RXR Top Qualifiers Once Again


image courtesy of Extreme E

RXR topped qualifying for the second time in as many rounds in Sardinia today, taking maximum points from the two sessions.

Qualifying 1:

By Extreme E’s standards, Qualifying 1 was a very sedate affair, with all teams able to post a time.

RXR were the first team to do their run, and they set a benchmark time of 9:00.503, some 10 seconds quicker than they set around the same track just a few days earlier.

RXR’s benchmark would not be beaten, with some drivers blaming evolving track conditions for their inability to beat it. Chip Ganassi went closest, with X44 not far behind.

Maximum classification points for Qualifying 1 were awarded to RXR, with Veloce’s continuing run of poor form see them prop up the classification.

Qualifying 1 Classification:

  1. RXR  9:00.503  –  10 Points
  2. Chip Ganassi  +10.741  –  9 Points
  3. X44  +11.374  –  8 Points
  4. McLaren +15.126  –  7 Points
  5. Andretti United  +15.203  –  6 Points
  6. ABT Cupra  +16.919  –  5 Points
  7. JBXE  +21.634  –  4 Points
  8. Acciona Sainz  +21.701  –  3 Points
  9. Xite Energy  +22.917  –  2 points
  10. Veloce  +34.065  –  1 Point

Qualifying 2 Heat 1:

The first heat of Qualifying 1 was contested between Xite Energy, Andretti United, X44, RXR, and JBXE.

RXR got the best start and took the lead of the race. Despite some intense pressure from X44 on the first lap, they would not relinquish the lead of the race.

Further behind, Xite Energy made contact with Andretti United, causing the right rear suspension to break on the Andretti car. Timmy Hansen, who was driving in the Andretti at the time, lost the back end, and spun. They dropped to the back of the field and would not complete their second lap.

After the switching of drivers, Xite Energy’s Tamara Molinaro overtook the less experienced JBXE driver, Hedda Hosas for third place.

X44 received a post heat penalty for leaving the switch zone early, but it was not enough to see them drop any positions.

Qualifying 2 Heat 1 Classification:

  1. RXR  –  10 Points
  2. X44  –  8 Points
  3. Xite  –  6 Points
  4. JBXE  –  4 Points
  5. Andretti  –  0 Points

Qualifying 2 Heat 2:

McLaren, Chip Ganassi, ABT Cupra, Acciona Sainz, and Veloce all competed against one another in the second and final heat in Qualifying 2.

Acciona Sainz got the best start, swiftly taking the lead before the first waypoint. Kyle Leduc in the Chip Ganassi harried the Acciona Sainz car for much of the lap, but was unable to make the move.

Towards the end of the first lap, Leduc made a mistake, seeing him lose control of the car and go the wrong way. The Chip Ganassi team dropped back into fourth place following Leduc’s off-course excursion.

Not much would happen for the remainder of the heat, as Acciona Sainz took a comfortable win ahead of McLaren and ABT Cupra.

Chip Ganassi received a 10 second penalty for dropping a waypoint marker, seeing them fall into last place in the second heat.

Qualifying 2 Heat 2 Classification:

  1. Acciona Sainz  –  10 Points
  2. McLaren  –  8 Points
  3. ABT Cupra  –  6 Points
  4. Veloce  –  4 Points
  5. Chip Ganassi  –  2 Points

Overall Qualifying Classification:

  1. RXR  20 Points
  2. X44   16 Points
  3. McLaren  15 Points
  4. Acciona Sainz  13 Points
  5. Chip Ganassi  11 Points
  6. ABT Cupra  11 Points
  7. JBXE  8 Points
  8. Xite Energy   8 Points
  9. Andretti United   6 Points
  10. Veloce  5 Points

RXR completed another qualifying clean sweep, putting them into Semi Final 1 against Acciona Sainz and Chip Ganassi.

Semi Final 2 will feature X44, McLaren, and ABT Cupra. JBXE, Xite Energy, Andretti United, and Veloce will all face off in the Crazy Race for the fifth and final place in the Final.

Extreme E: RXR Victorious in Season Opener

image courtesy of ExtremeE Carl Bingham

The reigning Extreme E champions, RXR, got their title defence off to a dream start as they crossed the line to win the Desert X Prix.

Semi Final 1:

Race day for the Desert X Prix kicked off with Semi Final 1 as X44, RXR, and Xite Energy looked to book their place in the final.

The lights went out and John Kristofferson of RXR and Cristina Gutierrez of X44 were neck and neck for first position as they approached the first flag. Unfortunately for X44, Cristina went slightly off line and lost out to both RXR and Xite Energy.

As the first lap progressed Tamara Molinaro in the Xite Energy car hounded Johan Kristofferson, but a mistake saw her lose a position to Gutierrez. They came into the switch zone RXR, X44, then Xite Energy, all seemingly close to one another.

After the changeover of drivers, the Xite Energy and X44 cars jostled hard for position as they looked to close in on Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky in the RXR machine. However, in the battle between Xite Energy and X44, Oliver Bennett knocked over a flag which would see Xite Energy handed a ten-second time penalty.

It was relatively plain-sailing for Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky out front until she made what could have been a crucial error. Capitalising on her mistake, both Loeb in the X44 and Bennett in the Xite Energy overtook her, with the latter swapping positions with the RXR car for much of the rest of the lap.

X44 crossed the line first to book their place in the final as Xite Energy just pipped the RXR car to the post. Luckily for RXR, the time penalty given to Xite Energy saw the German team promoted into second place, and also secure their place in the final.

Semi Final 1 Classification:

  1. X44 9:05.107
  2. RXR +7.660
  3. Xite Energy +17.590

Semi Final 2:

ABT Cupra were supposed to be lining up alongside Andretti United and Chip Ganassi in the second semi final, but were replaced by Acciona Sainz after the stewards deemed an incident between the two in qualifying was the fault of ABT Cupra.

It was lights out and away the teams went with Laia Sanz in the Acciona Sainz getting the best initial getaway. Kyle Leduc in the Chip Ganassi was not one to let the lead get away, however, and used his hyperdrive to gain first place.

Leduc didn’t look back after that, handing over to Sara Price in the switch zone in a very good position. Behind them, Acciona Sainz were just able to stay ahead of Andretti United as they came into the switch.

Upon leaving the switch zone, Carlos Sainz in the Acciona Sainz car and Timmy Hansen in the Andretti United car were nose to tail. Disaster struck then for Hansen, as he struck a tuft of grass whilst trying to overtake. The car rolled but thankfully Timmy Hansen got out of the car seemingly unharmed.

With two places in the final up for grabs and only two cars left in the race, Carlos Sainz and Sara Price cruised home to the finish.

Semi Final 2 Classification:

  1. Chip Ganassi 9:12.337
  2. Acciona Sainz +6.850
  3. Andretti United +1 Lap

Crazy Race:

The fifth and final place in the final was to be contested by JBXE, ABT Cupra, McLaren, and Veloce. Veloce reserve driver Hedda Hosas replaced Christine GZ, who had broken her foot in a crash on qualifying day.

Off the line JBXE got an early lead as Emma Gilmour in the McLaren produced a stunning move around the outside to go from fourth to second.

Meanwhile the bad weekend continued for Veloce as Lance Woolridge hit a bump too hard and damaged the car.

Jutta Kleinschmidt in the ABT Cupra sought to chase down Emma Gilmour and the two came into the switch zone neck and neck, just behind Kevin Hansen in the JBXE but some distance ahead of the Veloce car.

After the switch, Tanner Foust in the McLaren and Nasser Al-Attiyah in the ABT Cupra looked to close the gap to Molly Taylor in the JBXE car.

Towards the end of the race, Foust and Al-Attiyah had finally caught up to Taylor and the former used all his experience to send his car down the inside. Al-Attiyah behind soon followed.

That’s how the race would finish with McLaren crossing the line to reach an impressive final on debut. Meanwhile, JBXE were handed a seven-second time penalty for speeding in the pitlane, although this didn’t change the end result.

Crazy Race Classification:

  1. McLaren 9:14.250
  2. ABT Cupra +2.642
  3. JBXE +11.623
  4. Veloce +3:39.676

Final:

Acciona Sainz, RXR, Chip Ganassi, X44, and McLaren all lined up on the grid for the final, hoping to get their seasons off to the best possible start.

Carlos Sainz in the Acciona Sainz car got off to a great start, leading out X44 and RXR as they reached the first flag. Foust in the McLaren and Price in the Chip Ganassi were just behind.

But then tragedy struck for McLaren. Unsighted by the dust, Foust drove into the back of RXR’s Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky and rolled the car. Thankfully he was able to walk away but McLaren would go no further on an impressive debut.

Nothing changed for the rest of the lap and a red flag was called just as the other four teams entered the switch zone.

Once Foust had been assessed and the stricken McLaren moved, the race restarted, with teams being staggered according to how they came in. Laia Sanz in the Acciona Sainz went first with Cristina Gutierrez in the X44 machine not far behind. A bit further back Johan Kristofferson for RXR and Kyle Leduc for Chip Ganassi were released.

In the final lap shootout the damaged RXR car looked to chase down the two leaders. Using his hyperdrive to make the move, Kristofferson overtook last year’s championship runners up X44.

An inspired move came next from Kristofferson as he used all of the width of the course to carry as much momentum as possible into the final corners, snatching the lead off of Acciona Sainz. RXR crossed the line first, swiftly followed by Acciona Sainz and X44. Chip Ganassi was a little further behind in fourth.

Final Classification:

  1. RXR 17:50.908
  2. Acciona Sainz +2.483
  3. X44 +5.807
  4. Chip Ganassi +25.202
  5. McLaren +2 Laps

RXR top the weekend classification with that win in the final, seeing them claim twenty-five crucial points in their bid to retain the title.

Elsewhere McLaren come an impressive fifth place overall, gaining them ten points on debut and X44 got twenty points (fifteen for finishing third and five for having the fastest time through the Continental Traction Challenge).

Weekend Classification:

  1. RXR
  2. Acciona Sainz
  3. X44
  4. Chip Ganassi
  5. McLaren
  6. Andretti United
  7. Xite Energy
  8. ABT Cupra
  9. JBXE
  10. Veloce

Championship Standings:

  1. RXR 25 Points
  2. X44 20 Points
  3. Acciona Sainz 18 Points
  4. Chip Ganassi 12 Points
  5. McLaren 10 Points
  6. Andretti United 8 Points
  7. Xite Energy 6 Points
  8. ABT Cupra 4 Points
  9. JBXE 2 Points
  10. Veloce 1 Point

Extreme E: X44 Continue Qualifying Dominance

New season, same X44 for Sir Lewis Hamilton’s team as they finished top qualifiers yet again in Extreme E’s season two opener in Saudi Arabia.

Qualifying 1:

Heavy rain overnight meant we would have to wait to witness Extreme E’s new qualifying format, which would have seen two five-car races. However, due to the track conditions, the organisers decided a return to the previous season’s format of individual team runs was required.

Jutta Kleinschmidt for ABT Cupra got the first competitive session of the season under way, putting in a strong lap time for her teammate and debutant Nasser Al-Attiyah to build upon.

His first lap in anger was going well too, until he missed the finish line. Rather than accepting a five-second time penalty, however, Al-Attiyah turned around and made sure he went through the finishing gate. It’s estimated this cost him thirty five seconds.

Chip Ganassi and Andretti United were the next teams to set a time. The Ganassi team initially went fastest, but were just beaten out by Andretti United. After their runs, both teams received a five second time penalty for various switch zone infringements.

Last year’s championship contenders, X44 and RXR hit the track with incredible speed and after their laps the teams went into second and first respectively.

JBXE followed RXR and they pushed hard. Perhaps too hard, as during Molly Taylor’s lap something broke on the car. She struggled to the end of the lap and finished one minute behind RXR’s benchmark time of 9:03.604.

Acciona Sainz and Xite Energy were next onto the track, with both teams completing their runs within twenty seconds of the leader.

Veloce became the penultimate team to try and set a time in Qualifying 1. Lance Woolridge was very quick around his lap and handed over to Christine GZ just marginally down on RXR’s time. GZ flew round the track but pushed just a little too hard and rolled the car. Thankfully, GZ was able to limp away from the crash but the team would not finish their run.

Newcomers McLaren finished off the qualifying session as Emma Gilmour took to the wheel. A steady run from both her and Tanner saw them finish in a respectable seventh position.

RXR were fastest in Qualifying 1, gaining ten intermediate points, with X44 just behind in second and Andretti United in third.

Qualifying 1 Classification:

  1. RXR 9:03.604    10 Points
  2. X44 +6.911    9 Points
  3. Andretti United +11.091   8 Points
  4. Chip Ganassi +12.238   7 Points
  5. Xite Energy +13.799   6 Points
  6. Acciona Sainz +17.751   5 Points
  7. McLaren +23.375   4 Points
  8. ABT Cupra +46.781   3 Points
  9. JBXE +1:00.763    2 Points
  10. Veloce +1 Lap   1 Point

Qualifying 2:

Qualifying 2 saw Extreme E revert back to the intended qualifying format this season. The teams were divided into two heats (teams in even positions after Qualifying 1 in Heat 1, odd positions in Heat 2).

In Heat 1, X44, Chip Ganassi, Acciona Sainz, ABT Cupra, and Veloce were all due to race against each other for more intermediate points. Veloce, however, were not able to take part as they were not able to repair the car following GZ’s Qualifying 1 accident.

As the lights went green X44 got a good start and took the lead. After the first few markers they lined up X44, Acciona Sainz, ABT Cupra, and Chip Ganassi.

Towards the end of the first lap, ABT Cupra’s Nasser Al-Attiyah was chasing down Acciona Sainz’s Carlos Sainz. Al-Attiyah used all his experience to throw the car up Sainz’s inside but crucially missed a waypoint marker. In trying to get back on line, he cut across Sainz and both teams suffered damage. Sainz dropped to the back and ultimately wouldn’t leave the switch zone. ABT Cupra lost power steering.

Heat 1 in Qualifying 2 ended with X44 winning the race comfortably, ahead of Chip Ganassi and ABT Cupra, and took home ten more intermediate points.

Heat 1 Classification:

  1. X44 9:00.620   10 Points
  2. Chip Ganassi +19.580   8 Points
  3. ABT Cupra +3:13.972   6 Points
  4. Acciona Sainz +1 Lap   4 Points
  5. Veloce DNS   2 Points

Heat 2 saw the remaining five teams (RXR, Andretti United, Xite Energy, McLaren, and JBXE) all take to the track as they tried to get themselves into a semi-final.

Andretti United had the best start, propelling themselves into first position after the first few flags. Behind them, McLaren, RXR, Xite Energy, and JBXE followed in that order.

Tanner Foust in the McLaren was chasing Andretti United’s Timmy Hansen for much of the first lap, but was ultimately not able to overtake him before the switch. Further behind, RXR and Xite Energy jostled for third position.

Disaster struck for McLaren in the switch zone as a technical issue meant Emma Gilmour could not get the car started quickly. By the time she got moving, the Woking based team had dropped far to the back.

With Johan Kristofferson now behind the wheel, RXR hoped to claw back some time on the cars ahead. He managed to do just, providing us with a thrilling finish to pass Katie Munnings in the Andretti United just before the line. Sadly for the German team, they received a post-race seventeen-second time penalty for speeding in the switch zone, promoting Andretti United into first place.

Heat 2 Classification:

  1. Andretti United 9:10.693   10 Points
  2. Xite Energy +13.703   8 Points
  3. JBXE +15.371   6 Points
  4. RXR +16.079   4 Points
  5. McLaren +52.673   2 Points

With the intermediate points from Qualifying 1 and 2 added together and any tying teams separated by fastest Continental Traction Challenge time, X44 came out on top, leading Andretti United and Chip Ganassi.

The results of qualifying mean X44 will race against RXR and Xite Energy for two places in the final in Semi-Final 1, while  Andretti United, Chip Ganassi, and ABT Cupra will do battle in Semi-Final 2. This leaves Acciona Sainz, JBXE, McLaren, and Veloce to fight for the fifth and final place in the final in the Crazy Race.

Overall Qualifying Classification:

  1. X44 19 Points
  2. Andretti United 18 Points
  3. Chip Ganassi 15 Points
  4. Xite Energy 14 Points
  5. RXR 14 Points
  6. ABT Cupra 9 Points
  7. Acciona Sainz 9 Points
  8. JNXE 8 Points
  9. McLaren 6 Points
  10. Veloce 3 Points

With the first qualifying day of the new season completed, attention turns to tomorrow, as we look to another exciting day of action.

RXR Come Out On Top In Red Flagged Final

2016 Formula One World Champion Nico Rosberg’s team have sealed a second event win in as many races to extend their lead at the top of the Extreme E Constructors Championship.

Semi Final 1:

Sunday’s action kicked off with the first of the two semi finals. With the top two finishers out of X44, RXR, and Abt Cupra progressing to the final, it was sure to be an entertaining watch.

RXR lined up on the inside, with X44 alongside. Abt Cupra took to the outside grid slot. As the lights went green, there was a lot of initial wheel-spin. Ekstrom in the Abt Cupra was the quickest off the line though, and took an early lead into the first breaking zone. Just behind him X44’s Loeb and RXR’s Kristoffersson were battling it out for second place. Loeb narrowed ahead but Kristoffersson attempted a huge switchback move and took the position. All three cars ran nose to tail all the way through the lap but nobody was able to get by. As they came into the switch zone, Abt Cupra lead RXR, who lead X44.

However, more issues for Jutta Kleinschmidt in the switch-over saw Abt fall to the back of the pack and RXR take the lead. Gutierrez pushed Taylor the whole way but just could not find a way through, and, despite Jutta’s best efforts, she was not able to reclaim a position. RXR crossed the line just two seconds ahead of X44, who were themselves just one second ahead of Abt Cupra. Some incredible misfortune meant Abt Cupra finished the weekend in 5th position, as RXR and X44 progressed to the final.

Molly Taylor (AUS)/Johan Kristoffersson (SWE), Rosberg X Racing | Credit: Extreme E

Semi Final 2:

The second of the two semi finals was just as exciting as the first, arguably more so as Veloce, JBXE, and Xite Energy battled it out for the remaining two places in the final.

This time round, Veloce started on the inside with Jamie Chawick taking their start. JBXE’s Kevin Hansen, and Xite Energy’s Oliver Bennett lined up alongside her. When the lights went out it was Hansen who took the lead, using his hyper drive to extend the gap to the cars behind. As all the cars reached the first turn, JBXE lead with Veloce some way back in second. From there, Hansen continued to extend his lead as Chadwick and Bennett fought over second place the entire lap. For the most part Chadwick was able to keep Bennett behind, but an issue with the pit limiter meant Xite Energy took second in the final few corners before the switch. As all the cars came into the switch zone, JBXE held a significant lead with Xite Energy just edging out Veloce.

Mikaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky took over for JBXE and continued to extend the gap to finish a whopping thirty seconds ahead of her closest rival. Behind her, however, Christine GZ and Stephane Sarrazin continued an enthralling battle. They followed closely the entire lap but Sarrazin spotted a gap and went for it, causing a tight squeeze through a narrow gate. He pushed his way through and, despite a late wobble with the pit limiter, managed to take the final spot in the final. Xite Energy’s weekend ended there, with them finishing 6th overall.

Shoot-out:

The race for positions seven to nine was hotly contested between the teams who had issues in Saturday qualifying.

Andretti United lined up on the inside this time with Acciona Sainz sandwiching the two American outfits. As the lights went out, Timmy Hansen for Andretti United took an early lead, but the experienced Carlos Sainz dived down the inside into the first braking zone and took the position. From there he built out a bit of a gap as Hansen and Price went nose to tail. Several times it looked like the Chip Ganassi car might get past Hansen but she was unable to and the teams entered the switch zone with Sainz leading Andretti, who lead Chip Ganassi.

But then came the Kyle Leduc show as he battled to make up the lost positions. He showed much of his qualifying pace and quickly closed in on the two leaders. Waiting for the bumpy section he had been so fast in all weekend, Leduc followed close behind Munnings and then put his foot to the floor. He screamed past Munnings before taking Sanz for a lead he would not lose. Munnings too closed in on Sanz but was ultimately unable to pass her. Chip Ganassi crossed the line first, followed by Acciona Sainz and Andretti United respectively.

Sara Price (USA)/Kyle Leduc (USA), Segi TV Chip Ganassi Racing | Credit: Extreme E

Final:

The last race of the weekend welcomed two new teams to the final. JBXE and Veloce were taking part in their first final, with RXR and X44 both returning following their success at the Desert X Prix.

RXR started on the inside with X44 alongside. JBXE took the outside grid slot with Veloce taking the space next to them. As the lights went out Veloce’s Sarrazin got squeezed by X44 and JBXE and the Frenchman was forced to lift to avoid a collision.

This wasn’t the only close call of the opening lap though, as X44’s Gutierrez made contact with RXR’s Taylor. It appeared that Rosberg and Hamilton were wanting to renew their old rivalry. It would be short lived, however, as X44 were forced to retire due to damage from the collision. JBXE also stopped as the suspension broke going over a bump on the beach. As the remaining two teams reached the switch zone, race director Scott Elkins brought out the red flag.

Drivers swapped and cars repositioned on the starting grid, the final lap was to be a straight shoot-out between RXR and Veloce. The lights went out and Kristofferson immediately dominated bringing the RXR car home winners of the Ocean X Prix. Chawick suffered no issues and finished the race in second place. JBXE rounded out the podium despite not finishing the race, as Mikaela got round slightly more of the lap than X44.

Another strong weekend for Rosberg X Racing saw them top the Ocean X Prix, while Andretti’s qualifying problems saw them languish at the foot of the table. The final weekend standings:

  1. RXR
  2. Veloce
  3. JBXE
  4. X44
  5. Abt Cupra
  6. Xite Energy
  7. Chip Ganassi
  8. Acciona Sainz
  9. Andretti United

RXR’s win saw them extend their lead at the top of the championship to 14 points over X44. Meanwhile a crucial 5 points were awarded to Chip Ganassi, as Kyle Leduc set the fastest time of the weekend through the super sector. The current championship standings:

  1. RXR 71 Points
  2. X44 57 Points  
  3. JBXE 44 Points 
  4. Andretti 37 Points 
  5. Xite 37 Points
  6. Sainz 36 Points 
  7. Abt Cupra 35 Points 
  8. Veloce 31 Points 
  9. Chip Ganassi 30 Points

An incredible weekend of racing saw the middle of the championship fight become closer than ever, whilst bringing issues relating to ocean health to the fore. All eyes now turn to August as Extreme E continues on the glaciers of Greenland. You’d be crazy to miss it.

X44 Top Thrilling Qualifying

image courtesy of ExtremeE -Andrew Ferraro

Reigning Formula One World Champion, Lewis Hamilton’s team, X44 ended an enthralling Qualifying Saturday on top of the time sheets, showing strong pace going into tomorrow’s semi final.

Qualifying 1:

Following little running in the first round, Veloce’s Jamie Chadwick started off qualifying for the second round of the inaugural season of Extreme E. After steady laps from her and her teammate Stephane Sarrazin, the team set a benchmark time of 11:37.599.

Image courtesy of ExtremeE – Sam Bloxham

Acciona Sainz got off to a strong start in their run, but the car unfortunately ground to a halt part way round Laia Sanz’s lap and they were unable to finish. Andretti United’s car also came to a stop but, after a lengthy delay, they were able to get moving again, finishing with a time of 14:39.659.

Image courtesy of ExtremeESam Bloxham

Next was the turn of championship leaders and Desert X Prix race winners Rosberg X Racing. Some of the pace from the last round appeared to be missing though as, despite being on provisional pole, they set a beatable time of 11:02.310.

Abt Cupra followed RXR and their drivers put in a strong performance. Jutta Kleinschmidt, who was standing in for the ill Claudia Hurtgen, was particularly impressive, as the 58 year old rounded off their run to put them top of the table with a 10:58.122. Unfortunately for them though, during the changeover, Jutta entered the switch zone before the car had been put into neutral, and the team promptly received a 15 second time penalty.

Then came Lewis Hamilton’s X44, whose drivers put in a superb perormance which saw them leap to provisional pole with a 10:47.289. American racing team Chip Ganassi also had a strong showing with Leduc putting in a phenomenal performance. They ended Q1 just 4 seconds down on X44, with a time of 10:51.528.

JBXE and Xite Energy then rounded off an intriguing first qualifying session with times of 11:13.405, and 11:52.806 respectively.

The standings after Q1:

  1. X44 10:47.289
  2. Chip Ganassi +4.239
  3. RXR +15.021
  4. Abt Cupra +25.833
  5. JBXE +26.116
  6. Veloce +50.310
  7. Xite Energy +1:05.517
  8. Andretti United +3:52.376
  9. Acciona Sainz DNF

Qualifying 2:

Going into Q2 the teams switched around their starting driver, which meant Stephane Sarrazin kicked off the final qualifying session of the Ocean X Prix for Veloce. The team had a relatively uneventful run and saw them post a combined time of 23:05.370.

Andretti United went into this session attempting to claw back as much of their lost time as possible. Unfortunately for the american outfit, they were unable to do so and were left with a 25:57.068. Their only chance of progressing to the semi finals would come from other teams running into problems.

Rosberg X Racing’s Molly Taylor got some serious air time in her final lap but some excellent car control prevented her from spinning out. They achieved a combined time of 22:12.438, putting them in a temporary pole position. Abt Cupra almost dislodged them straight away but ended up just 8 seconds behind with a 22:20.813.

X44 were the early pace setters in Q1, and another flying run from both of their drivers saw them jump up to the top of the time sheets with a 21:44.856. Close competitors Chip Ganassi got off to a tremendous start in their final qualifying run and were even a few seconds up on X44’s time. But then disaster struck. Just as Leduc entered the tree section, his car ground to a halt. After some desperate button pressing the car got going again, but it would be impossible to claw back the several minutes of time he had lost. Teammate Sara Price brought the car home, finishing with a 25:41.815.

With three teams having issues, remaining teams JBXE and Xite Energy just needed to have uneventful runs and see the cars home. Both teams did exactly that and finished with total times of 22:25.426 and 23:36.461 respectively.

Acciona Sainz rounded off the session after just managing to fix the issues they had had in Q1. With them not setting a time in that session, all they could do in Q2 was attempt to set the fastest time through the super sector. Both drivers pushed hard but ultimately neither were able to claim it from Chip Ganassi’s Kyle Leduc.

The final qualifying positions:

  1. X44 21:44.856
  2. RXR +27.580
  3. Abt Cupra +35.950
  4. JBXE +40.570
  5. Veloce +1:20.510
  6. Xite Energy +1:51.600
  7. Chip Ganassi +3:56.960
  8. Andretti United +4:12.210
  9. Acciona Sainz +1 Lap

Following an exciting Saturday the gap at the top of the team standings has closed slightly with RXR just 4 points ahead of X44. The current standings:

  1. RXR 46 Points
  2. X44 42 Points  
  3. Andretti 33 Points
  4. Sainz 30 Points 
  5. Xite 27 Points
  6. JBXE 26 Points 
  7. Abt Cupra 23 Points 
  8. Chip Ganassi 17 Points  
  9. Veloce 12 Points

All eyes now turn to Sunday where we will see the teams face off to determine the final finishing positions. In Semi Final 1, the first two finishers of X44, RXR, and Abt Cupra will progress to the final, where they will be joined by the top two finishers of Semi Final 2 (which consists of JBXE, Veloce, and Xite Energy). The shoot-out will be contested by Chip Ganassi, Andretti United, and Acciona Sainz as they vie for positions seven to nine.

It’s certain to be an exciting final day as the nine teams battle it out to be crowned rulers of the Ocean X Prix.

Alejandro Agag: “This is the biggest experiment in motorsport”.

When the new FIA Extreme E (XE) World Championship begins in the desert sands of the Al-Ula, Saudi Arabia this weekend, it won’t just be simply the start of another racing series but a revolutionary concept whose on-track glammer is matched only by its lofty off-track ambitions.

Cast your minds back to January 2019, during the official announcement on the cold, rainy and wintery deck of RMS St. Helena. The motorsport world gathered in anticipation for what was to come. A new championship.

Alejandro Agag, CEO of both Formula E and Extreme E unveiled his dream, an off-road electric SUV racing series that would travel the world to draw attention to climate change through environmentally friendly racing.

The series will take place in five remote locations affected by climate change, where all the equipment and cars are transported by a ‘floating paddock’ cargo ship, which will also serve as a laboratory for scientists to conduct research and enact conservation projects.

The St Helena logistics ship. Courtesy of Colin McMaster.

Each team features a male and female driver who must take turns throughout each race, and competitors can earn a boost by performing big jumps and winning online fan votes.

Throw in a strong driver line-up including F1 champion Jenson Button , multiple-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb and W Series champion Jamie Chadwick.

Sounds good doesn’t it?

Courtesy of Extreme E

Something that fascinates me is the incredible mixture of young and established names in motorsport with the likes of Carlos Sainz Snr, Andretti Autosport and Chip Ganassi involved in the series in some way. These personalities and brands are essential to providing Extreme E with a credibility amongst hardcore motorsport fans.

One the other hand you have Veloce Racing, a tech firm and esports squad taking its first step into real-world motorsport. Younger audiences will be familiar with their esports exploits but will inevitably follow with intrigue their transition into the physical world.

It carries the same energy as when ‘new money’ from the Industrial Revolution joined the ranks of the traditional aristocratic and landed gentry of Britain in the 18th century. We are seeing a blurring of the lines of what a traditional race team can look like.

Whether you are a racing ‘super-fan’, an environmentalist or a travel connoisseur, Extreme E has something for everyone.

Alejandro Agag, CEO, Extreme E, with all the drivers lined up in the background. Courtesy of Steven Tee.

But do not just take it from me, take it from the man who set up the whole series. During the official press conference Alejandro Agag spoke about his thoughts on the season opener:

“It would have been impossible to organise this race without our hosts and the teams” said Alejandro on the Friday morning before the opening qualifying session. “it’s an incredibly happy day for me. Many people did not think this was going to happen, that is true, this is quite out of the box.”

“This is the biggest experiment in motorsport”.

On the future of Extreme E Alejandro was keen to highlight that set it apart from the Formula E championship: “They are very different. Which one will be bigger? Who knows? They can both become very big, of course, I am keen on both.”

“In terms of manufacturers in season one (Formula E) we had Mahindra, Audi had support with Abt, Renault had support with DAMS. However, already here we have two in season one. We have Cupra, Hummer and Lotus which may become a full partner in the future.”

Importantly, as we have seen with Formula E manufacturers tend to come and go. This has left Alejandro with a philosophy which favours independent teams over manufacturers. With a strong independent line-up including teams owned by Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Veloce, Nico Rosberg, Carlos Sainz Snr and many others, there is certainly a freshness and originality to this grid.

“There are very significant manufacturers who are interested in Extreme E. But you have to build championships independently of manufacturers because when they go, they go. […] Manufacturers are not necessary.”

On which team are the favourites going into the inaugural season, Alejandro was coy, suggesting a competitive title battle:

“Ganassi was looking strong, even though they had a technical problem this morning. But outside of them it looks really open. If I had nine dollars I would put one dollar on each of the other nine teams.”

There have been some minor last-minute alterations to the format in response to reliability. A qualifying race will now be replaced by a series of time trials on Saturday that will form the grid for the semi-final, crazy race and final showdown on Sunday.

On reliability, Alejandro played down his concerns:  “I’m not too concerned. “

“(During testing) 18 out of 20 cars broke down. Here this morning two out of nine broke. I hope no car breaks tomorrow but that’s part of racing. I have to say if seven out of nine cars broke this morning I would be concerned.”

The race that was…the 2013 German Grand Prix

This weekend Formula One heads to the mighty Nurburgring for the 2020 Eifel Grand Prix. As it’s been seven years since F1 last raced at the Ring, we’re throwing things back to its most recent visit—the 2013 German Grand Prix.

Taking a quick glance down the grid, 2013 doesn’t look too far removed from present-day F1. There are seven drivers from 2013 that are still racing in F1 today: Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Kimi Raikkonen, Valtteri Bottas, Daniel Ricciardo, Romain Grosjean and Sergio Perez (or eight, if you include Racing Point stand-in Nico Hulkenberg).

Of those that aren’t, Fernando Alonso will be returning next year, and it wasn’t that long since we last saw the likes of Felipe Massa, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg either.

But of those seven drivers still in F1 today, only Hamilton at Mercedes is still with the same team as in 2013. Back then, Vettel was still the reigning champion at Red Bull-Renault, while his future Ferrari teammate Raikkonen was in the second year of his F1 comeback partnering Grosjean at Lotus.

Meanwhile, Bottas was a rookie at Williams, Perez was enduring his ill-fated McLaren season, and Ricciardo was still cutting his teeth in a Ferrari-powered Toro Rosso before his Red Bull break a year later.

As for F1’s current crop of drivers, the likes of Carlos Sainz, Esteban Ocon and Alex Albon were all racing in Formula Renault categories in 2013. As for Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc, Lando Norris and George Russell, they were all still in karts.

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes (Wolfgang Wilhelm / Mercedes AMG)

One thing that will be familiar for today’s F1 viewers is that the 2013 German Grand Prix started with Hamilton on pole for Mercedes. However, the Mercedes W04 was a far cry from the juggernauts that its turbo-hybrid successors would be.

The W04 was undoubtedly fast, and between Hamilton and Nico Rosberg had taken six of the season’s nine pole positions at that time. But a common theme of 2013 was Mercedes qualifying well only to struggle with tyre temperatures early on in the race and fall back through the field.

And that’s exactly what happened at the Nurburgring, as Vettel and Mark Webber (starting from second and third respectively) both got the jump on Hamilton into Turn 1. Meanwhile, Hamilton dropped back behind Grosjean and Raikkonen, whose James Allison-designed Lotuses were famously very gentle on their Pirelli tyres compared to the Mercedes.

With Vettel and Webber’s pace out front, Red Bull looked set for another 1–2 finish. But that fell apart when Webber came in to change tyres on lap 14 and left his pitbox with his right-rear not properly attached.

As Webber got away, the wheel detached and bounced down the pitlane—it hit FOM cameraman Paul Allen, who suffered a broken shoulder and cracked ribs and was taken to nearby Koblenz hospital for treatment. Allen later recovered fully and Red Bull were given a €30,000 fine for the incident.

Mark Webber, Red Bull (Lars Baron, Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool)

Webber was able to rejoin the race, as he stopped just outside his pitbox and was promptly wheeled back and fitted with new tyres. But when he returned to the track he was a lap down on Vettel, while Grosjean and Raikkonen were closing in after setting multiple fastest laps.

On lap 23 the safety car was deployed when Jules Bianchi had to stop his Marussia with an engine fire. This allowed Webber to get back onto the lead lap. But after making initial progress when the race resumed, Webber then got stuck behind Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez for ten laps, and was forced to make another stop after eating through his tyres trying to get by.

Raikkonen took the lead of the race on lap 41 when Vettel and Grosjean both made their third stops, and Lotus extended his stint until lap 49. This left Raikkonen with much fresher soft tyres for the final laps of the race and gave him the best chance of hunting down Vettel for the win. With this and the championship in mind (Raikkonen was then third in the standings behind Vettel and Alonso), Lotus instructed Grosjean to let the quicker Raikkonen by for second.

But despite his pace, Raikkonen was unable to stop Vettel taking his first home Grand Prix victory. The win was also the 30th of Vettel’s career, making him only the sixth driver in F1 history at the time to score more than 30 wins (the others being Michael Schumacher, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, Fernando Alonso and Nigel Mansell).

Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull), Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean (Lotus) (Lars Baron, Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool)

Raikkonen finished second and Grosjean third ahead of Alonso. Hamilton’s race stabilised in fifth, while Webber recovered to seventh between the McLarens of Button and Perez. Rosberg and Hulkenberg rounded out the points for Mercedes and Sauber respectively. Williams had looked set to finish in the points in what was their 600th Grand Prix, only for wheel gun problems in the pit stops to drop Pastor Maldonado and Bottas down to 15th and 16th place respectively.

The 2013 German Grand Prix was an enthralling race, but it was also a fascinating look back at F1’s recent history. It shows a Sebastian Vettel at his peak en route to a fourth consecutive World Championship. It shows the early signs of the Mercedes success to come, back when Lewis Hamilton only had one title and 21 wins to his name.

But more importantly for F1 today, it shows that the Nurburgring can provide some excellent racing and drama throughout the field, which can only bode well for the Eifel Grand Prix on Sunday.

The decade that was: F1 in the 2010s

A lot can change in a decade. This time ten years ago, Jenson Button and Brawn were the reigning F1 champions, Fernando Alonso was preparing to take on the mantle of Ferrari’s title hopes, and a 12-year-old Max Verstappen was just about to step up to international karting.

As we approach the start of another new year and a new decade, we’ve taken a look back at what’s characterised F1 throughout the 2010s and how these last ten years might be remembered.

Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The decade of dominance

Let’s deal with the elephant in the room first. When people look back on F1 in the 2010s, they will see one headline figure: that Red Bull and Mercedes cleaned up every available title between them, and won 149 out of the decade’s 198 races. It’s the first time in F1’s history that two teams have had such a stranglehold on the sport—and hopefully the last.

Mark Thompson, Getty Images / Red Bull Content Pool

The decade of record-breaking

Sebastian Vettel, the youngest-ever World Champion. Lewis Hamilton, the most pole positions. Max Verstappen, the youngest-ever Grand Prix entrant and winner. Kimi Raikkonen, the fastest-ever F1 lap. Mercedes, the most consecutive Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships. The 2010s weren’t just about dominance, they were about excellence.

Mercedes AMG

The decade of comebacks

When Michael Schumacher came out of retirement to lead Mercedes in 2010, he probably had no idea he’d started a trend. Before long, Kimi Raikkonen was back in F1 with Lotus, Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan were brought out of the noughties, and Brendon Hartley, Daniil Kvyat and Alex Albon were all given second chances by Red Bull after being dropped from the junior team.

But of course, the biggest comebacks of all have to be Felipe Massa returning after being placed in an induced coma in 2009, and Robert Kubica stepping back into an F1 cockpit this year for the first time since his 2011 rally accident.

Pirelli F1 Media

The decade of rules changes

Fans of F1’s rulebook were treated to an absolute feast over the last ten seasons. After 2009’s massive aerodynamics shift, the tweaks, refinements and total overhauls kept on coming. DRS, stepped noses, the halo. V6 turbos, the virtual safety car, and the fastest lap point. And of course, knockout qualifying and 2014’s double points finale. Not all of them were popular, but they’ve certainly kept us on our toes over the years.

Foto Studio Colombo / Pirelli F1 Media

The decade of silly season

Lewis Hamilton leaving McLaren for Mercedes. Kimi Raikkonen returning to Ferrari, then to Sauber. Sebastian Vettel leaving Red Bull for Ferrari. Fernando Alonso rejoining McLaren. Nico Rosberg’s shock retirement. Red Bull’s midseason merry-go-rounds. F1’s driver market has never been tame, but the 2010s really set it alight.

Mark Sutton, LAT Images / Haas F1 Media

The decade F1 returned to the US

F1 has spent a lot of time since the disastrous 2005 US Grand Prix at Indianapolis trying to repair its relationship with the States. Things started going in the right direction with the return of the US Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas and Alexander Rossi’s brief F1 appearances with Manor in 2015. But now with Haas on the grid and Liberty Media in charge of the sport itself, F1’s standing in the US finally looks to be on the mend.

Foto Studio Colombo / Ferrari Media

The decade of farewells to old friends

Rubens Barrichello. Michael Schumacher. Mark Webber. Jenson Button. Nico Rosberg. Felipe Massa. Fernando Alonso. Robert Kubica. So many key figures of F1’s recent past hung up their helmets over the last ten years. Thank goodness we still have Kimi Raikkonen for another year at least.

What’s been your favourite moment from the last ten years of Formula One? Let us know in the comments below.

Mercedes AMG: from Tyrrell to titles

The Mercedes AMG F1 Team is now the dominant force in Formula 1 after returning to the sport from which it had been absent for over half a century. How did they get there? The team has only seemed to have been in existence since 2010, but this is only a small part of a long story stretching back to the Tyrrell team. And to the Mercedes partnership with Peter Sauber and his fledgling outfit.

The Tyrrell Formula One team, established in 1970 by Ken Tyrrell, had its greatest period when Jackie Stewart drove the team to three Drivers’ crowns and one Constructors’ trophy. They were also the team that brought us the six wheeled Tyrrell P34, a car that was so radical it was banned almost immediately and now is part of Formula 1 folklore. Unfortunately they never really reached those heights again and became also-rans, eventually selling out to the BAR tobacco company.

In 1993 after partnering Sauber to success in other motor racing categories including Le Mans, Mercedes—using their Ilmor badge—supplied the Sauber F1 team with engines. In 1994 Mercedes made it official and the team became Sauber-Mercedes with the 3.5 Litre V10 C13 (all Peter Sauber cars are badged “C” after his wife Christine) At the end of the traumatic ’94 season Mercedes, tempted by an offer from Ron Dennis, moved on to  McLaren, where they went on to win three Drivers’ crowns: two for Mika Häkkinen from 1998–99 and Lewis Hamilton in 2008, and a Constructors’ trophy in 1998.

In 1999 British American Tobacco came into the sport as BAR (British American racing) with a big budget and even bigger ambitions, running the Supertec engine, the rebadged and once all-conquering Renault power plant.

In their first year and with the reigning world champion Jacques Villeneuve, and despite a move to Honda power, the project was doomed to failure, and after only six years and no wins, tobacco advertising was banned from F1 and BAR sold out to Honda in 2006.

Honda with Jenson Button as lead driver looked a much more promising prospect. They brought in Ross Brawn in 2007 from the dominant Scuderia Ferrari; a man with a proven track record of building winning teams.

Alas, once again the outfit was thrown into chaos and in 2008 with a worldwide recession Honda was unwilling to continue with its $300 million budget and announced its withdrawal from Formula 1. The team was eventually saved by a management buyout headed by Ross Brawn and Nick Fry and was renamed Brawn GP; and with help from up and down the pit lane, not least from Mercedes, they where able to run in the 2009 season. What followed was one of the greatest stories in Formula 1: a true rags to riches tale; a team on the brink of disappearing, turning into a World Championship-winning success

With the now-banned double diffuser (a clever reading of the rules to enhance the downforce effect of the rear diffuser) Brawn GP took the season by storm with Jenson Button winning six of the first seven races and winning the Drivers’ title—and along with Rubens Barrichello, landed the Constructors’ title for Brawn in their maiden and only year of competition. On the 16th of November 2009 it was announced that Daimler AG and Aabar investments had bought a 75.1% stake in Brawn GP and that they would race under the name Mercedes GP from 2010. They brought in an impressive driver pairing, bringing Michael Schumacher out of retirement to partner Nico Rosberg. After deciding to finally close the curtains on his record breaking career Schumacher was replaced with the last man to win a championship with a Mercedes engine, Lewis Hamilton.

The 2014 season had been as dominant as the Fangio–Moss days of the early 1950s. More success followed in 2015 with consecutive Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles for Lewis Hamilton followed by Nico Rosberg’s success in 2016.

This year looks like shaping up to be a battle royal between Hamilton’s Mercedes and Vettel’s Ferrari.

Mercedes have truly lived up to the legendary Silver Arrows team.

Will they conquer this term? I’m betting they will.

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