Archive for Race Reports

GTs banned from racing the Ring after fatality

Authorities have revoked the licence allowing GT3 and GT4 cars to run on the Nurburgring Nordschleife following a tragic accident in the opening round of the VLN Endurance Championship last weekend.

Jann Mardenborough’s Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 flipped over a crest and hurled into the crowd, killing a spectator on the hill. The horrific crash was captured by several spectators and uploaded to Youtube - out of respect, we will not post it here.

The governing motorsport body Deutsche Motor Sport Bund (DMSB) has suspended the license for categories SP7, SP8, SP8T, SP9, SP10, SP and SP-Pro-X until further notice, with DMSB General Secretary Christian Schacht stating: “We can not and will not be business as usual after an accident of this kind. We are all still deeply shocked and our thoughts are with the family of the victim.

“The security of the participants and especially the spectators must be a top priority. Therefore, we need to analyze the details of what happened, discuss and then implement the necessary consequences. Only after that vehicles can get back on the Nordschleife…”

Marussia given last-minute lifeline

After many had written it off as lost to the 2015 F1 season (including us), the Marussia Formula One team will indeed line up on the grid in Australia next week after finding a backer.

Now called Manor Marussia, the team was thrown the lifeline by OVO Energy founder Stephen Fitzpatrick. With Jules Bianchi sadly still in hospital after his crash in the Japanese GP, and Max Chilton going to Euro endurance racing, the two licences are to be filled by Will Stevens, who made his maiden race debut late in 2014, and a yet to be named racer - likely another junior with financial backing already aboard.

“The last few months have been a bit of a rollercoaster, to say the least, (but) we are ready to go racing,” said continuing team sporting director Graeme Lowdon.

“We haven’t just taken a 2014 car and shoved a different nose on. It’s a new car with a high degree of carry over and safety upgrades.”

Marussia has passed the mandatory FIA crash tests, and are currently on the boat to Oz for the season opener in Melbourne on the 13th - 15th.

Scuderia Ferrari fire up F1 design discussion

Ferrari Concept F1

After the past year of the ugly, phallic-nosed F1 cars, you may suppress a small shudder when you hear of a marque sketching a future F1 car.

However, free from aero restrictions and strict supp-regs, Scuderia Ferrari has managed to give us an impression of the future that is, quite frankly, Formula porn.

This Concept F1 sketch was the brainchild of in-house studio Centro Stile Ferrari, and apparently, the design could be built as-is without pushing or voiding the current F1 regulations.

While F1 is all about performance, Ferrari admits this design study is all about looks: “Our challenge was to create something that was – to put it short – better looking.” And it is at that.

Marussia joins Caterham on the F1 sidelines

A last ditch attempt to save Marussia F1 team has apparently failed, leaving the team to ponder bankruptcy alongside Caterham on the 2015 sidelines.

Earlier this year, Caterham F1 finally admitted defeat (despite a fantastic crowdfunding project to get them on the grid for the last race of the 2014 season) and listed their cars, garage gear and manufacturing equipment to the highest bidder.

Marussia was still fighting, however a “Formula One Strategy Group” gathering in Paris this week to discuss the fate of Marussia may have finally sealed it.

The small team was asking to run its 2014 car in this year’s Championship. Obviously without the time or funds to develop a 2015 car, the decision essentially came down to the other teams in the field.

And of course, it was Marussia’s main competitors that blocked the petition - not the front-runners, who seemed to be supportive of their appeal, but rather the lower and smaller teams. Needing unanimous support from all teams at the Strategy Group meet, it was the final straw on the proverbial camel’s back.

So despite paying the entry fee and working with the banks to stave off bankruptcy, it would seem Marussia will join Caterham on the sad sidelines this year.

Add to that the tragedy of the still-comatose Jules Bianchi, who has reportedly not regained consciousness since his collision with a recovery vehicle at the Japanese GP last October, plus the accident with test driver Maria de Villota, who in 2013 died as a result of her Formula One test crash at Duxford airfield in 2012, theirs is a very sad tale indeed.

Mini takes top Dakar honors

It may have struggled in the WRC, but there is one rally that the Mini marque undeniably dominates; and it’s one of the toughest in the world.
For the fourth year straight, Mini has taken out top honors in the Dakar Rally, this year with 2011 winner and WRC regular Nasser Al-Attiyah at the tiller.
Following two weeks and 5,600 miles across three South American countries, from dunes to volcanic rock to the sea and back, Quatari Al-Attiyah and French codriver Mathieu Baumel came home more than half an hour ahead of nearest rivals Giniel de Villiers and Dirk von Zitzewitz in the debuting Toyota Hilux.
“I promised last year when I was on the podium that I’d be back to win, and now I’m here,” he said. “It was very hard to lead the race from the very beginning and to continue keeping this position on the long distance.
“Also because the race was really hard. I’m very happy about this great result and I want to thank and congratulate all mechanics and the team for the great job they have done during the two weeks. The MINI ALL4 Racing is an incredible car and it was again very nice to drive.”
The pair won more than half the stages to take the podium in the car category, with Minis also finishing in third, fourth and fifth (Krzysztof Holowczyc, Erik van Loon and Vladimir Vasilyev).
In the other categories, the insane Truck group was again dominated by the Russians, and notably the Kamaz team, who took top honours for the third year in a row. KTM rider Marco Coma backed up his 2014 win with the top podium spot in the Motorcycle category, while Poland’s Rafał Sonik won in the Quad class.

FIA admits to 2015 F1 engine regulation loophole

They say rules were meant to be broken, and this is no truer than in motorsport. Regulations have been interpreted, bent and at times broken in the pursuit of speed, and at the pointy end of the scale, Formula 1 teams have time and time again found a way through the thumb-thick regulation handbooks to find that extra 1000th.

For 2015, Formula 1’s current manufacturers will now be allowed to continually develop certain areas of their engines due to a loophole in the rules - a loophole the FIA has admitted to publicly.

It can only be good for the sport - after the total and utter domination of Mercedes in 2014 thanks to its handle on the move to the turbo six, Ferrari and Renault began its mutterings early that the regulations stating no further development of engines can go past a pre-season deadline for the remainder of the year.

The loophole that Ferrari first found states that the engine rules did not actually stipulate a concrete date for the final engine specs to be lodged for 2015.

An FIA spokesman said: “It was always envisaged, although not explicitly stated in the rules, that manufacturers would have to deal with modifications on the engine within the constraints of the rules, and then submit their 2015 engine [at the first race].

“It is simple, but when you read it [the rule book], it doesn’t say that unfortunately.”

It means that manufacturers now have the option of introducing upgrades to their engines throughout the season as long as they stick to a subscribed “development token” limit, which means they can fiddle with about 48 percent of the engine componentry, and do not exceed the four-engines-per-car limit for the campaign.

So Mercedes, Ferrari and Renault can bring in developments over the course of 2015 within these restrictions - though this will will not apply to Honda as it enters the fray in 2015.

“As the existing manufacturers were obliged to homologate their power units by 28 February 2014 it would seem fair and equitable to ask a new manufacturer to homologate their power unit before February 28 2015,” read a paper from race director Charlie Whiting.

“We therefore consider this to be a requirement for a new power unit manufacturer.”

Caterham crowdfund last race of the season

Motorsport enthusiasts are an awesome lot; generous to a fault. “Do I spend that thirty bucks on a nice Sunday roast, or pop the money towards a new exhaust?”

These type of decisions are taken in all seriousness… Off to McDonald’s it is.

After missing the last round in Astin, Texas following the announcement that the team had entered administration (along with fellow backmarker team Marussia, who faces similar stresses), Caterham turned to the fans to get them back on track.

Turning to a crowdfunding appeal, the team offered up money can’t (usually) buy assets such as pieces of the cars and driver paraphernalia, to space on the cars at a fraction of the usual sponsor price, to straight up donations from the fans. They have managed to raise almost three million dollars in the process.

Despite being just over $780,000 short of their set financial goal of $3.7 million, the Caterham Formula One team will indeed be on the grid at Abu Dhabi for the final race of the season anyway.

A representative from the administration firm who controls Caterham’s assets has admitted that this is also the best avenue for the beleaguered team from their point of view, saying “… the best way to keep this team alive and attract possible buyers was to show that it’s still a racing team and be in Abu Dhabi for the finale”.

Unfortunately this hasn’t stopped the administrators from making any unnecessary staff redundant, and the axings continue in the background as the team prepares to fly out.

Still, the effort is a great, if temporary, result for the team, and for motorsport enthusiasts in general.

Vegas next for F1 Circus?

Forget New Jersey - the next US location allegedly on the radar of Formula 1 is Las Vegas.

After a 32-year absence, rumours have started leaking out of the Nevada strip following trips by motorsport circuit designer Hermann Tilke, and suggestive comments by F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone.

While eyeing off the strip, the organisers will no doubt be sure to avoid the trappings of the past, ie the Caesars Palace Grand Prix of 1981 which had limited areas of track, and limited success.

With the Circuit of the Americas, Canada GP, and now Mexico returning to the calendar, Bernie may have found another slot in his busy F1 calendar that can afford the sanctioning fees that cripple other countries and smaller circuits. For where better than to roll the dice than Vegas?

Promising news on Schumacher, while we wait for word on Bianchi

FIA President and ex-Ferrari F1 pal Jean Todt has publicly promising news about Michael Schumacher’s recovery, 10 months after his skiing accident last December.

Todt visited the Schumacher family in the week leading up tot he recent Suzuka GP - one of the few to be allowed to visit so since Michael’s return home from full-time palliative care - and has delivered a positive update via Belgian broadcaster RTL.

“We may assume that Schumacher can live a relatively normal life within a short period of time,” he said.

“He fights. His condition improves, which is very important, as is the fact that he is now home with his family. What we can say is that he will probably never again drive a Formula One car.”

Meanwhile, the F1 paddock awaits news of Marussia driver Jules Bianchi, who suffered a serious accident at last weekend’s Japanese GP.

Bianchi lost control in the rain and careened into the recovery vehicle attending to the stricken car of Adrian Sutil, lifting the eight-odd tonne machine off its wheels momentarily as his car impacted sideways into its back plate.

He was taken to hospital and operated on immediately; the diagnosis at this stage is a ‘diffuse axonal injury’, which means a trauma to a large area of the brain, unlike a focussed injury on a specific area of the brain.

Bianchi’s family released an official statement today: “This is a very difficult time for our family, but the messages of support and affection for Jules from all over the world have been a source of great comfort to us. We would like to express our sincere appreciation.

“Jules remains in the Intensive Care Unit of the Mie General Medical Center in Yokkaichi. He has suffered a diffuse axonal injury and is in a critical but stable condition. The medical professionals at the hospital are providing the very best treatment and care and we are grateful for everything they have done for Jules since his accident.

The hospital will continue to monitor and treat Jules and further medical updates will be provided when appropriate.”

F1 silly seat season starts early

In one of the oddest twists in the 2014 F1 season, Sebastian Vettel has announced his early departure from Red Bull, one year before the end of his contract - and team boss Cristian Horner has alluded he will be heading to Ferrari.

The Prancing Pony has been taken aback by this, and has been hounded throughout qualifying for Suzuka (Japan) practice and qualifying about movements within their team, obviously put out that a rival team has announced their 2015 driver changes for them.

It is thought that Fernando Alonso will move to McLaren, the team switching to Honda drivetrains next year in an attempt to break their current losing streak. Daniil Kvyat will graduate from Toro Rosso to RBR next year to take his place alongside Daniel Ricciardo, who has shown up the former world champ in almost every race this season in his first full year at Red Bull.

Since joining the team in 2009,  Vettel has scored 38 wins, 44 poles and eight World Championships, including four Drivers’ titles and four Constructors’. Championships.


Sebastian Vettel has advised us that he will be leaving Infiniti Red Bull Racing at the end of the 2014 season.

We want to warmly thank Sebastian for the incredible role he has played at Infiniti Red Bull Racing for the last six years.

As we wish Sebastian well in the next stage of his career, we also look to the future with excitement, as the vacancy makes way for the next generation of Red Bull racers.

The Red Bull Junior Programme has developed some proven talents in recent times, including Sebastian Vettel and Daniel Ricciardo, who has excelled in the RB10 and become a three-time Formula One race winner in his first season with the team.

We’re pleased to announce that Daniel will be joined in the team for 2015 by another rising star from the Junior Programme, Daniil Kvyat.