Tag Archives: Le Mans

Formula One: Porsche Red Bull Racing? 2+2 = 5

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The eagle-eyed F1 Fan will have noticed a few interesting faces in and around the F1 paddock over the weekend of the Austrian Grand Prix. After attending a recent meeting to discuss the future of F1 Power Units a number of Porsche ambassadors made their presence known through the event. As a pundit for Channel 4’s F1 coverage, seeing Mark Webber in the paddock is not an unusual sight. Less usual though was his choice of attire, as pictured below Mark spent much of the weekend wearing Porsche team wear. Similarly, Mark’s former teammate and former Red Bull Junior driver Brendon Hartley attended the Grand Prix and he too wore Porsche team wear combined with a Red Bull cap for much of the weekend.

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Of course a logical explanation for this is that both drivers were taking part in demonstration runs through the race weekend, but a far more exciting ‘hollywood’ story is that fresh from having achieved their objectives in the World Endurance Championship securing 3 back to back victories at Le Mans, Porsche are seeking a new challenge. Given Webber’s recent history with Red Bull Racing, he, perhaps under the guise of his ambassador role with Porsche is in someway involved in discussions to bring the two parties together with a role for Brendon Hartley as a driver within the package.

I have stated previously that the relationship between ExxonMobil, BP, and Renault for me is not logical. Fuel and Lubricant solutions must be developed in conjunction with power unit development. It is not possible to define a one size fits all development roadmap for the Renault Power Unit. At some point in the near future, if not, at some point in the past. BP or ExxonMobil will identify a performance opportunity with the Renault power unit which does not favour the other supplier. At this point power unit development will split. Renault will produce one power unit format for the works team and a different solution for Red Bull Racing and Scuderia Toro Rosso. Who will fund this alternative solution, and at what point is a Renault Power Unit no longer a Renault Power Unit?

Could Porsche be considering redirecting budget from the World Endurance Championship, a figure believed to be in the region of $100M towards a power unit development plan in Formula One? Paying Renault to use their technology as a basis for involvement would minimise the risk of ‘doing a Honda’ ensuring reasonable performance from the word go.

One thing is for sure, Porsche are seeking a new challenge, drivers, unlike fans, don’t attend race meetings in team wear when they are not competing for the fun of it. Perhaps in this case 2+2 might just equal 5.

Thanks to Sean Bull for pulling together incredible concept artwork for a Red Bull Racing Porsche mash up.

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Formula One: Goodwood – The Glastonbury of Motorsport

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Those who know me know of my obsession with motorsport and my love for Glastonbury. In 2016 for one reason and another it has not been possible for my family and I to head to Worthy Farm, so for the first time in a long time I found myself free over the last weekend in June. That was until I saw an email come through with the subject line: Invitation to the Goodwood Festival of Speed!

I was invited to Goodwood by my friends at Shell & BMW. Shell are the fuels and lubricants partner of the festival, BMW this year take centre stage (quite literally! As you will see in the above image of the huge sculpture presented by BMW featuring iconic cars through the ages of the brand) at the festival, celebrating their 100th year of operation.

To do the event justice I would say you say need to give yourself at least two days, there really is something for everyone. I would break down the Festival of Speed in the same way I think of Glastonbury. The Hillclimb which runs through the centre of the grounds is like the Pyramid stage, the key feature, a must see element of the day will run up the hill and you could easily spend a day solely focus on the hill climb and go home satisfied. Adjacent to the hill climb are the manufacturers stands, similar to those you might expect to see at an indoor motor show but turned up to 11. Each stand is trying to out do the other, and the only real winners are the fans. Honda turned up this year with a life size recreation of the iconic Fisher Price garage that many of us born in the 70s, 80s or 90s may have played with us as children. Heading away from here you begin to unearth some of the other manufacturers at the event, supercars you thought you had discovered that it turns out everyone is excited to see, then stumbling on a gem like the FIA stand where you could see, touch and experience the 2017 F1 designed halo system. Everyone involved with the automotive industry it seems, has a presence of some sort at the festival.

Heading over to the other opposite side of the festival you have the excellent collection of classic BMW’s through the ages, and Goodwood house itself. Spending time here felt as exclusive as the moment you stumble upon the Eavis family farm whilst touring the Glastonbury site. Getting to the nitty gritty of the festival you see the temporary garages of every car taking part in the Hillclimb, every car you can imagine is represented, it’s almost too much to take in.  Short of time I made my way to the Toyota LMP1 area, to give homage to the rightful winner of the 2016 running of the Le Mans 24hr, and check out some of the iconic touring cars of my childhood. With more than 140,000 in attendance over 3 days one thing the festival is not, is quiet. The crowds can be substantial but never overbearing, you find yourself with groups of like minded people respectful of the environment they are in and the machinery they are bearing witness to. There must be 100’s of millions of pounds’ worth of cars on display over the weekend, and yet rarely do you find an owner unwilling to let you get up close and personal with the car of your dreams. There is a sense of openness and sharing to the event; a true appreciation of motorsports.

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Returning to my hosts, to celebrate the Shell BMW partnership and 100 years of BMW we were tasked to complete a set number of challenges within 100 minutes. Progress against these challenges was to be reported on Twitter. The challenges included speaking to Shell technicians around the virtues of using Shell V-Power Nitro+, something which despite my initial reservations a number of months I fully subscribed too, not only in terms of performance improvement, but in vehicle maintenance. Checking out the Shell Eco-marathon cars, challenging yourself to drive in the most efficient way possible, which at Festival of Speed did feel a little counter intuitive, engage my followers on Twitter in competitions to win Shell V-Power vouchers, through questions on BMW’s successes in Motorsport, I should say at this point; congratulations to those submitting correct answers to the challenges, I’ll be in touch soon to arrange your prizes! Finally heading over to the BMW stands (of which there were at least five!) to reward a random member of public with a £30 Shell V-Power fuel voucher and a very cool BMW cap.

Following the challenges, our attentions were turned to a somewhat exclusive experience. Under the mindful eye of driver instructors from Palmer Motorsport, we were given the opportunity to try out the very latest BMW M models and be taken for a lap around the Goodwood circuit with Eric van de Poele. I took the opportunity to try out the BMW i8 and M4. The i8 is a car I have adored since concept, but until today never even sat in. The experience did not disappoint; the car is nothing short of spectacular. The acceleration is incredible and vehicle dynamics similar to those I have experienced in other performance cars. Stepping into the M4 was something else entirely, having turned a few laps in the i8 my confidence possibly exceeding skill I set off on my first lap. A BMW driver myself, the car felt instantly familiar. I felt I could push much harder than in the i8. Attempting the Ford Water corner flat out on my first lap was in retrospect a little too ambitious though, with the instructor calmly informing me on the cool down lap the only thing saving us from a rather expensive moment was the active traction control. The car is nothing short of a beast.

As if all this hadn’t been enough, we were then taken back to the festival to interview an idol of mine, Alex Zanardi, if you’ve read my review of No Limits you’ll know what a big deal this was for me! The interview taught me a few things, the first of which being I desperately need to go on a media training course! Zanardi plans to return to the Paralympics in Rio this year, taking part in 3 separate events, determined to secure Gold in each. His motorsport ambition too, remains undiminished. He plans to head back to the Spa 24hr in 2017 regarding the race very much as unfinished business.

So what makes Goodwood the Glastonbury of Motorsport? Is it the; mud? 😉 the sheer magnitude of things to see, do, touch, and feel? The atmosphere? Or the people? The answer is simple. Its all of it! I’m not sure what I expected from the Festival but I know I will be back!

You can see highlights from the 2016 Goodwood Festival of Speed here.

Follow Shell UK here and BMW UK here.

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Formula One: Catching up with Giancarlo Fisichella

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Giancarlo Fisichella, the last Italian driver to see the podium of an F1 race back in 2009 in a spectacular Belgian Grand Prix with saw him finish second for Force India. The race will be remembered not only for a questionable move Kimi Räikkönen pulled on Fisichella to take the win, but also as a race in which Giancarlo was all but announced as a Ferrari driver for the following event before the race had even finished!

It must be the dream of every Italian in motorsport to get the call from the Scuderia. With Ferrari suffering a torrid 2009, struggling with regulation changes and working with reserve drivers following the terrifying accident for Felipe Massa in Hungary. The prospect of an Italian podium finisher making his début for the team at the Italian Grand Prix was exactly the good news story the team needed.  Giancarlo leapt at the chance to join the team despite being fully aware his 2009 prospects would be minimal. His mind has possibly already moved on from Formula One. After 14 years in the sport he was ready for a new challenge. Joining the Ferrari family was exactly that.

In this film from Mobil One The Grid we catch up with Giancarlo Fisichella and his life after Formula One.

For a real-time view of Giancarlo Fisichella’s life with Ferrari, he is currently in 2nd position in the GTE-Pro class in his Ferrari 488 at the Le Mans 24hrs.

Formula One: Brundle will miss the Baku GP

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SKY SPORTS F1 commentator Martin Brundle will step down from his commentary duties for the weekend of the inaugural Grand Prix of Europe coming from Baku.  Replacing the microphone for a steering wheel Brundle for the weekend, Martin will be racing  alongside his son Alex, in the Road to Le Mans event, a precursor to the Le Mans 24 hours taking place over the same weekend.

The Brundle family will be participating in the event with the Zak Brown, co-founder of JMI, owned United Autosports team in a Ligier JS P3 competing in the LMP3 category. Brundle’s place in the commentary box alongside David Croft will be taken by an existing member of the SKY SPORTS F1 team. With regular co-commentator for Free Practice sessions Anthony Davidson also otherwise engaged at Le Mans, it is likely Paul Di Resta will be stepping up to race commentary team in Baku.

SKY SPORTS F1 will confirm the commentary team following the Monaco Grand Prix.

WEC: The Season Starts Here

Qualifying for the first round of the 2016 World Endurance Championship took place today in mixed, at times snowy, conditions at Silverstone. The No.7 Audi R18 of Andre Lotterer and Marcel Fassler ended the 20-minute wet session by claiming a sensational pole position with an average time of 1m53.204 at the head, with the No.8 Audi of Duval and Di Grassi make it all-Audi front row, although last gasp Di Grassi   attempt on pole ends in trip through gravel. Porsche fill out second row with No.1 heading No.2 Porsche 919 Hybrid, Disappointment for Toyota Gazoo Racing after issues leaves then 5th and 6th.

Ahead of the season opener check out Mobil One’s The Grid Preview to the 2016 World Endurance Championship:

Despite a challenging opening qualifying session Porsche remain confident they will be the team to beat in 2016, see their preview to the season here:

Formula One: Alonso targets the Triple Crown of Motorsport

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In an interview during his first visit to the Baku street circuit, Fernando Alonso has spoken of his ambitions to achieve the hallowed Triple Crown in motorsport.

The Triple Crown is the name for winning the Monaco Grand Prix, The Indy 500, and Le Mans 24 hours. The only driver to achieve the accolade was Graham Hill. There have been only  17 drivers to complete in all 3 racing categories. At this time Juan Pablo Montoya is the driver best positioned to achieve the Triple Crown having taken victories in both the Indy 500 and the Monaco Grand Prix. Montoya tested the LMP1 Porsche 919 Hybrid last season and has stated a desire to participate in Le Mans following the conclusion of his current Indycar commitments.

Alonso’s comments further serve to demonstrate his mind is moving beyond Formula One, and he is seeking a new challenge. This interview also marks the first time Alonso has publicly expressed interest in oval racing.

Honda’s continued presence within Indycar could facilitate Alonso transitioning to the sport following the conclusion of his current F1 agreement.

Alonso has won the Monaco Grand Prix twice in his F1 career in 2006 and 2007.

Alonso is a driver ambassador for the 2016 Grand Prix of Europe in Baku, he spoke favourably about the venue and the potential for great racing and an opportunity for Mclaren to perform strongly at the race in June. When questioned around his current Mclaren agreement, Alonso reaffirmed his commitment not only for 2016, but also for 2017 when he expects regulation changes could give Mclaren an opportunity to move forward.

More information on the Grand Prix of Europe can be found here.

The interview can be seen in full here: