“And in front of David Coulthard, the scarlet McLaren of four-times Monaco Grand Prix winner, Michael Schumacher.”
Lucas di Grassi inherited victory in the inaugural race of the new Formula E Championship in Beijing when leader Nicolas Prost and second-place Nick Heidfeld collided at the final corner.
Venturi driver Heidfeld, who had jumped from fourth to second when the drivers changed cars mid-race, made a move on the leading e.dams Spark-Renault SRT_01E into the final tight left hander after getting a run out of the penultimate corner.
Prost made a clear move to his left as Heidfeld tried to edge alongside and the two cars collided.
The German driver careered out of control into the barriers and flipped, but was able to extricate himself from the wreck unaided.
Steering damage prevented Prost from making the final corner, which allowed di Grassi to sweep through to make history as the first winner of the all-electric championship in his Audi Sport-supported Abt entry.
“We were a bit lucky, but I was happy to be in the right place today,” said di Grassi.
“I didn’t see the accident, but the main thing is that Nick is OK, which proves that this car is absolutely safe.”
Franck Montagny collected second place in his Andretti Autosport Spark-Renault after making progress from eighth on the grid.
The Frenchman gained a place on the opening lap at the expense of team-mate Charles Pic, was up to fifth by the time the pitstop sequence started in the middle of the race and then resumed in fourth after the stops.
Sam Bird, who had started 12th in his Virgin entry, took the final podium spot, after Abt driver Daniel Abt was penalised for using more electric energy than allowed.
Abt was demoted to 10th behind Pic, Mahindra driver Karun Chandhok, who lost out to both Bird and the Frenchman after his battery overheated in the closing laps, Jerome d’Ambrosio, Oriol Servia and Nelson Piquet Jr.
RESULTS – 25 LAPS:
|1||Lucas di Grassi||Abt||52m23.413s|
|14||Michela Cerruti||Trulli||1 Lap|
|15||Katherine Legge||Aguri||1 Lap|
|16||Ho-Pin Tung||China||2 Laps|
Report originally published on Autosport.com
The 2014 Verizon IndyCar series showcased, perhaps, the most promising crop of rookies seen in recent years. The four men running the series full time represent four different teams, three different countries, and varied backgrounds.
Andretti Autosport driver Carlos Munoz and Dale Coyne Racing’s Carlos Huertas both hail from Colombia. Bryan Herta Autosports’ Jack Hawksworth comes from England, while SPM Racing’s Mikhail Aleshin is the first Russian driver to compete in the series.
By the end of the season, all four had hit the podium. Three out of the four had led laps, and one of them actually took a race win. Lets take a look at their individual 2014 seasons.
Certainly the fact that he brought the backing of SMP, a banking giant in Russia, to the cash-starved Schmidt-Peterson Racing team was a tremendous factor in the decision to hire him. And, ride buying is nothing new to Motorsport.
Considering the fact that SMP wouldn’t throw millions of dollars behind just anyone to get a Russian in the Series, Aleshin actually has a strong racing resume. He has won Championships in Formula Renault and took a race win in Formula Two.
Coming to the states presented a particular challenge to Aleshin as he had never previously even seen any of the race tracks that he was about to compete on. Despite this, he adapted quickly and took a sixth place at Long Beach in his second start in the Series.
Throughout the bulk of the season, Aleshin was able to run comfortably in the top-ten at many of the road racing events, showing that he indeed belongs in this series.
His mid-season was marred by two highly publicized crashes where he took out the same driver, Takuma Sato. Sato’s team owner, the legendary A.J. Foyt, was compelled to describe Aleshin with some language that he probably shouldn’t have used on television.
Between the run-ins with Sato at Houston Race One and Iowa Speedway, Aleshin had his best finish of the year. At Houston Race Two he took second place behind his teammate Simon Pagenaud completing a 1-2 for Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports.
Off the track, we found out that Aleshin has a very engaging personality. He is quick with a smile or laugh, and he plays a mean guitar. A.J. Foyt aside, many of his fellow competitors have welcomed him into the series, and he has picked up a number of new fans along the way.
Aleshin’s 2014 season ended on a sour note as he had to watch the season finale and end-of-year awards from a hospital bed in Southern California. Aleshin suffered a concussion, broken ribs, a broken clavicle and chest injuries during a scary practice crash at Fontana. He has since been released from the hospital and continues his recovery at his new home in Indianapolis.
Honestly, my expectations for Aleshin coming into this season were pretty low. With unfamiliar cars in an unfamiliar environment, I wasn’t expecting much. However, with his performance, he is the rookie that has impressed me the most this season. I wish him a speedy and complete recovery, and I truly hope to see him in this series for many years to come. Aleshin has earned a B+ this year.
Hired at the eleventh hour by the woefully underfunded Bryan Herta Autosport team, Jack Hawksworth was looking at the opportunity of a lifetime. Like many drivers, Hawksworth began racing karts as a teenager in his native England. He made his way through the junior formulae in Europe before coming to America in 2012 to contest the Star Mazda series. He dominated that series and moved up to Indy Lights in 2013 where he took six podiums and three race wins.
At the young age of 23, Hawksworth is both an exciting driver and a dynamic personality. I can see a big future for him in IndyCar if he can hold onto a ride, and continue to deliver.
As the driver for a smaller one-car team, Hawksworth had an uphill battle. Team principle, Bryan Herta, is a former driver in the series who was able to provide the youngster with guidance and insight throughout his rookie campaign.
In the fourth race of the season, at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis, Hawksworth went quickly to the front following the botched start. He led the first 32 laps before getting shuffled behind on pit strategy. He certainly looked to have the car to beat in the early going, but he finished his day with his first top-ten, taking the seventh position.
From there his season experienced a series of ups and down as he became more comfortable with the car and the team. At Houston Race two, his hard driving was rewarded with a third place finish. One week later, he crashed hard at practice in Pocono and had to sit out with a heart contusion.
He bounced back from the injury and took two more top ten finishes at Toronto and Milwaukee. At season’s end he was the recipient of the prestigious Tony Renna Rising Star Award.
His raw speed in qualifying and his ability to mix it up with the big boys were impressive this season. I can only imagine what he would be capable of with a bit more funding to that team. Hawksworth has earned an B- this season, with an A for effort.
Like Aleshin, Huertas is a ride-buyer providing sponsorship from various companies in his native Colombia. This is par for the course for the second Dale Coyne entry that often goes to the highest bidder. We’ve seen this from Dale Coyne racing and we expect it, and oftentimes the results for the second Coyne entry are just what you’s expect: sub-par.
That is exactly what we saw out of Hertas for 90% of the season: languishing around in the back third of the field. By seasons end, Huertas finished 20th in a championship that features 21 full-time drivers.
Indeed, the 2014 season was pretty miserable for the entire Dale Coyne organization with primary driver Justin Wilson cracking the top-five only once, and finishing 15th in the final standings.
Well, to quote an old country phrase: “Every now and again, the sun will shine even on a dog’s ass.”
And that is exactly what happened at Houston Race One. Huetas was not only impressive in the rain, but he was actually able to stretch his fuel longer than any of his competitors and took a surprise win.
Unfortunately, his win will go down with an asterisk next to it. Five days after the race, IndyCar announced that the #18 car was found to have an illegally large fuel tank. In addition, there was a also an infraction with the rear wing. Driver and team were both fined, but the win was allowed to stand. I’m sorry Carlos Huertas, despite the win, you have earned a D.
Carlos Munoz came into the series full-time following an impressive run to second place in the 2013 Indianapolis 500 for Andretti Autosport. Because of this Munoz had the highest expectations of any of the 2014 rookie class. Munoz finished his season without making headlines. He didn’t win any races, take any poles or even lead any laps.
At the same time, Munoz performed admirably during the season, finishing 13 of the 18 races and standing on the podium three times. Munoz’s 2014 season could be described as a solid consistent run that saw him finish eighth in the final standings.
The entire Andretti Autosport organization seemed to be having an off year, despite the fact that Ryan Hunter-Reay took three race wins. There were weekends when Carlos Munoz was the only saving grace for the four car team that seemed to struggle so much in 2014.
Overall, Munoz did what is expected of a first year driver in the series. He kept his nose clean, listened to his engineers, and learned all that he could. For his efforts, he was presented with the Sunoco Rookie of the Year trophy at season’s end.
Munoz is confirmed to be returning to Andretti Autosport for 2015, and I fully expect a race win or two from this guy next season.
Carlos Munoz has earned an A
Indy 500 Rookies
I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to mention two rookies this year that did not contest the full series. Both Sage Karam and Kurt Busch were rookies at the Indianapolis 500 in May, and the two have very different stories.
Karam started 31st at the 500 and ran a clean race all day finishing ninth. He was unable to find a full-time ride in the Verizon Indycar Series, but it is time that someone took notice. Karam is a young man who represents the future of the sport and deserves a shot.
Busch, for his part, came into Gasoline Alley in the right frame of mind. He worked tirelessly to learn the car. While a veteran of countless oval track races, this would be the first time he would be competing at the speeds seen in the 500.
I, for one, was happy to see Double-Duty brought back from the ashes, and would welcome Kurt Bush back again, and any others that would like to attempt the feat.
Both Sage Karam and Kurt Busch have earned an A
Report originally on Drafting the Circuits
“He will not produce a winner, but if he can produce second, it will be the next best thing.”
Lewis Hamilton overcame a poor start to beat Formula 1 title rival Nico Rosberg to victory in the Italian Grand Prix and narrow his deficit in the championship battle. Hamilton put a recent run of bad fortune behind him to qualify on pole by two tenths of a second, but made a poor start and fell to fourth as Sunday’s race got under way on a sunny afternoon at Monza. This removed any chance of a repeat of the collision between Hamilton and Rosberg that handed Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo victory in the previous race in Belgium.
Rosberg streaked away at the front as Hamilton fell behind the Williams of Felipe Massa and the fast-starting McLaren of Kevin Magnussen, who launched his way up from fifth on the grid to second. Hamilton struggled initially with his car becoming stuck in ‘RS mode’, but he soon got back to full speed and began to move forward. He took advantage of Massa passing Magnussen at the second chicane on lap five to take third on the following run to the first Lesmo, before driving around the outside of Massa at the first chicane on lap 10. By then Rosberg had already straightlined the first chicane – halving his 3.6-second lead – and Hamilton set about closing down his title rival further. The Mercedes duo traded fastest laps initially, as Massa tried in vain to go with the leaders, but Hamilton then began to assert his pace advantage over Rosberg as the first half of the race wore on. He closed to within 1.5s of his Mercedes team-mate but could not leapfrog Rosberg in the pits as the leaders stopped on consecutive laps. Hamilton was much quicker than Rosberg in the following laps on Pirelli’s harder tyre, and Rosberg gifted victory to his team-mate by locking his brakes and again straightlining the first chicane on lap 29.
From there, Hamilton eased away to record his sixth win of 2014 by just over three seconds. Massa completed a lonely run to third, thus recording his first podium finish since the 2013 Spanish GP. Team-mate Valtteri Bottas was the pre-race favourite to take that final podium spot, having qualified third, but a terrible start dropped him outside the top 10 on the opening lap. The Finn spent most of the rest of the race slipstreaming his way back through the pack, usually passing rivals before the entry to the first chicane, and eventually made his way back to fourth. Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel lost fifth in the closing stages to Red Bull team-mate Daniel Ricciardo. Vettel gambled on making an earlier pitstop than anyone else to gain track position, but could not make his hard tyres last well enough to hang on to the flag. Ricciardo utilised the alternative strategy – running long in the first stint and stopping late – and made some impressively decisive passing moves as he recovered well from a poor start. Vettel defended hard into the first chicane with five laps to go, but was passed easily down the inside into the second chicane on tyres eight laps older than Ricciardo’s. Magnussen finished seventh on the road, but was penalised five seconds for forcing Bottas off the track at the first chicane during the Finn’s earlier slipstreaming charge, dropping McLaren’s rookie Dane to 10th. Sergio Perez thus inherited seventh for Force India, after a close battle with the second McLaren of Jenson Button, who ran sixth early on but lost track position to Perez at the stops. The pair ran side-by-side through the Lesmos at one stage, but Button could not force his way decisively back ahead of the Force India. Kimi Raikkonen finished a close ninth on a disappointing day for Ferrari at the Scuderia’s home race. Team-mate Fernando Alonso started seventh, but recorded his first mechanical non-finish for five years (and the first of this Ferrari career) after his F14 T suffered an ERS failure. Toro Rosso’s Daniil Kvyat should have inherited the final point for 10th when Magnussen’s penalty was applied, but the Russian frighteningly straightlined the first chicane at high speed on the penultimate lap and trailed home 11th, complaining of a brake problem.
Results – 53 laps:
|5||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||50.309s|
|6||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull/Renault||59.965s|
|7||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m02.518s|
|11||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m11.184s|
|12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m12.606s|
|13||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m13.093s|
|14||Pastor Maldonado||Lotus/Renault||1 Lap|
|15||Adrian Sutil||Sauber/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|16||Romain Grosjean||Lotus/Renault||1 Lap|
|17||Kamui Kobayashi||Caterham/Renault||1 Lap|
|18||Jules Bianchi||Marussia/Ferrari||1 Lap|
|19||Marcus Ericsson||Caterham/Renault||2 Laps|
|20||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber/Ferrari||2 Laps|
|-||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||Power Unit|
|-||Max Chilton||Marussia/Ferrari||Spun off|
Report originally published here on Autosport.com
Lewis Hamilton claimed his first Formula 1 pole position since May’s Spanish Grand Prix by setting the pace in qualifying in Italy.
The Mercedes driver outpaced team-mate and world championship rival Nico Rosberg in all three segments of qualifying at Monza.
After establishing himself at the top of the timesheets in the Q3 top 10 shootout on his first run, over four tenths faster than Rosberg, Hamilton had already done enough to be sure of pole.
Rosberg started his second Q3 run before Hamilton, improving his laptime by just under two tenths, which was not enough to knock his team-mate off top spot.
This meant that Hamilton did not need to improve on his final attempt, with the relative position of Rosberg on the track meaning that he knew he had secured pole while on a lap that fell short of his earlier mark of 1m24.109s.
But behind them was the big winner of the final seconds of qualifying, Kevin Magnussen, who leaped from eighth to fifth with his final attempt.Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa locked out the second row for Williams, both drivers unable to improve on their second runs.
Jenson Button, in the second McLaren, was sixth after failing to improve on his final run, just ahead of Fernando Alonso.
The Ferrari driver had made a slight improvement on his final attempt to relegate Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel to eighth.
Daniel Ricciardo and Force India driver Sergio Perez completed the top 10.
Daniil Kvyat was the quickest of those eliminated in Q2 despite a valiant attempt to snatch a top 10 place on the last lap.
The Russian, who will be given a 10-place grid penalty for using his sixth engine of the season, bumped Kimi Raikkonen out of the top in the dying seconds, only for Magnussen to jump from 13th from 10th.
Raikkonen ended up 12th ahead of Jean-Eric Vergne, with Nico Hulkenberg unable to match Force India team-mate Perez and down in 14th place.
Adrian Sutil prevailed in the intra-Sauber battle with Esteban Gutierrez by improving on his final run having looked to be fractionally slower than the Mexican earlier in qualifying.
There were no surprises in Q1, with the three slowest teams in the field populating the dropzone.
Pastor Maldonado was the fastest of those in 17th, just ahead of Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean.
Grosjean was only able to complete five laps thanks to the team having to fix a fluid leak detected in the build-up to the session, ending up a tenth slower than the Venezuelan after missing the first 13 minutes of the 18-minute session.
Kamui Kobayashi, reinstated in the lead Caterham after sitting out the Belgian GP, was a superb 19th ahead of Jules Bianchi thanks to a combination of an excellent lap and a tow from team-mate Marcus Ericsson.
Ericsson himself ended up 22nd, three tenths behind the second Marussia of Max Chilton.
|8||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull/Renault||1m25.436s||1.327s|
|9||Daniel Ricciardo||Red Bull/Renault||1m25.709s||1.600s|
|10||Sergio Perez||Force India/Mercedes||1m25.944s||1.835s|
|12||Jean-Eric Vergne||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m26.157s||-|
|13||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India/Mercedes||1m26.279s||-|
|21||Daniil Kvyat||Toro Rosso/Renault||1m26.070s||-|
Report originally published here on Autosport.com
A young boy growing up in Italy, Mario Andretti attended the Italian Grand Prix with his brother Aldo. Here they saw the man you see in the picture above; Alberto Ascari, the pride of a nation, a man who competed with Fangio for title of the greatest driver in the world. Young Mario was already a fan, but seeing his hero on their home track, his dream, his goal was solidified. As creation begets creation so too does greatness beget greatness. As the cars line up on the grid to start Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix, they line up on more than a race track, they line up on a monument, a cathedral to speed, each driver ready to write his own page in the great history of Monza.