MAX VERSTAPPEN, Finish Position: DNF, Start Position: 6th “I had a good start, Kimi struggled a bit off the line so I passed him straight away and then I went round the outside at turn one and overtook Daniel which put me in a good position. After that I could keep up with the leaders, the car was performing really well on the tyres and the pace was good. I think we made the right call with the pit stop to try and undercut the two Mercedes but then the rear brakes failed on lap 12 and it was race over. These things are all a part of racing and there are definitely positives to take away from today. The car was working a lot better here than the previous two races so it’s just an unfortunate ending as we could have scored some really good points.”
DANIEL RICCIARDO, Finish Position: 5th, Start Position: 4th “For me it was a race of two halves really. At the beginning of the race I genuinely thought we had a chance to win. That stint was looking very competitive and I could see Valtteri was struggling. I was at the tail end of the front pack and I could see everyone else in front of me. They were sliding and looked like they were struggling more. It was quite easy for me to stay there and I was looking after my tyres, so at that point I was thinking it could be on today, not only for a podium but for a win. The safety car worked for me in that we jumped up to third but it wasn’t so good for our tyres and that’s where we lost a lot of ground. Even once we settled into a pace and the chaos settled we fell back and I was struggling with grip at the front and rear. We never really got that tyre working for us today.”
CHRISTIAN HORNER, Team Principal: “After an exciting opening to the race up to the first pit stops, our cars looked in good contention with Max having made a good start. He managed to move up a couple of places and we pitted reasonably early for an undercut but unfortunately shortly after a rear brake pressure issue caused his immediate retirement which brought out the safety car. We stopped Daniel under the safety car but lost some time behind Lewis as he deliberately slowed in the pit lane for which he was later penalized. Nonetheless we were still able to get out ahead of him and at that stage for the restart we were third on the road. It became very quickly apparent that Daniel struggled to warm up the soft tyre compared to our competitors and dropped several places before recovering one against Massa. With the final stint on the supersoft tyre unfortunately fifth place was the best that we could achieve today.”
Oliver Rowland has topped the timesheets in the first FIA Formula 2 Championship free practice session with a blistering lap under scorching conditions this morning at the Bahrain International Circuit in Sakhir, leading the way for most of the session by less than a tenth from Artem Markelov and Charles Leclerc.
The Briton stopped the clocks at 1:42.221 just nine minutes into the session, which opened under a cloudless sky, with track temperatures at 45˚C as the lights went green to open the session. All of the drivers headed straight out onto the circuit to get the day started, with Johnny Cecotto setting the first competitive lap 6 minutes in, before being usurped by Nobuharu Matsushita next time round.
Rowland stole the top spot on the next lap, as Markelov (0.092s) and Antonio Fuoco (0.160s) following in his wake. With such extreme temperatures and serious tyre wear at the desert circuit there was little chance of improvement, although Leclerc had clearly saved some tyres for a quick run at the 15 minute mark to nab P3 by a hundredth from his teammate.
The second half of the session was focused on race pace, leaving little opportunity for a change on the timesheet, with the only excitement revolving around a few drivers being caught out by the heat as they stopped at the end of the pitlane for practice starts, putting the marshals to work pushing the stricken cars back across the line for their teams to restart.
Behind the top three Fuoco, Norman Nato, Luca Ghiotto, Nyck De Vries, Johnny Cecotto and Matsushita all posted times within a second of the top spot, and will be hoping to find a small margin in the cooler conditions for this evening’s qualifying session.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.