Formula One: Stoffel selects #47

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Sources have confirmed that Stoffel Vandoorne will compete in the Bahrain Grand Prix using the number 47. At this time it has not been confirmed if Stoffel has selected 47 as his permanent racing number or if the number has been allocated to him by the FIA for the 2016 season.

Stoffel participated in the Pirelli wet weather test at Paul Ricard in earlier this year using the same number. (pictured)

To follow Stoffel on Twitter click here

To keep up to date on Mclaren through the weekend click here



Formula One: Who is Stoffel Vandoorne?

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With the confirmation that  Stoffel Vandoorne will sit in for Fernando Alonso this weekend at the Bahrain Grand Prix, you may be asking who exactly is Stoffel Vandoorne?

In this film shot in 2015, Stoffel himself talks through his Formula 1 ambitions and commitment to Mclaren:

Born March 26th 1992, Belgian Stoffel Vandoorne made his motor racing début aged just 6 years old! In 2010 Stoffel graduated to single seater’s claiming race wins in his maiden F4 season. In 2013 he joined the Mclaren development driver programme and competed alongside fellow Mclaren development driver Kevin Magnussen in Formula Renault 3.5. something Jenson Button was keen to point out in this team mate profile film from 2015:


2014 saw Stoffel join the ART GP2 team, after a strong first season in the category in which he finished runner up to Renault Sport F1 driver Jolyon Palmer, Stoffel continued with the team in 2015 and went on to dominate the series, sealing the championship with Sochi with 5 rounds remaining.

Stoffel Vandoorne is extremely highly regarded across the F1 paddock, with Renault Sport believed to have approached Mclaren over a seat for the Belgian in 2016. It is widely expected that irrespective of this weekend’s developments Stoffel will likely see a full time place on the F1 grid in 2017 and with only two weeks between the Bahrain and Chinese Grand Prix it is possible Stoffel may be required to stand in for Alonso again this season.


Formula One: Confirmed -Vandoorne replaces Alonso in Bahrain

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Following FIA confirmation that Fernando Alonso has not been granted permission to participate in this weekend’s Bahrain Grand Prix, Mclaren have confirmed through social media that Stoffel Vandoorne will make his début for this team in his place.

More information on this developing story will be published through the day.


Formula One: The rain in Bahrain falls mainly… before the race.

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As build up for the 2nd round of the 2016 Formula One World Championship continues, team and journalist social media channels were awash this morning with comments on the spectacle of rain in the dessert.

Whilst forecasts suggest the rain will more than likely have passed before cars hit the track on first practice on Friday, heavy rain storms in the build up to the race weekend have played havoc with teams preparation and set up. The impact of rain on the circuit is likely to be felt during free practice as early running from teams will involve reduced emphasis on clearing sand and debris from the track. This should prompt increased running from teams through Friday and may lead to faster lap times over the race weekend.

Current forecasts suggest a 20% chance of rain on Sunday.


Formula One: The Future of Motorsport?

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Popular online tech journal The Verge earlier today previewed the hotly anticipated launch of new racing series ROBORACE. The series, the launch of which will likely coincide with start of the 3rd FIA Formula E Championship, will feature fully autonomous machinery.

Design of these fantastic looking machines comes courtesy of Daniel Simon, acclaimed designer famed for the Tron movies and for F1 geeks the 2011 HRT Formula One Team livery.  When dicussing the design Simon says his goal was “to create a vehicle that takes full advantage of the unusual opportunities of having no driver without ever compromising on beauty,” and that he worked with racing engineers and aerodynamicists to strike that balance. “Beauty was very high on our agenda,”

The race format and performance of the vehicles will likely form part of the planned launched tomorrow, ROBORACE CEO Denis Sverdlov is qouted as saying the cars could be capable of performance in the range of 300KMPH making them by far the fastest autonomous cars in the world.

The series has taken a very bold and much appreciated look into the future of automotive design with these first images of vehicles. this forward facing look towards racing is a positive indication of the plans for the series.

Further updates on ROBORACE will be posted here on JWGP as they become available.

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  • To follow the exploits of designer Daniel Simon on Twitter click here

Formula One: Rio Haryanto “Formula 1 in Indonesia is huge”

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Manor Racing preview the Bahrain GP

Find out what Pascal Wehrlein and Rio Haryanto took away from their Grand Prix debut in Melbourne and what lies ahead on the shifting sands of Sakhir this weekend.

Pascal, a big weekend in Melbourne. How was it for you?

“Melbourne was amazing. Nothing can prepare you for the feeling of lining up on the grid for the first time and taking the chequered flag at the end of your first Grand Prix. They are special memories for sure.”

Was there a standout moment?

“My start! I’ve replayed it over and over in my mind – and a little bit on TV! To find myself running in 13th place at one point was pretty incredible. To be honest, the whole first stint was really positive and a good reflection of the step the team has made since last season.”

Not all plain sailing though. What could have gone differently?

“As a team we learned a lot in Melbourne. Qualifying didn’t work out well for us and as we have the same format here in Bahrain we need to put those lessons into practice. We still have a way to go with optimising the set-up to counter the tyre degradation problems we experienced in the second half of the race. It was a good start, but there’s a lot of room for improvement in every area, including me.”

Hot on the heels of your first Grand Prix, your first night race! How about that?

“Yes, pretty exciting. My first F1 night race will be fun and it’s really cool to have that experience so early in my F1 career. I’m sure the circuit will feel spectacular to drive under the lights. I can’t wait.”

Rio. Despite the obvious disappointment of your retirement, you seemed pretty positive about the overall experience?

“My debut was an incredible experience and one I’d waited a long time for, so I tried not to dwell too heavily on retiring. There were too many positives to take away from the weekend so that’s what I did. On a personal level I was quite happy with my pace and how I translated everything I’d learned at the tests into a race weekend context. I know the team were disappointed with the problem that ended my race but it’s all about looking forward and there’s so much more to come.”

The support from Indonesia was massive. That must have put a big spring in your step all weekend?

“It’s really quite something to have that many people rooting for you. The appetite for Formula 1 in Indonesia is huge now and it makes me feel very proud to know that I’m flying the flag.

What did you get up to in the break between races?

“I went home to Solo in Indonesia. Everyone wanted to hear about the racing so I got to relive the experience again and again! It’s my job to reward the support by sharing every detail of the experience with the fans back home, so there was a lot of media work and some appearances, and a little bit of time to prepare for Bahrain.”

What are you most looking forward to this weekend?

“My first night race will be pretty special! Generally though, I think the weekend here will be a lot smoother and I’ve got some really good experience to draw on in every area. Most of all, I can’t wait to see the chequered flag!”

Dave, your two rookies did a good job in their debut race. How would you rate the team’s performance?

“We came away from Melbourne feeling a little disappointed, no two ways about it. The drivers did a great job and there’s a lot of potential in the car but we need to do a better job of bringing everything together when it counts. I’m sure every team can say the same as it’s only the beginning but I’m expecting us to make improvements in every area this weekend.”

What kind of Bahrain Grand Prix can we expect to see this weekend?

“This race always throws up a few surprises doesn’t it? It’s a bit of a moving feast to be honest, especially when you consider the weather we’ve seen here in the past few days. Rain is less of a factor, as it evaporates so quickly, but the wind can be a distraction for the drivers and the pit wall. Track conditions can vary significantly from the afternoon practice sessions to the twilight timing of qualifying and the race. So there’s a lot for the engineers and drivers to get their head around in order to make the right strategic calls.”

What about the new qualifying format?

“It’s back, so we have to work with it. Notwithstanding our opinion of it, we didn’t do a good enough job in Melbourne, so that’s where our team needs to focus its attentions. We’ve reviewed our approach and there’s plenty of room for improvement, some of which will come from developing the car and some from our performance as a team. They say the proof is in the pudding so let’s see how things look after the second helping!”

Formula One: Kimi “Maybe I could have won last year”

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Ahead of the Bahrain Grand Prix, second round of the Formula One world championship, Scuderia Ferrari’s driver Kimi Raikkonen and Race Team Manager Diego Ioverno describe the main features of a track that’s quite unique.

For Kimi, last year bring some bittersweet memories: “I enjoy Bahrain, obviously it’s good itself, not the most difficult corners but still hard to make a good lap there and obviously conditions can change a lot because of the wind, it’s hot at midday and cold enough in the evening, but it’s a good place. Maybe I could have won last year, but it’s pointless to start guessing things, we were second and that’s it. It was not too bad, but I guess it could have been better.”

Such a hard-braking circuit puts a premium on the brake-by-wire system: “In an ideal word when all works it’s fine although obviously sometimes you can have issues, but we have a good system so far- This circuit is quite hard for practice, so some cars might run into problems with their brakes, but it really depends how much you are willing to push on the brake cooling if you have issues or not.”

Diego Ioverno: “First time for Bahrain GP was in 2004. Since then the circuit has been a challenging environment for all the Formula1 team, including 15 corners and a long combination of straights, kinks and hairpins. The Bahrain circuit layout normally suits quite well to medium-to-low downforce car configuration. The circuit is very challenging also for Power Units and for brakes because of the heavy braking points. So, it is really important to look after the cooling of the car, as it is important also to give particular attention to the mechanical setup for the kerb driving”.
Sand and darkness also make this venue quite unique: “The circuit of Bahrain is in the middle of the desert. The sand in the past was a fact and we have been experiencing sessions heavily affected by the sand. More than this, in the last few years, Bahrain race was in night time, while free practice session were in the day. This has given another variable to the race weekend format, forcing teams to face cooling level changing during the whole weekend. So, this is another factor that makes the Bahrain race really challenging”.

Formula One: COTA offer Rain Guarantee

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Following confirmation earlier this month that COTA will host the 2016 United States Grand Prix and that Taylor Swift will headline a concert supporting the event, pre-sale tickets for the event go on sale March 30th with General sale available from April 5th.

The 2015 United States Grand Prix will be remembered not only as the race in which Lewis Hamilton secured his 3rd Formula One World Championship, but also for the deluge of rain which lead to the cancellation of running on Saturday and threatened the event taking place at all.

Mixed weather conditions and questionable decision making processes left fans at the track frustrated, confused, and wet. In a bid to ease any fan concerns about a repeat of the situation in 2016, event organisers are offering a rain guarantee with early bird ticket sales. This guarantee states:

“If you purchase a 3-day reserved Grandstand seat or Sunday-only reserved seat before July 5, we will refund 105% of the ticket value if it rains over 2″ in the 24 hours before the scheduled start of the F1 race on Sunday”

So if you are a fan of COTA, and don’t mind the prospect of getting a bit wet, this offer and the possibility to make money from your F1 tickets could be perfect for you.

Click here to check out the COTA ticket sales home page.

Click here to visit the COTA F1 homepage

Formula One: Wolff: “The sport is under scrutiny”

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Toto Wolff & Paddy Lowe preview the Bahrain Grand Prix, give comment on the current qualifying quandaries and talk tyre strategy:

Toto Wolff, Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport
We have made a solid start to the season. However, while our advantage in Melbourne was a healthy one, it was nevertheless close enough that those bad starts could easily have lost us the race. Bahrain is a track that should suit Ferrari, so we expect even smaller gaps and a very close match this weekend. After a successful debut for the new tyre regulations last time out, we can also expect an interesting strategy battle during the race – so there is plenty to look forward to. This weekend we will see the new qualifying system continue after a less-than-impressive debut in Australia. The teams were unanimous in their opinion of it on Sunday in Melbourne and it wasn’t a positive opinion. We haven’t found the right format with this change and it’s hard to see how it might be more entertaining for the fans this weekend in Bahrain. The sport is under scrutiny on this matter, so careful thought is required in order to make coordinated, intelligent steps forward from the position we are in right now. The fans want close racing, in a format they can understand, between the best drivers and cars in the world – in that order. We should be capable of delivering that to the people in the grandstands and watching around the world.

Paddy Lowe, Executive Director (Technical)
Bahrain is quite a different track to Melbourne, so it will be interesting to see how we fare. One thing you can normally guarantee is that it will be dry. Unlike the rain-hit Melbourne weekend, this will provide plenty of opportunity for track time. Thanks to their evening timings, qualifying and the race in Bahrain see much cooler track temperatures than the mid-afternoon FP1 / FP3 sessions – making the latter somewhat unrepresentative. This potentially makes tyre selection even more of a factor. We know already that there is a marked difference between the allocations selected by competing teams for this race, so we could see a few surprises. A big positive from Melbourne was seeing how well the new tyre rules delivered in terms of strategy variation – and we expect to see more of the same here. We’ve seen close battles throughout the field in both years of twilight racing in Bahrain, so we look forward to hopefully providing another spectacular evening for the fans.

2016 Tyre Allocation Regulations

When revised regulations governing race weekend tyre allocations were announced for the 2016 season, it’s fair to say that there was a reasonable degree of head scratching among both pundits and fans as to just how the new system would work. However, now the dust has settled from the opening race of the year in Melbourne, two things have become clear: first, that this latest tweak to the rules is not as complex in reality as it seems on paper; second, that it’s working…

Why does making a third tyre compound available lead to greater strategic variation?
It’s simple maths. If you pick three numbers, the quantity of different combinations in which they can be arranged is notably greater than if you had two to choose from. Likewise, having three tyres compounds available to each team over a race weekend has opened up two or three viable additional strategy options.

Did the availability of a third tyre compound have an effect on the race in Melbourne?
At the 2015 Australian Grand Prix, every driver was pushed into running a one-stop strategy – starting on the soft and finishing on the medium. And, had the same tyre choices been available in 2016, they would likely have done the same. The difference this year was that teams had the scope to run two or three different strategies that could potentially converge into a roughly similar solution at the end of the race, resulting in an interesting and unpredictable mix of one and two-stoppers. Even without the red flag, it would have been a very entertaining race.

What was the impact on the racing?
Melbourne saw more overtaking than in previous years – 40 overtakes compared to 13 in 2015 – and this is down in no small part to the new tyre regulations. At other circuits where it’s tough to pass such as Barcelona, Monaco, Budapest or Singapore, track position will again become potentially less of a factor. With three compounds, the difference between the tyres can now create overtaking scenarios.

Was Melbourne a one-off or will this trend continue at other circuits?
There are already signs that more options will open up strategy-wise at the next race in Bahrain – and China looks set to be yet more exciting again. It will create exciting races where one strategy initially appears better than the other – but then that could flip. Whether more cars choose to run one, two or three stops is not important. What creates variation and excitement is that offset strategies are now perfectly valid potential race-winning options, leading to more overtaking and more unknowns towards the end of the race.

Of course, there’s a fine line between interesting strategic differences and chaos. If teams had free choice of compounds for every race, there would be potential for someone to seriously distort the competitive order. The current concept, however, appears to have found the right balance between exciting but understandable racing.

What do the teams make of the change?
Pirelli have created a compound range that promotes excitement if deployed and promoted in the right way. The world wants to see teams and drivers trying to do things differently, and these regulations empower them to do so. Tyres are now a positive talking point before a race weekend. For example, the difference in Bahrain compound nominations between the Silver Arrows and Ferrari has attracted plenty of attention. What’s more, by bringing softer compounds to each event, the target of making the cars faster has already been achieved in large part. In qualifying, lap times will now be close to circuit records in the manner we saw in Melbourne. The current cars possess historic highs of chassis and engine performance – and this is now being translated into the headline times.

Is there room for improvement?
As is to be expected, there are a couple of teething problems. For example, teams were asked to nominate their compound choices for a different set of regulations to those under which the sport is now operating for qualifying. But this is a minor complaint. Arguably, the change to the tyre rules has had more of an effect than any other in recent memory. The vast majority of people appear rather excited about its impact – and long may that continue.

Formula One: Perez “The racing is never boring in Bahrain”

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Sergio Perez, Nico Hulkenberg and Vijay Mallya preview the Bahrain Grand Prix:

Sergio on Bahrain
Sergio Perez is determined to shine again under the lights in Bahrain.
Sergio: “Australia didn’t bring the result I was hoping for so I am targeting a better outcome from Bahrain. Getting a bad start really compromised my race last time out because I got stuck in the middle of cars on different strategies and I couldn’t recover. However, it’s a long season and I have an opportunity to get back in the points in Bahrain.
“The racing is never boring in Bahrain so fans should enjoy some good entertainment. There are long straights and sharp braking zones so it’s great for overtaking, but the big tractions zones make this a tough track for the rear tyres. I think tyre degradation will be a key factor in the outcome of this race. The track evolves a lot as the race goes on, as the cars sweep away all the sand and dust that the wind has blown onto the track.
“I have some very good memories from Bahrain – the race in 2014 was just fantastic when I celebrated my first podium with the team. I am confident we can be strong again this year and get back all the points I missed in Australia. Even in Melbourne, there were lots of positives we can build on, such as our strong qualifying speed and race pace. The team is doing a great job back at the factory and we should have some interesting new bits on the car, too, so I am feeling confident.”
Nico on Bahrain
Nico Hulkenberg hopes to build on solid start to the season with more points in Bahrain.
Nico: “We’ve started the season in the right way by getting some points on the board, even though we had the potential to come away from Australia with many more. The red flag came out at the worst possible moment for our strategy and that cost us some positions, but we still managed to fight back and come away with an important seventh place: I am happy with that.
“Next up is Bahrain, which is a special place. As a circuit, it’s very different to Melbourne: it’s not bumpy at all; it’s very smooth and it’s full of slow corners. There are a several overtaking spots and the whole track, with long straights and big braking zones, makes for some great wheel-to-wheel racing. It’s a track that rewards attacking, so hopefully we will see lots of action in the race. And of course, it’s a night race so the atmosphere of the whole event is very different!
“One of my favourite things about Bahrain is the paddock. It looks like it’s straight out of ‘One Thousand and One Nights’, with the lights and buildings all adding to the atmosphere. It’s one of my favourite events of the season. We will arrive there in a good place and we have the potential to get another strong result.”
Vijay Mallya, Team Principal
Vijay Mallya expects another strong performance in Bahrain this weekend.
Vijay, did the team’s performance in Melbourne live up to expectations?
“After a race like Melbourne you always come away wondering what might have happened without the red flag, but I think we left Australia with our fair share of points. We had a mix of good and bad fortune, but I think that’s true for quite a few teams. Ahead of the season I said the team’s goal was to qualify and race in the top ten at every race, and we certainly achieved that in Melbourne.”
Were there any surprises?
“I think that the winter tests had already given us a good indication of what to expect. What is clear is that the grid is more competitive and closer together than it has ever been in the recent past. There are four or five teams who are all performing at a similar level, which made for a tight squabble in qualifying and the race. That can only be good for the fans; it’s what the sport needs and I think Melbourne showed that it’s the middle of the grid where most of the entertainment is being generated in terms of wheel-to-wheel racing.”
What can we expect from Bahrain?
“On paper Bahrain should be a strong track for us so I’m optimistic we can deliver a similar level of performance to that which we showed in Melbourne. We will have some new aerodynamic developments, which will add some performance to the front of the car, so we will work hard to optimise those during the weekend.”