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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

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.

F1Weekly podcast # 723

CLARK AND NASIR ARE SOOOO DELIGHTED WITH FERRARI’S WIN IN MELBOURNE AND CAN’T BELIEVE THE HONDA MCLAREN DISASTER NOW IN IT’S THIRD YEAR! TO CHEER UP FERNANDO WE HAVE A WONDERFUL CONVERSATION WITH FORMER FORMULA ONE DRIVER NICK HEIDFELD AND THE F1W GURU AT THE 12 HOURS OF SEBRING.

Nick Heidfeld was racing Motocross bikes with his brothers Tim and Sven before the age of five. He tried karting at a circuit near the Nurburgring and showed promise, and received his first kart when he was eight.

After eight years’ karting including European and World Championship competitions Heidfeld, aged 17, moved into the German Formula Ford championship. Eight wins from nine starts made him class champion in 1994. The following year he was International German Formula Ford champion and moved up to Formula Three.

He spent two years in the German F3 series with Opel Team BSR. The first season saw him take three wins and finish third overall, the title being won by future F1 driver Jarno Trulli Heidfeld returned in 1997 and went into the final two races at the Nurburgring three points behind Timo Scheider. But with a pair of wins Heidfeld snatched the title with 224 points to Scheider’s 218. He also won the Monaco Formula Three race.

He got his first Formula 1 test the same year with McLaren-Mercedes and moved up to Formula 3000 with the team’s support. Heidfeld finished runner-up to Juan Pablo Montoya in 1998, having won three times. The next year Heidfeld dominated the category, winning four of the first six races and comfortably beating Jason Watt to the title. He also made further testing appearances for McLaren and it was believed the team were grooming him for a race seat.

Prost

But when Heidfeld arrived in F1 in 2000 it was with Alain Prost’s team. It was a difficult debut with a slow, unreliable car and a very experienced team mate in Jean Alesi.

Heidfeld compared well with his team mate, but the pair collided in the Austrian Grand Prix when Alesi tried to pass him.

Sauber

The following season Heidfeld switched to Sauber where he partnered rookie Kimi Raikkonnen. Heidfeld scored his first podium on his third outing for the team and out-scored Raikkonen 12 points to nine, but McLaren were impressed by the young Finnish driver and signed him instead of Heidfeld to partner David Coulthard for 2002.

Heidfeld said: “It’s not a big disappointment especially because everyone has seen it coming over the last couple of weeks, but of course I was surprised. They should know what they are doing, but I don’t know – I don’t think I’ve done a lot wrong. I didn’t do a worse job than [Raikkonen].”

He stayed at Sauber for another two seasons, first with Felipe Massa as his team mate, then Heinz-Harald Frentzen. But the team were slipping down the field and Heidfeld found himself at Jordan in 2004. It was another team on the verge of being taken over but Heidfeld managed to claim a pair of points finishes.

Williams

That attracted the attention of Williams and engine partners BMW, who tested Heidfeld alongside Antonio Pizzonia for a 2005 race seat. Despite Pizzonia having driven for the team as a substitute in 2004, Heidfeld won the 2005 seat with support from BMW’s Mario Theissen.

Heidfeld quickly repaid their faith, scoring podiums at Sepang, Monte-Carlo (following a gutsy pass on Fernando Alonso) and the Nurburgring, having started from pole position at the latter. Late in the year he suffered a crash in testing at Monza and then a cycling accident, causing him to miss the final five rounds.

BMW

Jenson Button, Nick Heidfeld, 2008, Monte-Carlo, 470313

Williams and BMW went separate ways at the end of 2005, with BMW taking over Sauber to set up their own F1, team, and taking Heidfeld with them. He was comfortably quicker than Jacques Villeneuve in the first half of the season before the 1997 world champion was replaced by Robert Kubica.

Heidfeld got the new team on the podium at the Hungaroring but his rookie team mate was third at Monza. Heidfeld publicly admitted that Kubica had forced him to raise his game and as 2007 got under way it certainly looked as though he had.

With BMW comfortably the third quickest team Heidfeld was regularly chasing the McLarens and Ferraris and occasionally claiming a scalp – as when he passed Alonso at Bahrain to take fourth place off the McLaren driver. He ended the year fifth with 61 points to Kubica’s 39.

Heidfeld spent most of 2008 struggling to match Kubica’s pace, especially in qualifying. But he was extremely consistent, taking a classified finishing in every round and breaking Michael Schumacher’s record for most consecutive finishes. But he also extended his record for most second place finishes without a victory, while Kubica scored his and BMW’s maiden win at Montreal.

By the end of the year Heidfeld was back on terms with and even ahead of Kubica once again. The pair remained at BMW for 2009 but their new car was well off the pace and racing for wins was out of the question.

Heidfeld managed to out-score Kubica but with BMW quitting the sport both men moved on to new teams in 2010. Heidfeld joined the new Mercedes Grand Prix team as the reserve driver alongside race drivers Schumacher and Nico Rosberg.

Mercedes released Heidfeld halfway through 2010 so he could conduct tyre testing for new official F1 tyre suppliers Pirelli.

Sauber

Nick Heidfeld, Kamui Kobayashi, Sauber, Suzuka, 2010
Heidfeld reappeared at Sauber again in 2010 alongside Kamui Kobayashi

2010

Shortly afterwards he re-joined Sauber to replace Pedro de la Rosa for the final five races of the year.

However he was replaced by Sergio Perez at the end of the season.

Renault

Nick Heidfeld, Renault, Sepang, 2011
Heidfeld claimed a podium finish in Malaysia for Renault

2011

An opportunity to continue race in F1 presented itself when Kubica was badly injured in a rally accident in February.

Heidfeld was drafted in to take the Polish driver’s place at Renault from the start of the season.

His year got off to a promising start with a podium finish in Malaysia. But he tended to qualify behind junior team mate Vitaly Petrov and despite scoring most of the team’s points was dropped after 11 races.

[audio:http://www.podtrac.com/pts/redirect.mp3/mp3.f1weekly.com/podcasts/03-27-17f1weekly723.mp3]

DTM

GERHARD BERGER TAKES OVER FROM HANS WERNER AUFRECHT AS ITR CHAIRMAN

The world’s most popular touring-car series will be comprehensively enhanced

ITR is being restructured for the future: Today, former Grand Prix winner, BMW Motorsport Director and Formula One team co-owner Gerhard Berger was confirmed as Chairman of ‘Internationalen Tourenwagen Rennen e.V’ (ITR). He takes over from DTM founder Hans Werner Aufrecht who has been at the helm of the series for more than 30 years. In order to successfully enhance the series, Berger will work – in cooperation with the board and the advisory board of DTM – on setting the strategic course for a successful future of the world’s most popular touring-car series.

Gerhard Berger is looking forward to his new leading role at DTM: “I started my motor-racing career in touring-car racing and always followed DTM with a lot of interest. DTM is a top-class product with independent, powerful regulations, with strong manufacturers, top sponsors, important international partnerships and many fans. This is a good starting point with great potential for the future. The first task I will focus on in the coming weeks is gaining a deeper insight into the details with the support of my colleagues. We will then use this strong basis for creating a joint strategy for the future. While doing so, I consider the further development of our international partnerships – also with regards to new manufacturers –, spectacular racing cars that also command the drivers’ respect as well as a format combining both sport and entertainment as particularly important.”

As a highly successful long-term Formula One driver, Gerhard Berger completed 210 GPs among others for Benetton BMW, the Scuderia Ferrari and Honda McLaren from 1984 to 1997. After having retired from Formula One, he returned to the world of motor sport as BMW Williams Motorsport Director (1998 to 2003) and co-owner of Toro Rosso (2006 to 2008). Afterwards, he became President of the FIA single-seater commission (2012 to 2014). At the same time, Berger also pursued his career away from the racetrack: He is the owner of a company group based in Tyrol which focuses on vehicle construction and logistics. But he always remained closely connected to motor racing.

As ITR Vice-Chairman and CEO of ITR GmbH, Florian Zitzlsperger assumes the operational management of DTM. “We are glad to have a man as experienced as Gerhard Berger at the helm”, he said. “Due to both his outstanding experience in motor racing and as entrepreneur, he is the ideal successor of Hans Werner Aufrecht, who laid the strong basis for the planned enhancement of DTM. Without Hans Werner Aufrecht, DTM wouldn’t exist. For his passionate and successful work he deserves our maximum appreciation, our respect and our gratitude.”

As ‘the Father of DTM’, Hans Werner Aufrecht is inseparably connected with DTM: he left a unique mark on the popular touring-car series and was the driving force for it to achieve a leading position in international motor sport. Hans Werner Aufrecht explained: “I’m proud of what my colleagues and I experienced and achieved in the past three decades. But now it’s time to hand over this unique race series.”

Apart from Hans Werner Aufrecht, Hans-Jürgen Abt and Walter Mertes also resign from the ITR e.V. board. Nonetheless, both will remain closely connected to DTM: Hans-Jürgen Abt – just as before – as Team Principal of Audi Sport Team Abt Sportsline and Walter Mertes as partner for the series’ sponsorship relations. In addition, as current and future Managing Director of the ITR subsidiary ‘F3 GmbH’, Mertes is responsible for the marketing of the FIA F3 European Championship, which is considered the most successful feeder series for Formula One and DTM.

The change at the helm of DTM forms part of a comprehensive strategy aiming to further develop the touring-car series. The strategy is intended to be implemented gradually from this year onwards. The most important modifications of the technical regulations were announced recently and focus on more power, less downforce and softer dry-weather tyres. The modifications of the sporting regulations will be announced soon.