The bigger problem with Max Verstappen’s comments


Image courtesy of Red Bull content pool.

Over the Portuguese Grand Prix weekend, Max Verstappen was on the receiving end of some criticism after labelling Lance Stroll a “retard” and a “mongol” in which the two came together at the very fast first corner in practice. He was dismissive when pressed about it, and has since had a letter penned to him by the Mongol Identity Organisation requesting he apologise for his actions.

Now we have heard drivers say things in the heat of the moment. Infact Lando Norris during the race also had a run-in with Stroll at turn one in which he called him a few regrettable names in the wake of their clash, but apologised for saying them after the race. Though in Lando’s case, the words he referred to Stroll as may have been rude but not belittling.

We’ve all called someone a dickhead or a particular word beginning with C when frustrated with their actions, however Verstappen’s comments and his attitude afterwards cause some concern.

Firstly, I believe I’m not well versed enough to talk about his “mongol” comment, so I’m not talking about it not because I don’t think it’s important but I believe it wouldn’t be a good idea to talk about it when not completely able to understand the complexities. It’s better to not talk about something when you’re ignorant about it, than to try to talk about it and just ending up looking like so arrogant as to not know what you are talking about and trying to anyway.

I will however talk a lot about ableism and my own personal experiences being on the receiving end of comments like “retard”.

Full disclosure, I am on the autistic spectrum. Going through all my years in school, I always required extra support which was somewhat demoralising anyway but as a result of needing that extra support, I was always a target to mean spirited students. Of course, my experience isn’t exclusive to me and everyone regardless of the hands they’ve been dealt in life will have dealt with bullying in one form or another.

But in my personal experience, being part of a unit for kids with ‘special needs’ left me an open target to comments such as spacker and retard. These insults are derived from a place of believing someone is not of high intellect, and being at school when you’re the only one who needs support in class is already very demoralising.

So to then see people mock you by slapping their wrist with their tongue out when you are trying your best to fit in, it doesn’t matter what you did as to them, all you are is just some retard. Because of needing extra support, you are seen as lesser than them and will never be equal.

This is why when people use the word retard to describe someone doing an idiotic action, it further pushes this notion that the blatant accidental wrongdoings are associated as being the actions of someone who is mentally impaired. Now I could have chalked it up to a heat of the moment thing which we again have all been guilty of, but Verstappen’s dismissive attitude about it was very disappointing.

Now I’m not about censorship, and over the years I have appreciated Verstappen’s character and not being restrained by the overly monitored and polished media-friendly world. But I do draw the line when it comes to words that can fall back on others, because it’s not like a driver will say “piece of s***” and a toilet opens up somewhere in the world and some feces are going to pop out to say “I take issue with this!”.

The bigger issue comes about when you see people on social media who treat it like a non-issue and believe the “SNOWFLAKES ARE AT IT AGAIN!”. This is something that I really do take issue with, basic empathy is treated like an attempt to take away free speech and infringe on rights. It is seemingly born out of this need to be as far from “politically correct” as possible, but most of the time when it concerns you, people can change their tune. Even when confronted with the truth, some people seem so unwilling to concede that they were insensitive.

A couple of years ago, I would often misuse the word ‘triggered’, in line with the meme in which people get annoyed or angry about something. Someone told me that the word was insensitive because it mocks people who have post traumatic stress disorder. When these people are triggered, it represses awful memories that could really mess them up and they have to live with that.

Now if I was anything like the people who are like “LOOK AT ALL THESE SNOWFLAKES WHO JUST WANT TO GET OFFENDED BY EVERYTHING”, I’d have dismissed this person and sent an obnoxious amount of laughing-crying emojis and called them oversensitive. But instead, I listened and have attempted to educate others on this, and now I’ve adopted the term ‘Rattled’ in place of triggered in the context of someone getting angry.

Though all these people on the internet who don’t want to be educated on this and continue to spout ignorant and insensitive stuff, it’s very discouraging and disappointing for people like Max Verstappen to feed into this negative loop. Max has fans who receive these hateful remarks, and by failing to recognise the influence he has, he’s further alienating the people who live this reality every day and only giving the hate-spouting “i BeLiEvE iN fReEdOm oF sPeEcH” nonsense brigade all the time more fuel to further their toxicity.

If Max Verstappen went a step further, if he had someone crash with him and he said over the radio in response to it “This guy is 100% autistic” then I’d never forgive him. I’d rip my Max Verstappen flag off my wall, which I don’t want to have to do because I do like Max but also because the flag is from my best friend Nadine who is from the Netherlands and I don’t want to have to get rid of something that she bought for me.

We aren’t trying to cancel anyone here, but these people who have this reach on people, they need to recognise that their words can have major influence. We all know the phrase about sticks and stones, about how words can never hurt us, I do disagree with this notion. Words have power, words can tell us when we aren’t valued at a base level, and that you are not important.

There are pitiful attempts to look like you’re playing both sides as to not alienate anyone, but sometimes you need to call a spade what it is, a spade. You may think you’re being all hard with a silent H, by not caring about human rights, mental health, believing this has just been a ‘political’ post, that I’m preaching, telling you what to think, that you don’t care about what others think or what value you have towards others, you are kidding yourself when you think this is a non-issue.

Potuguese GP: Hamilton makes history at Portimao

image courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

Lewis Hamilton absolutely demolished opposition on Sunday afternoon at Portimao to take the coveted win number 92 which has been the talk of the weekend. Hamilton lost out at the start to his teammate Bottas and the fast starting McLaren of Carlos Sainz and had to make his way back into the lead of the race, which he did in spectacular style.

It was a chaotic start to the race which started off in very light rain conditions meaning that the cars starting on the dirty side of the grid had their work cut out for them. This meant that both Mercedes cars lost out to the McLarens at the very beginning and the race briefly saw Sainz lead the proceedings for a few laps. Normality was restored after Mercedes drivers managed to get their tyres going and made it into the 1-2 positions and eventually ended up there.

Max Verstappen starting at 3rd also lost out at the start to McLarens and the Racing Point of Sergio Perez and later made his way back into the race, finally finishing at 3rd. It was not so simple for the Dutchman as he was involved in a first lap incident with Sergio Perez which saw the Mexican driver go spinning out of the track. This meant that Perez had to really work hard for a decent result and he did a stellar job and finished in points at 7th place.

Pierre Gasly’s excellent year continued at Portimao after the French driver put in another excellent performance to finish at 5th place. On an afternoon where almost every other driver struggled to make soft tyres work, Gasly made them work just right during his first stint which made the ultimate difference for him and provided that very strong finish.

McLaren were on course for a high points finish but it was all undone when Lando Norris was tagged by Lance Stroll in an overtake attempt but it did not come off well for the Canadian after he sustained damage on his car and also inflicted some on Lando’s car for which he received a time penalty as well, adding to the one he received for infringing track limits. The Racing Point had to retire towards the end due to damage and a wing change for Norris meant that he could not finish any higher than 13th.

Renault were the big winners in the battle for 3rd in the constructors championship after their Sunday afternoon earned them a double points finish with Ocon at 8th and Daniel Ricciardo at 9th. The former went an astounding 55 laps on medium tyres before finally switching to softs towards the end through which he was able to overcut most of his competitors and achieved a good finish.

It was a good day for Ferrari as well compared to how their 2020 has been going after Charles Leclerc finished at 4th place, producing yet another fantastic drive as he has been doing so far this season and Sebastian Vettel, finally after quite a few races, finished in the last points position following his battle with Kimi Raikkonen. The German driver was also closer to a 9th place finish after he got ever so close to Ricciardo but a major lock up prevented him from making that move.

It was an amazing start to the race for Kimi Raikkonen after he made up as many as 10 places on the opening lap to fins himself at 6th but the ultimate lack of pace from the Alfa Romeo meant that it was inevitable that he would drop down the order and finally finish 11th. His teammate Giovinazzi in the other Alfa Romeo finished 15th following his battles with Magnussen and Russell at the back of the field.

It was a flurry of time penalties in the race after both Romain Grosjean and Danil Kvyat were handed 5 seconds each when they breached track limits and this meant that they could not salvage much out of the weekend as they finished well outside points. George Russell drove a good race which saw him finish 14th but that elusive points finish still seems to evade him. His teammate Latifi could only manage an 18th place finish.

The one talking point among the out of points finishers has to be Alex Albon who has had yet another underwhelming weekend, With Christian Horner admitting that Red Bull are prepared to look outside their pool of drivers, a 12th place finish does not exactly make the case for Albon retaining his seat in the Milton Keynes based team and this means that the Thai driver will have to ensure a strong finish to his season.

Today’s race has seen yet another Schumacher record broken, this time the biggest one in the form of number of race wins. 92 is the magic number for Lewis Hamilton in car no.44, who extends his championship lead to 77 points over the car no.77 of Valtteri Bottas. The record equaling 7th driver’s championship is now a matter of when, rather than if, for one of the all time greats of F1.

IndyCar Firestone GP Qualifying: Will Power takes pole after timing chaos.

image courtesy of IndyCar

Will Power took his ninth pole position on the streets of St Petersburg in the final qualifying of the season. Today’s achievement takes him to 62 career poles, now five behind Mario Andretti’s all-time record of 67.

A hectic session ensued in which multiple drivers had their times deleted due to various infringements, including Chip Ganassi’s Felix Rosenqvist who was relegated to 22nd for blocking Alex Palou. This caused a massive delay to the ‘Fast 12’ while IndyCar figured out the official classification.

Four Honda drivers, associated with Andretti finished inside the top five. Andretti Autosports’ Alexander Rossi lines up alongside Will Power in second place while Andretti Harding Steinbrenner driver Colton Herta continues his brilliant run of form starting in third.

Andretti Autosports’ James Hinchliffe will start in fourth in front of Meyer Shank Racing’s Jack Harvey in fifth who had one of their best qualifying performances of the season.

Of the six who made it through to the final Firestone Fast Six, Arrow McLaren SP’s Pato O’Ward was the slowest.

A.J. Foyt Enterprises’ Sebastien Bourdais qualified in seventh place ahead of only realistic championship contender remaining, Penske’s Josef Newgarden in eighth. The two-time champion must win the race tomorrow to stand any chance of snatching the championship from Scott Dixon.

Originally qualifying in ninth place, he was bumped up to eighth after teammate Simon Pagenaud was dropped from eighth to 12th due to a penalty.

image courtesy of IndyCar

Rookies Rinus VeeKay of Ed Carpenter Racing and Oliver Askew of Arrow McLaren SP are set to round out the top ten in ninth and tenth place respectively. VeeKay is certain to win the coveted ‘Rookie of the Year’ title by starting the race tomorrow.

Chip Ganassi’s Scott Dixon starts in eleventh for tomorrow’s race and is assured his sixth championship title if he finishes in the same position. If Dixon finishes the race in eleventh, Newgarden can not mathematically win the title even if he wins the race.

image courtesy of IndyCar

IndyCar also welcomed Australian Supercar Champion Scott McLaughlin for his debut with team Penske. However, the Kiwi had some trouble getting used to the car and missed out on advancing to the second stage of qualifying, making contact with a wall in the process.

Here is the full starting lineup for the 2020 Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on the streets of St. Petersburg, with all penalties factored in.

Starting Lineup
1st – Will Power
2nd – Alexander Rossi
3rd – Colton Herta
4th – James Hinchcliffe
5th – Jack Harvey
6th – Pato O’Ward
7th – Sebastien Bourdais
8th – Josef Newgarden
9th – Rinus VeeKay
10th – Oliver Askew
11th – Scott Dixon
12th – Simon Pagenaud
13th – Takuma Sato
14th – Conor Daly
15th – Marcus Ericsson
16th – Alex Palou
17th – Graham Rahal
18th – Santino Ferrucci
19th – Ryan Hunter-Reay
20th – Charlie Kimball
21st – Scott McLaughlin
22nd – Felix Rosenqvist
23rd – Marco Andretti
24th – Max Chilton

Who could be Haas 2021 drivers?

image courtesy of Haas F1 Team

In the lead up to this weekend’s Portuguese Grand Prix, it was announced that both Haas drivers Romain Grosjean and Kevin Magnussen would not be retained by the American outfit for 2021, which makes it Haas’ biggest shake-up since it first appeared on the F1 grid back in 2016. Grosjean has been with the team from the start, and Magnussen joined him for 2017. Aside from Mercedes with Hamilton and Bottas, Haas have been the only team with a consistent line-up for many years so this news is hugely telling as far as the future for the team.

There have been some indications as to who could end up at Haas, some more likely than others. So let’s run through some possible candidates.

Experienced sideliners

First up we have to immediately mention the likes of Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez, both drivers are very well known quantities of the F1 paddock that are in danger of missing out.

Hülkenberg lost his Renault seat to Esteban Ocon and failed to secure a full-time drive for 2020, however has performed incredibly in his appearances with Racing Point when both drivers fell ill. One of those being Pérez, who has been let go from the team in favour of Sebastian Vettel when it is rebranded as Aston Martin.

Both drivers are of really high quality and shouldn’t have to beg for drives. But even Pérez who brings a lot of money from his native Mexico is struggling to find a seat at all, and may even end up at Williams alongside Nicholas Latifi and kicking out the also very highly rated George Russell.

But even being a great and proven driver isn’t enough these days, there needs to be more. For example..

Ferrari juniors

At the last Grand Prix, Ferrari academy drivers Mick Schumacher and Callum Ilott (who are both first and second in the FIA Formula 2 championship) were due to make FP1 appearances. Schumacher was due to drive with Alfa Romeo and Ilott was with Haas, however the foggy October sky around northern Germany put pay to that plan and instead they’ll be making their FP1 debut at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Despite being considered a Ferrari ‘B-Team’, Haas have never done what Alfa Romeo have done and run one of Ferrari’s academy drivers in one of their seats. They’ve had the likes of current Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc and Alfa Romeo driver Antonio Giovinazzi do FP1 runs for them, but with the plethora of young talent in Ferrari’s camp, this could very well change for next year.

Not only do you have Schumacher and Ilott, but also last year’s FIA F3 champion Robert Shwartzman who comes with strong backing, however he seems less likely and a second season in F2 wouldn’t do any harm.

With the financial strains put on many teams due to the pandemic, it would make sense for the team to take on a Ferrari junior in exchange for getting their Ferrari power units cheaper. However speaking of financial incentive, that leads me on to the name that is floating around like a stubborn rubber dinghy.

Another kid with a rich dad

No list of possible drivers for smaller F1 teams would be complete without at least one rich kid who has more money than talent. The one in question here is Nikita Mazepin, son of $7.1 billion net-worth Dmitry Mazepin, who won’t stop trying to buy his son an F1 team. His name has been mentioned in conversations for buying out the likes of Force India, Renault, Williams and now Haas.

Mazepin has had a pretty underwhelming career, although he is fighting for victories in his second season of F2 and finished runner-up to the late Anthoine Hubert in the 2018 GP3 season. He was also runner-up in the FIA World Karting Championship in 2014 to current McLaren F1 driver Lando Norris, so I must give him credit where it’s due.

However like current Williams driver Nicholas Latifi, it’s obvious that his father’s money would be more of a reason than his ability as to why Haas would hire him. In this day and age, it’s a necessary evil if it means Haas can keep afloat and there are certainly many drivers who have much less ability they could have picked.

With that being said though, Mazepin is up there with the likes of Dan Ticktum and Santino Ferrucci in terms of polarising and distasteful character. He once punched Callum Ilott and only got a one race ban for it after claiming the Brit held him up in practice at the Hungaroring for an F3 race. He’s also come under fire for threatening to out a current F1 driver as gay, which when you consider the possible implications due to F1’s reliance on money from very homophobic countries, just makes me despise this Russian.

One thing is for sure though should this happen, the Drive To Survive episodes that we will inevitably see with a bad tempered team boss and spoilt son of a Russian oligarch, they’ll be entertaining to watch.

So who could it be?

Immediately, Mazepin seems all but certain, as unfortunate as it is. The extra injection of cash could be imperative for Haas as this could very well serve as a rebuilding phase for the team. Puzzlingly though, the extra money from Sergio Pérez’s backers may not be accepted, which considering a combination of an inexperienced driver like Mazepin with a seasoned veteran and both bringing in money sounds very ideal.

At the moment, it’s all rather up in the air. Haas may end up going with a Ferrari junior on one side of the garage and Mazepin on the other, which could end up backfiring since both drivers are hugely inexperienced and we remember how Williams struggled in 2018 with the money coming from both Lance Stroll’s and Sergey Sirotkin’s backers but both being very inexperienced.

If I was a betting man, that’s who I’d go for right now, Mazepin and a Ferrari academy driver.

But let’s take a moment to acknowledge their current drivers. Romain Grosjean is an anomaly, having had ounces of pace but lacked that refinement to keep him from keeping it on the straight and narrow but over time instead of ironing out those rough edges, he’s lost that spark and arguably shouldn’t have been picked over Nico Hülkenberg for 2020.

As for Kevin Magnussen, from scoring a podium on his debut to becoming the F1 bad boy and driving way too aggressively on occasion, and like Grosjean did show plenty of promise. However that whittled out and now I would be very surprised if either of them managed to find a drive in F1 for next season.

What’s next for them? Well Grosjean has expressed interest in spearheading Peugeot’s Le Mans Hypercar program as well as flirting with the idea of both Formula E and DTM, whilst Magnussen could be linked with a move to IndyCar although I would hope if he does, his defense style is quickly dealt with on ovals..

IndyCar Finale: St Petersburg Preview

image courtesy of IndyCar

After seven months we have finally reached the culmination of a full season of IndyCar racing. We head into the Firestone Grand Prix of St Petersburg, after COVID-19 risked the suspension of the series in its entirety, with an enthralling championship decider, and some wonderful races along the way.

With the cooperation of the Florida city’s governing leaders, they have fortunately been able to construct the airport / street layout in time for this weekend’s fall event. Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon leads Penske’s Josef Newgarden as the two battle for the NTT IndyCar Series crown in a year dominated by postponements, cancellations, and rescheduling, but will finish with 14 races instead of the intended 17. Dixon has never won here but has been a runner-up four times while Newgarden had one “top-of-the podium” St. Pete finish a year ago.

This weekend’s running of the Firestone Grand Prix is the 17th event at St Petersburg since 2003, will run for 100 laps/180 miles; ten laps shorter than in 2019 when Josef Newgarden won there for the first time. Team Penske will be confident having won here nine times while Will Power and Sebastien Bourdais have each won twice among the active series drivers. Will Power also has an incredible eight pole positions to his name so don’t overlook the Australian this weekend.

 

LAST TIME OUT

In March 2019, Josef Newgarden took his first St Petersburg win, kickstarting his championship winning campaign. Power took the start from pole position, surging to an early lead until the first round of pit stops. Opting for an alternative strategy, Newgarden waited five extra laps before stopping, building an extensive lead out front before changing to the softer tyre. The margin he built on his competitors meant he was able to win by 2.899 seconds over Scott Dixon who has never won there despite being a five-time series champion

 

DRIVER NEWS

St Petersburg sees the debut of Australian Supercar champion Scott McLaughlin who features for Penske this weekend,

There has been some seismic driver news for 2021 over the past few weeks, notably the change at Arrow McLaren SP. It seems that Oliver Askew following a season placated by a variety of issues will be leaving the team at the end of the season.

To take his place is Chip Ganassi’s Felix Rosenqvist, who has one IndyCar victory to his name. The lineup alongside Pato O’Ward will undoubtedly excite all fans as one of the best young driver pairings on the grid.

Unfortunately for Askew, it seems that his luck ran out. What started with a promising podium at Iowa came crashing down, with the American featuring inside the top ten once since then. Lately, Askew was forced to miss the Harvest GP after is was revealed that he was suffering with ‘concussion-esque’ symptoms after his crash at the Indy 500. Helio Castroneves filled in for Askew at the Harvest GP, however he has been cleared fit to race for this weekend and will feature one final time for McLaren.

The final question will be who takes the vacant Chip Ganassi seat? With incoming NASCAR champion Jimmy Johnson set to feature in a few races, it seems only logical that Ganassi will share that car between Johnson and an IndyCar veteran. Rumours have been that Tony Kanaan or Helio Castroneves could fill in.

And significantly Formula E champion Antonio Felix Da Costa will take part in a pre-season test with Rahal Letterman Racing. It is unclear whether this is with a view for a 2021 IndyCar seat but would undoubtedly replace Conor Daly to line up alongside Dutch superstar Rinus VeeKay.

CHAMPIONSHIP OUTLOOK

The good news for Josef Newgarden is that there are nearly 200 scenarios in which he can clinch the IndyCar championship Sunday at St. Petersburg, Florida.

The bad news is there are nearly 19,700 ways in which rival Scott Dixon will win the championship.

Entering the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg with a 32-point lead, the Chip Ganassi Racing driver, who has led the standings since opening the season with three consecutive victories, is a heavy favourite for his sixth championship. He will clinch the title with a ninth-place or better, regardless of where Newgarden finishes.

 

WHO ELSE TO WATCH OUT FOR

Colton Herta, Patricio O’Ward and Rinus VeeKay have all had successes at St Petersburg in their lower formula experiences. All three has taken victory here in either IndyLights or the Pro Mazda championship.

Colton Herta has been in magnificent form with an amazing qualifying record, a win at Mid-Ohio and a podium at the Harvest GP. He is currently third in the standings and will be looking to finish his campaign in similar style.

Rinus VeeKay is almost certain to win the ‘Rookie of the Year’ title. His nearest challenger his Alex Palou who is 54 points behind. Palou would have to take pole, win, and lead the most laps in the race to tie level. Simply put, an impossible task.

Finally, Alexander Rossi has put his gremlins behind him. A season plagued with issues has effectively written off the American’s year. However, with four consecutive podiums since Mid-Ohio Rossi will be looking to send a statement to everyone heading into 2021.

 

WHAT TIME IS THE RACE?

 

SATURDAY 24 OCTOBER

10:55 EST / 14:55 GMT – Practice

15:05 EST / 18:05 GMT – Qualifying

 

SUNDAY 25 OCTOBER

14:30 EST / 19:30 GMT – Race

 

WHERE CAN I WATCH THE RACE?

Coverage in the UK for the races will be on Sky Sports F1. However, you can also read our session reports right here, on ThePitCrewOnline.

Hamilton vs Rosberg: The battle Resumes!

image courtesy of Extreme E

The 2016 Formula One World Championship winner, Nico Rosberg, has announced that he will enter a team into the new electric rally series, Extreme E. Rosberg Xtreme Racing will make its debut in January 2021 when the all new Extreme E racing series begins on the beaches of Lac Rose in Senegal.

Speaking about the announcement, Nico Rosberg has said “We are thrilled to unveil Rosberg Xtreme Racing as the latest edition to Extreme E. The series represents an amazing opportunity to not only drive awareness, but also inspire action against climate change…. Since retiring from F1 I have dedicated my career to sustainable technologies…. to combine these endeavours with my passion for racing is incredibly fulfilling.”

Indeed, since his shock retirement from F1 in 2016, Rosberg has invested in several successful sustainability initiatives, and in 2019, he founded the GREENTECH FESTIVAL, a place to show off what the latest advancements in sustainable technology can do.

Season 1 of Extreme E is now set to field nine teams with the likes of german racing team ABT, american outfit Chip Ganassi Racing, and 6 time F1 world champion Lewis Hamilton’s team, X44, all in line to race across different, climate-struck locations around the globe. With Rosberg’s team joining the fray, fans are preparing to witness the revival of the Rosberg-Hamilton rivalry that fascinated audiences the world over from 2013-2016.

Many saw Lewis Hamilton’s move to Mercedes in 2013 as a big gamble; even a mistake, but when the team nailed the new regulations in 2014, Mercedes were well clear of the pack. Thus ensued a three season long battle between the brit and the german, with Nico Rosberg finally getting the better of his teammate in 2016, clinching the driver’s title in a tense Abu Dhabi finale. Nico promptly announced his retirement from the sport and replacement Valtteri Bottas has struggled to match Hamilton to the extent of his predecessor. As a result, many fans have come to the realisation that the Lewis-Nico rivalry was something to be savoured. Now it returns in Extreme E, the excitement can start up again.

Extreme E has already announced a star-studded team entry list and a race calendar that has never been seen before. It is tipped to be an incredible series that you won’t want to miss when it begins on 23 and 24th January 2021.

Brookes Makes His A Double With Second BSB Title

The 2020 Bennetts British Superbike Championship came to a head this weekend at Brands Hatch with any one of five riders still able to claim the title prior to Saturday’s first race of the weekend. Here’s how the action played out. 

Jason O’Halloran took the initiative in Saturday’s race, one of the greatest in BSB history, by producing a masterful ride to win the first of the weekend. O’Halloran’s compatriot Josh Brookes set the early pace, holding off a resurgent Glenn Irwin who soared from seventh to second.

The Honda man took the lead from a stuttering Brookes and was soon joined at the front of the pack by O’Halloran and VisionTrack Ducati’s Christian Iddon. Irwin himself began to fade and was soon usurped in the top three by O’Halloran’s McAms Yamaha team-mate Tarran Mackenzie.

As a battle ensued between Iddon and Mackenzie for second place, O’Halloran was able to pull the pin and race clear of the chasing pack to seal the victory and leave the title picture with more questions than answers as he cut Brookes’ championship lead to just seven points heading into the decisive final Sunday of the season.

While he was swallowed up by the chasing pack in the opening race, Josh Brookes wasted little time in asserting his authority in race two by turning out a dominant performance to firmly swing the championship pendulum in his direction.

Brookes grabbed the lead in the early stages of the first lap and wouldn’t relinquish his position, swatting away the challenge of Tarran Mackenzie who drifted away on lap seven, falling more than two seconds adrift of Brookes. Jason O’Halloran managed to shake off Christian Iddon’s advances and place himself as Brookes’ main rival for the chequered flag.

Despite managing to eat into the Ducati rider’s advantage, the Yamaha man still found himself more than a second behind his fellow countryman which allowed Brookes to extend his advantage to twelve points meaning that a top three finish would seal the championship for the VisionTrack Ducati man.

It was more of the same from Brookes who won the championship in emphatic style, five years on from his first when he came top of the standings on the Milwaukee Yamaha in 2015.

Josh Brookes Celebrating being the 2020 BSB Champion. Image courtesy of Ducati

It was another dominant performance, fitting for a champion as he once again held off the challenges of O’Halloran and Mackenzie respectively, knowing that falling behind the Yamaha pair could spell the end of his championship ambitions.

The final standings saw Brookes take the title, 22 points clear of nearest challenger Jason O’Halloran. Christian Iddon ended his first season on the VisionTrack Ducati third in the final table with Glenn Irwin and Tarran Mackenzie rounding out the top five.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic restricting the BSB action we’ve seen this year, 2020 will go down as one of the most fiercely competitive seasons in recent years with no less than eight different riders tasting victory over the course of the year. Thoughts now turn to 2021 when hopefully we’ll see more of the same over a longer calendar. All that remains to say is congratulations to Josh Brookes on winning the title.

Featured Image courtesy of Ducati.

F1 visits Portimao: Portuguese Grand Prix Preview

After a 24-year absence, Formula One is finally about to return to Portugal this weekend, as we gear up for round 12 of the 2020 season and the first ever at the Algarve circuit.

Having visited the country 16 times in the past on world championship level, F1 will be hosted by the 4.6 kilometre circuit as part of the new circuits hurriedly introduced to fill the gaps in the staggered Formula One calendar in 2020.

As a result, you could be forgiven for suggesting that Algarve has been on of the scarce positives to come out of the Coronavirus pandemic, along with multiple new and returning tracks that have added to a thus-far vibrant season of racing.

Perhaps said vibrance does not quite apply to the 2020 drivers’ and constructors’ title battles; Mercedes’ 10 wins and Lewis Hamilton’s impressive eight can testify to that, and the same rang true after a marvellous drive from the six-time champion earned him victory at the Nurburgring a fortnight ago.

Lewis Hamilton’s win at the Eifel GP was his eighth of the season and 91st in F1 – equaling Michael Schumacher’s record – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

Daniel Ricciardo’s mightily impressive podium for Renault, and Max Verstappen’s second place with the fastest lap followed Valtteri Bottas’ failure to finish, with the Finn admitting over the two-week break that he “needs a miracle” if he is to mount a serious challenge to his team mate Hamilton for the drivers’ title in 2020.

Renault’s result was a further example of just how tight the midfield battle is. McLaren, Racing Point and the occasional cameo from race-winning Alpha Tauri have made for an enticing season in the midfield over the opening rounds, with Renault power finally proving itself a serious contender for the top three in the Constructors’ battle this year.

After 32 races with the team, Ricciardo’s podium in Germany was his first with Renault – Courtesy of Renault Media

What has been curtailed, however, is the usual three-way battle between Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari, with the Scuderia falling massively from any sort of grace performance-wise this season. The Portimao circuit may provide some relief to their issues though. While Portimao does feature a long home straight and a couple of braking zones in the first sector, there are lots of flowing parts of the track where, technically, there will be lots for the drivers themselves to do in order to find lap time. This is particularly the case into the double-right of turns 10 and 11. This should help somewhat to mitigate the time lost down the straight with Ferrari’s shocking power deficit and seemingly woeful chassis. Bear in mind though that Mattia Binotto is confident that new upgrades the Maranello outfit have brought to the car will further improve their chances of a strong result this weekend.

Conversely, the non-Ferrari powered teams will be excited for this weekend. Getting it right through the tricky technical sections, including the deceptive final corner, as well as having some decent performance down the straight could make for some surprise qualifying results, and a fiery battle for position during the Grand Prix.

Mick Schumacher presents Lewis Hamilton with his father’s 2020 race helmet to honour Hamilton’s magnificent achievement – only previously done by Michael Schumacher – Courtesy of Mercedes Media

Having just equalled the once-unbeatable Michael Schumacher race-win record, the first ever championship grand Prix at Algarve may be Lewis Hamilton’s time to become the first ever 92-time winner.

What are the Formula One Teams doing to Reduce their Environmental Impact?

Climate change is undeniably one of the biggest issue facing our planet today, with every sector of society having a responsibility to help tackle greenhouse gas emissions. Motorsport is no different. For Formula One, being the pinnacle comes with huge pressure to stay up to date with modern technologies, and gives them a duty to lead the way in tackling climate change. So what are the F1 teams and the FIA doing to provide a shining example to other categories?

Below is my assessment of each team and F1 as a whole based on emissions both at and away from the track, covering areas from transportation, to the impact of the food served in the factories.

Steve Etherington / Mercedes AMG

Mercedes:

In recent years Mercedes has been the figurehead of F1, achieving 6 (soon to be 7) constructors titles in a row. This on-track success and ambition refuses to be outdone by their sustainability ambitions. In 2018, Mercedes calculated that they released 20,000 tonnes of carbon into the atmosphere. By 2022, they aim to have halved this to 10,000 tonnes. Being an F1 team means that there are certain to be some emissions that simply can’t be avoided. Mercedes claim that they will use gold-standard offsetting to help eliminate the impact of these (carbon offsetting is investing or taking part in projects that have a positive impact on the environment).

Mercedes’ high-tech Brackley factory already uses renewably sourced energy to power all its operations from the wind tunnel to the data simulation centre. However, the Brixworth Technology Centre (where they develop their engines) uses at least fifty percent renewable energy, using solar panels and an on site Combined Cooling, Heating and Power (CCHP) Plant (a plant that uses an efficient gas engine to generate electricity for cooling heating and power. This is renewable so long as the gas fuel is a renewable gas such as hydrogen, biogas, syngas, or biomethane. Mercedes provided no information as to the gas used although as they count this as a renewable source of energy, you would assume they do use one of the gasses mentioned above). For any outsourced energy, Mercedes have committed to switching to 100% renewably sourced energy over the course of 2020.

The food industry is one of the leading causes of greenhouse gas emissions, from flatulent cattle to transporting spices across the globe. In Mercedes cafeterias, they claim that they will eliminate the use of all single-use plastics. However, what they fail to mention is how much red meat is consumed, which being one of the most polluting food sources on the planet, is important to try and reduce where possible.

Nothing can seem to separate Mercedes from the top on track, but off track they are also leaders, aiming to be carbon neutral by the end of 2020.  On the whole, they have some very impressive ambitions and are already putting in place measures to achieve them.

Grade: A

Ferrari:

Ferrari are often seen as the F1 traditionalists. However, this perception is not necessarily justified when it comes to sustainability. 87% of the energy used at Maranello is generated by their trigeneration (also known as CCHP, like Mercedes has) plant, with 95% of the remaining energy sourced from certified renewable sources. Ferrari’s team headquarters comply with the New Zero Energy Building Protocol (this means the energy they use is approximately equal to the renewable energy they create). Maranello, along with Mugello, also has the 2016 ISO 14001:2015 certificate, which is a certification that shows they abide by the ISO standards.

Across their European fleet, Ferrari succeeded in reducing their CO2 emissions by 35% compared to 2007 levels, despite growing significantly as a business in that time. By the end of 2020, they hope to have reduced this by a further 15% compared to 2014 levels.

Ferrari provided no information about catering operations.

It appears that Ferrari are moving with the times, recognising the importance of being more sustainable, whilst also trying to continue growing as a company. At times, this leads to some concerning decisions, but largely, Ferrari are looking to move in the right direction.

Grade: B

Red Bull, Racing Point, Haas and Alpha Tauri:

Disappointingly, a number of teams provided absolutely no information on their sustainability goals and failed to respond when questioned. As a result, Red Bull, Racing Point, Haas, and Alpha Tauri can’t be assessed and all receive the same grade.

Grade: U

Steven Tee, Motorsport Images / Courtesy of McLaren Media Centre

McLaren:

On a more positive note, McLaren’s sustainability is one of the best in the sport. In 2011, it was announced that McLaren were the first ever Formula One team to go carbon neutral, receiving the FIA Sustainability Accreditation Award in 2013, with them being awarded the highest honours of the FIA Environmental Certification framework every two years since (most recently in February 2020).  McLaren also work with the Carbon Trust to make sure their facilities comply with the ISO 14001, which requires them to have an effective environmental management system.

By changing all Halogen Bulbs to LEDs , McLaren save 13,000 KwH of electricity each year, greatly reducing the amount of energy they require. The team also utilise the lake outside the MTC to help control the temperature and reduce the need for cooling towers. 100,000 trees and shrubs have also been planted around the factory.

McLaren have made sustainability an integral part of their company and have achieved some very impressive, and very pleasing environmental goals as a result.

Grade: A*

Renault:

Renault are one of the most iconic teams within Formula One, mainly thanks to their success in 2005, and 2006 with Fernando Alonso. However, their sustainability goals certainly aren’t iconic.

When it was announced in 2019, Renault welcomed Formula 1’s aim to be Carbon Neutral by 2030, whilst also announcing their own Social and Sustainable Impact Program. Since then, they have not expanded on what this program entails, nor do they have any more information on their own environmental impact available online. Accepting Formula 1’s Carbon Neutrality plans should be the bare minimum, but at least they have come out and made a statement regarding it.

Grade: E

Xavi Bonilla / Alfa Romeo Press

Alfa Romeo:

Alfa Romeo has to be one of the biggest surprises of all the Formula One teams. Since 2011, the Sauber Group has known its entire carbon footprint and fully compensated for it! In 2014, they struck up a partnership with Carbon Connect AG that allows them to calculate its annual carbon emissions, whilst also supporting reforestation projects in South America.

When broken down, over 80% of the teams’ overall emissions are caused by the transportation of equipment to and from the races, whilst fuel for tests and races account for just less than 1%. Energy and electricity make up 4.5% of all the teams carbon emissions. Alfa Romeo offsets all of this.

At the company headquarters in Hinwil, the car park is roofed by 2200 square meters of solar system that provides enough electricity to power 44 homes cleanly. ABB will also install a state-of-the-art fast-charging system for the increasing number of electric car using employees. They intend to power this station with the solar power they already generate.

Whilst Alfa Romeo make no mention of their catering facilities, you can’t overlook their amazing achievement of fully compensating for their annual carbon emissions since 2011.

Grade: A*

Williams:

The last team to cover, Williams, are by no means the least. Recording and reporting their carbon footprint on a regular basis, Williams were the first sports and entertainment company in the world to join the Carbon Disclosure Project. This has allowed them to identify areas in which to improve, and set, and assess targets based on them. As a result, Williams’ Carbon Footprint has decreased by 18% in just two years.

Clearly, Williams are showing some positive signs of progression and appear to be taking the issue of sustainability very seriously.

Grade: C

Formula One:

Formula One has a responsibility to ensure that all the teams involved are on the path to a sustainable future. Collectively, F1 aims to ensure all events are sustainable by 2025. This will see the elimination of single use plastics and all waste being either reused, recycled, or composted. F1 will also provide fans incentives and opportunities to reach the races in a greener way.

By 2030, F1 aims to have a net-zero carbon footprint. They plan to do this by: ensuring they use ultra-efficient logistics, having 100% renewably powered offices, facilities, and factories for all teams to have a net-zero footprint.

In an entire race season, approximately 256,000 tonnes of CO2 is generated. 45% of this comes from logistics, whilst 27.7% is from business travel. A further 19.3% of this Carbon is from facilities and factories, whilst 0.7% comes from the power units themselves. The remaining 7.3% comes from event logistics which includes support races, broadcasting, Paddock Club operations etc. They aim to have reduced all of this to net-zero by 2030.

Formula One itself has some ambitious, yet achievable targets that ensures that it, and all the teams involved, will be sustainable and have a minimal impact on our environment at a time where we all have a duty to look after our planet.

Grade: A*

In summary, McLaren and Alfa Romeo are leaders of minimising environmental impact, Formula One has some impressive and promising targets for all its teams, but there is a disappointing lack of information from certain other teams. Reducing our environmental impact is crucial to ensuring our planet survives for centuries after we’ve gone and it’s vital we act now whilst it is still in our control.

Logitech G World Rallycross Of Catalunya – Preview

image courtesy of WRC

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya plays host to the seventh and eighth rounds of the FIA World Rallycross Championship. This is the sixth event of the year to be held behind closed doors and only 295 event personnel have been permitted entry, if they produce a negative PCR test result before entering the venue.

 

Championship leader Johan Kristoffersson has taken three wins this year in rounds one, three and five and the double world champion is looking strong as he is currently 17 points ahead of his nearest rival, Mattias Ekström.

 

Ekström, the 2016 world champion, has won rounds two and six in this COVID impacted season and has only missed out on being in the final on one occasion. This has led KYB Team JC to first in the team’s standings going into this round. His performances have been supported by his teammate Robin Larsson, who achieved his first podium in the second round in Latvia. He currently sits fifth in the individual standings.

 

Niclas Gronhölm has achieved one win at his home event in Finland and this has helped him into third place in the standings. GRX Taneco also have Timur Timerzyarnov who came third in his one final appearance. They currently sit in third place behind Team Hansen in the team’s championship standings.

 

Finishing in first and second place in the event here last year, Team Hansen will be hoping for a similar result this weekend. Current world champion Timmy Hansen sits in fourth place in the standings with two third places and a visit to the final in all but one round. Kevin Hansen lies in sixth place in the standings with his best result of the season coming in round six at Latvia with a third place.

 

Timo Scheider of ALL-INKL.COM Münnich Motorsport has had his best start to a World RX season by making it to three finals and sits in eighth place in the standings. Team owner René Münnich will not be contesting this round and hands over his car to Mandie August who is only the second ever female to start a World RX event.

 

Monster Energy GCK RX Cartel had a more successful weekend in Latvia by both drivers making it to the semi-finals. Norwegian Andreas Bakkerud has improved to seventh in the standings and Liam Doran sits in thirteenth place.

 

GCK Bilstein driver Anton Marklund has been suffering multiple technical difficulties but has worked through these to sit in tenth place.

 

GCK UNKORRUPTED have withdrawn from this event stating that their cars are not race ready and this was the safest decision for their drivers. This means that Guerlain Chicherit and Rokas Baciuška will not be participating in rounds seven and eight.

 

Joining the permanent competitors this weekend is Tamas Karai in the Audi S1 RX, who also competed in Finland finishing in thirteenth and sixteenth place in rounds three and four respectively. Oliver Bennett returns to World RX action in his Mini Cooper for the first time this year. Patrick Guillerme joins the event in his Hyundai i20 and Enzo Ide will be making his first start of the year in his Audi S1 RX.

 

The rallycross track is situated around turns 10 to 15 of the Formula 1 circuit and is 1135m long. 60% of the track is asphalt and the remaining 40% is gravel. The safety of the track has been improved this year by introducing a steel guard rail where the rallycross turn three, a long right hander, is replacing a previously used tyre wall.

 

The event starts a 1030 local time on Saturday and 0930 on Sunday and if the previous events are anything to go by, this will be a spectacular event to watch.