In 2019, Robert Kubica returned to racing in Formula 1. The 34-year-old Pole was the main star of this year’s edition of Verva Street Racing in Gdynia, Poland.
“I am glad that I am here and I am part of this event and I can once again present myself in an F1 car, although in compromised conditions,” Kubica said about the event.
“I think that for fans this is a great opportunity and I hope that I encourage new fans to watch motorsport and instil a passion for this sport into them.”
Before returning to F1, Kubica was to be the driver of the ByKolles team, which competes in WEC in the LMP1 class. The Pole gave up being part of the team, which cancelled his starts in this series. He commented his chances to start in the legendary 24-hour Le Mans race were as follows:
“My adventure [with ByKolles] ended quite early, actually before it began. At the moment I am focusing on my work and I don’t know what will happen in the future. I think the situation, where I was in three years ago and now where I am, is completely different.”
The 2019 season hasn’t been the most successful for Williams so far. The team from Grove for a long time was the only team which hasn’t scored a point during the first half of the season. After the rainy German Grand Prix and a penalty on both Alfa Romeo drivers, one point appeared on Williams’ account.
“I think the season started very hard,” Kubica said. I think that there were a lot of problems not only when it comes to the performance of the car, but also other problems that unfortunately disturbed the racing process and I think that it had the biggest influence of later driving and the result .
“The most emotional race so far was definitely in Australia, because it was the first race after a really long break, and when it comes to driving, I think the coolest ride was on the streets of Monaco.”
This week F1 returns after the summer break and the 13th race of the 2019 season will take place at Spa-Francorchamps. There are a lot of rumours about the future of 34-year-old Williams driver. When Kubica was asked about being in F1 in 2020, he answered:
“We will see.”
Earlier in the year, Sabré Cook spoke to us for International Women’s Day as she prepared for both the upcoming W Series evaluations and her Infiniti Engineering Academy placement with the Renault Sport F1 Team. Since then she has taken three points finishes across the season, as well as third place at the non-championship round at Assen.
With W Series now over for 2019, we caught up with Sabré to hear her reflections on the inaugural championship and her plans for the future.
James Matthews: First of all, congratulations on taking your third points finish of the season at Brands Hatch. How would you rate your season overall, and what has been your personal highlight?
Sabré Cook: Thank you! Overall the season has been a great experience and I’ve learned an immense amount. I definitely made mistakes along the way but I’m a better driver now because I learned from them. The highlights would probably be my 7th place and third-fastest lap at Norisring, and my reverse grid podium at Assen.
JM: Your P12 in the championship has guaranteed you a place on the 2020 W Series grid. Have you decided yet to return next year, and if so what will be your goals for your sophomore season?
SC: I will definitely be returning next year. I’ll continue to focus on improving my skills along with applying what I’ve learned this year. A top five result in the championship next year would be a satisfying result for me.
JM: What impact has being part of the W Series had on your career, both in terms of your development as a driver and your presence in the media?
SC: The W Series has given me the opportunity to work consistently on my performance as a driver more than I’ve ever been able to in the past. I feel like I’m making steady progress and it feels great. The media coverage and excitement over the series has certainly helped grow my media presence.
JM: Catherine Bond-Muir told the media after Brands Hatch that W Series will be expanding to the US for 2021. Is there any US track in particular you’d like to see the series race on?
SC: I cannot confirm that the W Series will be going to the US for 2021, but I’d certainly welcome the addition to the race calendar. There’s so many great tracks in the US but I’d particularly love to see them go to Road America or WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
JM: Having spent most of your career so far racing in America, what were the biggest challenges you found racing in a predominantly European series?
SC: I’ve raced in European races before in karting, so from that I knew the high level of talent and aggression to expect. The challenges mostly came from trying to learn new tracks with limited track time, and getting used to some of the different rules and operating procedures.
JM: You told our Emily Inganni earlier this year that you have been balancing W Series with an engineering placement with the Renault F1 team. Have you been able to draw on the experience gained in that placement to improve your driving skills?
SC: My time at Renault F1 teaches me so much each day on how to be a better engineer. While that doesn’t always directly relate to my driving development it does give me a greater overall perspective as a driver and helps me see the design intent behind engineering decisions. But having access to feedback that [Daniel] Riccardo and [Nico] Hulkenberg give to their engineers on the RS19 each race, does directly show me how the top drivers communicate their feeling of the car.
JM: From your unique perspective as an engineer and a driver, what have been the most enjoyable and most challenging aspects of driving the W Series Tatuus-Alfa Romeo car?
SC: Driving a turbo engine is always fun and a new experience for me. It was a challenge but also enjoyable to figure out how to drive the oversteer balance of the car confidently. It was challenging from an engineering perspective not to be able to make any major changes to the car’s set up because I’d love to see, learn, and feel for myself what some of the larger changes would do to the balance of the car on each individual track. But I was there to drive, not engineer, and limiting us to a standard set up window is definitely the best layout for the series.
JM: W Series has been praised this year for the level of close racing throughout its field. Which driver have you most enjoyed battling with?
SC: I’ve enjoyed batting with each of the drivers, and really appreciate the opportunity to learn from the more experienced ones.
JM: What are your thoughts on how W Series has developed in its inaugural season?
SC: I think the W Series Team should be extremely proud of how amazing the champion has been in just the first season. I’ve never seen a series be so successful and have such a positive reaction and impact as much as the W Series has. I hope it continues to grow and affect so many people in a positive way.
Rewind, back to summer 2018. Buckling under the glare of the Netflix cameras, the heat from Cyril Abiteboul’s yellow submarines, and the demise of what was once his prized asset, Gunther Steiner had a tough decision to make. He was hanging over the eject button, beads of sweat heavy enough to fall and depress the thing theirselves, all the while Romain Grosjean waited for the decision.
He was ultimately spared by his boss, thanks to an 11th hour renaissance giving Haas the support they needed in the points tally, but one year on it’s a case of deja vu. Only this time, the situation’s different. Being bested by his teammate Kevin Magnussen again in the standings is one thing, but the two have been drawn like magnets to each other’s carbon fibre, and team morale is at an all-time low. The American dream could well be over for Romain.
If that button’s finally pressed, it’d be easy to think the jig is up for him in F1 entirely. What team’s even in a position to take on a 33 year old with a history of erratic form, radio outbursts and, if his current partnership is anything to go by, struggles with maintaining morale with his other side of the garage? Well, there is still one chapter potentially left in his book of tales: Alfa Romeo.
Before I delve any deeper, there’s a majestically-haired elephant in the room in Antonio Giovinazzi. Youthful rookie and Ferrari academy product, the natural assumption is that he’s safe for 2020. Even I think that, though there’s every chance Alfa could start to take a dimmer view of his potential if his results fail to pick up by the season’s end. So far 32 of the team’s 33 points have been scored by their talisman Kimi Raikkonen, with Antonio contributing a sole point, while the qualifying battle is 7-4 in the Finn’s favour.
This doesn’t tell the whole story. After his two-race cameo at the beginning of 2017, Antonio went 23 months without competitive racing – which has brought on an understandable rustiness to his craft – and has shown flashes of what made him such a formidable force in GP2 three years ago. Also, while he may be in the twilight of his career, Kimi’s shown no signs of hitting the brakes, driving like a man reborn throughout the season. Antonio’s results aren’t as black and white as they appear.
Serious questions will arise if he doesn’t improve in time for post-season though, and in an ever-sharpening midgrid slog Alfa need a much more even split of the points if they want to trouble the upper places in the Constructors’ table. Ferrari’s commitment to treating him as a genuine contender for a future race seat of theirs’ could evaporate too, what with Mick Schumacher waiting in the wings and the Scud suffering with the absence of a man who performed admirably in their simulator department.
If those results don’t come, and both Ferrari and their understudies decide Antonio is best placed back on the sidelines, there stands two options. Do they wait for Mick, and hope he can jump the final barrier to the big time? Or do they reach out for an experienced hand, and give the next scarlet prodigy time to find his feet? Mick himself has never been one to rush his progress, and his carefulness has worked so far. The latter stands as the best option.
Romain could become the most desirable free agent on their radar, if Steiner finally calls time, and despite the many flaws in his arsenal there’s benefits to a team like Alfa having him onboard. Firstly, those teammate issues I talked about? They won’t have them. Not only is Kimi arguably the most docile and unproblematic driver they could hope for, he’s also well aware of Romain after their two seasons together at Lotus in 2012 and 2013, when they worked fairly harmoniously as a duo. No red flags to be found there.
Alfa Romeo’s a harmonious team to be at in general, too. Romain’s a confidence player, and when he’s made to feel comfortable he’s undoubtedly capable of contributing star races for his team – he’s shown that at Haas in the past and especially with his against-the-odds podium in Belgium 2015 – so the lack of pressure in Switzerland would suit him down to the ground.
It’s also too frequently forgotten just how blazingly quick Romain is. The second half to his 2013 season was a comeback for the ages, with him acting as the only real threat to Red Bull and taking four podiums in his final six races. His aforementioned podium with Lotus in 2015, against the backdrop of financial woes and even bailiffs hounding the team, was a much-needed bright light in their season. His first season with Haas resulted in a beatdown of Esteban Gutierrez, with the team’s 29 point haul entirely down to him. He’s more than capable of hitting those heights again, given a fresh start.
The final reason the move makes sense is that Kimi won’t keep going forever. Alfa have gained immeasurably from having a sage head within their driver line-up, but once his contract’s up at the end of 2020 that’s likely to be his final contribution to the sport. Bedding in a like-for-like replacement in Romain, while Mick plies his trade once more in F2, would mean that when he’s finally prepared for the step up they have a known quantity alongside him – a strategy which has worked so effectively this season.
If there’s any team that can get a tune out of Romain, it’s Alfa Romeo. And if there’s anyone who can fill the brief Alfa will need when Kimi hangs up his overalls, it’s Romain. Antonio still has the greatest claim to their second seat, but if he were to be deemed surplus to requirements, there’s a golden chance to plan for the future by recreating a flagging driver’s past.
While Pierre Gasly and Alex Albon have grabbed the headlines this summer, there’s more to the Red Bull driver programme than just their Formula 1 stable. We take a look at each of their upcoming young talents, from karting all the way to the F1 feeder series’.
Juri Vips is perhaps the closest Red Bull junior to Formula One right now. The 19-year-old Estonian joined the programme ahead of last year’s Macau Grand Prix, after becoming an F4 champion in 2017 and finishing fourth in the 2018 European F3 series. He is currently driving for Hitech in FIA F3, and is running second with two victories to his name.
Red Bull’s newest signing is Patricio O’Ward, winner of the 2017 WeatherTech Sportscar and 2018 Indy Lights championships. O’Ward has had a mixed 2019 so far, racing a part-time IndyCar entry with Carlin after losing his initial Harding Steinbrenner Racing drive due to sponsorship issues. With Red Bull backing he has since made appearances in F2 for MP Motorsport and Super Formula with Team Mugen.
2018 Japanese F4 champion Yuki Tsunoda joined the Red Bull programme through his links with the Honda Formula Dream Project. Red Bull currently has the 19-year-old racing on the F1 support bill in FIA F3 with Jenzer Motorsport. Tsunoda is also driving for Team Motopark in the Euroformula Open series, where he is running fourth in the standings with one win.
24-year-old Austrian Lucas Auer is another one of Red Bull’s new 2019 signings. Auer has flirted with the pinnacle of motorsport already, having challenged for titles in Formula 3 and DTM and tested Force India’s F1 car in 2017. He has joined O’Ward in Super Formula for this year, and took his first podium of the series at Sportsland SUGO.
New Zealander Liam Lawson joined Red Bull this year just a few days after his 17th birthday—and after securing the Toyota Racing Series title over Ferrari junior Marcus Armstrong. Lawson has continued to race Armstrong in FIA F3 this year, driving for MP Motorsport. He is also placed third in Euroformula Open with two victories to his name.
Son of MotoGP legend Mick Doohan, Jack Doohan has joined fellow Red Bull juniors Lawson and Tsunoda in this year’s Euroformula Open Championship. He is currently seventh in the standings with two second places and six other points finishes. Doohan has also taken multiple victories driving for Hitech in Asian F3 this year.
After a successful Formula 4 debut last year, Red Bull has rewarded 16-year-old Dennis Hauger with a dual programme in Italian F4 and ADAC F4 for 2019. Driving for Van Amersfoort Racing in both series’, the Norwegian driver has taken six wins and seven pole positions altogether this year and is currently second in the Italian standings.
15-year-old British driver Jonny Edgar has stepped up to his first season of racing cars this year, driving for Jenzer Motorsport in the Italian F4 Championship. He is currently 13th in the standings after six points finishes, the best of which so far is a fifth place at the Hungaroring. Like Hauger, he is also entered in the ADAC F4 series.
Having only turned 15 earlier this month, Harry Thompson is the youngest current member of the Red Bull Junior Team. After being named FIA Karting Rookie of the Year in 2018, Thompson is continuing his karting career this year in both European and British championships.
I’m all here for Formula One facts and stats. The more obscure they are, the better. So when Max Verstappen carved his name onto the walls of the sport’s history with his first career pole position – the 100th driver ever to achieve the feat – last Saturday at the Hungaroring, the cogs began to twirl in my brain and Literally Some Wikipedia pages were opened.
One thing led to another, and before long on a dreary Thursday evening I pondered this (get ready, this is an obscure one with a capital O): who in F1 history has ever taken one World Championship pole position, and one win under similar rules, but without both being at the same Grand Prix weekend? As it turns out, only five drivers have done it. Here’s who they are.
1. Robert Kubica – 2008 Bahrain GP pole, 2008 Canadian GP victory
I’ll start the list with the only driver currently on the F1 grid, and the only one still currently able to escape it. Serial comeback king, serial public denouncements at the hands of a controversial Canadian, it’s a shock to the system to think back on the titan Robert Kubica once was and realise those ‘serials’ don’t extend to his win tally – just a fateful encounter with that same Canadian’s homeland event in June 2008 prevents him from being in the winless zone.
And it’s a crying tragedy. It’s so easy to forget for most when George Russell is batting him around the park most weekends (oddly though, not in the actual Drivers’ standings – 1 point to 0 there), but Robert’s 2008 season with BMW Sauber was chilling to the bone; one of the best individual seasons there’s been in the 21st century. Keeping the title alive until the penultimate race in an F1.08 chassis that had its development cut short for that dismal ‘09 season, it could’ve been so much more than a single pole in Bahrain and that victory.
A career kicked into life by dislodging, of course, Jacques Villeneuve in the summer of 2006 looked set to hit new heights after a season spent racing at an even higher level than ‘08 with Renault, and a pre-contract with Ferrari agreed for 2012. But, in distressing circumstances, it was all cut short. A participation in the Ronda di Andora rally ended in a severe crash, with the barrier entering the cockpit of his Skoda Fabia. After many years spent regaining his fitness in the rallying scene, 2017 saw Robert finally grace the world of F1 again with a mid-season test under his old team, Renault. Then after a 2018 season spent testing with Williams, he capped off a remarkable comeback with a 2019 race seat.
2. Vittorio Brambilla – 1975 Swedish GP pole, 1975 Austrian GP win
The Monza Gorilla. That was the nickname Vittorio Brambilla went by, but rather saddeningly neither his pole nor his win was taken at the temple of speed, and his home city. South Africa would be the first event Vittorio would lay claim to being the fastest in – for the Saturday, at least. He’d hold onto the lead of the race until Lap 16, before first Carlos Reutemann sailed by and Vittorio was forced into a Lap 36 retirement when his transmission gave way.
Austria would be his chance, though after qualifying 8th it looked unlikely. Luckily for him, the race was storming – like literally, the weather was torrid. Vittorio blasted his way into 3rd through the spray, and by the time the GPDA called an end to the drenched event on Lap 29, he’d landed himself top spot. The oldest driver on the grid at age 37, his and March’s first win was a reality, and in typical Brambilla fashion he damaged the car after crossing the line. After his retirement from both Alfa Romeo and racing in 1980, he occasionally drove the Safety Car at Italian GP events, before dying of a heart attack at age 63 in 2001.
3. Heikki Kovalainen – 2008 British GP pole, 2008 Hungarian GP win
The poster boy for rapid rises and drastic falls, Heikki Kovalainen was on for a breakthrough season for the top in 2008 after a fine debut season with Renault the year before. That… didn’t happen, although McLaren deemed his input towards a second place in the Constructors’ Championship enough to stay, and he finds himself on this list of mine. Oh what joy that’ll bring to him.
Heikki’s solitary pole was taken on his teammate Lewis Hamilton’s home turf, and who could blame him for anticipating his first time on the top step? Again… didn’t happen. Lewis was in inspired form on Sunday, and took his first home win over a minute ahead of the next car. Heikki? He had a spin and finished 5th. It’d only be two races later until he was on that top step though, with the Hungaroring gifting him fortune at the expense of his teammate’s title rival Felipe Massa, who cruelly retired three laps from the end with an engine failure.
Heikki’s F1 career was in freefall from there on. One more podium at Monza – a race he was widely expected to win – preceded a tough sophomore season at Woking before he was cast to the scrapheap, where Team Lotus (later named Caterham) rescued him. In his three seasons there, not even a point was scored, although his efforts suggested he was still a handy driver on his day. After a two-race cameo in place of Kimi Raikkonen back at Enstone for the other Lotus in 2013, again scoreless, Heikki found success in Japan’s GT500 series – still competing, he won the 2016 title there for Lexus Team SARD.
4. Jose Carlos Pace – 1975 South African GP pole, 1975 Brazilian GP win
The only driver on this list to have a Grand Prix circuit named after him, and oddly the second to achieve this two GP, one win, one pole feat solely during 1975 – much like Robert and Heikki in 2008 – Jose Carlos Pace instilled pride into the nation of Brazil with his racing exploits, alongside their biggest hope Emerson Fittipaldi. His peak was that fateful day in Interlagos, and he’s the first on this list to achieve his win before his pole.
The Interlagos circuit had only been on the calendar for two years heading into 1975, but both wins were taken by a Brazilian – Fittipaldi taking the chequered flag each time. Not this year, though. That honour was all Carlos’, with his compatriot instead finishing behind him to make it a Brazilian 1-2 on a wonderful day for the nation’s pride. The pole would instead come in the next race in South Africa, where braking problems consigned him to 4th in the race. Nonetheless, a star was born over those two events, and were it not for a fatal airplane accident in 1977 there’s every chance we could’ve been remembering him now as a World Champion.
5. Lorenzo Bandini – 1966 French GP pole, 1964 Austrian GP win
The list ends here, with the only driver to take his one pole and win over two different seasons. Lorenzo Bandini spent the first three years of his F1 career drifting between race seats and events on the sidelines, beginning with Ferrari in 1961 right until his Cooper and BRM adventures led to a full time drive with the Scuderia in 1964. That year was the first in which he’d achieve any great success, with 4th place in the Drivers’ standings secured and his first win taken in Austria, sandwiched between two 3rd place finishes in Germany and his home country.
He’d have to wait another two years before he ever led a grid away, but that time eventually came around. Leading the standings coming into the third race of 1966, Lorenzo planted his Ferrari on grid slot numero uno at the French GP, and this would be the peak of his F1 career. Forced to retire from the race, only two points would follow in his career before a horrific crash on the 82nd lap of the following year’s Monaco GP led to his death three days after due to the burns he’d suffered. Much like Carlos, Lorenzo had great potential and was robbed of the time to fulfil it with.
[Featured image – Williams Racing]
‘Success represents the 1% of your work which results from the 99% of failure’ Soichiro Honda.
In 2015, Honda returned to Formula 1 and powered McLaren’s cars. That season, the Japanese manufacturer supplied Alonso’s and Button’s car with the Honda RA615H 1.6L engine. It was a tough season for McLaren and a difficult return in F1 for Honda, the engine was unreliable both drivers retired 12 times combined in the 2015 season. Kevin Magnussen, who replaced Alonso in the Australian Grand Prix, didn’t even start the race because his engine failed while he was driving to the grid.
In general, it was a disastrous season that everyone in McLaren and especially Honda would like to forget.
The following year, McLaren-Honda finished 6th in the constructors’ standings. Progress was made, considering the 9th position in 2015.
“Half happy and of course we are not satisfied at our current position,” said Hasegawa.
In 2017, Honda redesigned their engine and named it RA617H. Changes applied in 2017 rules, FIA dropped the regulation for limited engine development during one season, that gave the chance to the Japanese team to design a reliable motor. Honda’s official, Yusuke Hasegawa described the new design as “very high risk”.
“The concept is completely different. It’s very high risk, we don’t know a lot of things about that new concept. We know it will give us a performance advantage but the biggest risk is whether we can realise that potential this year.” Said Yusuke
Long story short, it was another disastrous season for McLaren-Honda. The engine was unreliable, Fernando Alonso finished 15th and Stoffel Vandoorne 16th. Jenson Button, who replaced Alonso in Monaco, retired due to suspension damage.
During the season, McLaren announced the end of the partnership with Honda, after three years.
Honda is a great company which, like McLaren, is in Formula 1 to win,” said Shaikh Mohammed bin Essa Al Khalifa, McLaren Group Executive Chairman and Executive Committee principal.
“It is unfortunate that we must part ways with McLaren before fulfilling our ambitions, however, we made the decision with a belief that this is the best course of action for each other’s future,” commented Takahiro Hachigo, President and Director of Honda Motor.
Last season, Honda partnered with Toro Rosso and scored 33 points, more than the years with McLaren combined.
Pierre Gasly and Brendon Hartley retired three times due to engine issues, whilst in 2017 McLaren’s drivers forced to retire nine times for Honda related problems.
The positive results and the signs of improvement convinced Red Bull to offer a two-year contract to Honda for 2019 and 2020.
In Melbourne, Max Verstappen secured the first podium for Red Bull Racing-Honda. That was the first podium for the Japanese manufacturer after their return to Formula 1 in 2015.
That was the beginning of a new era for Honda, eight races later, Verstappen wins the Austrian Grand Prix, the first win for Honda in the hybrid PU Era and the first since 2006.
Honda boss, Toyoharu Tanabe, had no idea what to do for Austrian GP podium.
“I was surprised when I was told to go [to the podium], I had no idea what I should do and that’s why I got to the podium later than other people. Normally you need to stay before the National Anthem – I thought I should be there for that but I was a bit late. But I joined after that. This was my first time – I was worried about what to do and no one told me!”
Max Verstappen had a bad start, dropped from second to seventh, but managed to recover and after some tremendous laps, passed both Bottas and Leclerc and reached his first victory in 2019.
The Japanese never give up, even when they face difficulties, they find the courage to fight back and overcome all the obstacles to reach their goal.
“We were strong, but for the next race, I cannot guarantee we’ll be a strong as in Austria” said Toyoharu Tanabe
As Formula 1 fan, I truly hope that Honda will remain competitive and will deliver reliable engines to Red Bull racing and Toro Rosso. The sport, needs strong teams to keep the competition high and increase the action during the races.
Written By Phil Hall
Rally Sardinia is probably one of the toughest rallies I’ve done, it’s right up there with Turkey and Mexico. Even the recce is extreme, getting around the stages in a recce car is a challenge in itself.
The event was very hot, very dusty, and in places extremely rough. It took grit and determination to succeed.
We didn’t make the right tyre choice for the first loop of stages on Friday, and that cost us some time, but we had a clean run which was positive and to the plan. The afternoon loop we made better tyre choices and saw the benefit – even though the temperatures in the car soared. Our fitness training was paying off.
Saturday was going well, but a puncture in the last stage of the loop on both passes (which had to be changed in the stage) saw us drop a fair bit of time. We’d practised tyre changing a lot though so we did our best to minimise the effect. Saturday was a very long day, an early 5am start and a late finish meant you really had to maintain focus. Preparation was key, maintaining hydration and energy levels, and working as a team to maximise efficiency.
Sunday was a tricky day, with only 4 relatively short stages. Unfortunately, we cracked the oil sump on the engine on the very last stage – even making it on to the final road section. We made temporary repairs by the side of the road and carried on, attempting to drag the car to the finish, but it wasn’t to be. Our repairs melted as the engine got hot, and we ran out of materials to keep fixing it, ultimately leading to us having to retire at the side of the road to the finish.
— Phil Hall (@PhilHallRally) June 16, 2019
A disappointing end to the rally in some respects, but it did allow us to demonstrate our determination to succeed. As always, a huge thanks to our team at M-Sport Poland who were incredible all event.
Callum Ilott may have had a torrid time in the Monaco sprint race, forced into a retirement before the lights went out where he was set to start in P2, but he was still in high enough hopes to look forward to the next F2 race in Paul Ricard, while answering a few other questions.
Ilott is a member of the Ferrari Driver Academy, and as such there have been questions as to the pressure that can put on a young driver. Ilott insisted it has instead been a positive boost: ‘Not really, I’d say more of a support mechanism because they prepare you well in all aspects, not just the driving, so I’d say that’s a confidence boost going into whatever you’re doing.
‘If there’s a problem, you work together to find a solution. There’s always pressure to perform, but I put as much pressure on myself as they do on the outside, so it doesn’t change much, I want to get as far in motorsport as possible and do as well as I can, and I don’t think anyone’s going to push me harder than myself to do that, so that’s the most pressure I receive and they’re there to help, to push me to help to improve me’
Ilott then talked about the differences the new F2 cars have, compared to the outgoing F3 machinery he’d driven in the past. ‘Firstly, 260hp for the old F3 car compared to around 600 for the F2 car, so quite a big step up from that, but I think the new F2 car is over 100 kilos heavier than the old F3 car, so that makes a difference in how it behaves and how agile it is.
‘The old F3 car had a lot of downforce, for the size of the car, I also think the Pirelli tyre’s a different tyre all round, they’re quite soft, so there’s a bit more grip from the tyre on a quali lap on an F2 car than the F3 car, but also when you’re doing the races in an F3 car you’re pushing 99, 100% all the time whereas in an F2 car you’ve gotta manage the tyres.
‘It’s different, the F3 car was always very lively, you had so many laps to get it as close to the edge as possible, whereas the F2 car, in quali you normally get 2, 3 laps maximum, which makes it quite hard to get into a rhythm, you just have to go out and nail it.
‘In the race, I would say the F2 is easier to overtake, which again is quite fun, but F3, if you were to make an overtake it had to be a proper one ─l to get past. It’s different for different reasons. I think I learned a lot from my F3 days, because 3 years of 30 races a year plus Macau, making it 32 plus testing you’re able to do in the winter. I got a lot of track time doing that, and a lot of laps at the limit which is good and prepared me for the rest.
Finally, when asked about his relationship with Charouz Sauber Junior Team teammate Juan Manuel Correa, Illot glowed about their productive and harmonic partnership. ‘It seems all good, we’ve both had our areas to work on and improve and we’re getting there. I’ve made a big rate of progression from the beginning of the season. We’re getting on really well, having a lot of fun, and it’s important because once you go up the teams are getting smaller, with F4 maybe having three teammates, F3 having another two and F2 having one.
‘It’s harder to have a good relationship with someone [in lower series], but we get along well and have a good laugh, and work to improve as a team when we need to, and work individually when we don’t.
‘A good result, I think the place I want to have a good race in is the feature race, I think Monaco was easily the place we could’ve done it after qualifying, so big shame for that, but these things happen, so make up for that at Paul Ricard. It’s quite a tough track in its own way, the last sector becomes very complex, it’s easy to lose tyres, in GP3 I should’ve been pole there, but I messed up at the last sector big time. It’s a track where I know I can be quick, the team went well there last year, so we’ll see what we can do, but we just need to make up a little bit for the points we’ve lost’
Juan Manuel Correa has found himself to be one of the star rookies in F2 this season, but it hasn’t all been smooth sailing. From settling into the European racing scene (and way of life), to his hopes for the current season and his highlights so far, Correa opens up about his experiences in the junior category.
Correa moved to Europe as a teenager, to finish his junior career in the European open-wheel scene. It was a big transition, I can’t say I’m still transitioning because I’ve been in Europe for the last five years, but it’s definitely a big transition, and a tougher one than most people can imagine, there’s been very few drivers who can make the switch, and be successful in both parts of the world.
‘It’s a mix between the level, I find it to be much higher over here in Europe. But in the lifestyle, the big change, not only your professional life but your social life. That was probably the hardest thing for me to get used to, living alone here in Europe, different culture than the US, it took me two or three years before I really felt comfortable in Europe. Now I feel much more at home, obviously I still consider Miami my real home but I feel good, that’s not an issue any more for me.
When asked about his aims for the rest of the F2 season, namely the championship, Correa expressed that was never expected to be in the script. ‘I would say my main objective is not to catch them in the championship, that’s not our objective. What I do still feel we can catch them in is results, if we come to the last three, four races of the year, and we’re able to fight with them on track for a position that’s really the goal, we should be very proud of it. It was obvious that these people would be fighting for the championship before the season started.
‘Some people have 3, 4, even 5 seasons of experience in this category, so it’s not realistic to fight with them in the championship, especially seeing now how strong of a start they’ve had, I’m not really looking at that. Is it possible? Anything’s possible, but that’s not even my aim right now.
Correa feels as though Charouz’s performance can be strong in Paul Ricard. ‘I would say yes, and not only at Paul Ricard, I think we’re missing some pieces to the puzzle, but once we sort that, like qualifying, we will be fighting for podiums for the rest of the season. Baku wasn’t a one-off thing, we’ve seen in Barcelona if I didn’t have the issue in the first race we would’ve been fighting for a top-eight finish, Monaco if I hadn’t had the crash I would have probably finished 5th or 6th, so it’s not like we’re having one-off performances, we just have to polish things during the weekend.
‘At the moment that is my priority, it’s a bit strange actually because we always have good race pace, free practice pace, but we struggle in the qualifying, whereas Callum doesn’t so at least we have him as a good reference, which definitely helps, but we need to get that sorted, and then the whole weekend becomes so much easier. You don’t need to risk on strategy on Race One, it becomes a lot smoother if you’re at the front.
On a lighter note, Correa ended with naming his favourite race battles so far. ‘That’s a tough one! I’ve had a lot of wheel-to-wheel action in all of the weekends, but I’d probably say now in Monaco, Race Two, that was a good one, I had a lot of fun that race, felt really good with the car, also Baku Race Two, defending so much the whole race was quite a handful but I would choose Monaco Race Two, that was a lot of fun.