drive because it’s almost a street circuit. It starts the weekend very green and as you go on, you get more grip and more confidence in your new car.

“I am confident we can do well and score points from the first race: Australia is a place where anything can happen and we have seen some very unpredictable races there in the past. You never know what opportunities turn up in a race so you have to be ready at all times to take them.”

Esteban Ocon prepares for his Sahara Force India debut and his first full season in Formula One.

Esteban: “I am feeling great after a long winter and I’m very excited to go to Melbourne. It will be the first time racing at Albert Park for me, so I do not really know the track, but last year I went there and I liked what I could see. It’s a proper old-school track and those are the sorts of circuit I really enjoy. Of course it’s not easy when you don’t know the track in advance, so it’s especially important to learn quickly in the Friday sessions and listen to the feedback from the engineers – whether it’s where I can be faster or where we can make the car quicker. I think I have all the tools and all the people around me to do that.

“Joining this team has gone very smoothly from my perspective. The team welcomed me and made me feel at ease straight away. I feel very comfortable about the way we work and I feel this will help me give my best in Australia.

“I think we did a good job as a team during winter testing and I also feel confident because of all the simulator work we did over the winter. We continue to push on the simulator and I was at the factory a few days ago doing the final preparation for Melbourne. I was very open to the team – I told them I’d be available at HQ as much as they needed me over the winter and I feel satisfied with the work we’ve done together so far. I think we’re on track to extract everything we can from the car, which is our objective. We’ll go out and do the best we can and see where we are.”