Opinion: Formula One – Breaking down the 4th wall

Sochi

Over the weekend of the Russian GP I found myself in Austria,  unable to pick up UK F1 coverage either SKY Sports F1 (my preference) or BBC. To be honest after a rather dull race in 2014 my expectations for the race  were quite low, so trying to stay positive I looked upon the race as an opportunity to work on my German.

ORF

Discovering ORF hold Austrian rights for sport I was excited to hear through Twitter positive reports about the broadcaster, especially when compared to RTL and importantly had no breaks during the race. It then dawned on me I would get to hear interviews from the likes of Toto Wolff and Niki Lauda in their mother tongue, and I might get to hear a new perspective on the sport.

Now, I should preface this with a comment that the race coverage was good, possibly helped by a great race. Co commentary from Adrian Sutil was, different, and I definitely learned some new German. Who knew that the marbles that caught out Romain Grosjean whilst following Jenson Button through T3 were actually Gummikugeln ( yes I had visions of gummy bears attacking a Lotus) but the pre and post race interviews… terrible.

I would have thought with any language barrier removed team members and drivers, such as Hulkenberg and Rosberg would be more engaged more insightful and dare I said more entertaining. I experienced the exact opposite. It felt like Toto Wollf was reading a script and the drivers (yes I know they had bad results) couldn’t wait for the interviews to be over.

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BBC Sport

So in summary I would like to thank the production team behind the humanised presenting style the BBC launched back in 2009 when they regained the UK broadcasting rights to the sport. Both the BBC and SKY have managed to break down the 4th wall making teams and drivers real people. Perhaps this approach isn’t right for Austrian audiences, but as guy on holiday I can tell you a missed it, so much so I re watched the entire SKY Sports broadcast when I got home on Tuesday!

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Formula E: Amlin Andretti prepare for Season 2

Amlin

With arguably the most exciting driver line up on the grid, Amlin Andretti enter season two with new backing, new partners and a determination to succeed.

As highlighted in the Renault eDAMs preview yesterday, teams appear to facing the challenge of season 2 less as the difficult second album, and more of the time to get serious.

Both Robin Frijns and Simona de Silvestro have for now at least been passed over in the F1 driver pecking order, both suffering at the hands of questionable management and the challenges of the Sauber F1 team. In Formula E with Amlin Andretti they seem to have found a home.

The team had a challenging pre season with TE Connectivity partnership plans not quite ready to hit the track. For season 2 the team will rely on the trusted base power unit used in season 1. Working with established systems should position the team well for early reliability and provide confidence in what their machinery can achieve.

In Amlin, Andretti have found a commercial partner keen to make themselves heard. highly active on social media and hugely interactive with fans, this dedication will appreciated and will help the team enhance their fan base over the course of the season.

In this short interview Simona discusses the most exciting prospects for her first complete season with Formula E, whilst she mentions the Paris ePrix , I wouldn’t give up hope of the Lugano event quite yet!

Formula E: Renault commit to the EV sector through Motorsport

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RENAULT AT THE FOREFRONT OF ALL-ELECTRIC MOTORSPORT

Ranking amongst some of the most innovative companies in the world, Renault is at the forefront of the electric automotive sector with vehicles such as its Z.E. range, as well as the iconic ZOE and Twizy. And thanks to its motorsport commitments and unique racing pedigree in a range of categories, the French carmaker is also helping to foster the move towards more sustainable racing.

Recognising its potential, Renault jumped at the opportunity to be involved in the FIA’s all-electric championship as soon as it was announced in 2011. Travelling to some of the world’s most famous cities, Formula E’s ethos fits in perfectly with the French manufacturer’s environmental strategy. In keeping with its identity as a pioneer, Renault has made the most of the championship as an international platform in order to showcase its proficiency and expertise in electric systems. With innovation and excellence etched into Renault’s DNA, it was only natural that the manufacturer would support Alain Prost and Jean-Paul Driot’s bold venture into the world’s first fully electric competition.

Renault has been directly involved in Formula E’s development since 2014, contributing on both technical and sporting matters.

It was appointed Formula E’s Official Technical Partner, with Renault Sport Technologies overseeing all systems integration as well as supervising powertrain electrical safety and performance optimisation on the 200kW Spark-Renault SRT_01Es.

Renault also served as a partner to the Renault e.dams squad, which went on to win the inaugural 2014/2015 FIA Formula E Teams’ championship.

Renault’s commitment to the sport has equally portrayed its readiness to apply the technological progress to all-electric vehicles in general, boost engine performance and improve battery autonomy.

For the 2015/16 season Renault has increased its involvement with reigning Teams’ title-holders, Renault e.dams. Producing its own powertrain, Renault has exclusively devoted its technical expertise to the team, which is determined to continue fighting at the front and has both the Drivers’ and Teams’ titles in its sights for season two. The cutting-edge technologies developed by Renault Sport for Formula E could subsequently benefit the constructor’s Z.E. range of road-going cars.

Cyril

CYRIL ABITEBOUL
RENAULT SPORT F1 MANAGING DIRECTOR

“Renault has a long history of embracing innovation in competitive motorsport. Our operations base in Viry-Châtillon has produced some of the most evocative and successful technology ever seen on track, including the 1970s Formula 1 turbo engine and V10 and V8 power plants that dominated F1 in the ’90s and 2000s.

“Ahead of Formula E’s second season, Viry’s full experience and expertise is being applied with one aim – to continue in the spirit of adventure and innovation, mirroring the success enjoyed in other motorsport disciplines.

Continuing Renault’s spirit of adventure and innovation, and mirroring the success enjoyed in other motorsport disciplines start with harnessing synergies between our motorsport disciplines. Through our F1 power unit we have developed a range of competences in electrical technology that will only be furthered by running in Formula E. In this way, and others, we hope to realise the full potential of Renault across all our competitive activities.”

Opinion: Formula E appears to offer the perfect vehicle for Renault to demonstrate it’s commitment to the EV sector, it should be considered significant that Cyril Abiteboul features in the press launch of Renault’s season 2 campaign, further underlining Renault have options away from Formula One. Renault eDams have focused solely on winning both the drivers and constructors championship in Formula E season 2. If things don’t go there way in F1, Formula E offers a very healthy alternative.   

Formula E: Season 2 Preview – Renault eDams

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HAVING WON THE TEAMS’ TITLE IN THE INAUGURAL FIA FORMULA E CHAMPIONSHIP, RENAULT E.DAMS RETURNS FOR ITS SECOND CAMPAIGN IN 2015/16 WITH ONE GOAL: TO SECURE BOTH THE TEAMS’ AND DRIVERS’ TITLES, CELEBRATING THEIR RENEWED PARTNERSHIP WITH RENAULT WHO, THIS YEAR, HAVE SUPPLIED THE ALL-NEW ELECTRIC POWERTRAIN THAT HAS BEEN DESIGNED EXCLUSIVELY FOR THE TEAM BY RENAULT SPORT F1.

Renault_72489_global_enALAIN PROST

“I think we’re looking good this year. Everyone will have to bring the level of performance, organisation, discipline just a little bit higher this season. Obviously last season was the first season and year of learning for all of the teams using the same cars. So this year is going to be tough, especially with all the new technology. We don’t know where we will be strong or not as strong so consistency is really key. However, with such a strong backing from Renault and their wealth of experience will be a real help. Hopefully we can really fight for both titles this season.”

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JEAN-PAUL DRIOT

“We definitely need to up our game this year as I think all the other teams have stepped up and are looking very competitive. I’m quite confident following testing in Donington. Our package that has been developed by Renault seems to be really strong thanks to its profound knowledge and experience in electric systems – and the performance has already been proven during pre-season testing. But we really need to concentrate because, although last year we secured the Teams’ title, this year is really about pushing what we know to the limits.”

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Nicholas Prost:

“I’m delighted to be remaining with Renault e.dams for this year’s FIA Formula E Championship. It’s important to stay in the same team for the sake of continuity. Everyone knows each other well and it’s much easier to work with the same guys and in the same environment. It’ll be exciting to see what we can achieve this year, especially with the new powertrain from Renault and a promising first run at Donington.”

Sebastien Buemi:

“I’m so pleased that I’ll be working with the guys at Renault e.dams again because we all get on so well. The team is a little bigger than last year with Renault being on board but having a big manufacturer like that only strengthens the team. After our promising performance testing things are looking good, but it’s too early to say what will happen during the season. Let’s see!.”

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Formula E: Technical Regulations Season 2 Preview – With Renault eDams

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The essential technical updates:

POWERTRAIN

Season two will again feature 10 teams that are essentially the same as in the first season. However, 2015/2016 sees the introduction of eight manufacturers, selected by the FIA, who are allowed to develop new powertrains, specifically the e-motor, inverter, gearbox and cooling system. Among them is Renault, with the French constructor providing exclusively Renault e.dams with is own Z.E.15 powertrain, which has been developed by Renault Sport at Viry and is the result of many years of expertise in electric systems.

BATTERY

Williams Advanced Engineering is the sole supplier of batteries for the FIA Formula E Championship. The maximum power output of the batteries will increase to 170kW during each race in season two of the Championship, which is 30% more power than they were initially designed for.

CHASSIS

Italian firm Dallara, who boast more than 40 years’ motorsport experience, have constructed the Spark Renault SRT_01E monocoque chassis. Made from carbon fibre and honeycomb aluminium, the chassis is both super lightweight and incredibly strong and fully complies with the latest FIA crash tests.

DIMENSIONS

Overall length: 5000mm (max) Overall width: 1800mm (max) Overall height: 1250mm (max) Track width: 1300mm (min) Ride Height: 75mm (max) Minimum weight (inc. driver): 888kg (each battery 360kg)

WHEELS & TYRES

Bespoke 18-inch treaded Michelin tyres for use on both wet and dry surfaces. The idea of this is to bring the racing tyre closer to road tyres and, similar to the tyres on a road car, that don’t get changed when it goes from dry to wet. With an 18-inch tyre you are able to have a larger contact area and so less deformation. For each race event, each driver is supplied with four new front tyres and four new rear tyres, plus one front and one rear tyre from the previous event.

Championship specific wheel dimensions:

O.Z. Racing Magnesium rims

Max width front:

260mm / rear 305mm

Max Diameter:

front 650mm / rear 690mm

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The Sporting Regulations

CHAMPIONSHIP

The FIA Formula E Championship will consist of both a Drivers and a Teams’ championship. Points accumulated at all races now count to the overall classification in both categories.

DRIVERS

The FIA Formula E championship has decided to implement a limit of two driver changes per race number for the second season. What’s more, no changes will be permitted for the final three races except in cases of force majeure.

Super Pole – NEW FOR SEASON 2

The five fastest drivers from qualifying will then contest a single-lap Super Pole session to determine the top five positions on the grid, while the maximum power output in qualifying trim will be to 200kW.

FanBoost

Fan Boost has been revamped ahead of Formula E’s second championship. Voting will open 12 days prior to the event while fans will also be able to cast their ballot in real-time until six minutes into the race. The voting will again be possible on the official Formula E website and app, as well as on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using the relevant hashtags. The three most popular drivers will get an extra 100kJ of energy that can only be used after swapping car mid-race.

PIT STOPS/CAR CHANGES

During races, drivers must make one mandatory pit stop in order to change cars. This must take place in their box and be observed by an FIA steward to ensure all safety equipment is correctly applied. A minimum time period (determined on the day) will also be enforced. Tyre changes, unless a puncture, are not permitted during this pit stop.

FULL COURSE YELLOW

The second Formula E season also sees the introduction of a Full Course Yellow (FCY) system – similar to those seen in other FIA championships and F1’s Virtual Safety Car. Under the FCY regulations all drivers must maintain the gap to the car in front and abide by a 50kph speed limit, including in pitlane, which remains open.

POINTS

Drivers will score points using the standard FIA system of:
1st = 25pts

2nd = 18pts

3th = 15pts

4th = 12pts

5th = 10pts

6th = 8pts

7th = 6pts

8th = 4pts

9th = 2pts

10th = 1pt.

Three points will be awarded to the driver securing pole position, whilst the driver setting the fastest lap receives two points.

LICENCE

New changes have been made to the e-Licence system for 2015/2016 and will be mandatory for any driver wanting to participate. In order to qualify for an e- Licence the following will be required:

• A specific FIA training session regarding the most important points of the electrical safety, technical and sporting regulations of the competition.
• To have accumulated in the previous three years at least 20 points of the FIA points system used to qualify to the F1 Super Licence, or to have previously been holding an F1 Super Licence, or to have participated in at least three races of the previous FIA Formula E Championship.

• A driver judged by the FIA to have consistently demonstrated outstanding ability in single-seater formula cars, but with no opportunity to qualify under any of the requirements above.

CAR CHARGING

Car charging is only forbidden during qualifying and the race, together with their respective Parc Ferme periods. Charging can take place during non-qualifying (practice) periods.

INDYCAR: GoPro Join Forces with Indycar to Create 360-Degree Video

Indycar Go Pro

On Aug. 27, GoPro and INDYCAR joined forces to produce an interactive 360-degree video of the Verizon IndyCar Series’ ambitious endeavor to send cars across one of the world’s most iconic locations – the Golden Gate Bridge.


Watch the video on the GoPro’s YouTube page here.

Viewers can manipulate the video (available in select browsers) by clicking on the screen and dragging their cursor to view different angles of the event.

Four competition Indy cars that competed in the season finale GoPro Grand Prix of Sonoma on Aug. 30 participated, piloted by Josef Newgarden, Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal and Will Power. Andretti led the procession in the No. 25 Andretti Autosport Honda driven in six Verizon IndyCar Series events by the late Justin Wilson, who passed away Aug. 24 due to injuries sustained in a crash. The event was dedicated in memory of Wilson.

James Hinchcliffe drove the INDYCAR Experience street-legal two-seater with the series’ championship trophy, the Astor Cup, as his passenger in the rear seat. Holmatro safety trucks followed behind the procession bearing flags with a logo created to honor Wilson.

OPINION:  Showcasing 360 Degree Video Technology from GoPro in the filming of Indycar’s procession for Justin Wilson first and foremost gives fans an opportunity to feel part of the tribute.  Moving beyond this GoPro offer insight into the possibilities of immersive viewing for motorsport in the future. As audiences shift towards streaming of live events this level of personalisation of the viewing experience could set Indycar and GoPro apart from the rest. F1 take note… And WOW the Golden Gate Bridge looks spectacular!

WTCC: Volvo announces multi-year FIA WTCC programme with Polestar Cyan Racing

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Polestar Cyan Racing will enter the FIA World Touring Car Championship in 2016 with two Volvo S60 Polestar race cars as start of a multi-year programme.

”We have chosen the FIA WTCC as our global motorsport platform as it combines the cutting edge technology of our Volvo cars with exciting racing all over the world. The championship enables us to further develop our technology and utilise development from the racing circuits directly to our products for performance oriented Volvo customers,” said Niels Möller, COO of Polestar, the Volvo Cars Performance Brand.

The announcement comes on the day 30 years after Volvo Cars claimed the 1985 European Touring Car Championship title with the iconic Volvo 240 Turbo. Fast-forward to 2016 and Polestar Cyan Racing will carry the legacy to a new challenge, by taking on the world title with the brand new Volvo S60 Polestar TC1 race car.

Volvo WTCC 2016

”This is a great day for all of us at Polestar Cyan Racing to announce our assault on the FIA World Touring Car Championship, a programme that boils down to one thing; to bring the world title to Sweden,” said Alexander Murdzevski Schedvin, Head of Motorsport at Polestar.

Cyan Racing is the official motorsport partner to Polestar, the Volvo Cars Performance Brand, a cooperation started in 1996 with six STCC driver titles and seven team titles under its belt, most recently securing a double 2015 STCC title for the third year in succession.

Following an evaluation season in the 2011 WTCC and two seasons in the Australian V8 Supercars, 2016 marks the start of the Polestar Cyan Racing’s first multi-year programme in a world championship.

”We have got respect for the task ahead of us that we take on with absolute commitment. This is a long-term effort and we have got an extensive testing programme during the winter that will continue alongside our first WTCC season in 2016 that is all about learning,” said Christian Dahl, CEO of Cyan Racing.

Volvo 240 ETCC

The 240 Turbo dominated the racing circuits in Australia, Finland, Germany, Portugal, New Zealand and Sweden during the mid-eighties. Volvo had proved the strength of their concept with a downsized four-cylinder turbo charged engine against the might of the likes of BMW, Rover and Jaguar, all using six, eight and 12-cylinder engines.

The all-new Volvo S60 Polestar TC1 race car carries the legacy of the 240 Turbo, featuring a newly developed 4-cylinder turbo engine of 400 horsepower, based on the cutting edge technology of the new Drive-E Volvo engine family.

”To use the Volvo engine as base and not go for the available generic WTCC race engine for our car was a no-brainer. Volvo engines are suitable for racing purposes in terms of power, technology and durability, as we have proven previously in the STCC, V8 Supercars and WTCC. The Drive-E engine is a perfect example with its low friction technology and exotic materials. We have been able to utilise a lot of development work from earlier racing programmes as well as road car development and we are keen to get going against the best in the 2016 WTCC,” said Mattias Evensson, head of engine development at Cyan Racing.

Reigning STCC champion Thed Björk, three-time STCC champion Fredrik Ekblom and multiple STCC race winner Robert Dahlgren are part of the development work of the WTCC programme.

Further information on the 2016 WTCC Polestar Cyan Racing programme, including driver line-up, will be revealed in due course.

Opinion : Volvo entering the WTCC is a great sign not only for the series but for motorsport in general, after a lull in interest due to global economic uncertainty manufacturers are coming back to motorsport. Volvo choosing the WTCC to showcase their increased commitment to motorsport is an interesting one, the series has been historically dominated by one manufacturer, the current being Citroen. To succeed Volvo will have to make significant investment into the program. From a personal perspective Volvo’s historical involvement in motorsport, specifically the BTCC with the 850 had a huge influence the cars I have chosen to drive having owned a V40, V50, & V60 I can say with confidence their presence in touring cars has been successful marketing tool for me! I wish the team all the best in the 2016 campagin and beyond 

Formula E: FanBoost opens for Beijing ePrix

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FanBoost is now open for the first race of the 2015-2016 FIA Formula E Championship in Beijing, with a new-look in-race voting initiative for this season.

To cast your vote visit www.fiaformulae.com/fanboost

Fans can vote for the driver of their choice to receive an extra speed boost during the race. In a change to last season, FanBoost now closes six minutes into the race allowing fans to make their vote count during an ePrix.

Due to the changes FanBoost is now only available in the second car after a driver makes their mid-race car swap. The three drivers with the most votes will each receive an extra 100kJ of power to be used in a window between 180kW and 200kW.

When deploying FanBoost it can only be used once, a series of short bursts will not be possible.

Follow the progress of your favourite driver via the live FanBoost leaderboard which monitors real-time voting. As well as being able to vote during the race, fans will also find it much easier to have their say as changes to the voting system will make it possible to vote using a hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.

To submit your vote using a hashtag you must include #FanBoost plus a hashtag followed by the full name of the one driver you wish to vote for.

Voting will be available through the official Formula E website and app and fans will be able to vote once a day through each of the available channels.

When does FanBoost open?

FanBoost voting will open 12 days before each race and close after the opening six minutes of the race. This will give fans and viewers an even greater ability to influence the outcome of the race.

How do FanBoost votes work?

As well as being able to vote via the Formula E website and app, fans will now be able to vote using a hashtag on Twitter and Instagram. FanBoost will only be available to the winning drivers on their second car following their mid-race car swap. Voting will be available through the official Formula E website and app and fans will be able to vote once a day through each of the available channels.

What are the benefits of FanBoost?

The three winning FanBoost drivers will each have an extra 100kJ of energy available to them in their second car only. The extra energy is to be used in a power window between 180kW and 200kW.

What are the FanBoost restrictions?

FanBoost can only be used once. A series of short bursts will not be possible.

Live leaderboard

Formula E will aggregate votes in real-time and power a live leaderboard on the Formula E website to display the ranking of the weekly top contenders. The leaderboard will also be displayed in real-time during the live race broadcast.

OPINION: Fanboost represents Formula E’s dedication to fan engagement. This evolution of the engagement tool can be seen as an assurance the fans still come first. Building functionality to capture in race votes and votes across various social media platforms requires investment and is a testament to the series listening to its fans. Purists still challenge the place Fanboost should have in racing, but Formula E isn’t limiting it’s appeal to purists. They are of course welcome, but the sport wants to introduce an new audience to motorsport. Fanboost works. 

That being said, expecting fans to be able to correctly spell the name of the drivers they’re voting for could prove an entertaining challenge!

Formula One: Sochi Stats & Round Up

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What a difference a year makes! Formula One returned to Russia this weekend and for most fans it was fair to say expectations of a great race were pretty low. Thankfully the second running of the Sochi GP proved to be a huge improvement, with excitement through to the final lap.

Congratulations to Lewis on his win, to Mercedes in clinching their 2nd successive constructors crown, and a huge congratulations to Sergio Perez and the Force India team for a well deserved podium. Gambling on an early pit stop during the send safety car period Sergio kept his calm despite huge almost overwhelming pressure to claim his second podium for the team

Congratulations also to Pirelli on the extension of their sole supply agreement to F1 through to 2019. Further details to follow in due course. In the meantime enjoy this inspired Ushanka (pictured) look Pirelli bought to the podium and these fantastic info-graphics!

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Formula One: Carlos Sainz & Team update

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Driver & Team Update:
Carlos Sainz (STR10-04, Car 55)
Third Practice Session – Best lap: 1:42.683, pos. 15th, 19 laps
Qualifying – did not take part
“Hi everyone! As you can see I am fine. My back and my neck are just a bit sore from the accident, but I’m totally ready. Hopefully tomorrow I will wake up in a good shape and maybe I can try and race – this is definitely the intention! Obviously we need to be cautious… I’ve always been conscious. As soon as the accident happened I tried to talk to the team on the radio, but it wasn’t working and those must have been some scary moments… I’d like to thank everyone for their support, it’s really nice to receive all your messages at a moment like this one! I hope to see you all tomorrow out there!”
 
Phil Charles (Chief Race Engineer)
“Our first considerations are obviously for Carlos. It was quite a big crash for him but it’s good to know that he feels well. We will now need to wait until tomorrow morning to hear if his final FIA medical checks are okay.
On the engineering side we are still finalising the details of our crash investigation. However so far there are no significant findings to talk about. From a personal point of view I am quite impressed to see that the car has survived such a shunt in quite a healthy way: the nose crush zone has worked very efficiently and the four wheels were still retained by the tethers. The monocoque looks to be in good shape as well.
Talking a little more about the car performance, both drivers were settling down nicely in P3 before Carlos’s crash, doing long-run tyre tests early on. In qualifying with Max, he did a good job as we were still evolving our approach as well, given we didn’t get a short run with either driver in P3. Most significantly we had to make a decision on the way we used the tyres selecting between build-push or push-charge-push. We elected for the second option in Q3. It is obviously difficult to say for sure which would have been better but Max put together a pretty good lap and I think we achieved most of what we could have today with our package.”
Franz Tost (Team Principal)
“I’m very happy that Carlos is ok and out of hospital, this is the most important thing for us! I hope he will have a good night’s sleep and tomorrow morning he will have to go through the FIA medical checks to decide if he will be able to take part in tomorrow’s race. Now, just to clarify what happened, prior to the accident, Carlos had completed a long-run on the Option tyre, before changing to the Prime to do two further laps. On Primes the grip level is lower. In addition he had changed the brake shape on the steering wheel, which meant he had more braking rearwards. A combination of these two factors might have been the cause of the rears locking, which made the car uncontrollable.”
Opinion: Carlos Sainz was fortunate to avoid serious injury in this FP3 incident. Whilst the team remain unclear as to the cause, the implication from Franz Tost appears to be driver error.  All parties seem hopeful Sainz will participate in tomorrow’s race. Presumably to be considered mandatory FIA regulated medical tests will need to be completed tomorrow morning. 
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