Brazilian GP: Albon tops FP1 despite crashing out, as Ferrari lead FP2

FP1 – A Damp Day on Track

SAO PAULO, BRAZIL – NOVEMBER 15: Alexander Albon of Thailand driving the (23) Aston Martin Red Bull Racing RB15 on track during practice for the F1 Grand Prix of Brazil at Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace on November 15, 2019 in Sao Paulo, Brazil. (Photo by Robert Cianflone/Getty Images)

Red Bull’s Alex Albon set the fastest lap in FP1, before bringing out the red flag to end the session after crashing out on slicks in drying conditions.

He topped the session with a 1:16.142, set shortly before he hit the wall at Juncao, with Valtteri Bottas second with a 1:16.693 and Sebastian Vettel in third with a 1:17.041. However, the morning’s session looked unlikely to be representative as the session started off wet and dried out slowly, with slick tyres not being seen until the final five minutes of the session.

The adverse conditions led to limited running, with four drivers – including Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen – not setting timed laps. Nicholas Latifi took the place of Robert Kubica, the driver he is expected to replace at Williams in 2020, in his sixth FP1 session of the season.

The session got off to a slow and soggy start, with Carlos Sainz the only driver to set a lap time in the early stages, with Lewis Hamilton and then Charles Leclerc the first drivers to emerge on intermediates just over the half-way point in the session.

With five minutes remaining, a flurry of cars came out on slick tyres, with both Red Bulls suffering problems in the damp conditions, but several drivers found the conditions challenging. Verstappen and Daniil Kvyat both suffered spin, and the session was brought to an end when Alex Albon hit the barriers.

FP2 – Ferrari on Top

GP BRASILE F1/2019 – VENERDÌ 15/11/2019
credit: @Scuderia Ferrari Press Office

By the time FP2 came around, conditions had improved, and despite reports of raindrops mid-session, the rain stayed away enough to avoid a switch to intermediates.

The two Ferraris topped the timesheets, with Sebastian Vettel in first with a 1:09.217. Leclerc, who has a ten place grid penalty owing to an ICE change this weekend, set a 1:09.238 in second. Verstappen was third, and the Mercedes cars of Bottas and Hamilton were fourth and fifth respectively.

The midfield battle looked as close as ever, with a little over four tenths of a second separating the Haas of Kevin Magnussen in sixth and the Racing Point of Lance Stroll in 17th.

The session was red flagged early on as Robert Kubica’s Williams hit the wall before he was even able to set a lap time, scattering debris all around and likely creating some headaches for Williams, who have been beset by a shortage of parts this season.

Verstappen set the early pace before being usurped by the Ferraris at the top of the table, while Valtteri Bottas created some hairy moments for both teammate Lewis Hamilton and the Ferrari of Sebastian Vettel, failing to move out of the way as they came past on flying laps. Bottas and Leclerc also had a close shave in the pit lane, but the stewards deemed an investigation unnecessary.

Pierre Gasly parked up with 20 minutes to go with a probable engine issue, his car exuding plumes of smoke. The other Toro Rosso of Daniil Kvyat brought out the red flag to end the session, with Kvyat coming to a stop in the same place as Albon in FP1. However, Kvyat’s incident was likely to be mechanical as his dash appeared to cut off, sending him off the track.

 

[Featured image – Scuderia Ferrari Press Office]

Legendary Races Week: Le Mans 1966

The 24 Hours of Le Mans 1966 is such a legendary race that a Hollywood film about the fierce competition between rivals Ford and Ferrari is being released later this year. But so much about what makes this race legendary isn’t just what happened during the 24 hours itself, so much as the months and years leading up to it.

For Ford, active involvement in racing had been limited by Henry Ford II’s position in the Automobile Manufacturers Association and the focus on safety that it championed, with Ford finally entering the racing world after seeing its competitors’ success in racing fuel their sales on the road. Meanwhile, for Ferrari, the years preceding 1966 had been hugely successful, but somewhat bloody, with Enzo Ferrari having been cleared of manslaughter for the deaths of aristocrat racing driver Alfonso de Portago, his co-driver Edmund Nelson, and nine spectators in a horrific 1957 crash.

In 1963, Enzo Ferrari had put his company on the market, entering talks with Ford. Ferrari wanted to protect his racing team, which he intended to continue running, while handing the majority of the road car business to Ford. However, the contract proposed by Ford outlined that Ford would have control of the budget for racing and the deal was called off, with both parties determined to beat each other on track.

Ford unveiled their first Le Mans challenger, the GT40, in April 1964. By all accounts, it looked good, and Ford boasted of its power, but in reality there was little idea how it would perform on track. Ultimately, it failed to live up to expectations, and Ford suffered a humiliating introduction to Le Mans in 1964, while Ferrari celebrated their fifth successive victory.

For 1965, Henry Ford II sought the involvement of Carroll Shelby, who had enjoyed some success with his own 1964 entry which had finished top of the GT class and placed 4th overall. With Shelby’s involvement, 1965 finally saw speeds Ford could be happy with, but in the race their cars were dogged with unreliability and failed to go the distance. The winning car, yet again, was a Ferrari, run by Ferrari North American Racing. The result was a further bitter and ironic blow to Ford, who had hoped to be the first American team to claim victory at the prestigious event.

And so came 1966. Ford had finally been able to balance speed and durability stateside, with Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby winning the first ever 24 Hours of Daytona.  For the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ford fielded three cars built by Shelby, as well as five cars built by other manufacturers. The plan for the race was clear, however: they would work together to secure a win, with drivers following clear orders and being instructed to stick to pre-agreed lap times, with Gurney having the fastest target, to avoid intra-marque battling. All teams would run Goodyear tyres, with the exception of the #2 car, whose driver Bruce McLaren had a contract with Firestone.

Ferrari had a total of seven cars, including two factory cars. Following months of rehabilitation after a crash, John Surtees was ready for the race at the helm of the Ferrari 330 P3, and came prepared with a plan to help take Ferrari to victory once again, despite the growing might of the Fords. Surtees was confident in the Ferraris’ reliability, and so he suggested attack the Fords heavily early on, forcing them into responding and causing them to fall foul of unreliability problems. However, Surtees would not get the chance to put his plan into action.

Surtees’ position at Ferrari had been on shaky ground for some time. The team’s manager, Eugenio Dragoni, had convinced Ferrari to oust him, only for Surtees to win the Belgian Grand Prix, causing that idea to be abandoned, or, at the very least, postponed. Now, however, Dragoni had suggested that Surtees take somewhat of a back seat at Le Mans, suggesting instead that Ludovico Scarfiotti start the race in his place with Surtees’ driving duties reduced, apparently because of concerns over his health. Surtees was adamant that the suggestion had nothing to do with his health, and refused to race, with Scarfiotti and Mike Parkes sharing the car without him.

Enzo Ferrari himself had all but admitted defeat before the race had even begun, viewing a Ford victory as an inevitable consequence of their practically uncapped budget. Qualifying soon confirmed his fears: Dan Gurney’s #3 Ford set the fastest lap, with Ken Miles’ #1 car in second. The top-placed Ferrari was fifth.

On race day, Gurney set the initial pace in the #3, as Ford had planned. The #1 car, piloted by Miles, was forced to pit as soon as the race had started due to door damage. The setback meant that the pre-agreed lap times went out of the window and Miles fought back to third place, with Fords running in first, second and third at the 1 hour mark.

Without Surtees and his plan, the Ferraris stuck to a fairly conservative pace, but remained close behind the leading pack of Fords, waiting to take advantage of any problems they might face. As the cars started to come in to the pits for their first scheduled visits, it became clear that while the Goodyear tyres were holding up well, the Firestones were struggling with heavy graining. Bruce McLaren, despite being contracted to Firestone, made the call to switch to Goodyear tyres as well, knowing that there would be little chance of victory otherwise.

By ZANTAFIO56 – https://www.flickr.com/photos/zantafio56/4771000677/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=82896324

After the first round of driver changes, Denny Hulme had taken over for Miles and the #1 car now sat in the lead. By 10pm, however, the Fords endured long pit stops, allowing the Ferraris to leapfrog into the top two positions. This was to be short-lived, however.

Rain hit overnight, and the Fords set staggering lap times and charged ahead. The Ferraris, meanwhile, were not so lucky, with Jean Guichet spinning in his factory Ferrari. Scarfiotti, in the other factory car, suffered an accident, ploughing into the wreckage of an earlier incident. He escaped relatively unscathed, but his race was over. Before morning came, Ferrari suffered more bad luck, with their non-factory entries running into mechanical problems, and one-by-one, retiring from the race. Ferrari had now given up the fight, but would Ford go on to win?

Gurney and Miles had been trading lap times throughout the early hours of the morning, ignoring any ideas of pre-agreed lap times. At around 9am, disaster struck. Gurney was forced to retire the #3 car with a radiator leak. Had the Fords been pushing each other too hard?

However, the other Fords managed to go on without problems. With the clock ticking, and with Ford running in the top three positions several laps ahead of any other competitors, the race was all but won, but the controversy was far from over. The team instructed Miles and McLaren to cross the line side-by-side, with the third placed car behind them in formation, to create a tie for first place.

However, what looked like a dead heat resulted in McLaren and Amon in the #2 car being declared the victors on the basis that they had started further back in the field, and therefore had travelled further over the course of the race. Ken Miles and Denny Hulme would be second, and Miles especially was far from happy. Debate would rage for years about whether Ford knew what the result would be, and if they should allowed a race to the finish. But Ford had won the war with Ferrari, and they would go on to take victory at Le Mans for the next three years.

W Series: Gilkes wins by 0.03 seconds in reverse grid thriller at Assen

Sunday morning’s race ended in a nail-biting final lap showdown which saw reverse grid pole-sitter Megan Gilkes hold off the charging Alice Powell to win by just 0.03s.

The grid was based on a full reversal of the championship points, including all twenty race and reserve drivers. The race, which did not offer points, saw Megan Gilkes and Sarah Bovy start on the front row, while championship contenders Beitske Visser and Jamie Chadwick lined up 19th and 20th.

The race came down to an intense final-lap battle between Gilkes, the youngest driver in the field, and the experienced racer Powell who had overtaken her way through the field from 17th on the grid. Despite Powell’s relentless attempts to take the lead, Gilkes put up a robust defence each and every time, leading to a side-by-side finish, with Gilkes coming out on top by the smallest of margins. Sabre Cook rounded out the podium.

Credit: W Series Media

Gilkes, Bovy, and the American driver Cook, who had a great start to move from 8th to third, held their own out front for the first half of the race. Shea Holbrook, who had started third, struggled for pace and fell down the order, eventually spinning and bringing out the safety car. At the restart, Gilkes came under pressure from Bovy in second, but managed to stay in front.

Alice Powell was among the early movers, jumping from 17th to 9th by the second lap, and refusing to stop there, continuing to climb the order until the very end. Emma Kimilainen also put in a commendable drive, finishing 5th from 15th on the grid and battling for a podium in the process.

Lap 4 saw championship rivals Visser and Chadwick battling over 14th position, with Visser coming out on top, and Chadwick then falling back behind Fabienne Wohlwend. Undeterred, Chadwick was able to battle her way through to finish 8th, while a poor getaway in a safety car restart meant Visser had to settle for 14th.

The race saw two safety car periods, with Gosia Rdest and Shea Holbrook failing to make the finish.

Featured image: W Series Media

Kimilainen wins at Assen as W Series title battle heats up

Emma Kimilainen won from pole after a close battle with Alice Powell, who led much of the race, as championship rivals Jamie Chadwick and Beitske Visser fought for third place.

In her second race back after injuries kept her out of action earlier in the season, Kimilainen took pole in Saturday morning’s qualifying session with a time of 1:34.758. 

Powell set the second fastest time, despite having the same car that had suffered a number of issues last time out at the Norisring, due to a rule that meant, while normally drivers swap cars at each round, she had to keep the same car going into this weekend.

Championship leader Chadwick put in the third best time, with her closest title rival and local favourite Visser joining her on the second row of the grid.

Further back on the grid, Norisring winner Marta Garcia and Lichtenstein’s Fabienne Wohlwend qualified 7th and 8th. Meanwhile, Vicky Piria lined up 12th after suffering a fiery failure, cutting her qualifying session short.

W Series Media

As the lights went out for the start of Saturday’s championship race, Kimilainen made a sluggish start, handing Powell the lead, and almost allowing a charging Chadwick through. Meanwhile, Visser dropped to fifth behind Caitlin Wood. Further back, Garcia tapped the rear of Tasmin Pepper, who then spun, making contact with Miki Koyama, bringing out the safety car on the opening lap.

After the safety car period, pole-sitter Kimilainen pressured Powell throughout the race, with Powell eventually making a small mistake and running onto the kerb with 10 minutes remaining, allowing Kimilainen past. Kimilainen then quickly built up a sizeable lead, crossing the line 5.7 seconds ahead of Powell in second.

Chadwick rounded out the podium, despite seemingly lacking in pace to Powell and Kimilainen ahead, but was able to hold off a strong challenge from title rival Visser, who finished in fourth and pulled off the move of the race, making an early decisive move to pass Wood down the inside.

Wohlwend, still in mathematical championship contention at the start of this race, is now out of the title fight after running wide and damaging her front wing, forcing her to pit. Garcia is also now out of contention after finishing in ninth.

Tomorrow’s race, which will not award points, will see an experimental reverse grid based on today’s race results. After today’s penultimate championship race, Chadwick leads with 98 points, with her sole remaining challenger Visser on 85 points going into the final round at Brands Hatch on 11th August.

W Series Media

Marta Garcia takes maiden W Series win from pole

Marta Garcia stormed to her first W Series victory from pole position at the Norisring as championship leader Jamie Chadwick had to settle for third place.

The battles began even before qualifying had started, as W Series staged an FP2 shootout between Canadian Megan Gilkes, and the reserve drivers Vivien Keszthelyi and Sarah Bovy, to determine who would enter the race. By setting the fastest time of the three, in seventh place, Keszthelyi was given permission to race.

Garcia took pole with a time of 50.712s, with Chadwick just 0.081s behind. Fabienne Wohlwend and Gosia Rdest set the third and fourth quickest times to line up on the second row of the grid. American Sabre Cook displayed her best pace of the season, qualifying in tenth place. Emma Kimilainen, returning after injuries caused by a first-lap crash with Gilkes at Hockenheim, qualified in eighth, but felt that even more could have been possible after being caught out by a red flag.

As the lights went out, Garcia made a confident getaway and led throughout, never looking in danger of losing her lead. Beitske Visser made a decisive start to jump from fifth to second, where she remained throughout, with Chadwick and Wohlwend falling back to third and fourth respectively.

Chadwick seemed to struggle for pace in the race, coming under pressure from Wohlwend behind. However, in the closing stages, Chadwick seemed to find some hidden pace, hunting down Visser ahead but unable to find a way past.

The race was far from incident-free, with Rdest damaging her front wing on the opening lap, and Sarah Moore and Shea Holbrook both suffering damage after coming together.

Kimilainen made a solid return to the series, finishing in fifth place after coming out on top of an exciting battle with Jessica Hawkins, and challenging Wohlwend for fourth, as well as setting the fastest lap of the race, at 50.975s.

Alice Powell had a commendable drive, having fought her way back into the top eight after starting from the back due to a gearbox failure in qualifying. However, her luck continued to run dry as she suffered a fuel pump failure in the closing stages of the race and was forced to retire. Sarah Moore and Jessica Hawkins also retired from the race.

Following her maiden win, Garcia is one of four drivers still in championship contention in third place with 60 points, with Chadwick continuing to lead the standings with 83 points. Visser follows with 73 points, and Wohlwend is in fourth with 41 points.

Featured Image: W Series

Esmee Hawkey Interview – Pit Crew Exclusive

2019 is already shaping up to be a promising year for Esmee Hawkey. The 21 year old successfully made it through the W Series’ tough qualifying rounds to earn one of 18 spots on the grid, and she has also made a strong start to her second season in Porsche Carrera Cup GB.

Hawkey fought back from 14th on the grid to finish sixth in the opening race of the Porsche Carrera Cup GB season this weekend, finishing second in class. While the second race proved tougher, with Hawkey finishing in ninth place, she showed good pace all weekend, running first in class in both FP1 and FP2.

Before the weekend began, Hawkey took the time to tell us about her aims for the busy season ahead of her, as well as giving us an insight into what went on behind the scenes in the W Series qualifying rounds.

Photo credit: Warren S Nel

Alison Finlay: Congratulations for making it to the W Series grid – how tough did you find the qualifying rounds and the level of competition?

Esmee Hawkey: The qualifying rounds were extremely tough. We were out in Almeria for a week, so mentally, it was extremely draining. To be in with the chance of having a free drive in an F3 car is a lot of pressure and you have to perform well. We were being tested on absolutely everything, from when we were in the car driving, to sitting down going through data with the engineers, so you had to have 100% full focus at all times! Aside from that it was great to go from driving Porsche Caymans and Ford Fiestas, being selected as 1 of 28 girls in Melk, and then getting 4 days to drive the all new Tatuus F3 car in Spain. The competition has been really high so it was important to have a positive mindset and not let any of that effect you. It was important to concentrate on solely you and what you were doing and how you could improve and progress every day.

AF: What are your aims for the season ahead in both W Series and Porsche Carrera Cup GB?

EH: I will be pushing for the best possible results. It will be my second year in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB championship in the ProAm category. After a successful year with a few podiums last year, we will be looking to build on that this year and hopefully have some race wins, podiums and ultimately be in with a fighting chance to win the ProAm championship. In regards to W Series the competition is tough, with some of the girls having raced in F3 championships before, therefore having more experience than me. Nonetheless, I will be taking in as much information as possible so that I speed up my rate of progression and I would really like to be finishing in the top 6 for the first year of W Series.

AF: You’ve been racing Porsches for a few years now – can you tell us more about the series and how these cars are to drive?

EH: The cars are amazing. One of my sponsors are Porsche Centre South London, so not only do I get to drive the GT3 Cup Car on track but I also get to drive around in Porsche road cars when I’m not racing which is definitely a nice perk! The GT3 cup car is a great race car but quite a tricky car to drive – it’s very important to drive them with the right braking technique otherwise you can lose a lot of time, and not only that, but you need to always be chasing the throttle but not in a way that you cause the car to understeer.

AF: How was driving the W Series F3 car for the first time?

EH: The car was amazing and I absolutely loved driving it. It’s very different in comparison to the Porsche GT3 Cup Car as there was no power steering and I had to get used to the aerodynamics and downforce of the F3 car. I quickly got to grips with it and it was amazing how much speed you could take through the corners. Such an adrenaline rush!

AF: Does taking part in the W Series and having the opportunity to race a formula car change your ambitions beyond the 2019 season?

EH: My plans have always been to race in GT cars, but not because I didn’t want to race in formula cars – it was mainly the fact our budget could only stretch to racing in GT cars. So my long term goal was to rise up the Porsche pyramid and race in the Le Mans 24hr. Now that W Series has come about and is fully funding 18 girls to race around Europe in F3 cars with a prize pot of $1.5 million dollars at the end of the year, who knows what the future holds for us.

AF: We hear a lot about drivers struggling for funding to help them onto the junior ladder. Could you tell us why funding is so vital for young racing drivers?

EH: Unfortunately funding plays a big part in motorsport, and it’s why we sometimes don’t get to see some really talented drivers make it all the way, or indeed start their journey. I’ve been very fortunate, of course, and now have some great sponsors such as Porsche Centre South London, Landmark Underwriting and others. Motor racing costs money, it’s as simple as that, so we make sure we really work hard with our sponsors and partners to create value and make sure we’re attracting new sponsors along the journey.

AF: When do you think we will see the next woman racing in Formula 1, and what role do you think W Series will play in making this a reality?

EH: I definitely think W Series has created a platform to give 18 women this year the best opportunity to rise up from F3 into either F2, Formula E or even F1, so I really hope that in the next couple of years we will see a woman racing in Formula 1. It all comes down to opportunity and W Series is definitely the start of that journey.

AF: How did you first get involved in motorsport? Did you always want to be a driver, or did you consider other roles within the industry?

EH: I got into motorsport through my dad. As a young girl I remember going to watch him race at the Monaco Kart Cup and at the time I was doing Ballet and Tap dancing and I asked him if I could get into racing. To my surprise, for my 8th Birthday I got given a kart and that’s where it all started! I’ve wanted to succeed as a professional racing driver ever since.

AF: Finally, what advice would you give for young women hoping to pursue a career in motorsport, either as drivers or in any other capacity?

EH: I think it’s important that we get more women into motorsport whether it be as a driver, mechanic, engineer or on the media side, so my advice to any young women hoping to pursue a career in motorsport would be go for it, as there are so many opportunities that come up and it can be such a rewarding job.

Jamie Chadwick: The Next Female F1 Driver?

At 20 years old, Jamie Chadwick has already achieved several impressive feats, starting with becoming the first female British GT champion in 2015, and, in 2018, becoming the first woman to win a British Formula 3 race.

February this year also saw her become the first woman to win the MRF Challenge championship, taking 3 out of 5 wins at the final round and snatching the title lead from Max Defourny on the penultimate day of the season. Chadwick won the final race in style, starting by launching her car between the two front-row starters and up to first, where she remained, fighting off a charge from Patrik Pasma behind her. With the race and the season complete, Chadwick now had her first single-seater championship title under her belt, a moment that she described as ‘huge’ for her career.

Could Chadwick continue to build on her achievements so far and carve out a path to the very top of motorsport that could potentially see her as the first female Formula 1 entrant in over 25 years?

Source: Jamie Chadwick Website

In 2019, half the Formula 1 field will be 25 or under. The concern that accompanies this is that there could be limited space for new recruits over the next few years, so, in order to join the fold, drivers will have to produce something really special. Chadwick’s next steps will therefore be crucial in deciding whether she has a chance of making it to F1 or not.

Chadwick’s plans for 2019 include taking part in the inaugural season of the women-only W Series. Alongside this she is expected to race with Aston Martin, although the details of which category this could be in are yet to be announced. Having also taken part in the Formula E test at Ad Diriyah with the NIO team, she was invited back to test with the team in Marrakesh in January, so perhaps this could also lead to further opportunities in future.

Chadwick must surely be one of the favourites among the 28-strong list of hopefuls still in the running for the 18 seats available in the W Series. However, while she is expected to have no problems getting through the final qualifying round, she may yet face tough competition from any number of women, some who have experience in other categories, but are thus far untested in formula cars, as well as those who are returning to racing single-seaters after several years away, like the formidable Alice Powell. The W Series will allow also Chadwick, as well as the other racers, to build up valuable seat time in F3 machinery, which she should then be able to put to good use in future years.

Chadwick is a wise head on young shoulders. She doesn’t tend to boast about her achievements, or make grand claims about what she will accomplish in future, and makes no excuses if things don’t go her way. At the same time, she is confident and sure of her capabilities. All of this would surely make her an ideal candidate for a place in an F1 team’s junior academy.

However, so much of what happens at the junior levels of racing relies on what could almost be considered luck: getting the right results, in the right championships at the right time. If Chadwick can continue to work hard, get results, and put herself in a position to be noticed, then there is every chance that we could see her lining up on a Formula 1 grid one day.

ThePitCrewOnline Exclusive: Victoria Guppy for International Women’s Day 2019

Victoria Guppy is an ambassador for Dare to Be Different and works as a senior engineer at a major engine company, specialising in new technology.  Previously, she worked in Formula One as a trackside engineer. To mark International Women’s Day 2019, we spoke to Victoria to discover more about the path she took to succeed in engineering, and to find out about the rewards and challenges that working in motorsport presents.

Alison Finlay: Can you start by telling us about your job and what it involves – what does a typical day look like for you, or is every day different?
Victoria Guppy: My job at the moment involves working on hybrid technology so I am doing a lot of research and going to conferences and trying to get up to speed on the latest electrification technology before the first Hybrid project starts. I’ve also been working with another team to resolve some issues they have with a new project.

I particularly enjoy problem solving. It is something that has been part of my job for my whole career and I find it fun trying to get to the root cause of an issue and find a solution. I have a bit more time to do this now. In Motorsport, this needed to happen in a matter of minutes to get the car back out but I have a few weeks now to come up with a solution. A lot of my work has been running engines on test beds to try and replicate the issues seen and then looking at the data. It really can be very different day to day which I love. You don’t have time to get bored!

AF: You previously worked trackside with the Manor F1 team. What are the demands of working at the track and how does it differ from other working environments? 
VG: The biggest thing I struggled with being trackside in F1 is the tiredness and the jet lag and then trying to function at a high level. The days are very long and if you aren’t the sort of person that can sleep on planes or deal with jet lag well then it can be really demanding. My job was relatively stressful, but I really enjoyed that side of it. Especially being out on track with the car before the race starts, however I always used to be so nervous. If anything goes wrong with the car you do not have long to try to fix it before the race, and you don’t want to be the team seen by millions pushing your car off the grid if it has an issue you can’t fix. That was the most stressful time!

It’s a fantastic life for people who are very career driven and place F1 at the top of their priority list in life. I really struggled with being away from my family so much. For each race weekend, you are away the whole week before it, so that adds up, especially when you have back to back races, it can be weeks before you go home. I’m very glad I did it, however personally I was also glad to come out of it. I got to see some great places and you do get a couple of evenings to explore where you are, although this is if everything has gone smoothly with the car build. Although mainly it is the airport, the hotel and the racetrack that you see, but that is the nature of the job. Any sightseeing you get time for is a bonus!

AF: What path do people need to follow to work in engineering roles like yours? What should they study or seek work experience in?
VG: My biggest piece of advice would be to get experience. I started working for a team whilst I was at college, which taught me so much alongside my studies and I carried on working for teams through University. It teaches you to balance work and also reinforces what you are learning at uni, as well as making your CV look far more attractive to potential employers. Just write to people, teams and companies and then follow up by giving them a ring. By the time I finished my studies, I already had six years of experience in the industry. Also, get hands on, buy a car to do up or turn into a kit car even a banger racer. It teaches you practical skills and gives you a lot more appreciation and understanding.
To get to university, I did a Diploma in Motorsport at Bridgwater College, which was fantastic. The course, alongside A Level Maths and Physics, is great to set you up for University and working as an engineer in Motorsport. I then did a Bachelor’s degree in Motorsport Engineering.

AF: You are a Dare To Be Different ambassador – why do you feel this initiative is so important?
VG: For me as a STEM ambassador also, it’s about getting more young people into engineering. As an industry, there is going to be a massive skills shortage if we don’t get more children interested in and excited about engineering.
I think it’s also about overcoming the stereotypes that it’s a man’s world and, yes, it has been, but the industry is on a massive learning curve. Having a diverse workforce means that you have varied ideas. People with different backgrounds and experiences with different inputs. Different characteristics bring with that different skills.

I would love to get to a day where a little girl saying she wants to be a race car driver, or an engineer, isn’t different, but the sad fact of it, is at the moment, it is. So, the initiative is about embracing that, creating a community, supporting each other and saying to younger girls that it’s okay to enjoy this. There are plenty of other women out there that do and have successful careers and it’s about giving them the support, the empowerment and the opportunities to achieve their dreams.

AF: What inspired you to work in engineering?
VG: Quite honestly – watching Formula 1 on TV with my family on a Sunday afternoon.
I once heard a lecturer tell a young guy that wanted to join the motorsport degree that because his only interest had been watching it on TV then he shouldn’t bother signing up. Well, that’s how I started, that’s what piqued my interest and I had no previous experience of engineering or motorsport or had any family members that were ‘in the trade’. I took great pleasure in telling the guy, in front of that lecturer, that as long as you work hard, you can get to where you want to be, even if your previous interest in motorsport is ‘just’ watching on TV. It doesn’t matter what it is that got you interested, the point is that you are.

AF: At the moment there is still an imbalance in the number of men and women working in engineering and in motorsport. Do you think this will change in the future, and what can be done to catalyse these changes?
VG: I hope it can; I think young women are becoming far more empowered to choose the career they want rather than what they think they should have. It’s about getting into schools and teaching kids from a young age that there are female engineers and mechanics and it is possible to do that and for schools to be providing a good STEM education.
However, I am really against just trying to ‘get up the numbers’. Whoever gets the job needs to be the best candidate and having token females just to even out the numbers will do nothing to dispel the myth that we aren’t as good as our male counterparts. So that is all dependent on how many females firstly want a career in engineering, and then go on to do well and succeed in it. Not everyone does and that goes for both genders.
We do still have the generation around that tend to not be as accepting and I have certainly come across a few of them, but if you’re good at your job and do what you need to do then they have nothing to say and it hopefully teaches them that a female is just as capable, no matter their opinion. That’s the only way we are really going to change it for future generations. Carry on doing our thing, doing it well and calling out any behaviour that isn’t acceptable.

AF: Which woman has been the biggest inspiration in your career?
VG: Unfortunately growing up there were not a lot of high-profile female engineers in motorsport. There are certainly a lot more now, but during college Leena Gade was a big inspiration to me. She has won multiple titles and worked her way up through the ranks to get to where she is. She lets her hard work and results do the talking. From some of her interviews, I really like her outlook on being a female in Motorsport. Essentially, if you’re good enough at your job it doesn’t matter if you’re a female, you can achieve what you want to achieve.

AF: Finally, what has been the proudest moment of your career so far?
VG: I definitely had a bit of a self-reflection moment, my first time on the grid when I started working in F1. I just looked down the grid and thought, this is it, I’m here, I made it. All my dreams at that point had come true.

O’Ward’s Rookie IndyCar Season on Hold

Patricio O’Ward has parted ways from Harding Steinbrenner Racing, with whom he was expected to compete in his rookie IndyCar season this year.

The Mexican driver won the 2018 Indy Lights championship, winning nine out of 17 races. O’Ward then made his IndyCar debut in Sonoma last season with Harding Steinbrenner, reaching the Fast Six in qualifying and finishing the race in ninth place. He was understood to have signed a deal to race for the team on a full-time programme in 2019.

Credit: Joe Skibinski/IndyCar

O’Ward’s Indy Lights championship win was accompanied by a scholarship worth $1 million to be put towards an entry in the IndyCar championship.

However, O’Ward announced today that he had parted ways with the team, releasing the following statement:

“The Harding Steinbrenner Racing team supported my decision to seek a new opportunity by releasing me from my contract and allowing me the opportunity to find a new team before the start of the 2019 season. Now, I am fully focused on finding the right opportunity and how I will use my scholarship from Indy Lights for 2019.”

With the first race of the IndyCar season on March 10, time is running out for O’Ward to secure a new seat, and it is unclear whether he will be able to find a full-time or part-time deal.

Harding Steinbrenner Racing are now expected to contest the season with only one entry, the #88 car, to be driven by 2018 Indy Lights runner-up Colton Herta.

(Featured image credit: Chris Jones/IndyCar)

Battle of the Brazilians: who will be next to fly the flag in Formula 1?

Since the (final) departure of Felipe Massa at the end of the 2017 season, Formula 1 has been without a Brazilian driver for the first time since 1969. It goes without saying that Brazil has long had an important presence on the grid, and has produced some of the true legends of the sport. So, who will be the next Brazilian hope?

Two teams have recently announced Brazilian additions to their test and reserve driver lineups. McLaren have appointed F2 race winner (and Lando Norris’ current Carlin teammate) Sergio Sette Câmara, while IndyCar driver Pietro Fittipaldi will take on the role of test driver at Haas.

But of the two, who is more likely to find themselves in a race seat in Formula 1 in years to come? Let’s take a look at their prospects.

Careers so far

Pietro Fittipaldi (Dale Coyne Racing), IndyCar at Portland International Raceway. Joe Skibinski / IndyCar Media

2018 has been a difficult year for Fittipaldi. Plans for a packed season in IndyCar, Super Formula and the World Endurance Championship were put on hold by a leg-breaking crash during qualifying for the 6 Hours of Spa in May. However, he returned to IndyCar later in the year, scoring a best 9th place finish in Portland.

Prior to 2018, Fittipaldi was no stranger to variety, having tried his hand at everything from stock cars to endurance racing to European single seaters over the years. His results are a bit of a mixed bag on first glance, though there are some standout performances in there: in 2017 Fittipaldi won the World Series Formula V8 3.5 series, taking 10 out of 18 pole positions and 6 race wins.

Sergio Sette Camara (Carlin), FIA Formula 2 in Monza, Italy. Zak Mauger / FIA Formula 2

Sette Câmara, a former Red Bull junior, has twice been heartbreakingly close to victory at the Macau Grand Prix. In 2016 he led comfortably for much of the race but ultimately lost out to two-time winner Antonio Felix da Costa. The following year he led until the very last corner of the final lap, but found himself in the wall with the finish line in sight defending against Ferdinand Habsburg.

In F2 this year, Sette Câmara’s shown a lot of promise and taken eight podiums so far, although an unfortunate dose of bad luck has left him adrift from teammate Lando Norris in the standings.

The only cross point of reference between Fittipaldi and Sette Câmara is the 2015 Formula 3 season. Sette Câmara finished the higher of the two with 57.5 points to Fittipaldi’s 32, and displayed good defence and some handy starts as well as scoring two podiums.

Super Licence Points

Pietro Fittipaldi (Dale Coyne Racing), IndyCar at Gateway Motorsports Park. Matt Fraver / IndyCar Media

Of course, you can’t get into F1 these days if the numbers don’t add up, so it’s time to get the calculator out and see how these two would fare if they were after their super licence.

As it currently stands, neither driver is eligible to race in F1 next year. Due to his leg injuries benching him for much of this year, Fittipaldi has only 15 super licence points from his 2017 Formula V8 3.5 championship.

Sergio Sette Camara (Carlin), FIA Formula 2 in Sochi, Russia.
Zak Mauger, LAT Images / FIA Formula 2

Sette Câmara is currently 6th in the F2 standings which would give him 10 points. However, he ’s a mere two points behind Artem Markelov in 5th, and overtaking him at the last round in Abu Dhabi would give him 20 points.

If he manages to outscore Markelov this year, another 5th place in F2 next year would see Sette Câmara become eligible for a 2020 F1 seat. If he remains in 6th, he’ll need a top four finish next year.

Fittipaldi is yet to announce his racing plans for 2019, but he will need another 25 points to bridge the gap. It will be a challenge for him to get these next year, as he’d need a top 4 F2 finish, or possibly a championship win in the new International F3 series (although the points for this series have not yet been announced). Either seems unlikely as he would be a rookie in what would likely be a very competitive field.

The verdict

Age matters, or at least that’s been the trend of late in Formula 1. While at 22 Fittipaldi is hardly over the hill, he’s still got a long way to go before he is likely to collect the required super licence points and will likely be in his mid-twenties when that happens. (Fittipaldi’s younger brother Enzo may be a more likely prospect in years to come, having won the Italian F4 title this year as part of the Ferrari Driver Academy.)

Pietro Fittipaldi (Dale Coyne Racing), IndyCar at Sonoma Raceway. Chris Jones / IndyCar Media

Time is more on Sette Câmara’s side. At 20, he’s still younger than most of the 2019 F1 field (excepting only Norris and Stroll) and his F2 performances have already got the attention of McLaren.

If there’s one area Sette Câmara could do with improving, it’s race pace. Lacklustre race pace isn’t the sort of drawback that can be easily fixed, but perhaps working closely with an F1 team like McLaren can improve his skills in this area.

However, while Sette Câmara does seem the more likely of the two Brazilians to find himself in an F1 race seat in the future, empty seats are not easy to come by these days. With contractual musical chairs seeing plenty of talented drivers without race seats in 2019, it’s going to take some poor showings by current drivers for Sette Câmara to be rewarded with an opportunity.

Sergio Sette Camara (Carlin), FIA Formula 2 in Paul Ricard, France. Zak Mauger, LAT Images / FIA Formula 2