Gasly’s chance to send out Reminder

Formula E heads towards New York, for the inaugural event but it is missing something. Formula E is missing championship leader Swiss born Sebastian Buemi who drives for DAMS Renault. Buemi is also a vital part of the World Endurance team for Toyota, taking part in the 6 hours of Nurburgring. Step forward Frenchman Pierre Gasly.

Pierre Gasly is a logical choice, a heavily experienced Red Bull Junior and current GP2 Champion. He is following the path current of Mclaren Honda driver Stoffel Vandoorne who entered into Formula 1 by driving in the Japenese based Super Formula Series. The situation being that in the rules of GP2/F2 the champion cannot race in the series the following year. This opportunity is one not to be missed, he is already creating buzz in the paddock, it seems to be a certainty he will receive the all important fan boost in the races. This could be a great chance to lay down his credentials to Toro Rosso for the F1 2018 season.

There is a feeling of uncertainty at Toro Rosso currently with its drivers. Danil Kvyat looking once more under pressure and his recent collision at the Austrian GP has done him no favours, especially taking out Red Bull’s Max Verstappen. Carlos Sainz is also rumoured to be unhappy in the current situation, feeling he is was held back as when Verstappen moved up to Red Bull switching with Kvyat, he was also doing a fantastic job. Sainz has a contract until 2018, whilst Kvyat has one until the end of this season. With his poor form, would they offer the Russian a new contract, and could the Spaniard decide to walk? This would open a space for a Red Bull Junior. Antonio Felix Da Costa of Formula E & Nico Kari of GP3 are some names to come to mind but Gasly is the one to come to mind first. A good performance would only remind Dietrich Mateschitz who is control of Red Bull F1 that he is more than ready to enter Formula 1 and might result him reconsidering any new deals with current contracted drivers.

The field of Formula E consists of a mixture of veteran and youthful talent from the likes of Nick Heidfield to Felix Da Costa. Former F1 drivers take part in the series such as Heidfield and fellow county compatriot Jean-Eric Vergne. Laying down a marker and being competitive would only increase chances of a move.

Gasly is a smooth driver and did great keeping the life of the Pirelli tyres in the GP2 series. This would only benefit him with the scenario that the Formula E series have regarding energy. To keep and reserve energy the drivers have to avoid slides and wheel spins in corners so gives flexibility when it comes to strategy.

With Formula 1 returning to France in 2018 at Paul Ricard,  it would be great to see the French having an increased interest in the sport, with a third French driver joining the F1 contingent of  Romain Grosjean and Esteban Ocon. Gaslys name is one continuing to be rumoured to having a seat on the F1 grid in 2018. Performing well this weekend could seal his place.

Chris Lord
12/07/2017

Image courtesy of Renault Sport 

Micro Machines Review

Codemasters had one aim with this video game, and that was ‘Nostalgia’. Micro Machines was a major hit in the 90’s which focused on miniature cars battling across unique tracks, based around the likes of your breakfast and workbench.

THE GOOD

The game concentrates heavily on the multiplayer aspect of the game, and playing with 12 people at anytime it is a case of forgetting to blink. If a person cannot be found, they are automatically replaced with an AI, so its never an easier event due to a reduced amount of players.

The game has three game modes, Race, Elimination and Battle.

Race is the traditional mode like in any racing game. You have the 12 racers and have to do so many laps and first to cross the line wins.

4 player mode

Elimination is the mode where a reduced amount of cars race. You have to get away from the field, and if you win you get closer to winning the game, but if you get eliminated you move further away from the goal.

Battle is much like a capture the flag game, split up in two teams you battle with the goal of using the bomb that spawns in the middle of the map to blow up the other teams base. A first to 3 event.

The use of Brian Blessed as the voice of the game, quite ironic that they use one of the biggest and loudest people in the planet. The adventurer, come comedian, come actor has a unique voice that will repetitively make you laugh so much so you might make a mistake! The car engines and background music are what you expect from a casual racing game.

Handling is what you expect from this kind of game, inconsistent! It certain areas of tracks it can be horribly understeery and in others you couldn’t have any more grip. The uncertainty which this creates is brilliant, which allows leaders to make mistakes and others to catch up. Never feel safe in front, with the weapons it is better to be the hunter than the hunted.

THE BAD

The game has per mentioned heavily focuses on multiplayer, but the disappointing factor is that there is no single player game modes. Generically all racing games have some kind of single player. It is used to get to grips with the game before going into the multiplayer and unlocking items to help competing online. It does have the tutorial, but that hardly is sufficient. The likes of championship & time trial mode are absent on the game currently. Some people are competitive in different ways, some like beating others in a race, whilst some like to be on top of the leader board.

Unfortunately another lacklustre topic of the game is the variety tracks and games. The game has 12 cars and 10 tracks to choose from. The cars have various skins you can unlock through levelling up to make your garage different but it does seem a bit stingy as tracks can be repetitive after a while. The 12 cars vary from a police car to a hovercraft, and you can use all the cars on all tracks. You’d think having a water level in the sink that only the hovercraft could do would make sense, just a thought.

OVERALL

The game is great, it is a good game to play with friends online and puts a smile on your face. It is just a shame that you can’t play on your own offline and win things that you can use online. Hope to see future content released in terms of game modes, cars and tracks. A respectable score of 7.5/10 is what Micro Machines World Series has been awarded at this current stage. If it were to beef up its variety would easily increase.

Chris Lord

 

Indycar Thrills and Spills in the Wild West!

 

Australian Will Power triumphed in an action packed race at the Texas Motor Speedway. This was his 31st overall victory in the Indycar series and his second in Texas, although he is more known for his road and street course skills. He led 180 of the 248 laps, which may show that it was a breeze for the Penske driver but it was far from it.

Everyone sees Indianapolis as the pinnacle of the Indycar season, but Texas is often overlooked, as it is a 600 mile race from dusk into the night on a smaller 1.44 mile high banked oval, resulting in 248 laps compared to 200 at Indy.

Charlie Kimball looked strong, securing pole after a lengthened delay due to bad weather, unlike Indy the race begins in a two by two formation, alongside him was his team mate Scott Dixon. Tristan Vautier was filling in for Sebastian Bourdais, the third driver since the Frenchman’s horrific crash at Indianapolis. His first Indycar race in two years, he secured fifth place. It was a relatively clean start, the top five kept mixing between themselves but Kimball was in control. Penske drivers Will Power and Josef Newgarden towards the end of the first stint began to make their moves. Lap 29 Vautier managed to past Kimball for the lead, and he began to tumble down the field. Alexander Rossi who qualified third, has been very impressive this season, but today was not his day, he got the wrong side of Kanaan and lost control going up high on Lap 37.

The pit lane opened and Newgarden won the race off pit road ahead of the field ahead of Power. Hinchcliffe exiting the pits lost control, hindering the exits of Indy 500 winner Sato and runner up Castroneves. They all managed to continue, during the period early-leader Kimball suffered technical issues and had to retire. Various penalties were given out to new race leader Newgarden for speeding in the pits and Hinchcliffe for the collision he caused. This resulted in the restart with Will Power in the lead when they went green on lap 47.
Will Power began to pull away, Vautier and Dixon hot on his heels, and the field began to mix and match going two/three wide on rare occasions, still a bit dirty on the edge of the oval. Late 60’s reigning championship Simon Pagenaud, not known for his ovals, began to make a move and catch Power. Pagenaud moved to second to push pressure onto Power, but towards the end of the race the field began to struggle with blistering on tyres. These came to further fruition when Castroneves front tyre failed resulting in an accident at Turn 2 on lap 91. Power won the race off pit lane, and due to the caution the likes of Sato and Newgarden managed to return onto the lead lap. The race went back off well, but Ed Carpenter who is known for his oval skills as he tends to only race them in the season made contact with Vautier resulting in the third caution of the day.

The caution period was very short, and near enough instantaneously went back to green flag, Power continued to lead, whilst the top five behind chasing him would always mix and match every other lap or so. Pagenaud, expert Tony Kanaan and very impressive Vautier were amongst the battle for the podium positions behind Power. He was dominating the event, always having a few lengths over the competition. On lap 139 the fourth caution came out for the day, this time for debris off one of the cars, this allowed a chance for everyone to pit, just over half distance. Max Chilton tried to mix things up, and was the sole person not to pit, resulting in himself taking the lead from Power. We went green 10 laps later, and with a lighter car Chilton began to gap himself to Power, but the fresh rubber Chilton lost ground with Power passing back into the lead.

The biggest event of the night happened on lap 152, resulting in a massive collision wiping out the majority of the field, Tony Kanaan being the catalyst for the 8 car pile up. Vautier’s return ended in the crash, an impressive showing for his first race in two years, the likes of Hildebrand, previous champion Hunter-Reay and rookie Ed Jones were also part of the eight retirements. Ed Carpenter and Hildebrand managed to slowly get back to the pits, and rejoin albeit considerable laps behind the leader. Huge amount of debris on the track resulted in a red flag, a 30 minute period whilst they cleaned up the track, Kanaan in that time was dealt with a 20 second stop and go penalty from the result. Kanaan as a result went two laps down upon the restart. The tyres were also reviewed, and the amount of blistering the Firestone tyres received for safety reason they elected if green for 30 laps we would have mandatory pit stops.

We went green on lap 159, and 30 laps later onto lap 189 we went to the caution for pits, Kanaan managed as a result regain one of his laps he fell behind because of his penalty. Hildebrand was struggling massively and had to pit prior to the period, and went laps down just like Kanaan. Scott Dixon managed to beat Power off the pit lane, a new race leader was placed, but Power was in Dixon’s shadow ready to pounce. Pagenaud and Sato behind him, with Graham Rahal managing to move himself up the field, albeit due to previous crashes, we had half the field racing. After the period near enough Power managed went around Dixon to retake the lead, he was unbeatable tonight. Newgarden tried to move over, he had great pace, going three wide, but the track out wide in certain areas had still very little grip, resulting in him hitting the wall with caution issued. Only a few laps after the previous caution no one decided to pit. Kanaan managed to return to the lead lap with this caution.

Racing continued following the clean up on lap 210, Power continued to lead, the likes of Pagenaud and Sato continued to battle over the final podium positions. Kanaan now on the lead lap begun to make himself up the field. On lap 229 we had the last tyre change which Firestone agreed due to the blister scenario on the tyres. The top five remained the same, no changes amongst the pit lane, Power winning off the pits, unlike the previous. We went green for the last time, Dixon seemed to have better pace towards the end, and managed to overtake Power. It seemed Dixon timed the pass brilliantly as we head towards the last 10% of the race. Power was having none of it, and they traded the lead for multiple laps, Kanaan had moved up and Indy champion Sato were closing in on the two. Sato tried to pass Dixon on the front straight, but Texas isn’t like Indianapolis a slight dogleg on the start/finish straight, he clipped the grass losing his car into the side of Dixon. Chilton who was amongst the battle for top five had nowhere to go, ending his race, with only five laps to go.

The race was agreed to end under yellow flag, Power took the line first, for victory. Remarkably Kanaan who was two laps down at lap 209 managed to take the line second, with Pagenaud in third. Only six drivers finished on the lead lap, but only eight

Photo courtesy of Eric Barnes

were technically still running, albeit Ed Carpenter being so many laps down, the likes of Chilton, Kanaan and Dixon were classified ahead of him. Dixon continued to lead the championship, Pagenaud moved back up to second, increasing his chances of retaining the championship, whilst Power moved up to fifth.

A truly amazing action packed race, we return to a road track next time out, the legendary Road America in a fortnight’s time, expect to see the likes of Dixon, Power and Pagenaud strong, more race/street experts than ovals.

Chris Lord

 

14 June 2016

Canadian Grand Prix: Marks out of Ten

 

Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Canada.
Sunday 11 June 2017.
World Copyright: Steven Tee/LAT Images
ref: Digital Image _O3I0085

Lewis Hamilton once again ruled the roost at the Canadian Grand Prix on Sunday. The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, on the Ille De Notre Dame in the St Lawrence Seaway in Montreal is a highlight of the Formula 1 season, a break between the European rounds. Known as a power reliant track compared to the prior rounds at Spain & Monaco the pecking order was shuffled slightly. We analyse each driver’s race in the simplest way we can, through marks out of ten.

Lewis Hamilton – 9

Ten years on since his maiden win in F1, Hamilton once more sees the top step of the podium. Montreal is a happy hunting ground for the Brit – this is his sixth time winning in Canada. He destroyed his teammate in qualifying by 0.7secs and matched his icon Ayrton Senna’s pole total of 65. It was a weekend that he needed, the hat-trick, pole, lights to flag and fastest lap. He kept the action kept behind him and caught up in the championship as we head to Baku.

Valteri Bottas – 7

The first 1-2 of the 2017 campaign for Mercedes, signs of the previous three seasons, but with Bottas all the challengers fell by the wayside. A poor qualifying from the Finn, a quite considerable gap of 0.4secs from the front row. He was helped by Ferrari’s issues as he took a comfortable second place. A solid result from the Finn but once more in the shadow of his teammate Hamilton.

Daniel Ricciardo – 8

The Honeybadger made it three podiums in a row, taking advantage of other drivers and using a unique strategy of running softs on the second stint rather than the super softs. He struggled early in the weekend with car trouble, and missed most of free practice two. The most important factor was his quick out lap which managed to keep Perez in the Force India at bay. We got to see a shooey to the delight of the Canadian fans – even getting Sir Patrick Stewart himself to partake in the ritual.

Max Verstappen – 8

Verstappen looked for all the world as if he could split the Mercedes after a blistering start, clipping Vettel’s wings especially. His race ended only ten laps in after an ERS failure and battery shutdown, the Ducthman visibly angry at his misfortune. Red Bull look as if they’ve made a step forward.

Sebastian Vettel – 9

Excellent recovery drive after contact damaged his front wing. Dropped to last after repairs, and a despite a damaged floor came from 16th to 4th. The four-time champion provided entertainment in the final twenty laps, limiting the damage to his championship lead to 13 points.

Raikkonen 7: A poor start saw Kimi stuck behind Perez and Ricciardo early on, the Iceman came alive when Ferrari switched the strategy to a two-stop. Unfortunate with brake failure but did well to preserve seventh from a difficult position with ten laps to go.

Sergio Perez – 8

Perez will not have won himself many French fans as he kept a faster Esteban Ocon behind him in the race-long battle for a podium position with Ricciardo. Perez will have his reasons, while Force India showed their car to be strong once again this season.

Esteban Ocon – 9

Showed a good temperament during the race and kept his head despite losing out to Vettel late on. His tyres were fresher at the end of the Grand Prix as Force India kept him out for a longer first stint, and wanted to have a go at the podium, but Perez refused to let him by.

Nico Hulkenburg – 7

The reliable Nico Hulkenburg scores points again after taking a gamble early on with the virtual safety car switching the strategy that they more than likely had planned. Renault are still not where they want to be and with this in mind it was a solid job all weekend. Almost caught the ailing Raikkonen at the end.

Jolyon Palmer – 6

This is the second successive race that the Brit has finished just outside the points after 11th in Monaco last time out. He’s faced constant speculation about his future after Hulkenberg’s excellent start at Renault. A man under pressure, he will be heartened by the step forward made in Montreal.

Lance Stroll – 8

The Canadian rookie got the monkey off his back as ninth place secured his first world championship points, at his home race. He is the first non-Villeneuve Canadian to score points in F1. After struggling in qualifying, Stroll executed a one-stop strategy well and we may now see the tension that he’s driven with all season loosened for the rest of the year.

Felipe Massa – 5

Massa was pole-axed by a pirouetting Carlos Sainz on lap one after being boxed in at the start. A good qualifying saw the Brazilian take seventh, and with power circuits such as Baku and the Red Bull Ring coming up, Williams can be confident of further points.

Romain Grosjean – 7

Grosjean managed to snatch a point from the jaws of nothing. The Swiss-Frenchman was chopped by Sainz on lap one to spark a safety car as the Spaniard was speared into an unsuspecting Felipe Massa. Picking up the pieces from Alonso’s engine failure on the penultimate lap, Haas’ weekend was rescued.

Kevin Magnussen – 5

A weekend to forget for Magnussen. He tried to be opportunistic at the end of the virtual safety car by pouncing on Stoffel Vandoorne, but timed his jump too early and earning himself a penalty. Failed to get out of the first qualifying session as both Haas’ struggled for pace through the weekend/

Marcus Ericsson – 6

This was always going to be a case of rolling treacle up a hill for Sauber. An underpowered old Ferrari engine was always going to suffer on a circuit where top speed is crucial. Sauber will be stronger on other circuits.

Pascal Wehrlein – 5

Wehrlein did himself few favours when he spun in qualifying, breaking his rear wing and gearbox. The German’s only route to points this weekend was going to be a Safety Car strategy call as in Barcelona, but it didn’t materialise for the ex-Manor man.

Stoffel Vandoorne – 6

Stoffel Vandoorne was another man on a hiding to nothing this weekend, with his Honda engine severely lacking in power. McLaren will hope improved results come on more twisty circuits.

Fernando Alonso – 8

Alonso had tigerishly fought his way up to ninth place until the penultimate lap, when his engine expired in a familiar tale of woe for the former double World Champion. The Spaniard still found time to vent his feelings about his engine during the race at a weekend in which he demanded McLaren show that they could win races by September. That looks well off.

Danil Kyvat – 5

Failed to get away for the formation lap and couldn’t get back into position. As a result received a drive through penalty. The Russian managed to fight his way back up to tenth but damage ended his day. Another chapter in a frustrating season for Kvyat.

Carlos Sainz – 5

His race lasted a matter of half a mile before his squeeze on an unco-operative Grosjean sent him to the wall, via the Williams of Massa. At a circuit where Toro Rosso were expected to struggle, he showed solid pace until Sunday.

Chris Lord & Jack Prentice

Image Credit: Steven Tee via PIRELLI MEDIA

DiRT 4 Review

June 11, 2017

|

 

Developer and publisher Codemasters is back with the DiRT series, which evolved from the Colin McRae rally series way back on the Playstation 1 in 1998. Twelfth in the overall series, and the sixth to contain the DiRT name. Rally legend McRae passed away in 2007, but his name was used up until the release of DiRT 3 on console. The series has come leaps and bounds since, across all four generations of consoles since, currently on Playstation 4, Xbox One & PC. Between DiRT 3 and DiRT 4 there have been three games all offering unique opinions towards rallying.

Build up to the game

DiRT 4 was announced early in 2017 in January with June as the expected release date, which Codemasters has managed to abide by.

Norwegian Rally and Rallycross legend Petter Solberg has been a key asset to Codemasters in the sense of handling and the noise of the cars, and his feedback has been crucial for the developer to make DiRT 4 such a brilliant game. No wonder, as Solberg is an all time great, winning with the works Subaru team in 2003 in the World Rally Championship before moving to Rallycross and winning the 2014 and ’15 championships with Citroen in 2014 & 2015.

Game Features:

Career Mode

As per any racing game, there is a career mode within the game, and DiRT4’s has quite a unique aspect. With career you create your own driver from scratch and can select the particular disciplines in which you wish to compete. You can choose sponsors and develop your team with own livery development as well as a garage full of cars that are suitable for each individual series you can participate in, from rallying across the three types of surface—asphalt, gravel and snow—and Rallycross, which is a combination.

DiRT 4 has the official FIA Rallycross license, with 5 areas at which the events are based; by all means this can be done in single player, but is a substantial part of the career mode, very enjoyable and and with settings that can be amended corresponding to your driving skills. There are two types of handling: a fun arcade side, as well as a hardcore simulation mode—driving on the simulation mode in career gives a true reflection of how difficult it is but when finding the sweet spot it makes it so exciting to play.

Dirt Academy

The DirtFish Rally School is based in Washington and gives people a way to learn the skills of a rally driver via joy riding and time attack events, to then put towards Career and Multiplayer modes. It gives you a chance to develop skills to maybe push the levels of difficulty in career and quick modes as well as pushing yourself up the global leaderboard to become the very best. Events in this mode are rather enjoyable, especially the time attack scenarios across the area, and jumping up objects and smashing cardboard boxes—who doesn’t loves causing carnage to the environment!

Multiplayer

RaceNet has once more been developed further by Codemasters for this game, which sets an array of tables and events to partake in. You have access to this via the game as well as the website and this will give you the facility to view cross-platform leaderboards, with specific tournaments that can be completed throughout the game’s life span. DiRT 4’s challenges are tiered in terms of daily, weekly, and monthly which can be quite competitive and enjoyable to complete. Each individual event is different, and will never be same thanks to the stage creator they have on the game. You can take part in events with up to eight people online in terms of racing, but in terms of offline play the game has no split-screen facility.

Sound and Visuals

DiRT 4’s visuals are outstanding: the lighting in particular is brilliant, and the shadows in the morning and at time of sunset in the forest areas cannot be beaten. The cars’ characteristics in terms of damage to certain extent is limited but throughout career and Rallycross modes, you have a select amount of time to fix any problems with your car such as dampers to help handling. The cars look slick and through mud for example it doesn’t brush away, if it is wet on a gravel stage, the car becomes caked in mud. Driving at night is difficult but when you master how to drive the sense of accomplishment makes you push even further to great success.

The Co-Driver—which had work from the professional co-drivers of Jen Horsey and Nicky Grist—sounds clear and specific with how the information is given, such as the tighter the turns are the smaller the number is shouted to prepare yourself in advance. The cars sound so realistic, the engine revving if you don’t shift as well as the popping of the exhaust gives you a true version of the cars. The natural noises, for example jumping through the air whilst landing and going through water puddles, sound excellent.


Overall opinion

DiRT 4 is most definitely the best game yet in the series, returning to the good old days of the early 2000s of Colin McRae 2005, the buzz that all the game modes give as well as the noise that in first person gives you the feeling you are in control. It is wheel supported which is a true challenge, albeit a pad still gives you a thrill. The sheer amount of features in the game truly does not limit what you can do. The stage creator always gives you something new, and will be never be the same—choose a destination, difficulty and length of the stage, and off you go.

The first game reviewed with The Pit Crew Online and we score it highly, albeit a few things it does lack which holds back a perfect ten. The fact that we have no split screen for offline racing for people that wish to battle in their own living room and that when it comes to livery creator in career mode it is very limited in what can be amended. The Rallycross only has five of the series’ destinations, but at the end of the day these are small drawbacks. The variety of what can be done in career and online is astonishing with the sound, always advise to turn it up to hear the exhaust pop going around hairpins. Visually it’s amazing, which with graphics nowadays is hard to stand out amongst rivals, but definitely the best looking off-road game.

A solid 9/10 rating.

Chris Lord, F1 Correspondent

Will we see another name added to the Wall of Champions?

2014 Formula One Canadian Grand Prix, Circuit Gilles Villeneuve, Montreal, Quebec, Canada 6th – 8th June 2014
Valtteri Bottas, Williams FW36 Mercedes, Action,
World Copyright: © Andrew Hone Photographer 2014.
Ref: _ONZ1071 / via Pirelli Media

The Circuit Gilles Villeneuve based on Montreal’s Notre Dame Island is a stunning track. The track has the right balance of slow- to high-speed areas that creates some spectacular racing.

There is one infamous part of the track which legends such as the great Michael Schumacher have hit—they call it the ‘Wall of Champions’. After the 1999 Canadian Grand Prix the wall on the exit of Turn 14 was christened most notably with three world champions. Drivers had hit the wall prior, but 1999 was when it was especially unforgiving.

1999:

Many drivers—or shall we say victims—had fallen prey to The Wall especially this year, but it all began with Damon Hill, he was the first notable casualty, after winning the World Championship in 1996. Now driving with Jordan he was amongst a midfield battle, and he clipped the rear of his car against The Wall—you could say he was an appetiser for it.

15 laps later Michael Schumacher mid-chicane lost control after going off the racing line, and slid helplessly into The Wall’s grasp; at the time the German was leading the Grand Prix. The difference here was that Hill managed to get away, but Schumacher & Ferrari could not, with severe damage caused. The main course? The Wall was not done there, it wanted more!

Canada’s own Jaques Villeneuve was the third champion into The Wall, only 5 laps after Schumacher, pretty much nose on, it was getting more and more of the cars at every attempt! The Wall after that had had enough, was full and had its fair share of rubber across it. Villeneuve was the dessert of The Wall’s three-car meal in 1999. From then on it was named the Wall of Champions.

Recent Years:

The Wall laid low for a few years, claiming the odd driver here and there—on a diet, you could say, but when it saw an opportunity it was more than happy to take full advantage.

The rise, then fall, of Jenson Button at the 2005 Canadian Grand Prix, for example. He took pole position in qualifying, and then threw it away in the race when Schumacher was chasing him for third. He attacked the chicane but as a result broke his rear suspension: The Wall was ready for a taste of BAR, though much like Hill he managed to escape The Wall’s grasp.

The most recent major casualty was in 2011, where we had the most incredible race that Button won. Funnily enough it was the complete opposite with Button rising to the top from the bottom.

The Wall did not devour anyone during the race, as it was still buzzing from the first practice session. Sebastien Vettel lost his rear on a very green track, and over the kerbs he headed straight towards The Wall. So early on in the weekend, Vettel could not escape, and it ended his session with The Wall covered with fresh carbon fibre and rubber, whilst leaving the Red Bull team a major headache to get his car ready for FP2.

Other notable mentions:

– Ricardo Zonta, a champion in the FIA GT series, was actually the first to hit The Wall in the 1999 Grand Prix.

– Juan Pablo Montoya—the 1999 CART and two-time Indy 500 champion—in what turned out to be his penultimate Grand Prix, did brush The Wall in 2006 resulting in retirement. Could this have been the catalyst for what ensued in the following US Grand Prix, resulting in an early Formula 1 departure?

Will there be another one this year though? It’s been a few years since The Wall last had a tasty meal. Could an F1 champion such as Hamilton or future champion Max Verstappen join the ever-growing list of victims claimed by the Wall of Champions? The cars seem to suffer more in dirty air this year, and Canada always has been a tough track on brakes. The recipe is there for The Wall to claim another driver.

Chris Lord, F1 Correspondent

Who’s Who? Indy 500

The 101st running of the Indy 500 is just around the corner. The interest seems to be at an all time high due to Fernando Alonso bucking the trend and missing the Monaco Grand Prix to take part in the prestigious event. Some may know all the drivers in the series, some may only recognise a few of the drivers from the past when they raced in different series, but some people have always raced in America. There are 33 drivers in the race Sunday, but who is actually racing?

Here we have a short preview of each driver competing in the Indy 500 based in grid order for the race, looking at livery, so cars to keep an eye for, current form and history at Indianapolis if they have raced before at the brickyard, or at all in the Indycar series.

ROW 1

#9 Scott Dixon
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Nationality: New Zealander
Livery: Dark/Light Blue
Championship Position: 2

First up we have Scott Dixon, an Indycar legend, securing pole for an event he won nine years ago. He is a quadruple champion of the series, and the leading non-American in all time list of wins. Scott is known for his speed, winning on his debut back in the season of 2003, and put this forward even more securing pole for this year. Scott currently sits second in the championship after finishing second in the previous round on the Indianapolis road course. Can he put pressure on the leader of the series, and win in the brickyard for the second time?

#20 Ed Carpenter
Team: Ed Carpenter Racing
Nationality: American
Livery: Dark Green/Gold
Championship Position: 22

Ed is an owner of his own racing team, and has decided to take part in events at his own leisure. He has only so far this season been involved in one race, and that was the first oval of the season at Phoenix which he finished 7th. Ed has won on an oval in the past, but it would be a first at Indy. He looked calm and collected during the days of practice. His recent races at Indianapolis have been very disappointing, classified no higher than 27th in the last 3 years. He is capable of more, so lets see if he can put forward qualifying pace into the race.

#98 Alexander Rossi
Team: Andretti Motorsport
Nationality: American
Livery: Dark Blue/Yellow
Championship Position: 9

Alex has taken to the Verizon Indycar Series like a duck to water. Rossi has shown it can be done, he won the Indy 500 in his debut season last year. He started 11th and through amazing fuel management managed to avoid entering pit road like other drivers. Fernando Alonso can take hope from that. He finished 11th in the series last year, and has built upon that. Although he has been competitive but through car faults isn’t as high as he should be in the championship. Runs well at Indy, could he win back to back?

ROW 2

#26 Takuma Sato
Team: Andretti Motorsport
Nationality: Japanese
Livery: Dark Blue/White
Championship Position: 10

Takuma has been racing in the Indycar Series since 2010, after a short hiatus following the fold of Super Aguri in Formula 1 in 2008. He is known for his consistency in the Formula 1 series. It is a first season with Andretti Motorsport after several seasons with AJ Foyt. He is most famous and respected in the Indycar Series for going for broke in the 2012 running of the Indy 500,on the last lap trying to pass Dario Franchitti for the win. The move did not come off, and the Japanese driver ended up in the wall. A very solid so far in the season, can Takuma push for his second win in the series, at Indycar’s grandest stage of them all?

#29 Fernando Alonso (R)
Team: Mclaren-Honda-Andretti (Andretti Motorsport)
Nationality: Spanish
Livery: Orange
Championship Position: N/A

Fernando Alonso, the main man, maybe why most Europeans will be switching over in the evening to watch the event after the Monaco Grand Prix in the early afternoon. Fernando hasn’t had the best of luck in Formula 1 in recent years, with non competitive cars, not being able to show his true potential, he has outdrove the car that McLaren have provided him. Unlike Formula 1 the chassis that the drivers use in Indycar is all the same, the Dallara DW12. Jokes were made before qualifying after the team decided to make a precautionary engine change, he qualified 5th after never racing on an oval before. With a level playing field, could Alonso unleash his skill, and win the second of the Triple Crown of Motorsport?

#21 JR Hildebrand
Team: Ed Carpenter Racing
Livery: White/Dark Blue
Championship Position: 14

JR is a great driver in the Indycar Series, he debuted in the 2010 season, and has been a great spectacle since. He has yet to taste victory, but at Phoenix this season he achieved his best ever result in third. In recent seasons JR has been a part time driver, only taking part in the Indianapolis events and albeit missing the third round of this year, it is the closest he has been to a full season since 2012. Nothing could be better than winning the Indianapolis, and even yet it being your first ever win, could it be the turn of JR at victory lane?

ROW 3

#10 Tony Kanaan
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Nationality: Brazilian
Livery: Light Blue
Championship Position: 11

Tony is a seasoned veteran of the series, racing before in the series of Champ Car before it merged to become the Indycar series. Tony has tasted the milk at Indy before in 2013, and last year finished fourth in the 100th running. He had a terrible race last time out at the road course due to a collision, and could not recover from it, so has a point to prove. His most recent win was in 2014 at California, also on an oval and he has the experience at 42. Could he use that to be only one of few to win the event twice?

#27 Marco Andretti
Team: Andretti Motorsport
Nationality: American
Livery: White/Light Blue
Championship Position: 18

Marco is third generation of the famous Andretti Motorsport family, and currently drives for the family team. Marco as of yet in his career is yet to match his father/grandfather, with his most recent victory back in 2011. Luck has not been on Marco’s side this year, the season looked good after finishing 7th at the season opener in St. Petersburg, but since then finishing no higher than 16th at the road course has left Marco far away from the series lead. His grandfather won the race back in 1969, whilst his father never won, could he match his grandfather and show how his dad, the team boss, he can win once more?

#12 Will Power
Team: Team Penske
Nationality: Australian
Livery: Silver
Championship Position: 5

Will is the driver on form, winning last time out on Indy’s road course comfortably pushing himself back in to championship contention. He has won the series once in the past with Team Penske in 2014, and was runner up last year and on three other occasions. He has yet to taste victory in the Indy 500 albeit winning twice prior in the road course. Will has won at ovals in the past but street circuits are more of a forte, tied with the most amount of victories. A driver that on his day cannot be beaten, can Will put his pace from the road course onto the oval, and win for the first time?

ROW 4

#28 Ryan Hunter-Reay
Team: Andretti Motorsport
Nationality: American
Livery: Yellow/Red
Championship Position: 8

Ryan is a previous Indycar series champion back in 2012, in his first season with Andretti Motorsport. He has been racing since 2003, with multiple race victories, including his Indy 500 victory in 2014. Ryan is a very thoughtful driver and has run with number 28 since 2011, it being 28 due to the amount of predicted million people with cancer after his mother fighting the disease. In good form heading into the event after finishing third in the road course, bettering his season best 4th at the season opener. Ryan was the fastest of the rest out of the fast nine, could he win for a second time and be fastest of them all?

#19 Ed Jones (R)
Team: Dale Coyne Racing
Nationality: American
Livery: White/Blue/Red
Championship Position: 12

Ed is the sole full time rookie in the 2017 Indycar series, after winning the support series Indy Lights in 2016. Ed looked strong in practice and qualifying and looked like he would make the fast 9 for a chance for pole but narrowly missed out. He has a series best finish of 6th at Long Beach but lacked pace at the road course. in the Indy Lights he won at the Indy road course race, and came second in their version of the Indy 500. Alex Rossi showed a rookie can win the race, can Ed repeat that?

#16 Oriol Servia
Team: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Nationality: Spanish
Livery: Yellow/White
Championship Position: N/A

This is Oriol’s first race of the season, a part time driver for the Rahal team, taking part in races 6-8 of the 2017 series. He has sporadically taken part in the series and not done a full season since 2011 with only the Indy 500 being the only, if not one of the few he raced in the seasons. Oriol is yet to win in the Indycar series, and does currently have other interests that may distract him, he did run in the Formula E championship with Dragon Racing and since become a managing director. His best finish in the races at Indianapolis has been 4th, could he improve that, put Formula E aside and win for the first time?

ROW 5

#7 Mikhail Aleshin
Team: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Nationality: Russian
Livery: Red/Black
Championship Position: 17

Russian Mikhail comparing to the majority of the field could still be seen as a rookie, racing with the same team since 2014, and taking a gap in 2015, he has only raced in two Indy 500’s. A lacklustre season this time round, victory at the Brickyard would transform his season. Is he ready to shock everyone on raceday?

#15 Graham Rahal
Team: Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
Nationality: American
Livery: Red
Championship Position: 13

Rahal has been racing in Indycar since its inaugural season, with solid 4th/5th finishes in the last two seasons. Graham won last year at the Texas Motor Speedway, and has come close to winning the Indy 500 on multiple occasions, in the top 5 in recent couple years, at best 3rd in 2011. Relatively young considering for the experience he has in the series, Rahal does know how to win in the Indycar series and finished in 6th at the road course. Could he continue with this momentum of the best result of the season and win for the first time?

ROW 6

#8 Max Chilton
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Nationality: British
Livery: Dark Blue/Blue/White
Championship Position: 15

Max Chilton joined the Indycar series in 2016 after being promoted from Indy Lights in his rookie season, following his departure from Marussia in Formula 1 due to their collapse. Retired Indycar legend Brit Dario Franchitti has taken Max under his wing to improve him for the season ahead. He had a very quiet rookie season with his best finish being on an oval early in the season at Phoenix. It seems that the help from Dario is improving him, except for his collision at Phoenix he has solid results. His best finish was last time out on the road course, could Max finally deliver on the big stage?

#83 Charlie Kimball
Team: Chip Ganassi Racing
Nationality: American
Livery: Black/Lime Green
Championship Position: 19

Charlie is a good reliable and consistent driver, last season he had a spree of top 10 finishes in the latter half of the season. He has raced with Chip Ganassi since the beginning as a full time driver. His form on ovals looks good, finishing 8th at Phoenix this season and his last two races on the oval at Indianapolis have seen him finish in the top 5, 3rd and 5th respectively. He has won once in the series back in 2013 in Mid-Ohio, will he be able to add to this, and improve further on his streak of impressive results?

#5 James Hinchcliffe
Team: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Nationality: Canadian
Livery: Brown/Black
Championship Position: 6

Canadian driver James Hinchcliffe is in good spirits ahead of the race, looking good prior, especially winning the second race of the season around the streets of Long Beach, the first time winning since 2015 at Louisiana. He has history at the event, in 2014 he was hit by debris, causing concussion and needing medical clearance to race again. In 2015 he suffered a suspension failure causing an enormous near fatal crash in practice, causing him to miss the rest of that season. He bounced back to secure pole last year, but can he finally taste victory after all the history James has had at the brickyard?

ROW 7

#18 Juan Pablo Montoya
Team: Team Penske
Nationality: Colombian
Livery: Black
Championship Position: 23

Seasoned veteran Montoya has been around a long time, now reaching 41, this could be one of the few times we see Montoya racing again. He has been around in near enough every big racing series, beginning in CART/Indycar then moving to Formula 1 to NASCAR and then back to Indycar. Montoya albeit now a part time racer, after being ousted by Penske last year may not take racing as serious as he once did. He finished 10th on his return on the road course last time out. Juan has won the Indy 500 twice now, but his most recent ended in the wall when he lost the car in the middle of the race. Can he show he still has it, and win for the third time?

#3 Helio Castroneves
Team: Team Penske
Nationality: Brazilian
Livery: Teak/White
Championship Position: 4

Helio has been racing non-stop in Indycar since 2001, and with Team Penske all the way. He is the nearly man in terms of the outright championship, runner up on 4 separate occasions over his career and never winning the title. He is only 1 of 5 drivers to manage to win the Indy 500 in consecutive years, and they were his first two attempts. Helio manged to win for a third time in 2009, 7 years after that feat in 2002. He is looking very strong, with all races this season finishing amongst the top 9 drivers, albeit it has been a while since he tasted victory. With current form, knowing how to win at the brickyard and strong rapport with his team, could we see Helio join that illustrious group of 4 time winners?

#77 Jay Howard
Team: Schmidt Peterson Motorsports
Nationality: British
Livery: Blue/White
Championship Position: N/A

This is a one off for Jay, after a 6 year hiatus from the series, financed by Tony Stewart. He last three races of that year were all ovals, and has raced at Indianapolis before. Jay seems to have improved two-fold especially with his qualifying position. The closest he has come was in 2011 running up the front of the field, but then a puncture resulted him falling multiple laps behind. Can Howard try to get a full time seat for 2018 by winning this season’s race?

#24 Sage Karam
Team: Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
Nationality: American
Livery: Black/Yellow
Championship Position: N/A

This is a one off for the team of Dreyer & Reinbold, and Sage Karam. The 2013 Indycar Lights champion managed to secure his seat with this time for third time in the last 4 seasons albeit taking part in the 4 recent 500’s. He has been a full time driver for one season with Chip Ganassi, but elsewhere has only done this event. The team only take part in this event since 2013 as they were unable to secure stable sponsorship. Sage hasn’t seen the glory days like his title win, and disappointingly being classified 32nd in the last two races. Can Sage return to the glory days and win?

ROW 8

#2 Josef Newgarden
Team: Team Penske
Nationality: American
Livery: Black
Championship Position: 4

Josef is entering his 6th Indy 500 and his 1st with Team Penske after making the switch from Ed Carpenter Racing last year. He has his strong and weak tracks, and he seems to enjoy the Barber Motorsport Park in Alabama, having achieved podiums in the last 3 years, and importantly winning in 2017. He has good form at Indianapolis progressively getting better, taking third last year. Josef finished 4th in last year’s standings, and third at Indy, if he keeps managing to improve could he win the race, and push on for first title too?

#1 Simon Pagenaud
Team: Team Penske
Nationality: French
Livery: Yellow
Championship Position: 1

2016 series champion Simon Pagenaud is one of modern day Indycar’s best, always pushing up front for victories, and never give up attitude. Simon does have one flaw and it seems to be his form on ovals, all wins prior to this year at Phoenix, were on street or road courses. The Frenchman as of yet has not finished outside the top 5 at all races, and looks very certain to be in the mix for his second title. He was close to winning the 2015 Indy 500, but tailed off late on due to tyres. Simon currently sits first in the standings but a lowly qualifying may hinder his chances at increasing the lead, as well as winning the Indy 500 for the first time. Could he build upon the fact he managed to win on an oval for the first time in his career this season, and win the 500 for the first time too?

#14 Carlos Munoz
Team: AJ Foyt Enterprises
Nationality: Colombian
Livery: Red/White/Blue
Championship Position: 16

Carlos is a solid racing driver, and has been strong throughout the young years of his Indycar career, now settling into his 4th full season, after races here and there after his progression from Indy Lights he has always been one to keep an eye on. His Indy 500 form is really good too, in the four attempts he has finished runner up on two occasions, once being last year. Current season form has lacked, and currently not living up to expectations after his move from Andretti Motorsport which he raced for last 3 seasons. He has come so close to winning the Indy 500, can he manage to finally go one better this time?

ROW 9

#88 Gabby Chaves
Team: Harding Racing
Nationality: Colombian
Livery: White/Light Blue
Championship Position: N/A

Gabby is entering his first event, of the three that himself and Harding Racing have decided to enter this year, from the selection of races it seems that they are solely interested in the thrill of ovals, with Indianapolis, Texas and Pocono being the races. The team see this as a taster for maybe a full term season in 2018. Gabby has raced at Indianapolis previous, in the last two years, finishing in the midfield. With Harding Racing possibly looking for a full time driver for next season, what better way could Gabby put himself forward by winning the Indy 500?

#4 Conor Daly
Team: AJ Foyt Enterprises
Nationality: American
Livery: Red/White/Blue
Championship Position: 16

Conor is in his second full time seat in the Indycar series, after moving around from the GP3/GP2 series, it seems he has finally found a footing and a base where he can settle and improve. His Dad, Derek, was a previous Indy/F1 driver, so racing is in his blood. He had some great races last year, finishing on the podium for the first time at Detroit, the race after the Indy 500. This will be his fourth Indy 500, and as of yet from previous results his season has really yet to start, could this a be the turning point? His form at the event isn’t very good, but things can change, does Daly’s season start here?

#50 Jack Harvey (R)
Team: Michael Shank Racing (Andretti Motorsport)
Nationality: British
Livery: Black/Yellow/Pink
Championship Position: N/A

Jack is entering his not only first Indy 500, but his first ever Indycar race. He has been racing in America for the last few years, in 2014 & 2015 in the Indy Lights support series he classified second in both final standings. For the team that Jack is representing, it is also a first time they are taking part in the event, they were looking back in 2013, but nothing was finalised in time. The British driver won at his last visit to Indianapolis in the Indy Lights in 2015, yet to perform on the big stage, could he pull one of the shocks of all time and win his first ever race, being his first Indy 500?

ROW 10

#63 Pippa Mann
Team: Dale Coyne Racing
Nationality: British
Livery: White/Pink
Championship Position: N/A

Pippa is the sole woman driver in this year’s running of the Indy 500, she has taken part in 5 of the last 6 races, finishing in 4 of them. This is her sole chance to shine in 2017 as she isn’t expected to take part in any other events in the series this year. Pippa has tasted victory on an oval in America in the Indy Lights series at Kentucky, so knows how to win. As of yet there has never been a female winner, could Pippa become the first ever woman to win the race?

#11 Spencer Pigot
Team: Juncos Racing
Nationality: American
Livery: Green/White
Championship Position: 21

Spencer races for owner/driver Ed Carpenter, and as owner Ed has decided he wishes to race in the Indy 500. Spencer therefore lost his seat. This would be Spencer’s only second time entering the race, his 2016 participation didn’t end well, finishing considerable amount of laps down due to running out of fuel during a caution. Spencer has taken part in the event, and experienced the sheer speed of the cars around the brickyard. He is known as a road course driver, could he put his argument across a full season drive with a win?

#44 Buddy Lazier
Team: Lazier Partner Racing
Nationality: American
Livery: White
Championship Position: N/A

Buddy at the tender age of 49 is entering his 20th Indy 500, and it is once more like the previous 5 attempts the only race he will take part in within the series. He has won the Indy 500 in the past, the 1996 race, it was his first of many race wins in the Indycar series. Buddy won the series in the year 2000. At the age of 49 if he were to win the event, he would break the record of the eldest driver to win the event, eclipsing the likes of Emerson Fittipaldi and Al Unser, Al winning at age 47. Could Buddy break those records and win for the second time?

ROW 11

#17 Sebastian Saavedra
Team: Juncos Racing
Nationality: Colombian
Livery: Green/White
Championship Position: N/A

The second entrant for the race for the Juncos Racing team, Sebastian like the team is running in his only event of the 2017 season. He has raced at Indianapolis before on many an occasion. He has raced in 2 full seasons in Indycar, with a best finish of 8th, his last outing at Indy in 2015 ended with an accident that saw him being taken by ambulance to the medical facility on track. The crash resulted in him being unable to exit the car under on his own steam, and needing assistance to do so. Sebastian has raced at Indianapolis before and finished the race, experienced the lows of crashing out, but could he experience the high of winning it for the first time? It may get team bosses looking at him for a full race seat for 2018?

#40 Zach Veach (R)
Team: AJ Foyt Enterprises
Nationality: American
Livery: White/Purple
Championship Position: 24

Zach has had experience in Indycar once so far in his career, and that was at Alabama road course earlier on the season, replacing the injured Hildebrand. He has raced at Indianapolis before in the support series Indy Lights, but this is his rookie season. He is slowly coming to grips with the extreme changes between the two series. He finished 19th at Alabama, and his three races in Indy Lights at Indianapolis he finished solidly in the top 10. Albeit last qualified, anything is possible, could Zach win for AJ Foyt?

#18 James Davison
Team: Dale Coyne Racing
Nationality: Australian
Livery: White/Red
Championship Position: N/A

James is replacing the injured Frenchman Sebastien Bourdais who suffered a frightening crash during qualifying, which left him needing surgery after a 220mph impact. James is rumoured to keep Sebastian’s seat until the end of the season. He has raced in the Indy 500 on two previous occasions, albeit no higher than 16th finish. Could James win, make the most of what a great opportunity he has been given? If he does though, you have to feel for Bourdais, he looked untouchable in qualifying.

I do hope these little insights do help everyone in terms of a bit of background information on each driver, and highlights of some of the previous Indy 500s. As a whole we have a few rookies, various winners and some true Indycar legends in the field for the 101st running of the Indy 500. What is needed is pure commitment, speed and a pinch of luck to win at the brickyard, will it be someone new? or will it be someone adding to their name to select few of winning in multiple times. We shall see, but I for one am thoroughly looking forward to the race.

Chris Lord
Image courtesy of Eric Barnes

Zandvoort Return: Invest For Max?

In article two of this mini-series we look at the possibility of Formula 1 to return to Holland.

Teenage sensation Max Verstappen in his rookie season burst onto screen in Australia 2015, scoring first points in his second Grand Prix in Malaysia. Verstappen had a successful campaign. His do or die attitude on track made him at times the centre of attention. With events early in season of 2016 he moved from Toro Rosso to Red Bull mid-season. Driving for them it created iconic moments such as his win in Spain & drive in Brazil he truly became a crowd favourite. Max Verstappen undoubtedly looks like he has the talent to be a future world champion.

Sergio Perez was similar to Verstappen, amazing drives earlier in his career at Sauber, especially at Malaysia, Canada & Monza of the season 2012. This rejuvenated the popularity of the sport in his home country Mexico. In following seasons a revival of Hermanos Rodrigues came to discussion, originally planned for 2014, but with time constraints placed on the calendar for 2015. Using that as a guideline could we see a return to the Netherlands in the next few years?

Liberty Media are seeking an increase in the calendar, we have two possible options, being existing tracks of Zandvoort, hosting the Grand Prix in the past and Assen. Zandvoort would be the logical choice as Assen is steriotypically more focused on bikes, and it being closer to the capital of Holland, Amsterdam. The track is graded Level 2 as by the FIA as current, making Formula 1 the only series that isn’t compliant. The main event that is run annually at Zandvoort is the DTM series in August. Interest tends to be heightened around this race due to Formula 1 having its summer break and crowd levels are very high at the event.

The track has changed in many ways since the most recent Dutch Grand Prix in 1985 which Niki Lauda won in the McLaren from starting tenth on the grid, he narrowly edged team mate Alain Prost by 0.2secs, which resulted in some great racing! On track from those changes though little needs to be looked at, the current track layout (See above) has high to medium sweeping corners to begin, in this age of Formula 1 would truly be a great spectacle. The latter half of the track is where downforce would be more key. Looking at the track, the long sweeping final corner could raise alarms, you could see something similar being put in place as like Catalunya/Barcelona in 2007. A slower chicane to break up the excessive speed, and also be put in place to increase the chance of overtaking along the pit straight. A possible DRS zone has been put in place on the current track layout on the picture earlier in the article.

Recently off track since that year the start/finish grandstand and pit area has had substantial amount of work to it to bring up to modern standards. Further work around the area would certainly be something required to comply with level 1 FIA grading. Zandvoort currently has a half hourly train service to and from central Amsterdam, with a small population, areas around the track for usability and access to the track need to be looked at as this also comes into consideration with the grading system that is used.

That is why Formula 1 could once more race in Holland, please keep an eye out for more articles in this series in the not too distant future, we will be looking at the possibility of Kyalami, Formula 1 returning to South Africa for the first time since 1993.

Chris Lord
16th May 2017.

Picture courtesy of Pirelli Motorsports

Andrew Hone photography

Magic Monaco Moments – Panis 1996

In the 1996 season this race will long live in the memory of any Formula 1 or Motorsport enthusiast. Williams prior to the event had dominated, taking 5 wins from 5 with eventual 1996 world champion Damon Hill taking four of them. Michael Schumacher & Ferrari were hot on the heels of the British based team though, he took pole for the Grand Prix. Various teams were struggling over the weekend in particular Ligier, the team were suffering with misfiring issues with the Mugen Honda engine they ran, a resulting in a poor qualifying session for Olivier Panis & team mate Pedro Diniz.

In the 90’s prior to the race like MotoGP still has, Formula 1 had a warm-up session, Olivier Panis in the session looked very strong, in fact the Ligier was quickest with teams making adjustments throughout the session as they know the bad weather was on its way. Drivers had issues though in the weather, the likes of Mika Hakkinen crashing, Forti-Ford driver Andrea Montermini did serious damage which actually prevented him from taking part in the race.

The track was wet, and drivers managed to get an understanding of the track, so on the grid they lined up. Jos Verstappen in the Footwork took a major risk starting on slicks, even though track was far from it. It was a clean get away at the front with Damon Hill jumping pole sitter Schumacher, but looking further down the field with Verstappen being on the slicks a first corner incident was inevitable. We lost him and the Minardi’s at Ste Devote, the first corner of the Monaco track. To look at what an idiotic choice that was, no other driver chose to run the slicks until lap 26.

The next driver to hit the wall was a surprise, renowned as the ‘rain miester’ Michael Schumacher was pushing hard to make amends for a poor start but he hit the wall coming out of the hairpin. This was a very uncharacteristic mistake of the German, this error then gave Hill control of the race. Further incidents and mechanical issues ensued, such as Rubens Barrichello also crashing on lap 1 and Pedro Diniz retiring with transmission problems, only 13 of the 21 starters running after 5 laps of the 78 lap race.

A gap was forming across the field, due to the horrible conditions, bigger gaps than normal. Eddie Irvine was holding a few cars up struggling in the overcast weather. Hill was in total control, the race settled down for 20 minutes with rhythms beginning to form. The track then dried, and Hill only briefly lost the lead on lap 30 to Jean Alesi after switching to slicks as Alesi decided to go later before making the switch. Another notable development was that Olivier Panis and other drivers managed to overtake the slow Irvine on track, something of rarity at Monaco.

Hill on lap 40 had a whopping 30 second gap to second placed Alesi in the Benneton, who was having a quiet race amongst the drama that had been taking place around him. Hill looked like he was going to make it 6 from 6 for Williams and continue their dominance but then…. Out of the tunnel a cloud of smoke followed the Williams driver’s car, an oil pump failure had happened. This then promoted Jean Alesi into the lead in the Benetton, well known for his win in 1995 at Canada in a Ferrari. He continued to lead for the next 20 laps seeking a second win, but then even further mechanical issues and it was the Frenchman’s suspension. This ruined Alesi’s hopes and no chances followed, therefore his only win being in 1995 at Canada.

Although! Great news for France, fellow countryman Panis took the lead after this retirement, who started 14th. He led David Coulthard in his first season for Mclaren by around 5 seconds and it looked like a battle could ensue. Eddie Irvine capped an awful race for himself and an eventful race by spinning and coming back on track was hit by Finn Mika Salo, in turn hit by fellow Finn Mika Hakkinen.

We were down to four running! The race wasn’t going to be completed as the two hour time limit was going to come into play. Heinz Harald Frentzen decided to enter the pits as he was a lap down but was officially classified along with Salo and Hakkinen. This left only three drivers to see the chequered flag. Olivier Panis winning his one and only race, with Ligier’s first in fifteen seasons. British duo David Coulthard and Johnny Herbert completed the podium in their Mclaren and Benetton cars. Coulthard had pre-race drama of his own, his iconic Scottish helmet was steaming up making it impossible to drive, he ended up borrowing Michael Schumacher’s spare!

Monaco 1996 holds the record for the least amount of cars to see the chequered flag of three, and most retirements in terms of percentage of the field at 85%. Truly a race to remember, which can be noted as one the best races ever. Raw pace wasn’t the factor this time like it normally is, Monaco 1996 was more about pinch of luck with reliability, and keeping your car in control amongst the barriers of Monaco.

Chris Lord
16 May 2017

New Era of GP3

A quick overview on the GP3 2017 series, last year they introduced a new GP3 specification car. They also use Pirelli rubber and the rear tyres configuration has changed, tyre management will come into play more this year. It is a first this year they have DRS, still needing to be less than a second behind the driver in front. It is not available all the time throughout the race, they have so many amount of times to use it, for Spain they have an allocation of 6 uses.

Race One

Jack Aitken took pole for the first GP3 race of 2017. Aitken was very squirmy, lots of rear wheel spin from the get go, Nirei Fukuzimi got the jump who started second, Aitken dropped to second. A very clean first couple of corners, albeit a few drivers ran wide Dorian Boccalaci being the most notable, bit too aggressive out of turn 2, going from attempting to pass Aitken for second but dropped to fourth.

Fukuzimi and Aitken were in a league of their own, sharing fastest laps and pulling away from the field. The introduction of DRS provided some great overtakes, not everyone is a fan of the system we all do know. Alessio Lorandi and George Russell were on fire, using the DRS to good effect. Russell did start fourth but went to as low as eighth on lap one. We were robbed as Aitken came out of turn 5 and a problem for the Brit, mechanical issue slowed him. He crept around to the pits, and retired. Aitken was starting to use his own DRS usage to put the pressure on the race leader.

The TV screens then focused to the Italian drivers in second and third, Leonardo Bulcini of Arden held on to second, albeit Lorandi who finished third was all over the back of his fellow countryman. Bulcini was ecstatic, raising is hand in joy like he had won! Although Fukuzimi was the victor, he won by 7 seconds, took it easy in the last couple of laps as per mentioned due to the unfortunate end of Aitken on lap 16. Fukuzimi is in his second season, staying with ART. The Japanese driver looks strong for the season coming now knowing all the tracks unlike previous years.

Campos team mates of Raoul Hyman and Marcos Siebert were having a right battle for eighth place, as with GP3, finishing eighth seals you pole for race two. Siebert lit his rear wheels out of penultimate corner, lost eighth, giving pole to Hyman.

Race Two

Arjun Maini started second on the grid after finishing seventh on race one, and at the start he got the jump on Hyman and lead clearly into turn one. Once more there was no severe accidents in the first couple of laps, you’d think being a junior series more accidents, but a very clean weekend took place at Barcelona. Maini set fastest lap early on, the teenager looks up to Sebastian Vettel and pulled away very similiar to the German in the latter stages. Maini is a 2014 runner up for Formula 4, so he has experience in open wheel races.

It wasn’t all plain sailing, Dorian Boccalaci was extremely quick, hot on the heels of the Indian driver, on lap four/five him and Maini were side by side from the pit straight going into turn four but Maini held on. On lap six Boccalaci at turn one he passed Maini using one of his DRS allocations, but out of turn two, Maini managed to re-overtake him

Alessio Lorandi once more like race one managed to control himself and his car to get better speed the later the race goes on. The Italian had lovely outside pass around Hyman at turn one for fourth on lap 9. 5 laps to go Lorandi went up to third, and the place stayed as is. Lorandi only driver to finish on the podium for both races.

Arjun Maini came round to win in Spain, he won by 6 seconds. Maini recently signed a partnership with Haas and with former F1 driver Karun Chandhok supporting him, could see a tasty battle for the remaining events along with race one winner and Honda driver Fukuzimi.

The Standings

Race one winner Fukuzumi holds the lead going into the next round after his first and sixth race finishes. Mr consistent Lorandi in second, podium in both races this weekend, the only driver to do so, and race two winner Arjun Maini in third. British drivers Jack Aitken, who was unlucky in race one, and George Russell who has a solid weekend will look to build upon the start of the season and preparation for the British Grand Prix in two races time. GP3 has a break, a much shorter schedule than parent series of Formula 2 and Formula 1. We will next be racing in Austria at the Red Bull Ring on 9 July, gives food for thought for all drivers before they turn the wheel next.

Chris Lord