EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: GUANYU ZHOU ON F1 DEBUT AND MONACO WIN

Guanyu Zhou is a highly accomplished Formula 2 driver who is currently leading the championship. This weekend, Zhou will be making his Formula 1 debut during FP1 of the Austrian Grand Prix – temporarily taking the seat of Alpine’s Fernando Alonso.

As a member of the Alpine driver academy since 2019, Zhou has worked his way up from development driver to test driver. Currently in his third season of Formula 2 with UNI-Virtuosi racing, Zhou has won at Monaco (one of the most fabled and historic venues in all of motorsport) and is making great strides towards racing full time in Formula 1. On the verge of creating history, our founder Sage sat down with Guanyu Zhou for an exclusive interview.

Read on as Zhou talks about his inspirations, influences, words of advice, the win at Monaco and his F1 debut at Austria:

Zhou gets a run in the 2017 Renault F1 Car at the Red Bull Ring

Sage: How old were you when you were introduced to the motorsport world and who were your biggest influences?

Zhou: Since I was a young kid, around five to six years old, I loved playing around with my toy cars – watching cartoon movies about cars as well. So all that stuff got me my first opportunity to jump in a go-kart at 7 years old, and I absolutely loved it the first time I tried it. At 8 years old, my family bought me my first-ever go-kart to start doing proper racing in Shanghai. That’s how we started. My father himself loves cars, but as a young kid, they gave me the choice to do what I like, and I just love the noise and love the speed going around corners.

Zhou taking a win at the Super One Rotax Series

Sage: Are there any specific lessons or words of advice you learned during these times go-karting that you still live by today? Maybe a life’s motto?

Zhou: Yeah definitely. The one I remember most from karting days, first of all, is that my first ever go-kart race, at the age of eight, and basically, one guy behind me misjudged his braking point and flew past me [hitting] my shoulder and my helmet. I had a mechanical failure, so I had to retire from the race. When I took off my suit, my right shoulder was completely bleeding and was hurting a lot. So I had to go to the hospital to get a few stitches, and that’s the day when my family asked me whether I want to continue because it was quite dangerous. And I still replied yes while doing the stitches. So that’s something I remember a lot. And another thing is back to when I was racing in Europe in 2013, I won my championship at the very last round, so I learnt from that never give up and do the best you can.

Sage: In 2012 you moved to the UK, looking for a more competitive racing environment. What, if any, were the greatest challenges you faced during this time?

Zhou: In 2012 when I moved to the UK, the level of the drivers was a lot higher, and the pack was a lot closer. 0.2s you could be from P1 to P15. I was facing a lot of challenges because I tried to learn as much as I could. As a rookie, I always take it as motivation, try to put as much effort as I could into my testing, and in one years time, I went from a top 15 runner to a top 5 runner. So that was quite a good step I made forward, but there’s a lot of effort I have to put in behind the scenes.

Kartcom Euro Challenge Castelletto: Zhou on pole in Seniors

Sage: The people who you once beat in go-karts, such as Lando Norris, are now the people doing great things in Formula One. Does this affect you in any way? And how determined are you to beat them once again?

Zhou: Yeah definitely. Having raced with a lot of people, I mean, I raced with Lando when I was in my karting days and most of my formula single-seater career. Seeing him doing well in Formula One, proves that the level of go-karts, of motorsports and formula racing I’m taking, is the best way possible to prepare to be great or the fastest Formula One driver in the future, so actually it gives me a lot of motivation, so I know I have to do well in each series I’m in. I’m trying to come out as an even better driver. And on the other hand, I think it proves that every category I’m driving in is the most competitive category possible, so that can actually help improve your driving skills a lot.

Sage: Thinking back to 2015, you showed great consistency, scoring many podiums in the Italian Formula 4 championship on your way to becoming vice-champion, how did you manage to maintain this consistency? – Especially whilst racing the likes of Shwartzman and Beckmann.

Zhou: Back in 2015, my first year in formula cars, it wasn’t an easy year as a rookie driver, but you know, we showed our speed. We had the potential to win the Italian Championship, but I had one big incident, which forced me to use my spare engine for the rest of the season. So I was behind a little bit. But the whole season was quite consistent, we were scoring podiums every round, to be always possible fighting for pole positions as well. There’s nothing special rather than just to keep my focus, keep my momentum on every track we go, no matter if it’s a new track or an old one. I try to analyse what’s the best way or the best lane to take, and I try to be fast from the beginning.

Zhou’s 3rd win out of 3 in Italian F4

Sage: As a ‘professional athlete’ as well as an inspiration to many, I’m sure the pressure of these expectations can become a strain on your mental health. Do you have any advice as to how you deal with this extra pressure and stress?

Zhou: Obviously as a professional driver, there’s a lot of stress going on, particularly at each race start, safety car restart and in a qualifying lap, especially in Formula Two, you only have one lap to do your qualifying, and it’s so important to qualify in the top ten. There’s a lot going on, like mental stress obviously. Firstly, you have to have the experience, the other thing is that you have to always trust yourself, you can’t think of something that you are a little bit weak too much, you have to always find a way to go through this tough moment. Once you’re through it, you’ll feel confident and quite a lot stronger. And every start you try to give it maximum focus. Before the race, I only focus on the start, and during the race, I only focus on making no mistakes.

Sage: In scoring your first pole position in Formula Two, you also became the first Chinese driver to do so. How does this monumental achievement feel to you and how much more does this mean because you are representing China?

Zhou: To represent China, to be the only Chinese driver in Formula Two in these five years at least, and to be doing well, showing the world that as a Chinese driver, I prove myself to be a title contender, I can be a race winner. That gives me a lot of boosts to show all my potential for reaching my ultimate dream, becoming a Formula One driver. And it shows all the work I’ve done in the past has paid off as well. I just have to keep working hard, to keep achieving more and more, and making my country more proud.

Zhou became the first Chinese Driver to score a pole position in Formula 2 at the British GP ’19

Sage: Is there something you want to say to your fans and supporters? Do you constantly feel the love of the Chinese community following you?

Zhou: To all my fans, I have to say big thanks for all the support. Guys who follow me since I was young in Formula Four, huge thanks to all of you. The other people who just start following me since Formula Two these days, I have to say thank you as well. And all this support means a lot to me, giving me a lot of boost and motivation. To all the people who believe one day that I could be in Formula One as well. In the end, I have to say that I hope everyone can support people that are chasing their dream, especially myself to represent China is not easy in Europe. I’m trying to do my best, so hopefully one day my dream can come true, making you proud of me.

Sage: This season is your third season in Formula 2, and there is most likely a chip on your shoulder that you have to win the championship this year to have an opportunity in F1. You’re doing great right now sitting in first in the driver’s championship, but has this extra pressure affected you in any way?

Zhou: I mean this year it’s actually good so far. Looking at the rounds [in] Monaco and Baku, I didn’t expect to be leading the championship so far. So that’s actually a good start because all the tracks after I am really comfortable with. On the other hand, this pressure on my shoulder, as I had in Asian F3 early season, a car I [had never driven] before, everybody expects me to win, but it wasn’t easy for me, I have to really work hard for it because other drivers know the car better than me. And for this year, I have to do well, have to show my potential, which we already did so far, and I have to continue this momentum. And also I think winning the championship gives me [a good] opportunity to jump in Formula One, but to be in the top three, I think I still have a chance to try to find a seat in Formula One. But what I focus on right now is getting that F2 championship.

Zhou winning at Monaco ’21

Sage: How does it feel to win in Monaco?

Zhou: To win in Monaco is so special. I think it’s one of my most unforgettable or happiest victories ever. It’s such a special place, such a special area that every driver would love to step on the special podium. And on the Monaco track, you cannot make any mistake, you have to be 100% accurate, 100% focused for the whole distance. I just feel so happy that I achieved the win in Monaco.

Sage: How do you feel about getting the opportunity to drive Fernando’s car in Austria? Do you think you’re ready for the big stage?

Zhou: It’s going to be a great stage for me and I’m super excited to jump in the Formula One car as I have [worked very hard] for this opportunity. My plan is to enjoy the moment and to complete all the targets the team has set for me. I will prove myself as much as I can to show my pace and momentum.

We thank Zhou for his time and hope that he has a great weekend and a successful season of racing ahead. Be sure not to miss him drive his first laps in a Formula One car at the Red Bull Ring at 10:30 am BST this Friday!

Also a huge thank you to Bruna Brito, Aiden Hover and Tanishka Vashee for helping to make this interview happen! As well as the whole DIVEBOMB team!

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Breaking news: Sprint Races to be held at 3 Grands Prix this season

For 2021, there will be a brand new weekend structure at 3 grands prix this season. 

Written by DJ Byrne, Edited by Sam Stewart

At the end of 2020, sprint races were being talked about as something potentially coming into Formula 1, as soon as 2021. 

Following lengthy discussions about holding 3 sprint races, Formula One have officially announced that for 3 races in the 2021 season there will be 

  • Friday – A single 60 minute practice session, followed by the standard qualifying format to determine the grid for the sprint race
  • Saturday – A second 60 minute practice session, followed by a 100Km sprint race to set the grid for the Sunday race
  • Sunday – the race as normal

As of now, there will only be championship points awarded for the top 3 in the sprint races (going from 3-2-1), and only the normal point system for the race. 

Similar to formula 2, there will be no mandatory pit stop in the sprint races.

There is expected to be money attached as compensation for the teams of damages occur etc.

The sprint race qualifying will be a 100km race on Saturday at Silverstone, Monza & Interlagos, but with Covid-19, this is subject to change if any cancellations occur. 

Slick Nyck Wins the Spanish ePrix

After a gruelling and, most certainly, entertaining qualifying session, it was Antonio Felix da Costa starting on pole. Mercedes EQ’s driver and Mercedes-AMG Petronas reserve driver, Stoffel Vandoorne, almost got a taste of pole before a tyre infringement relegated him to the back of the grid. His teammate, Nyck De Vries, starts the race from eighth after a five-place grid penalty for clashing with Oliver Rowland and Sam Bird in Rome. The championship leaders, however, found themselves starting from the back of the grid, with Sam Bird down in 21st and Mitch Evans in 18th.

Written By Hafiz Akbar, Edited By Janvi Unni

The race starts off well for the DS Techeetah driver, keeping his place in front of the pack and pulling away nicely from the grid. Soon after, Sebastien Buemi had to abandon the race due to a collision with TAG Heuer Porsche driver, Andre Lotterer. He was then slapped with a drive-thru penalty.

Just five minutes later, another DNF occurred as Max Guenther, the BMW i Andretti driver, lost control of his car and ran off into the gravel subsequently trapping him. That brought his race to an early end. The Mini Pacesetter safety car had to be brought out to assist the full-course yellow.

With fourteen minutes to the end of the race, Sergio Sette Camara was tapped by Jaguar Racing’s Kiwi driver, Mitch Evans. This caused him to spin and that trapped his car in the gravel, forcing him to retire. In the same minute, Mitch Evans also retired because of damage to the bit where he tapped Sette Camara at. This prompted the safety car to be pulled out.

In the last seven minutes, Evans and Sette Camara, along with Vandoorne and Muller, were investigated for causing a collision in separate instances. Vandoorne was slapped with a five second penalty, whilst Evans was not penalised since he’d already retired by the time the investigation took place.

Ultimately, after a long and wet race, the first one in Formula E history, Nyck De Vries went on to win the Spanish ePrix in the last lap as Da Costa ran out of juice in his battery. He didn’t just lose out the podium in the last lap but also the podium places, with Oliver Rowland and Alexander Sims finishing the race second. But since the regulations require the cars to still have some battery power after the race, some of the drivers were DSQ’ed and as such, the podium positions went to Nyck De Vries, Nico Muller, and Stoffel Vandoorne, who started from the last place in the grid.

The highlight of the race was definitely the last lap, where the drivers were running out of juice just moments before the race ended. Nyck De Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne were waiting for this moment to pounce and surge up the order and eventually get the double podium for Mercedes EQ, especially the surge by Vandoorne to get up from dead last to a podium finish is just something magical, some Sakhir-Sergio Perez-esque driving that.

With the race concluded, De Vries tops the driver standings with 57 points and Vandoorne followed closely in second with 48.

Will we see another Mercedes domination? I sure hope not.

Happy Birthday Romain Grosjean!

Today marks Romain Grosjean’s 35th birthday and we at DIVEBOMB want to wish him all the best by taking a brief look at this time in Formula One.

Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Hazel Alagappan

Romain’s junior career

Before making the step up to the pinnacle of motorsport, Romain enjoyed much success in the junior categories. In 2005, he would command the French Formula Renault championship, which earned him a place in the Renault driver academy. In 2007, the Frenchman would win the Formula 3 Euro Series driver’s championship before winning the inaugural GP2 Asia championship. Romain would achieve 4th in his first season of GP2 as well as being confirmed as Renault’s test driver for 2008. 

This role would allow Romain Grosjean to make his Formula One debut at the European Grand Prix in 2009, where he would finish 15th. He would struggle in his debut half-season with Renault as, out of 7 races, he would retire from 2 and achieve a best finish of 13th in Brazil. Following his poor first stint in Formula One, Renault would replace Romain Grosjean with Vitaly Petrov for the 2010 season, leaving him without a drive.

Romain Grosjean in 2009

Romain’s return

Fortunately, the Geneva born driver landed a seat in sporting cars with Matech Competition to drive their Ford GT in the GT1 world championship. He would perform well, winning 2 races and finishing second once as well as achieving consistent top 10 results. Midway through the season, however, Romain would leave sporting cars to make his return in GP2 with Dams to replace Jerome D’Ambrosio for the second half of the season. He would return full time in 2011 and would win the championship. During this 2011 season, Grosjean was announced as one of the test drivers for the newly formed Lotus Formula One team and in December, it was announced that he would make his comeback to Formula One to partner Kimi Raikkonen for the 2012 season.

Romain Grosjean trying his hand in sporting cars

Romain’s time with Lotus

He began his second Formula One stint with a bang as he qualified third for the opening round in Australia. He would unfortunately not finish the race, however, following a collision with Pastor Maldonado. Romain Grosjean would achieve his first podium following a well driven race in Bahrain and would do one better in Canada, finishing second behind Lewis Hamilton. It appeared as though Lotus had built a formidable car for 2012 and Romain was utilising it well to fight at the front. He would run second for much of the Grand Prix in Valencia, but would retire due to a technical fault. In Germany, Romain would become the first French driver to qualify on the front row of the grid since Jean Alesi in 1999 as he qualified second and would go on to finish on the podium yet again. Grosjean was making a name for himself in the world of Formula One and the eyes of the top teams were noticing.

Romain Grosjean on the podium in Bahrain

After the summer break, however, Romain would cause a horrendous first corner crash at Spa which would see the elimination of multiple championship contenders in Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Romain would be to blame for this after causing the initial contact with Hamilton and would receive a one race ban. Having supposedly learnt from his mistake, Romain made his return in Japan in a similar way to how he ended his race in Belgium. Mark Webber would label the Frenchman as a ‘first lap nutcase’ as Romain had taken the Australian out following an optimistic move on the first lap of the race. He would be involved in yet another incident in Abu Dhabi as well as in São Paulo. 

Horrendous crash caused by Romain Grosjean at Spa in 2012

Prove them wrong

Grosjean would remain at Lotus for 2013, despite his poor end to 2012. Romain returned to form this year achieving an impressive 6 podiums throughout the season. Three of which would come in succession in Korea, Japan, and India with a best season finish being achieved in the USA as he would finish second, narrowly beating out Mark Webber. 2013 wasn’t all great, however, as at Monaco that year, Romain would crash three times just in practice leading to Eric Boulier telling his driver to ‘wake up.’ He would qualify 13th but would end his race after crashing into the rear of Daniel Ricciardo which earned him a 10-place-grid penalty.

Lotus failed to adapt to the overhauled regulations for the 2014 Formula One season and so Romain struggled with a poor car, only achieving 8 points. For 2015, Lotus produced a much better car with the Frenchman achieving consistent points finishes and 1 podium at Spa. This would be his last season with Lotus, however, as it was announced that Romain Grosjean would be joining the new Haas Formula One team for the 2016 season.

Romain Grosjean following his podium in Belgium

A fresh start with Haas

In his first race for his new team, Romain would finish sixth to record Haas F1’s first points. 2016 was truly a season of foundation building as Grosjean set to establish himself as team leader and saw the opportunity to build the team around him as he finished the season with 29 points. Sticking with Haas for 2017, and with a new teammate in Kevin Magnussen, Romain again completed a solid season with 28 points overall.

2018 saw Haas take a crucial step forwards as the car was consistently in the mid-field. Grosjean, however, would be criticised as he often made avoidable mistakes, such as in Azerbaijan, where he would crash out from a points-paying position behind the safety car. Also, in Spain, he would spin on the opening lap and in the process would take out several other drivers as many likened him to his clumsy 2012 self. He showed glimpses of greatness despite this, with a fourth place in Austria. He would finish the year with 37 points.

Romain Grosjean scored points in his first race for Haas in Australia

Beginning of the end

Haas, in 2019, was joined by a controversial new title sponsor in Rich Energy, which saw the car decorated in a black and gold livery, in an echo of Romain’s time at Lotus. 2019 yet again saw Grosjean plagued by reliability issues and poor performance. He didn’t help his case with constant driver errors, including several incidents with his own teammate. This came to the forefront in Britain, where the pair came together on the opening lap causing both to retire. Both cars retiring was bad enough, but matters were made worse as Romain was running an older spec car to help the team understand their issues, but the plan was destroyed with both cars failing to complete the race. It followed an embarrassing crash in practice where Romain had spun in the pitlane. He would finish the season with 8 points.

Romain Grosjean spun in the pitlane at Silverstone

Romain Grosjean would remain with Haas for 2020 where he would struggle even more. Other than the floundering Williams team, Haas was consistently at the back of the grid. The Frenchman would achieve only one points finish at the Eifel Grand Prix at the Nurburgring with a ninth-place finish. It was announced mid-season that Grosjean’s contract would not be renewed with the team and Romain would leave the sport after 2020. His season came to an abrupt end at Bahrain. On the opening lap of the race, Romain came together with the Alpha Tauri of Danil Kvyat. This contact sent the Haas into the barrier at great speed, ripping the chassis into two and igniting the car into a fiery inferno. Romain miraculously climbed out of the car and over the barrier in less than half a minute, despite the 67G impact. This crash saw the end of Romain Grosjean’s Formula One career, for now, as he missed the final two rounds of the championship due to his injuries.

Romain Grosjean escaping his wrecked Haas in Bahrain

Moving past Formula One

Romain Grosjean, whilst not always the cleanest or fastest driver on track, was well known for being an incredibly humble and thoughtful person. Being a director of the Grand Prix Drivers Association since 2017, Romain was thought highly off and respected by his fellow drivers and will be sorely missed from the grid.

For 2021, Romain Grosjean will be making his debut in IndyCar to complete a part-time schedule with Dale Coyne Racing. We at DIVEBOMB, wish him and his family all the best on his future endeavours and a very happy birthday.

Romain wearing a helmet designed by his children.

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Check out our Imola GP qualifying rundown by clicking here. Be sure to also check out our recent interview with Gabriel Casagrande by clicking here.

Imola Gp Qualifying Rundown

Saturday has been a mixed bag for most of the drivers on the grid. Sir Lewis Hamilton got the job done, stealing the pole position from Sergio Perez by just 0.036 seconds. The session started off with proceedings favouring Valtteri Bottas, but fumbles in Q3 forced the Finn to settle with P8.

Written By Tanishka Vashee, Edited By Aiden Hover

Lando Norris looked fast and was ready to pose a threat to Hamilton, setting brilliant purple sectors for a provisional P2 finish, but track limits led to the deletion of his time, putting him P7, behind his teammate Daniel Ricciardo.

Sergio Perez, who was gaining pace with every session, managed to use the momentum of consecutive good runs to shoot him up to P2, with his teammate Max Verstappen in P3. Ferrari brought in new floor upgrades to Imola and put up a good performance with driver Charles Leclerc qualifying fourth, narrowly beating Pierre Gasly who qualified an impressive Fifth. Gasly’s rookie teammate, Tsunoda, crashed into the wall in Q1, causing a red flag. He will be starting at the back of the grid tomorrow.

The Alfa Romeo garage didn’t look too happy, with both of their drivers being knocked out in Q1. Antonio Giovinazzi will be starting P17, behind Kimi Raikkonen. The rookie pairing of Mick Schmacher and Nikita Mazepin at Haas will be starting at P18 and P19 Respectively. 

George Russell managed to achieve William’s best qualifying in some time with a very impressive 12th place, whilst fellow Williams driver, Nicholas Latifi, will be starting P14. Sebastian Vettel seemed to be having a rather rough session and had to settle for P13, while his teammate Lance Stroll qualified P10.

Fernando Alonso was outqualified by a teammate for the first time since 2017, as he finished P15 with his teammate Estaban Ocon starting tomorrow’s race in P13. Ferrari’s Carlos Sainz will start P11 – the Spaniard looked visibly disappointed by his result.

The Emilia Romagna Grand Prix will start at 12:00 UTC tomorrow. We will expect to see an intriguing contest between Hamilton and both of the charging RedBulls, whilst teammate Valtteri Bottas starts the race all the way down in P8.

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Check out our preview for the Imola Grand Prix by clicking here. Be sure to also check out our recent interview with Gabriel Casagrande by clicking here.

Codemasters drop F1 2021® Announce Trailer

Codemasters have released the announce trailer for the Formula One licensed. F1 2021 game. The announce trailer shows little but here is what we have learned.

Written by Sam Stewart, edited by Aiden Hover

Braking point 

A new, previously leaked, gamemode will be introduced to the game called Braking Point, as a play on words to the phrase ‘breaking point.’ The trailer shows an animation involving a Formula One car crashing and a fight between drivers. This seemingly indicates that the gamemode will follow the ever-changing drama of the sport, in a way that F1 games have been yet to replicate. In F1 2019® we saw the introduction of Devon Butler and Lukas Weber as characters to create drama, something we may see returning for the 2021 edition of the game.

Co-op career mode

Something that has been highly requested by the F1 game community since its removal some years ago is co-op seasons. Co-op seasons will allow players to play with their friends online, something that will be gratefully received by the F1 community.

Real-season start

An unexpected addition to this game is the ‘real-season start’ mode. This allows players to select a driver and jump into the F1 2021 season with real-time constructors and drivers championship standings. This will allow players to try and take their favourite driver to the title in a realistic manner.

Release date

The most important thing revealed was the release date of July 16, the weekend of the British Grand Prix.

A conversation with Gabriel Casagrande 

Gabriel Casagrande is a 26-year-old Brazilian racing driver who races in the Brazilian Stock Car series and will be re-joining the Vogel team for 2021. He sat down with us to talk about his life and career as a racing driver and what he aims to achieve as he returns to the team that gave him his Stock Car debut in 2017.

Interview conducted and transcribed by Bruna Brito, Edited by Aiden Hover

1) How did the passion for racing come about?

A: It was natural, I remember first becoming interested when I was 5 or 6 years old watching F1 and cheering for Rubinho [Rubens Barrichello].

2) Have you always had your parent’s support and the support of friends and family to pursue a racing career? 

A: No, at first they didn’t support me and even tried hard to stop it, but after they were bitten by the racing bug, they started to like it. My mother was very scared and my father knew about the risks involved with entering this sport.

3) What were the biggest difficulties at the beginning of your career? Did you feel any pressure to always show an example in the races?

A: The pressure to be exemplary was already inside the house, thinking about my attitudes towards home, either in life or on the track. At first, I had to give up a lot of things that teenage life offers in order to race – but I feel that everything was worth it.

4) If you were not a driver, what other profession or career would you like to have followed?

A: I really like football and music, working with that would be really cool, but I have no talent for either of these two passions! I think I chose the right side, and being a teacher or working in entertainment also pleases me.

5) Go Karting definitely forms a base for most drivers and you were clearly very good at it. How was this period of great achievement? Which of them is the most striking? Are there any lessons learned during this time that you still carry with you?

A: It was the best time of my life, my only concern was getting good grades at school so I could go to train and run more. And then on the track, the obligation was to have total dedication, that I take that with me forever. Whatever my task, you will have total dedication and a lot of dedication on my part. The biggest achievement in karting was the 2012 Brazilian championship in the Graduates category, where the best drivers in the country competed. I won other cool championships, but this one made me sure that I was at a very high level.

6) What is it like for you to deal with defeats or less than satisfactory results?

A: That is something all drivers have to learn to deal with from an early age, as we have much more defeats than joys in motorsport. At first, it took me a long time to achieve expressive results, but after you get used to it, not winning is complicated. When we go to a different category, which often needs an adaptation period, it is difficult not to be affected by the drop in results.

7) How do you generally prepare for the season? Training, food, etc…

A: I feel good when preparing myself physically, I like to train at the gym every day and also practice all kinds of sports. The fashion today is beach tennis, so this one I practice a lot, combined with football and go-kart, which I never let go of. In food, I am strict during the week, but on weekends I free myself and have a barbeque, which I like very much. I don’t follow a very restrictive diet because I believe I should be happy, and eating everything is very good.

8) What is your opinion on simulators? Do you train on any?

A: I really like the simulators, I started to run them in 2008 in a game called Live For Speed, which for me has the best tyre physics of the simulators to date. I think the equipment is becoming very expensive, and what was supposed to be a hobby for those who were unable to participate in real motoring ended up being unfeasible as well. Of course, it is still possible to participate, but we know that the equipment makes a lot of difference. I like to play iRacing and use Automobilista 2 to train with the StockCar, although I think it is far from reality. I play to have fun – not to prepare.

9) Who are your biggest motorsport idols?

A: When I was a kid, I grew up watching [Michael] Schumacher and Rubinho [Barrichello] dominating for Ferrari. I liked them a lot and I have a great affection for Rubinho because he is Brazilian. After I started watching videos on the internet, I started to admire Senna a lot, who I never had the opportunity to watch live.

10) What track do you dream of running one day?

A: LeMans. I really like long races and I think that one is the most glamorous.

11) Have you received speeding tickets away from the track?

A: Unfortunately, yes. Here in Brazil, we have speed cameras everywhere – even in places where we could walk faster without posing any risk. They are installed there just to get some of our money.

12) What is the model of your first car? And what is the dream model?

A: My first car was a Golf GTI, which served me perfectly and was what I liked the most. My dream car is a Jaguar F-Type, but for that, I will have to work a little more haha!

13) What is your favorite helmet design?

A: I really like my design, it is simple and I change very little year after year.

14) Why did you choose number 83?

A: When I was karting in 2008,  I had to choose a number that has never had a history of competition in the family. At that time Grêmio, a team very close to my heart, was doing well and they used this number a lot in promotional items thanks to the 1983 world title, so I decided to adopt it as my number on track.

15) How did it feel to compete for the first time in Stock Cars? How were the days leading up to this new chapter in your career?

A: It was really cool when I got the news that I was going to make my debut in StockCar. I was very young and I knew it would be difficult, but I qualified in the middle of the pack in my first classification. It was cool because everyone wanted to help me in some way, the drivers there are very receptive, as bullsh*t only starts once you have competed in the category for some time. The race was in Cascavel, near my hometown, and my whole family was there. I was a little nervous but after I got in the car, everything seemed to come to me naturally.

16) Motor racing, despite appearing to be an individual sport, relies heavily on the team aspect. What were the biggest surprises you saw when you joined the team and became a member of the talented StockCar grid? And how do you work with the team to achieve the desired results?

A: Motor racing is the most collective individual sport that exists. I’ve had episodes in which I was harmed by a member of the team and also ones in which I was saved by the quick reasoning and attitude of the members, we are not just those drivers inside, we have more than 15 people forming the mechanics behind a StockCar. I like to maintain a healthy relationship with my team, knowing that I depend on them and they depend on me, so we have to be in perfect harmony. A good barbecue with the members and also good results are key to fine-tune the relationship.

17) Was age at any time synonymous with immaturity, “prejudice” or an excuse for someone to stop you from trying or achieving something at some point in your career?

A: I wouldn’t say that prejudice happened, but I have already been passed over by sponsors for being too young and also for making some mistakes on the track that I don’t make anymore. It is part of it. On the other hand, the partners who support me today are the ones who bet on me when I was still nobody in motorsport, so I insist on treating them in the best possible way and always trying to maximize the return to them.

18) Do you regret any reactions or responses you made during or after a race?

A: Yes. We all have our moments of anger and with a hot head we always tend to do things we don’t want to, but the important thing is learning from mistakes and knowing how to move on.

19) How would you describe your 1st pole in 2019 in the StockCar category, how was this moment?

A: It was unexpected, I confess! But after, it was a very good feeling of accomplishment and it took a truckload of pressure off my back. I always performed very well in the races but ended up suffering in the ratings. In 2019 I had 2 poles and I was the only driver of the team to win the honorary position, which provided me with lots of confidence. The car was very good and I had to be careful because I only had one attempt. As I knew I was, on average, one-tenth and a half slower than Thiago Camilo in all qualifying formations, I didn’t want to take any chances to avoid losing a comfortable starting position. It turned out that he risked and failed to make the perfect lap.

20) Last season, you were in 5th place in the championship, but unfortunately, due to inconclusiveCOVID-19 test results, you had to miss out on the final round. What was your feeling at this moment?

A: Very frustrated. The work of a lot of people, a whole year of dedication in unfavorable conditions, my first real chance of being the champion of the category was all gone due to a disease that I took care not to contract – and yet still contracted, it is complicated. I had positive and negative tests, but they preferred to veto my participation and there was nothing I could do. This year I will try again to win the cup.

21) Despite the challenges, in my view, 2020 was a great year. With 4 podiums and 1 victory, often being the highest scorer, and finishing the season in 8th place, how would you rate this season? Do you believe this was a year of more maturity and growth in the category?

A: It was certainly the best year of my career in the psychological sense. I was very confident and, even when the situation of the car was not good, the result ended up being good as I always had my head in the right place in important situations. The year was good despite not having participated in the last stage, which was worth double points and would have put me in the top 3 which was my goal and would have allowed me to fight for the title. In 2021 the goal is to follow the top positions with more and more races in the fight.

22) In terms of technology, StockCar stands out on the national scene. Could you tell us more details about the vehicles, the championship model ..?

A: We have a very competitive category, where the cars are equalized by the same company, and the teams have only the possibility of changing the car’s setup. The championship is attractive to the public because of the 2 races and also the double points final round. The car is very crude, and the use of aids like traction control and ABS is not allowed, so the car is tricky to guide but also is very pleasurable.

23) Do you like the current car model in the StockCar championship? What do you think could change to improve the coming years?

A: Yes, I do. I think that, despite not giving as much priority to the victory of the first race, the championship is more competitive by having two races, with more winners, more exposure for sponsors, and inconstancy of results, which leads us to not be so predictable to the public. I believe that longer runs would bring more appeal and also round with special formats, with more options, etc.

24) What are your expectations for the 2021 season? Any news about this year that you could share?

A: The goal is to fight for the title again, avoid covid, and also enjoy a lot of joy on and off the track. I am back at the Vogel team, which has joined AMattheis, one of the most successful teams in Brazilian motorsport. I am still very excited and eager to get started soon.

25) And finally, would you like to leave a message to inspire young people and fans who also want to venture into the sport?

A: Dedication always, regardless of your physical or financial condition. The result of hard work is the most pleasurable experience and with it, we can all achieve what we want. I know that motorsport is an expensive sport. It’s difficult and has few opportunities, but there is always a gap to be filled.

Thank you to Gabriel for sharing some of his time with us!

Check Gabriel out on his Instagram page and his Facebook page!

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F1 COULD RACE IN MIAMI BY 2022

The quest for a second Grand Prix in the United States may have received a much-needed breakthrough, as Miami Gardens Mayor Rodney Harris has offered a joint resolution with Hard Rock Stadium. 

Written by Andrew Lwanga edited by Sam Stewart

Previous attempts to host a Formula 1 race in Miami had been met with resistance from residents who expressed concerns over noise and air pollution. In October 2020, in fact, more than a dozen Miami-Dade County residents opened a federal lawsuit against then-mayor Carlos Gimenez seeking to block the race. 

Current Mayor Rodney Harris was also previously opposed to the idea of hosting a race in South Florida but has now offered a resolution to Stephen Ross, the owner of Miami Dolphins and also the man spearheading the campaign for the race. The resolution aims to address the concerns of the residents of Miami-Dade that led to them protesting the race. 

As part of the resolution Hard Rock Stadium and race promoters will have to raise noise mitigation barriers in sections of the proposed race track namely the north-side of any section of the track adjacent to the Snake Creek Canal to protect residents. Additionally promoters will have to monitor air and noise pollution during the race. 

Another crucial part of the memorandum is an economic package that includes a 5 million dollars commitment to residents and local businesses. Included in the package is also a STEM program in the city and also providing internships to residents. 

The Miami City Council will vote on the resolution on Wednesday, and should it go through the race could join the Formula 1 calendar as early as 2022, bringing a conclusion to the 3-year bid for the race in Southside Florida.  

Jim Clark Tribute – 53 Years On

Jim Clark was a British racing driver who won racing titles in many different racing categories including F1 – in 1963 and 1965 – and IndyCar in 1965.

Written by DJ Byrne, Edited by S Stewart

Today marks the 53rd year since his death at the Hockenheimring in 1968, in which he would crash his car and pass away in an accident in the first Formula 2 heat of the Martini Gold Cup.

He spent all 8 of his seasons at Lotus, winning 2 drivers championships with the team. He is considered an all-time great, after winning 25 of his 72 Grand Prix, and taking a record eight grand chelems – taking pole position, leading every lap, getting the fastest lap and winning the race.

My favourite of his victories came at the 1963 Belgian GP, in which it was rain soaked. It was on the old, long layout, where he started P8. The rain was bucketing, and pressure was on Lotus to perform in the early stage of the championship. After starting eighth, he passed everybody in the early stages of the race, including the championship leader at the time Graham Hill. By the end of the race, Clark lapped everybody except Bruce McLaren, who was 5 minutes behind in his Cooper. The victory was made even better by the fact he had to manage gearbox issues when he shifted up to fifth (which was often on this high speed circuit) where he had to hold the gear stick in place, thus having only one hand on his steering wheel.

His final victory came at the 1968 South African GP. This race was thrilling, as the first 6 drivers on the grid were all champions, with the reigning champion Denny Hulme starting in P9. The race began with Clark on pole, with Jackie Stewart alongside. Stewart would overtake Clark for the lead on lap one, but lose the lead again on lap 2. Jim Clark broke several records in this race as well, including:             

  Leading the most GPs(43)

  Most laps led(1,943)

  Most perfect weekends(11)

  Most pole positions(33)

  Most race wins(25) 

Jim Clark today is remembered as a legend, a gentleman, and an all round good person, with himself still being in the thoughts of many British F1 fans. He is regarded by many as the greatest driver to have lived, having won events in all sorts of disciplines. One thing for sure is that Clark is up there with the greats.

Aston Martin mechanics test positive for COVID-19

The Aston Martin AM21 – F1.com

Recent reports have emerged that two mechanics from the Aston Martin Formula One team have tested positive for COVID-19 while in Bahrain preparing for the season opener.

Written By Daniel Yi, Edited By Justin Tan

The two positive cases were detected as part of F1’s routine mandatory testing of all personnel in the paddock. This is not the first time the team has been plagued by COVID-19, with drivers Sergio Perez and Lance Stroll missing races last season due to COVID infections. Four other team members and team owner Lawrence Stroll also tested positive for the virus last season.

According to RaceFans, the two employees in question have been isolated and will take no further part in this weekend’s event. A spokesperson also noted that the team has taken all necessary precautions and will still be a part of the Bahrain Grand Prix. 

Bahrain Grand Prix weekend preview

After three months of winter break, F1 will soon finally be back in its full glory. This weekend, the 10 world-class Formula One teams will get their first opportunity to show what they can really do in race conditions. No more ‘Pre-Season Politics’ or ‘Sandbagging,’ all 20 cars will be primed and ready to attack this track, and we can not wait.

Written by Aiden Hover & Justin Tan & Tanishka Vashee, Edited by Sam Stewart

The Bahrain Grand Prix takes place around the Bahrain International Circuit, a 5.4-kilometer stunner of a track. One of Hermann Tilke’s more popular track designs, this year’s race will feature 57 hair-raising laps as the 2021 grid fight to make their mark on the season first. Last year’s pole-sitter and eventual race winner, Sir Lewis Hamilton, set a lap time of 1:27.264 and will aim to repeat this feat in 2021. Having hosted a Grand Prix every year since 2004 (excluding 2011) the race transitioned into a nighttime affair from 2014 – a welcome change as the cooler conditions, along with the stunning visuals, ensure that every visit to Bahrain is one to remember. We still remember the chills felt during the 2014 ‘Duel in the desert’ between Mercedes teammates, Nico Rosberg and Sir Lewis Hamilton, and who can forget Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari masterclass in 2010 or, in the opposite vein, Charles Leclerc’s Ferrari heartbreak in 2019 after securing his first career pole position. Even last year, when Bahrain hosted two Grand Prix, we witnessed miracles in both events. In round one, Romain Grosjean became the ‘Man on Fire’ as he rose from a fiery crash like a phoenix, against all odds. Fast forwards only a week and at the Sakhir Grand Prix, using the Bahrain outer circuit, Sergio Perez won an incredible race in his Racing Point despite being last after a lap one crash. We can surely expect great things from this circuit, and the fact that it’s the season opener for this year only makes the spectacle more exciting.

Looking forwards to this year’s race, the main story is of Mercedes’ true pace. Throughout Pre-Season testing, the team appeared to struggle with both Sir Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas finding the car hard to drive, with Hamilton even spinning and beaching his W12 in the gravel trap on day two. The Mercedes team also struggled with mechanical issues as Bottas missed crucial running on day one due to gearbox issues. Sebastian Vettel experienced a similar issue in his Aston Martin, which also runs Mercedes engines, so Mercedes issues could be bigger than they at first thought. However, we have seen Mercedes struggle at testing countless times throughout the last seven years of Mercedes domination, so if any team can come back from a difficult test, it’s Mercedes. As always, rumours spread of the team deliberately hiding their true performance or ‘sandbagging’ in order to disrupt their rivals despite being purely dominant yet again.

The one driver who has consistently been a thorn in the side of Hamilton and the all-conquering Mercedes is Max Verstappen. The Dutchman has frequently outperformed his difficult RedBull car as well as his teammates to threaten the Mercs during a race weekend. Towards the end of 2020, Verstappen and RedBull proved that it is possible to dethrone the champions by beating them in Abu Dhabi, a traditionally strong race for Mercedes. If RedBull is able to bring this pace into 2021, Verstappen may be able to challenge Hamilton throughout an entire season and treat fans to a truly titanic title fight – an aspect the sport has been missing since 2018. This year, RedBull has signed Sergio Perez to partner Verstappen. They hope that Perez will be closer to Verstappen’s pace than Alex Albon was last year, and will allow RedBull to use two cars to gain a strategic advantage over their German counterparts, a tool they have not been able to use in recent years. RedBull’s car looked strong in testing and they must surely be confident heading into the season opener this weekend.

The start of the new season also marks the rebirth of Racing Point, who will now race as Aston Martin. Their season contender, the AMR21, looked capable in Pre-Season testing as they were consistently close to McLaren for the third-fastest but the car has also become a fan favourite thanks to its distinct British Racing Green livery. The driver lineup of Lance Stroll and Sebastian Vettel is heavily anticipated to be strong as Vettel looks to demonstrate that his poor performance in recent years was not an accurate representation of the consecutive 4-time world champion he used to be, whilst Lance looks to learn from his experienced teammate.

Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel are both to take on big new challenges this year

Alpine, previously known as Renault, is also looking strong before Bahrain, off the back of a productive Pre-Season test. The team’s returning signing of two-time world champion Fernando Alonso will be keen to prove that he has lost none of his talent this weekend, after a two-year absence from the sport and so will be firing on all cylinders. On the other side of the garage, Frenchman Esteban Ocon will be looking to stake his mark as team leader and put up a strong fight against the Spaniard.

In addition to the exciting Aston Martin and Alpine rebrands, the 2021 season will also play host to 3 new rookie drivers: Mick Schumacher, Nikita Mazepin, and Yuki Tsunoda. Here is what we can expect from these 3 budding young talents:

Photo credits Dan Istitene – Formula 1/Formula 1 via Getty Images

Once the driver’s hit the track in Bahrain for free practice, the world will be watching the reigning Formula 2 champion, who just happens to share the same surname as one of the sport’s greatest ever drivers. Mick Schumacher has had to face the limelight that comes with being Michael Schumacher’s son throughout his entire life, the pressure only building with his growing reputation in the feeder series while racing under the Schumacher name. There will always be sceptics and doubters who will compare Mick with his father, but Schumacher has proven himself to be an incredibly smart and calculating driver, one who works immensely hard both on and off the track, internally and with the team around him as well. With the F2 and F3 championships to his name, he will make the step up to the pinnacle of motorsport with the Haas F1 Team for the 2021 season.  

It says volumes that Schumacher has not been the most spoken about of the 3 new rookies since his promotion was confirmed, this had been due to the on and off-track conduct of the Russian driver Nikita Mazepin. Before stepping into his on-track antics, his off-track actions must be addressed. The Russian’s despicable behaviour to not only grope a female passenger in a car and film this incident, but also upload this to his social media accounts has led to outrage from many. However, there is no denying that he brings huge backing that is central to the survival of Haas as an F1 team. While money was the key driving factor in his rise to F1, he should not be underestimated. He delivered 2 wins – the same as the champion – on his way to finishing 5th in the F2 standings with a new entry Hitech team. He and Mick will be closely matched over one lap – Mazepin having the potential to edge out that category, however, whether his aggressive driving style will be sanctioned by the FIA remains to be seen. 

Perhaps, the one to watch closest is not getting as much coverage as the Haas drivers during the offseason, and that is AlphaTauri’s Yuki Tsunoda. Tsunoda will follow George Russell and Lando Norris in stepping up to the pinnacle of motorsport after just one season in F2, a testament to his rapid development as a driver and character. Alongside race winner Pierre Gasly, he will also have the toughest benchmark of the 3 rookies; but will be in the most competitive car of the 3, so the potential to impress is greater – but so is the potential to struggle. Tsunoda will have the best platform to perform on, but the spotlight on the Haas pair will be intense – for different reasons. Whether he will step up to the plate remains to be seen, but he is no doubt ready for an all or nothing war.

The 2021 teams, and what we can expect from them in Bahrain:

Alfa Romeo

Despite missing team principal Frederic Vasseur at pre-season testing due to coronavirus, Alfa Romeo had a productive weekend – clocking up the joint most laps, joint with AlphaTauri. Kimi Räikkönen, very much the eldest statesman of the F1 grid at 41 years old, managed 166 laps on the final day – the largest one-day total than anyone else across the weekend. Will Alfa be top of the bottom 3 or completing firmly in the midfield? We shall see very shortly.

AlphaTauri

Photo Credits: Federico Basile / DPPI

AlphaTauri undoubtedly came out as one of the victors of pre-season testing, and they are looking extremely strong coming into the first race in Bahrain. Once again the team will be represented by now race winner Pierre Gasly, who had a barnstorming season in 2020. He will be partnered by up and coming talent Yuki Tsunoda, who, on paper, was the second best driver in pre-season testing. That could just be a testament to the unreliability of pre-season testing as an accurate metric for season performance, but he and this team are certainly one to keep an eye out for.

Alpine 

Renault F1’s rebrand as Alpine for the 2021 season has been much more than just a new striking blue and red livery. The team has brought in 2 time world champion Fernando Alonso, who has looked at home in the Alpine car during testing despite his cycling incident. Estaban Ocon also seems comfortable and will want to prove himself against his championship winning teammate after a strong end to the 2020 season. Alpine will also want to justify the odd design of its car, with the bulbous airbox a key talking point within the paddock during testing. The best way they can do this is with a strong midfield finish.

Aston Martin

Another new name makes it onto the grid, with Aston Martin’s return to Formula One after more than 60 years being one of the headline stories of the 2021 pre-season. With 4 time world champion Sebastian Vettel on its roster, partnering rapidly improving teammate Lance stroll, the team has much to feel optimistic about. However, their testing has been shaky to say the least, with Vettel confined to the pitlane for large swathes of time due to a number of mechanical issues. By the end of the weekend, the German had only completed 117 testing laps – comfortably the least of any driver, whether he and the team can adapt and strive towards a strong midfield finish remains to be seen.  

Ferrari 

After bleak performances in 2020, Ferrari has made it clear that it does not expect to be winning races until 2022. However, there is still much to be excited about for their 2021 campaign. The introduction of Carlos Sainz means that both seats are occupied by young, hungry and talented drivers with growing experience at the top. Testing was a mixed bag for the scarlet team, with Sainz seeming to struggle getting to grips with the SF21 car, but Leclerc put in some confident laps and team principal Mattia Binotto said that he feels the team has “improved in many areas compared to last season”. 

Haas

Photo credit: Motorsport Images

The forecast had not been bright for Haas in 2021. It is now represented by two new drivers with little experience, and the team has developed its car the least of any team over the winter break. Haas have also confirmed that it won’t be developing the car through the season, instead focusing resources for the 2022 regulations. However, this year’s VF21 looked consistent over the 402 testing laps, but there is no doubt it will be making up the rear of the pack.

McLaren 

Photo credit – @MclarenF1 

After a promising season in which it grabbed 3rd place in the constructor’s championship. McLaren have made considerable changes to its 2021 car, most notably replacing its Renault power unit with the one from Mercedes. Their optimism will be bolstered by the introduction of 7 time race winner Daniel Ricciardo, who looked successful in getting to grips with the new car during testing. His partner in crime Lando Norris is one of the new generation of superstars, who will be hoping to follow up on some excellent albeit inconsistent performances in 2020 and will be keen to prove himself against his more experienced and decorated teammate. 

Mercedes

Having swept the last 7 constructor’s championships and convinced the freshly-knighted Sir Lewis Hamilton to put pen to paper on a bumper new contract, there was a collective sigh within the fan community with the belief that Mercedes would be nothing but dominant in 2021. However, Bahrain proved anything but perfect for the team, with multiple spins for both drivers, with Valtteri Bottas admitting that the new W12 car was “snappy and unforgiving”. Mercedes have been accused of sandbagging in the past, whether this season will be more of the same will be evident at the first race of the season.

Red Bull

This could be the year that Max Verstappen wins his first driver championship. The Dutch starlet stated that pre-season has been “definitely the best ” of his career, and Red Bull looks to be well stocked and ready to attack the 2021 season on the front foot. However, team principal Christian Horner said that he still feels Mercedes are out and out favourites, whether Red bull will be able to challenge the Mercedes dynasty will remain to be seen. This could be a season with real competition for the top spot – a rare sight in recent years.

Williams

After finishing the 2020 season bottom of the standings with 0 points, Williams have a number of reasons to feel optimistic for 2021. Russell is ever-growing and improving day by day, while Nicholas Latifi has proved to be a solid second option. Furthermore, Williams plans to develop its car throughout the season. Haas, in comparison, will not. Many are expecting Williams to make steps in the right direction for 2021, but points finishes will be the ultimate proof of their progress.  

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F1 in talks to bring back Nurburgring and Hockenheim

Eifel GP at the Nurburging in 2020 – F1.com

Written By Tanishka Vashee, Edited By Daniel Yi

Formula 1 CEO Stefano Domenicali recently revealed in conversation with sport1 that that he has been in talks that could lead to the possible return of Nurburgring and Hockenheim to the F1 Calendar for 2022.

“Germany is an important market for us,” he added. 

Hockenheimring – F1.com

The 2021 calendar has undergone some changes, with the return of classic tracks such as Imola, Zandvoort and new circuit additions like Jeddah, which may put tracks like Circuit de Catalunya in danger.

Domenicali went on to applaud the efforts of the Formula 1 personnel and staff, for being able to host a world championship during the ongoing pandemic.

He also spoke about how he wants a third of the races to happen in Europe, two races in the USA and is also in talks with African nations for the sport to be truly global.

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FEATURED: Interview with Touring Car Legend Andy Priaulx MBE

Interviewed by Sam Stewart , Recorded by Bruna Brito, Edited by Aiden Hover

Find our article on Andy Priaulx here.

I’d like to begin by asking about your entry to the sport, how did you get into motorsport originally?

I’m actually the third generation [of Priaulx] to be a racing driver. My Father was racing, I used to help him and he was always introducing me to racing and motorsports, in fact, I sat on my first motorbike at 2 or 3 years old! I was then karting at 8 years old and doing motocross and all sorts, so I had a really amazing upbringing of just engines and racing, which turned serious in my late teens, when I moved over from motorsport in Guernsey and the Channel Islands, to more professional and offshore racing, and well here we are today after having a 20-year professional career

After an early career in hill climb racing you made a transition into open-wheel [circuit] racing, how did that transition go for you?

Yeah I started in hill climb, and in 1995 I won the British Hill Climb Championship, and at that moment it was rather unusual to see a young guy like me to be doing hill climbing. I was driving a Formula One engined, very powerful car and I won the British championship with a clean sweep. I had guys like Jackie Stewart watching me, he came down to watch me, and really I was given my break at that moment to really develop a single-seater career in circuit racing and I made the jump from hill climb at the age of 20 with the help of guys like Jackie Stewart and some great sponsors, and I’ve now had a great career I’ve tested in everything like sportscars, touring cars, Formula One cars, and I’ve driven pretty much anything over the years.

You mentioned your test in Formula One, how different was that to the other cars you were racing at the time?

I was racing in touring cars, so it was very different, but before I became a full-time, paid professional, I actually had a really successful single-seater career. I replaced Jenson Button in Formula 3 when he moved into Formula One and I got the drive with Renault and I was winning races at a very high level, against actual Formula One Drivers that are currently still there today some of them, so I was already perceived as one of the young up and coming, Formula One potential drivers of that time. To get a chance after not making it into Formula One, for a number of reasons – mostly financial and timing – I then got the chance of being able to test in Formula One having won the World Championship in touring cars. It was a very successful test, and from then on they signed me to become the test driver for Williams, and then for BMW, and then occasionally I was the reserve Formula One driver as well at some of the Grand Prix.

You were talking about your very successful touring car career, and you did have a very successful debut in British Touring Car, would you like to talk a bit about how that panned out?

Yeah absolutely, so at that moment I was in Formula 3 and I was struggling really financially I was already in my mid to late twenties, and I got a one-off chance to join a very successful touring car team called Vauxhall Triple Eight, and I actually drove in a one-off guest race filling in for a suspended driver, Phil Bennett. I was with really strong teammates. I was with a guy called James Thompson and Yvan Muller who were both proven winners of touring car racing at a high level. I had a really good debut, I put it on pole position for both the races and led both races. Unfortunately, I didn’t win because I had a mechanical failure, but I’d already really proved myself at a high level at that point. The following year I got picked up by Honda, and signed a contract with them, and did a full season in British Touring Car. That was in 2002. Then, in 2003, I joined BMW for the European Touring Car Championship, so my year of touring car racing in British touring car really springboarded me into an international career. I got picked up by BMW when I was actually down in Bathurst in the V8 Supercars, and I got a fax that came through to say ‘can you come through to us immediately there’s a drive for you at BMW if you’re interested.’ Of course, I was straight on the plane from Australia and when I flew back I signed my deal with them and joined BMW, and then really for the next 12-13 years I never looked back. I had so much success with them. 

Pretty soon after this debut, you managed to win four in a row in the FIA discipline and this earned you the label of the ‘Michael Schumacher of touring cars.’ What have you thought of that label?

Yeah that was great, so at that moment Lewis hadn’t dominated, and I was actually one of the only drivers that managed to win four consecutive titles with the FIA. So the FIA are the sport’s governing body and when you get a world championship status – at that moment there was only Formula One, World Rally, and World Touring Car – so to dominate that over three years was really special. Unfortunately, I didn’t win four world titles, I won three, but the European title the year before was actually all the same drivers and the same teams, and Murray Walker always said, ‘you’re actually a four-time world champion.’ I had many interviews with Murray over the years. And yeah, the BMW years were very successful to be honest, but it was very tough being a British driver driving for a German manufacturer often racing against the main factory teams of BMW Schnitzer, and it was very tough to beat them, but we managed to do it over a long period of time. BMW was very very good to me over a 12-13 year period. I had a lot of success in that time I was racing Sportscars, I was doing Nurburgring and won the 24 hour [race] there, won the Sebring 12 hour, all of them in a sportscar, and I was testing for them as well in Formula One. So I was really really busy; I was doing over 200 days a year away from home racing and testing almost every car they had over a period of about 10 years. 

You mentioned all of the things you were doing during your highly successful time at BMW, but straying from that slightly, you’ve had a lot of success at the Race of Champions at various different venues. How does it feel to be racing alongside all these different drivers from all these different disciplines, who you would never previously have had the chance to race against?

Absolutely, that was really special. I always had a really good performance in the race of champion. Not only was I racing against guys like Michael Schumacher and [Sebastian] Vettel – and very often I was beating them in a head to head which was nice, but also some World Rally champions. In fact, I actually beat Sebastian Loeb in his own rally car. I think it’s really nice to represent your country, at Wembley here for quite a few seasons. I never won the actual overall Race of Champions which is really annoying but I did win the Nations Cup twice, and the second time I won it my teammate actually didn’t win a single race, so I won something like 14 races in a row to get us through to win. So that was probably one of my best performances of all time in the Race of Champions. I got the overall fastest lap and lap records and had a really good time, so it’s nice to be able to look back on those moments and put myself against the best in the world – or the perceived best drivers in the world, and never really had an issue with that so it was good. 

Regarding putting yourself against the rest, who would you say was your biggest rival throughout your career?

Well, that’s difficult because obviously in the Race of Champions, Michael was the one who always managed to pull it off. He was very clever, he did a lot of testing and a lot of preparation before the Race of Champions where we all didn’t have the opportunity. I would say some of my toughest fights were with my teammates because you’re actually in the same car with identical equipment very often. Politics always get in the way with these things and some of my biggest fights were with Schnitzer and Dirk Muller and Augusto Farfus, and they were teammates so I was racing for BMW and very often against BMW at times. It was a really really exciting, very very challenging period and a very tough environment. Some of those touring car drivers were really very tough to beat, Gabriele Tarquine for example. One year we had 15 winners in the season and 9 drivers could win the championship in the last race. It was very different to Formula One where if you’ve got the fastest car you’re likely to win – in touring car racing we had success ballast, reverse grids, so you never dominated. You always ended up having to fight right to the end of the season to win. So it was really tough competition and, very often, some of the hardest racing on the planet. 

What would you class as your proudest achievement throughout your career?

I think for me to have been a factory driver for 20 years, as I’m still going now in some shape or form. I don’t know if people realise, but in Britain, there are about 10 drivers a year maximum that get paid to go racing, and only 4 or 5 of those are at a really high level, so for me to be one of those paid drivers for 15-20 years, that’s like playing for England for 15-20 years, so that to me is something to be very proud of. I think winning the third world title was really very special because no one can say it was luck, no one can say ‘he didn’t quite have the speed’ or ‘he wasn’t clever enough to stay over the whole year’ so to win four consecutive titles was amazing. The third one was nice because the car wasn’t the best car on the grid. We had a really difficult season and I had to be really clever with my racecraft – we probably had the 7th 8th or 9th best car on the grid, and to win the title in that environment was something I was very proud of as well. 

On the subject of touring cars, a particular track that you’ve had a lot of success at is Macau, what is it like being in such a tight circuit with so many other cars hounding you?

Yeah, so Macau is always really tough. It’s a track that I love but required a lot of commitment and a lot of precision to be fast. I remember when I first went to Macau, I had a guy who had raced there the year before, and he said ‘don’t be surprised if you’re three or four seconds off in the first session, and when we’re usually looking for two or three tenths, that was just a country mile you’re never three or four seconds off if you’re a professional driver. But, sure enough, the first session I thought that would be a really strong performance, but I was 3-4 seconds off. It’s just a place where you have to build your speed and build your rhythm and build your commitment and Macau literally is a track where if you’re not brushing the walls and brushing the barriers, then you’re not quick enough. If you were 9/10 committed then you weren’t fast enough, and if you were 10/10 committed you were fast enough but risked crashing, and it was being able to be 99.9% all of the time for all of the races and that’s what I love very much about Macau, a very tough track, but very rewarding when you did well.

What would you say is your favourite track that you’ve raced at across your whole career?

Probably Macau. It’s between Macau and Bathurst. Bathurst also, there’s a V8 supercar race that we do there that’s always an amazing race. The track I would say is half Macau and half Spa[-Francorchamps], which are probably some of the best tracks in the world, so I think probably Bathurst is probably my favourite, but a very close second would be Macau. 

Finally, would you like to tell us a bit about your charity?

Absolutely, so Priaulx Premature Baby Foundation was formed nearly 18 years ago. Both my children were premature, both Seb and Daniella, and Jo and I formed a charity having experienced how amazing the key workers were, especially with Seb as he was really in a bit of a pickle for 3 or 4 weeks. So those experiences we put to a good use. At that moment I was really successful with my racing and I was quite high-profile, so it felt like the right time to form the charity and as I said it’s soon to celebrate 18 years. It’s had the honorary Queen’s award for voluntary service to Guernsey and the Channel Islands, and it’s raised over a million pounds. We are very proud to be looking after sick children and are able to help them. We don’t only help babies we also help families with children who are going through a difficult time. We’ve got two flats in Southampton, housing children that are not well to keep the families together, so we help them in a lot of ways. I’m very proud of the charity, mostly driven by my wife Jo, she’s the one that’s been really amazing with consistent voluntary hard work over the last 18 years, whilst I’ve done what I can do – raising profile, auctioning things off, and being a spokesperson as well, which has often brought some great opportunities in the charity. Most of all its down to Jo, she’s the one that’s made it all happen.

Thank you for taking the time to talk with us Andy, it was great having you. 

Donate to the Priaulx Premature Baby Foundation here

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Andy Priaulx – ‘The Michael Schumacher of Touring Cars’

March 19 2021

Earlier this month, Andy Priaulx took the time to talk to us on all things motorsport and about his career. You can find this interview by clicking here. I have taken the time to compile his words and some more information on Andy Priaulx in this article, showing off what is one of the greatest and most successful careers in motorsport.

Written by Sam Stewart, Edited by Esmée Koppius

Born in The Bailiwick of Guernsey on August 4th 1974 to a family invested in motorsport, Andy Priaulx MBE started his passion for the family business from a very young age. His father Graham competed in the British Hillclimb championship and introduced a young Andy to this, bringing him regularly to watch local hill climb races. At the early age of 8, Andy started fuelling his passion for motorsport through karting, and was a ‘consistent front-runner’ locally. As a teenager, Andy started competing locally in hillclimbs, in a car shared with his father. At the age of 17, Andy won 2 back to back Clubmans Hillclimbing Channel Islands Championships, putting him in the eyes of hillclimbers around the country. From 1992 to 1994, Priaulx competed in the British Hillclimb championship, picking up 2 wins across the board and a driver of the season award. 

Priaulx driving a hill climb car -Unknown

Andy’s first big breakthrough into the motorsport scene was in 1995 when he surprised many by winning the British Hill Climb Championship. The next 2 years were rather uneventful for Andy, with campaigns in Formula Renault and British Formula 3. 1998 was the year that Priaulx’s talent for sportscar racing began to fully shine through. Priaulx raced in 2 series that year, one of which being the Formula Palmer Audi Winter Series, in which he finished second overall with four podiums and a pole position to his name. The other series he raced in that year and carrying over to 1999 was the Renault Spider Cup. In this championship he won all 15 of the races he entered, in a massive display of dominance, the first real sign of the legend that Priaulx was to become. In 2000, Priaulx got the call up to Formula 3 to race for Renault to replace Jenson Button and was winning races against drivers who are still in Formula One today. 

It was in 2001, however, that Priaulx got his break into Touring cars. He was struggling financially at the time, and got the offer to drive for Vauxhall Triple Eight Racing in BTCC for a one-off guest race to replace Phil Bennett, who had been suspended. Priaulx stunned the crowd by putting his Vauxhall on pole position in the first race. Priaulx had to retire due to a mechanical failure, but he had now proved his pace in sportscars. He got signed the next season to do the full campaign in British Touring Car, finishing 5th with one win to his name. 

In 2003, Andy’s career in higher level touring car really took off. The BMW touring car team had paid close attention to Priaulx’s success, and when he was off racing in V8 supercars in Australia they offered him a drive in the European Touring Car Championship. This started a huge partnership with the BMW team for Andy, driving for them in all sorts of disciplines and driving their factory cars. Priaulx finished 3rd in his first attempt at European Touring Cars, and won the championship at the second time of trying in 2004. This year also brought great success in endurance racing, with Priaulx winning the 24 hours of Nurburgring. 

Priaulx celebrating on the WTCR podium – ITV

2003 also brought the creation of Priaulx’s charity – the Priaulx Premature Baby Foundation (PPBF). Both of Andy’s children were born premature, and therefore him and his wife Jo decided to create the charity, dedicated to helping the families of babies that were born premature. In the 18 years since its creation, the PPBF has raised over 1 million pounds, and owns 2 apartments in Southampton, used to keep together the families of sick and premature babies. To donate to this wonderful charity, click here. A link is also at the bottom of the article.

The following year, in 2005, Priaulx won his first of 3 World Touring Car championships by 15 points ahead Dirk Muller, a huge margin for touring car standards, despite only winning one race this season. 2005 also brought Priaulx his first taste of Formula One, as he was hired to be the Williams F1 driver for the season, a car which he was very quick in. The following two seasons, Priaulx took two more world titles in touring car, becoming the first man to win 4 FIA Touring Car championships in a row. 2006 was the most remarkable of these seasons, as Priaulxs car was, as a base, far off the pace of some of the other cars. This meant that he had to show his raw talent and consistency, of which he had a lot of, to give himself the edge on other drivers to pick up that elusive second world championship. 

Priaulx testing a Williams Formula 1 car – Unknown

Priaulx’s career with BMW carried on many years further. The 2008 and 2009 seasons resulted in 4th place finishes for him, before Priaulx chose to move on to different disciplines. At this point, he was driving every car BMW had to throw at him. Whether it was WEC, V8 supercars, or DTM, Priaulx could be seen driving sports cars of any type. 

Andy found good results in the Race of Champions. For those who aren’t aware, the Race of Champions is a racing event in which drivers from all sorts of disciplines come together to race. There are 2 tournaments over the weekend of racing, the first of which being the Nations Cup. Drivers are paired up with another driver from their nation in order to allow their country to progress into the next round. In 2015, Priaulx was racing for the England 1 team, accompanied by fellow touring car legend Jason Plato. Andy Priaulx carried his team to win the Nations Cup, beating drivers such as Sebastian Vettel to get there. 

I believe his time with BMW can be classed as one of the most successful driver/manufacturer partnerships in the history of motorsport. Priaulx brought BMW to 3 consecutive Touring Car World Championships, something never achieved by any other driver. He raced F1 cars; German, European and World touring cars; GT3s; LMGTEs; and anything else the team could throw at him. Andy excelled at every challenge thrown at him, whether it was winning around Macau, winning the Race of Champions or hugely outperforming his car in World Touring Cars. On the 15th June 2020, Andy Priaulx announced that he would be stepping down from most of his racing in order to focus on his son, Sebastian (Seb)’s, racing career. 

Donate to the Priaulx Premature Baby Foundation

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Saudi GP Layout Unveiled

New Renders of the Jeddah Street Circuit – F1.com

The FIA, along with the organizers of the 2021 Saudi Arabia GP, have announced the track layout for the first upcoming Formula 1 race in the Kingdom.

Written by Hafiz Akbar, Daniel Yi, Edited by Justin Tan

Officially released pictures of the Jeddah Street Circuit – F1.com

The track will be mainly centered around the coastal district of Jeddah, giving a Monaco-esque vibe to it, minus the history. It will stretch for a total of roughly 5 kilometres and will feature a whopping 27 turns which makes it the track with the most corners on the calendar, surpassing Singapore’s 23 corners. This will provide some exciting overtaking opportunities for the drivers and the fans alike. This circuit has been touted as the fastest street track in Formula 1 so far.

Rendered view of the new Jeddah Street Circuit – F1.com

Jeddah features very little straights and no back straight so to speak. The track’s first three corners feature a chicane reminiscent of Monza’s Variante del Rettifilo, except that it is a left-to-right chicane. The first sector seems fairly low-speed, with turns 4-10 having a couple of chicanes somewhat resembling a combination of Monaco’s swimming pool section and Marina Bay’s turns 16-18. Turns 11-12 are high speed and fairly straight, leading to a hairpin of sorts at turn 13, where we expect to see some overtaking. Turns 14-24 run along the coastside area and are a combination of high-speed esses with a slight resemblance to Suzuka and Maggots and Becketts complexes. This successive squiggle of corners leads to turns 25 and 26, a long flowing left-hander taken at full throttle before finally reaching the hairpin of turn 27 with a heavy braking zone. This is another section to provide good overtaking opportunities. The exit of turn 27 leads us directly onto the main straight towards the finish line and thus completing a lap of Jeddah. 

Although plagued with controversy surrounding the addition of the Saudi GP to the F1 calendar and the circumstances behind it, it will remain to be seen whether this track will live up to its hype or not.

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W-series to conduct pre-season testing in Wales

The W-series will be conducting their pre-season testing at Anglesey circuit, Wales from the 17th to the 21st of May, 2021. It was initially planned to take place from 26-30th April at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Spain. The change in dates were influenced due to the curveballs presented by the ongoing pandemic.

Written By Tanishka Vashee, Edited By Justin Tan

W Series to support F1 at eight races in 2021 | Formula 1®
The W Series spec cars – F1.com

The series is a free to enter championship for female drivers that has now partnered with Formula 1 to close the gap between women and the pinnacle of motorsport. What makes this series unique is that mechanically, all the cars are of equal performance. It is truly the driver over the machinery.

Sabine Schmitz passes away at the age of 51

Sabine Schmitz, nicknamed the queen of the Nurburgring, passed away on the 16th of March, 2021 after her long battle with cancer. Condolences poured in from fans of motorsport all over the planet after the Nurburgring committee issued a statement about losing its most famous female racing driver.

Written By Tanishka Vashee, Edited By Justin Tan

Queen of the Nurburgring' Sabine Schmitz dies aged 51
The “Queen of Nurburgring” Sabine Schmitz – Motorsport Images

She made history at the track by being the first woman to win the 24-hour race in 1996, in addition to winning the VLN endurance championship title in 1998. She also drove the ‘Ring taxi’ and has completed 30,000 laps of the circuit.

She was known for her appearances on Top Gear, which prompted an outpour of tributes. The presenters of the show expressed their grief at the loss of her.  

We at DIVEBOMB are devastated by the news and offer our condolences to her family and friends. Sabine Schmitz will be greatly missed. Rest in peace.

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Hulkenberg “could land” Mercedes and Aston Martin reserve role

German driver, Nico Hulkenberg, will now see his hiatus from the Formula 1 scene cut short over speculations of him signing with reigning champs Mercedes and their customer team Aston Martin, on a reserve driver contract. The ex-Renault (now Alpine) man impressed the grid and the fans in 2020 when he came in as stand-ins on different occasions for Racing Point’s duo of Perez and Stroll.

Written By Hafiz Akbar and Sam Stewart, Edited By Tanishka Vashee

Discussions have now concluded to formalize his position, with Hulkenberg now ready to step in for both Hamilton or Bottas whenever the German manufacturer needs him to.

This decision did not come as a surprise because earlier this year we saw the two designated reserve drivers of Mercedes; Nyck De Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne. Both of them are  preoccupied with their duties at Mercedes’ Formula E campaign, with multiple events clashing between FE and F1. Additionally, the Santiago double-header, allied to ongoing travel restrictions due to the coronavirus, might make it a bit difficult for the pair to get to the Canadian GP on June 13.

“We all know what he’s capable of,” he stated to Sky Germany “(he is) one of the top drivers who somehow didn’t get that last chance to drive for a top team. To have such a resource in the team is of course interesting. We are open to that, of course.”

Lando Norris wants to beat Daniel Ricciardo in 2021

Lando Norris wants to beat Daniel Ricciardo in 2021

Lando Norris has stated that he wants to beat Daniel Ricciardo and says that “his greater experience” will not be used as an excuse if he loses the teammate battle this year.

Written By DJ Byrne, Edited By Seow Hui Zhi

McLaren has what is thought to be one of the best lineups on this year’s grid by many pundits.

Norris says, “I don’t want to use his 11 years of experience as an excuse to say that’s why he might have beaten me” 

Although he has been beaten by his ex-teammate, Carlos Sainz, in 2019 and 2020, the young Brit is not looking like backing down from the fight.

“We’ll see. I think it will be a fierce battle between us. I’m excited for the teammate rivalry we will have, which will obviously be a good one, but he’s still a guy I can learn from”

“I’ve got targets I’m setting myself now, but nothing as a whole objective. I’m making sure I’m ready in certain areas but in saying which ones I want to improve. I think I’ll wait until the pre-season comes along.” 

Will Lando Norris beat Daniel Ricciardo in 2021 or will Daniel Ricciardo continue his streak of beating his teammate, regardless of the change in teams? All remains to be seen.

Portimao to host aN f1 grand prix in 2021

Portimão has been confirmed to be hosting the Portuguese Grand Prix as the 3rd race of the 2021 F1 season on the 30 April – 2 May. This will be the second time the Algarve circuit will be used in a Formula One season, after it returned in 2020 to fill race slots taken up by the COVID-19 pandemic. This race came as the first Portuguese Grand Prix since 1996 at Estoril, a race won by Jaques Villeneuve. The 2020 race saw Carlos Sainz take an early lead and Kimi Raikkonen make up a huge number of positions in what was a highly exciting start to a Grand Prix. The race has been rumoured to replace a TBC slot since earlier in the year. “It is the intention of Formula 1 to fill the “TBC” position with a race at Portimão in Portugal on the dates already held in the calendar,” an F1 statement said on the matter. “The final agreement is still subject to contract with the promoter.” Now this contract has been signed and Portugal will return to host the 2021 installment of the Portuguese Grand Prix.

Written by Sam Stewart, Edited by Daniel Yi

Read about how Portimao was “set to host an F1 GP here and about how the Portimao Circuit will be hosting a WEC opener here.

Aston Martin launch livery for their 2021 Challenger

Aston Martin has finally unveiled their 2021 challenger.

Written By DJ Byrne and Aiden Hover , Edited By Ishaan More and Justin Tan 

It has been one of the most anticipated and hyped livery launches in recent history with the amount of fan-fare around the project becoming surreal. This season will mark the start of Aston Martin’s first F1 campaign in sixty years as they return to Formula 1 as a constructor, having taken over the Silverstone-based Racing Point F1 team. The new British racing green livery looks amazing with the pink BWT accents partnered with the contrasting white sponsors. The team has recently also purchased many upgrades to their facilities that are to be finished during this season in preparation for 2022.

The return of Aston Martin this year is a big step towards convincing more manufacturers and works teams to join Formula 1. This is a goal of which the FIA and Formula 1 have been pushing towards for some time now.

In 2020, Lawrence Stroll led a consortium of investors to buy a majority stake (16.7%) in Aston Martin (Sports/Luxury Car manufacturer based in the UK). This has allowed him to bring the manufacturer into Formula 1 through a takeover of Racing Point, another entity that Stroll’s consortium also has invested in greatly. 

Along with bringing Aston Martin back into Formula 1, Stroll has brought in four-time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel into the team to partner his son, Lance Stroll. Sebastian has shown that he has a lot of hope in the project and is hoping for a new lease of life with Aston Martin. The pairing of Vettel and Stroll will be interesting, to say the least. Stroll is expected to learn a great deal alongside his much more experienced teammate and will hope that this reflects onto his on-track performances. Sebastian Vettel, meanwhile, will use his fresh start at the Silverstone-based team to prove to the world that he never lost the incredible spark that we all saw in him during his four world championships at Redbull. Lawrence Stroll has also secured the team several well-known sponsors, including their new title sponsor, Cognizant, having reduced BWT to a secondary position in the team shown by the subtle pink accents on the front wing and side pods . 

Last year’s Racing Point proved to be incredibly quick on track (regardless of their controversial development methods) and with mostly stagnant regulation changes moving into 2021, Aston Martin will be expected to continue their promising upwards trend towards the front. However, we must wait and see to find out if they will succeed with their ambitious goals.

Aston Martin Livery Leaked

The Aston Martin livery was one of the most highly anticipated livery launches of the 2020-2021 off season. However, it has been leaked 2 hours early prior to the 3pm launch time. With an unknown source going into the code of the website and finding a render of the assumed 2021 livery. The leaked livery is British Racing green with white details and sponsors, showing off a key feature of the British Aston Martin heritage. There are no obvious hints to the BWT sponsor, meaning that there could still be more of the car to see which is yet to be leaked. 

The launch is still scheduled to go ahead at 3pm on Wednesday the 3rd of March.

Written By Sam Stewart, Edited By Esmée Koppius

Alpine Reveal Their First F1 Contender

Alpine, mere hours after Mercedes-AMG, have become the latest team to have revealed their newest (or first, in the case of Alpine) contender in the F1 scene. The French manufacturer has partnered with Renault E-Tech to provide their powertrain, as the team finishes the transition from Renault to Alpine. The new car, dubbed the Alpine A521, a direct descendant of the Renault R.S.20, will be Alpine’s (formerly known as Renault F1 Team) first take on Formula 1 racing. 

Written By Hafiz Akbar and Tanishka Vashee, Edited By Aiden Hover, Ishaan More

The team will be looking to make progress from 2020, where they finished 5th in the championship with podium finishes from both Esteban Ocon (1) and Daniel Ricciardo (2), who is now driving for McLaren after his contract with Renault ran out. Ricciardo has been replaced by veteran and two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, who is coming back from his brief hiatus from Formula 1. With a combination of youth in Ocon and experience in Alonso, Alpine is poised to be a potential team to watch.

Due to the lack of regulation change, the A521 will have little to no major changes, except for some changes to the floor due to a regulation change that requires it to be simplified to reduce downforce. In the engine department, they will continue using the Renault E-Tech powertrain that was used for the previous season. The livery features Alpine’s blue with the French tricolour on the nose, and the Alpine logo plastered on the side. The French colours make their presence very prominent and help make the livery one of the best we have seen so far.  The new driver pairing of Alonso and Ocon will undoubtedly be exciting to see and may often cause some tense moments. However, with a car that is a direct descendant of last year’s, it will remain to be seen whether the team can keep competing at the front of the midfield pack.

Update:

It has just been confirmed that Daniil Kvyat will be the new reserve driver for Alpine in 2021!

Mercedes Unveils the W12

Mercedes is the latest team to release their season contender for 2021. The constructors’ champion will be looking to retain their long held lead over the pack after winning the last seven championships in the last seven years.

Written By Tom Macpherson and Hafiz Akbar, Edited By Esmée Koppius

This will be the last season that Valtteri Bottas will stand side-to-side with 7-times world champion, Lewis Hamilton. Both Bottas and Hamilton’s contract will be over by the end of this season. Rumours have swirled that George Russell will be replacing the finnish driver but with a contract yet to be confirmed, we will have to wait until the end of the season to find out. As for the legendary Briton, when his contract runs out, it will remain to be seen whether his one-year extension will be triggered or will he be replaced by someone else within the current grid or outside of it.

For the car itself, because of the minimum amount of regulation change, as stated in the previous article regarding the W12, it will be using parts that are inherited from its predecessor, the W11, with exceptions in the floor department, which was changed to reduce downforce. This has reportedly caused quite the commotion within the team’s headquarters in Brackley.

In the engine department, the German manufacturer will continue using their signature race-winning M-series engine, specifically the F1 M12 EQ Power+, produced by AMG in Brixworth. The livery, which has been teased in the Mercedes-AMG socials, still sports the black which was adopted to support the Black Lives Matter movement. There is also a little more red than its predecessor with the hints of red appearing at the t-cam, as well as the driver’s number. 

However, the biggest change to the new Mercedes car is the AMG Stickers appearing towards the back of the car. A gradient including black, grey and white is used as the background for the AMG logos which overlay the colours. The AMG logo is also in a few different locations which are not as noticeable, with one above the turquoise stripe. A slight bit more of the Mercedes blue is also present with lines becoming thicker. A sponsor has been lost on the rear wing with ‘Epson’ being the lone sponsor on the rear wing holders. 

Read more about the Alpine F1 team car launch here, and the possibility of Ocon and Russell driving for the Silver Arrows in 2022 here.

WRC Arctic Rally Finland 2021 Recap

WRC started its first journey north of the Arctic Circle on Friday morning with the pre-event shakedown. Now that the drivers have had a feeling for the road, they came back later to attack the first stages in the dark.

Written By DJ Byrne, Edited By Daniel Yi

Stage One

Ott Tanäk set blisteringly quick times through the snow, taking a commanding lead over championship contenders, Kalle Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans and Seb Ogier due to issues for the trio. Rovanperä suffered a 10 second deficit after getting stuck in a snow drift while Ogier and Evans struggled due to the stage evolving and getting quicker. 

Stage Two 

In stage two, it was a similar story as Tanäk continued establishing a commanding lead over second-placed teammate Craig Breen who pulled off a surprisingly quick stage. At the end of the first day, championship leader Seb Ogier was not even in the top 5, lingering down in ninth place while teammates Rovanperä and Evans were up in P3 and P5 respectively. 

Stage Three

Stage Three arrived, but this time the sun was up. This was a hectic stage as racers started making mistakes, but Ott Tanäk continued a flawless run, pulling out an even larger gap from his teammate in second place, Craig Breen. 

Stage Four

In Stage Four they got out of the forest and could push even faster. Oliver Solberg impressed many, living up to his family name as the Swede pulled off a good performance here to move up to a very respectable seventh overall.

Stage Five

In Stage Five, with the sun setting again, concentration needed to be at the maximum. Unfortunately, Seb Ogier buried it in the snow with two corners to go. Although Ogier did finish the stage, his car suffered considerable damage and lost quite a lot of time. Ott Tanäk capitalized on this and continued to have a quiet but solid rally, extending his gap to 25 seconds as drivers behind slipped up. The most notable being Craig Breen, who fell behind fellow teammate Thierry Neuville and rival Rovanperä.

Stage Six 

As Stage Six started, Neuville set some very fast sector times. Towards the closing stages, Teemu Suninen in the M-Sport gained time on the cars ahead, moving up into eighth place.

Stage Seven

It was very much the same story in SS7 as Rovanperä closed the gap to overtake Neuville and closed the gap to Tanäk by another second. Despite all this, Ott Tanäk was not fazed, as he still had a 24 second lead. 

Stage Eight

Stage 8 was the calmest of the stages. The gap between Tanäk and Rovanperä remained the same and the only notable gap change was Elfyn Evans gaining on Craig Breen in fourth position.

Stage Nine

As stage 9 started, Tanäk’s lead was nowhere under threat, with an impressive 23 second gap to second-placed Rovanperä. Meanwhile, Rovanperä and Neuville battled it out for second place while Breen and Evans fought for fourth place.

Power Stage (Stage 10/10)

Stage 10 was the final stage of the Arctic rally and the final shootout. The end of the stage caused multiple incidents in the snow drifts.  Pierre-Louis Lombet found out the hard way as he got stuck in the snow banks at the final corner. 

The Top 5 of the power stage

•Rovanperä 

Breen

Neuville

Tanäk 

Ogier

Top 5 Overall

•Tanäk 

• Rovanperä 

• Neuville 

• Breen

• Evans

Hannu Mikkola (the first Flying Finn) – an obituary

Hannu Mikkola, a Rally legend through and through, has passed away at the age of 78. A one-time rally champion in 1983 along with 18 event wins, he inspired and earned the respect of many fans and colleagues alike. He leaves behind a lasting legacy and will be greatly missed by all.

Written By Ian Bruce and Aiden Hover, Edited By Daniel Yi

Hannu was renowned for his ability to achieve outstanding feats in unlikely cars, such as winning the 1975 Rallye du Maroc in his Peugeot 504 with Jean Todt. However, it was with Ford that he began to make his mark on the WRC (World Rally Championship) stage, helping pilot the team to the 1979 manufacturer’s title alongside co-driver Arne Hertz. He unfortunately missed out on the driver’s crown by a measly one point.

After switching to Audi, he immediately proved his worth by achieving two WRC event wins in 1981 and 1982. He finally achieved his dream in 1983 when he piloted the incredible Audi Quattro to the world drivers title with four victories, despite suffering four DNF’s throughout that season.

Over the course of his illustrious rallying career, Hannu made 123 WRC starts, achieved 18 event victories, and stood on the podium 44 times with his last podium coming in the Acropolis rally, directly after his last win in the Safari Rally in 1987. He came full circle with his final outing in 1993 where he drove a Toyota Celica to 7th at the 1000 lakes rally in Finland, the very place he started his successful career all those many years ago.

We at Divebomb send our sincerest condolences to Hannu Mikkola’s family and friends as the storied tale of the first Flying Finn comes to an end.

Mortara Involved in huge crash in Diriyah

Swiss Formula E driver, Edoardo Mortara, was involved in a massive shunt during the Diriyah E-Prix third free practice session. Mortara suffered a failure following a practice start at the end of the session which saw him seemingly make no attempt to navigate the first corner. His car seemed to accelerate uncontrollably before heavily hitting the barriers at the end of the escape road. 

Written By Hafiz Akbar, Edited By Aiden Hover

ROKIT Venturi Racing has confirmed that Mortara was extracted from the car conscious and has been admitted to the nearest hospital. He has reportedly sustained minor injuries and his team will release more info as the doctor’s assessment is finalised.

With Mortara being unable to compete in qualifying, the Swiss national will be starting way down the pack in 21st, with his teammate Norman Nato in 23rd. This is due to Race Control excluding all cars using the Mercedes-Benz EQ powertrain after Mortara’s shunt was initially thought to be a powertrain failure. With that, both Mercedes drivers, Nyck De Vries and Stoffel Vandoorne have been unable to compete in qualifying and thus will start in 20th and 22nd respectively. This measure has been put in place as a precaution to allow more time to ensure the failure does not happen to the other Mercedes-powered cars.

We at DIVEBOMB wish Edoardo Mortara a speedy recovery.

SLICK NYCK WINS DIRIYAH E-PRIX GRAND SLAM

The first race of the 2021 Formula E World Championship started under the dark skies of Diriyah. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to the fastest electric racing street circuit. After a magnificent qualifying, Nyck De Vries of Mercedes EQ took pole, qualifying six hundredths of a second faster than TAG Heuer Porsche driver Pascal Wehrlein, with Rene Rast of Audi in third. Title holders DS Techeetah sat way down the pack with last season’s champion Antonio Felix da Costa starting 18th on the grid with two-time champion Jean Eric Vergne behind da Costa in 19th. Tom Blomqvist, Nico Muller, and Robin Frijns rounded up the pack, starting 22nd, 23rd (Pit start), and 24th respectively.

Written by Hafiz Akbar, Edited by Daniel Yi

De Vries started the race very well, pulling away from Wehrlein after the German made a mistake coming into turn 1. Sergio Sette Camara was slapped with a drive-through penalty for not obeying Race Control commands just two minutes into the race. Nick Cassidy and Frijns were the earliest of the pack to activate attack mode. Tom Blomqvist was then awarded a drive-thru penalty after he exceeded regen limits. René Rast then took the opportunity to overtake Wehrlein and gain second place after the German went slightly off the racing line to activate his attack mode. Kiwi driver Mitch Evans then gained a position, thanks to Edoardo Mortara going off his racing line to activate his attack mode.

The first crash of the season involved Alex Lynn of Mahindra Racing and Sam Bird of Jaguar with Lynn having a DNF for this season opener. Sam Bird dropped down the ladder due to car damage and had to pit for a new nose. Andre Lotterer used this chance to pit under the safety car while Bird’s car had too much damage to continue racing, leading to his retirement and finishing with a DNF. 

After the safety car went in and racing resumed, Max Guenther misjudged his trajectory coming into the bobsled corners and hit the wall, terminally damaging his rear left wheel and grounding his race to a halt. This brought the safety car out again late in the race. Mortara and Rast were then investigated for overtaking under safety car conditions.

Most of the grid triggered their second attack mode in the final four minutes just as the safety car came in. Three drivers earned Fanboost. Stoffel Vandoorne triggered his Fanboost the earliest, followed seconds after by Edoardo Mortara. Lucas Di Grassi was the last to activate his Fanboost.

After 45 minutes (+1 lap) of racing, Slick Nyck De Vries won the Diriyah E-Prix in dominant fashion, leading every single lap from lights out. Edoardo Mortara had an impressive drive and came in second with Mitch Evans completing the podium. The highlight of the race was Edoardo Mortara’s incredible double overtake on Evans and Wehrlein, cutting through the pair like a hot knife through butter. 

It’s now too early to call who’s winning the 2021 Formula E championship since half the grid have been race winners and every race is unpredictable. However, this win may set De Vries to have a good run of results this season.

Formula E Round 1 & 2 Preview – Diriyah E-Prix

Season 7 of the premier electric racing series, Formula E, kicks off in Saudi Arabia this weekend with back-to-back night races. 

Written By Lewis Rundle, Edited By Ryan Lack

Historic Night Event

For the first time in its history, Formula E will be running night races, combining all the usual risks of a street circuit with the additional perils of duelling in the dark. 

Night racing is typically very power-intensive, but Formula E has managed to overcome this by using the latest low-power LED technologies available and powering the floodlights with low-carbon hydrogenated vegetable oil. 

Circuit Guide

The Diriyah circuit is never navigated easily. With a length of 2.495km (1.364miles) and 21 corners, the track offers plenty of challenges for the drivers. Key to this year’s race is the resurfacing and reprofiling that has occurred since the last Diriyah E-Prix. Turns 9 and 10, as well as Turns 12, 13 and 14, have all been adjusted for this year’s race. 

Track evolution is significant around Diriyah as layers of dust tend to accumulate around the circuit. Combine the reduced grip with the cooler temperatures of a night race, whilst also factoring in the high speed nature of the circuit, and you get an immensely challenging race with incredibly fine margins for error.

Photo Credit:

fiaformulae.com

Ones-To-Watch

There is rarely a predictable Formula E race so I’d recommend keeping your eyes on all the drivers. However, certain drivers have performed well in the past at this circuit, and, whilst the 2021 pecking order is unknown, there are a number of teams which are expected to be at the sharp end this weekend. 

Previous winners of the Diriyah E-Prix include Season 6 champion Antonio Felix da Costa, Sam Bird and Alexander Sims. Da Costa has stayed with Season 6 Team Champions DS Techeetah into Season 7, however both Bird and Sims start the campaign with new teams – Jaguar Racing and Mahindra respectively. Their success this weekend depends on how quickly they are able to integrate themselves into those different environments. Both are incredibly talented so don’t rule them out of the win this time around.

Mercedes have carried a lot of momentum into Season 7, having ended their first year in Formula E with a 1-2 on home soil in Berlin. A strong debut in Diriyah last season saw both Mercedes’ in Super Pole, with Vandoorne converting his starting position into a podium, so it wouldn’t be a surprise if Mercedes challenged for the win this time around.

DS Techeetah have established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in Formula E after dominating last season. With two champions, Jean-Eric Vergne and Antonio Felix da Costa, behind the wheel, it’s a safe bet that they will once again be fighting for the top step this season.

Don’t rule out Porsche’s newest signing of Pascal Wehrlein, who partners up with series veteran Andre Lotterer, or Season 6 runners up Nissan E.Dams, with the established lineup of Oliver Rowland and Sébastien Buemi.  

It’ll also be interesting to see how the three rookies shape up in their first Formula E outings. Super GT and Super Formula champion Nick Cassidy will be racing for Envision Virgin this weekend, with Norman Nato making his debut appearance for ROKiT Venturi, and Jake Dennis starting at BMW i Andretti. All three are exciting prospects for the upcoming season.

Schedule and Where to Watch

This is not a complete list of countries and watching options. A full list can be found on the Formula E website.

UK: The qualifying broadcast starts at 12:45 GMT and the race broadcast starts at 16:30 GMT. The event is watchable via the BBC.

Italy: Qualifying and the race are on Sky Sports Uno at 13:45 CET and 17:30 CET respectively.

USA: The race is available on CBS Sports Network at 11:30 EST

All practice sessions are streamed to the Formula E YouTube channel, and highlights are posted shortly after the end of the race.

Haas Release Car Launch Date

Haas are the final team to announce the launch date of their 2021 challenger, the VF-21 on the Thursday 4th of March at approximately 8am GMT

Written by Lucy Bennett, Edited By Issa Chaker

Haas have been unable to fit in the Ferrari engine due to Covid restrictions in the UK, with the car being built there. Regardless, we will finally see their livery.

They had an uncompetitive season last year with a combined 3 points in total, 1 from Kevin Magnussen and 2 from Romain Grosjean as they struggled due to Ferrari’s engine’s bad form in 2020.

We can’t expect them to improve much as they have an all rookie lineup. Mick Schumacher, reigning Formula 2 Champion, will be hoping to show his potential alongside Russian Nikita Mazepin, who finished fifth in that year’s Formula 2 season.

And with that and a potentially uncompetitive car. Could we see Haas fall down to the bottom of the constructors championship? 

2019 Ferrari cheating scandal punishment revealed

Ferrari, the longest tenured team in Formula One, experienced one of their worst seasons in 2020. This surprised many fans as the 2019 season was quite successful with the Italian team finishing second in the Constructors Championship. However, after the culmination of the 2019 season, it was revealed that Ferrari had violated technical regulations involving fuel flow and oil burning using a clever system that manipulated the sensors monitoring these rates. The FIA soon investigated the scenario further and culminated in a mysterious agreement with the team. Parts of this mysterious agreement are now being revealed, some of which might explain Ferrari’s poor performance in 2020. 

Written By Aryan Desai, Edited By Daniel Yi

Current FIA steward and former Formula One driver Mika Salo, disclosed some of the punishments Ferrari were given in an interview while discussing the 2021 Alfa Romeo Formula One car. Alfa Romeo, using the Ferrari engine, also suffered in 2020 and Salo was asked how the outlook for the team looked as they approach the 2021 season. 

Salo reportedly said, “They suffered from Ferrari’s cheat last year because they had Ferrari engines and were forced to use less fuel, so I think so Alfa Romeo may be in a good position if they can perform at their best in the race this season,”. Based on this statement, fans can assume that Ferrai’s poor performance in 2020 was not necessarily due to a developmental concern, but rather a consequence the Italian team had to face because of their cheating scandal in 2019. Being forced to use less fuel could explain Ferrari’s worsened race pace as they most likely had to rely on “Lean” fuel settings for longer durations during a given race.

A few months ago, reports emerged that Ferrari would be given special provisions to use new engines in order to amplify their performance for the 2021 season. Salo also responded to this development saying, “I don’t know if it’s a new engine but they’re allowed to use it to its full power. They were not allowed last year,”. During the 2019 season, Ferrari demonstrated their straight line speed dominance on the track which disappeared in 2020. The FIA placing restrictions on how much power Ferrari could draw from their engine could explain how the 2020 car was slower than the 2019 car. 

The complete details of this agreement still have not been revealed. It remains unclear if there exists another side of this agreement that might have benefitted Ferrari or saved them from a more severe punishment. But for now, the Tifosi can hope to see Ferrari excelling in 2021 and returning to the strength of the “Prancing Horse”. 

TBT: Fernando Alonso’s First Formula One Victory!

Written and Edited by Bruna Brito and Aiden Hover

F̶e̶l̶i̶z̶ ̶N̶a̶v̶i̶d̶a̶d̶ … Happy Birthday Fernando Alonso!

The two-times world champion is turning 40 today, and to celebrate his incredible career, we at DIVEBOMB decided to look back at his first-ever Formula One victory ahead of this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix at the same venue.

The Hungaroring is a great place for the statisticians: Jenson Button achieved his first win here in 2006, Heikki Kovalainen scored his first (and only) win here in 2008, Lewis Hamilton achieved his first of 78 victories with Mercedes, and young Mick Schumacher won his first Formula Two race in 2019. Today, however, we focus on Fernando Alonso’s debut Formula One win at the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix!

On that day, Fernando Alonso became the youngest driver in history to win a championship Grand Prix. Already the youngest person to achieve a Formula One Pole position (achieved in Malaysia that March) he had enjoyed his 22nd birthday just 26 days before the Hungarian Grand Prix, and so, upon winning, beat Bruce McLaren’s record achieved at the 1959 US Grand Prix by 78 days.

The Two times champion is looking forward to returning to the track in which he scored his first win, 18-years ago!

“I’m looking forward to it. Obviously, it’s a circuit where there isn’t much time to breathe with lots of tight corners. It feels like a big go-kart circuit. We all love driving there because I think the driver has quite a bit more input than some circuits. I’ve had some good results in Hungary, most notably in 2003 when I took my first ever Formula 1 win. I’ve also scored a few podiums too and the pole position in 2009 was good. I feel like the team is improving all the time, especially after the performance at Silverstone where both cars finished in the points, so we’re hopeful of another good weekend,” 

Heading into the 2003 Hungarian Grand Prix, the young Spaniard lined up on pole. He had beaten out Juan Pablo Montoya by a surprising 0.492 seconds, crossing the racing line at 248.6 km/h to set an impressive time of a 1:21.688.

2003 was Fernando’s second season in Formula One (having served as a test driver during 2002) and the pole in Hungary served as only his second in his career whilst it was the 33rd for Renault as constructor and the 137th for Renault as engine supplier! 

Alonso started on the clear side of the track and led into the first corner. Behind, the two Williams drivers Ralf Schumacher and Montoya, who had started second and fourth respectively, began to squabble and fell backwards. Whilst Mark Webber, who had started 2nd, also seemed to struggle to match the Renault’s pace, allowing Alonso to pull out a 7-second gap by lap 13 when he came into the pits for fuel. Webber followed him into the box. Fernando re-joined the race not far behind the McLaren of Kimi Räikkönnen before the Finn pitted on lap 16, along with Rubens Barrichello and Montoya – regifting the lead to Alonso. 

Fernando continued to lead comfortably until his 2nd stop on lap 30, joined again by Mark Webber on lap 31 – though this time, the Spaniard’s advantage was great enough to allow him to rejoin ahead of Räikkönen whilst Webber dropped down to 9th

As the laps ticked down, Alonso seemed set to comfortably win following a dominant showing. He even lapped the reigning champion, Michael Schumacher – sending a message to the fans at home and in Spain that the guard was beginning to change. Further behind, Montoya spun and had to fend off his teammate to ensure his podium. 

After 70 laps, however, Fernando Alonso crossed the line to win a surely dominant race, and the first of his career – beating 2nd place Kimi Räikkönen by an impressive 16.8 seconds with Juan Pablo Montoya claiming 3rd and the fastest lap of the race!

Whilst this victory was his only in 2003, it cemented him in the record books as the youngest ever Grand Prix winner at the time and proved to the world the pure talent that the young Fernando Alonso possessed. It would be this pure talent that would eventually see him secure the 2005 and 2006 drivers championships as well as compete for many more. 

Alonso’s career is an extensive one with success throughout in many different categories, so perhaps here is maybe not the best place to summarise it. However, it is clear how much his honest personality and his remarkable attitude towards motor racing always allowed him to be true to himself and battle whatever came before him with a great passion. This passion took the hearts of a nation and was able to enchant the Spanish people into a trance that would last as long as Fernando Alonso was driving a fast car – wherever or whatever it may be. These Spanish fans support Fernando with such passion rivalled only by the Tifosi in Monza. The screams as he passes send chills to the bones and the love they give sends warmth to the heart as every single one of them aspires to be the fighter that Fernando Alonso had convinced them was possible. We rarely see a sportsman capture the hearts of so many and it is this innate ability that makes Fernando Alonso Días one of the greatest drivers of all time, along with Ayrton Senna and his loving Brazilian fans or Michael Schumacher and his die heart Tifosi Italian and German supporters.

Throughout 2021, Fernando Alonso has done incredibly well. Recovering from a road cycling accident that almost saw him miss pre-season testing, he has fought back to show the world and his adoring fans that he still has what it takes upon his Formula One return. He currently sits 11th in the standings and has played an integral role in Alpine’s 7th place as he has consistently demonstrated his insane overtaking and scoring ability.

With this, all that is left to be said is,

 Happy Birthday, Fernando, 

and thank you.

Hungry for Hungary! – Weekend Preview!

Two weeks on from an extremely dramatic British Grand Prix, Formula One embarks on the tight twisty track of the Hungaroring for this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix! Will Max Verstappen be able to enact his revenge? Or will Lewis Hamilton win yet again at a track he loves so dearly?

Written by Aiden Hover, Edited by Tanishka Vashee 

The Hungaroring, located to the northeast of Budapest, became the venue of the first Grand Prix behind the ‘Iron Curtain’ in 1986 after Bernie Eccelstone failed to secure an event in the USSR. Since then, the Home of Hungarian motorsport has proven to be a true test for both driver and car. Often referred to as ‘Monaco without the walls,’ the 4.381-kilometre circuit boasts 14 storied and tricky turns with very few straights. This often forces teams to opt with high levels of downforce with minimal opportunity to reach top speeds on such a ‘go-kart’ style track. A track such as this poses a challenge that all the drivers relish with great enthusiasm as finding a smooth rhythm here is integral to a quick lap time.

A track as tricky as this one is sure to have played host to some iconic and truly legendary moments –  and the Hungaroring does not disappoint! With its difficulty, the track stands as a proving ground for some of F1’s greatest – awarding debut F1 victories to two-time champion Fernando Alonso and one-time champion Jenson Button in 2003 and 2006 respectively. It also marked the beginning of a new era in 2013, as Lewis Hamilton won his first Grand Prix with Mercedes, and we all know where that led to. 

The twisty flowing corners of the track also lends itself to some memorable wheel to wheel action; such as Ayrton Senna against Alain Prost in 1988, or, more recently, Lewis Hamilton against Max Verstappen in 2019 – featuring a strategic masterclass from Hamilton’s Mercedes team. Hamilton, who has won in Hungary a record-breaking 8 times, again features in Hungarian drama, this time in 2007! In the midst of a dramatic qualifying session in which Fernando Alonso sat on provisional pole, the two McLaren drivers were set to pit for fuel and a fresh set of tyres ahead of one final push for pole with Alonso scheduled to come in just ahead of his rookie teammate. Remarkably, however, Alonso chose not to leave his pit box upon being told to go as he instead opted to hold up his teammate and refuse him a final shot for pole! 

What can fans look forward to this year?

Having been on the losing end of a dramatic collision with Lewis Hamilton at Silverstone two weekends ago, Max Verstappen will be eager to enact his revenge and once again take the top spot. His teammate in Sergio Perez will also be eager to right the wrongs of Silverstone where he too scored zero points. Meanwhile, in the Mercedes camp, Sir Lewis Hamilton will be hoping to continue his storm back to the front of the championship whilst his teammate will be looking to follow in his footsteps.

The battle for best of the rest continues as Ferrari look to be strong once again in Hungary as it’s a style of track that seems to suit their car, similar to Monaco. McLaren’s Lando Norris will surely continue his streak of impressive points finishes after a near-miss of a podium last time out with Daniel Ricciardo achieving his best finish this season in Britain. Meanwhile, Aston Martin will be hoping to forget their Silverstone blues and come back swinging in Hungary!

Fernando Alonso returns to a track he loves so dearly off the back of an impressive showing in Silverstone, proving that both he and his Alpine still have what it takes to do well in this sport, along with his teammate in Esteban Ocon. Alpha Tauri also look strong heading into Hungary as their car suits the twisty nature of the circuit whilst their drivers, Pierre Gasly and Yuki Tsunoda, both seem to be gelling well with the car and team following a respectable performance in Britain – narrowly missing out on a double points finish.

Alfa Romeo will likely struggle in Hungary as their performance as of late hasn’t been anything to write home about, however, Antonio Giovinazzi scored points during their visit to Monaco several months ago. Williams, meanwhile, will be looking to continue their charge through the pack with George Russell looking to score his third consecutive Q3 appearance –  at the venue he scored his first-ever Q2 appearance in 2020. Haas, on the other hand, will see anything that’s not dead last as a victory as they must surely be looking forwards to the upcoming summer break.

With that then, be sure not to miss out on any of the action this weekend as well as any of the support events, such as the ever-exciting W-series!

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WOMEM CRUSH WEDNESDAY: WSERIES – THE 2021 GUIDE

Written by Bruna Brito, Edited by Tanishka Vashee

What’s W Series?

Defined as a “ free-to-enter championship, launched in October 2018, that provides equal opportunities for women and eliminates the financial barriers that have historically prevented them from progressing to the upper echelons of motorsport.” The mission is to provide acceptance that female and male racing drivers can compete with one another on equal terms when given the same opportunities.

Calendar

After the start of the pandemic, the 2020 championship was canceled, so now for 2021, we will have 8 rounds, starting with a double in the Red Bull Ring, with Alice Powell, as the very first winner of the season, and Jamie Chadwick in the second round. Followed by a win for Alice Powell again, in Silverstone.

This weekend we will have the return of the competition, in Hungaroring, in the city of Budapest for race number four of the season. The next ones will be Spa- Francorchamps, as the same weekend as F1, a favorite for many W Series drivers then Zandvoort, alongside Formula 1 again,  in September, Circuit of the Americas, first-ever race outside of Europe.

Finishing the season in Autodromo Hermanos Rodríguez, on 29 and 30th of October.

Drivers

Abbie Eaton – Escurie W (@AbbieEaton44  )

29 years old – British

She started at age 15 in a regional competition as a British GT and in 2018 started as a test driver for the Amazon’s The Grand Tour series.

This is her first year of the W Series.

Abbie Eaton

Abbi Pulling – Puma W Series Team (@AbbiPulling  )

18 years old – British

One of the youngest in the category, she made her debut at the race in Silverstone this year and finished in 8th place. Abbi is being mentored by Alice Powell, who is also a part of the W Series! She has competed in Ginetta Juniors, GT5, British F4, and Formula Renault.

Abbie Pulling

Alice Powell – Racing X (@alicepowell  )

28 years old – British

She was the youngest Formula Renault UK driver and the first woman to win the championship. The first woman to score in GP3. She participated in the 2020 season of Formula E as well as the W Series. She won the first race of that year in the W Series.

Alice Powell

Ayla Agren – M.Forbes Motosports (@AylaAgren  )

27 years old – Norwegian

She raced the Formula Ford-spec F1600 and Indy. After a few years, she was forced to stop her career due to lack of funding, currently, in addition to the W Series, she is a spotter for the Indy 500. This is the first time she will be participating in the series.

Ayla Agren

Beitske Viesser – M.Forbes Motosports (@beitskevisser  )

26 years old – Dutch

She raced in Formula Renault 3.5 and the European Le Mans Series where she was part of the only all-female team to race as Le Mans 24h.

Beitske Viesser

Belen Garcia – Scuderia W (@ beautifications)

27 years old – Spanish

She started her career relatively late compared to other drivers, at age 15, when she got her chance in Kart. She raced for Spanish F4 winning the Women’s F4 Championship. This is her first year at the W Series.

Belen Garcia

Bruna Tomasseli – Veloce Racing (@brunatomaselli  )

23 years old – Brazilian

She raced in the Brazilian Formula Jr. and in the South American F4. She moved to the US where she ran a USF2000 National Championship. An avid Ferrari fan, a Tifosa if you will. 

Bruna Tomasseli

Emma Kimilainen – Ecurie W (@EmmaKimilainen)

31 years old – Finnish

She started in Kart at age 3, that is, she learned to drive before speaking, and competed in the Formula Masters Series and Formula Palmer Audi. For financial reasons, she stayed away from the tracks for 4 years.

Emma Kimilainen

Fabienne Wohlwend – Bunker Racing (@FWohlwend5)

23 years old –  Liechtensteiner 

 Her family put the whole house on wheels so the girl could live her dreams, she participated in the Italian F4, Audi TT Cup, and European Ferrari Challenge.

Fabienne Wohlwend

Irina Sidorkova – Academy (@IraSidorkova   )

18 years old – Russian

Dubbed the baby of W Series, she competed in several national categories. She also raced F4 in Russia and Spain, took second place in the last race, a great performance for a rookie.

Irina Sidorkova

Jamie Chadwick – Veloce Racing (@JamieChadwick   )

24 years old – British

The 2019 W Series champion. She was also the first woman to win a British GT and a British BRDC F3. In 2020 she was announced as a development driver in F1 by the Williams team.

Jamie Chadwick

Jessica Hawkins – Racing X (@1JessicaHawkins   )

26 years old – British

At age 12 she started in British Karting and raced in several categories after that. Jessica is also a stunt driver, has recorded films such as Fast and Furious and 007. She is also part of the Aston Martin F1 team as an ambassador.

Jessica Hawkins

Marta Garcia – Puma W Series Team (@martarcing   )

20 years old – Spanish

She started karting at the age of 6, won the CIK-FIA Karting Academy Trophy and the Trofeo delle Industrie. She took a good amount of victories in the first-ever edition of the W Series and finished fourth in the standings.

Marta Garcia

Miki Koyama – Sirin Racing (@mkhouse001   )

23 years old – Japanese

Miki had to work hard to get into motorsport. She has been working since she was a teenager to make her racing career a reality. She raced in Japanese F4, and won 3 years in a row in the Kyojo Cup.

Miki Koyama

Nerea Marti – Academy (@nereamarti32)

19 years old – Spanish

Another baby! She was the first woman to win the Valencia Community Karting Championship in 2018. She also raced in the Rotax España Series and the Spanish F4.

Nerea Marti

Sabré Cook – Bunker Racing (@Sabre_Cook  )

27 years old – American

She started small in the kart and at the age of 13, the same year she had already taken the title of TAG Junior. She was the first woman to win the SKUSA Pro Tour National Championship.

Sabré Cook

Sarah Moore – Scuderia W (@ smgirlracer26)

27 years old – British

She raced and won titles at the Ginetta Junior Championship and several other categories in the UK. Sarah plays a very important role for the LGBTQ+ community within motorsport.

Sarah Moore

Vittoria Piria – Sirin Racing (@VickyPiria)

27 years old – Italian

 Vicky made history by being the first woman to race in GP3, she also raced in Euro F3 and other categories. She has been nicknamed the busiest W Series driver, for she makes a lot of television appearances and is Ferrari’s first ever driving instructor. 

Vittoria Piria

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Driver Predictions: Why Giovinazzi’s 2021 performances are critical on Alfa Romeo’s future approach

Written by: Danny Jones Edited by: Haneen Abbas

Alfa Romeo’s recent re-signing with Sauber, now gives them the opportunity to control who they place in both of their seats, unlike previously, where Ferrari would place a Driver Academy member in that place. Since 2019, Ferrari placed Antonio Giovinazzi in that space, and to the surprise of many, retained his seat for 2021, alongside Kimi Raikkonen. However, Giovinazzi’s performances have started to come under scrutiny. The Italian has struggled to make his mark in the sport thus far, only racking up 4 points in the 2020 season, and a sole point in Monaco in 2021. Giovinazzi has yet to fully wow anyone in the F1 paddock, but neither is a driver who is consistently struggling. 2021 is a year that Giovinazzi is required to improve, to show Alfa Romeo bosses that he deserves to keep the seat, if he wants to continue his stay in F1. 

Kimi Raikkonen is in his 19th season of F1 in 2021, and with the regulation changes forthcoming, a retirement for the Iceman is on the cards, and Alfa Romeo boss Frederic Vasseur, has not ruled out the possibility of making 2 driver changes for 2021. A main contender to take an Alfa Romeo seat is Robert Shwartzman. The Russian, currently competing in F2, racked up the most wins of any driver in 2020, as he finished 4th in the championship, while winning the constructors championship with PREMA. He is one of the favourites for the 2021 drivers championship, and with his 2 wins in Silverstone and Baku so far this season, his 3rd place in the championship, certainly keeps him in the title mix, at the midpoint of the F2 season.. He was in the money for a Haas or Alfa Romeo seat in 2021, but never came to fruition, but 2022 could be the year that Shwartzman moves to F1. If Shwartzman does win the title, or is able to prove competitive again, Alfa Romeo would certainly have an eye on the Russian.

If Alfa Romeo were to look elsewhere, they have numerous options. Theo Pourchaire is the only Sauber academy member in single seaters, who is currently competing in F2. However, Pourchaire is only 17, and has little single-seater experience, albeit very talented. It is unlikely that he would be competitive in his 1st season of F2, so a 2nd season in 2022 may be logical for him, with a potential seat in 2023. Frederic Vasseur has also expressed that Pourchaire would not be ready to step up in 2022.

Possibly their most logical choice would be signing another FDA member, most probably, in Callum Ilott. The Brit was unfortunate not to receive an F1 seat in 2021, despite finishing 2nd in F2, and gained the role of Ferrari reserve. Ilott is set to compete in GT World Challenge Europe in 2021 but is likely to do testing with Ferrari on a regular basis. An ex-Sauber academy member, Ilott has proved his speed multiple times in F2, and would be a worthy candidate for that Alfa Romeo seat. Additionally, Ilott has done practice sessions with Alfa Romeo in Portugal and Austria, and has strong links with the team.

Alfa Romeo could also look towards Valtteri Bottas, who looks likely to leave Mercedes at the end of 2021. Reports have recently been floating around that Alfa are having a serious look at the Finn for a 2022 seat, and Bottas does have plenty of experience, whilst still being in his ‘prime years’. It would be a logical choice for Alfa Romeo, as Bottas would be able to support any rookis, such as Ilott or Shwartzman, if they were promoted alongside him. Additionally, Mercedes have said they would help Bottas find a seat if he were to leave the team, and with spaces running out quickly, Alfa Romeo would be a probable path for Bottas to go down. 

With Kimi Raikkonen’s time in F1 looking likely to come to an end in 2021, and Antonio Giovinazzi’s performances unlikely to improve to the point where he looks a genuine shot for future F1 success, a double change for Alfa Romeo is on the cards. The experience available in Valtteri Bottas would mean he would be an almost certain move for Alfa Romeo, if he were to become available, and would bring huge benefits as F1 enters its new regulations. Alongside him, Shwartzman’s excellent performances in F2 over the last 2 seasons would be difficult to ignore, and if he continues to impress in the championship, there is a strong chance that he will line up for the Swiss team in 2022.

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Tyre Strategies for the 2021 Hungarian Grand Prix

This weekend we are heading to Hungary for the 36th Hungarian Grand Prix and the 11th Grand Prix of the 2021 Formula 1 season. The Hungaroring has a length of 4.381 kilometers, with the race distance being a total of 306.63 kilometers. There will be 70 laps of the race, and of course every motorsport fan is curious about the tyre strategies that will be followed for this weekend’s grand prix.

Written by Dimitris Grigoratos, Edited by Morgan Holiday

The available tyre compounds will be the C4 (Soft), the C3 (Medium) and the C2 (Hard). With the Hungaroring being a circuit of high downforce and lateral, normal amounts of traction, tyre stress and asphalt grip, and low asphalt abrasion and braking, teams are expected to follow a strategy of only one pit stop as the circuit doesn’t place particularly heavy demands on tyres, especially in warm temperatures.

As many drivers have stated in the past, the Hungaroring feels more like a kart circuit due to the fact that there is a non-stop series of corners where tyres are constantly working. Different strategies have been followed in the past years with teams even choosing two-stop strategies as Mercedes-AMG Petronas did with Lewis Hamilton back in the 2019 Formula 1 season, where he managed to overtake Max Verstappen for the win. However, the two-stop strategy isn’t the most preferred one, as teams usually prefer stopping only once. The average time lost during pit stops is about 22 seconds.

According to last season’s race, the soft tyre is the fastest, with the medium tyre being 0.5 seconds slower per lap, and the hard tyre being 0.8 seconds slower per lap.

All in all, this weekend race is expected to be fascinating and as there are not many overtaking opportunities, the tyre management and the tyre strategies will be highly important for the drivers and for the teams.

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RIO HARYANTO – Is he any good?

Rio Haryanto has the honour of being, the one and only Indonesian to ever race in Formula 1. Haryanto was Born in Solo, Indonesia on 22 January 1993. He is the son of Sinyo Haryanto, a businessman. But his F1 campaign wasn’t exceptional, nor a matter for national pride. So we should begin by examining his ability on-track, is He any good? Let’s see a recap of his racing career first.

Written By Zaki Ali Rahman, Edited By Hazel Alagappan

According to driverdb.com Rio started his racing career in Karting from 2005 and spent two years there until 2007. The highlights of his karting career include when he won the 2006 Asian Karting Open Championship in ROK Junior and Formula 125 Junior Open class. He also finished 2nd overall in the 2007 Rotax Max Challenge Asia in Junior class. 

Rio moved up to the upper levels of car racing in 2008 where he raced in Formula Asia 2.0, Formula Renault Asian Challenge, and Formula BMW Pacific. His 3rd position overall in Formula Asia 2.0 was the highlight that year.

 In 2009 He raced in some events, but the highlight of that year was the championship he took in Formula BMW Pacific with 11 wins and 12 podiums. Haryanto started racing in Formula3(Formerly GP3) in 2010 racing with Manor Racing, where he won 1 race. He also became the test and reserve driver for Marussia Virgin Racing. In 2011 He still raced in GP3 with the same team, GP2 final rounds, and Auto GP with DAMS team. He stepped up to GP2 from 2012 to 2015 where his highest finishing position overall was 4th in 2015 with Campos team.

 In 2016 Marussia F1 Team was rebranded to Manor Racing Team. Haryanto was called to race for the team alongside Pascal Wehrlein. Unfortunately He didn’t score any points but Wehrlein did get a point in the 2016 Austrian Grand Prix. Haryanto only raced half season for the team because his sponsors were unable to meet the team’s financial demands. He was demoted to reserve driver status ahead of the 2016 Belgium Grand Prix. He was replaced by Esteban ocon for the rest of the season.

After His career in Formula 1 He took a break from racing for a few years. In 2019 He return to racing where He raced in Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia – GT3 ProAm. Haryanto raced with the team T2 Motorsports alongside David Tjiptobiantoro. He got a podium in the 3rd event of the season in Chang circuit, Thailand. In 2020 He raced in Asian Le Mans Series, still racing with T2 Motorsports. 

In conclusion, and with the benefit of context, does this make Rio Haryanto a good driver? In the authors humble opinion yes, because he showed that he had the capacity to race at the upper echelons of Formula One, even if it proved to be temporary. His performance records in other categories are not particularly damning or notable.

The Craziest Race in Formula E history

We have just 3 more races left of the 2020/21 Formula E season but after today’s London E-Prix we will have only 2. We’re in the British capital for the second of two races this weekend at ExCel Circuit for the first-ever indoor-outdoor Formula E circuit.

Written by Olly Radley, Edited by Bruna Brito

On pole, it’s Mercedes-EQ driver, Stoffel Vandoorne who put it on pole from Group 2. Oliver Rowland starts P2 and Alex Lynn who was on pole yesterday starts 3rd. De Vries had a brilliant qualifying session this morning getting into Superpole from Group 1 along with his teammate and Jaguar’s Mitch Evans starts 5th. The Teams’ Championship leaders, DS Techeetah start from 22nd and 23rd behind the championship leader, Sam Bird who starts 21st.

Stoffel Vandorne

As the 5 red lights dropped we didn’t see any movement in the pack other than Mitch Evans getting a bit tense through the first few corners. Around 5 minutes into the race, Nyck De Vries made a bodacious move into Turn 10 on Alex Lynn for the podium place in P3. Once De Vries made that overtake he gained another position due to Rowland ahead taking his first attack mode. A lap later, Vandoorne followed suit, keeping position, but Rowland regained his 2nd place as De Vries also took his first attack mode.

Nyck De Vries

With around 35 minutes to go, we saw a very bizarre incident between Sebastian Buemi and René Rast. It all began when Buemi ran straight into the back of Rast into T10 and then shunted the German into the wall on exit, Rast accumulated lots of damage from this and seemed to drive straight back into Buemi due to some sort of damage to his car. The incident left plenty of debris strewn across the track and Rast’s race over. The safety car was deployed to remove the stricken Audi and a 10-second stop-and-go penalty was given to Buemi.

The safety car returned to the pits just a lap later and once Oliver Rowland’s attack mode ran out he was pounced on by De Vries behind, making it a Mercedes 1-2. Vandoorne then took his final attack mode with 30-minutes remaining.

This was the last minute of the same moment of the London E-Prix. From this point on, chaos ensued. Down the start/finish straight, André Lotterer pincered championship contender Antonio Felix Da Costa into the wall, which ended the Portugueseman’s race and gave Lotterer a drive-through penalty. A safety car was required to retrieve the DS Techeetah from the wall at Turn 1. During the safety car, Lucas Di Grassi, who was in a comfortable position, drove through the pitlane, which was faster than staying out on track, and by doing so, took the lead of the E-Prix – a long investigation was launched for this. On the safety car restart, Stoffel Vandoorne, who had been jumped by Di Grassi, was whacked out of contention by Oliver Rowland behind as he locked up trying to defend. Rowland got damage and a 5-second time penalty.

Di Grassi and Lynn then took their attack mode behind De Vries who inherited the lead, and the pair overtook the Dutchman, putting De Vries in 3rd. Evans and Frijns engaged in a battle, in which the Kiwi missed Attack mode the first time round, but overtook the Dutchman once he did take attack mode.

Race control then dealt Di Grassi a drive-through penalty for his pit overtakes maneuver, but his team, Audi, didn’t tell him. Instead, we saw videos of Alan McNish, Audi Team Principal, sprinting to the stewards to argue the penalty. His point was that Di Grassi stopped in the lane and so it was a legal stop. 

Then Bird and Nato started a battle as Nato desperately defended into Turn 10 as Bird went for an overtake and pushed Bird straight into the wall at the apex. The crash locked their wheels but miraculously they carried on. 

As the clock hit zero and the final lap began, Lucas Di Grassi did not pull into the pits and so after he crossed the line he was shown the black flag by the stewards. Because of this, Alex Lynn, who failed to take his win after pole yesterday, inherited the win and takes his first-ever win in Formula E at his home race. De Vries came home 2nd and takes the championship lead with 2 rounds to go. Mitch Evans got 3rd place ahead of Robin Frijns.

Lynn seemed to lack race pace yesterday eventually finishing 3rd behind De Vries, today he was brilliant behind the wheel of his Mahindra and confidently took his first-ever win after Di Grassi was black-flagged on the final lap. Nyck De Vries of course came second after bending his steering early on in the race. Evans got caught up with Max Gunther on the second safety car restart and spent a large part of the race without a wheel cover. Robin Frijns came 4th with the fastest lap, taking 13 points and moving into 2nd in the championship. Jake Dennis was on for a good result but served a drive-through late on, ruining his chance of points from 17th on the grid. Sam Bird picked up a grid penalty for his crash with Nato late on. 

In the championship now, Nyck De Vries leads into the final 2 races in Berlin with 95 points, ahead of Frijns who’s up to 2nd with 89 points. Sam Bird remains 3rd with 81 points despite getting a DNF again this weekend and Jake Dennis picked up only 2 points moving him into 4th and joint on points with Bird. Da Costa remains on 79 points after he was wiped out by Lotterer and now Alex Lynn is up to 6th after his win today from 15th. 

We had a cracking race today and in my eyes, it was the craziest race in Formula E history. That’s it for 3 weeks, we’ll see you again in Berlin for the Season 7 finale, anyway from me it’s bye for now.

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Michele Alboreto – Underrated Drivers

Michele Alboreto is often referred to as a “kind hearted driver”, for the polite attitude he showed towards his teams. His career lasted 14 seasons, and he’s warmly remembered by Italian fans as the last Italian driver to win a race with the illustrious red team from Maranello.

Michele was born in Milan on December 23rd, 1956. He grew up watching F1’s roaring cars from behind the fences of the Monza circuit, dreaming of driving them one day.

In 1976, he crowned his dream of becoming a single-seater driver, taking part in Formula Monza with Scuderia Salvati, driving a car he helped build with his own hands. The car was very difficult to drive, even had a crooked chassis, but Alboreto’s great driving style definitely stood out, despite not achieving great results.

Alboreto stayed in Formula Monza for the 1977 season, this time putting in some great results that allowed him to take third place in the final standings. His team, noticing his great talent and the potential for a successful career, helped him get into Formula Italia in 1978.

His rookie season in the category was very successful. He managed to pick up one win, clinging fourth place in the final standings. These great performances helped him make his debut at the last race of the Italian Formula 3 season, getting an incredible fourth place. That same year, he also went on to win the Formula Fiat Abarth championship, further testament to the young driver’s talent.

In 1979 Michele raced in two different categories: he stayed in the Italian Formula 3, taking second place in the standings, and also competed in the European Formula 3, taking sixth place in the championship, with the title won by the great Alain Prost.

In 1980, Alboreto again raced in both the Italian and European Formula 3, ending up third in Italy, and incredibly winning the European championship. 

The next season, Michele got into Formula 2, driving for Minardi. Despite the car not being competitive enough to constantly battle for the lead, he managed to get a third place in Pergusa and an incredible win in Misano, ending his rookie season in eighth place in the standings. That same year, though, he got the call from Tyrrell to drive in F1 for the first time, taking part in the San Marino Grand Prix. He qualified in P17, ahead of his teammate Eddie Cheever. Despite not being able to finish the race due to an incident caused by Beppe Gabbiani, Alboreto had done enough to earn a full-time drive with Tyrrell for the rest of the season. A really uncompetitive car made him unable to score any points for the whole season, but his performances made Tyrrell want to keep him for the 1982 season.

In 1982, Tyrrell provided the Italian with a much improved car, allowing him to have a very satisfying season. He was able to constantly fight for points, even taking his first podium in Imola and winning his first race at the final round in Las Vegas.

In 1983, Michele stayed with Tyrrell, but had a slightly more disappointing season. He did manage to win a race in Dallas, but he scored points in only one other grand prix with a sixth place in Zandvoort, meaning he ended the season in P12. However, Alboreto had high hopes for 1984, as he signed for the reigning Constructors’ Champions, Maranello’s Scuderia Ferrari, becoming the first Italian driver to race for the Prancing Horse since Arturo Merzario in 1973.

His first podium in red came only at the third race of the season in Zolder. The rest of the season, though, was pretty disappointing. His Ferrari 126 C4 was very underperforming compared to the McLarens, and he only managed to take three more podiums, a P3 and two P2s, ending the season in fourth place, 41.5 points away from World Champion Niki Lauda.

1985 was Michele’s best season ever. Ferrari provided him with an incredibly fast car. Even before the start of the season, he said: “If I don’t win the 1985 championship, I shall be beaten on the ears with a stick”. The claim proved to be well-founded, as, before the Italian Grand Prix in Monza, he managed to get on the podium in every race he finished, taking two wins in Canada and Germany, except in Zandvoort, where he ended up fourth. The title now seemed to really be on the horizon, being only three points behind championship leader Alain Prost. However, he had to retire from all the five final races of the season, while Prost comfortably went on to win the title with a 20 points advantage.

1986 was a season to forget for Alboreto and Ferrari, ending the season in ninth place, with the only stand-out performance being a P2 in Austria. 1987 and 1988 were slightly better years, taking several podium places, but poor car reliability meant he had to retire from half the races he takes part in. He ended the two seasons respectively in seventh and fifth place, and at the end of 1988, he announced he would part ways with Ferrari after a relationship that lasted five years.

Alboreto would go on to spend the rest of his career driving for backmarkers in the form of Tyrrell Larrousse, Arrows, Footwork, Scuderia Italia and Minardi. At the end of the 1994 season, he finally announced his retirement from F1, 14 years after his first race with Tyrrell.

Michele died tragically in 2001 while testing an Audi prototype for the 24h of Le Mans. He was a very quick driver, showing his great talent on multiple occasions. However, uncompetitive and unreliable cars prevented him from winning that elusive World Title, thus often not being remembered among the greats of the sport.

CAREER STATS: 215 GPs, 5 Wins, 23 Podiums, 2 Pole Positions, 5 Fastest Laps, Best Championship Result: 2nd (1985)

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Dennis becomes the home hero in London

Written by Olly Radley, Edited by Morgan Holiday

With 4 races to go in the FIA Formula E World Championship, we go to London, home of championship leader Sam Bird, who might be challenged this weekend. Another big talking point of the weekend is that parts of the track, including the start-finish straight, are indoors! That’s right, we’re at ExCel London for the 12th and 13th rounds of the 2021 Formula E World Championship. Another difference is that the two attack modes last for 8 minutes each, instead of the usual 4.

After a wet qualifying session it was a British 1-2 with Alex Lynn taking pole at his home race for Mahindra, ahead of countryman and BMW driver Jake Dennis – both of those two took to track in Group 3 of qualifying. Sebastian Buemi is a former champion of Formula E but is only 20th in the championship, he starts from 3rd today. Championship leader, Sam Bird, starts from 18th on the grid ahead of championship rival Robin Frijns who starts 22nd but behind other rival Da Costa who starts just ahead in 17th.

Off the start there wasn’t any movement, but in the first indoor to outdoor corner, we saw absolute mayhem with multiple cars pushing each other through the corner, causing home racer Alex Sims to retire. Sam Bird also picked up damage along the way and he had to pit to retire. It got worse for Jaguar, though, Mitch Evans also got caught up in the Sims collision and had to pit to fix his damage a lap after his teammate.

After 9 minutes of the race, the two race leaders took their first of two 8-minute attack modes. Further back an intense battle ensued for early positions in the Top 10: Di Grassi and Sette Camara fighting hard for 6th. Contact during their tussle caused an investigation to be launched to look into the contact. By now all the drivers had taken their first attack mode. Sette Camara got desperate in his defence, making contact with Nato and dropping to 11th. Once again, an investigation was launched to look into the collision.

Half way into the race, Lynn and Dennis both had 1 attack mode together and both miles ahead of the chasing pack. With 28 minutes to go, Lynn took his next attack mode but dropped behind his countryman and failed to gain any sort of advantage. In fact, the Mahindra driver dropped off the back of Dennis despite having the energy advantage.

With 18 minutes on the clock, Dennis finally took his 2nd attack mode and due to a lock up the lap before, he remained well ahead of Lynn. Lynn dropped off so much he fell into the clutches of Nyck de Vries who overtook him with 3 minutes to go.

Jake Dennis hasn’t been actively fighting for the championship, but he demonstrated in Valencia that he knows how to pull off a dominant victory and once again in London, his home race, he wins, but this time he jumps from 15th to 2nd in the championship. Nyck de Vries made it home to 4th in the championship. Alex Lynn will be disappointed that he couldn’t follow through with a victory and only moves up one spot in the championship. Sam Bird remains the championship leader despite his disappointing race today, Antonio Felix Da Costa drops to 3rd but is only 3 points off the championship lead now. While Dennis celebrated, Sebastian Buemi who finished 4th was investigated along with his teammate for an energy overuse. 

After that thrilling affair the team’s championship gets even tighter, the top 6 teams split by just 13 points as well as the top 5 drivers being split by 5 points. Another driver with a strong result was René Rast who came 6th with the fastest lap, giving him 10 points and bringing him within 10 points of the championship lead, and remaining in Group 2 of qualifying, giving him a huge advantage over his rivals.

Just 3 races to go now and yet anyone in the Top 15 of the championship could take the lead and win the championship, and I don’t know who will do it. That’s it then, so bye for now.

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Throwback Thursday: The Time Three Drivers Qualified On Pole

Morgan Holiday, Edited by Tanishka Vashee 

Only once in the history of Formula One have multiple drivers set the exact same lap time for a pole position in a qualifying session. Even weirder is the fact that on that occasion, it wasn’t just two but three drivers who set the exact same fastest time. That occasion was Jerez in 1997.

The 1997 season of Formula One was coming to a close, with Jerez set to be the 17th and final round. Williams had clinched the Constructors championship win the previous round, but the driver’s championship standings were still to be decided. Jacques Villeneuve  of Williams and Ferrari’s Michael Schumacher were in contention for the title. Schumacher was only one point ahead of Villeneuve, and so the two went into the final round with everything to play for.

On the 25th of October, 1997, Qualifying for the European Grand Prix was held, wherein 22 drivers had one hour to set 12 lap times. Their fastest lap time would determine their starting order for the race the following day.

The system used to record the lap times set by the drivers would measure their lap times to one thousandth of a second. 14 minutes into the session Jacques Villeneuve set a fastest lap of 1:21.072. Another 14 minutes later, Schumacher set a lap with the exact same time. Close to the end of the hour, Heinz-Harald Frentzen became the third driver of the session to set a 1:21.072.

As per the regulations in the result of a tie, pole position went to the driver who set the time first. And so they lined up for Sunday’s race: Villeneuve, Schumacher, and Frentzen, leaving Damon Hill, who technically set the second fastest time, to start P4.

Oddly enough, Formula One’s most interesting qualifying session wasn’t even the main talking point of the weekend. In the race both Schumacher and Frentzen got better starts than Villeneuve, leaving him in third place after the first lap. But on lap 48, Villeneuve, back in second place and trying to overtake for the lead, was turned in on by Schumacher deliberately. Unfortunately for Schumacher, he ended up having to retire, while Villeneuve went on to finish third and thus won himself the driver’s championship. 

The crash was deemed a racing incident by the stewards at the time, but Schumacher was later disqualified from the 1997 championship as a result. Max Mosley, the FIA’s President at that time, stated that they “concluded that although the actions were deliberate they were not premeditated”. Ferrari and Schumacher took no other fines or penalties for the incident, getting away quite fortunate in the end, as the consequences could have (any perhaps should have) been much worse.

Amidst all this drama, McLaren’s Mika Hakkinen took the race win, his first ever in Formula 1. But even that victory was fraught with controversy as McLaren and Williams were accused of colluding to give Hakkinen the win. Although these accusations were dismissed by the FIA at that time, it came out years later that Ron Dennis and Frank Williams did indeed have an agreement that if Villeneuve was in a position to win the championship, they would concede the win to McLaren.

All in all, Jerez 1997 was a weekend to remember for most Formula 1 fans, although not always because of the unique outcome of qualifying. Certainly if this sort of qualifying session were to happen today, the teams have the telemetry and technology to much more easily tell who deserves pole position. We may never know what the fourth decimal to each driver’s time was at Jerez 1997, and which driver was truly fastest. But whatever the case, it’s still a good story.

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