Motorsport Week - All News Catch up on all F1 news, here at Motorsport Week RSS Feed! Kubica must earn 2019 race seat – LoweTue, 23 Jan 2018 16:32:42 GMT<p>Robert Kubica can&#39;t expect to land a race seat because of his past form according to Williams&nbsp;chief technical officer Paddy Lowe, who says the Polish driver must earn a seat on the 2019 grid if he&#39;s to fulfil his comeback dream.</p> <p>Kubica was in the running to return in 2018 with Renault at first before that gap was filled by Carlos Sainz. An opportunity to replace Felipe Massa at Williams then arose, but following multiple tests, the team opted for Russian rookie Sergey Sirotkin.</p> <p>Lowe admits Sirotkin was the &quot;clear favourite&quot; when all factors were taken into account, but wouldn&#39;t elaborate on which areas Kubica&nbsp;was lacking.</p> <p>&quot;I&#39;m not going to talk about that,&quot; he told&nbsp;<em>Motorsport.&nbsp;</em>&quot;We&#39;ve done a lot of work with many drivers in this selection process.</p> <p>&quot;We picked Sergey on the full range of his performance, against many drivers, not just Robert. He was the clear favourite.&quot;</p> <p>Kubica will take up a reserve and development role with the team which will include test outings as well as Friday practice runs, which Lowe says will give the 33-year-old a chance to prove them and other teams that he is deserving of a seat.</p> <p>&quot;Robert has been on a journey to find his way back to Formula 1, from the trauma that occurred to his arm in the rally accident.</p> <p>&quot;And all credit to him, it&#39;s required an incredible commitment, a lot of bravery and a lot of dedication to that objective. And he&#39;s on that journey, and I think with us this next year as the development driver that journey will continue.</p> <p>&quot;Ultimately, it&#39;s not always about what&#39;s missing - it&#39;s a competitive market, to obtain a race seat. There are many more very, very talented drivers than there are seats.</p> <p>&quot;And Robert would want it no other way. He&#39;s got to earn the right to the race seat, whatever race seats may be available in 2019.&quot;</p> CNBC switches from Sauber to McLarenTue, 23 Jan 2018 12:51:02 GMT<p>McLaren has announced a new sponsor in CNBC,&nbsp;the leading global business news network, which has switched from the Sauber team after three seasons together.</p> <p>McLaren said the new multi-year deal will be used to &quot;unlock the potential of the network&rsquo;s powerful audience of business leaders and investors&quot;, as it seeks to boost its fortunes following a dismal few seasons.</p> <p>&quot;CNBC is a world-class, industry-leading brand and a superb fit for McLaren,&quot; said team boss Zak Brown.&nbsp;&quot;This partnership will greatly enhance our ability to reach a global business target audience while enabling both CNBC and McLaren to highlight shared attributes and values.</p> <p>&quot;Formula 1 is a sport undergoing exciting change at multiple levels and bringing that story to a global business will help raise the profile not only of McLaren and CNBC but the sport of Formula 1 too.&quot;</p> <p>KC Sullivan, president and managing director at CNBC International, added: &quot;With a shared passion for sporting excellence, CNBC is looking forward to working with the McLaren family of brands to tell the story of cutting edge innovation.&quot;</p> Bottas: 'I have one target, everyone knows what it is'Tue, 23 Jan 2018 11:13:28 GMT<p>Mercedes&#39; Valtteri Bottas has spoken about how eager he is to seize more opportunities in 2018 as he aims to perform better in his sophomore year with the Silver Arrows with one target in mind.</p> <p>Scoring three wins and four pole positions in his first season with the Brackley-based outfit was a solid effort in 2017, with team-mate Lewis Hamilton taking six more victories and winning the world championship, the Finn is keen to prove he is just as capable.</p> <p>Looking ahead to the new season in a Q&amp;A with the Mercedes team, when asked about what he is looking forward to the most, he replied:&nbsp;&quot;Well, it is always so exciting driving a new car for the first time.</p> <p>&quot;The team is working so hard on the car and this year I have been able to follow that process, and see how demanding it has been. Because last year I joined and the car was ready. So, yeah, I&#39;m looking forward to trying the new car and then it is a new season, everyone starts from zero. A new season full of opportunities and my aim is to take those opportunities this year.&quot;</p> <p>With plenty of work to be doing ahead of the new season, Bottas also expressed how happy&nbsp;he has been with the&nbsp;preparations made so far by his Mercedes team after visiting them on his first days getting back to work.</p> <p>&quot;It has been really good to be back,&quot; he added. &quot;It is always a nice place to come. I have met a lot of people, I have been through many departments of the factory, seeing what is going on.</p> <p>&quot;This time of year is so busy and things are going fast, it is nice to see how everything is coming together. Being in the simulator, meetings with engineers, it&#39;s been pretty standard stuff. It is a bit simpler this time around compared to one year ago because I don&#39;t need to get to know everyone. It&#39;s been a very good week.&quot;</p> <p>When pressed on what his personal target is for 2018, he added: &quot;I have one target, everyone knows what it is,&nbsp;I have learned massively in my five years in Formula 1, especially in 2017, so I have high targets. And for us as a team, we want to stay at the top.&quot;</p> <p>Mercedes will unveil their 2018 challenger and shakedown the new W09 at their launch event on February 22.</p> and Pramac are to part ways at the end of the 2018 seasonTue, 23 Jan 2018 11:00:46 GMT<p>Danilo Petrucci has confirmed he will be leaving the satellite Pramac Ducati team at the end of the 2018 season as he&nbsp;looks to secure a factory ride for 2019.</p> <p>The Italian stepped up to the Pramac squad in 2015 after several years with the struggling Ioda team aboard CRT and Open class machinery, and signed a deal directly with Ducati to ride a GP17 in Pramac colours last year.</p> <p>Speaking with Italian outlet <i>Gazzetta dello Sport</i>, Petrucci revealed he has an option to step up to the factory Ducati team for 2019 should the Italian manufacturer wish, though he feels the potential for contracts to be decided early in the year will put him at a disadvantage.</p> <p>&ldquo;Paolo Campinoti (Pramac team owner) and I are both aware: he pulled me out from hell, but we knew this would be our last year together,&rdquo; said Petrucci, who has scored five podium finishes for he Pramac team.</p> <p>&ldquo;I have a contract with Ducati, I have an option that expires in June to step up to the factory team &ndash; otherwise I&#39;m a free agent.</p> <p>&ldquo;This is the dream, but I believe everything will be decided in the first few races and I don&#39;t think this is very fair.&rdquo;</p> <p>Petrucci was linked to a move to Aprilia for this season after the Italian marque terminated rookie Sam Lowes&#39; two-year deal following a tough start to his campaign.</p> <p>The Italian admits a move to the Noale factory was &ldquo;very appealing&rdquo;, but was not keen to opt out of his deal with Pramac and Ducati early.</p> <p>&ldquo;In 2017 there was a strong temptation to go to Aprilia, riding for another Italian team was very appealing.</p> <p>&ldquo;But I didn&#39;t want to be &#39;divorced while living together&#39;. However, after seven years in MotoGP, the dream is this (to ride for a factory team).&rdquo;</p> <p>Earlier in the month, <i>Gazzetto dello Sport</i> reported double Moto3 race winner and Moto2 frontrunner Francesco Bagnaia was finalising a deal to step up to the premier class with Pramac for 2019.</p> completes GP3 line-up with Anthoine Hubert confirmationTue, 23 Jan 2018 09:59:40 GMT<p>ART Grand Prix has confirmed its final GP3 Series line-up for the 2018 season with the news that&nbsp;Anthoine Hubert will remain with the outfit for a second season.</p> <p>The Frenchman finished eighth in his debut Formula 3 season with&nbsp;Van Amersfoort Racing in 2016&nbsp;before jumping up to GP3 with ART where he finished a strong fourth, with four podium finishes.</p> <p>He joins Callum Ilott, Nikita Mazepin and Jake Hughes to complete the team&#39;s line-up for the upcoming season.</p> <p>&quot;After a decisive integration within the team in 2017 but a feeling of unfinished business, I&rsquo;m keen to capitalise on the experience gained the last year and aim my goal with ART Grand Prix in 2018,&quot; saif<strong>&nbsp;</strong>Hubert.</p> <p>&quot;It is also what the team wants and I thank them for trusting me. I also want to thank my partners, because without them this agreement would not have been possible, Lamirault Automobile Group and KML Management. This year, my goal will be to win the championship.&quot;</p> <p>Team boss S&eacute;bastien Philippe added:&nbsp;&quot;Anthoine had a significant first year for a talented and dedicated driver who now has all the assets needed to put his name on the list of GP3 winners. He knows the circuits, he has the experience of the car and works in well with the team.</p> <p>&quot;He has had high praise from experienced drivers in 2017 and this year will be one for title contenders with ART Grand Prix with the ambition to keep both crowns.&quot;</p> Sainz Jr. to drive course car on Rallye Monte Carlo power stageMon, 22 Jan 2018 17:55:00 GMT<p>Renault Formula 1 driver Carlos Sainz Jr. is to make his non-competitive rallying debut in Monte Carlo this weekend.</p> <p>Sainz Jr. is to pilot one of the organiser&rsquo;s Renault Megane R.S course cars through the 13.58km La Cabanette-Col de Braus Power Stage on Sunday before the WRC regulars battle it out for the five bonus points.</p> <p>Sainz Jr.&rsquo;s father Carlos Sainz won the Rallye Monte Carlo three times during his distinguished career.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m really looking forward to experiencing Rallye Monte-Carlo for the first time,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ve heard so much about it from my dad &ndash; how difficult the stages are, how the conditions can change in an instant from snow to rain or bright sunshine and of course how you need nerves of steel for some of those mountain passes and hairpins!</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s going to be a real thrill to take part in such a legendary event behind the wheel of a Renault M&eacute;gane R.S, which will be fitted with snow and studded tyres so I can get a more complete sensation of rallying around these stages.&rdquo;</p> <p>This weekend&rsquo;s event marks the start of the 2018 World Rally Championship.</p> rolls out LMP1 prototype in anger at Leeds East AirportMon, 22 Jan 2018 15:40:50 GMT<p><strong>After the official unveiling of its&nbsp;G60-LT-P1 prototype last week, Ginetta has&nbsp;unleashed the car that privateer outfit TRS Manor will use in the 2018/19 FIA WEC Super Season.</strong></p> <p>The soaked tarmac of Leeds East Airport was the perfect stage for Ginetta Factory Driver Mike Simpson to make the 3.4 litre turbocharged Mecachrome engine of the latest LMP1 class contender roar. This first closed test served as an opportunity for the British manufacturer to showcase its&nbsp;first ever Le Mans top class machinery in front of their inhouse development team, representatives from their customer team TRS Manor and the whole world.</p> <p>Ewan Baldry, Ginetta&rsquo;s Technical Director, <a href=";utm_campaign=Video%20Ginetta%20G60-LT-P1%20Roll%20Out%20at%20Leeds%20East%20Airport&amp;utm_content=Video%20Ginetta%20G60-LT-P1%20Roll%20Out%20at%20Leeds%20East%20Airport+CID_ac32acfdbfcee29bc65dd12eaff769a0&amp;utm_source=Email%20marketing%20software">described the shakedown</a> as &ldquo;a proud moment for all of us&rdquo; and expressed his delight that the team can move on to the fine-tuning stages of development prior to the G60-LT-P1&rsquo;s first race, the 2018 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. &ldquo;We&rsquo;re very excited by what lies ahead for our customers,&rdquo; concluded Baldry.</p> <p><div class='video-container'><iframe allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="315" src="" width="560"></iframe></div></p>'s Fastest Gamer Rudy van Buren prepares for Race of Champions at McLaren Technology CentreMon, 22 Jan 2018 14:58:48 GMT<p><strong>The winner of McLaren&#39;s &quot;World&#39;s Fastest Gamer&quot; 2017 eSports competition, Rudy van Buren, is preparing to tackle his first big challenge of the year: the 2018 Race of Champions.</strong></p> <p>The 25-year-old Dutchman was greeted this morning by McLaren&rsquo;s official Twitter account as his simulator program with the team officially started. He is expected to undergo media training, fitness evaluations and a photoshoot in the coming days before diving fully into his year-long commitment to the Woking squad as a simulator driver.</p> <p>His first major duty as a McLaren employee is just around the corner: the Race of Champions 2018 to be held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia between 2-3 February. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a one-off opportunity that&rsquo;s ordinarily completely out of reach for a regular driver, so to get this close, and to be able to show my hand, is really exciting. I want to get the chance to show people that I&rsquo;m more than just a gamer. More importantly, I just want to go out there, enjoy the opportunity and have fun,&rdquo; said the Dutchman <a href=";utm_medium=Social&amp;utm_campaign=WFG">speaking to McLaren&rsquo;s official website.</a></p> <p>This year&rsquo;s RoC lineup includes F1 winners Juan Pablo Montoya and David Coulthard, nine-time Le Mans winner Tom Kristensen, 2003 WRC champion Petter Solberg, reigning IndyCar champion Josef Newgarden and McLaren protege Lando Norris. Van Buren will also feature in the Nations Cup as part of &ldquo;Team Simracing All Stars&rdquo; <a href="">alongside the winner of the eRoC, a parallel&nbsp;competition</a> that will include F1 eSports 2017 champion Brendon Leigh.</p> <p>Although van Buren&rsquo;s strong suit is obviously simracing, the Dutchman does have some real-world racing experience under his belt in karting and Formula Ford, albeit his last competitive experience in a real car was in 2010. &ldquo;Obviously, I&rsquo;ll be on the back-foot compared to the experienced drivers. Having said that, the RoC format and the track means that everybody will be out of their comfort zone. It&rsquo;ll be a more equal playing field; easier than, say, jumping in a car during a test at Barcelona,&rdquo; said the World&rsquo;s Fastest Gamer.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m not nervous; I&rsquo;m excited.&rdquo;</p> Bratches confirms more F1 Live events for 2018Mon, 22 Jan 2018 14:07:07 GMT<p><strong>Formula 1&#39;s Managing Director of Commercial Operations, Sean Bratches, has confirmed that the top tier motorsport series will hold more &#39;F1 Live&#39; events in 2018.</strong></p> <p>Last year, Formula 1 took to the streets of London ahead of the British Grand Prix, with all ten teams and 19 of the 20 full-time drivers of last season making appearances, driving cars of&nbsp;past seasons and classic racing machinery.</p> <p>&quot;The next events of this kind will not be quite that big,&quot; Bratches told <em>Auto Motor und Sport</em>.&nbsp;&quot;We&#39;re planning something similar in Marseille, Berlin, Milan, Shanghai and Miami, but not with so many cars.</p> <p>&quot;We believe that this contact with the audience outside the race track is important. It carries our message to people we would not otherwise reach.</p> <p>&quot;Formula 1 has been so exclusive over the years that it was only accessible to interested people. The same applies to sponsors. There is a lot of interest from companies that are not yet in F1,&quot; he added.</p> <p>Last season saw a growth in TV viewing figures in Formula 1 by 6.2 per cent while there was also a growth of 54.9 per cent&nbsp;for the brand on social media platforms, and Bratches described PR events such as F1 Live in London as &quot;very important&quot; for increasing the series&#39; presence.</p> 249 of Motorsport Monday is out now - Viva Dakar!Mon, 22 Jan 2018 09:44:14 GMT<p><strong>Issue 249&nbsp;of our free weekly magazine, Motorsport Monday, is online now and packed full of great content&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;<a href="">click here</a>&nbsp;or the&nbsp;link below to start reading.</strong></p> <p>Well it&#39;s all over down in South America for another year and this year&#39;s Dakar Champion has been crowned. Despite predictions of a Loeb/Peterhansel or a Al-Attiyah/de Villiers battle for the win, it was Peugeot&#39;s dark horse, former double WRC champ Carlos Sainz who crept up quietly on the whole field. And he delivered a devastating blow either side of the rest day to take a lead that he would hold onto all of the second week in the run back to Argentina. Jerry Williams has the story...</p> <p>In just under a week, two of the year&#39;s major stories will be over and we should have an idea of the pecking order in both the World Rally Championship and the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship for 2018. Yes, by this time next week we will know the winners of both the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 68th running of the Rallye Monte Carlo.</p> <p>Daniel Lloyd has the preview on the year&#39;s first major sportscar race plus for the first time, we profile the major runners in a new section, the &#39;Ones to Watch&#39; in where he profiles the drivers, their cars and what chance they may have come&nbsp;Sunday&nbsp;afternoon. Jerry Williams has the full story on how Monte preparations are going for the field plus he also has our first WRC Team News of the year too.</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" height="127" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Magazine/click-to-read.png" width="800" /></a></p> of Man TT winner Michael Dunlop will test 2017 Suzuki MotoGP bike at SepangSun, 21 Jan 2018 10:55:31 GMT<p>Isle of Man TT winner Michael Dunlop is set to test Suzuki&#39;s MotoGP bike at a private test at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia next week.</p> <p>15-times TT winner Dunlop has been offered his first taste of MotoGP machinery as a token of gratitude from the Japanese manufacturer for taking the new GSX-R1000 Superbike to Senior TT glory at last year&#39;s event.</p> <p>The Ballymoney rider will be joined by former MotoGP race winner, 2010 Moto2 world champion and reigning MotoAmerica Superbike champion Toni Elias and Australian Superbike champion Josh Waters at the two-day outing which will take place on January 25-26, before the first official test of the year gets underway two days later.</p> <p>Dunlop&#39;s late uncle Joey &ndash; who still holds the record for most TT wins with 26 &ndash; made two wildcard appearances in grand prix racing in 1979 at Le Mans in the 350cc class, and in 1985 in the 250cc race at Silverstone. Dunlop managed to take points from both events, with ninth and tenth-place finishes respectively.&nbsp;</p> <p>Elias &ndash; who last raced in MotoGP as Stefan Bradl&#39;s replacement at the Forward team towards the end of the 2015 campaign &ndash; Waters and Dunlop are all expected to ride the 2017 version of the GSX-RR, while official test rider and former World Superbike champion Sylvain Guintoli will run the 2018 bike.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> Lando Norris targeting F2 title in rookie yearSat, 20 Jan 2018 17:40:32 GMT<p><strong>McLaren&nbsp;prot&eacute;g&eacute;​ Lando Norris has revealed that he is targeting the Formula 2 championship title when he joins the F1 feeder series in 2018.</strong></p> <p>Norris won the European Formula 3 Championship in 2017 with Carlin and rejoins the Surrey-based outfit for this year, where he will race alongside Sergio Sette Camara.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;A title would be nice,&quot; said Norris when asked about his ambitions for the 2018 season. &quot;I think it&#39;s going to be a very big challenge.</p> <p>&quot;Going with Carlin is a bit of a risk, especially because they didn&#39;t do it [compete] last year so they&#39;re a bit behind what other teams are. But I think I can put confidence in them like I did last year to try and win the [Formula 3] championship.</p> <p>&quot;On top of that, I&#39;ll try and have some wins and learn as much as I can basically,&quot; he added.</p> <p>In 2018, Norris faces stiff opposition in Formula 2 with GP3 champion George Russell and Renault Academy driver Jack Aitken racing for ART Grand Prix, while Nirei Fukuzumi joins Arden International.&nbsp;</p> <p>Alexander Albon is expected to switch to DAMS, joining the experienced Nicholas Latifi, while fellow McLaren youngster Nyck de Vries has linked up with Prema.</p> <p>&quot;I&#39;m very excited [for 2018]. Like I said, it&#39;s a big challenge what&#39;s going to be coming up and I think that&#39;s one of the few things I like about racing.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s going to be tough. I have a lot of new opportunities especially with McLaren so I&#39;ll try and make the most of them and I&nbsp;get to travel a lot as well which is a better job than what most people have so, all of that put together, is going to make for a very exciting year.&quot;</p> <p>This season sees the introduction of the new F2 2018 car which replaces the GP2-11, having been designed to have a greater resemblance to current spec Formula 1 machinery, with wider and more aggressive styling and a new 3.4-litre turbocharged Mechachrome engine.</p> Sports eyeing up a potential city race for MotoGPSat, 20 Jan 2018 15:34:17 GMT<p class="western" style="margin-bottom: 0cm">MotoGP owners Dorna Sports are considering the idea of staging a MotoGP event on closed city streets in the future, with plans for such a race already taking shape.</p> <p class="western" style="margin-bottom: 0cm">CEO of Dorna Carmelo Ezpeleta said in an interview with Spanish publication <em>Expansion</em> that the proposed urban street grand prix project, to be held in an as-of-yet unnamed &ldquo;warm city&rdquo;, is &ldquo;solid&quot;, with the Spaniard outlining his idea for where the main straight and paddock would be situated.</p> <p class="western" style="margin-bottom: 0cm; font-weight: normal">&ldquo;It is possible that there is an urban circuit in MotoGP,&quot;&nbsp;Ezpeleta said. There is a solid project in a warm city.&nbsp;</p> <p class="western" style="margin-bottom: 0cm; font-weight: normal">&ldquo;In theory, the main straight of the track would be held on a street and the paddock would be covered, integrated in an exhibition centre.</p> <p class="western" style="margin-bottom: 0cm; font-weight: normal">&ldquo;For the grand prix weekend it will be used for the race, and many other things during the rest of the year.&rdquo;</p> <p class="western" style="margin-bottom: 0cm; font-weight: normal">Currently, the only international motorcycle racing event to be staged on closed city streets is the Macau Grand Prix, though no grand prix riders or machinery contest the event anymore.</p> <p class="western" style="margin-bottom: 0cm; font-weight: normal">The 2018 MotoGP season is set to be the longest in the series&#39; near 70-year history, with the addition of a race in Thailand &ndash; to be staged at the Chang International Circuit in Buriram &ndash; nudging the number of races up to 19.</p> <p class="western" style="margin-bottom: 0cm; font-weight: normal">A Finnish Grand Prix has been mooted for 2019, though financial troubles of late with the KymiRing could see another event take its place.</p> <p class="western" style="margin-bottom: 0cm; font-weight: normal">In the same interview, Ezpeleta revealed that at least eight countries have been in contact about potentially holding a race, though he remains adamant that the calendar will not exceed 20 events.</p> <p class="western" style="margin-bottom: 0cm; font-weight: normal">&ldquo;Right now there is a list of about eight countries that would choose to have a championship round, but we cannot do 26 races,&rdquo; he explained.</p> Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo crazy cart the factorySat, 20 Jan 2018 14:52:24 GMT<p>Max Verstappen and Daniel Ricciardo are going a little stir crazy waiting for Formula One to return, so to keep their racing senses sharp, the pair took to some crazy carts for a Red Bull factory grand prix. Who won, check out the video to find out!</p> 1 set for minimum driver weight in 2019Sat, 20 Jan 2018 12:46:10 GMT<p>Formula 1 is set to introduce a minimum driver weight in 2019 as part of a plan&nbsp;to avoid penalising heavier drivers.</p> <p>During a meeting of the&nbsp;F1 Strategy Group this week, the proposal was tabled that car and driver weight should once again be split, like it was prior to 1995, with a minimum car and driver weight specified in the regulations.</p> <p>Driver weight has become an issue again, with the FIA raising the overall minimum weight for 2018 to&nbsp;734kg, taking into account the Halo. However estimates have actually put the overall Halo weight at between 12-14kg with mounting points and changes to the chassis, thus reducing the scope for performance ballast and therefore penalising heavier drivers.</p> <p>For 2019, it&#39;s believed an 80kg weight will be specified for the&nbsp;driver, meaning any driver weighing under that limit will have to run&nbsp;ballast equal to their deficit &ndash; to avoid teams using that ballast unfairly, i.e. by placing it strategically to balance the car, it will have to be positioned under the seat in a pre-determined location.</p> <p>Although drivers weighing more than 80kg will still be penalised slightly, the system should make it fairer overall and avoid drivers having to drastically lose weight which led to some health concerns in recent seasons, including drivers racing without water bottles to avoid carrying excess weight.</p> <p>The weight of the car, which will again rise by 6kg in 2019, will be 660kg without the driver and seat, therefore giving engineers a specific target to aim for, rather than having to take into account the weight of their two drivers &ndash; which could fluctuate during the off-season.</p> Marchionne says Alfa Romeo could join IndyCar nextSat, 20 Jan 2018 11:27:04 GMT<p>Alfa Romeo will return to Formula 1 this season in a tie-up with the Sauber F1 team as it looks to boost its profile and sell more cars in the future, but its involvement in motorsport might not stop there according to&nbsp;Sergio Marchionne.</p> <p>Marchionne, CEO of Alfa Romeo&#39;s parent company FIAT Chrysler Automobiles, as well as being president of Ferrari, orchestrated the Italian manufacturer&#39;s return to F1 and most recently floated the idea of Maserati &ndash; another FCA brand &ndash; linking up with an existing IndyCar team.</p> <p>However more&nbsp;recently&nbsp;Marchionne has said the idea of Alfa Romeo getting into IndyCar is being thought about, particularly as the brand wants to expand its presence in North America.</p> <p>&ldquo;Why not Alfa Romeo in IndyCar?&rdquo; he asked. &ldquo;We are thinking about it.</p> <p>&quot;Gian Paolo Dallara (designer and supplier of every IndyCar chassis) &ndash;&nbsp;I consider him a great, the best Italian engineer around,&quot; added Marchionne.</p> <p>Meanwhile IndyCar&#39;s&nbsp;president of competition and operations, Jay Frye, confirmed a number of manufactuer&#39;s had expressed an interest in joining the series, but wouldn&#39;t confirm if one of those was Alfa Romeo.</p> <p>&quot;Over the last several months, particularly since our 2017 season ended, we have had numerous meetings with OEMs about the prospects of becoming partners with IndyCar,&quot; he told <em>Motorsport</em>.&nbsp;&quot;We&#39;ve had around 10 of them &ndash; some initial meetings, some follow-ups.</p> <p>&quot;So I can say there&#39;s been a lot of enthusiasm and positive response to that and so we&#39;re very encouraged &ndash; switching back to a universal aerokit has removed a major technical and financial hurdle for any potential OEMs. And so there&#39;s been really good activity and responses.&quot;</p> Stirling Moss announces retirement from public lifeSat, 20 Jan 2018 00:45:57 GMT<p>Motorsport legend Sir Stirling Moss has announced his retirement from public life at the age of 88.</p> <p>Moss, who is often considered the greatest Formula 1 driver never to win a championship, spent 134 days in hospital last year after he fell ill whilst holidaying in Singapore.</p> <p>Therefore he has announced, through a statement issued by his son, that&nbsp;he will retire from public life&nbsp;to spend more time with his family.</p> <p>&quot;To all of his many friends and fans around the world, who use this website for regular updates, my father would like to announce that he will be closing it down,&quot; said the statement on Moss&#39;&nbsp;personal website.</p> <p>&ldquo;Following his severe infections at the end of 2016 and his subsequent slow and arduous recovery, the decision has been made that, at the age of 88, the indefatigable man will finally retire, so that he and my mother can have some much deserved rest and spend more time with each other and the rest of the family.</p> <p>&quot;The entire and extended Moss clan thank everyone for all their love and support over the years and we wish you all a happy and prosperous 2018.&quot;</p> <p>The British racer won 16 grands prix during his 66-race career, finishing runner-up on four occasions and third on three. Outside of F1, Moss won more than 212 races in various categories, including the 1955 Mille Miglia.</p> <p>His retirement from top-tier motorsport came in 1962 following a crash&nbsp;at Goodwood which left him in a coma for a month and partially paralysed for six, but in his later years he has regularly made public appearances at races and motorsport shows.</p> Timelapse of VJM10 build in Force India receptionFri, 19 Jan 2018 15:22:16 GMT<p>The most successful Sahara Force India car in the team&#39;s history, the VJM10, has been officially consigned to the history books and it will now grace the reception of Force India&#39;s Silverstone headquarters.</p> <p>In&nbsp;an emotional moment, bringing up memories of happy points-scoring Sundays and of performances that brought the team&nbsp;to the biggest championship tally in their history. As work behind the scenes continues on its successor, the crew assembled in the lobby of the factory to build the VJM10 one final time.</p> <p>In less than one hour the creation, the very specimen used by Checo Perez in the 2017 season, was sent off into a happy retirement, never to turn a wheel in anger again.</p> rules out Formula 1 entry until costs are reducedFri, 19 Jan 2018 13:00:56 GMT<p><strong>Ford&#39;s Motorsport boss, Mark Rushbrook, has ruled out another foray into Formula 1 for the </strong><strong>forseeable</strong><strong>&nbsp;future for the American car giant, with costs of competing being far too high to consider an entry.</strong></p> <p>Ford last competed in Formula 1 in 2004 as an engine manufacturer with Jaguar Racing before leaving the sport for the 2005 season and selling their Cosworth branch.&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite the high cost of competing in the premier single seater series, Rushbrook explained to <em>Autocar</em> that F1 is more attractive than other alternatives such as Formula E, due to its use of hybrid&nbsp;power units.</p> <p>&ldquo;Hybrid power will be relevant for a long time for Ford, especially if it introduces budgets,&rdquo; he told <em>Autocar</em>,&nbsp;later explaining that controlled spending in the series would be needed for Ford to consider an entry as, at present,&nbsp;&ldquo;cost reduction in F1 is all relative. If you cap in one area, [manufacturers] will spend in another&rdquo;.</p> <p>In racing, Ford&#39;s primary focus is on the World Endurance Championship and the WRC in which Ford will increase its involvement with M-Sport who won both the Drivers&#39; and Manufacturers&#39; Championships&nbsp;last season.</p> <p>&ldquo;Specifically for WRC, there&rsquo;s now more financial commitment but also more technical support from us. For 2018, we can help with more technical analysis of the car&rsquo;s engine and look at its flow and combustion to improve performance,&rdquo; Rushbrook added.</p> <p>&ldquo;A lot of the hardware we use in the WRC&nbsp;we can also use on road cars, so by testing them in this hard competition environment [in which it faces stiff opposition&nbsp;from Citroen, Hyundai and Toyota], it stresses them to far greater levels than on a road car. It&rsquo;s very useful data.&rdquo;</p> <p>F1 is planning to dramatically reduce costs from 2021 onwards, with a simplified hybrid engine, whilst a budget cap is also under consideration.</p> Sirotkin requests 35 as permanent F1 race numberFri, 19 Jan 2018 10:48:07 GMT<p>Williams youngster Sergey Sirotkin is set to use 35 as his official race number through his Formula 1 career, as he prepares to make his debut in 2018.</p> <p>Sirotkin, who finished third in GP2 in both 2015 and 2016, spent two years in test and reserve roles with Renault, receiving practice runs, having previously held a similar position at Sauber in 2014.</p> <p>With Renault having opted to recruit Carlos Sainz Jr. to partner Nico Hulkenberg, Sirotkin turned his attentions to Williams, and tested for the team during post-race tyre running in Abu Dhabi last November.</p> <p>Williams gave Sirotkin the nod for the race seat vacated by the retired Felipe Massa for 2018 and the Russian will partner Lance Stroll this season.</p> <p>Under regulations introduced in 2014, each driver selects a number between 2 and 99 to carry through their careers, with 1 reserved for the reigning champion and 17 retired in honour of the late Jules Bianchi.</p> <p>Sirotkin has requested 35, though this has yet to be formally approved, with the number currently allocated to one of Force India&rsquo;s test cars; George Russell carried it during practice in Brazil and Abu Dhabi last year.</p> <p>The last time 35 was used in race trim was at the 1991 San Marino Grand Prix, where Eric van der Poele classified ninth for the Lamborghini-affiliated Modena team.</p> <p>Sirotkin&#39;s fellow 2018 rookie, Sauber&#39;s Charles Leclerc, has selected 16 as his permanent number.</p> Leclerc expects return to current-year power unit to aid SauberFri, 19 Jan 2018 09:56:47 GMT<p>Ferrari-backed Sauber rookie Charles Leclerc reckons the team&rsquo;s return to using current-year power units should act as a boost this season, after recent struggles.</p> <p>Sauber finished 10th in the standings in 2014 and 2016, its plight accentuated by financial issues, and switched to using year-old Ferrari engines for 2017, having utilised the marque&#39;s current-year power units in prior seasons.</p> <p>Sauber&rsquo;s decision to use a previous spec engine contributed to it finishing 10th again in the championship, and mid-season managerial changes led to the cancellation of its planned Honda deal.</p> <p>Newly-installed team boss Frederic Vasseur renewed Sauber&rsquo;s association with Ferrari, returning to current-spec units for 2018, as the team signed a partnership deal with FCA offshoot Alfa Romeo.</p> <p>Leclerc, who won the GP3 title in 2016 with the Vasseur-run ART Grand Prix operation, reckons Sauber will gain from its engine decision, as he prepares for his Formula 1 debut.</p> <p>&ldquo;Like for any racing driver, signing the first contract as a full-time driver in Formula 1 is a dream come true,&rdquo; said reigning F2 champion Leclerc.</p> <p>&ldquo;Having the new 2018-spec Ferrari engine in place will be a big boost for the team. The newly formed partnership with Alfa Romeo is also exciting news.</p> <p>&ldquo;As for my personal expectations &ndash; my primary goal is to continue developing my skills as a driver, and to gain as much experience in Formula 1 as I can.</p> <p>&ldquo;In terms of my expectations and goals, I will work hard to support the team in developing the car during the season, so that we are able to obtain the best possible results in the 2018 season.&rdquo;</p> <p>Leclerc will line up alongside Marcus Ericsson at Sauber, the Swede set for his fifth season in the championship and fourth with Sauber, having joined the team at the end of 2014.</p> <p>Leclerc reckons he can profit from Ericsson&rsquo;s experience, the 27-year-old having racked up more starts in Formula 1 than half of the 2018 grid.</p> <p>&ldquo;It has been quite easy to get to know Marcus,&rdquo; Leclerc said. &ldquo;He is going into his fifth season in Formula 1 and I can definitely learn from him, especially in terms of all of the new procedures which I am currently getting used to.</p> <p>&ldquo;My main expectation and goal for the season in terms of our cooperation is that we work together constructively, and provide the team with as much feedback as possible to develop the car in the right direction, so that we can both have a satisfying season.&rdquo;</p> i20 reminds Andreas Mikkelsen of dominant title-winning VW PoloFri, 19 Jan 2018 09:40:37 GMT<p>Latest Hyundai World Rally Team recruit Andreas Mikkelsen reckons his i20 WR Car reminds him of the all-conquering VW Polo he drove until the end of the 2016 season.</p> <p>It was after Volkswagen&#39;s&nbsp;shock exit from the series that Mikkelsen was left without a seat, despite winning the Polo&rsquo;s final event, the 2016 running of Rally Australia. Eventually, after driving a &Scaron;koda Fabia R5 WRC2 car and then a Citro&euml;n C3 WR Car for three rounds, he found a berth at the Korean team for the final three events of 2017.</p> <p>Now he says that the performance of the i20 on loose surfaces is similar to his experience of the Polo in which he won three rallies.</p> <p>&quot;Especially coming back to gravel was very much feeling like going back to the Polo,&rdquo; Mikkelsen told Motorsport Week. &ldquo;The Citro&euml;n C3 was a bit more difficult to drive on gravel. On asphalt it was really nice.</p> <p>&quot;I feel now we&#39;re in the best place possible to fight for the championship. I feel a lot more comfortable in the car, so I do believe that we have major possibilities for the year and we can fight for the top.&quot;</p> <p>The coming season will be his first full-time campaign with Hyundai, kicking off with Monte Carlo&nbsp;which the Norwegian won in the&nbsp;WRC2 class by more than three minutes last year.</p> <p>&quot;We&#39;re pretty much in control, we haven&#39;t had too many tricky conditions yet; no ice or snow, we&#39;re still looking for that at the moment,&rdquo; he added. &ldquo;I&#39;m sure by the start of Monte, we will be ready for the 2018 season.&quot;</p> <p>Meanwhile Hyundai boss Michel Nandan said his team will run four cars in Portugal. It was a decision to make sure that Dani Sordo and Hayden Paddon contest the same number of rallies in the year.</p> Team Nederland signs Giedo Van der Garde for 2018-19 'super season'Fri, 19 Jan 2018 09:27:54 GMT<p>Racing Team Nederland has added Dutch ex-Formula 1 driver Giedo van der Garde to its 2018-19 World Endurance Championship entry.</p> <p>The 32-year-old&nbsp;will co-drive the team&#39;s&nbsp;Dallara P217-Gibson in the LMP2 category with team owner Frits van Eerd, and one other unconfirmed driver.</p> <p>Van der Garde, who made 19 Grand Prix starts with Caterham in 2013, won the 2016 European Le Mans title as a sportscar rookie with Jota Sport, but was left without a full-time drive the following season.</p> <p>This year will mark his debut full-season campaign in the WEC, which will also feature his second appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.</p> <p><font><font>&quot;I am very happy that Racing Team Netherland&nbsp;and Frits have given me this great opportunity,&quot; said Van der Garde.</font></font></p> <p><font><font>&quot;</font><font>The ambitions of the team appeal to me enormously and I would like to be part of it.&nbsp;</font></font><font><font>The World Championship is super competitive and the 24 Hours of Le Mans is one of the most beautiful races in the world. It will be&nbsp;</font><font>very special to be at the start again.&quot;</font></font></p> <p><font><font>Van Eerd added: &quot;I am very pleased that Giedo will drive for us.&nbsp;</font><font>He is fast, experienced and very motivated.&quot;</font></font></p> <p><font><font>&quot;Our debut in the World&nbsp;Championship is a fantastic challenge, and I think it&#39;s great that we are working with&nbsp;a rider of this calibre.&quot;</font></font></p> <p>The Racing Team Nederland squad is stepping up to the WEC this season having finished 11th on its debut in the European Le Mans Series last year.</p> <p>So far, supermarket magnate Van Eerd is the only non-ORECA entrant to commit to the championship, which is set to release its official entry list on February 9th.</p> replacement for cancelled Montreal Formula E raceThu, 18 Jan 2018 15:17:08 GMT<p>Formula E has decided it won&#39;t replace the cancelled Montreal ePrix double-header, meaning the season four (2017/18) calendar will drop from its original 14 races to just 12, ending in New York.</p> <p>Montreal had been due to host a double-header season finale in late-July, but city mayor&nbsp;Val&eacute;rie Plante announced it would either be relocated to the Circuit Gilles Villeneuve or scrapped altogether, due to unpaid bills.</p> <p>With the former not an option due to scheduled construction work for a new Formula 1 pit and paddock complex, Plante had <a href="">no other option but to cancel the race</a>, forcing Formula E bosses to look at potential replacements.</p> <p>A Birmingham event was tabled, as was a race at the Norisring, but both failed to gather enough support due to the tight timescales involved in getting a new event&nbsp;sorted within a matter of months. Meanwhile adding a Sunday race to Rome&#39;s already sold-out Saturday event was also rejected.</p> <p>The season will therefore end with a double-header in New York on July 15, with the move costing teams a combined &pound;660,000 (&euro;750,000) in prize money, due to the shortened calendar.</p> announce launch date for Renault-powered MCL33Thu, 18 Jan 2018 11:03:37 GMT<p>McLaren has announced the launch date for its new 2018 car, the&nbsp;MCL33, will be on February 23, just days before pre-season is due to get underway in Barcelona.</p> <p>Having now switched to Renault power after three lacklustre years with Honda, the British team is aiming to secure podiums and fight towards the front of the field.</p> <p>A change of colour has been hinted at for the 2018 season, the historical papaya orange which Fernando Alonso ran at the Indy 500 for McLaren Andretti Autosport is the direction the team is set to go in.</p> <p>The team will field an unchanged driver line-up, with Alonso staying on for a fourth season and Stoffel Vandoorne remaining for his sophomore campaign.</p> <p>European F3 champion Lando Norris will act as test and reserve driver, alongside his Formula 2 duties with Carlin.</p> <p><strong>Confirmed Launch Dates</strong></p> <p><strong>Ferrari - February 22<br /> Mercedes - February 22<br /> McLaren - February 23<br /> Toro Rosso - February 25</strong></p> Rosso confirms 2018 challenger launch dateThu, 18 Jan 2018 10:41:33 GMT<p>Toro Rosso have&nbsp;become the latest team to confirm the date of its 2018 car launch, with the Italian outfit switching to Honda power this year.</p> <p>Toro Rosso have scheduled a launch event on the evening of February 25, the day before pre-season testing kicks-off in Barcelona where the STR13 &ndash; name to be confirmed &ndash;&nbsp;will get its first public shakedown along with its rivals.</p> <p>It will be the team&#39;s first year with Honda power following a late switch last year, with McLaren dumping&nbsp;the Japanese supplier in favour of Renault &ndash; a deal which could have only happened if Toro Rosso agreed to end its contract with the French manufacturer early.</p> <p>It will therefore be the only Honda-powered team on the 2018 grid. Toro Rosso will be hoping Honda can get its act together following three years of struggles on both the performance and reliability side.</p> <p><strong>Confirmed Launch Dates</strong></p> <p><strong>Ferrari - February 22<br /> Mercedes - February 22<br /> McLaren - February 23<br /> Toro Rosso - February 25</strong></p> confirm Silverstone launch date for W09Thu, 18 Jan 2018 10:25:07 GMT<p>Reigning Formula 1 World Champions Mercedes will launch its W09 at Silverstone on February 22, a few days prior to the start of pre-season testing.</p> <p>Mercedes has secured both titles in each year of the hybrid era, and last season fended off a resurgent Ferrari, with Lewis Hamilton beating Sebastian Vettel in the Drivers&#39; standings.</p> <p>Hamilton and team-mate Valtteri Bottas, who took three wins last year, will be on hand to pull the covers from the W09 at the home of the British Grand Prix, with the launch also set to be broadcast to spectators online.</p> <p>Both drivers will then give the car a shakedown, with the team opting to use the event as one of its allocated filming days, with 100km of action permitted on Pirelli&rsquo;s promotional tyres, repeating its approach from 2017.</p> <p>Ferrari will also take the wraps off its 2018 Formula 1 challenger on the same day, and Mercedes stressed that it is workely closely with its opponents to ensure that there are no time clashes.</p> <p>Pre-season testing will then get underway at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on February 26.</p> <p><strong>Confirmed Launch Dates</strong></p> <p><strong>Ferrari - February 22<br /> Mercedes - February 22<br /> McLaren - February 23<br /> Toro Rosso - February 25</strong></p> George Russell secures graduation to F2 with ARTThu, 18 Jan 2018 09:06:03 GMT<p>Mercedes prot&eacute;g&eacute; George Russell will graduate to Formula 2 with ART Grand Prix this season, the team confirmed on Thursday.</p> <p>Russell, 19, swept to last year&rsquo;s GP3 title in his rookie campaign and received Formula 1 practice runs with Force India, having conducted mid-season testing for Mercedes.</p> <p>Russell carried out post-season Formula 2 testing for ART, the team with which he won the GP3 crown, and will step up to the series this year, joining 2017 team-mate Jack Aitken.</p> <p>&quot;I am very happy to be able to race in Formula 2 while continuing to drive for ART Grand Prix,&quot; he said.</p> <p>&quot;We had a very successful year together last season and so it makes sense to continue working together and seek out new successes.</p> <p>&quot;With the introduction of a new Formula 2 car, it will be challenging for all the teams to optimise the set-up from the start of the season, but I have every confidence in ART Grand Prix to get there and to be competitive as quickly as possible.</p> <p>&quot;I cannot wait to take part in the first race and fight against some of the best drivers and teams at the pinnacle of junior motorsport.&quot;</p> <p>Added ART chief S&eacute;bastien<strong> </strong> Philippe: &quot;ART Grand Prix had a very enjoyable and fruitful year with George in GP3, both sporting and personal, so it was only natural that we renewed our partnership for Formula 2, hand in hand with Mercedes-Benz, where George is one of their young drivers.</p> <p>&quot;ART Grand Prix&rsquo;s experience together with George&#39;s talent should allow us to fight and defend our title in the entry series to Formula 1.&quot;</p> <p>ART&#39;s last title success in the category came under its GP2 guise in 2015, when it won both the Drivers&#39; and Teams&#39; championship with Stoffel Vandoorne.</p> Folger withdraws from MotoGP season to focus on recoveryThu, 18 Jan 2018 08:40:25 GMT<p>Jonas Folger has withdrawn from the entirety of the 2018 MotoGP season in order to focus on his recovery from illness.</p> <p>Folger stepped up to the premier class with Tech 3 last year and finished on the podium at his home event in Germany, having challenged Marc Marquez for much of the race.</p> <p>Folger, though, missed the latter phase of the campaign due to illness, which was subsequently diagnosed as a strain of Gilbert Syndrome, a common genetic disorder, in which the liver is unable to process toxins effectively.</p> <p>The youngster had targeted a comeback this year but has announced that he will be unable to participate this season.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m incredibly sad to be saying this, but I will not be racing MotoGP in 2018,&rdquo; said Folger.</p> <p>&ldquo;I wasn&rsquo;t able to make the improvements I was hoping for, and at this stage I don&rsquo;t feel able to ride a MotoGP machine at 100 percent.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d like to thank everyone involved, but especially the Monster Yamaha Tech3 team, Yamaha Factory Japan, Monster Energy, HJC, IXON, Forma Boots and Rudy Project.</p> <p>&ldquo;I hope to be back one day and want to thank you all for your ongoing support.&rdquo;</p> <p>Tech 3 chief Herve Poncharal expressed shock at Folger&rsquo;s decision as he goes in search of a full-season replacement rider.</p> <p>&ldquo;I received a call from Bob Moore, Jonas Folger&rsquo;s personal manager,&rdquo; explained Poncharal.</p> <p>&ldquo;I couldn&rsquo;t believe what Bob was telling me on the phone, that Jonas Folger has decided not to race the 2018 MotoGP season because he doesn&rsquo;t feel 100 percent mentally and physically recovered.</p> <p>&ldquo;It is still very difficult for me to believe, that he&rsquo;s not going to race with us in 2018, especially because he has been somebody I had lot of faith in and I was sure we would reach top level together this year.</p> <p>&ldquo;I completely respect his decision, although it&rsquo;s hard to swallow. Yet, I will try to find a solution for a replacement rider, which is a very difficult mission, as all of the fast riders are already contracted.</p> <p>&ldquo;But as always in racing we need to be proactive, inventive and hopefully we can make someone very happy. We will keep all of you informed about the evolution of the situation.&rdquo;</p> Sports LatAm strikes new Formula 1 broadcasting dealWed, 17 Jan 2018 19:59:57 GMT<p>Formula 1 will be broadcast on FOX Sports Latin America in 19 countries throughout South and Central America until 2022 in a new deal.</p> <p>The deal, which excludes Brazil, will see the cable and satellite&nbsp;broadcaster showing all three practice sessions, qualifying and the race live across its three channels:&nbsp;FOX Sports, FOX Sports 2 and FOX Premium Action.</p> <p>Additional programming will also be offered in the form of El Show de la Formula 1, GP1 and Circuito FOX Sports providing extra coverage pre and post races, reviews and previews, behind-the-scenes features, driver and team interviews, insight and extra analysis.</p> <p>The deal also includes broadcast rights to feeder series Formula 2 and GP3 Series.</p> <p>F1 has retained &quot;certain digital rights&quot; &ndash; as it moves to launch its own OTT (over-the-top) digital service in 2018, as well as live FTA (free-to-air) coverage of any races taking place within the region (currently just Mexico), plus &quot;delayed FTA highlights everywhere else in the region.&quot;</p> <p>&ldquo;We are very happy to have FOX Sports as a partner in Latin America for the next five years,&quot; commented&nbsp;Ian Holmes, director of Media Rights at Formula 1.&nbsp;&quot;This new agreement represents a great opportunity and will allow us to bring the FIA Formula 1 World Championship in 19 countries throughout South and Central America where Formula 1 has a strongly established tradition as well as huge potential to gather and galvanise new fans.&quot;</p> <p>Carlos Martinez, president, FOX Networks Group Latin America, added: &quot;We are happy to have such a relevant property as the FIA Formula 1 World Championship back on FOX Sports in our robust motorsport content proposal.</p> <p>&quot;We&rsquo;re thankful to Formula 1 for trusting FOX Sports and our team to broadcast Formula 1 to more than 45 million Spanish-speaking homes in Latin America. The passion of Latin American fans for car racing makes this category key to our content offering, and we will contribute with our know-how to make the experience of living it in our portfolio unbeatable.&quot;</p> <p><a href="">F1 recently confirmed an extended broadcasting deal with Movistar+ across Spain.</a></p> Competition announces return to Le Mans LMP2 ranksWed, 17 Jan 2018 19:32:48 GMT<p>The Larbre Competition squad has announced its intention to run a Ligier-Gibson JSP217 prototype at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June.</p> <p>The French outfit is returning to the LMP2 category after a three-year spell running a Corvette C7.R (pictured) in the GTE-Am ranks of the World Endurance Championship round.</p> <p>It will also contest the Michelin Le Mans Cup, which includes a support race for the 24-hours, with two&nbsp;Ligier-Nissan LMP3 cars.</p> <p>Brazilian former Aston Martin factory driver Fernando Rees -&nbsp;who guided the Larbre Corvette to a class pole position in 2017 -&nbsp;is the first person to be confirmed for the&nbsp;LMP2 entry.</p> <p>Larbre is best-known as a GT concern, and has campaigned&nbsp;various cars at Le Mans since its debut in 1993,&nbsp;including the Chrysler Viper GTS-R, the Aston Martin DBR9, and the Saleen S7-R.</p> <p>It has won its class five times, starting with victories on its first two attempts with a Porsche 911, and later with back-to-back wins&nbsp;in 2010, 2011 and 2012.</p> <p>Larbre&#39;s prototype bow came in 2014, when it finished 14th overall with an Onroak-built&nbsp;Morgan-Judd driven by Pierre Ragues, Ricky Taylor and Keiko Ihara.</p> <p>&quot;Larbre Competition has competed 24 times at the Le Mans 24 Hours, but only once with a prototype in 2014,&quot; said Larbre team manager Jack Leconte.</p> <p>&quot;Then, we ran a Morgan LMP2, establishing a partnership with Jacques Nicolet and Onroak Automotive.&nbsp;Choosing Ligier was obvious, as it allows us to compete in two classes, and work with Onroak again.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;In addition to this, we are delighted to welcome Fernando back to the team. Last year at Le Mans he set pole position in the LM GTE-Am at the wheel of our Corvette, and will be a great asset to get our Ligier JSP217 to the front of the pack.&rdquo;</p> <p>The entry list for the 86th 24 Hours of Le Mans will be released on February 9th.</p> Rosberg wishes to rebuild friendship with former Mercedes team-mate Lewis HamiltonWed, 17 Jan 2018 14:08:02 GMT<p>2016 Formula 1 world champion Nico Rosberg has revealed that he wishes to rebuild the lost friendship he once had with former Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.</p> <p>During their junior years in karting both Hamilton and Rosberg competed against each other regularly and became good friends, both dreaming of fighting for the F1 world title against each other in the same team.</p> <p>After a four-year partnership&nbsp;at the Silver Arrows, Rosberg finally clinched the title in 2016 after a thrilling battle&nbsp;with Hamilton for the third year running. With Mercedes having dominated the grid since 2014 it meant the pair had to battle each other on track putting a strain on their long-standing friendship.</p> <p>During a Twitter&nbsp;Q&amp;A, the German answered a question from a fan, which was if the four-time world champion was &#39;as annoying behind the cameras as he is on them?&#39; Rosberg defended his former team-mate by saying:&nbsp;&quot;We were really good friends back in the day and I still have a lot of respect for him and always will have.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;In private he&#39;s a good guy, so of course, it&#39;s always different the way you get perceived on camera and how you are in that big F1 world, but in private I can say he is a really good guy with some good values. So I hope maybe with time one day we can get back to getting on better.&quot;</p> <p>Rosberg also revealed&nbsp;that beating the Briton to the world title made the feeling even sweeter having never once bested Hamilton during their battles in junior formula, believing it was the best way to round off his career after announcing&nbsp;his shock retirement just days after clinching the world title in Abu Dhabi.</p> <p>&quot;That sort of battle, it doesn&#39;t get better than that. Racing against one of the best of all time in the same car as you...awesome. Then to come out beating him at the end, doing better than that is not possible and that&#39;s why it gave me such fulfillment for my career. It couldn&#39;t have ended in a better way and the opponent counts in that.&quot;</p> drivers criticise Haas team principal Guenther Steiner over F1 driver policyWed, 17 Jan 2018 12:02:16 GMT<p>Drivers from the United States have criticised Haas team principal Guenther Steiner over comments he made where he said there were no US drivers&nbsp;ready for Formula 1.</p> <p>The Austrian recently told <em>Motorsport</em>&nbsp;concerning US drivers: &quot;It&#39;s not on top of our list, it&#39;s on top of our list if there&#39;s a good one. Obviously, we want one. But then maybe, if there is a really good one, would they come to us?</p> <p>&quot;Just having an American driver who maybe cannot compete at a certain level is maybe not good for the sport. [Signing an American driver] would be an ambition, but at the moment there is nobody ready for F1 in the United States in my opinion.&quot;</p> <p>Haas does&nbsp;have 19-year old Santino Ferrucci on their books as a&nbsp;test and reserve driver but has yet to see an official outing with the team.&nbsp;Haas has been reluctant to dip into the driver pool stateside despite the raft of talent within the IndyCar series, leading many to question how genuine they are in wanting to bring American drivers onto the world stage.</p> <p>Graham Rahal took to Twitter to say: &quot;American drivers are damn good. I stand by that, there&rsquo;s lots of talent here. Stay in IndyCar, it&rsquo;s far more competitive anyway!&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Always funny the Haas team mentality. &#39;Americans aren&rsquo;t good enough&#39;, yet they haven&rsquo;t even given us a shot. Not worth our time.&quot;</p> <p>Conor Daly added: &quot;How can you possibly call yourselves an &#39;American&#39;&nbsp;team and totally berate your entire &#39;home&#39;&nbsp;nationality of drivers? There hasn&rsquo;t even been a hint of consideration of any well established American drivers over here.&quot;</p> <p>While 1978 F1 world champion Mario Andretti simply added it was &quot;Wrong and arrogant&quot;.</p> <p>Even Britain&#39;s Max Chilton believes it is wrong to overlook the &#39;world class&#39; talents in IndyCar having left F1 to go to the US and feels it is necessary for a culture change to get IndyCar drivers noticed in F1, he told <em>ESPN</em>: &quot;Scott Dixon, who was my team-mate last year, I think he&#39;s one of the best drivers in the world and he could give anyone a run for their money in a Formula 1 car &ndash;&nbsp;but no one has ever given him a look-in, like when there was a seat going at Mercedes.</p> <p>&quot;It needs a culture change for them to look at IndyCar drivers as a possibility, and I hope there is because there are world-class drivers that are being wasted and could be doing even bigger things in the public eye in Formula One and doing better than some of the people already there.&quot;</p> Robert Kubica's F1 comeback dream remains within reachWed, 17 Jan 2018 10:38:12 GMT<p><strong>Robert Kubica will not be on the Formula 1 grid in 2018, but the door remains open, through his new role with Williams, a signal that both driver and team are keen to continue evaluations, as Motorsport Week analyses.</strong></p> <p>That Robert Kubica&rsquo;s role as a reserve/development driver in Formula 1 this season has been received in some quarters as disappointing only highlights the remarkable desire for the Pole to return to a race seat. Kubica barely registered on Formula 1&rsquo;s radar 12 months ago &ndash; six years after his seemingly career-ending accident &ndash; but has brought himself back into contention through a rigorous training programme, determination, commitment, and the aspiration from a couple of teams to see if the driver that lit up Formula 1 a decade ago is still there.</p> <p>Barring another twist of fate, Kubica will not line up on the grid in Melbourne, nor will he be one of 20 waiting for the lights to go out in Abu Dhabi in November, but the comeback dream is still alive through his new Williams role.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Hungary/Hungary%20Test/jm1702au89.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Kubica tested for Renault in Hungary last August</figcaption> </figure> <p>Even at this early stage of the year &ndash; with pre-season testing still over a month away &ndash; Williams has given an indication of Kubica&rsquo;s role within the team. For some teams, a reserve/development role &ndash; particularly the latter &ndash; is little more than a name, and more likely to be awarded to a well-funded youngster. Even then a reserve/development driver can end up being gazumped by external circumstances, perchance a driver with a larger stack of cash. Kubica&rsquo;s role is more intriguing. Even though he has only the same number of starts as Marcus Ericsson &ndash; and only four current Formula 1 drivers have shared a grid with Kubica &ndash; he will be regarded as the more experienced, mentor-like back-up for Lance Stroll and Sergey Sirotkin, who head into 2018 with comparatively little knowledge and no realistic benchmark. He will also be the driver to which Williams turns if Stroll or Sirotkin are indisposed.</p> <p>Kubica has already been promised outings during pre-season and in-season testing, as well as runs at selected Grands Prix, to assist Williams with its development but ostensibly to also offer him a chance to further prove his credentials. This is significantly more than his immediate similarly-titled predecessors received. Alex Lynn, as development driver, received in-season test days, filling the young driver quota, but did not get near a practice session. Adrian Sutil, drafted in as reserve in the aftermath of Valtteri Bottas missing the 2015 Australian GP through a back injury, was merely there for show, and never got near a car. The same fate largely befell successor Paul di Resta, until he assisted Stroll&rsquo;s development in a 2014-spec FW36, and received a last-gasp chance last year in Hungary when Massa fell ill. Felipe Nasr, in 2014, was the last driver to receive such a substantial programme as reserve driver, running three test days and five FP1s - though sponsorship played a large factor there.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="227" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Abu%20Dhabi/jm1728no108.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Abu Dhabi test produced mixed results</figcaption> </figure> <p>The test and practice runs permits Williams to fully evaluate Kubica, and Kubica to improve his understanding, to answer some of the question marks which remain. Was his so-so display in Abu Dhabi the most he could achieve, or was it a case of a driver grappling with notoriously fickle tyres, and getting back into a rhythm, with his tests coming in different machinery at a variety of circuits. His programme of testing was disjointed, to say the least. Could a world-class tennis player spend so long out of the game, play a few training matches with different-sized rackets on different surfaces and expect to be at their previous level straight away? Therein lies the predicament facing Kubica and Williams. They simply do not know and could not immediately take the risk; creating his 2018 programme provides both parties with the chance to undertake further evaluations. Kubica, at least, believes he can still hack it, else he would not be trying. Equally, in handing him track time, Williams is clearly keen to get a full picture.</p> <p>&ldquo;I feel in the best physical shape that I have ever been, but it has taken a lot of work to get to where I am now,&rdquo; he said. &ldquo;I&rsquo;d like to thank Williams for the opportunities they have given me so far, and for putting their faith in me with this appointment.</p> <p>&ldquo;I have enjoyed being back in the Formula 1 paddock over these past few months, and I now look forward to working with the Williams technical team, both at the factory and at the track, to really help push forward the development of the FW41 and to make a real difference to their 2018 campaign. Having driven both the FW36 and the FW40, I&rsquo;m looking forward to seeing how the FW41 measures up on track and working with the team to ensure we can maximise the performance of the car. My ultimate goal remains to race again in Formula 1 and this is another important step in that direction: I cannot wait to get started.&rdquo;</p> <p>The sun hasn&rsquo;t yet set on the Hype Train&hellip;</p> <p style="text-align:center"><img alt="" height="534" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Abu%20Dhabi/jm1729no86.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> Robert Kubica returns to F1 with development/test roleTue, 16 Jan 2018 17:33:20 GMT<p>Hear from Robert Kubica, who&nbsp;will join Williams Racing in 2018 as the team&#39;s reserve and development driver.</p> Lowe expects Robert Kubica's F1 experience to boost WilliamsTue, 16 Jan 2018 16:29:06 GMT<p>Williams technical chief Paddy Lowe expects Robert Kubica&rsquo;s presence as reserve/development driver to bolster the squad&rsquo;s resources through 2018.</p> <p>Kubica competed in Formula 1 between 2006 and 2010 but sustained serious arm injuries in a rally accident in early 2011, restricting his movement, and ruling him out of competition.</p> <p>Kubica rebuilt his career on the rallying scene before returning to circuit action, and began preparations for a return to Formula 1 in 2017.</p> <p>The Pole tested for Renault before turning his attention to Williams, linking up with the team for two private tests, prior to a run in its FW40 at the Abu Dhabi tyre test.</p> <p>Kubica was regarded as a genuine candidate to replace Felipe Massa but fellow tester Sergey Sirotkin impressed Williams, and has captured the race seat for 2018, alongside Lance Stroll.</p> <p>Kubica, though, has taken up a role with Williams, which will result in test outings both pre- and in-season, along with a handful of practice runs at Grands Prix, having outlined he wants to return to a race seat.</p> <p>Lowe believes Kubica&rsquo;s assimilation within Williams will assist its prospects, with the team entering 2018 with the least experienced line-up in Stroll and Sirotkin.</p> <p>&ldquo;First and foremost, we&rsquo;d like to congratulate Robert on what he has achieved so far,&rdquo; said Lowe.</p> <p>&ldquo;To overcome his injuries, return to fitness, and drive a Formula 1 car again is a remarkable achievement, and one that few considered possible.</p> <p>&ldquo;We anticipate Robert will make a strong technical contribution to the team, using his wealth of experience in track testing, simulator work, and support to the race drivers and engineers at every race.</p> <p>&ldquo;He is a driver I have admired for many years and I am personally very happy to be working with him towards our 2018 championship.&rdquo;</p> <p>Williams also outlined that Kubica &lsquo;will also support the team&rsquo;s media and sponsorship support programme&rsquo; through the course of the year.</p> Hamilton, Mercedes get Laureus World Sports nominationsTue, 16 Jan 2018 14:29:26 GMT<p><strong>Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes have been nominated for the Laureus World S</strong><strong>portsman</strong><strong> and T</strong><strong>eam</strong><strong> of the Year awards for 2018.</strong></p> <p>Last season marked yet another strong campaign for the pair, with the Silver Arrows claiming a fourth Constructors&#39; Championship title in a row while Hamilton secured a fourth Drivers&#39; Championship, beating Ferrari&#39;s Sebastian Vettel to the crown after an intense battle over the course of the season.</p> <p>In the Sportsman of the Year category, Hamilton faces stiff opposition from cycling ace Chris Froome, tennis legend Roger Federer, his rival, Rafael Nadal, Real Madrid&#39;s Christiano Ronaldo and Sports Personality of the Year winner, Mo Farrah.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the Team category, Mercedes has been nominated along with the France Davis Cup Tennis Team, NBA champions, the Golden Gate Warriors, the New Zealand America&#39;s Cup Team, Real Madrid football club, and 2017 Super Bowl winners, the New England Patriots.&nbsp;</p> <p>In last year&#39;s awards, sprinting sensation Usain Bolt won the coveted Sportsman of the Year award while the Chicago Cubs became the Team of the Year. Hamilton&#39;s former teammate, Nico Rosberg, won the Breakthrough of the Year award for his 2016 championship win.</p> <p>In the Best Sporting Moment category, Kimi Raikkonen&#39;s actions at the Spanish Grand Prix have been nominated, with the Finn crashing out of the race on the first lap before making a young fan&#39;s day by inviting Thomas Danel into the paddock to spend time with him when the boy was spotted crying in a grandstand. In the same category, Billy Monger&#39;s recovery after his life-changing F4 crash has also been nominated.</p> <p>Outside of Formula 1, MotoGP rider Valentino Rossi has been nominated in the Comeback of the Year category for his return to racing after suffering from&nbsp;displaced fractures of his tibia and fibula in his right leg.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Laureus World Sports Awards will be held in Monaco on February 27, 2018.</p> Hughes returns to GP3 with ART Grand PrixTue, 16 Jan 2018 14:19:58 GMT<p>Jake Hughes will return to GP3 with ART Grand Prix in 2018, the French team has confirmed.</p> <p>Hughes competed for DAMS in the series in 2016, taking two reversed-grid wins en route to eighth overall in the standings, before switching to F3 for 2017.</p> <p>Hughes finished fifth for Hitech and will now return to GP3, joining Ferrari-backed Callum Ilott and 2017 F3 team-mate Nikita Mazepin at ART.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m very proud and excited to be joining a team as successful as ART Grand Prix for a crack at GP3,&rdquo; said the 23-year-old.</p> <p>&ldquo;The team&rsquo;s performances in the series over the last few years especially, have been extremely impressive.</p> <p>&ldquo;So, when the opportunity came about to be able to be jump in one of their cars for 2018 it was impossible to say no.</p> <p>&ldquo;I tested for three days with everyone in Abu Dhabi and felt immediately confident in and out of the car.</p> <p>&ldquo;The aim is clear when racing for a team like ART, so I cannot wait to get down to the workshop and get going.&rdquo;</p> <p>ART has supplied the last three champions in GP3: Esteban Ocon (2015), Charles Leclerc (2016) and George Russell (2017).</p> Kubica gets test and practice sessions as Williams reserve driverTue, 16 Jan 2018 11:38:27 GMT<p>Robert Kubica has retained his Formula 1 links after being named as Williams&rsquo; reserve and development driver for the forthcoming campaign.</p> <p>Kubica, whose Formula 1 career was truncated by a rally accident in 2011, began preparations for a comeback in 2017, firstly with Renault, before turning his focus to Williams, sampling its FW40 in Abu Dhabi last November.</p> <p>However, Williams leaned towards Sergey Sirotkin, who tested alongside Kubica, for the vacant race seat alongside Lance Stroll, and have handed the Russian his debut.</p> <p>Nonetheless, shortly after confirming Sirotkin as Stroll&rsquo;s team-mate, Williams revealed that Kubica will act as its reserve driver through 2018.</p> <p>Kubica will participate in pre-season and in-season testing, along with selected FP1 outings at Grands Prix, and reiterated that his goal is to secure a race seat in the future.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m extremely happy to be joining the Williams team as its official Reserve and Development Driver this season,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;I feel in the best physical shape that I have ever been, but it has taken a lot of work to get to where I am now, so I&rsquo;d like to thank Williams for the opportunities they have given me so far, and for putting their faith in me with this appointment.</p> <p>&ldquo;I have enjoyed being back in the Formula One paddock over these past few months, and I now look forward to working with the Williams technical team, both at the factory and at the track, to really help push forward the development of the FW41 and to make a real difference to their 2018 campaign.</p> <p>&ldquo;Having driven both the FW36 and the FW40, I&rsquo;m looking forward to seeing how the FW41 measures up on track and working with the team to ensure we can maximise the performance of the car.</p> <p>&ldquo;My ultimate goal remains to race again in Formula One and this is another important step in that direction: I cannot wait to get started.&rdquo;</p> Sergey Sirotkin gets Formula 1 crack with WilliamsTue, 16 Jan 2018 11:26:29 GMT<p>Almost five years after he was thrust into the Formula 1 limelight, Sergey Sirotkin will step up to a race seat with Williams in 2018; Motorsport Week reflects on his path to this stage&hellip;</p> <p>It was mid-2013 when a young, slim, pale, wide-eyed Russian came to the widespread attention of the motorsport community. Sauber, as it entered the financial setbacks which would plague the team for several years, sought a relationship with a group of Russian investors and technology groups, resulting in the then 17-year-old Sirotkin joining the team, and being lined up for a race seat in 2014. At the time, the notion of Sirotkin&rsquo;s path to Formula 1 being accelerated so rapidly was baffling, for someone so young being fast-tracked to the top had the aura of career-wrecking about it. Sirotkin acquitted himself well with the media at Monza, approaching the situation with humility and eloquence, but ultimately his mooted race seat for 2014 became a test role &ndash; a wise move.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="267" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Abu%20Dhabi/jm1305se05.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Sirotkin&#39;s first paddock appearance came in 2013 with Sauber</figcaption> </figure> <p>Sirotkin remained in Formula Renault 3.5 &ndash; switching from ISR to the more-fancied Fortec operation &ndash; and improved, but retirements derailed his title prospects, and he wound up fifth. The link, too, with Sauber, was fading; a test run in Bahrain was stymied by ill-fitting shoes (literally, not metaphorically) and though he received a home run during practice in Russia, the emergence of Red Bull-bound Toro Rosso rookie Daniil Kvyat had removed a chunk of the attention from Sirotkin. Sirotkin proclaimed he felt ready for Formula 1 &ndash; though no switched-on youngster responds negatively when such a proposal is put to them &ndash; but there was little interest, and he quietly slipped away from contention at Sauber.</p> <p>Sensing a change was required, Sirotkin jumped ship from Formula Renault 3.5 to GP2, joining Rapax, which had carried Pastor Maldonado to the 2010 title, Stefano Coletti to a trio of 2013 wins, but little else of note. With an ostensibly midfield operation, Sirotkin emerged as top rookie, the highlight a dominant victory at Silverstone, where he was imperious. There were few mistakes, and he classified third overall, behind only runaway champion Stoffel Vandoorne and now-IndyCar front-runner and 500 champion Alexander Rossi.</p> <p>Sirotkin replaced Vandoorne at ART &ndash; and also bagged a Renault F1 test role &ndash; for 2016, but two critical mistakes at the first two events dealt a blow to his championship aspirations. While chasing victories in Spain and Monaco, having taken pole for the latter, Sirotkin made mistakes. He spun out in Spain and crashed in Monaco. And, as these errors came in Feature Races, it ruined his Sprint Races too. Amid an unpredictable, mixed-up start to a season which gradually became an in-house fight between Prema pair Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi, Sirotkin sat on four points, when he could have had 50. Sirotkin, at the time, was inconsolable.&nbsp;</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="267" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Abu%20Dhabi/jm1611no149.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Sirotkin linked up with Renault in 2016</figcaption> </figure> <p>&ldquo;The start [of the season] is a bit of a joke, I would say,&quot; he explained mid-2016. &ldquo;You would not believe that absolutely every single part of the run goes absolutely against you.&rdquo;</p> <p>After Silverstone he sat 11<sup>th</sup> overall, but rebounded spectacularly, taking back-to-back wins in Hungary and Germany, propelling himself to the top of the standings, and cut a cautious-yet-optimistic figure.</p> <p>Sirotkin, though, was proved correct with his assertion that the points lead &ldquo;meant nothing&rdquo; &ndash; just when he was meant to kick-on, the opposite happened. He scored just two points across Belgium and Italy. That was that. Sirotkin finished third &ndash; again &ndash; after a frustratingly perplexing season, displaying supreme pace and potential at times, and making inexplicable mistakes or being off-colour at others. &nbsp;It proved why thrusting him into a Formula 1 seat for 2014 would have been a massive gamble. And, with how Sauber&rsquo;s campaign turned out, probably career-wrecking. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Aside from a Le Mans outing and Formula 2 run as a late stand-in, Sirotkin spent 2017 on the sidelines, focusing on his role as Renault&rsquo;s reserve driver, receiving four FP1 runs and test outings, while away from the spotlight he amassed substantial mileage in private sessions in Renault&rsquo;s 2012-spec E20 at Valencia. Having found the non-racing role tougher than anticipated, Sirotkin and his backers naturally explored 2018 options, though any lingering Renault aspirations were extinguished when Carlos Sainz Jr. was prised to partner Nico Hulkenberg.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="267" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula1/Abu%20Dhabi/jm1729no05.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Williams test in Abu Dhabi proved crucial</figcaption> </figure> <p>The test with Williams, next to Robert Kubica, proved crucial, and Sirotkin now has his opportunity to shine on a global stage. Undoubtedly, he faces a challenge: Williams has slipped down the order in recent years, a situation which could be accentuated by expected McLaren and Renault progress this year. Sirotkin will be the least experienced driver on the Formula 1 grid, has had the least time to assimilate with his new surroundings, and will line up alongside another relatively inexperienced pilot, who in turn had a sketchy rookie campaign. There are also the finances to consider, for if Williams&rsquo; decision was purely performance based, it would not have prolonged its selection process; such economic backing is a blessing and a curse in equal measure. Consequently, fully assessing the exploits of Sirotkin &ndash; and, as a result, Williams &ndash; will be challenging, when the goalposts are not so much moving but scattered around.</p> <p>It will, therefore, be a rollercoaster ride &ndash; but that merely follows in line with Sirotkin&rsquo;s junior career. He now has a ticket to ride &ndash; and has to grab the opportunity with both hands.</p> Gade joins SPM as James Hinchliffe's lead race engineerTue, 16 Jan 2018 11:21:04 GMT<p>Renowned race engineer Leena Gade has joined IndyCar to link with James Hinchcliffe at Schmidt Peterson Motorsport, becoming the first female race engineer in the championship.</p> <p>The British race engineer previously worked in GT racing and junior formula single-seater series before joining the Audi LMP1 team in 2007; in 2011 she became the first female race engineer&nbsp;to triumph at the Le Mans 24 Hours with Andr&eacute;&nbsp;Lotterer,&nbsp;Beno&icirc;t Tr&eacute;yuler and Marcel F&auml;ssler, and a further two victories came for her&nbsp;team at Le Mans in 2012 and 2014.</p> <p>Following on from her second victory at Le Mans, in December 2012 Gade was named FIA World Endurance Series &#39;Man of the Year&#39; and in 2013 she&nbsp;became an ambassador for&nbsp;the FIA Commission for Women&nbsp;in Motorsport.</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;m really honored that I&rsquo;ve got a chance to come across and work in IndyCar,&rdquo; said Gade. &ldquo;When I was a kid, I used to watch IndyCar, especially when Nigel Mansell first came over, and I followed it quite a lot.</p> <p>&quot;During my sports car days, it was a little less so, until I had friends come across to the US to work in it like Piers [Phillips, General Manager of SPM]. I&rsquo;m quite honored to be given the chance. It is going to be something completely different to anything I&rsquo;ve ever done before, so it&rsquo;s a big learning curve, but it&rsquo;s a challenge that I&rsquo;m really relishing, so I&rsquo;m looking forward to it.&quot;</p> <p>SPM General Manager Piers Phillips added, &quot;There was significant interest in Leena amongst the international motorsports community, so we&rsquo;re really excited that she sees where we&rsquo;re taking SPM, believes in what we&rsquo;re doing and that she is now a part of our organization.</p> <p>&quot;I&rsquo;ve known Leena for quite some time now, and I&rsquo;ve worked alongside her, so I knew the credit she&rsquo;s been given is well deserved. We&rsquo;re very much looking forward to throwing her into the deep end and seeing her add to the team&rsquo;s success.&quot;</p> <p>The next IndyCar test is at Sebring Raceway on January 24.</p> confirms Sergey Sirotkin for 2018 F1 seatTue, 16 Jan 2018 11:13:32 GMT<p>Williams has officially confirmed Sergey Sirotkin as Lance Stroll&#39;s team-mate for 2018, completing the grid, with Robert Kubca <a href="">appointed as reserve driver</a>.</p> <p>Sirotkin, following two years in Renault test/reserve roles, linked up with Williams for the post-race tyre test in Abu Dhabi, where he drove alongside Kubica, ostensibly in a shootout for 2018.</p> <p>Sirotkin has been given the nod to join Stroll, in place of the retired Felipe Massa, and will be one of two rookies on the grid this season.</p> <p>&quot;To say I&rsquo;m happy and proud to join such a famous team like Williams is an understatement,&quot; said Sirotkin, who finished third in GP2 in 2015 and 2016.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;It took a huge amount of work to get where I am, and I&rsquo;m really happy and thankful to everyone involved. The result of our combined efforts has helped me achieve my dream, and rest assured the team can rely on me to deliver my best.&quot;</p> <p>Deputy Team Principal Claire Williams added: &quot;After an extensive driver evaluation process, I am thrilled to have our 2018 line-up finalised, and I&rsquo;m excited to see what next season brings.</p> <p>&quot;We have taken our time to evaluate all the available options, and I&rsquo;m confident Lance and Sergey can deliver the best results for the team.</p> <p>&quot;The Williams philosophy has always been to promote and develop young talent and Sergey fits right into that ethos.</p> <p>&quot;Lance has had a record-breaking debut season, and with a year now under his belt, he will be ready to hit the ground running in 2018. We have a talented driver line-up for 2018, that we are confident will deliver some exciting results for the team.&quot;</p> <p>Sirotkin, 22, and Stroll, 19, will form the youngest and least experienced line-up on the grid this year.</p> Aitken expects to be among F2 leaders from the outsetTue, 16 Jan 2018 10:48:26 GMT<p>Jack Aitken says he expects to be among the frontrunners in Formula 2 from the outset, after securing graduation to the series with ART Grand Prix.</p> <p>Aitken, who has retained backing from Renault for a third year, finished runner-up to team-mate and Mercedes prot&eacute;g&eacute; George Russell in GP3 last season, his second campaign in the category.</p> <p>Aitken conducted post-season testing with ART and is optimistic of being among the lead group when the championship, complete with its new F2/18 package, begins in April.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d like to be on the pace straight away so that means when everything falls into place we will be challenging for outright pole positions and victories,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;A bit of experience, especially at the level of Formula 2, does help so it will be a challenge to find some consistency and learn about the tyres and the new car.</p> <p>&ldquo;I will be aiming to keep scoring points and chip away at podiums and wins here and there. I&rsquo;d like to be finishing in the top five in what will be a strong grid.&rdquo;</p> <p>Aitken, who received his first Formula 1 experience during a private test in Renault&rsquo;s 2012-spec car last year, says the continued backing of the French manufacturer acts as a boost.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s always nice to continue and I think 2018 will be very exciting as I&rsquo;m moving up to Formula 2 and taking another step towards Formula 1, which is the ultimate goal,&rdquo; he said.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m happy as always and it&rsquo;s nice to have settled in at Enstone after a couple of years.</p> <p>&ldquo;To be here for 2018 means a lot and I&rsquo;m looking forward to the start of the season.&rdquo;</p> <p>Aitken is set to be joined at ART this season by Russell.</p> Lorenzo sure of MotoGP title challenge with DucatiTue, 16 Jan 2018 09:50:47 GMT<p>Jorge Lorenzo has outlined that &ldquo;everything is in place&rdquo; for him and Ducati to compete for the MotoGP title this season, despite his sub-par 2017 display.</p> <p>Lorenzo, following nine years with Yamaha, which yielded three premier class titles, switched to Ducati for 2017, ostensibly as team leader, alongside Andrea Dovizioso.</p> <p>However, it was Dovizioso who emerged on top, claiming six victories, in the process taking the title fight down to the Valencian finale, where he was beaten by Marc Marquez.</p> <p>Lorenzo, meanwhile, finished only seventh in the standings with a trio of podiums &ndash; his first win-less campaign in the top flight &ndash; but reckons lessons learned through last season will prove beneficial in 2018.</p> <p>&ldquo;2017 was quite a difficult year for me, because I didn&rsquo;t even win one race and at the start of the championship I wasn&rsquo;t able to fight for the podium,&rdquo; Lorenzo explained.</p> <p>&ldquo;But I was patient and never gave up, and in the last few races we finally scored some quite good results.</p> <p>&ldquo;The work of the team was very important and Ducati helped me a lot to adapt the bike to my riding style, and so I think that in 2018 we&rsquo;ll be starting with a much more competitive base.</p> <p>&ldquo;Andrea and the Desmosedici GP demonstrated that we have everything in place to try and win the world championship.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think that I have the strength and the experience necessary to fight together with him to achieve this aim.</p> <p>&ldquo;I believe a lot in our chances and I&rsquo;m convinced that we are stronger than one year ago.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d like to repay the passion and the support we receive from Ducatisti all over the world with lots of wins and, if possible, with the world title.&rdquo;</p> Alfa Romeo set the F1 pace - and more recently than you thinkMon, 15 Jan 2018 20:48:29 GMT<p><strong>Alfa Romeo is back in F1. Its deep red will bedeck some of the Sauber this season.</strong></p> <p>Or rather Alfa&rsquo;s sort of back. It&rsquo;s not the long awaited fifth hybrid engine supplier; it&rsquo;s a badging arrangement reflecting Alfa is in the same stable as Sauber&rsquo;s actual supplier Ferrari (and that there&rsquo;s closer ties generally than before). Nothing wrong with that. You wonder why similar isn&rsquo;t done routinely &ndash; Renault could badge one of its offerings as a Nissan for example.</p> <p>But we know about Alfa Romeo and Grand Prix racing. It was a famous presence pre-war then won the first two F1 world championships in 1950 and &rsquo;51. But then quit while it was ahead with a long in the tooth car and whipper-snapper Ferrari by now on its case.</p> <p>But Alfa did return between times. First as an engine supplier in the 1970s, then as a full scale works team from 1979 to 1985. This was a lot less successful particularly in the latter case &ndash; a couple of poles, a handful of podiums, lots of retirements and a best placing of sixth in the constructors&rsquo; table.</p> <p>But incongruously at the end of its first full season back, in 1980, Alfa in fact had a spell in the sun, being a consistent front-runner. Several strong results were lost to circumstance. And at the wheel was the about as unlikely figure of Bruno Giacomelli. Like his team his career stats don&rsquo;t do much for him. Like his team he entered 1980 maligned. But like his team on closer inspection there was more to it.</p> <p>Alfa&rsquo;s return as a constructor in Alan Henry&rsquo;s words &ldquo;raised more than a titter of mirth&rdquo; what with its wacky recent record in supplying engines. And at the start of 1980 Alfa indeed lived down to expectations, its bulbous 179 qualifying four seconds off the pace in the opening round.</p> <p>But the car improved &ndash; it shed some of its weight and got new suspension, sidepods and skirts. Patrick Depailler &ndash; brought in as lead driver and considered damaged goods, in more than one sense, after ceding a place in the 1979 title battle by sustaining severe leg injuries while hang gliding &ndash; qualified third at Long Beach and ran with the leaders before retirement at Monaco.</p> <blockquote> <p>Incongruously at the end of its first full season back, in 1980, Alfa in fact had a spell in the sun, being a consistent front-runner. And at the wheel was the about as unlikely figure of Bruno Giacomelli.</p> </blockquote> <p>Yet the changes mentioned didn&rsquo;t include the crucial shift. &ldquo;The biggest single improvement came when Goodyear went from a 13-inch front tyre to 15-inch,&rdquo; noted Giacomelli. &ldquo;That allowed us to run a softer compound which suited the car very well. We just got stronger and stronger from that point.&rdquo;</p> <p>Sadly at around the same time Depailler died in testing accident at Hockenheim before the German round, when his suspension failed.</p> <p>But his team mate Giacomelli stepped up to his new responsibility superbly, showing the sort of talent that let him sweep the board in F2, but that had withered a little in the popular consciousness via his first faltering steps in F1. From Depailler&rsquo;s fatal accident mid-year Giacomelli was a factor everywhere.</p> <p>In the Hockenheim race he climbed bravely through the field from a lowly grid position to finish fifth. In Austria he battled Carlos Reutemann&rsquo;s Williams and Nelson Piquet&rsquo;s Brabham, though developed a handling problem that he thought would be cured by a tyre change, but he was released from his stop with a wheel not attached.</p> <p>At the Dutch Grand Prix at Zandvoort Giacomelli was all set to take second place from Jacques Laffite&rsquo;s Ligier but was caught out by overheating brakes and spun, then ended his chances by destroying his skirts (vital for ground effect downforce) clambering over a kerb when rejoining.</p> <p>At the Italian Grand Prix, in 1980 held uniquely at Imola, he started fourth only for a puncture, caused by running over debris from Gilles Villeneuve crashing his Ferrari in front of him, to put him out.</p> <p>In Canada he made a pig&rsquo;s ear of passing Didier Pironi&rsquo;s Ligier for third place, again destroying his skirts on a kerb. And Pironi finished first on the road&hellip;</p> <p>&ldquo;It seemed only a matter of time before we scored a big result,&rdquo; mused Giacomelli later, and it looked for all the world that at 1980&rsquo;s final round, at Watkins Glen in upstate New York, it would arrive.</p> <p>&ldquo;The weather was cool which really suited us because our V12 engine gained considerably more in these conditions than the Cosworth V8s,&rdquo; Giacomelli went on, &ldquo;and the grip from a sliding skirt, ground effect car when it was working well like this was just unbelievable.</p> <p>&ldquo;Added to all that, the balance was neutral, I could do anything with the car, it was just fantastic. Right from the moment practice began on Friday we were quickest. I set pole by 0.8s on race tyres [in the age of good-for-one-lap qualifying rubber]! In the race everything was going perfectly.&rdquo;</p> <p>Indeed. He calmly rebuffed an attack from Piquet on lap one then stroked out a lead of over 10 seconds. Newly-crowned champion Alan Jones had worked his way back to second by mid-distance after running off at the opening corner. Could he have beaten Giacomelli?</p> <p>&ldquo;No way!,&rdquo; Giacomelli insists. &ldquo;I had 500rpm in hand. Quickest through the chicane, quick down the straights too.</p> <blockquote> <p>I was controlling the race, everything was under control, I could have gone a lot faster if I&rsquo;d needed to. Then suddenly it just stopped - Bruno Giacomelli</p> </blockquote> <p>&ldquo;I was already controlling the race, the water was perfect, everything was under control, I could have gone a lot faster if I&rsquo;d needed to.</p> <p>&ldquo;Then suddenly it just stopped.&rdquo; A coil had burnt out. Even Giacomelli&rsquo;s mechanic Ermanno Cuoghi, who had seen more than most, displayed sheer desolation.</p> <p>It got worse as for Alfa it never was so good again. And it heralded a wrong-side-of-the-sliding-doors moment for its driver as well.</p> <p>&ldquo;Because of the strong races I&rsquo;d been having, there was some interest in me from British teams for &lsquo;81,&rdquo; Giacomelli said. &ldquo;I was hot property.</p> <p>&ldquo;There was even talk of me going to Williams and if I&rsquo;d pushed maybe it could have happened. But I didn&rsquo;t want to. As well as the emotional pull of being an Italian racing for the great Alfa Romeo, it seemed like we were on the verge of great things.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;d already driven a development of the car which we never raced at Balocco [the Alfa test track]. It had the engine mounted further forward and aerodynamically was better. Within five laps I&rsquo;d broken the lap record. It felt even better than the Watkins Glen car and I was sure we&rsquo;d be chasing the world championship in 1981. So I stayed.&rdquo;</p> <p>But then everything changed. Amid safety concerns and not least F1&rsquo;s &lsquo;civil war&rsquo; between FISA and FOCA sliding skirts were banned overnight between seasons and a new 6cm ground clearance rule designed to eliminate ground effect downforce was brought in. Alfa, pretty much alone as it transpired, was unwilling to deploy &lsquo;trick&rsquo; suspension systems to get around it.</p> <p>And Goodyear, exasperated by the infighting, withdrew and thus deprived Alfa of its mentioned sweet spot.</p> <blockquote> <p>I&rsquo;d already driven a development of the car which we never raced at Balocco Within five laps I&rsquo;d broken the lap record. I was sure we&rsquo;d be chasing the world championship in 1981. So I stayed - Bruno Giacomelli</p> </blockquote> <p>It presumably is meagre comfort to Giacomelli that a certain Mario Andretti made the same mistake, turning down McLaren to join Alfa for &rsquo;81.</p> <p>But even that was ill-starred. Bringing in such a conspicuous team mate disconcerted the sensitive Giacomelli. &ldquo;He was a World Champion, stronger than me politically,&rdquo; he noted.</p> <p>Designer Gerard Ducarouge arrived mid-1981 to help but while he improved the car the ambience in the team declined, as Alfa&rsquo;s colourful long-serving designer and chief Carlo Chiti resented Ducarouge&rsquo;s presence. &ldquo;Chiti was a nice person if things went the right way, really tough if they didn&rsquo;t,&rdquo; Giacomelli observed.</p> <p>Some of the tale was familiar though. &ldquo;Alfa had been away from racing for a long time and it just couldn&#39;t adapt to sudden changes like this in the way the British teams could,&rdquo; Giacomelli added.</p> <p>&ldquo;Considering my racing background,&rdquo; which was driving for British squads in F3, F2 and early on in his F1 days, &ldquo;it&rsquo;s ironic that I over-estimated Alfa and under-estimated the British teams. It was the biggest mistake of my life.</p> <p>&ldquo;I always felt that, in racing terms, I was more British than Italian.&rdquo;</p> <p>Yet even after a difficult year history had an echo, as again in 1981 in the season-concluding round in America, this time around the Caesars Palace car park in Las Vegas, Giacomelli could and perhaps should have signed off for the winter with a victory.</p> <p>&ldquo;Gilles Villeneuve and I were the only drivers on Michelin&rsquo;s harder 701 compound,&rdquo; Giacomelli reminisced. &ldquo;I tried too hard to keep up with the leaders and half-spun. But then I couldn&rsquo;t get reverse. By the time I got going the leader was about to lap me.&rdquo;</p> <p>Leader Jones indeed was but a few car lengths behind the Alfa once it started to circulate again. But by the end Giacomelli had climbed to third and was but 20 seconds off victor Jones, the Italian having made back a minute. Another tale of what might have been.</p> <p>Yet from then on driver and team entered a downward cycle. Alfa struggled on amid wrangling, upheaval and before long cutbacks too. Then come 1984 fuel restrictions really did for it and its ultra-thirsty power plant.</p> <blockquote> <p>Bruno Giacomelli &ndash; not a politician, nor a hard or devious bastard behind the scenes, &lsquo;just&rsquo; a very fast racing driver besotted by his craft. Is that so hard to understand? It shouldn&rsquo;t be - Paul Fearnley</p> </blockquote> <p>While Giacomelli had a final, again difficult, campaign at Alfa in 1982, wherein his new stable mate Andrea de Cesaris swiftly got the intra-squad upper hand by claiming pole at Long Beach. &ldquo;Andrea was very fast, and the team got excited by that pole,&rdquo; Giacomelli said. &ldquo;But I was perhaps more precise in how a car should be developed. I was still underrated in that team.&rdquo;</p> <p>For 1983 he left for Toleman but it was more of the same, firmly playing second fiddle to Derek Warwick and falling out with boss Alex Hawkridge. &ldquo;He treated me like a 19 year old,&rdquo; Giacomelli rued.</p> <p>After racing elsewhere he then had the slightly surreal final F1 act of repeatedly trying and failing to pre-qualify the Life in 1990, a car with good claim to be F1&rsquo;s worst ever.</p> <p>But for Giacomelli just to race was the thing &ndash; indeed he&rsquo;d turned down a testing role with McLaren so he could take the Life seat. Plus he was intrigued by the Life&rsquo;s W12 engine and by working with ex Ferrari designer Franco Rocchi.</p> <p>As Paul Fearnley concluded, &ldquo;Bruno Giacomelli &ndash; not a politician, nor a hard or devious bastard behind the scenes, &lsquo;just&rsquo; a very fast racing driver besotted by his craft. Is that so hard to understand? It shouldn&rsquo;t be.&rdquo;</p> Sacha Fenestraz steps up to European F3 with CarlinMon, 15 Jan 2018 18:44:38 GMT<p>Sacha Fenestraz will compete for Carlin in this year&rsquo;s European Formula 3 Championship.</p> <p>Fenestraz, 18, claimed last season&rsquo;s Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0 title, securing backing from the French manufacturer in the process, and dabbled in F3 with Carlin at the Nurburgring and Macau.</p> <p>He will now graduate full-time to the series this year, linking up once more with Carlin, which guided McLaren prot&eacute;g&eacute; Lando Norris to the 2017 crown.</p> <p>&ldquo;Since I first got behind the wheel of a Formula 3 car I really liked the handling and the aero efficiency of the car,&rdquo; explained Fenestraz.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m really happy to compete in the 2018 European Championship and to continue my journey with Carlin.</p> <p>&ldquo;The team is very professional in its approach to racing and you can quickly understand why it has such a track record in all single-seater categories!</p> <p>&ldquo;This environment will allow me to continue gaining experience.</p> <p>&ldquo;Next season, my goal will be to get first place in the Rookies&rsquo; classification and to get the best result in the overall championship.&rdquo;</p> Bull junior Niko Kari switches to MP Motorsport in GP3Mon, 15 Jan 2018 18:23:46 GMT<p>Former Red Bull junior driver Niko Kari will compete for MP Motorsport in GP3 this season, the team&rsquo;s first signing for its entry into the tertiary category.</p> <p>Kari switched to GP3 for 2017, with Arden, but was let go from Red Bull&rsquo;s programme after finishing a low-key 10th overall, bagging a solitary win in the Abu Dhabi finale.</p> <p>MP Motorsport has taken over DAMS&rsquo; entry for 2018 and fielded Kari during post-season testing, and the Finn will link up with the squad for a full campaign.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m extremely pleased to be joining MP Motorsport&quot;, said Kari.</p> <p>&quot;We worked together quite well at Abu Dhabi &ndash; in fact, our cooperation was so positive that I was really keen on joining the team.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m happy that we managed to agree terms for my second season in GP3 and I&#39;m really hoping for a repeat of our test form in the series!&quot;</p> <p>MP Motorsport chief Sander Dorsman added: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s so good to see Niko join our team after we showed such good form in the GP3 test at Abu Dhabi.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m confident we can build on that performance going into our debut season and help Niko gain more wins in GP3.&quot;</p> Vasseur wants Alfa Romeo works team future for SauberMon, 15 Jan 2018 16:39:18 GMT<p>Sauber team principal Frederic Vasseur says the goal is for the Swiss team to become a &quot;fully fledged&quot; Alfa Romeo works team in the future.</p> <p>Alfa Romeo announced it would become the team&#39;s title sponsor in 2018 which includes renaming the team &#39;Alfa Romeo Sauber&#39;, whilst also lending technical assistance throughout the season.</p> <p>Sauber also took on Ferrari junior Charles Leclerc as part of the deal which will see the team using the latest specification of Ferrari engine &ndash; Ferrari and Alfa Romeo share the same chairman in Sergio Marchionne and were both owned by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles until Ferrari&#39;s recent flotation.</p> <p>Team boss Vasseur is eyeing a greater collaboration in future which could see Sauber drop the name of its founder, Peter Sauber, in favour of Alfa Romeo.</p> <p>&quot;The company&#39;s executives want to see a fully fledged Alfa Romeo team,&quot; the Frenchman told&nbsp;<em>Auto Hebdo.</em></p> <p>&quot;At this moment in time we are using&nbsp;Ferrari engines, but our goal is not to be a subsidiary of, but the main Alfa Romeo team.&quot;</p> <p>His comments come just days after Peter&nbsp;Sauber &ndash; who sold his stake last year &ndash; assured the Sauber name wouldn&#39;t be dropped and the team would remain a privateer, but Vasseur doesn&#39;t believe that&#39;s viable in the long-term.</p> <p>&quot;Personally, I do not see how in the end a private team can survive in F1,&quot; he added. &quot;Private teams can have a couple of great seasons, like Force India at present, but with the slightest hint of a crisis, the whole outfit can collapse.</p> <p>&quot;Thanks to the cooperation with Alfa Romeo, our team is on a stable course.&quot;</p> approves CP Tech as first Halo supplierMon, 15 Jan 2018 15:54:47 GMT<p>The FIA has approved its first supplier of the Halo head protection device just six weeks before Formula 1 pre-season testing is due to begin.</p> <p>The device, which is constructed out of titanium and weighs approximately 6kg &ndash; although in total with fixings, mounts and chassis changes, that could exceed 10kg &ndash; is being introduced for the 2018 season to F1 and Formula 2 initially, before being rolled out to Formula E for season five later this year.</p> <p>The governing body issued a tender looking for suppliers of the Halo last year and approved its first supplier on Monday, with German company CP Tech given the green-light to begin production and distribution of the device after it successfully proved its version could deflect a tyre at speeds of 140mph (225km/h).</p> <p><font><font>&quot;We chose CP tech as a research and development partner because the company has been able to offer excellent technical solutions,&quot;&nbsp;said Andy Mellor, </font></font>consultant for the Global Institute for Motor Sport Safety.</p> <p><font><font>Thomas Casey, general manager of CPTech added: &quot;This project is a true recognition of our unique expertise and expertise in the complex mechanical processing of titanium and other materials.</font></font></p> <p><font><font>&quot;This is another flagship project that we can be proud of, with our experience of more than 25 years in the field of motorsport.&quot;</font></font></p> <p>The cost of each Halo is &pound;11,300 (&euro;12,700) and it will be a mandatory device affixed to all F1 and F2 cars for testing and racing in 2018 and beyond.</p> Aitken promoted to Formula 2 with ARTMon, 15 Jan 2018 15:04:15 GMT<p>Jack Aitken will graduate to Formula 2 with his ART Grand Prix team for the upcoming season.</p> <p>The Renault prot&eacute;g&eacute; will make the step up from GP3 to the Formula 1 feeder series following a successful second season in GP3 where he finished second to team-mate George Russell &ndash; who is also expected to graduate to F2 this year &ndash; which included a Feature Race victory in Hungary.</p> <p>The two-time Renault 2.0 champion is the first of ART&#39;s confirmed drivers for 2018, whilst Arden confirmed Nirei Fukuzumi last week. Prema, Carlin and Charouz have all announced their complete line-ups.</p> <p>&quot;Of course, I am delighted to sign with ART GP for another year, taking on the challenge of F2,&quot; commented Aitken.&nbsp;&quot;I have made a lot of friends here, and I have the confidence in them and myself that we can have an even better season together this year. We will aim high, and push hard. Rookie or not, I want to be challenging at the front like always.&rdquo;</p> <p>Team boss S&eacute;bastien Philippe added:&nbsp;&quot;Jack&#39;s promotion to Formula 2 is the logical continuation of our partnership and our collaboration with Renault.</p> <p>&quot;Jack was a GP3 contender last year and has the maturity and speed to reach the top categories. He knows the circuits and the working methods of ART Grand Prix and his tests in Abu Dhabi have confirmed that he has all the assets needed to reach great heights in 2018.</p> <p>&quot;ART Grand Prix&rsquo;s objective in 2018 is to win the title and Jack will be one of the highlights of our strategy.&quot;</p>'s Yves Matton confirmed as FIA rally directorMon, 15 Jan 2018 13:44:16 GMT<p>The FIA has announced that Yves Matton has been appointed Rally Director within the governing body, confirming rumours of his departure from the Citroe&euml;n WRC outfit.</p> <p>Matton has been in charge of Citro&euml;n&#39;s rally programme since 2011 after he replaced&nbsp;Olivier Quesnel.&nbsp;Pierre Budar will now take up the role of team principal, having previously run PSA&#39;s&nbsp;customer racing department.</p> <p>In Matton&#39;s new FIA position, he will be &quot;responsible for the strategic vision of rallying and cross country rallying at all levels, from grassroots with amateurs through to the regions and the pinnacles of the disciplines, the FIA World Rally Championship and FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies.&quot;</p> <p>He will also be&nbsp;&quot;instrumental in liaising with all the sport&rsquo;s stakeholders in order to optimise the attractiveness, efficiency and future sustainability of the discipline.&quot;</p> <p>FIA President, Jean Todt, said of the Belgian&#39;s appointment: &quot;Yves has a wealth of experience across many facets of rallying, which is important for its continued growth.</p> <p>&quot;He has great passion for the sport and his understanding of competition and management at independent and manufacturer levels will be a great asset to further securing the future development of our sport. I would also like to thank PSA Motorsport for making Yves&rsquo; transition to the FIA so seamless.</p> <p>&quot;I also pay tribute to Jarmo [Mahonen]&nbsp;for his significant contribution and the advancements made in rallying under his management. We have solid foundations to further build on and I am confident we will continue to see the sport grow from strength to strength.&quot;</p> <p>Matton added: &quot;I must admit that I feel very honoured to take on this position at the FIA, the governing body of world motor sport.&nbsp;I have worked at various levels of the sport, including for one of the most successful manufacturers in history, but this is for me a real achievement in itself.&quot;</p> unveils 2018 MotoGP liveryMon, 15 Jan 2018 12:12:20 GMT<p>Ducati has unveiled its 2018 MotoGP livery during a launch event on Monday at its&nbsp;Borgo Panigale headquarters.</p> <p>The livery, which was shown off on their GP17 bike, will be used by its two riders for the upcoming season,&nbsp;Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo.</p> <p>It features a primarily red design with splashes of white and the addition of grey this year.</p> <p>The Italian team isn&#39;t due to launch its 2018 machine, the GP18, until Sepang testing later in January.</p> <p>The pair will be hoping for another solid campaign with Dovizioso taking the title fight to the final race against eventual champion Marc Marquez, whilst Lorenzo, seventh last year, will be looking to get a better start to his season after some early 2017 struggles.</p> <p><img alt="" height="457" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/MotoGP/3-_8504596_.jpg" width="789" /></p> <p><img alt="" height="533" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/MotoGP/2-_8505222.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p><img alt="" height="533" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/MotoGP/1-_8504779.jpg" width="800" /></p> legend Dan Gurney passes awayMon, 15 Jan 2018 11:48:47 GMT<p>Dan Gurney, who has&nbsp;died at the age of 86, was a colossus in motor racing history.</p> <p>A racer, a team owner, a car manufacturer and a sage. Gurney was so popular in the United States in the mid-1960s that Car &amp; Driver suggested that he run for President.</p> <p>Gurney was tall (6ft3), graceful and handsome, dashing and charming. He was the archetypal schoolboy hero. He had it all. He won races in Formula 1, Indycars, NASCAR, CanAm and TransAm, not to mention sports cars. His biggest victory came at Le Mans in 1967, when he and AJ Foyt shared a Ford GT40, afterwards spraying champagne from the podium, starting a tradition that is now integral to all celebrations in motorsport today. That same summer he won the Belgian Grand Prix in one of his Eagles, to become only the second American to drive an American car to a Grand Prix victory, following Jimmy Murphy&rsquo;s win in France in 1921, in a Duesenberg.</p> <p>Gurney also invented the gurney flap, a small metal attachment that was bolted to the trailing edge of a rear wing to create more downforce without too much additional drag.</p> <p>He was the first F1 racer to use a full-faced helmet.</p> <p>In F1 circles, there was only one Dan.</p> <p>Born on the affluent north shore of Long Island (Gatsby country), in New York in April 1931, Gurney was the son of John Gurney, a celebrated bass-baritone who sang with the Metropolitan Opera. After he retired in 1947 John Gurney moved his family to sunny California, settling in Corona del Mar, where he became a portrait artist and furniture designer. He still sang on occasion, notably the national anthem at the inaugural Long Beach Grand Prix.</p> <p>Dan was a part of the 1950s sports car boom in California and was quickly spotted by Ferrari&rsquo;s US agent Luigi Chinetti. He was invited to join the Ferrari factory team at Le Mans in the summer of 1958. His smooth and elegant driving style and his speed won him a place racing a works Ferrari F1 car in selected races in 1959, beginning at the French GP. He moved to BRM in 1960, but in Holland suffered a brake failure which caused him to crash, breaking an arm and killing a young spectator. He changed his driving style after the accident and developed a marked distrust of engineers.</p> <p>The change in F1 regulations led him to a switch to the Porsche factory team in 1961 and he won his first World Championship victory the following year at Rouen, before moving to Brabham from 1963 to 1965, when he showed his pace but was often let down by mechanical trouble. With the arrival of the new 3-litre Formula 1 in 1966 he started his own Anglo American Racers and began competing with the Eagle-Weslake, winning his first victory in Belgium in 1967. His Eagles were successful in the US but struggled with the Weslake V12s and Gurney shut down the F1 operation in 1968 and he raced for McLaren on and off that year and in 1970. His Eagles &ndash; in Indycars and later in IMSA sports cars won 78 races (including the Indianapolis 500, the Sebring 12 Hours and the Daytona 24 Hours. His factory cars won eight different championships, while customers using his cars won three Indianapolis 500s and three championships. He was one of the founders of CART.</p> <p>In later years he developed a low-rider motorcycle called the Alligator, hoping to license the design to a major manufacturer.</p> <p>Gurney married German Evi Butz &ndash; Norbert Haug&rsquo;s sister &ndash; in 1969 and they had four sons, Justin, Alex, Dan Jr. and Jimmy.</p> 248 of Motorsport Monday is out now - Rosenqvist reignsMon, 15 Jan 2018 11:12:21 GMT<p><strong>Issue 248&nbsp;of our free weekly magazine, Motorsport Monday, is online now and packed full of great content&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;<a href="">click here</a>&nbsp;or the&nbsp;link below to start reading.</strong></p> <p>Racing finally returned to the headlines this weekend when Formula E headed to Morocco on the Marrakesh Express. Yes, electric racing was back with a vengeance for its only stop on the African continent. And while it was all S&eacute;bastien Buemi in practice and qualifying as he set the pace for the Renault e.dams outfit, he could not quite manage to finish the job in the race, losing out to a badly programmed car... Read Chris Soulsby&#39;s take the race weekend inside this week&#39;s magazine.</p> <p>Then it was all happening in Birmingham when Yorkshire based Ginetta launched their new LMP1 challenger at the annual Autosport International Racing Show held in the vast NEC complex. Read Daniel Lloyd&#39;s report on the launch and his verdict of where or not the little manufacturer and their customer Manor Racing team can win this year&#39;s Le Mans or not. Plus we also have a full report on the ASI show too.</p> <p>Down in South America it&#39;s getting to the business part of this year&#39;s Dakar Rally and Jerry Williams brings us a halfway report on what is being described as the toughest and hardest route yet for this gruelling event. With Carlos Sainz (senior, that is) leading the event, what&#39;s happened to the more fancied drivers like Loeb, Peterhansel, de Villiers and Al-Attiyah? Well you will have to read Jezza&#39;s report to find out what happened...</p> <p><a href=""><img alt="" height="127" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Magazine/click-to-read.png" width="800" /></a></p>'s Nico Muller tops Formula E rookie test in Marrakesh with new lap recordSun, 14 Jan 2018 19:47:36 GMT<p><strong>Nico Muller topped Formula E&#39;s first ever rookie test in Marrakesh for Audi </strong><strong>Sport</strong><strong> Abt Schaeffler, leading the way by almost one second.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>The test, which was reserved for drivers without a Formula E licence, attracted a number of big-name drivers, including Ferrari&#39;s reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi and Paul di Resta who was in contention for a Formula 1 drive with Williams in 2018.</p> <p>While the morning part of the session was topped by di Resta who represented Jaguar, Muller performed long runs while on the other side of the Audi garage, Nyck&nbsp;de Vries failed to complete a lap due to ongoing reliability problems for the German marque while driving both of Lucas di Grassi&#39;s cars which suffered from technical issues throughout Saturday in Marrakesh.&nbsp;</p> <p>With five minutes remaining of the afternoon session, Muller set a record-breaking lap around the Circuit Moulay El Hassan, breaking Daniel Abt&#39;s previous record that was set in FP2 ahead of the Marrakesh ePrix with a 1:19.651.&nbsp;</p> <p>Muller&#39;s nearest challenger overall was Pietro Fittipaldi in the second Jaguar car, 0.946 seconds adrift of the Audi. Formula 2 ace Maximilian Gunther ended the day in third fastest for Dragon Racing, one second adrift of the pacesetting time with his best lap from the day.&nbsp;</p> <p>Di Resta&#39;s efforts placed the former Force India driver in fourth fastest in the overall standings, closely followed by his fellow countryman, James Rossiter who represented Techeetah, 0.020 seconds of the Jaguar in fifth.</p> <p>Daniel Juncadella finished the day in sixth place for Mahindra Racing followed by Antonio Giovinazzi who was the highest placed DS Virgin driver in seventh.&nbsp;</p> <p>Andrea Caldarelli ended the day in eighth place followed by Joel Eriksson in ninth. De Vries rounded out the top ten in the second Audi, 1.457 seconds slower than Muller in the same machinery although the Dutchman had limited running throughout the day.</p> <p>Outside of the top ten, Alexander Albon was the fastest Renault e.dams driver in 13th fastest overall while Michael Benyahia&nbsp;rounded out the table with the slowest time for&nbsp;Venturi on home soil.&nbsp;</p> <p>The day saw a number of stoppages, with Caldarelli bringing out the first red flag of the day after crashing in the morning session while a dog out on track brought a second halt in the morning. In the afternoon,&nbsp;Mitsunori Takaboshi, Benyahia and Bruno Spengler all caused disruptions.</p> makes rider airbags compulsory in 2018Sun, 14 Jan 2018 12:26:27 GMT<p>Rider airbags will become compulsory in 2018 across all classes of the FIM MotoGP championship, which includes the Moto2 and Moto3 series along with the premier MotoGP class.</p> <p>There are two exceptions to the rule, with wildcard riders not having to use the safety system and replacement riders having a two-race exemption. After those two events, replacement riders will be&nbsp;subject to the same requirements and specifications as those of permanent entrants.</p> <p>The airbag should cover and protect at least the shoulders and the collarbone, with the full or central portion of the back being&nbsp;optional. However, if a manufacturer chooses to have back protection, it must cover the whole spine.</p> <p>Small variations according to the specifics of each system are allowed, as are variations to accommodate the different morphology of each rider, but the same key areas and guidelines are in place for every manufacturer.</p> <p>Each airbag system must pass a series of tests to prove it fully complies with the regulations. Requirements range from the battery and electronics to deployment and inflation times, with accidental deployment also an important factor. An accidental deployment of the airbag must not risk causing a rider to crash or impede a rider from controlling their motorcycle.</p> <p>In addition, airbag systems must not require any parts to be added to the motorcycle, and must be triggered without the rider being tethered to the bike.</p> Formula E - Marrakesh ePrix race highlightsSat, 13 Jan 2018 23:56:43 GMT<p>We were treated to some great racing in Marrakesh, but who came out on top? Find out in our race highlights package.</p> Rosenqvist snatches championship lead with victory in MarrakeshSat, 13 Jan 2018 17:34:14 GMT<p><strong>Mahindra Racing&#39;s Felix Rosenqvist scored his third career Formula E win and took the championship lead at the Marrakesh ePrix with a late race overtake on Sebastien Buemi.</strong></p> <p>While Buemi started the race from pole position, Rosenqvist started down in third after making a mistake in qualifying, with the pair being separated by DS Virgin Racing&#39;s Sam Bird on the grid.</p> <p>Throughout the race, Buemi was followed closely by Bird while Rosenqvist followed&nbsp;behind the pair in third place. When Bird suffered from a gearbox problem in the closing stages of his first stint, Rosenqvist leapt into second and followed Buemi into the pits to jump into his second car.&nbsp;</p> <p>In the second stint, Rosenqvist remained comfortably within one second behind Buemi throughout and launched an attack up the inside of the Swiss driver in Turn&nbsp;7 to take the lead with five laps to go, going to to take the checkered flag.&nbsp;</p> <p>Buemi crossed the line in second place, just under one second behind the Swedish driver while Bird stood on the final step of the podium.&nbsp;</p> <p>With a win at last month&#39;s Hong Kong ePrix, Roseqvist&nbsp;heads to Santiago with two consecutive victories under his belt and a four-point&nbsp;lead over Bird in the Drivers&#39; Championship.&nbsp;</p> <p>Nelson Piquet Jr finished in fourth place for Jaguar Racing and narrowly missed out on a second podium finish for the team in season four, being less than one second adrift of Bird.&nbsp;</p> <p>Jean-Eric Vergne drove a strong recovery race for Techeetah to finish in fifth place after starting down in 13th, crossing the finishing line ahead of Jose Maria Lopez who secured points on his return to Formula E for Dragon Racing in sixth place.</p> <p>Nick Heidfeld finished in seventh place despite being involved in a late-race accident between Maro Engel and his Venturi teammate, Edoardo Mortara, with Mortara retiring as a result of suspension damage and Engel dropping out of the points.</p> <p>As a result of the accident, Formula E debutant Tom Blomqvist scored points for Andretti by finishing in eighth while Nico Prost finished in ninth place in the second Renault e.dams car.&nbsp;</p> <p>Alex Lynn salvaged a tenth place finish after being spun out early on in the race by Daniel Abt. Abt was subsequently handed a drive-through penalty which relegated him out of what could have been a strong points finish, meaning that he finished in 11th place.&nbsp;</p> <p>After three rounds of season four, reigning champion Lucas di Grassi still remains without any points after retiring from the Marrakesh ePrix through a reliability problem. Oliver Turvey and Andre Lotterer also retired from the race for NIO and Techeetah.&nbsp;</p> 1 using eSports to assess starting grid shake-upSat, 13 Jan 2018 15:14:48 GMT<p>Formula 1 is using eSports to simulate and assess future regulation&nbsp;changes, with a change to the starting grid format amongst those under review.</p> <p>Motorsport Week <a href="">reported last year that F1 bosses had looked at a number of potential starting grid formations</a>, believing the staggered-two-by-two format currently in use could be improved to create more start drama and shake-up positions on the opening lap.</p> <p>However on the back of a recent qualifying format change in 2016, which proved unpopular with fans and was dropped after just a few races, the sport&#39;s bosses are keen to&nbsp;avoid such knee-jerk reactions and according to&nbsp;Pat Symonds, are using eSports to simulate future rule changes to get a better picture of how they will work in reality.</p> <p>&quot;We&#39;re keen to use virtual environments to test some of these regulations,&quot; Symonds said during MIA&#39;s Entertainment and&nbsp;Energy-Efficient Motorsport Conference. &quot;What we can do then is look at statistics.</p> <p>&quot;I&#39;ll give you an example of something we&#39;ve been thinking about this year &ndash; For a number of years, the starting grid for F1 has been a staggered formation.</p> <p>&quot;It used to not be like that, there was a time when cars started two abreast, there was a time when - we&#39;ve got a photo in our boardroom in London where I think it&#39;s Monza - there are four cars on the front row.</p> <p>&quot;What would happen if we did that again? It&#39;s not the sort of thing you can simulate easily.&quot;</p> <p>However the rise in eSports and the accuracy of the software means they can now use that to trial changes by running multiple simulations to give them a more accurate picture of what the outcome will be.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;We can go to our eSports group and we can say &#39;look guys, let&#39;s change the grid [format], let&#39;s do 20 races&#39;,&quot; added Symonds. &quot;Are we going to get a much more exciting first lap or are we going to get a huge collision on corner one?</p> <p>&quot;By doing this, and looking at it statistically, we can start to understand these things. It gives us our evidence-based form of decision-making, a mantra I preach quite regularly.&quot;</p> Buemi beats Sam Bird to Marrakesh ePrix poleSat, 13 Jan 2018 13:39:03 GMT<p><strong>Sebastien Buemi extended his points tally in qualifying by securing pole position for the Marrakesh ePrix.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Buemi performed his initial qualifying run in group two, setting a lap time that was quick enough to secure him a place in the Super Pole shootout alongside Sam Bird, Jose Maria Lopez, Felix Rosenqvist, and his long-term rival, Lucas di Grassi.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Swiss driver set a best time of a 1:20.355, and when Lopez, di Grassi and Rosenqvist all made mistakes on their final runs of the session, it became apparent that Buemi would start on pole, 0.260 seconds clear of Bird who was his nearest challenger.&nbsp;</p> <p>After a bad middle sector which ruined his lap, Rosenqvist secured third on the grid by salvaging what was left of his qualifying in the final sector, putting himself ahead of Lopez and di Grassi on the starting grid who line up in fourth and fifth.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Video: <a href="" target="_blank">Watch qualifying highlights from the Marrakesh ePrix</a></strong></p> <p>DS Virgin Racing&#39;s Alex Lynn narrowly missed out on a Super Pole appearance and will start the Marrakesh ePrix in sixth place ahead of Nelson Piquet Jr who qualified in seventh.&nbsp;</p> <p>Daniel Abt had a disappointing day and only qualified in eighth place for&nbsp;Audi&nbsp;Sport&nbsp;Abt Schaeffler after being caught out in his qualifying group stage when Antonio Felix da Costa crashed out of the session for Andretti Formula E.&nbsp;</p> <p>Mitch Evans qualified in ninth place in the second Jaguar and starts ahead of NIO&#39;s Oliver Turvey who lines up in tenth after also being caught out by da Costa&#39;s trip into the barriers.&nbsp;</p> <p>Outside of the top ten, Jean-Eric Vergne lines up in 13th place after a scruffy qualifying session while Mahindra&#39;s Nick Heidfeld only managed 18th after crashing during his final run of the session which caught out Edoardo Mortara who was slowest of the 20 runners.&nbsp;</p> Formula E qualifying highlights from Marrakesh ePrixSat, 13 Jan 2018 13:38:59 GMT<p>Watch qualifying highlights from Saturday&#39;s Marrakesh ePrix.</p> Abt leads Audi 1-2 in FP2 in MarrakeshSat, 13 Jan 2018 11:20:12 GMT<p><strong>Daniel Abt topped the timesheets in a foggy second practice in Morocco ahead of the Marrakesh ePrix for Audi </strong><strong>Sport</strong><strong> Abt Schaeffler.</strong></p> <p>Abt set a best lap time of a 1:19.760 using 200kW of power, just over half a second faster than Lucas di Grassi&#39;s pacesetting time in the first practice session of the weekend one hour earlier.&nbsp;</p> <p>Di Grassi was Abt&#39;s nearest challenger in the second session, 0.138 seconds adrift in the second Audi while Sebastien Buemi was third fastest for Renault e.dams, 0.176 seconds down.</p> <p>Mitch Evans continued where he left off in FP1 and set the fourth fastest time in practice two, heading up a Jaguar 4-5 in the session with Nelson Piquet Jr finishing in fifth despite making contact with the wall on his fastest lap.</p> <p>Alex Lynn was the lead DS Virgin Racing driver in sixth place after championship&nbsp;leader Sam Bird struggled for pace in the session, finishing outside the top ten in 12th fastest.</p> <p>Jose Maria Lopez impressed on his return to Formula E, setting the seventh fastest time for Dragon Racing. The Argentinian driver was closely followed by Mahindra Racing&#39;s Felix Rosenqvist who was only 0.007 seconds adrift in eighth.&nbsp;</p> <p>The Techeetah pair of Jean-Eric Vergne and Andre Lotterer rounded out the top ten in the session in ninth and tenth.</p> Benyahia targeting full-time Venturi seat in season fiveSat, 13 Jan 2018 10:04:32 GMT<p><strong>Ahead of his Formula E rookie test on home soil, Morocco&#39;s Michael Benyahia has revealed that he is targeting a full-time drive in the all-electric championship in season five with Venturi.</strong></p> <p>The 17-year-old joined Venturi late last year and his test with the Monaco-based outfit following this weekend&#39;s&nbsp;Marrakesh ePrix will mark his third time behind the wheel of one of the single seater machines having participated in pre-season testing in Valencia and driven in a street demonstration in 2016.</p> <p>&quot;I&#39;m very excited to be here [in Marrakesh],&quot; said Benyahia. &quot;I&#39;ve done a lot of work with the team and spent a lot of time on the simulator, learning a lot about the track and the car.&quot;</p> <p>Despite Venturi having a strong driver lineup in Maro Engel and Edoardo Mortara, who looked set to win in only his second race in the championship at last month&#39;s Hong Kong ePrix, Benyahia remained buoyant about his opportunities for a drive with the team next season.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s really my main job to be developing the car for the team but hopefully next season, I&#39;ll be a full-time driver for Venturi. I&#39;m really hoping to learn as much as possible on Sunday - that&#39;s my goal.&quot;</p> <p>As Formula E continues to spread across the globe and brings electric racing to new cities, Benyahia highlighted how Morocco is beginning to evolve towards electric power, particularly through sustainable and renewable energy.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;Having Formula E in Morocco - my home country - is fantastic. The country is really rapidly evolving towards electric now. We&#39;re developing lots of solar panels and wind farms, which are close to the ocean, so we&#39;re really developing how we go about generating electricity.</p> <p>&quot;With all that, having Formula E here is really helpful for the country and the environment in Morocco,&quot; he added.</p> di Grassi tops FP1 ahead of Marrakesh ePrixSat, 13 Jan 2018 09:28:53 GMT<p><strong>Reigning Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi led the field in first practice ahead of this weekend&#39;s Marrakesh ePrix for&nbsp;Audi Sport Abt&nbsp;Shaeffler.</strong></p> <p>The Brazilian driver set a best lap time of a 1:20.310 which put him 0.914 seconds ahead of Jerome d&#39;Ambrosio who was his nearest challenger and the only other driver in the field to run on full 200kW power in the session for Dragon Racing.</p> <p>Di Grassi&#39;s teammate, Daniel Abt, showed that the Audi team has pace around the&nbsp;Circuit Moulay El Hassan by setting the third fastest lap of the session using 180kW of power, almost 1.3 seconds adrift of his teammate.</p> <p>Mitch Evan&#39;s continued to show that Jaguar Racing has pace over the course of one lap this season by ending the session in fourth place, 0.020 seconds ahead of Renault e.dams&#39; Sebastien Buemi who finished the session in fifth.&nbsp;</p> <p>Sam Bird was the fastest DS Virgin driver in sixth place, lapping faster than Jean-Eric Vergne who was seventh fastest for Techeetah while season one champion Nelson Piquet Jr was eighth fastest in the second Jaguar after clipping the wall in the session.&nbsp;</p> <p>Mahindra Racing&#39;s Felix&nbsp;Rosenqvist finished the session in ninth place while Britain&#39;s Oliver Turvey rounded out the top ten for NIO Formula E.</p> <p>Hong Kong&#39;s race two runner-up Edoardo Mortara ended first practice in last place for Venturi after recovering from an early session spin and a subsequent battery shutdown later in the session.&nbsp;</p> <p>On the other side of the Venturi garage, Maro Engel also ran into trouble and stopped multiple times out on track while Andre Lotterer ran into similar problems in the second Techeetah.&nbsp;</p> confirms full-time IndyCar 2018 entry for Gabby ChavesFri, 12 Jan 2018 18:39:37 GMT<p>Harding Racing has formally confirmed its full-time graduation to the IndyCar Series for 2018, with Gabby Chaves set to pilot its No 88 car<span style="font-size:9.0pt;line-height:115%; font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language: AR-SA">.</span></p> <p>Harding made its IndyCar bow at the 2017 Indianapolis 500 with Chaves, placing ninth, and made further outings at oval events at Texas and Pocono<span style="font-size:9.0pt;line-height:115%; font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language: AR-SA">.</span></p> <p>For Chaves, meanwhile, it represents a return to full-time competition, having compete only partial campaigns for Dale Coyne and Harding since his 2015 campaign with Bryan Herta<span style="font-size:9.0pt;line-height:115%; font-family:&quot;Calibri&quot;,&quot;sans-serif&quot;;mso-ascii-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri;mso-fareast-theme-font:minor-latin;mso-hansi-theme-font:minor-latin; mso-bidi-font-family:&quot;Times New Roman&quot;;mso-bidi-theme-font:minor-bidi; color:black;mso-ansi-language:EN-GB;mso-fareast-language:EN-US;mso-bidi-language: AR-SA">.</span></p> <p>&ldquo;I really can&rsquo;t begin to express how happy and excited I am to get back on track full-time with Harding Racing.&rdquo; said Chaves.</p> <p>&ldquo;We built a really strong team in a very short amount of time in 2017.&nbsp;I&rsquo;m looking forward to building on that and will be excited to see what our new team members will be able to do to take us to the next level.</p> <p>&ldquo;Most of all, I&rsquo;d like to thank Mike Harding for believing in my potential and for giving me this opportunity. I can&rsquo;t wait to see what we can do and believe we can have a lot of success together.&rdquo;</p> E minimum pitstop time remains for Marrakesh ePrixFri, 12 Jan 2018 15:41:30 GMT<p><strong>After a considerable amount of objection, Formula E teams have successfully reverted the FIA&#39;s decision to scrap a minimum pitstop time ahead of this weekend&#39;s Marrakesh ePrix.</strong></p> <p>Earlier this week, the FIA had planned to remove the all-electric series&#39; minimum pitstop time with immediate effect after feeling that the series had reached what could be considered as the fastest possible pitstop time.</p> <p>Despite the FIA believing that the removal of this time limit would not pose a risk to health and safety, a number of teams and drivers expressed reservation at this decision, arguing that by turning pitstops into a competition of speed that the chances for more mistakes to be made are increased, thus causing safety concerns.&nbsp;</p> <p>Due to the short-term notice of this new rule change, teams requested for the removal of the minimum pitstop time to be pushed back and&nbsp;implemented for the next round of the 2017-18 season at the Santiago ePrix in February.&nbsp;</p> <p>It has been decided by the stewards that the Marrakesh ePrix this weekend will have a 45 second minimum pitstop time where drivers will change into their second car for the race.</p> <p>Due to varying start-up times for&nbsp;cars caused by the different software that is used by powertrain manufacturers, concerns have also been expressed that the removal of the minimum pitstop&nbsp;time could act as a potential advantage for teams with a quicker start-up procedure.</p> Brawn promises 'sensational' video-game inspired Formula 1 cars in the futureFri, 12 Jan 2018 15:34:54 GMT<p>Formula 1&#39;s Ross Brawn has promised &quot;sensational&quot; looking cars in the future that will resemble something from a video game.</p> <p>Although the latest generation of F1 car has been designed to look more aggressive than past cars, with its wider tyres, lower and wider wings, Brawn reckons they can go further and make them truly stand-out.</p> <p>With the introduction of the Halo head protection device,&nbsp;aesthetics, in the eyes of many, will take a step back this season, but Brawn says F1 has designers actively working on improving the look of the Halo by incorporating it into the design of the car as well as improving the overall look when new rules come into play for 2021.</p> <p>&quot;We&#39;ve had designers working on the aesthetics of the cars for some time now and the aesthetics of the cars are a really important thing,&quot; he told <em>Sky Sports.</em></p> <p>&quot;I think we&#39;ve done some great work on how you integrate the Halo, for instance, because it looks like it&#39;s just been stuck on the car &ndash; which it quite literally has.&quot;</p> <p>Brawn says the aesthetics of Formula 1 cars is high on the agenda for Liberty Media.</p> <p>&quot;It&#39;s obvious, but when you talk to the fans [they say] the cars have got to look great. They&#39;ve almost got to look like derivatives of video games and evolve in a way where the video games take their key from Formula 1, not the other way round.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;I think they&#39;ll look sensational. We&#39;re going to have some great-looking cars in the future, that&#39;s a really important thing for us [Liberty].&quot;</p> <p>Image reproduced with permission from concept designer&nbsp;<a href="">Antonio Paglia</a>.</p> Keeping an eye on Honda-backed F2 rookie Nirei FukuzumiFri, 12 Jan 2018 15:11:28 GMT<p>Mercedes, Ferrari, Red Bull and McLaren will all have young drivers competing in either Formula 2 or 3 in 2018 as part of their development programmes. Much-maligned engine supplier Honda also has a scheme of its own, which has somewhat flown under the radar, but its rising star will graduate to Formula 2 this season, as Motorsport Week analyses...</p> <p>Nirei Fukuzumi is unlikely to be the young driver upon which the greatest scrutiny will fall throughout 2018.</p> <p>Aside from the aberration that is Max Verstappen, whose rise to the top has cast him out of his similarly-aged contemporaries and into the collective of established F1 stars, the spotlight is likely to fall on Charles Leclerc (with Sauber) or Mercedes-backed George Russell and rising McLaren star Lando Norris. The Brits, with GP3 and F3 titles under their belts, are both eyeing Formula 1 seats in 2019, and are likely to ramp up their involvement with Mercedes/Force India and McLaren respectively, while plotting their paths to the F2 title (Russell with ART, Norris with Carlin).</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula2/_O3I3173.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>Fukuzumi will race in Formula 2 this season</figcaption> </figure> <p>Fukuzumi, though, will join them in Formula 2, with Arden, and his Honda backing means he is one to keep an eye on, with his dual campaign of Formula 2 and Super Formula a signal of the Japanese company&rsquo;s trust in his ability (though it is unclear which series will take priority, with there being two clashes).</p> <p>Fukuzumi&rsquo;s rise comes at the expense of Nobuharu Matsushita, who has previously been regarded as the lead driver in Honda&#39;s Formula Dream Project.</p> <p>Matsushita switched to GP2 in 2015 as reigning Japanese F3 champion and had a solid rookie campaign alongside the all-conquering Stoffel Vandoorne at ART. But he failed to kick on in 2016 and was infamously banned for triggering the restart chaos in Baku, a setback which shattered his confidence and influenced the remainder of his season. 2017 was better, with a pole and two reversed-grid wins, and sixth overall, alongside a Sauber test run in Hungary, but it was too little, too late, under-delivering on his pre-season target of third.</p> <p>Fukuzumi, therefore, effectively becomes Honda&rsquo;s anointed prot&eacute;g&eacute;, as he graduates to Formula 2 after displaying promise in GP3.</p> <p>As with Matsushita, and many Asian-based racers before them, Fukuzumi had to adapt to the different cultures and nuances of European-based teams and series, while joining ART, and GP3, was both a blessing and a curse. GP3 is a tricky championship to grasp, with limited testing, fickle tyres and, often, restricted overtaking opportunities, raising the importance of qualifying and the opening lap. Heightened, understandably, when everything, such as team members, circuits, countries, culture, is new. European racers have often spoken of their learning curve when getting accustomed to Japanese-based championships; it is the same reversed.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula2/_L0U6593.jpg" width="400" /> <figcaption>ART&#39;s line-up through 2016 was strong</figcaption> </figure> <p>Similarly, ART is the best-equipped team in GP3, giving Fukuzumi the best leg-up, but also consequently attracts the best drivers &ndash; Fukuzumi went up against Charles Leclerc, Alexander Albon and Nyck de Vries in 2016; they all took him under their wings, but once on-track were formidable opponents. The amiable Fukuzumi finished seventh, with a trio of podiums, the lowest-placed ART racer, but impressed with his attitude and improvement.</p> <p>Remaining in GP3 for 2017 undoubtedly led to further gains, as Fukuzumi won the season-opening race &ndash; notably both Leclerc and Albon, now in F2, made sure they were beneath the podium to cheer him on &ndash; and stayed in title contention for much of the campaign, before Russell streaked clear. Two wins and two poles was a marked improvement, and it could have been more had his GP3/16 not developed an electrical problem as he prepared to start from the front at Monza. He classified third overall in the standings, seven points down on Aitken, disappointing only in Abu Dhabi, amid rare ART struggles. There remained a handful of question marks, most prominently over those often-heralded &lsquo;final two tenths&rsquo;, but he was there or thereabouts.</p> <figure class="image" style="float:right"><img alt="" height="220" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula2/_FER1412.JPG" width="400" /> <figcaption>Fukuzumi took victories in 2017</figcaption> </figure> <p>The move to Formula 2 represents a step up for Fukuzumi as he joins Arden, connected to Red Bull through the Horner family, while a Super Formula programme with Mugen means events will come thick and fast, ostensibly accelerating his learning process (and also boosting his Super Licence points chances). Arden has not enjoyed title success in recent years, though the introduction of a new package, on face value, presents a clean sheet of paper for Formula 2 teams.</p> <p>In Formula 1 terms, Honda will be able to keep a close watch on Fukuzumi, for having one of its prot&eacute;g&eacute;s eventually competing at the top echelon would represent a big box ticked for its young driver programme. And, longer term, the new relationship with Toro Rosso makes it a more attainable goal than in its previous partnership with McLaren. It should also be noted that, with Pierre Gasly now ineligible, both Red Bull and Toro Rosso will require young drivers for in-season testing. Fukuzumi, with some strong performances, could thrust himself into contention, particularly for the Faenza-based squad.</p> <p>Fukuzumi, therefore, will not be the most-lauded youngster in junior championships in 2018, but it is worth tracking his progress on the rung below Formula 1.</p> <p><img alt="" height="549" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Formula2/_X0W7545.jpg" width="800" /></p> Suninen joins M-Sport for eight WRC roundsFri, 12 Jan 2018 15:09:05 GMT<p>M-Sport has confirmed that Teemu Suninen will join the squad for eight rounds of the World Rally Championship in 2018.</p> <p>The 23-year-old will join&nbsp;S&eacute;bastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans in a third Ford Fiesta at round two in Sweden. He will also&nbsp;compete on gravel rounds in Mexico, Portugal and Italy during the first half of the season.</p> <p>His home event in Finland will lead into more dirt rounds in Turkey and Great Britain, before his year ends on mixed surface roads in Spain.</p> <p>The Finnish driver impressed in his rookie season last year when he drove for M-Sport in Poland and Finland, finishing sixth and fourth respectively, even winning SS7&nbsp;during the former rally.</p> <p>&ldquo;The plan is to start those rallies in a relaxed state of mind,&quot; said Suninen.&nbsp;&quot;There&rsquo;s no now or never situation or anything like that and no need to focus on our position in the drivers&rsquo; championship. We&rsquo;ll just take it rally by rally and make the most of every event we do.</p> <p>&ldquo;We need to ensure we make the most of this opportunity, and that is exactly what we plan to do. I&rsquo;m really looking forward to getting back behind the wheel of a top-specification world rally car and aim to learn as much as I can.&rdquo;</p> <p>Suninen will also compete in&nbsp;Monte Carlo and Germany&nbsp;in the WRC 2 support category.</p> <p>M-Sport announced earlier this week that&nbsp;Bryan <a href="">Bouffier would join the squad</a> for Monte Carlo and Corsica.</p> Formula E drivers look ahead to the Marrakesh ePrixFri, 12 Jan 2018 14:39:07 GMT<p>Fresh from their holiday season breaks, the stars of ABB Formula E look ahead to round three, the Marrakesh E-Prix this weekend!</p> doubts F1 will ever return to tyre warFri, 12 Jan 2018 12:13:46 GMT<p>Formula 1 is unlikely to ever again feature a development battle between multiple tyre companies, believes Pirelli&rsquo;s Mario Isola, due to the raised costs and performance disparity it would create.</p> <p>Formula 1 most recently featured competition between two tyre manufacturers from 2001 to 2006, when Michelin and Bridgestone battled it out.</p> <p>Michelin&rsquo;s withdrawal at the end of 2006 left Bridgestone as the sole supplier, with Pirelli taking over the contract from the Japanese company prior to 2011.</p> <p>Pirelli&rsquo;s current deal as Formula 1&rsquo;s exclusive supplier runs through 2019, and Isola does not expect a second manufacturer to enter, citing two key reasons.</p> <p>&ldquo;At the moment we supply the same product to all the teams,&rdquo; said Isola, having said he &ldquo;doesn&rsquo;t think&rdquo; a tyre war will ever happen in Formula 1.</p> <p>&ldquo;That means we put all the teams on the same level, talking about tyres.</p> <p>&ldquo;If you go in the situation of open competition, something that happened in the past, you increase the costs for sure, because you need to test.</p> <p>&ldquo;You will have the top teams with a better product compared to the midfield or the lower teams as at this point you don&rsquo;t have any obligation to supply the same tyres to everybody.</p> <p>&ldquo;[Therefore] you create a big differential between top teams and the others.</p> <p>&ldquo;Maybe with two or three tyre manufacturers you can have a couple of teams fighting at the top but the rest [will be] struggling with the performance.</p> <p>&ldquo;Because with the tyres you can easily find half a second per lap or more so you generate a bigger delta compared to now.&rdquo;</p> <p>The current run is the longest in Formula 1 history to feature a sole tyre supplier, with the spell from 1992-96, when Goodyear was the only manufacturer, the previous longest.</p> F1 lap times should be 1.5s quicker in 2018Fri, 12 Jan 2018 11:27:16 GMT<p>Pirelli chief Mario Isola says lap times in Formula 1 should reduce by 1.5 seconds in 2018, due to the rate of car development and the move to softer compounds.</p> <p>Pirelli, the sport&rsquo;s sole supplier since 2011, adopted a relatively conservative stance in 2017, amid Formula 1&rsquo;s widespread regulation changes, which featured wider tyres and higher downforce levels, leading to faster cars.</p> <p>As a reaction to a spate of one-stop races through 2017, Pirelli has made its compounds one step softer, and also introduced a new pink-banded Hypersoft tyre, which is set to debut in Monaco.</p> <p>&ldquo;The Hypersoft in Abu Dhabi was one second quicker than the Ultrasoft so it&rsquo;s quite an extreme compound,&rdquo; said Isola, speaking at the <em>Autosport Show</em>.</p> <p>&ldquo;I don&rsquo;t like to call it a qualifying compound as it was developed to be used also on some street circuits or low severity circuits.</p> <p>&ldquo;I would like to see the Hypersoft in some races this year, Monaco is probably the race where we&rsquo;re going to use it for the first time.</p> <p>&ldquo;In terms of lap times, we will have faster lap times this year, because we should consider the development of the car that is probably roughly one second per lap as an average.</p> <p>&ldquo;Plus the fact that especially at the beginning of the season we are planning to use softer compounds [compared to 2017], so in my expectation we should be quicker compared to last year by 1.5s per lap by average, it&rsquo;s a lot, it&rsquo;s another big step.&rdquo;</p> <p>Expanding more on the new-for-2018 Hypersoft, Isola added: &ldquo;The performance is great but also the degradation will be high, it&rsquo;s the normal trade-off between performance, degradation and wear.</p> <p>&ldquo;The degradation in Abu Dhabi was quite high, it&rsquo;s accepted as it&rsquo;s a very soft compound and that&rsquo;s why we are taking three compounds to each event.&rdquo;</p> would require manufacturer backing for 2021 Formula 1 engineFri, 12 Jan 2018 11:09:58 GMT<p>Cosworth say it will not develop an engine for the 2021 Formula 1 regulations unless it can secure some manufacturer backing or a partnership to finance the costs, according to&nbsp;managing director of powertrains Bruce Wood.</p> <p>Cosworth most recently competed in Formula 1 in 2013, as supplier to Marussia, dropping out of competition when the championship introduced V6 power units for 2014.</p> <p>Speaking at the <em>Autosport International Show,</em>&nbsp;Wood said Cosworth is happy with the direction that the proposed regulations for 2021 had taken, particuarly in reducing the complexity and cost of future power units, but admitted the finances involved remain too high for Cosworth alone to face.</p> <p>&quot;First off, we&#39;d love to be there,&quot; said Wood. &quot;It&#39;s been reported quite widely that we&#39;ve been heavily involved in the ongoing [future engine] discussions.</p> <p>&quot;The rules as they are being proposed would certainly technically facilitate Cosworth coming back into it and will bring down the cost barrier to entry to the point where there&#39;s a lot more OEMs, or not necessarily car manufacturers but other sponsors, who see Formula 1 as something they can bring into their sorts of budgets.</p> <p>&quot;Where we sighted it from the beginning is that it&#39;s unlikely you will see a completely independent Cosworth on the &#39;if you build it they will come&#39; [basis].</p> <p>&quot;That&#39;s unlikely because the economics of that are hard to make work,&quot; he added.</p> <p>&quot;We certainly hope that we might be there partnered with a small OEM, that&#39;s willing to make a much smaller financial commitment to get into F1.&quot;</p> <p>Aston Martin is another small manufacturer looking to get involved in F1 under the new engine regulations and is believed to be working with Red Bull to reduce development costs.</p> 1 extends Spanish TV deal with Movistar through 2020Fri, 12 Jan 2018 11:01:39 GMT<p>Formula 1 will continue to be broadcast on pay-per-view channel Movistar+ in Spain through 2020, after a new deal was agreed.</p> <p>Formula 1 went behind a paywall in Spain, home to two drivers on the 2018 grid &ndash; Renault&#39;s Carlos Sainz Jr. and McLaren&#39;s Fernando Alonso &ndash; in 2014, and a new contract has been signed.</p> <p>Movistar+ will broadcast all practice and qualifying sessions, along with the 21 Grands Prix, and has also received a number of &lsquo;additional digital rights&rsquo; for the 2018-20 period.</p> <p>&ldquo;We are very happy to extend our partnership with Movistar+, which has begun in 2014, for three more years,&rdquo; said Formula 1 Director of Media Rights Ian Holmes.</p> <p>&ldquo;Spain is one of the most important European markets for Formula 1 and, thanks to this partnership, the Spanish fans will be able to continue to enjoy the spectacle provided by the pinnacle of motor sport 24/7 on a dedicated channel, Movistar F1.</p> <p>&ldquo;We will be also help Movistar+ to produce exclusive content for its distribution across their digital and social media platforms, which will contribute to broaden the fan base and its engagement.&rdquo;</p> <p>&ldquo;Motorsport is a strategic pillar for Movistar+, with its perfectly defined offer and two internationally groundbreaking dedicated channels,&rdquo; added Alex Martinez Roig, Movistar+ Content Manager.</p> <p>&ldquo;We are poised build an ambitious project with Formula 1, with one specific goal in mind &ndash; broadening the Formula 1 fan base and meeting its wildest expectations.</p> <p>&ldquo;Most of the fans are tech savvy viewers and the online environment is the niche we want to explore and where we anticipate a major breakthrough.</p> <p>&ldquo;2018 will be the fifth consecutive year in which Formula 1 will be fully broadcast in Spain by Movistar F1, our dedicated channel. The renewal of the partnership constitutes a further step in our commitment to provide the Spanish viewers with the best possible sports offer.&rdquo;</p> <p>Commercial chief Sean Bratches has previously spoken of the aim to evaluate the PPV/FTA (free-to-air) distribution of Formula 1 rights on a territory-by-territory basis.</p> Button joins Kunimitsu in Super GT, set for Le Mans Classic outingFri, 12 Jan 2018 09:47:35 GMT<p>Jenson Button will compete for Team Kunimitsu in Super GT, Honda has announced, while the Briton will also make his debut at the Le Mans Classic this year.</p> <p>Button, following an outing at last season&rsquo;s Suzuka 1000km, confirmed before Christmas that he would compete with Honda full-time in Super GT in 2018.</p> <p>On Thursday, Honda confirmed that he will partner 2013 Super Formula champion and multiple Super GT race winner Naoki Yamamoto at Kunimitsu.</p> <p>It was also revealed on Thursday that the 2009 F1 champion will make an appearance at July&rsquo;s Le Mans Classic.</p> <p>Button is set to pilot the iconic Jaguar XJR-9 at the event, the prototype which claimed victory at the 24-hour race in 1988.</p> junior Guanyu Zhou sticks with Prema in F3Fri, 12 Jan 2018 09:12:35 GMT<p>Ferrari-backed Guanyu Zhou will remain with Prema for this year&rsquo;s European Formula 3 Championship.</p> <p>Zhou, runner-up in Italian F4 with Prema in 2015, returned to the squad for 2017, having spent his rookie F3 campaign in 2016 at Motopark.</p> <p>Zhou collected five podium finishes to classify eighth overall in the standings and will line up for the team again in 2018.</p> <p>&ldquo;I am really happy to be at Prema for the 2018 season,&rdquo; said the 18-year-old.</p> <p>&ldquo;The last two years of work have paid off for me and the team has been successful too, so I&rsquo;m looking forward to a great year together, I feel more than ready for the coming season.&rdquo;</p> <p>Zhou joins Ralf Aron and fellow Ferrari prot&eacute;g&eacute;s Robert Shwartzman and Marcus Armstrong at the team.</p> <p>&quot;Zhou is definitely an interesting prospect and has a lot of potential not to mention being the best Chinese racer in junior single seater competition so we are excited to have him back for 2018,&quot; said Team Manager Rene Rosin.</p> <p>&quot;Last season, he produced great racing but we are sure he can perform even better so we can&rsquo;t wait to see him back on track.&quot;</p> Nirei Fukuzumi gets Arden F2 deal and Super Formula seatFri, 12 Jan 2018 09:00:37 GMT<p>Honda has confirmed that Nirei Fukuzumi will race in both Formula 2 and Super Formula in 2018.</p> <p>Honda prot&eacute;g&eacute; Fukuzumi, 20, competed in GP3 with ART Grand Prix across 2016/17, taking third in last year&rsquo;s standings, behind team-mates George Russell and Jack Aitken, with two victories to his name.</p> <p>Fukuzumi will now graduate to Formula 2 with Arden, having run for the team during post-season testing in Abu Dhabi.</p> <p>Fukuzumi will also make his debut in the Super Formula championship with Team Mugen, replacing Toro Rosso Formula 1 driver Pierre Gasly, who finished runner-up last year.</p> <p>Fellow Honda-backed youngster Nobuharu Matsushita, who spent three years in GP2/F2 with ART, taking a handful of wins and a best of sixth overall, will also join the championship, competing for Dandelion Racing.</p> work begins at Circuit de Barcelona-CatalunyaThu, 11 Jan 2018 18:48:50 GMT<p>Spanish Grand Prix and Formula 1 testing venue Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya has commenced work in order to resurface the track and improve safety.</p> <p>After a request from MotoGP&rsquo;s governing body, the FIM, the run-off at Turn 12 &ndash; the fast right-hander bypassed by Formula 1 since 2007 &ndash; has been extended, with grandstands dismantled and put back several metres.</p> <p>The change has taken place in the wake of Luis Salom&rsquo;s fatal crash at the corner during a Moto2 practice session in 2016.</p> <p>The entire circuit is also set to be resurfaced, following complaints from MotoGP riders across recent years over the state of the asphalt.</p> <p>All changes were agreed by Formula 1&rsquo;s governing body, the FIA.</p> <p>The work will be completed in time for Formula 1 pre-season testing, which begins at the venue on February 26.</p> <p>Formula 1&rsquo;s track layout will not change, while the extension of the run-off area at Turn 12 means MotoGP will abandon using the chicane, and revert to using the old turn, after a couple of variations were used in the wake of Salom&rsquo;s crash.</p> <p>The Spanish Grand Prix has been held at the venue since 1991, with its current contract running until 2019.</p> High Street store look for WRC merchandiseThu, 11 Jan 2018 18:19:20 GMT<p>Just when you thought that the old WRC kit and merchandise looked rather boring, along comes Finnish merchandising company High Peak. They have just&nbsp;agreed a multi-year deal to become the new official merchandise partner of the FIA World Rally Championship.</p> <p>Under the deal with WRC Promoter GmbH who are the commercial rights holders, High Peak becomes the new market place for all WRC&rsquo;s officially licensed products, including the championship&rsquo;s clothing range, car accessories and toys, such as slot-car sets and radio-controlled rally cars.</p> <p>A brand new fan-friendly webshop has been launched, while High Peak has also developed a state-of-the art mobile shop come sales outlet which will be a key service park attraction at WRC rounds. It includes a walk-around showroom, based on a traditional high street shop, where fans can peruse items and try on clothing before making purchases.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>High Peak partner and head of sales, Sami Eljaala, said the company&rsquo;s expertise in international motorsport and at high-profile events like Red Bull Crashed Ice in Finland ensures that fans&rsquo; expectations will be matched.</p> <p>&ldquo;Our business includes everything from visual designs to on-site, online and partner sales,&quot; Eljaala&nbsp;said. &quot;Event sales is not only about selling but also about creating an experience for the fans.&nbsp;We&rsquo;ve created a purpose-built sales outlet for the service park which fans can walk around at their leisure, feeling the quality of our clothing and trying on items in comfort. That&rsquo;s what they expect and we want to meet those expectations.&rdquo;</p> confirms compound choices for Azerbaijan Grand PrixThu, 11 Jan 2018 15:53:58 GMT<p>Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has confirmed its compound choices for the fourth round of the season in Azerbaijan.</p> <p>Pirelli has expanded its range of dry-weather tyres for 2018, introducing a Hypersoft and back-up Superhard compound, in order to increase its options for each Grand Prix.</p> <p>The official introduction of the Hypersoft, however, is not set to take place until Monaco, with Pirelli selecting the Ultrasoft, Supersoft and Soft compounds in order to cope with the demands of the Baku City Circuit.</p> <p>The respective compounds are effectively two steps softer than the tyres used at the 2017 running of the event in Azerbaijan &ndash; the Supersoft, Soft and Medium tyres &ndash; after Pirelli realigned its entire range following a spate of one-stop races last season, with the Supersoft last year effectively becoming the Soft in 2018 and so on.</p> <p>Azerbaijan has moved to an April date for 2018, its third year on the calendar, following previous June dates, with the Russian Grand Prix shifted to later in the season.</p> <p>As per usual, drivers are free to select tyre choice from the three nominated compounds for 10 of their allocated 13 sets.</p> <p>One set of the Ultrasofts must be set aside for use only in Q3, while either the Supersofts or Softs must be used for one stint of the race.</p> <p>Pirelli has already nominated the same allocation of compounds for Australia, with Bahrain to feature Medium, Soft, Supersoft and China to see Medium, Soft and Ultrasoft tyres.</p> Brown excited by Liberty's 'significant' 2018 TV plansThu, 11 Jan 2018 15:46:17 GMT<p>McLaren&#39;s Zak Brown says he is excited by Liberty Media &quot;significant&quot; plans to shake-up the way Formula 1 is broadcast this year, which promises to bring fans close to the sport.</p> <p>Liberty is keen to boost television audiences further following a <a href="">6.2 per cent increase</a> last year, with&nbsp;commercial chief Sean Bratches unveiling its plans during a private meeting with the teams in December.</p> <p>Whilst the details of that meeting have yet to be made public, Brown said it would involve several initiatives aimed at better telling the story of the race through improved on-screen graphics and mobile applications.</p> <p>&quot;Before Christmas Sean Bratches presented the new F1 commercial strategy to us, the teams,&quot; Brown wrote in a one-off column for <em>James Allen on F1.</em></p> <p>&quot;There is a huge emphasis on digital, as we know, but last year was about testing things out. For this year there are products in place, like a new F1 App, OTT platforms (Over The Top/streaming) and they have brought in David Hill, one of the great TV sports innovators, to oversee the graphics package and the way the race is televised.</p> <p>&quot;You&rsquo;ll see significant changes there on the broadcast, on the graphics and the storytelling.&quot;</p> <p>The changes are primarily aimed at introducing F1 to a younger audience, whilst improving things for the current fanbase.</p> <p>&quot;On-event [at the circuit] we&rsquo;ll see more fan engagement, building on last year and there will be new media properties to help fans get closer to the teams,&quot; said Brown.</p> <p>&quot;I think the big impacts of 2018 will be on the media side, showing F1 in a way that it&rsquo;s never been shown before. It will give us a younger and bigger audience and they will be more engaged.&quot;</p> Ostberg gets third Citroen for Swedish WRC roundThu, 11 Jan 2018 15:35:49 GMT<p>Mads Ostberg will drive a third Citroen C3 WRC on the second round of the championship in Sweden next month.</p> <p>Ostberg, 30, will join regular Citroen drivers Kris Meeke and Craig Breen, returning to the squad with which he contested the 2014 and 2015 seasons, taking seven podiums and a best of fourth in the standings.</p> <p>Ostberg did not compete full-time in 2017 but competed in eight events in M-Sport Fords, running his own privateer programme.</p> <p>Ostberg&#39;s deal is currently a one-off at the event where he has finished on the podium five times.</p> <p>The Norwegian has one WRC triumph to his name, having taken victory on Rally Portugal in 2012.</p> will be back where they belong in 2018 - Zak BrownThu, 11 Jan 2018 14:59:21 GMT<p>McLaren boss Zak Brown insists McLaren will be back where they belong in 2018 following its switch from Honda to Renault power.</p> <p>McLaren&#39;s performance nosedived following its switch from Mercedes to Honda in 2015, with the team failing&nbsp;to score a single podium since and finishing near the bottom of the standings for the past three seasons.</p> <p>That prompted a last-minute switch to Renault for 2018 and Brown is confident that will provide the boost the team needs to return to the front of the field.</p> <p>&quot;People will&nbsp;like what our car looks like, we&#39;ve got some new partners onboard that we&rsquo;ll start announcing later this month and we&rsquo;ve got the two drivers we want,&quot; he said at the <em>Autosport International Show.</em></p> <p>&quot;We&rsquo;re happy with the working relationship with Renault, and we should hopefully be back to where people are used to seeing McLaren &ndash; at the front of the field!&quot;</p> <p>Brown has no doubts that Honda is to blame for McLaren&#39;s&nbsp;lacklustre results and although he admits there is room for improvement within the team, he is expecting major steps forward this year.</p> <p>&quot;[Honda] was certainly our single largest deficit of&nbsp;performance.&nbsp;We&rsquo;re not perfect, we certainly have room&nbsp;to improve, our pit stops aren&rsquo;t good enough, we need to be top three so&nbsp;we have some areas we can improve, but the lack of power was our single biggest area of weakness so I think when we get the Renault in the back we should see a substantial difference in Australia.</p> <p>&quot;We&rsquo;ve got a lot of confidence in Renault, so the package should be one of the most anticipated teams to watch come Australia.&nbsp;We&rsquo;re eager to get out there testing.&quot;</p> unveils 2018 LMP1 challengerThu, 11 Jan 2018 11:55:18 GMT<p>Ginetta has taken the wraps off its new-for-2018 LMP1 car that will race in the World Endurance Championship &#39;super season&#39;.</p> <p>The G6-LT-P1 is the Yorkshire-based company&#39;s&nbsp;first venture into the top prototype category of the WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.</p> <p>Manor TRS Racing will enter one car,&nbsp;with another two-car customer effort still to be announced.</p> <p>Ginetta chairman Lawrence Tomlinson, Ginetta technical director Ewan Baldry and Manor&nbsp;sporting director Graeme Lowdon&nbsp;were on hand to reveal the car at the Autosport International show in Birmingham on Thursday.</p> <p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m delighted to finally be able to unveil our latest machine to the motorsport industry, and what better time than at the start of our 60th year of manufacturing.&quot; said Tomlinson.</p> <p>&quot;Ginetta has a long history of international success in with the G55 GT4, LMP3 and G57. The LMP1 will be a strong contender in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and at Le Mans.&quot;</p> <p>&quot;We have a great team of design engineers in Leeds, have worked with some excellent partners on the project, and can&rsquo;t wait to show you what the LMP1 is made of out on track.&rdquo;</p> <p>The Ginetta will begin testing in the coming weeks, having taken delivery of all its parts.</p> <p>It is powered by a turbocharged V6 Mecachrome engine, capable of producing 650 brake horsepower.</p> <p>Ginetta has pledged a production run of 10 chassis, including spares, that will be available to purchase for &pound;1.34 million each.</p> <p>Next year&#39;s WEC and Le Mans grids are set to feature an upsurge in privately-run LMP1 entries, including Ginetta, SMP Racing, DragonSpeed, ByKolles and Rebellion.</p> Carey gives backing to Copenhagen's F1 plansWed, 10 Jan 2018 19:43:15 GMT<p>Formula 1 CEO and Chairman Chase Carey has given his backing to plans for a race around the streets of Copenhagen, the capital of Denmark, following a visit to the city.</p> <p>Copenhagen is one of several potential new locations striving to host a Grand Prix by 2020, with a project fronted by former government minister Helge Sander and Lars Seier Christensen, ex-CEO of Saxo Bank.</p> <p>Liberty Media, which acquired Formula 1 last January, has often spoken of its desire to bring the sport to &ldquo;destination cities&rdquo;, as part of its vision for the future.</p> <p>Carey visited Copenhagen on Wednesday to discuss plans, according to <em>Reuters</em>, and enthused over the prospect of bringing Formula 1 to the city.</p> <p>&ldquo;We&rsquo;re excited about the opportunity to explore a potential race here in Denmark,&rdquo; said Carey.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think Copenhagen represents the type of location that we think can really provide a great platform.</p> <p>&ldquo;Scandinavia has been a great part of our sport and having local drivers is always a plus.&rdquo;</p> <p>Denmark has never hosted a Grand Prix but is represented on the Formula 1 grid by Haas&rsquo; Kevin Magnussen.</p> <p>The Formula 1 calendar has gradually expanded in recent years, with the 2018 schedule set to equal 2016&rsquo;s record of 21 Grands Prix.</p> <p>The French and German Grands Prix (at Paul Ricard and Hockenheim) have returned to the roster, though Malaysia, which joined in 1999, has been discontinued.</p> Gasly: Pre-season reliability crucial for STR-Honda F1 hopesWed, 10 Jan 2018 16:52:00 GMT<p>Pierre Gasly says Toro Rosso-Honda must deliver a strong package during pre-season testing if the operation is to begin 2018 on the right foot.</p> <p>Long-term Red Bull junior Gasly, the 2016 GP2 champion, will contest his first full Formula 1 campaign in 2018, having graduated to the sport during the latter stages of 2017, contesting five Grands Prix with Toro Rosso.</p> <p>Toro Rosso has taken up McLaren&rsquo;s supply of Honda power units, and will be the only squad to use the Japanese engines, after the Woking-based outfit brought its deal to an end.</p> <p>Sub-par Honda reliability plagued McLaren&rsquo;s pre-season preparations in 2015 and 2017, and with only eight days of running at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, Gasly is aware of the importance of racking up mileage.</p> <p>&ldquo;At the start of February, I&#39;ll be going to the Toro Rosso factory in Faenza,&rdquo; Gasly told the official Toro Rosso website, expanding on plans.</p> <p>&ldquo;We already did a preliminary seat fitting for the 2018 car, but there will be more to do on that front, as well as ensuring everything is set for the first test in Barcelona.</p> <p>&ldquo;Testing will be very busy with a lot of work to do, especially as we have a new engine partner.</p> <p>&ldquo;The important thing at the test will be to have a reliable package so we can do as many laps as possible and get a good understanding of where we are with the car, the engine and how the package is planned to evolve.</p> <p>&ldquo;There are only eight days of testing before Australia and that really isn&#39;t very much.</p> <p>&ldquo;I am very motivated about all this and I can&#39;t wait to start driving again and prepare for the season.</p> <p>&ldquo;To be honest, right from the start of December, it&#39;s all I&#39;ve been thinking of!&rdquo;</p> <p>Gasly will partner reigning LMP1 champion Brendon Hartley at Toro Rosso this year.</p> Kvyat appointed Ferrari F1 development driverWed, 10 Jan 2018 13:25:57 GMT<p>Former Red Bull and Toro Rosso racer Daniil Kvyat has been appointed as Ferrari&#39;s development driver in Formula 1, the team has announced.</p> <p>Long-time Red Bull junior Kvyat graduated to Formula 1 with Toro Rosso in 2014 and was promoted to the senior team for 2015, in place of Ferrari-bound Sebastian Vettel, and scored two podiums during his time at the squad.</p> <p>However, Kvyat was replaced at Red Bull by Max Verstappen in May 2016 and returned to Toro Rosso, where he struggled for results, taking only a handful of points, a trend which continued into 2017.</p> <p>Kvyat was dropped by Toro Rosso after the Singapore Grand Prix and, while he made a one-off return for Austin, was axed altogether from Red Bull&#39;s programme, ending his lengthy spell affiliated with the company.</p> <p>With no available drives on the 2018 Formula 1 grid, with Williams poised to recruit Sergey Sirotkin, Kvyat has netted a development role with Ferrari, which is likely to involve extensive simulator work, demonstration runs, and potential test outings.</p> <p>Ferrari already has Sauber rookie, and reigning F2 champion, Charles Leclerc, under its wing, while reserve driver Antonio Giovinazzi is set to participate in six practice runs with the Swiss squad through 2018.</p> Motorsport Week's 18 to watch in 2018Wed, 10 Jan 2018 12:08:44 GMT<p><b>Motorsport Week&rsquo;s staffers have been hard at work on our opening feature of the New Year, 18 things to watch in 2018.</b></p> <p>We had a hard time picking just 18 points, but we think these will be the main things to look out for in the coming twelve months of motorsport&hellip;</p> <p><em>Note: This feature originally appeared in issue 247 of our sister publication Motorsport Monday &ndash; our weekly free magazine published every Monday &ndash; to read the latest issue, <a href="">click here</a>. To subscribe, head to <a href=""></a>.</em></p> <p><b>Will we finally get a three-team F1 title fight?</b></p> <p><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/battle-1.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p>Ferrari joined Mercedes at the front of the field in 2017, setting up a two-way title fight for the first time in the current era, as the historic marque traded blows circuit-by-circuit, their varying strengths and weaknesses playing out. However, while a close, intense fight across the opening half of the campaign promised a tantalising showdown, Mercedes&rsquo; form and Ferrari&rsquo;s capitulation resulted in the season turning on its head during a six-week spell. Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes were ultimately deserving champions, but there were signs of optimism for 2018. Ferrari, unlike in previous years, developed strongly through the season, and still displayed race-winning pace even at Grands Prix where their results suffered. Red Bull, meanwhile, was not a factor for the first half of the year, after correlation issues left them two months down on chassis development, accentuated by Renault&rsquo;s deficiencies. Across the final few Grands Prix, Red Bull was back in the mix, firmly outlining that it will be a title contender this year if it can begin 2018 on the right foot. Mercedes &ndash; having taken 15 poles and 12 wins from 20 races in 2017 &ndash; still has the target on its back, but stable regulations, and the optimism harboured by Ferrari and Red Bull, suggests there is hope for a three-way season-long title battle this year.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Who will Mercedes turn to for 2019?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/mercedes-2.jpg" /></b></p> <p>The 2018 season is still on the horizon but the inevitable glance at the future means the driver machinations for 2019 are already underway. Sebastian Vettel and Max Verstappen already hold long-term deals at Ferrari and Red Bull respectively, while Lewis Hamilton and Mercedes are expected to continue their marriage beyond the end of 2018. The identity of Hamilton&rsquo;s team-mate, however, remains unclear, and there are three obvious candidates. Incumbent Valtteri Bottas, having joined in early 2017, impressed during his first year with the Silver Arrows, but his one-year extension allowed Mercedes to keep his options open. The advantage, naturally, is with Bottas. If he begins the year strongly, regularly threatens Hamilton, and competes for the title, Mercedes will be forced into a corner, with Bottas in the pound seats. If not, and Mercedes feels Bottas is not its best long-term option, then Esteban Ocon and Daniel Ricciardo are favoured. Ocon has impressed during spells with Manor and Force India, and knows that he will be closely tracked by the Mercedes bosses who have backed him since 2015. Ricciardo, meanwhile, is out of contract, quick, highly marketable, and aware that &ndash; aged 28 &ndash; his next career decision will be hugely crucial to his title prospects. Indeed, Ricciardo&rsquo;s choice will determine the state of the driver market, for the leading trio of teams will all be keeping an eye on his performances.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Can McLaren-Renault deliver the goods?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/mclaren-3.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>McLaren remains one of Formula 1&rsquo;s most-known and well-loved teams, but it has not taken a trophy since 2014, and not mounted the top step of the podium since 2012. Much of that drought is down to the ultimately disastrous Honda project, as ambitions to rekindle the late 80s/early 90s dominance fell by the wayside. Honda&rsquo;s decision to introduce a new power unit concept in 2017 was correct, but its short-term setbacks could not be countenanced further by McLaren, whose frustrations grew amid missed targets and broken promises. A split was inevitable. McLaren sounded out Mercedes and Ferrari but eventually aligned itself with Renault &ndash; prompting reasons for optimism, and also caution. McLaren has repeatedly praised its chassis, and lauded the results of changes made across recent years, having been abject even pre-Honda in 2013/14. It now has the brand of engine which has powered Red Bull to multiple wins, and one which is still improving, amid Renault&rsquo;s desire to return itself to the top of the Formula 1 tree. And yet. The Red Bull-Renault relationship is hardly one which is, shall we say, rosy. Renault also spectacularly fell out with Toro Rosso &ndash; whose supply McLaren has effectively taken up. Renault undoubtedly provides a step up in performance and reliability compared to Honda, but it is not the magic bullet, and if the Japanese marque gets it right with Toro Rosso, then there will not be happy faces at Woking. Nevertheless, McLaren should expect to be a solid P4 in 2018 &ndash; perhaps with wins &ndash; which is, at least, better than 2015 to 2017.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Who will prevail in the midfield scrap?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/midfield-4.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>Formula 1&rsquo;s decision to introduce revised regulations for 2017 created a split, with the &lsquo;midfield&rsquo; group further away than ever from the leading outfits. In reality, the midfield was still fractured, with Force India substantially in front &ndash; points-wise &ndash; of their rivals, as only the scrap for P6 went down to the finale. For 2018, there remain several unknowns &ndash; an obviously exciting proposition. A McLaren-Renault partnership should surely vault the midfield, but Force India has been confounding expectations for years, so another assault on fourth cannot be ruled out. Force India has been investing in its facilities, has frequently produced strong, driveable, easy-to-develop cars, which will again be equipped with Mercedes power units. And in Sergio P&eacute;rez and Esteban Ocon it has a strong line-up. They will surely face competition from Renault. The manufacturer has gradually improved since its full-time return in 2016, and in Nico H&uuml;lkenberg and Carlos Sainz Jr. has a hugely competitive driving pairing, its strongest since the days of Fernando Alonso. As part of its long-term vision, Renault pinpointed 2018 as the year to start delivering podiums &ndash; Enstone, H&uuml;lkenberg and Sainz Jr. are more than capable if the ingredients can be moulded correctly. A Paddy Lowe-led, Mercedes-powered Williams squad cannot be forgotten, though its drivers may leave it on the backfoot. Haas, meanwhile, has improved year-on-year, and can execute a top-six performance at its strongest &ndash; eradicating its weaknesses will be key to its ongoing development.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How will Leclerc adapt to Formula 1?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/leclerc-5.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>From Formula 3 through to Formula 1, via title-winning GP3 and Formula 2 campaigns, Charles Leclerc&rsquo;s rise up the junior ranks has been a joy to witness. In GP3 he remained slightly fragile and prone to frustration under pressure, while in Formula 2 he sculpted the narrative at each weekend, blending speed with ruthless execution. He won six races, topped qualifying nine times, and could have picked up a bagful more points but for costly disqualifications and a handful of exits out of his control. Leclerc, backed by Ferrari, is <i>the </i>real deal, and his Formula 1 opportunity with the Alfa Romeo-affiliated Sauber squad is thoroughly deserved. It also comes at the ideal time for both parties, with Sauber on the rise after a tumultuous period, and Leclerc able to get up to speed in Formula 1 away from the spotlight of the sharp end of the grid. Hopefully, this will prove to be of assistance, for the step to Formula 1 cannot be underestimated &ndash; the cars are faster, there are more people to deal with, a more intense schedule, and many other small nuances which add up. As with other young stars, Leclerc must be given the space and freedom to develop; his F2 campaign shows what he can do &ndash; with Sauber, in Formula 1, expectations must be lowered. Nevertheless, Kimi R&auml;ikk&ouml;nen will be 39 in October, and Ferrari may need a 2019 replacement. If he can shine in 2018 and grasp his opportunities then he will thrust himself into contention. &nbsp;</p> <p><b>What can Toro Rosso/Honda achieve?</b></p> <p><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/honda-6.jpg" width="800" /></p> <p>The alliance between Toro Rosso and Honda creates a fascinating sub-plot for 2018 which may yet have wider ramifications as the year progresses. A team which repeatedly targets fifth but finishes seventh (it has done so in each season of the hybrid era), links up with an engine supplier which has yet to grasp the regulations in three attempts, to produce a package for two highly-capable drivers who are, it must be noted, unproven in Formula 1 terms. Depending on your mindset, this could either be the recipe for a surprise success story, or the ingredients for a total disaster. The reality is likely to be somewhere in the middle &ndash; there is no Brawn GP here, nor is there a fiasco-in-waiting. Honda&rsquo;s decision to revise its power unit concept for 2017 frustrated McLaren &ndash; as did some mid-season setbacks &ndash; but it did so convinced it would be beneficial long-term, and it is exactly that which Toro Rosso &ndash; holders of a three-year contract &ndash; can gain from. Amid the jokes and the sneering, Honda did make strides through the year and with several months of off-season work has little excuse not to be in the mix for 2018. Toro Rosso, in turn, should profit from being Honda&rsquo;s exclusive partner, rather than Renault&rsquo;s tired thirds, let alone sloppy seconds. Honda management changes suggest it has learned from previous failings and if the correct structure, allied to financial backing, is in place, then &ndash; whisper it &ndash; Toro Rosso-Honda could thrive. And if they do, Red Bull will come calling&hellip;&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Will anyone last on three engines?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/engine-7.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>Good news for fans of late-night grid-forming challenges &ndash; there will be even fewer engine parts allocated per driver this season. Under new-for-2014 regulations, the FIA clamped down on power unit components in a bid to enhance Formula 1&rsquo;s green credentials, and also to reduce the costs. The idea was logical, but not thought through well enough, with the negatives fully accentuated by Honda&rsquo;s problems in 2015. If a component needs changing, it needs changing. Grid penalties, particularly for Renault and Honda-powered drivers, have racked up across the closing events in recent years, with some using them tactically, reaching its nadir in Italy and Mexico last season. The FIA has moved to alleviate the problem somewhat by capping sanctions at 15 places, meaning drivers will be sent to the back of the grid in chronological order of receipt of penalty &ndash; at least meaning the days of 20, 25, 30 or more place drops are gone. However, while those who have been able to avoid the drops (notably Mercedes and Ferrari) must be commended for producing a power unit able to comply with the regulations, there is apprehension that 2018 will be a repeat of 2017, and for good reason. The calendar is one-round longer this year, and the allocation of PUs has been reduced from four to three. Some of the (more reliable) elements of the PU are capped at two. A solution, complex to achieve, must be sought for 2019.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Can revised tyre compounds increase action?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/pirelli-8.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>The move to wider tyres &ndash; allied to faster, higher-downforce cars &ndash; led Pirelli to adopt a more conservative approach for 2017, meaning the majority of dry-weather races were won using a one-stop strategy. The softest of three available compounds was used for qualifying and the first stint, with the second-softest for the remainder of the race, while the hardest compound was all-but-abandoned, used only for a few FP1 laps. The Hard tyre was used only during practice in Spain. Pirelli accepted it needed to be more aggressive for 2018 and embarked upon an extensive testing programme with all Formula 1 teams at a variety of locations with current-year cars, undoubtedly a step-up in its previous preparations. Pirelli opted to make its compounds a step softer, while simultaneously introducing a pink-banded Hyper Soft tyre, as well as a back-up Super Hard compound, which is unlikely to be used. The compound names have been mocked (and rightly so, for a Super Soft compound potentially being the hardest at a Grand Prix is totally illogical), but broadening its range, and giving it more scope to differ, is a positive move from Pirelli, as is the general slide towards softer tyres. No-one wants dire one-stoppers in the same vein that no-one wants four-stoppers on bubblegum tyres; finding a balance is tricky, but Pirelli is on the right route. What would also be preferable is tyres which operate in a wider window, after numerous complaints from several teams and drivers through 2017 that the range in which the rubber works correctly is too narrow.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>How will Liberty, and halo, continue to change F1?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/liberty-9.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>Liberty Media arrived in Formula 1, immediately installed a three-person structure to replace Bernie Ecclestone, recruited heavily, and set about putting a long-term plan in place, while tweaking small elements in the interim. Consequently, prize money dropped for 2017, prompting some snide remarks from a couple of figures, firmly outlining that the honeymoon period is now over. The most pressing element for Liberty Media is to give Formula 1 an identity moving forwards, a tricky task as it tries to balance reaching new territories while keeping the current fanbase satiated. One of its most important tasks surrounds the post-2020 regulations, and how &ndash; or if &ndash; it manages to keep all parties satisfied. Ferrari, it has been noted, has already been vocal in its criticism. A face-off is coming. On a similar note, if someone could switch Sean Bratches into English mode, as opposed to using an unintelligible lexicon that makes the parodied Ronspeak appear normal, that would also be much appreciated. Elsewhere, the most striking year-on-year change is the introduction of the &lsquo;halo&rsquo; head protection device, which finally arrives in Formulas 1 and 2 almost two years after its first on-track test. Increasing head protection has been a long-term goal of the FIA, but the dubious aesthetics of the system has attracted criticism, and hopefully the halo becomes the catalyst for a better solution to be unearthed and developed. The integration &ndash; both technically and visually &ndash; of the three-pronged (heavy) structure will also be intriguing to witness. &nbsp;</p> <p><b>Who will win Formula 2&rsquo;s battle of Britain?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/norris-10.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>Mercedes vs McLaren. GP3 vs Formula 3. Norfolk vs Somerset. Two of motorsport&rsquo;s rising stars will battle it out in Formula 2 this year as they strive to move up the single-seater ladder and stake their claim for a 2019 seat in the premier class. Mercedes-backed George Russell kicked up a gear in 2017 and swept to the GP3 crown, beating more established team-mates, and assimilated within Force India after a couple of FP1 runs &ndash; his reward for wrapping up the GP3 title early. Russell is poised to move up to Formula 2 with ART, while compatriot Lando Norris will also stay with his title-winning outfit as he and Carlin both move into the division. Norris&rsquo; rise through 2017 was rapid as he cantered to the Formula 3 crown, aided by a devastating mid/late-season run, and impressed with his speed and application during his Formula 1 test outing, as he took on more duties with McLaren. Both ART and Carlin will ostensibly be aided by the new-for-2018 Formula 2 package, though the squads &ndash; and their British chargers &ndash; will face challenges from elsewhere. Prema, having guided Pierre Gasly (2016) and Charles Leclerc (2017) to titles, will field Nyck de Vries, the Dutchman having shown flashes of potential during a stuttering single-seater career. As ever, line-ups are still being finalised, but the usual group of rising F1-backed youngsters and a ragtag bunch of journeymen will no doubt provide the action.&nbsp;</p> <p><b>Will it be more of the same in Mercedes&rsquo; last DTM campaign?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/dtm-11.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>The DTM has undergone something of a reinvention in recent years with the return to a two-race weekend format and close competition, even if Audi wound up with its drivers 1-2-3-4 in the final standings last year. However, mid-season Mercedes dropped a bombshell: that it would depart DTM at the end of 2018, bringing its lengthy stay in the series to an end. Manoeuvres were already underway for the future, with DTM teams demonstrating machinery at a Super GT event, and vice versa, amid suggestions of co-operation between the championships. Nevertheless, the DTM still faces an &ldquo;adapt or die&rdquo; scenario, with grid numbers already having reduced from 24 to 18 after the three current manufacturers each reduced their entries. With just BMW and Audi signed up for 2019, it is improbable to expect the series to thrive without changes, whatever they may be. The WTCC and TCR, for example, have merged for 2018. However, that will be the underlying theme through 2018 &ndash; there is still a title to be settled. 12 different drivers shared the 18 race wins last year as the title was decided at the finale between four of them &ndash; underlining the competitive nature of the series, which has had little year-on-year regulation changes. The championship has also ventured back to Britain and Italy, at Brands Hatch and Misano respectively, with the relatively unloved Moscow Raceway ditched. 2019 may be unclear, but 2018 could be a year to savour.</p> <p><b>Can Toyota possibly lose &lsquo;Super Season&rsquo; title?</b></p> <p><b><img alt="" height="200" src="/ckfinder/userfiles/images/Features/toyota-12.jpg" width="800" /></b></p> <p>Toyota heads into the new &lsquo;super&rsquo; season of the World Endurance Championship as the overwhelming favourite, but can the influx of privately-run LMP1 teams mount a challenge on the sole remaining manufacturer? Series bosses at the FIA and ACO will use engine data to establish parity between the Davids (ByKolles, SMP, Rebellion, DragonSpeed, Manor and an unnamed Ginetta customer) and the hybrid Goliath come the opening round at Spa in May. The weight of expectation will be heavy on Toyota&rsquo;s Ericsson: Sauber's reaction to 'disaster' proves qualityWed, 10 Jan 2018 09:52:40 GMT<p>Marcus Ericsson says Sauber&rsquo;s reaction to its mid-2017 &ldquo;disaster&rdquo; demonstrated its quality, as it gradually crept back towards the midfield.</p> <p>Sauber struggled through 2017 but made it through to Q2 during the early events, before slipping to the rear of the field, often substantially adrift of its nearest opponent.</p> <p>Ericsson and team-mate Pascal Wehrlein qualified as the slowest drivers from Austria through Japan, aside from Hungary, when the German inched ahead of Williams&rsquo; stand-in Paul di Resta.</p> <p>Sauber, though rallied, and only narrowly missed Q2 in the US, Mexico and Brazil, with Ericsson heartened by the progress it made, despite the limitations of a year-old power unit.</p> <p>&ldquo;I heard the news Sauber was going to use the old power unit,&rdquo; Ericsson said, reflecting on 2017.</p> <p>&ldquo;We knew it was not going to be good. Everyone could see what happened with Toro Rosso [in 2016], so no surprises there.</p> <p>&ldquo;Even though you still have to try and look at it in a more positive way and say we&rsquo;ll focus more on the chassis side, and we did, but for sure it&rsquo;s going to be a big handicap.</p> <p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s why also I think with that in mind I&rsquo;ve been quite impressed with the team and at the factory with the way we&rsquo;ve been able to keep pushing and not give up.</p> <p>&ldquo;After the summer break it looked a disaster really, we were so far off the next car, over a second off per lap, and it was looking really, really bad.</p> <p>&ldquo;It would have been easy to give up completely and just think about [2018] for the team but they still kept pushing, in the factory they kept developing and bringing new stuff to the track.</p> <p>&ldquo;In the last three or four weekends we were actually in the mix again and out-qualifying people and out-racing people fair and square.</p> <p>&ldquo;That&rsquo;s a big thing for the team and shows the team has a lot of quality both on track but also at the factory.&rdquo;</p> <p>Sauber, having formed a partnership with Alfa Romeo, will continue to field Ericsson this year, alongside Ferrari-backed rookie Charles Leclerc.</p> Bryce Menzies huge crash ends Dakar assaultTue, 09 Jan 2018 16:41:29 GMT<p>The Arizona truck star, who saw his 2017 chances wrecked by injury, started the 2018 Dakar Rally with the firm belief that he could challenge the desert car veterans for victory over the punishing 14 stages in South America</p> <p>But after ending day one in fourth, a seemingly innocuous bump in the terrain on day two threw the back of his Mini end over end and out of the world&#39;s toughest motorsport race.</p> Webber brands Fernando Alonso's Le Mans attempt a 'mistake'Tue, 09 Jan 2018 16:25:26 GMT<p>Mark Webber believes Fernando Alonso would be making a big mistake if he goes ahead with plans to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year.</p> <p>Alonso is currently in America having run the Roar before the 24 ahead of his Daytona 24 drive with United Autosports later this month, with the event a precursor to a planned Le Mans attack with Toyota.</p> <p>But Webber, who retired from F1 in 2013 to focus on a full-time World Endurance Championship campaign with Porsche, believes Alonso is underestimating what it takes to prepare and compete at Le Mans, which the Australian doesn&#39;t believe is feasible alongside a full-time Formula 1 drive, particularly if McLaren can start challenging for wins once again.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s a mistake, they are two totally different things,&quot; Webber told Italy&#39;s <em>Automoto</em>&nbsp;when asked for his opinion on Alonso&#39;s endurance outings.&nbsp;</p> <p>&quot;They both absorb a very high amount of mental energy. If you do Formula 1 you cannot afford certain distractions. I say this after doing several seasons and racing at Le Mans. If I were Fernando, I wouldn&rsquo;t do it.&quot;</p> <p>When it was posed to him that Nico Hulkenberg managed a full-time F1 race seat alongside winning Le Mans in 2015, Webber replied: &quot;That was with a second-rate team in F1. The pressures are different. He was also with the top Le Mans team and that simplified things a lot.&quot;</p> <p>The former Red Bull driver and 2015 Le Mans runner-up urged Alonso to do it properly, when he&#39;s done with F1, and reckons competing at Daytona will make the Spaniard realise just how much effort and preparation is required.</p> <p>&ldquo;Either he chooses to do Le Mans properly and focuses on it, working on it three weeks in advance with a maniacal focus and forgetting the rest of the year, or he could risk getting hurt.</p> <p>&ldquo;It requires a very strong mental commitment, and to understand if it&rsquo;s all worth it, I think Alonso is right to do Daytona. He&rsquo;ll assess everything and get an understanding of what is needed. And then I&rsquo;m sure he&rsquo;ll take the right decision.&rdquo;</p> Sato stays with Motopark for 2018 Formula 3 seasonTue, 09 Jan 2018 12:33:44 GMT<p>Japanese youngster Marino Sato will remain with Motopark for another season in European Formula 3.</p> <p>Sato stepped up to Formula 3 for 2017 with the operation after two years in Italian Formula 4, and finished a low-key 19th in the standings, scoring just a solitary point.</p> <p>Sato will have another crack at the championship in 2018, with team boss Timo Rumpfkeil expecting the 18-year-old to make substantial progress.</p> <p>&ldquo;2017 was a difficult year for Marino &ndash; after all, the decision to join F3 came very late and with the exception of Monza and Spielberg, he hadn&rsquo;t known any of the tracks,&rdquo; said Rumpfkeil.</p> <p>&ldquo;We all knew it would be a tough year. But Marino learnt his lessons fast and well; the points scored in Austria show how steep and yet successful his learning curve was.</p> <p>&ldquo;We backed that up with an extensive testing and preparation programme in the autumn and winter of 2017; Marino will hence start next season on a much higher level.</p> <p>&ldquo;We expect him in the top 10 regularly, with potential for more on various occasions.&rdquo;</p> <p>Added Sato: &ldquo;I learnt a lot in 2017 and feel much more ready for the championship now.</p> <p>&ldquo;This is one of the key reasons why I opted for Motopark in the first place, and it has proved right ever since.</p> <p>&ldquo;I wanted to learn as much about Formula 3 as I could in my maiden year, and in Motopark, I found the best possible teachers.&rdquo;</p> E secures title sponsor in ABBTue, 09 Jan 2018 12:30:34 GMT<p>The Formula E championship has announced that it has secured&nbsp;a title sponsor in ABB, a pioneering leader in electrification products, robotics and motion, industrial automation and power grids.</p> <p>Formula E is the first single-seater FIA series to secure a title sponsor and will be officially known as the &#39;ABB FIA Formula E Championship&#39;.</p> <p>&quot;This is a historic day for Formula E and I&rsquo;m honored to welcome the global technology leader ABB as the title partner of Formula E, with its background and expertise in the field of electrification and digital technologies,&quot; commented FIA founder and CEO Alejandro Agag during a press conference at London&#39;s&nbsp;Saatchi Gallery.</p> <p>&quot;Our two companies are synonymous with pushing the boundaries of what is possible. Together, as partners, we will showcase breakthrough technology on a global scale to fans and consumers who follow the ABB FIA Formula E Championship.&quot;</p> <p>ABB operates the&nbsp;largest installed base of fast-charging stations for electric vehicles worldwide and is therefore the ideal partner for the all-electric racing series.</p> <p>&quot;We are extremely excited to partner with Formula E in writing the future of e-mobility,&quot;&nbsp;added ABB CEO Ulrich Spiesshofer. &quot;Today, two pioneers are uniting. ABB and Formula E are a natural fit at the forefront of the latest electrification and digital technologies.</p> <p>&quot;Together, we will write the next phase of this exciting sports activity and foster high-performance teams. Together, we will write the future &ndash; one electrifying race at a time.&quot;</p> <p>In a separate announcement, organisers of the Zurich ePrix have announced a title sponsor of the event, with Swiss company Julius Baer taking the naming rights for the race, which is the first circuit race in Switzerland since 1955.</p> Verstappen: F1 title battle won't damage relationship with Daniel RicciardoTue, 09 Jan 2018 12:11:21 GMT<p>Max Verstappen insists his relationship with Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo will not be damaged, should the team find itself in a position to fight for the Formula 1 championship in 2018.</p> <p>Red Bull lacked pace during the opening races of the 2017 season but closed the gap to rivals Mercedes and Ferrari across the second half of the campaign, having strongly developed its chassis.</p> <p>Verstappen and Ricciardo claimed three victories between them, and although the duo&nbsp;never went up against one another in those races, they were involved in a couple of on-track duels.</p> <p>The most notable was at the Hungarian Grand Prix when they made contact, prompting a radio outburst from Ricciardo, but the pair quickly moved past the incident and Verstappen puts that down to having a mutal respect for one another.</p> <p>&quot;We have a lot of respect for each other and frankly, in my racing career so far, I&#39;ve never had that much to do with a team-mate,&quot; the Dutchman told&nbsp;<em>SpeedWeek.</em></p> <p>&quot;Even if we give everything to fighting hard with one another on the track, Daniel is a great guy and we have a lot of fun off&nbsp;the track.&quot;</p> <p>Verstappen insists the chance of a title battle this season won&#39;t come between them.</p> <p>&quot;We respect each other. Sure, when you fight for the title, it gets more intense on the track, but in the end&nbsp;you always come back to that mutual respect.</p> <p>&quot;You have to accept when one is faster and I think we can. If one of us has a good race, then the other one says that he really deserves it. And I think that&#39;s very important.</p> <p>&quot;So I hope that we will be team-mates for a very long time.&quot;</p> Aron returns to Prema for 2018 F3 campaignTue, 09 Jan 2018 09:45:19 GMT<p>Ralf Aron will return to Prema for this year&rsquo;s European Formula 3 championship.</p> <p>Aron, 19, linked up with Prema for his title-winning Italian Formula 4 campaign in 2015 and remained with the squad as he graduated to Formula 3 in 2016.</p> <p>Aron claimed seventh in the standings, taking his maiden win in Hungary, but switched to Hitech for 2017, and slipped two places in the classification, scoring a best race result of third.</p> <p>The Estonian will remain in Formula 3 for a third season, returning to Prema, joining rookies Marcus Armstrong and Robert Schwarzman.</p> <p>&ldquo;I am very excited to be back with Prema Powerteam for 2018,&rdquo; said Aron.</p> <p>&ldquo;We won a championship in F4 together and I have learned from the mistakes I have made in F3.</p> <p>&ldquo;Combining the experience and determination that I and Prema have, we will be stronger than ever and ready to conquer the podium at Round 1.&rdquo;</p> F1 engine 'pretty much all new' - MercedesMon, 08 Jan 2018 22:57:30 GMT<p>Mercedes&#39; 2018 Formula 1 power unit will be &quot;pretty much all new&quot; according to engine boss Andy Cowell, as the manufacturer seeks to extend its advantage this season.</p> <p>Despite the Mercedes unit being ranked amongst the most powerful and efficient on the grid, as well as having almost bullet-proof reliability, Cowell says there is still room for improvement in almost every area.</p> <p>&quot;We&#39;ve got ideas to improve the power,&quot; he told&nbsp;<em>Autosport.</em>&nbsp;&quot;We&#39;ve got ideas to reduce the friction in pretty much every area of the power unit.&quot;</p> <p>When asked how much of the engine would be new, Cowell replied:&nbsp;&quot;Pretty much all new.</p> <p>&quot;Every time you do an engine [update], you&#39;ve always learned [something new],&quot; he explained.&nbsp;&quot;A lot of it is small, marginal gains on well-trodden areas [but] some of it is big, fundamental bits of learning, combustion progress, friction reduction, new materials that unlock areas where we&#39;ve been struggling with reliability. And sometimes it&#39;s just a surprise.</p> <p>&quot;There&#39;s still gains to be had [with this formula]. It&#39;s a plethora of marginal gains, five millisecond gains.&quot;</p> <p>With the scrapping of the token system last year, engine manufacturers are able to introduce entirely new specifications without limitation or penalty.</p> Bouffier joins M-Sport for Monte Carlo and CorsicaMon, 08 Jan 2018 15:31:33 GMT<p>M-Sport has announced that Bryan Bouffier will pilot a third Ford Fiesta for the opening round of the season in Monte Carlo and round four in Corsica.</p> <p>Bouffier has plenty of experience driving both events having competed in Rally Monte Carlo no less than eight times, winning in 2011, whilst in 2013 the Frenchman secured victory at the Tour de Corse.</p> <p>He&nbsp;joins reigning champion S&eacute;bastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans in the M-Sport line-up as the nominated third car &ndash; of which only the two highest placed cars score manufacturer points.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s great to have Bryan on board for Rallye Monte-Carlo and the Tour de Corse,&quot; commented team boss Malcolm Wilson.&nbsp;&quot;When it comes to these events, his experience is unrivalled.</p> <p>&quot;These are two of the most specialised rallies on the calendar and the conditions and tyre selections can so often determine who succeeds. With Bryan&rsquo;s knowledge, we will have another string to our bow as we look to defend our championship titles.&quot;</p> <p>Bouffier added: &ldquo;I honestly didn&rsquo;t think I would get an opportunity to drive this car &ndash; not even on test &ndash; so I am very excited,&quot;&nbsp;he said.&nbsp;&quot;It&rsquo;s always a great pleasure to work with Malcolm and the M-Sport team, and their amazing success in 2017 makes me very proud to work with them again.&nbsp;</p> <p>&ldquo;Monte and Corsica are two very different events, but they are also two of my favourites. They&rsquo;re the two &lsquo;French&rsquo; rounds of the season and it is always a pleasure to drive on home soil &ndash; even more so with this new car!</p> <p>&ldquo;My plan is to be relaxed and to have fun. I would also love to score some manufacturer points for the team &ndash; that would just be the icing on the cake!&rdquo;</p> Norris: Formula 2 title would feel 'sweeter' with CarlinMon, 08 Jan 2018 15:07:53 GMT<p>McLaren test/reserve driver Lando Norris believes that if he was to clinch this year&rsquo;s Formula 2 title with Carlin, it would be &ldquo;sweeter&rdquo; than if he was to win the crown with another outfit.</p> <p>DAMS, Racing Engineering, ART and Prema have supplied the Drivers&rsquo; champion in GP2/F2 since 2011, but Norris has opted to make the move into the series with Carlin, his Formula 3 title-winning squad.</p> <p>Carlin competed in GP2 between 2011 and 2016 and will return to the series, which was rebranded as Formula 2 last season, for 2018, coinciding with the introduction of a new package.</p> <p>Norris, who will line up alongside former Red Bull junior S&eacute;rgio Sette C&acirc;mara at Carlin, expects a tough start, but believes the squad can develop strongly.</p> <p>&ldquo;If I was to win&hellip;. I think it would definitely be a bit sweeter than if I won with Prema say,&rdquo; Norris explained.</p> <p>&ldquo;It&rsquo;s definitely going to be tougher than if I went with Prema or ART or a top team but it&rsquo;s hard to say until we get to the first race.</p> <p>&ldquo;I have confidence the team, set-up wise, can do a good job from the start, obviously it&rsquo;s limited with testing, but it&rsquo;s a brand-new car, so it&rsquo;s a bit more of a level playing field.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think the aim is to win, I think it&rsquo;s going to be quite tough, [a championship placing of] top three or something is more realistic, [but] I said that last year [in Formula 3] and I ended up winning&hellip;&rdquo;</p> <p>Norris says he has &ldquo;no doubt&rdquo; that Carlin will be equipped to meet his title aspirations, but expects emulating the feat of reigning champion Charles Leclerc, who won as a rookie, to be tricky.</p> <p>&ldquo;I said if I want to prove I&rsquo;m as good as Leclerc or better then I need to win,&rdquo; Norris mused.</p> <p>&ldquo;I think if I win with Carlin I&rsquo;d probably prove that I&rsquo;m better as I&rsquo;ve joined a team that we don&rsquo;t really know where we are, and at least if I&rsquo;d joined Prema at least they&rsquo;d have had a good baseline to start the year off.</p> <p>&ldquo;[But] it&rsquo;s a much tougher category [than Formula 3] with a lot more variables basically and I think it makes it tougher to win as much as like I have done in the past.</p> <p>&ldquo;Again, Leclerc has proved he can do it, and it&rsquo;ll definitely be tougher to do with Carlin, but I don&rsquo;t see any doubt in them, especially by mid-point or by the end of the season, be as strong as Prema.&rdquo;</p> Raikkonen's race engineer quits ahead of 2018 seasonMon, 08 Jan 2018 14:33:20 GMT<p>Kimi Raikkonen&#39;s race engineer at Ferrari has left the team just six weeks before pre-season testing for the 2018 season begins.</p> <p>David Greenwood has been the Finn&#39;s race engineer since he joined Ferrari in 2015 following a move from Marussia where he held the position of chief engineer, but has cited personal reasons for his departure and he will now return to the UK.</p> <p>It&#39;s expected Greenwood will take up a role with Manor Racing&#39;s&nbsp;World Endurance Championship programme as the British squad looks to step up to&nbsp;the&nbsp;LMP1 category as a privateer entry running Ginetta&#39;s new&nbsp;prototype.</p> <p>There has been no confirmation as to who will replace Greenwood as Raikkonen&#39;s race engineer, but with testing just weeks away and the launch of Ferrari&#39;s 2018 car scheduled for February 22, an announcement is expected soon.</p> considering two-day rallies to boost calendarMon, 08 Jan 2018 12:09:52 GMT<p>With WRC Promoter GmbH (WRCP) seemingly intent on intent on increasing the annual roster of top level rallies to 16 per season, something will have to give and two-day events are increasingly a possibility according to series boss&nbsp;Oliver Ciesla.</p> <p>It wouldn&#39;t be the first time the WRC has featured 16 rounds before, in fact&nbsp;from 2004 to 2007 it did just that. But the calendar was then cut back because the financial and logistical burden on teams was too much. But Ciesla now says that trimming events from the current three-day length could solve the problem.</p> <p>&quot;We do not exclude shortening the rallies, but I see it in the bigger strategic context with 14, 15 or 16 rallies,&quot; he said. &quot;If we are talking about shortening one or two rallies, it wouldn&#39;t make much difference. But if we shorten them all then this can save 15 or 16 times one day - that&#39;s more than two weeks in hotel fees over the year. Then we are talking.&quot;</p> <p>The current series was due to increase to 14 events in 2016, but when China embarrassingly pulled out at the last minute, that aim was abandoned. The target for 2018 was again 14 rounds but with Poland being dropped and Turkey returning it has remained at just 13.</p> <p>A two-day format would be hugely unpopular with hard-line rally fans who would surely see it as a betrayal of the championship. But whatever we say, current WRC rallies are, in effect, only a two and a half day fixture, with no more than three or four short stages running on a Sunday morning with it all being decided by lunchtime.</p> <p>And some WRC events have apparently already indicated they would like to run a two-day format in 2018. Ciesla said he was not against that, but it would be dealt with on a rally-by-rally basis.</p> <p>He also added that another asphalt event in Europe was not high on his agenda: &quot;Building the calendar is a portfolio,&rdquo; he explained. &ldquo;I don&#39;t need 13 Tarmac rallies in Europe and I don&#39;t need 13 times &lsquo;heritage&rsquo;. With Monte Carlo, with Rally GB and Finland, the calendar is not short of heritage. And the calendar is not short of Tarmac in Europe.&quot;</p>