Frederick On Top in British F3

image courtesy of British F3

Kaylen Frederick wins both Sunday races in dominant fashion.

Race One:

The third of the weekend’s British F3 races was won in emphatic fashion as Kaylen drove an excellent race to finish 8.6 seconds ahead of second place Nazim Azman and third Ulysse De Pauw. De Pauw was later disqualified from the race.

Louis Foster started on pole position but a cautious start following yesterday’s jump saw Frederick lead into turn one and did not look back.

Behind him there were several scraps with one between Varrone and Peixoto ending up with Varrone being forced into the gravel. He retired there and then.

Race 2:

This time it was Kaylan Frederick who started on pole and after a good get away lead from lights to flag, just a few seconds in front of Miami and Prior.

There was little to shout about in this race, with the two retirements of Horston and Varrone. Horston will be disappointed in his mechanical failure as he was running in the final podium place.

After that there was little action as Frederick continued his impressive driving to take his second win of the day. Already emerging as a title challenger.

Big Crash in GT’s as Race 2 Ends Under Safety Car

image courtesy of THEWFGAMER Instagram page.

The British GT season kicked off with a bang at Oulton Park this weekend.

Race 1:

Race one saw Lewis Proctor start from pole position and lead into the first turn for the GT3’s. Connor O’Brien looked to do a similar thing in the GT4 category.

There was close action before the pit stops as the World’s Fastest Gamer, James Baldwin, looked to pile the pressure on Angus Fender in third.

Following the stops, Mitchell had found his way into third with Oliver Wilkinson taking over from Lewis Proctor. Michael O’Brien replaced James Baldwin. In the GT4’s, Kibble, Connor O’Brien’s teammate, also lead.

However, after a charge from Michael O’Brien and a penalty for speeding in the pit lane for the leader, O’Brien and Baldwin took the lead, with the number 2 car seeing it out to the flag.

The Jensen team won the first race with James Baldwin winning his first ever British GT event. Behind Jensen, Wilkinson finished second and Macdonald rounded out the GT3 podium. It was a simple affair for Kibble in the GT4 as he took the chequered flag with Collard and Caroline behind.

Race 2:

Phil Keen was raring to go from pole in Race 2 and lead into the first corner. Contact on the opening lap for Race 1 winner Michael O’Brien saw him drop to the back of the field.

Neary and Griffin both suffered problems and the two retired a few laps into the race.

Little was happening  for much of the remainder of the race but an unfortunate incident between Jones and Connor O’Brien saw the race finish under a lengthy safety car. It appeared as if Jones was trying to lap O’Brien but contact was made and the two spun off the track, hitting Fender in the process.

So Balon took the flag in the GT3 category with Collard and De Haan just behind. Flewitt won in his category, followed by Vaughan and Maththiesen.

Not the best way for Keen (Balon’s teammate) to draw level with Jonny Adam on wins, but I‘m sure he won’t mind too much.

Overall a cracking way for the GT season to kick off.

Jump Starts Galore in the Opening Two Rounds of British F3

Images courtesy of BRDC British Formula 3 Championship.

By John Whittaker

Today the British F3 season kicked off in a strange fashion after the first race was decided by penalties. Saturday saw the opening two rounds of the series, with two more scheduled for tomorrow.

Race One:

Kaylen Frederick looked set to take an emphatic win in the first British F3 race at Oulton Park this weekend before a post-race penalty saw him demoted.

Louis Foster looked in a good position starting from pole after qualifying but a jump start and a subsequent ten second time penalty saw him cross the line second, before the penalty dropping him down to 14th.

Part way through the race Josh Mason found the barrier causing a rather lengthy safety car whilst they recovered the car and set about repairs. Whilst the ambulance was called out, Josh Mason walked away unhurt.

The safety car came in and Frederick completed his dominant display leading to the flag, setting multiple fastest laps in the process. An impressive drive from the young American. Or it would have been had he not also received a ten second time penalty (along with Manaf Hijawi) for a false start.

The post-race penalties saw Kiern Jewiss win the first British F3 of the year, with Ulysse De Pauw and Nazim Azman also on the podium.

Race 2:

In the second and final race of the day Piers Prior took a well managed victory leading from lights to flag.

It appears all the action was used up in the first race as the second was a rather dull affair with minimal overtaking around the technical track.

The main talking points from this race were the two retirements: first race pole man Foster and Manaf Hijawi, both mechanical DNFs on Lap 1 and Lap 7 respectively.

Other than that, the race left a lot to be desired with Prior taking his maiden British F3 victory, followed by Kush Maini, and Bart Horsten rounding out the podium.

Overall a decent first day of racing for the BRDC British F3 drivers.

Virtual Le Mans – A spectacle in sim racing

As has been the case with a lot of the major motorsport championships during this pandemic, we have seen the rise of sim racing to fill that void. Had these motorsport events not been postponed, the weekend of June 14th would have been the season finale for the 2019-20 FIA World Endurance Championship season with the 88th running of the 24 hours of Le Mans. That has been postponed until September, but in its original June slot will be a virtual rendition sanctioned officially by the FIA and ACO.

Normal Le Mans 24 will not happen til September 19th. Image courtesy of Joao Filipe, Adrenal Media / FIA Wec

Dubbed the Le Mans 24 Virtual, the race will be held using rFactor 2 and will feature 50 entries consisting of four drivers each across two classes; LMP2 will be the leading class with all entrants using the Oreca 07 and they will be accompanied by LMGTE cars from the likes of Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin and Corvette. It looks set to be the peak of sim racing already, as the list of drivers who have signed up to compete is absolutely incredible!

Where to begin? Perhaps with some prominent F1 drivers. Max Verstappen and Lando Norris are back again in a 24 hour virtual race, hoping to repeat their win in the iRacing Spa 24 hours only this time without Max’s brake pedal falling off 15 minutes from the end. They’re racing with Team RedLine once again, one of if not the most successful sim racing team of all time and they’ll be partnered up with sim racers Atze Kerkhof and Greger Huttu.

Team RedLine will also be running the two entries of the WEC team Jota Sport, featuring the likes of Formula E championship leader António Félix da Costa and 2019 IndyCar rookie of the year Felix Rosenqvist alongside two very successful sim racers. The sim racers being inaugural World’s Fastest Gamer winner and former McLaren simulator driver Rudy van Buren, who is Mahindra’s Formula E simulator development driver and will be racing this year in Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland, and the other being McLaren Shadow Project Final winner Kevin Siggy who is currently leading the Formula E Race at Home Challenge for sim racers.

Another prominent team in the world of sim racing is Veloce Esports, and they’re fielding three entrants in the top class with current and former F1 drivers: Pierre Gasly, Stoffel Vandoorne and Jean-Éric Vergne. F1 Esports race winner Jarno Opmeer, 14-year old Veloce Academy protégé Tomek ‘Hyperz’ Poradzisz, and the second World’s Fastest Gamer winner James Baldwin who is set to race this year in the GT World Challenge for Jenson Button’s Team Rocket squad.

Speaking of Jenson Button, he’s also racing in this, as are his former F1 teammates Fernando Alonso and Rubens Barrichello. Even the likes of Indy 500 winners Juan Pablo Montoya, Tony Kanaan and Simon Pagenaud are competing. Let’s just hope the latter doesn’t try to take Lando out again!

Two other current F1 drivers are competing, that being Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc and Alfa Romeo’s Antonio Giovinazzi, and they’re paired up with Ferrari’s current F1 and SRO GT Esports drivers, reigning F1 Esports champion David Tonizza and 2018 eRace of Champions winner Enzo Bonito. Alongside them in the GT class will be Felipe Massa and Giancarlo Fisichella, who are racing an entry backed by Strong Together, a foundation set up by Charlene, Princess of Monaco.

The FIA’s Women In Motorsport is represented by Katherine Legge, Sophia Flörsch, Tatiana Calderón and Emily Jones with the Richard Mille Racing Team. However the most notable woman in racing right now, W Series champion Jamie Chadwick is also racing and she’s going to be sharing driving duties with YouTube sim racing royalty Jimmy Broadbent!

The 2020 Virtual Le Mans entry list. Image courtesy of Fia Wec
Second part of the 2020 Virtual Le Mans entry list. Image courtesy of Fia Wec

Other notable drivers taking part include Pietro Fittipaldi and also F2 drivers Louis Delétraz and Jack Aitken who are both racing for Williams and Rebellion’s collaboration effort. Former F1 driver Olivier Panis is also competing, and that’s before we even get onto some of the regulars of the WEC and the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Toyota drivers Sébastien Buemi, Kamui Kobayashi, Mike Conway, José María López and Brendon Hartley will be in the top class. Along with the likes of André Lotterer, Nicki Thiim, Will Stevens, Bruno Senna, Neel Jani, Norman Nato, Nicolas Lapierre, Darren Turner, Nick Tandy, Dries Vanthoor, Filipe Albuquerque, Nicky Catsburg, Jan Magnussen, Miguel Molina, Tommy Milner and Thomas Laurent, all of these are just some of the 200 names you will see when you tune in to the Virtual 24 hours of Le Mans on June 13th!

So how do you watch? It will be streamed on the official Motorsport TV website and possibly Twitch as well? TV scheduling may or may not happen and will vary between country, you will need to check back on social media, Fia Wec’s website

But what does this really mean? This is probably the biggest sim race of all time in terms of driver caliber, and it’s just absolutely incredible to behold. It could open up doors to potentially get more of these sim races to happen in the future during the off-season and maybe for a great cause too!

Yes we’re probably all fed up of sim racing and a lot of the controversies to come along with it, but you can’t deny it’s better than just twiddling our thumbs waiting for real racing to begin again. Sim racing has been immense during this wait, and it doesn’t look set to be slowing down even when real racing gets back going again.

So until that happens, I hope you will join me as a viewer of this landmark sim race. A real spectacle in sim racing!

Featured image courtesy of FIA Wec

Michael Schumacher – a true great but left with no competition

When we watch sports – be it tennis, football (round and pointy) or our favourite motorsport series we look for the new star, that person who will shake things up. Senna did that in the Tolman, Niki in the Ferrari and Lewis in the McLaren, with one of the most awe inspiring first season’s in F1.

There’s one person I left off of that list, and that is Michael Schumacher. His rise to fame was nothing short of amazing jumping from Endurance cars  to F1 in the Jordan and then to eventually win seven Formula One World Driver Championships.

True greats end up with two situations which can be blemishes on their career, firstly teammates that look grey in comparison. Senna, Prost, Lauda, Alonso and Hamilton – barring when teammates were world champions themselves had less than stellar teammates, either via talent not being the same or because of contracts, is one thing that is to be expected. You aren’t going to be a world champion in a no.2 seat – ask Mark Webber. McLaren and Mercedes have mostly for instance run with no preferred main driver. Hamilton/Alonso and Senna/Prost are the two that most remember. But since Mercedes returned as a works team in 2010, their drivers have no preferential treatment. Alonso more or less dismissed the talent of Hamilton, and then scrapped with his teammate for the most of the season, perhaps to his cost and his Championship chances. Senna and Prost, were completely different in how they raced, both were racers. They mostly worked “well together” until well that corner at Suzuka and Senna, being Senna wasn’t happy with the tarmac being “inferior” to the P2 slot of Prost’s Mclaren.

One team in Formula One has traditionally has had contracted driver placings, that is Scuderia Ferrari S.p.A.. The system of number one and two drivers has worked well for them up until the mid 90’s. That started to erode, first with the paring of Eddie Irvine and then later with Rubens Barrichello from 2000. Both were fast drivers, and if Michael wasn’t there, they’d have probably won championships with Ferrari.  Both Barrichello and Irvine suffered from retirements, we won’t ever know if those were due to testing parts or for genuine reasons.

The 2006 Ferrari team at Brazil at Schumacher’s last race for Ferrari. Image courtesy of Ferrari

The second situation which nearly every dominant world champion faces (Senna and Prost didn’t as much), is that if you start to win as many world championships as Prost, Lauda, Senna, Vettel, and perhaps more acutely, Schumacher and Hamilton – well drivers retire, either to race in another series, or start their own vineyard!. Sometimes you are done with the sport, for which theirs many reasons, from health issues to the simple fact of not being good enough to be beat the best. But as a world champion you crave to have the best fight for the championship that you can, ideally not with the little new kid but that one, who has won a lot.

In any sport, you have golden eras, where there isn’t just one great but three maybe four individuals (and teams in team sports) who stand out. In Formula One we’ve had had the late 80’s, where we had, Piquet, Prost, Senna and Mansell whom where fighting for the world championship, they all became world champions.

In the 90’s we had Häkkinen, Hill, Villeneuve, Senna, Prost and Mansell all gunning for the championship. Schumacher won two world championships in 94-95 – early in his F1 career, it was a rich fabric of talent, that were World champions or in waiting. Schumacher became the best because he beat the best. But slowly one by one, they, had their names engraved upon the Formula One world champions trophy. Some jumped to another Series, Mansell to Indycar in 1993. Or others, going to less competitive cars, Villeneuve (British American Racing) and Hill (Arrows). Others simply stayed on a year and retired, Häkkinen and Prost. Senna, of course sadly lost his life at Imola in ’94.

He didn’t have the competition. Those world champion weren’t there, or in uncompetitive cars. Ferrari where the only competition, and Rubens was prevented from racing Michael, which came to a head in 2002 at the Austrian GP with Barrichello being ordered to let Schumacher pass him for the win. This lead to one of the most embarrassing podiums known in recent years.

Schumacher won in 94,95 and then from 2000,01,02,03 and 04 being his last championship win before he retired in 06. Those years (00 to 04) whilst showing his ability as a driver, to win. But you always felt with the team orders that win rate was partly Barrichello’s input as well as his own.

I entitled this piece, “Michael Schumacher – a true great but left with no competition” that is true, his existing competition of world champions left the sport one way or another. But he then had to fight off new competition in the form of Raikkonen and Alonso, whom ended up with three world championships between them. Alonso beat Schumacher in 2005 and 2006, Räikkönen nearly did so in 2003 but bested McLaren teammates Alonso and Hamilton in 2007 by one point.

Featured Image courtesy of Ferrari

Autosport International Show Gallery 2020

At this years Autosport International Show, there were some pretty iconic cars on display, from all parts of the motorsport world.

The main feature included Seventy Years of Motorsport, and there were some incredibly beautiful cars on display from Le Mans, World Rally Championship, Indycar, British Touring Car Championship, Formula One and Formula E.

All were game changers in their own way.

The decades of the 1950’s, ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, ’00s, ’10s are all represented.

Away from there, there were other amazing displays. The Le Mans Toyota TS050 from 2018, the car that finally gave Toyota the victory that it has craved for decades, with Sébastien Buemi, Fernando Alonso and Kazuki Nakajima sharing the driving duties.

There was a display of Formula One cars as well.

Below is a group of classic rally cars – Some iconic machinery here, from the seventies, eighties, nineties and two-thousands. Three cars driven by Colin McRae featured as well.

Well, we hope that you have enjoyed this look back to this year’s Autosport International Show, while we wait for the racing season to re-start.

 

All photos courtesy of Warren Nel

Le Mans 24: Midnight report

LMP1:

As expected, Toyota hold the lead of the LMP1 field at midnight. Mike Conway kept the #7 TS050 in front at the start, leading from pole position during the first two hours before handing over to Kamui Kobayashi.

The two Toyotas briefly traded places later in the evening as a series of safety car periods brought the cars nose-to-tail. Kazuki Nakajima, taking over the #8 Toyota from Fernando Alonso, passed José María López in the #7 to take the lead. Lopez retook the lead shortly after only to surrender it with a trip through the gravel, but by hour 9 the two cars had swapped once again and the #7—with Conway back the wheel—resumed the lead.

Third place was long held by the #3 Rebellion which, in the hands of Gustavo Menezes, moved up from fourth on the grid and held off advances by Vitaly Petrov in the #11 SMP. However this came to an end later in the evening, when Thomas Laurent put the #3 in the wall and dropped two laps behind the two SMPs, with Egor Orudzhev’s #17 now the Russian team’s lead car.

There was trouble throughout the first ten hours for the remaining privateers. Bruno Senna picked up a puncture for the #1 Rebellion in the first hour and dropped to last in class, while the #4 ByKolles made eight difficult pitstops in the by hour 3. Later in the afternoon the #10 DragonSpeed entered the garage and has remained there since.

Joao Filipe, Adrenal Media / FIA WEC Media

LMP2:

Signatech Alpine took an early lead as Nicholas Lapierre moved the #36 up from third to first off the line. But impressive pace from Jean-Éric Vergne and Dutch rookie Job van Uitert in the #26 G-Drive soon put the #36 under pressure, and Van Uitert took the class lead during his second stint.

The remaining class podium position changed hands several times during the first ten hours of the race. Initially Matthieu Vaxiviere held third in the #28 TDS Racing, but a strong opening stint from Giedo van der Garde took the position for the #29 Racing Team Nederland.

However, at hour 3 Nyck de Vries picked up a puncture during his stint in the #29. Anthony Davidson’s #31 DragonSpeed was briefly promoted to third, but was dropped down to fourth by the #38 Jackie Chan DC Racing.

Joao Filipe, Adrenal Media / FIA WEC Media

GTE:

Corvette took first blood in the Pro class with Antonio Garcia moving the #63 up from third to first. But over the course of the afternoon the Porsches hauled in the Corvette and the #92 took the lead with Kevin Estre at the wheel.

In the Am class, Matteo Cairoli in the #88 Dempsey-Proton Porsche converted pole into an early lead. But this was lost when he handed over to Satoshi Hoshino, who spun the #88 on the Mulsanne Straight and handed the lead to Giancarlo Fisichella in the #54 Spirit of Race Ferrari.

Hoshino would be involved in another, much heavier incident later in the evening as he collided with Marcel Fassler’s #64 Corvette, making the first official retirement of the race.

British GT: Kelvin Fletcher -I defended for half an hour!

Kelvin Fletcher feels that the podium he and Martin Plowman earned in the British GT GT4 Pro/Am category was hard-earned on Sunday afternoon.

Speaking before the disqualification of Sennan Fielding and Richard Williams of Steller Motorsport for a technical infringement, Fletcher and Plowman both feel that there is more to come from the Beechdean Aston Martin GT4 package, but Fletcher still considers it a big step up from last year’s Nissan 370Z.

“We made some small changes to the set-up this morning and so we had two laps to feel the setup and we went with that. I defended for half an hour, spent the whole race driving with my mirrors,” Fletcher began.

“The Aston Martin is night and day compared to the Nissan. The Nissan was a good car but it was seven or eight years old, these new GT4 cars are all so much more advanced. The AMs say that is an easier drive, the disparity between the Pro and the Am has come down a lot and that shows that how much easier to drive they are.”

Fletcher was pleasantly surprised at the result and says there’s still more to come from the duo and their car.

“It’s been a nice step forward to be in a car that is more balanced, more current and more competitive.”

“Me and Martin are as well, we’re only two weekends into the Championship, still five more to go and hopefully if this is one of our more disappointing weekends then we can build from here.”

Like Plowman, Fletcher felt that the body contact strayed close to the limit and he was mindful to avoid that for the two shorter races this weekend.

“It was a bit too much elbows out this weekend, I started Race One and it was just carnage. We had some unfortunate contact in Race Two at Oulton Park so we were mindful of that damage because it affects your budget for the year, we knew we had two races today so we kept out of trouble and raced clean. It’s easier said than done because when everyone thinks it’s a Touring Car race meeting, it is absolute carnage.”

IMAGE – CRAIG WHEELDON

British GT: Plowman – A fantastic result on a difficult weekend

Martin Plowman was relieved to achieve a strong GT4 Pro/Am result with Kelvin Fletcher on Sunday afternoon after admitting there is more to come from the Beechdean Aston Martin GT4 package.

Speaking before it was announced that the Steller Motorsport Audi Pro/Am entry of Richard Williams and Sennan Fielding was disqualified, Plowman felt that the team had struggled for raw speed and had to rely on brain instead.

“The result was fantastic as we really have struggled this weekend on set-up, trying to get the front end working and we are still down on top speed as a brand, but compared to the other Aston out there we need to find more time. It is fantastic to come away with a podium and some good points, we got everything we could out of the race. In the race it was apparent that once the tyres go off we lose out.

“We were just a sitting duck, I would fight my way to the front, make some moves and after that they were queuing up to pass me on the straight. The Mustangs were passing me on the straight like I was standing still. I defended as best as I could, but you need to give the car to Kelvin in one piece, which I just about did. We expect more from ourselves, but if we can come away with podiums on a bad weekend then we’ll take that. I trust totally that we and the guys at Beechdean will figure this out, but we need to hit the reset button.”

Plowman admitted that he had planned to get most of his activity done early in the face of faster entries in Race Two.

From there on in, it was all hands to the pump before handing over to Fletcher for the second stint, before stating that some of the British Gt series’ young chargers have lessons to learn.

“The start in Race Two was messy, very congested as people just stuck to the inside. I had very little room around the outside and I knew that was my time to make a move because afterwards, I was going backwards. I was in full “send it” mode, finding gaps, braking late. I don’t know how many places I made up but it must have been two or three. After that, I looked in the mirror and they were queuing behind me, all in vain!

“I think this year hasn’t been as good (clean) as last year. There’s a lot of young kids in the series and they’re out to make a point and prove themselves, they’re probably a bit too aggressive and making moves that aren’t there. Hopefully they’ll settle down, but if not we’ll just have to stay out of their way.”

 

IMAGE: CRAIG WHEELDON

British GT: Gamble – I only got the call to drive for Century on Friday

Tom Gamble says that he only knew he was driving for Century Motorsport in the British GT series this weekend on Friday morning, before then sticking the BMW on pole position for Race One tomorrow.

Gamble, who won the 2018 McLAren Autosport BRDC Award for his performances in British F3 last year, was even disappointed not to get more out of the M6 GT3, despite the lack of preparation time for this weekend.

“It was good, as a racing driver you can always get more out of the car on the lap, with the Pirellis it is often one flying lap that you get and then it drops off. I didn’t get as much as I could out as I got caught and held up behind another car but we got the job done, hopefully at the start of Race One we can build a bit of a gap before Jack gets in.

“I got the call Friday morning. I’ve had no time to prepare at all! The car was good, the Audi that I race in Blancpain is a more of an oversteer based car whereas the BMW is more of an understeer-based car so I’ve had to change my driving style a little and adapt to the car.”

And despite his stellar performance on Saturday, the 17-year-old was quick to manage expectations for Sunday.

His arrival for the injured Adrian Wilmott means that his and Jack Mitchell’s pairing is now a Silver pairing, ensuring extra weight and extra time in the pit lane.

“It’s tough for us because of the extra 60 kgs of weight that we have makes it very difficult. The other guys have a much lighter car and a lot more performance but we’ll see. Hopefully we’ll have a good race tomorrow. But you never know.

“Gradually we’ve been getting better with the set up too over the weekend and tomorrow should be a fun two races.”

While he wishes Wilmott well in his recovery, Gamble would like further appearances for Century this season if needed

“Adrian has hurt his neck but hopefully it’s as soon as possible. I don’t know whether I’ll be needed for any more rounds yet but I’d love to get back out there and have another outing in the BMW, the more seat time the better for me. Fingers crossed I get a few more runs.”

 

IMAGE: JAKOB EBREY/BRDC BRITISH F3