BTCC Silverstone – Jackson takes maiden win in shortened race

Ollie Jackson took his maiden BTCC win in a shortened race three at Silverstone following a horror smash from Jackson’s team mate Rory Butcher.

The Ford Focus crashed on lap six of the original race and brought out the red flag. Jackson held his nerve despite pressure from Tom Oliphant and a resurgent Ash Sutton to take the win.

Jackson took the lead into Copse. Butcher had the best start and flew up to ninth by the end of lap one.

Andy Neate and Jade Edwards continued their on track scrap as Neate didn’t give Edwards enough room. Neate was put into the wall as Edwards drove away.

Tom Ingram also went off as he was squeezed at Luffield and span off.

On lap six the red flag was brought out as Butcher was spun and hit the wall in a massive shunt. His car was destroyed and thankfully Rory was okay and walked away.

On the restart Jackson led again, with Oliphant fighting hard, with the pair colliding into Brooklands, but thankfully no damage was done.

Sutton was flying, starting 14th on the restarted grid, he was up into sixth by lap six, fighting the top five in what was a frenetic race.

Oliphant made a move into Copse and briefly held the lead but Jackson maintained his composure and took it back again.

Senna Proctor had another solid race, and made an impressive triple pass into Becketts. He passed former team mates Tom Chilton and Josh Cook, as well as Aiden Moffat.

On the penultimate lap Sutton was on the tail of Jackson and Oliphant. He managed to pass the BMW but Jackson was just beyond his reach.

But Sutton now leads the championship again as the teams leave Silverstone. Another three brilliant races, and the championship battle is wide open.

Pos Grid Driver Car Interval
1 1 Ollie Jackson Ford Focus ST
2 14 Ash Sutton Infiniti Q50 +0.312
3 2 Tom Oliphant BMW 330i M Sport +0.576
4 9 Dan Cammish Honda Civic Type R FK8 +1.130
5 6 Adam Morgan Mercedes Benz A Class +3.827
6 10 Senna Proctor Hyundai i30N +3.947
7 4 Josh Cook Honda Civic Type R FK8 +4.238
8 5 Aiden Moffat Infiniti Q50 +4.472
9 11 Tom Chilton Honda Civic Type R FK8 +4.599
10 8 Colin Turkington BMW 330i M Sport +4.911
11 7 Matt Neal Honda Civic Type R FK8 +5.453
12 12 Bobby Thompson Audi S3 Saloon +6.191
13 16 Chris Smiley Hyundai i30N +7.178
14 18 Carl Boardley BMW 125i M Sport +7.241
15 3 Jake Hill Honda Civic Type R FK2 +10.661
16 17 Jack Goff VW CC +10.838
17 22 Jack Butel Mercedes Benz A Class +11.030
18 15 Stephen Jelley BMW 125i M Sport +11.328
19 20 Tom Onslow-Cole VW CC +12.921
20 13 Sam Osborne Honda Civic Type R FK2 +14.645
21 23 Nicolas Hamilton VW CC +23.487
DNF 24 Jade Edwards Vauxhall Astra Mechanical
DNF 19 James Gornall Audi S3 Saloon Mechanical
DNF 21 Michael Crees Honda Civic Type R FK8 Mechanical
DNF N/A Andy Neate Ford Focus ST Crash
DNF N/A Rory Butcher Ford Focus ST Crash
DNF N/A Tom Ingram Toyota Corolla Crash

Image Credit: BTCC Media

BTCC Silverstone – Turkington profits from Ingram and Sutton punctures to take championship lead

Colin Turkington profited from the misfortune of others to take the win in the second race at Silverstone to retake the British Touring Car Championship lead.

Punctures to title rivals Tom Ingram and Ash Sutton late in the race saw Turkington take the win and open up a six point lead at the top.

Race one winner Dan Cammish was fastest off the line but lost the lead to Ingram at Luffield. Sutton passed Turkington at Copse but fell down the order after a small collision with Rory Butcher, who spun to the back of the grid.

Sutton was tenth and seemed to be struggling, but his Infiniti team mate Aiden Moffat was storming through the field in his 200th BTCC race. He was stuck behind Sutton but finally made a move.

The top three of Ingram, Turkington and Cammish were all close, fighting hard for the win. Turkington’s team mate Tom Oliphant retired from race one with a suspension issue, but he made up for it by flying through the field to finish ninth.

On lap 17 Sutton suffered a puncture, ruining his race and putting him at the back for race three. Ingram then suffered a puncture a lap later, with Turkington the big winner, inheriting the lead and seeing his two title rivals fall to the back of the grid.

He guided his BMW home to take the win and his 150th BTCC podium, with Cammish and Adam Morgan rounding off the podium.

Matt Neal was fourth, with Moffat’s storming drive being rewarded with fifth. Josh Cook, Jake Hill and Ollie Jackson all had strong finishes, with Tom Oliphant going from 25th to ninth at the chequered flag, with Hyundai’s Senna Proctor rounding out the top ten.

Pos Grid Driver Car Interval
1 4 Colin Turkington BMW 330i M Sport
2 1 Dan Cammish Honda Civic Type R FK8 +1.245
3 6 Adam Morgan Mercedes Benz A Class +3.172
4 8 Matt Neal Honda Civic Type R FK8 +7.876
5 11 Aiden Moffat Infiniti Q50 +12.576
6 10 Josh Cook Honda Civic Type R FK8 +13.804
7 7 Jake Hill Honda Civic Type R FK2 +14.500
8 13 Ollie Jackson Ford Focus ST +14.910
9 25 Tom Oliphant BMW 330i M Sport +15.102
10 14 Senna Proctor Hyundai i30N +16.911
11 15 Tom Chilton Honda Civic Type R FK8 +17.115
12 17 Sam Osborne Honda Civic Type R FK2 +17.831
13 18 Bobby Thompson Audi S3 Saloon +18.380
14 3 Rory Butcher Ford Focus ST +18.559
15 16 Chris Smiley Hyundai i30N +20.016
16 22 James Gornall Audi S3 Saloon +20.404
17 20 Jack Butel Mercedes Benz A Class +21.098
18 19 Tom Onslow-Cole VW CC +21.446
19 27 Jack Goff VW CC +21.913
20 9 Stephen Jelley BMW 125i M Sport +22.858
21 23 Jade Edwards Vauxhall Astra +25.507
22 21 Andy Neate Ford Focus ST +26.205
23 12 Carl Boardley BMW 125i M Sport +43.244
24 24 Nicolas Hamilton VW CC +1 Lap
25 2 Tom Ingram Toyota Corolla +1 Lap
26 5 Ash Sutton Infiniti Q50 +2 Laps
Retirements
DNF 26 Michael Crees Honda Civic Type R FK8 Mechanical

Image Credit: BTCC Media

Russian GP: Bottas reigns supreme in Sochi

image courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

In a race that was decided pretty much by the events happening before the lights going out, Valtteri Bottas took his 2nd victory of the year, long after the win in the first race of the season. His teammate Lewis Hamilton was awarded two different 5-second penalties for two practice start violations that he committed prior to the race start, in the locations where he was not supposed to.

This made the race very difficult for the record chasing English driver as he dropped well down the order after he had to serve the penalty in a pitstop. He recovered well to be able to finish on a podium but will be gutted to miss out on a win. Bottas on the other hand would welcome this victory at a track where he is supposedly at his strongest.

It was a lonely Sunday afternoon drive for Max Verstappen, which pretty much sums up his season so far barring the last couple of races. The Dutchman dropped to as low as 4th on the race start but recovered immediately to 3rd place and Lewis’ penalty meant that he would comfortably finish 2nd. It was a similar race for Sergio Perez in the racing Point at 4th place after he too recovered from a poor start.

It was a chaotic start to the grandprix after many incidents unfolded one after the other. McLaren lost the most out of all the teams at the start after Carlos Sainz crashed into the wall in an attempt to try and go around the bollards and his teammate Norris ran over the debris left by Sainz and only managed to finish 15th at the end of the race after a forced pitstop. Racing Point also lost one car on the opening lap after Lance Stroll got tagged on the right rear tyre by the Ferrari of Charles Leclerc which sent the former spinning into the barriers. The effect of the new upgrades was not to be seen today and will have to wait until the Nurburgring at the earliest.

A couple of mini battles unfolded in the midfield between Ferrari and Renault followed by another between the Alpha Tauris and Albon’s redbull. Renault’s bid to swap their cars and catch Perez ended in a way they would not have wanted after Ricciardo was handed a 5-second time penalty for not following race director guidelines. It did not quite help Ocon’s case after the Frenchman was stuck behind the Ferrari of Vettel and could not catch Leclerc towards the end of the race. Ricciardo’s penalty did not hurt him much after he managed to pull ahead of Leclerc and finish 5th. For Ferrari, it was a mixed result as Leclerc managed to finish 6th and Vettel paid the price for staying out long and could only manage P13 on his 250th GP start.

Both the Alpha Tauris managed a double points finish with home driver Kvyat at 8th and Gasly at 9th following their battle with Albon in the other RedBull. Kvyat could have finished ahead of Ocon at 7th after the Russian battled the Renault driver almost towards the end of the race but it just wouldn’t happen for him thanks to the superior straight line speed of the Renault.

Kimi Raikkonen could only manage 14th in his record equaling 322nd race start but his teammate Giovinazzi in the other Alfa Romeo would be very happy with his race result at P11, just missing out on the points. Haas also registered one decent result with Magnussen at P12, ahead of a works Ferrari but they would quickly want to forget the P17 salvaged by Romain Grosjean. Both the Williams finished with Latifi at P16 and Russell at P18, with what was an unusual 3-stop race for the English driver, with the last stop seemingly an ambitious attempt for a fastest lap. It was however not there for the taking as Bottas eventually ended up with the point on offer.

In what was expected to be the 91st win for Lewis Hamilton, the race win went out of the window thanks to the pre-race events. His teammate jumped in at the chance to take maximum advantage to cut the gap in the championship standings to 44 points with a handful of races to go. Hamilton will now have to be careful for the next 4 races as he has picked up 2 penalty points today and two more would mean that a race ban would be handed to him, which could seriously dent his championship hopes.

 Pirelli Motorsports info-graphics

 

BTCC Silverstone – Cammish takes win after fascinating fight with Ingram

Dan Cammish took the seventh win of his British Touring Car Championship career after holding off the Toyota of Tom Ingram in a thrilling race at Silverstone.

Cammish made a good start with Ingram close behind. The pair traded the lead a few times, with Ingram passing on the exit of Becketts and Cammish taking it back into Brooklands.

The Safety Car was brought out on lap five as Michael Crees was tipped into a spin and collided with James Gornall, with Crees beaching his Honda Civic in the gravel. Cammish and Ingram were fighting hard to be ahead for the SC period, with the pair separated by just nine thousandths of a second.

On the restart Cammish and Ingram continued to fight, with the battle for third being the more intriguing. Rory Butcher was holding off Colin Turkington and Ash Sutton while Tom Oliphant retired as his BMW went over a kerb and broke his suspension.

With Sutton breathing down his neck, Turkington had to be careful when plotting a move on Butcher ahead. The Scotsman in his Motorbase Ford Focus held off the hard charging duo to take third, with Turkington and Sutton fourth and fifth.

Cammish pulled away to take his seventh BTCC win with Ingram behind, who makes further inroads into the championship lead.

Adam Morgan, Jake HIll, Matt Neal, Stephen Jelley and Josh Cook rounded off the top ten. Jade Edwards, the first female driver to race in the BTCC since Fiona Leggate in 2007, finished 23rd after being pushed off track by Andy Neate.

Sutton still leads the championship but his lead has been cut down by Turkington and Ingram.

Pos Grid Driver Car Interval
1 1 Dan Cammish Honda Civic Type R FK8
2 2 Tom Ingram Toyota Corolla +1.081
3 3 Rory Butcher Ford Focus ST +4.468
4 4 Colin Turkington BMW 330i M Sport +4.815
5 7 Ash Sutton Infiniti Q50 +5.049
6 8 Adam Morgan Mercedes Benz A Class +7.516
7 10 Jake Hill Honda Civic Type R FK2 +8.957
8 6 Matt Neal Honda Civic Type R FK8 +9.368
9 14 Stephen Jelley BMW 125i M Sport +10.856
10 12 Josh Cook Honda Civic Type R FK8 +14.030
11 15 Aiden Moffat Infiniti Q50 +17.706
12 13 Carl Boardley BMW 125i M Sport +18.898
13 11 Ollie Jackson Ford Focus ST +18.915
14 16 Senna Proctor Hyundai i30N +19.500
15 9 Tom Chilton Honda Civic Type R FK8 +19.713
16 21 Chris Smiley Hyundai i30N +20.870
17 17 Sam Osborne Honda Civic Type R FK2 +22.368
18 19 Bobby Thompson Audi S3 Saloon +22.812
19 20 Tom Onslow-Cole VW CC +23.639
20 27 Jack Butel Mercedes Benz A Class +24.784
21 23 Andy Neate Ford Focus ST +25.131
22 26 James Gornall Audi S3 Saloon +25.412
23 25 Jade Edwards Vauxhall Astra +27.430
24 24 Nicolas Hamilton VW CC +29.812
Retirements
DNF 5 Tom Oliphant BMW 330i M Sport Suspension
DNF 22 Michael Crees Honda Civic Type R FK8 Crash
DNF 18 Jack Goff VW CC Mechanical

Image Credit: BTCC Media

F2 Sochi: Zhou takes maiden win under red flag

Renault junior Guanyu Zhou was awarded his first Formula 2 win at Sochi, after the sprint race was ended early under the red flag following a heavy crash for Luca Ghiotto and Jack Aitken at Turn 3.

Zhou got a good start from reverse grid pole to hold the lead into the first corner, helped by Nikita Mazepin dropping back from second to third behind Aitken. Championship leader Mick Schumacher shot up from eighth on the grid, passing Jehan Daruvala through Turn 2 to get up into fourth.

Mazepin retook second from Aitken on lap 2, and a lap later Schumacher overtook the Campos for third. Aitken briefly lost fourth as well to Daruvala at the start of lap four, but he retook the place when Daruvala ran wide at Turn 2 and earned himself a time penalty for not rejoining the track correctly.

On lap 6 Ghiotto got past Daruvala and started reeling in Aitken for fourth. But on lap 7 the two made contact as they went wheel-to-wheel through Turn 3 and shot into the TecPro barriers. Both cars ended up between the layers of the barriers with Ghiotto’s car catching fire, but thankfully Aitken and Ghiotto were both unharmed.

Luca Ghiotto, Hitech (Clive Mason / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

The race was immediately red-flagged, and the extent of the repairs needed to fix the barriers meant there wasn’t time for it to resume. As a result Zhou was declared the winner, albeit with half points, with Mazepin second and Schumacher third.

Aitken and Ghiotto were able to take the points for fourth and fifth as per red flag rules the race result was counted back to lap 5. Tsunoda, Ilott and Ticktum took the final points, while Mazepin claimed the two bonus points for fastest lap.

Guilherme Samaia and HWA rookie Jake Hughes also retired from the race after making contact on lap one.

After Sochi, Schumacher’s championship lead has extended as he holds 191 points over Ilott’s 169. Schumacher’s Prema team also extends its lead over Ilott’s UNI-Virtuosi with 331 points to 288.5.

Formula 2 returns on 28th November for the first of the double header finale in Bahrain.

Nikita Mazepin, Hitech (Joe Portlock / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Full race result:

Pos. Driver Team Points
1 Guanyu Zhou UNI-Virtuosi Racing 7.5
2 Nikita Mazepin (FL) Hitech Grand Prix 7
3 Mick Schumacher Prema Racing 5
4 Jack Aitken Campos Racing 4
5 Luca Ghiotto Hitech Grand Prix 3
6 Yuki Tsunoda Carlin 2
7 Callum Ilott UNI-Virtuosi Racing 1
8 Dan Ticktum DAMS 0.5
9 Pedro Piquet Charouz Racing System
10 Robert Shwartzman Prema Racing
11 Jehan Daruvala Carlin
12 Artem Markelov BWT HWA Racelab
13 Christian Lundgaard ART Grand Prix
14 Marcus Armstrong ART Grand Prix
15 Marino Sato Trident
16 Giuliano Alesi MP Motorsport
17 Louis Deletraz Charouz Racing System
18 Juri Vips DAMS
19 Roy Nissany Trident
20 Felipe Drugovich MP Motorsport
Ret. Guilherme Samaia Campos Racing
Ret. Jake Hughes BWT HWA Racelab

 

Russian GP: Hamilton takes pole in an intense qualifying

image courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

Lewis Hamilton took his 5th straight pole of the season at Sochi on saturday afternoon to put himself in an excellent position in his bid to equal Schumacher’s record tomorrow (91 wins). The pole position looked set to evade him today after the fiasco in Q2 almost saw him miss out on Q3.

Hamilton failed to register a time in Q2 as he crossed track limits during the first run of Q2 and this meant that the 6 time world champion had only one run under his belt to put a time on the charts. However, a Sebastian Vettel crash during the second run of Q2 brought out a red flag with exactly 2 minutes and 15 seconds to go and Hamilton barely made it to the finish line before the flag fell, setting a lap time good enough to go into Q3.

It is not Valtteri Bottas, but Max Verstappen on the front row this time as the Dutchman put in an amazing lap in the second run of Q3 to go 2nd. Bottas who started the weekend well could not make it onto the front row after hitting the sausage kerb in turn 2 and losing momentum going into the rest of the lap.

Sergio Perez put in a great effort despite not having upgrades on his Racing Point and qualified on the second row alongside Bottas while his teammate Stroll could not make it out of Q2 after getting his lap time deleted in the first run and suffering a temperature issue towards the end of Q2.

Ricciardo’s fine form during the weekend continued after his efforts in qualifying will see him start at 5th on the 3rd row next to Carlos Sainz in the McLaren. The 4th row will be a repeat of the colours in the 3rd row but with Ocon in Renault at 7th and Norris in the McLaren at 8th.  Gasly in the Alpha Tauri is set to line up at 9th next to Albon in the RedVull who will be hoping for a much better race than the qualifying today.

Both the Ferraris crashed out of Q2, one literally of Sebastian Vettel at turn 4 after hitting the kerb and one of Charles Leclerc narrowly missing out and all set to start at P11 as the advantage from the minor upgrades they have got this weekend also seems to be minor. Danil Kvyat is set to line up next to Leclerc at 12th and will look to score some good points in his home race, especially after his car seems to be showing a decent race pace.

George Russell in the Williams made it into Q2 for the sixth time this season  and will line up at 14th after yet another good effort in Q3 but his teammate Latifi will have to be content with 19th. It is going to be a Ferrari powered bottom 6 except Latifi after both the Haas cars and the Alfa Romeos are all in the bottom 5.

Kimi Raikkonen went spinning in the second run of Q1 which will mean that he is set to start 20th on the grid and his teammate Giovinazzi will start 17th. Grosjean and Magnussen in their respective Haas cars are set to start 16th and 18th with Grosjean surprisingly offering some positive feedback at the end of Q1.

image courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

With Hamilton set to start on the soft tyres thanks to the Q2 drama and with Max Verstappen just next to him, it might not be a straightforward drive to win number 91 for the English driver. It is also worth remembering that Bottas’ last victory at Sochi came from 3rd on the grid, which is where he will line up tomorrow, with a tyre advantage. It is all set to play for, in the Russian Grand Prix.

F2 Sochi preview: focus on 2021

Formula 2 returns this weekend for round 10 of the championship at Russia’s Sochi Autodrom, where all the field will now be driving with one eye on their 2021 plans.

With only three rounds of the season left, the focus of the championship has shifted to who’s gunning for an F1 graduation, and who’s teeing up a campaign for next year’s F2 title. Obviously the driver attracting the most spotlight at the moment is championship leader Mick Schumacher, who is reported to be a firm favourite for one of Alfa Romero’s 2021 seats.

If Schumacher wants to solidify his chances he’ll have to continue to pull away from his title rivals Callum Ilott and Robert Shwartzman. And doing that means having a much better weekend in Sochi than he did last year, when he scored nothing after retiring from both races. A repeat of that this year would be disastrous for his title aspirations.

Robert Shwartzman, Prema (Scuderia Ferrari Press Office)

For Shwartzman in particular though, a troubled weekend for the title leader would be just what he needs. After two non-scores last time out at Mugello, Shwartzman has now dropped to fourth in the standings behind Schumacher, Ilott and Christian Lundgaard, and is 21 points off the championship lead he’d previously held for so long.

Shwartzman fortunately has a great relationship with the Sochi Autodrom to help him this weekend. As well as being the Russian’s home circuit, it was at this track last year that he wrapped up the Formula 3 title in commanding fashion, with pole position and two podiums to leave him 54 points ahead of runner-up Marcus Armstrong.

If Shwartzman can bring that kind of form again this year, there’s no reason he can’t make up for Mugello and get right back in the title hunt.

Another driver whose 2021 F1 shot is looking in danger after Mugello is Yuki Tsunoda. After his pole and win in the Spa feature race made him a shoe-in for AlphaTauri next year, Tsunoda has only scored once in the five races since. Crucially, he’s dropped from fourth to sixth in the standings, and if he doesn’t improve from there he won’t secure the superlicense points he needs to move up to F1.

What Tsunoda needs most of all is a clean race weekend. He’s shown no lack of speed since Spa, but some scruffy racing like his incidents with Dan Ticktum and Felipe Drugovich at Mugello have kept that speed from translating into the points finishes Red Bull are expecting of him.

Christian Lundgaard, ART (Joe Portlock / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

What makes things more difficult for Tsunoda is that he’s racing for that fourth spot against Lundgaard and Nikita Mazepin. Both drivers are on excellent form and will almost certainly be title contenders if they remain in F2 next year.

Neither of them had a particularly profitable outing at Sochi last year. Mazepin finished eighth in the F2 feature race but retired from the sprint race, while Lundgaard finished fourteenth and ninth in the two F3 races.

But in terms of their recent results, Mazepin and Lundgaard are both riding high as the winners of the Mugello feature and sprint race respectively. Lundgaard especially has a lot of momentum behind him, as he was on pole for the Mugello feature race as well and scored a double podium at Monza the week before.

Lundgaard’s results have put him back into the championship’s top three after a run of non-scores in the middle of the season knocked him down the order. Although he’s touted as one of next year’s title favourites, the Dane is only 16 points off Schumacher and could be a surprise late contender for the 2020 crown instead.

Giuliano Alesi, MP Motorsport (Scuderia Ferrari Press Office)

There have been two driver changes ahead of Sochi. Nobuharu Matsushita has left MP Motorsport, saying in a statement that he’s “decided to move on to fresh challenges elsewhere”. He’s been replaced by Giuliano Alesi who moves over from HWA, and in turn HWA have promoted their F3 driver Jake Hughes to take Alesi’s seat.

Alesi will be hoping that MP, who have won three races this year with Matsushita and Drugovich, will provide him with a car more capable of challenging for points than HWA. Alesi’s only points this year came with sixth place in the opening race in Austria.

Finally, Juri Vips will continue to drive for DAMS this weekend. The Estonian was initially only due to replace the injured Sean Gelael for three rounds ending with Mugello, but this has been extended to include Sochi as well.

Jake Hughes, HWA (Bryn Lennon / Formula 1 via Getty Images)

Why Domenicali is the right man for F1’s future

Former Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali is set to take over from Chase Carey as Formula One’s new CEO later this year, according to reports published on Tuesday night.

Inevitably the reports have drawn no small amount of criticism for the fact that between Domenicali, F1’s managing director for motorsport Ross Brawn and FIA president Jean Todt, F1 would effectively be in the control of three former Ferrari heavyweights.

But despite spending more than 20 years at Maranello, Domenicali is more than just a Ferrari man. Indeed, his history with the Scuderia didn’t stop Domenicali resigning as team principal in 2014, in protest to then-Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo’s calls for scapegoats to be fired for the team’s poor hybrid engine performance.

That’s not the action of someone so beholden to the Prancing Horse that it would taint his ability to lead F1, nor of someone who would yield to any Ferrari bias from above (if that even existed).

(Foto Studio Colombo / Scuderia Ferrari Media)

In many ways, Domenicali is an excellent choice for F1’s top position. For starters, he’s an intelligent and capable businessman with the CV to prove it.

After leaving Ferrari he joined Audi as vice-president of new business initiatives before moving across the VW Group to become Lamborghini’s CEO in 2016. In his time heading the brand Domenicali oversaw Lamborghini beat its own global sales records year on year, with the company’s 2019 sales figures more than double what they were when Domenicali joined.

It’s also worth pointing out that Ferrari’s last drivers’ and constructors’ titles in 2007 and 2008 respectively came under Domenicali’s leadership.

But perhaps more importantly, Domenicali is able to combine that business acumen with his racing pedigree. It’s become an F1 cliché to justify someone’s role in running the sport by describing them as a “real racer at heart”, but for Domenicali that saying is actually true.

He joined Ferrari straight out of university in 1991 and stayed at the top of F1 right up until 2014. Even after leaving Ferrari, Domenicali remained a prominent motorsport leader as the president of the FIA’s single-seater commission, and was responsible for the revival of Formula 2 and the creation of the more streamlined FIA Formula 3 Championship.

(Foto Studio Colombo / Scuderia Ferrari Media)

Domenicali’s entire career has been in motorsport, and that’s something current F1 CEO Chase Carey just doesn’t have. When Liberty Media bought F1 in 2016, Carey’s commercial and media expertise was necessary for the sport to move on from the Bernie Ecclestone era. We have that to thank for Drive to Survive, F1’s long-overdue embracing of social media and the additions of Zandvoort and Hanoi to the calendar, all of which have helped to reinvigorate the sport’s global profile.

But with those foundations in place, F1 now needs a leader who has an inside understanding of how to run the sport itself as well as the show. Someone who knows how to make the right changes to improve the racing and competition, and who has the principle to oppose kneejerk responses that just up the spectacle instead.

And if that’s not Stefano Domenicali, F1 would be hard-pressed to find someone better.

PREVIEW: 2020 Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix – Sochi Autodrom

On the back end of yet another exhilarating Formula One Grand Prix in Italy, we head to Sochi and round 10 of the 2020 F1 season in Russia. Mugello provided the fans with a gripping watch which saw Red Flags up to the third in the space of two races. Alex Albon achieved his first podium for the Red Bull Racing team and Racing Point left wondering if they will be able to get the upgrades on the car in time for Sochi after Lance Strolls off at Arrabiata corner, leaving the car with heavy terminal damage.

Being announced alongside Mugello on the 10th of July for this unprecedented season, Sochi will allow the teams to have a more familiar approach to the race with the knowledge that is shared from the past 6 races here. Mercedes’ dominance has earned them a win in every one of them and the team certainly look set to do the same this year. Valtteri Bottas also took his first win at the Autodrom in 2017 for the Silver Arrows and will want to turn the tides on his championship fight and take it to Lewis Hamilton in the hopes of reducing the gap of 55 points.

Bottas took his first win for Mercedes in Russia three years ago – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

Knowing how the season has panned out so far, it is safe to say that we could be in for another treat of a Grand Prix. The Renaults have proven their pace with near podium finishes and they now lie 5th in the championship, honing in on both the Racing Points and McLarens who sit fourth and third. Daniel Riccardo is still in high hopes of sealing a bet with Cyril Abiteboul which amusingly details that if he was to gain a podium before the end of the season, the Renaults chief principle will be getting a Tattoo of Riccardo’s choice.

The Streaming superstars of Lando Norris, Alex Albon, Charles Leclerc and George Russell have all surprised us this season in regards to performance and results. The remarkable efforts of Russell have gotten the Williams into Q2 five times this season and the famous ‘Last Lap Lando’ attacks have provided plenty of late drama. Will we see these drivers taking the headlines if any of them at the Autodrome this weekend?

George Russell has impressed again in 2020 for Williams – Courtesy of Williams media

After Lance Strolls suspected puncture incident at Mugello and the car hitting the wall causing excessive damage, Team Principal Otmar Szafnauer suggested the upgrade that was on the car had a couple to three-tenths improvement. Due to the damage of Lance Stroll’s car, by the race weekend, Lance may still only be the one with the upgrade. And with Russia being a tight circuit that is difficult for overtaking, the overall pace of a car is vital for the higher positions and to optimise strategy.

With the news of reshuffling and the potential of F2 drivers making the jump to Formula One next year, this could cause worry for some of the drivers. Which makes this race an important statement to keep them in the team. Pierre Gasly – following the frustration of ending his Tuscan Grand Prix no more than two corners in after winning previous – will want to return to his exceptional ways that may prow the eyes of Red Bull for a potential step-up or other teams. However, with the current situation at Red Bull Albon may have found the confidence back that he was looking for after his P3 finish last time out.

Alex Albon’s podium in Mugello was his first in F1 – Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

The set tyre choices for the 2020 season being predominantly soft tyres may see teams opt for a more aggressive strategy for the 5.8 km circuit, and maybe even a two-stop strategy with the evident tyre degradation in the new Pirelli tyres. And with the weather set to be clear it should be a straight forward strategy come race day for the teams.

A healthy gap to the rest of the field sees Mercedes lead by an enormous 152 points in the constructors’ standings, which will be difficult to close for Red Bull especially with the trend of this season let alone the track itself. Taking a look down the field there is a close battle with Ferrari just 17 points shy of Renault and the Alpha Tauri a further 13 behind.

Hamilton is aiming to equal Michael Schumacher’s tally of 91 wins this weekend – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

The Crew from Netflix will be on Mercedes for this weekend’s Russian Grand Prix with the hopes to capture a moment in history no one would have called, as the reigning Champion Lewis Hamilton is tipped to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 91 wins.

 

Feature Image Courtesy of Red Bull Content Pool

BSB Title Race Blown Wide Open At Oulton Park

It was a dramatic weekend of action in the Cheshire countryside as the Bennetts British Superbike Championship visited Oulton Park. Here’s how the action unfolded over the course of a pulsating weekend. 

Polesitter Jason O’Halloran became the eighth different rider to claim a BSB victory in 2020 with his victory in Saturday’s race one. The Australian McAms Yamaha man took the victory at the end of a pulsating contest that saw the lead change hands on a number of occasions. Championship leader Glenn Irwin and VisionTrack Ducati’s Christian Iddon both led the pack on separate occasions during the race but O’Halloran (who had also earlier led) fought back and claimed the victory after successfully making his move by breaking down Iddon’s stern defence on the final lap and crossing the finish line just 0.358s ahead of the Mancunian rider. FS-3 Racing’s Danny Buchan rounded out the podium with his first top three finish of the season.

Jason O’Halloran winner at BSB Oulton Park 2020. Image courtesy of Impact Images/Mcams Yamaha

Andrew Irwin finished fourth ahead of brother Glenn with Lee Jackson on the FS-3 Racing Kawasaki ending in sixth. Synetiq BMW’s Brad Ray came seventh ahead of Iddon’s team-mate Josh Brookes and Tarran Mackenzie (McAms Yamaha) and Gino Rea on the Buildbase Suzuki rounding out the top 10. Rea’s Suzuki team-mate Kyle Ryde, a double winner during the previous round at Silverstone, crashed out of the race on the first lap.

It was more of the same for O’Halloran in Sunday’s first race as he claimed his second win of the season with a near-perfect display aboard the R1 to lead the race from the opening lap, holding off the challenges of Christian Iddon and Danny Buchan.

Thirty-five year old O’Halloran’s victory eventually held more gravitas than anyone would have expected prior to the race when Glenn Irwin was forced to withdraw from the race following technical problems with his Honda FireBlade. The win for O’Halloran combined with Irwin’s DNF catapulted the Australian Yamaha rider well and truly into the title race, slashing Irwin’s lead to just five points.

A determined ride from Josh Brookes saw him finish fourth after being as low as seventh at one point while a fine move from Lincolnshire rider Lee Jackson on Andrew Irwin saw him nab fifth place. Tarran Mackenzie finished in sixth ahead of Irwin. Luke Mossey, aboard the Rich Energy OMG Kawasaki finished in ninth place as the filling in a BMW sandwich with Brad Ray in eighth and TT winner Peter Hickman on the Global Robots Smith’s BMW closing out the top 10.

The result of race three made it Australia Day in Cheshire as VisionTrack Ducati’s Josh Brookes reminded the championship leaders that he was still well and truly in the hunt for the prize by taking the victory. 2015 BSB champion Brookes was made to work hard for his second win of the season as his team-mate Christian Iddon provided a spirited challenge. Iddon had a number of chances to make a move on his PBM partner but Brookes’ experience came to the fore as he continually held Iddon at bay.

Josh Brookes and Christian Iddon at BSB Oulton Park 2020. Image courtesy of Ducati

Lee Jackson capped off a fine weekend for FS-3 Racing as he pinched a spot on the podium at the expense of Jason O’Halloran after making his move at Lodge and cross the line 0.096s ahead of the Yamaha rider. Jackson’s team-mate Danny Buchan ended the race in fifth position ahead of Glenn Irwin, the Honda man’s sixth place result means he ends the weekend still on top of the standings but only by a tight margin of two points from man of the weekend O’Halloran. Peter Hickman enjoyed his best finish of the season in eighth place behind Brad Ray. Tarran Mackenzie and Luke Mossey rounded out the top 10.

As previously mentioned, the events of the thrilling weekend at Oulton leaves Glenn Irwin just two points clear of Jason O’Halloran at the top of the standings with Josh Brookes in third, himself just ten points behind Honda Racing’s irwin. Christian Iddon can still harbour designs on the title just two points behind VisionTrack Ducati team-mate Brookes on 166. There’s then a gap of 32 points between Iddon and nearest challenger, Oxford Products Ducati’s Tommy Bridewell.

It may be an over-used clichè in sports but it really is all to play for now as there are just six races remaining of the 2020 BSB season with the attention shifting to the Grand Prix layout of Donington Park over the weekend of 2-4 October.

Featured Image courtesy of Impact Images/McAMS Yamaha.