Tuesday 27 August 2019

The F1 hybrid Internal Combustion Engine explained.

PHOTO CREDIT: Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport
FEATURE BY - Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport

The current generation of Formula One cars are powered by high-performance downsized, turbocharged and electrified hybrid Power Units. This week, we're looking at the mechanical heart of the PU, the Internal Combustion Engine and its development journey since 2014 

What elements make up a Formula One Power Unit? 
The FIA distinguishes between six elements in a modern F1 Power Unit (PU). At the very heart of the PU sits the Internal Combustion Engine (ICE). It's a structural member of the car, connecting the chassis to the gearbox. The current F1 engines are six-cylinder engines, constructed in a V-configuration at 90 degrees, with a 1.6 litre displacement. The second element is the turbocharger (TC), which increases the density of the air that is consumed by the engine, thus giving the engine more power. A modern F1 engine is a hybrid engine, with two electric machines recovering and delivering energy. There's the Motor Generator Unit-Kinetic (MGU-K), which harnesses kinetic energy when the car is braking, and the Motor Generator Unit-Heat (MGU-H), which is connected to the turbocharger and harnesses excess energy from the exhaust. Both motor generator units convert their respective energy sources into electrical energy which can then be used to propel the car. The electric energy is stored in the fifth element of the Power Unit - a big battery pack known as the Energy Store (ES). This intricate system of different components is controlled by the sixth and final element, the Control Electronics (CE). Drivers are permitted three ICE, MGU-H and TC and two ES, CE and MGU-K during the course of a season, but any combination of parts can be fitted to the car. If a driver exceeds this limit, they are given a grid penalty. 

How does the combustion process work in an F1 ICE? 
At the heart of the ICE is the combustion process where fuel and air are mixed and ignited to liberate energy. This process works in the same way it does on your road car; however, the systems are a bit more intricate. Looking at it in more detail, the combustion air is fed to the engine through an air duct that sits behind the roll hoop. The air pressure is increased by a compressor which is part of the turbocharger. This process also increases the air temperature, so the air needs to be cooled again in a charge cooler before it's fed into the plenums at the top of the engine. From there, it passes down the six inlet ports and past two inlet valves into the cylinders. That's where the fuel comes into effect. F1 engines are direct injection, like most modern road cars, so the fuel is injected directly into the combustion chamber. The fuel is injected at a maximum of 500 bar, which is limited by the regulations. While that is more than you would find on a direct-injection petrol engine in a road car, which usually sees pressures of up to 350 bar, it is actually quite a bit less than you might find in a modern diesel, where fuel pressures can reach up to 2,500 bar. The air and fuel mixture is compressed by the piston before a spark plug ignites it. The force of the combustion pushes down the piston, which is connected to the crankshaft through a connecting rod and is therefore able to drive the crankshaft. When the piston comes back up, the exhaust valves open to release the exhaust gases from the engine, so that the whole process can start all over again - up to a maximum of 15,000 times every minute (or up to 250 times a second). The exhaust gases are used to drive the turbine wheel of the turbocharger which in turn drives the compressor. What's left then exits through the tailpipe at the rear of the car, with a wastegate system being used to control the pressure during this phase. 

What other systems are part of the ICE? 
Very intricate and complex oil and water systems are also featured in the engine, weaving between the different elements. These keep the engine running smoothly and regulate temperature, which is incredibly important when you consider that the gas temperatures in the combustion chamber can reach up to 2,600°C. The water system's main job is to manage temperatures of the many different elements and materials that make up the F1 Power Unit. From the crank case, to the top of the cylinder head, it's all about making sure the engine doesn't overheat. A great deal of engineering goes into that, from managing the flow of water, to the pump efficiency. 

What kind of gains has the team found since 2014? 
The Power Unit regulations have remained fairly stable since they were introduced for the start of the 2014 season, so the general philosophy of the PU hasn't deviated significantly from the original version that debuted five years ago. However, thanks to numerous changes in many areas, the team at Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains in Brixworth has been able to improve every element of the Power Unit, producing more power and improving thermal efficiency. In 2014, the PU produced just over 900hp and had a thermal efficiency of 44%. That means that 44% of the energy in the fuel was converted into useful work to propel the car. Over the next years, the thermal efficiency was steadily improved, eventually breaking the 50% thermal efficiency barrier on the dyno in 2017. 

Where did the team find more performance in the last years? 
In the past five years, the team has looked at every single bit of the engine to find more performance and better efficiency. One area that the team did a lot of work on was the flow of gases in the engine - both in the form of the combustion air being fed into the engine and the exhaust gases coming out of it. In terms of the inlet system, one crucial area of development has been the plenums. They sit on top of the engine between the charge cooler and the inlet valves. The two plenums, one for each cylinder bank, hold pressurised air that is coming in from the compressor, providing a stable source of compressed air despite varying supply (owing to varying compressor speeds) and demand (an idling engine needs less air than one running at full throttle). From the plenums, the combustion air is fed through various inlet systems into the cylinders. The rules in 2014 demanded a fixed geometry system for the plenums, leaving little room for any performance gains. This rule changed for the following season, giving the engineers a new avenue to pursue. As a result, the plenums have not only increased in size, but also house a much more complex trumpet system. These trumpet-shaped ducts vary in length and thus match the tuned length to the engine speed and help to maximise the amount of air that is fed into the engine. In 2015, the trumpets turned into something that's more like a trombone, where the inlet trumpet is sliding up and down on a port system, changing the length of the intake system with every move. This means the trumpet system and therefore the airflow can be adapted to the engine speed, providing the best length for different RPMs to produce the most power. Part of this evolution is even visible from the outside: since 2015, the plenums have increased in size every year, with carbon fibre extending the full length of the engine now and even pushing out the bodywork around the engine cover. This is why you can see small bumps on each side of the engine cover. 

Did the team do any other work on the gas flow in the engine? 
Another major area for improvement has been the exhaust system. Its shape, length and diameter have a massive impact on the performance of the engine, because the quicker the exhaust gases from the combustion process can be pushed out of the combustion chamber, the faster the new firing cycle can start. In 2014, the team used a lightweight exhaust system that was running the shortest possible route from the cylinder head to the turbine of the turbocharger. This system had two advantages - it didn't add a lot of weight and the short pipes meant that there was not a lot of heat loss on the way to the turbine of the turbocharger and the MGU-H. However, the team introduced a more complex system in 2015 which helped to increase the power output of the engine. In this tuned exhaust, the primary pipes - the six pipes leading straight from the cylinder head - were the same length, but the secondary pipe was longer, thus altering the power curve and the power output of the engine. Since then, the team has introduced a new exhaust system every year, extracting more from the engine each time. 

What other areas of the engine did the team focus on? 
One other area where the team has made improvements is the materials we use. Large parts of the engine are metallic (for example, the cylinder head is made from aluminium) but the rules don't always specific what metals must be used. Choosing the right alloys for the right components can impact both the reliability and the performance of the engine. Another area that the team is constantly working on is friction reduction. Friction takes power away - while the energy goes into heat rejection. This is where PETRONAS lubricants play an important role as the oil film between loaded components reduces friction and therefore increases power, but also reduces the wear and increases reliability. Getting the oil to and from the location in the engine where it is needed is also a development area. The engine is subjected to enormous G forces, it can experience up to four or five time the force of gravity when the car is braking, accelerating or thrown into a corner. Making sure the oil reaches every component that needs it but also getting it out of the engine again requires a very complex scavenging system. There are about ten oil pumps at the bottom of the engine, drawing oil from the cylinder head, the crankshaft, but also some of the ancillaries to make sure that the oil tank never runs dry. 

What role does the fuel play in the hunt for performance? 
The fuel is at the very heart of the combustion process and has a significant influence on the performance of the engine. The regulations state that the fuel needs to be unleaded, so it's like the kind of fuel you would use in a road car. Does that mean you could potentially run an F1 Power Unit with regular road car petrol from your local filling station? You could - but it would require some changes to the calibration, for example to the ignition. You would also experience a very noticeable drop in performance. Why? Because the PETRONAS Primax fuel that the team uses has been developed over the last eight years and is minutely calibrated to work perfectly with the Mercedes Power Unit. A group of PETRONAS engineers is constantly working on the chemical composition of the fuel to make sure its characteristics match those required by the engine. This development work is done in close cooperation with the thermodynamic engineers at HPP. 

How long does it take to build an F1 Power Unit and what is the process? 
Power Units are complex machines and the more powerful they've become, the more complex they've grown. Back in 2014, it took a team of two people about two weeks to build an Power Unit. Fast forward to 2019 and the same task would take about three weeks with the same number of people. Therefore, the team at Brixworth had to try and condense that time so that it wouldn't lose precious development time to the build process, and to do so, they added more people to the build process. So, two weeks has been maintained but with an additional person involved. 

Thursday 22 August 2019

Do you understand car insurance excess and how it works?

When choosing a new car insurance, one of the most important factors to consider is the insurance excess cost. Low insurance premiums could sometimes mean a high insurance excess cost – and if you don’t make an informed decision at the start of your contract, you might be in for a nasty surprise if you’re ever in a car accident.

Barend Smit, Marketing Director of MotorHappy, a supplier of motor management plans and
insurance, unpacks insurance excess and how it works:

What is car insurance excess?

A car insurance excess is the first amount payable by you the client if you’re in an accident. It is the uninsured portion of your loss which is payable by you when you make a claim on a loss. Normally the excess is paid to the garage fixing the automobile once the repairs are completed.

“This excess is payable by the insured regardless of who is responsible (to blame) for the accident. This serves as a shield for the insurance company against minor claims and fraudulent claims. It also works to keep the premiums down,” explains Smit.

Compulsory vs voluntary excess
As suggested by the name, compulsory insurance excess is applied to your policy by the insurance provider. Normally, compulsory insurance varies across different age groups and type of vehicle.

The insurance providers usually set higher compulsory excess amounts for young and
inexperienced drivers than for older drivers with more experience on the road. The reason behind this is that younger drivers are categorised as higher-risk individuals and thus attract an additional compulsory excess. The same logic is applied to owners of high value cars like luxury cars and high-performance cars, says Smit. These super expensive vehicles attract a very significant amount of compulsory excess.

When it comes to voluntary excess, things are quite different. Here you set your own amount (above the compulsory excess) that you are willing to pay. This is an effective way through which many people have been able to lower their overall insurance costs. By increasing your voluntary excess, you attract lower premiums from the insurance provider.

“Increasing your excess shifts some risk from the insurance provider back to you. It saves the insurance company from paying out numerous minor claims,” Smit explains. However, he goes on to caution against choosing smaller premiums in exchange for a higher excess. “If anything happens resulting in a loss, you will have to fork out a larger chunk of money (both the compulsory and voluntary excesses).”

Various types of excesses

The excess for which you are liable is usually listed on your insurance certificate. Different policies have different types of excesses which are applicable in different situations. To find out about the excess applicable to you, kindly refer to your insurance certificate. Below are some of the main excesses applicable to comprehensive (car) insurance.

1. Standard Excess
It is an amount agreed upon by both the insured and insurer to be contributed towards making of claims. It can be applicable on its own or with another excess.

This excess is applicable in addition to the standard excess for drivers under 25 years when they make a claim. Different types of excesses can be applied by insurers for drivers under 25.
a. Inexperienced Driver Excess
This is an excess applicable to drivers over 25 years of age but with less than 2 years of driving experience (from the time of license issuance).

b. Unlisted Driver Excess 
This excess applies to drivers under 25 years who are not listed in the policy.

3. Special Excess
Sometimes it is possible to have arrangements for special circumstances for which an additional excess is payable above the standard excess upon the actualisation of the circumstances agreed upon.

Understanding how car insurance excess works

To better understand how excess works, Smit outlines this hypothetical example: “Let's say your insurance policy has an excess of R25,000 and you happen to be in an accident that leads you to make a claim of R100,000. Your insurer will retain the first R25,000 and give you the remaining balance of R75,000.

Take another scenario in which you are involved in an accident with damages worth R6,000. If you have an insurance excess of R500, your insurer will pay R5500 with you having paid the excess to the garage fixing your car.”

When you can reclaim your excess
Going back to our very first question, is it possible to get a refund of your excess? The simple answer is yes! However certain conditions have to be met. There are two ways to go about this:
1. Having the excess waived
2. Insuring against paying your excess

Having the excess waived

Most insurers can and will waive the excess upon application by their client. The client will have to prove that they were not at fault and provide the insurance company with the name and address of the party at fault.

However, for damage incurred on a parked car as a result of a flood or fire, one is still liable to pay a basic excess. Some insurers will allow for addition of extra coverage to the policy so that one won't have to pay any excess for these kind of claims.

For more information, please visit https://www.motorhappy.co.za

Wednesday 21 August 2019

Matvey Furazhkin to make World RX debut with ESmotorsport in Loheac.

PHOTO CREDIT: ESmotorsport-Labas GAS
Matvey Furazhkin will make his World Rallycross Championship debut with ESmotorsport-Labas GAS at Loheac.

The 19-year-old Russian competes in the European Autocross Championship this season and leads the ‘Touring’ category standings having won the first six rounds with three rounds remaining in the championship.

Furazhkin will test Skoda Fabia Supercar before his debut in France next week. "I believe that autocross is the best school for rallycross and when I realized that, I moved from the buggy category to Touring," he said. "This year I’m participating in Touring Autocross class in order to get used to this kind of car, to the weight and driving features in order to make it easier for me to transition into rallycross."

"We chose ESmotorsport because it is a very promising team that is developing and wants to achieve high results, which coincides with our goals and desires," the Russian adds.

ESmotorsport’s best results of the 2019 World RX season thus far were achieved by Kevin Abbring, who finished fourth in Norway and Sweden. 

"It was a communication mistake when the entry list was announced for Loheac that Kevin Abbring was our entry," said ESmotorsport-LabasGAS Team Manager, Robertas Maneiki. "We would have gladly had Kevin behind the wheel, but unfortunately it is not possible for him to do this race."

Abbring will return to the team for the final round of the season in Cape Town.

"We look forward to Kevin racing our Skoda Fabia WRX in the last round of the Championship," Maneiki said. 

ESmotorsport-LabasGAS Team Manager is excited to work with the 19-year-old Russian in France.

"Now the full focus is for Loheac, we are very glad that for France the car will be driven by a very motivated driver. From the initial meeting we found common goals," he said. "It’s very exciting that Matvey‘s vision is much the same as ours is the same. We look forward for his transition into rallycross."

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Tuesday 20 August 2019

Kevin Hansen wins Nitro Rallycross in first attempt.

PHOTO CREDIT: Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool
Kevin Hansen etched his name into Nitro World Games history when he claimed victory at the second-ever Nitro Rallycross event in Utah.

The Swede took the checkered flag first in the six-car final following in the footsteps of his older brother Timmy Hansen, who won last year's event and finished third in 2019. Subaru Motorsports USA's Patrik Sandell finished in a close second after starting on pole position in the final.

"Wow! Just, wow! I almost can’t find the words to say what I’m feeling now. It was the best six laps of my life," he said. "I expected an amazing weekend on my first outing as a driver at the Nitro World Games, but nothing like this."

"I didn't drive a lap before the start [of the final]. Just had a mega start and then the six best laps of my life. This is the best win of my career." 

Kevin and Timmy used the same specification Supercar in Utah that they use in World Rallycross, although the Nitro competition adopted slightly different regulations, and (unlike the World RX championship) the track was mainly gravel.

"From the beginning, I had a really good feeling with the car and the circuit, after some good practice sessions, and then we just took it from there," Hansen said.

An exhausted Kevin Hansen after winning the Nitro Rallycross event.
PHOTO CREDIT: Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool
"The final was a great fight, but I made a great start, pushed to the absolute maximum, and managed to bring it home. And it was an amazing team result, with Timmy on the podium too."

Hansen leads the World Rallycross and Titans RX championship standings, and his win at the Nitro Rallycross event has given him confidence for the remainder of the year.

"I loved every bit of it, and I’m feeling very confident now for the rest of the year going forward!" he said.

The 2018 Nitro Rallycross winner Timmy Hansen survived a poor start and early contact with Tanner Foust and Ken Block to power through the field an claim a third-place finish. 

"I’m happy with our own weekend as well, as it’s always good to stand on the podium," he said. "It wasn’t quite a perfect race for me in the end and it was always going to be tricky starting off the front row, but we did our best and ended up with a great team result."

"I couldn’t be happier for Kevin (younger brother). I know what it feels like to conquer this astonishing circuit, and he put in a brilliant and commanding performance right from the start. From a family and team point of view, it makes me feel very proud."

PHOTO CREDIT: Garth Milan/Red Bull Content Pool
TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Saturday 17 August 2019

Scott Speed breaks back while competing in a Nitro Rallycross heat race.

PHOTO CREDIT: Subaru Motorsport USA.
Former Formula 1 driver Scott Speed will miss the remainder of the Nitro World Games in Utah after fracturing his back during the first round of heat races yesterday. 

The Americas Rallycross championship leader carried too much speed on the approach to the final jump of the track and landed quite hard after the jump.

Speed was able to cross the chequered flag but immediately complained of back pain.

Subaru Motorsports USA team issued a statement confirming that Speed had been taken to a local hospital for evaluation.

The American took to his Instagram account earlier today confirming the extent of his injuries. 

"After landing hard in Q1 I broke my back," Speed said. "Was rushed to the local hospital for checks. CT scan confirmed a destroyed t6, then I was taken to a spine specialist at University of Utah."

"Finally got an MRI done around 3am. We found I have 3 fractured vertebrae. Waiting now for the surgeons to give us the game plan."

*Further updates will follow once made available

Friday 16 August 2019

The Hansen brothers head Stateside for Nitro Rallycross.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool. 
Team Hansen MJP returns to Utah Motorsports Campus in the United States for the 2019 Nitro World Games with a two-car line-up. 

In 2018, Timmy Hansen claimed victory in the inaugural Nitro Rallycross event, and if the opening event was anything to go by, the 2019 Nitro Rallycross should be a nail-biting thriller.

Nitro World Games sees the best athletes in the world from a variety of extreme sports going head to head in events designed to test skill and raise the bar when it comes to entertainment.

The aim and intention of Nitro Rallycross is to ‘turn the sport of rallycross on its head’ by creating a track that gives drivers control of the race, has multiple racing lines, and some of the biggest jumps and the big banked turns saw on a rallycross track.

Kevin Hansen will join his older brother Timmy in their Peugeot 208 WRX Supercars to take on the best that American rallycross has to offer, on a track that features the biggest man-made jump in rallycross history.

The Hansen brothers will be lining up alongside freestyle motocross legend and event founder, Travis Pastrana, Scott Speed, Ken Block, Patrick Sandell, Chris Atkinson, Steve Arpin and Tanner Foust.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool.
“Last year we proved that race cars could fly, and this year we have redesigned the track to be even crazier,” Travis Pastrana said.

The 2019 version of the Nitro Rallycross track retains the key characteristics of 2018, offering multiple racing lines to promote creative overtaking and strategy on a unique figure of eight layout.

It’s simultaneously the most thrilling and scariest rallycross track in the world. With huge banked turns, drivers will carry more speed into corners and have more overtaking options available to them than ever before.

"This track is simply out of this world! It’s changed a lot since last year and it’s nearly all gravel, with some big jumps," said Timmy Hansen. "But honestly, words can’t really describe what the circuit is like: it’s just something that you have to see and experience for yourself."

"The whole atmosphere around Nitro is incredible: there’s a real buzz to it, typical of American motorsport."

Timmy Hansen is not too focused on the minor details that come with Nitro Rallycross, he has one aim in mind and that is to drive as fast as possible.

"You can’t really plan for this event and we’re racing to a slightly different format, so I’m not going to worry about the details – instead I’m just going to be driving as fast as possible!" he concludes.

Younger brother Kevin Hansen watched his brother race to victory in 2018 and is looking forward to competing in 2019. 

"I’ve been here to look before but not to drive, so I’m really looking forward to it," he said. "I think it’s going to be incredible: we start the weekend with jump practice – as we have to work out how best to tackle all the jumps, which you don’t see anywhere else in the world. Of course they call it ‘practice’ but you really don’t want to get it wrong, so you need to push hard from the very start!"

Kevin sees a benefit in having a two-car team at the Nitro Rallycross event: "The fact that we have two cars this year is also going to help, as we should be able to learn from each other."

The Nitro Rallycross action gets underway tomorrow [Saturday] with the qualifying heats at 9pm CET and the final at 1am CET [Saturday/Sunday evening]. Coverage will be streaming LIVE on the Nitro World Games Youtube and Facebook channels.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

Bakkerud predicts that title fight will be decided in Cape Town.

Andreas Bakkerud believes that the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship will be decided at the season finale in Cape Town.

Bakkerud claimed his first win of the season in Canada and is now within 5 points of the championship leader Kevin Hansen. 

Since the withdrawal of EKS Audi Sport, Peugeot Sport, and Volkswagen Motorsport - the championship has been wide open and very unpredictable. 

The 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship has seen six different winners in the seven rounds to date, with Timmy Hansen [Team Hansen MJP] being the only repeat winner of the season. 

"It's crazy this year - there have been so many ups and downs for everyone, it's not only for me or not only Kevin or Timmy [Hansen]," Bakkerud said. "It's very unpredictable - and I think it will be a race to the checkered flag in Cape Town."

With one win under his belt, the RX Cartel driver aims to push hard to the checkered flag in Cape Town. 

"We are for sure going to push everything that we can and focus on the tasks - do good starts, keep the car in one piece and try not to do too many crazy things like in Q4 for example," he said. "And, at the end of the day, we need to count the points after the checkered flag in Cape Town."

"I don't think it's going to be easy to win this year. I think it's going to be rather hard - you need some luck and you need some good results first of all."

There are many unknowns heading to the final three rounds of the championship, but Bakkerud is realistic and admits that anything can happen. 

"Looking at the next couple of races - I am not really sure of how it's going to be."

"I was wrong on this event, but you never know what's going to happen to go to France, Riga and to Cape Town. A couple of races in France have been good to me. Riga - ups and downs. Cape Town - never been my favorite track. So, it's going to be tricky, but you never know."

A new FIA World Rallycross Champion will be crowned this season. Who do you think will be crowned the '2019 FIA World Rallycross Champion': Kevin Hansen, Andreas Bakkerud or Timmy Hansen? 

TICKETS for the World RX of South Africa are available here: https://www.quicket.co.za/events/70540-fia-world-rallycross-of-south-africa/#/

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Tuesday 13 August 2019

'Canada RX best team result for GCK' - Chicherit

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition
GC Kompetition claimed their best team results of the season at Trois-Rivieres.

Four of five team cars [GC Kompetition and GCK Academy] progressed to the semi-finals, and two would progress to the finals.  

GCK Academy driver Rokas Baciuska was on the back foot from Q1 after being handed a five-second time penalty for hitting track markers on two occasions, dropping him to ninth place after Q2. 

The Lithuanian recovered to reach semi-final one where he finished fifth after clipping the tyre wall. Fellow GCK Academy member Cyril Raymond was thwarted by a mechanical failure in the same semi-final.

Guillaume De Ridder’s [GCK Academy] run of bad luck continued with the Belgian finishing the event in 14th place overall.

GC Kompetition's Anton Marklund progressed to the finals, but his race ended in the barrier after he made contact with Kevin Hansen at the joker lap merge. Hansen was handed a penalty promoting Guerlain Chicherit to fourth place.

"What a weekend. Canada RX has been the best team result so far with 4 GCK cars in the semi-final and 2 in the final as well as a personal best in a 4th place for me," said Chicherit. 

"It was a crazy weekend full of contact and aggressive racing, which was great for the fans - we put down some really good lap and sector times and we absolutely had the pace for a spot on the podium."

The Frenchman was on form in Canada but was let down by a broken gearbox which would see him finish fourth in the final.

"I felt strong and confident in the Megane and loved the track, so the broken gearbox was hugely disappointing for me, as I was pushing for an even better result and just didn’t have a chance to fight for the podium in the final," he said.

"On to Loheac now and I’m stoked to be racing in front of my home crowd next!"

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Friday 9 August 2019

Luckless Guillaume De Ridder's streak continues in Canada.

PHOTO CREDIT: GC Kompetition
The leap into the FIA World Rallycross Championship has not been the easiest for GCK Academy's Guillaume De Ridder. 

De Ridder took the step-up from the RX2 series after finishing as runner-up in the 2018 season and joined Guerlain Chicherit's newly formed GCK Academy for the 2019 season. 

L.U.C.K - A four-letter word that eludes the Belgian this season. To date, his best result came at the World RX of Catalunya where he finished in 11th place. De Ridder finds himself at the tail end of the championship in 18th place having amassed only 16 points. 

The 26-year old was involved in a number of incidents this season that was not entirely his fault, as well as a few mechanical issues.

The Canadian round at Trois-Rivières was no different for De Ridder finishing in 14th place continuing to struggle with his Clio R.S. RX Supercar set-up.

"It was a tough weekend for us here in Canada," he said. "After encouraging free practice sessions where we showed good pace and had a p10, we struggled to adapt to the track and continued to test the set-ups every race but couldn’t get it right."

With three rounds remaining in the 2019 FIA World Rallycross Championship, De Ridder has the opportunity to turn his luck around, but in order to improve the Belgian aims to analyze what went wrong in Canada and improve for the next round in Loheac, France. 

"We need to now analyze what went wrong exactly and ensure we manage to sort it out for our next race back in Europe," he concludes.

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Canada RX struggles 'an important learning weekend' - Kenneth Hansen.

PHOTO CREDIT: Red Bull Content Pool
It was a weekend of mixed fortunes for Team Hansen MJP, as the lead in both championships were reduced and only one of two cars made the Finals in Canada.

The race weekend at Trois-Rivières did not go according to plan for the Swedish outfit with both drivers on the cusp of qualifying for a semi-final spot on day one.

Timmy Hansen restored some hope with a fourth-place finish in Q3, but he was the biggest loser in the championship squabble after crashing in Q2 and a chaotic race four of Q4, which saw him crawl across the finish line with a badly damaged car.

The championship leader Kevin progressed to the semi-finals but was later disqualified for contact with Anton Marklund in the finals.

Team Hansen MJP will have a lot of work to do in the coming weeks to understand why they lacked the pace in Canada.  

“We learned a lot as a team this weekend," said Kenneth Hansen, team boss. "We didn't put everything together."

The 1.37km Trois-Rivières track is very tight and technical with a long straight, which means that there is a trade-off between set-up, race starts and straight-line speed. 

"When we came here we thought we would be very strong but we struggled a little with the speed," he said. "It wasn't really bad per se, but we also pushed a little over the limit a couple of times."

"We need to pick up the small details as to why that was the case. We didn't make brilliant starts, so that's something we can look at."

"It was an important learning weekend for the team and for the future, to make sure we put everything together for the end of the season."

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Thursday 8 August 2019

Topi Heikkinen to make World RX return with GRX Set at Loheac.

Toomas ‘Topi’ Heikkinen will make a return to the FIA World Rallycross Championship for round eight at Loheac.

The regular World RX driver line-up will be joined by four wildcard entries. Topi Heikkinen, famous of winning the World RX of Belgium in 2014 and 2015 – and finishing second in the Drivers’ Standings in 2014 – will race a third Hyundai i20 alongside Niclas Gronholm and Timur Timerzyanov in a GRX SET entry.

To date Heikkinen has claimed two event wins, eight podiums in fifty one event starts.

In a second appearance of the summer, after racing at Holjes, the Pailler brothers Fabien and Jonathan will race Peugeot 208 Supercars for the Pailler Competition team, and French legend Herve Knapick will drive his Citroen DS3. 

Kevin Abbring will return after missing the Canadian leg of World RX championship with the ESmotorsport – Labas GAS team’s Skoda Fabia.

Wednesday 7 August 2019

A weekend of ups and downs for GRX despite Timerzyanov's podium finish.

Timur Timerzyanov taking the lead with a very faster launch.
GRX Taneco departs Canada with highs and lows. Timur Timerzyanov secured a third-place finish for the Finnish squad, while team-mate Niclas Gronhölm missed out on a spot in the final.

Niclas Gronhölm claimed the top qualifiers position after winning Q2 and Q4. His teammate Timur Timerzyanov was the third-fastest after the four qualifying rounds. 

Despite the unfortunate events in Q2 and Q4 that impacted Timerzyanov’s point score, both drivers secured the front row start for Semi-final 1, which the Russian would eventually win and his teammate would not progress any further. 

“This weekend has been with its highs and lows," he said. "Especially the Final, where I was in a position to fight for a win but made a crucial mistake that put me way back in the standings. But then it all turned around when other drivers also fell under the pressure and I was able to regain positions and finish on the podium."

Gronhölm, who had set the early race weekend pace, looked set to challenge for overall victory Canada. However, he paid the price for a costly joker strategy in semi-final one where he finished fourth and failed to progress to the final.

“After finishing the Qualifying sessions as the leader of the pack, the expectations were high, but all it took was one non-perfect start in the Semi-final to have a relatively disappointing ending of the weekend," he said. 

"We had the pace and the car felt really good, but… that’s how it goes sometimes. We need to analyze this race, draw our conclusions and move forward."

Despite the disappointment of missing out on the final in Canada, the Finn targets strong results in the three remaining rounds of the championship. "There are three more races to do and three more possibilities to clinch the top step of the podium," he adds.

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Tuesday 6 August 2019

REPORT: Bakkerud slides into title contention after victory in Trois-Rivieres

Andreas Bakkerud has clinched his first victory in 981 days at the World RX of Canada in Trois-Rivieres and is now firmly in contention for the World Rallycross Championship title with three rounds remaining. 

The Norweigan has come close to victory on two occasions this year – second in Belgium and Great Britain – but it finally came good at the challenging street circuit in Quebec.

Bakkerud acknowledged the efforts of his RX Cartel team after finally securing a win that he thought might never come. “We have worked hard as a team and I was hoping and praying that this day would come even though with all the bad luck and near misses we have had this season, I thought it might never happen,” he said.

“We have had some challenging months in getting the team together for the first round in Abu Dhabi. We were so close in Belgium and Silverstone and we were strong until the semi-final in Sweden."

The Monster Energy RX Cartel driver admitted that he did not expect his Audi S1 Quattro to suit the Trois-Rivieres track layout. 

"Tracks benefit different cars and I thought coming here that this track would not benefit us," he said.

Bakkerud claimed the Q1 race win and was ranked second overall after day one. On Sunday, the Norwegian finished third in Q3 and nearly failed to progress any further, but luck was on his side when Timmy Hansen, Liam Doran, and Timur Timerzyanov collided.

"Winning Q1 was amazing - staying up there and fighting," he said. "We were a bit lucky - especially when Timmy, Liam and Timur crashed together in Q4 - and I came through from out of nowhere."

"In the final, I burnt the clutch at the start and broke the sub-guard on the rear. It was awful to drive on the dirt because of that. I was everywhere, but I still tried to push. It was really tricky to brake into every corner," he adds. "I think Janis [Baumanis] said: 'you were so slow on the dirt'. Yeah, I have a reason."
Bakkerud passing Hansen, Doran, and Timerzyanov to progress to the semi-finals.

"I am just happy that the car stayed in one piece, and I am super proud of the team - the first win for RX Cartel and the first win for EKS Audi Sport, I think since the start of 2017"

The win in Canada has enabled Bakkerud to usurp Timmy Hansen who was second in the drivers’ standings heading to Canada and close to within five points of championship leader Kevin Hansen.

Championship leader Kevin Hansen was disqualified from the final after the stewards decided he was at fault in an incident with Anton Marklund at the exit of the joker lap.

Kevin now leads the overall standings on 143 points with Bakkerud second on 138 and Timmy third with 129.

Bakkerud thinks that the championship fight could go down to the wire in Cape Town. “It’s so close, the races are very unpredictable," said Bakkerud. "I think it will be a race to the chequered flag in Cape Town (the final round of the 2019 championship in November)."

“It’s not going to be easy to win the championship. You need some results and some luck. It’s going to be tricky but you never know.”

It was a weekend to forget for the Hansen brothers. But despite the challenges, Kevin progressed to the finals. His older brother Timmy was the biggest loser in Canada after a crash in Q2 and a chaotic race four of Q4

Timmy's Peugeot 208 was severely damaged and he eventually crawled sideways across the line where it was retrieved by a recovery vehicle.

The incidents meant he missed the semi-finals and emerged from the World RX of Canada with only four points.

Second to Bakkerud in the final was Janis Baumanis who went one better than his third place in round five in Hell, Norway.

"Last year, I got the first trophy from World RX for Monster Energy Supercharge Award, and now standing on the podium in P2 between these two guys," he said. "I'm really pleased to be here." 

"We have worked hard to be on the podium and even make it through to the finals. I think that this is the fifth final of the season or fourth, but it doesn't matter. I am really pleased with the teamwork - especially what we do with analysis during the day - during the night also. We just need to keep on working like this and a podium is then real."

Third was Timur Timerzyanov, who had pipped Bakkerud for the spoils at Spa-Francorchamps in May. The Russian had earlier wrestled his Hyundai i20 to a semi-final victory despite bent suspension. 

"I think it was better to drive with the bent suspension then crash into the tyres. It was actually nice to drive," the Russian jokered. "The suspension was bent on the right direction. All the right corners were easier to drive then the left corners with the gravel corners, just sliding in."

“In the final, third place was a present for me. I think I think that I was fifth after stopped before Kevin (Hansen) and Anton (Marklund) crashed into each other after the joker lap. I was lucky today.”

Guerlain Chicherit finished fourth to round out an impressive weekend for GC Kompetition. Marklund was classified fifth following the clash with Kevin Hansen which caused extensive suspension damage to his Renault Megane R.S. RX.

Niclas Gronholm, who had set the early race weekend pace, and finished as top qualifier, looked set to challenge strongly for overall victory.

However, he paid the price for a costly joker strategy in semi-final one where he finished fourth +0.686s behind Kevin Hansen and thus failed to make the final.

Timo Scheider in the ALL-INKL.COM Muennich Motorsport Seat Ibiza reached semi-final two but a clash with Liam Doran resulted in bodywork damage and sixth place. The incident dropped Doran to fourth in the semi-final when it had seemed a place in the final beckoned for the Briton.

EKS Sport’s Krisztian Szabo, sporting a ‘just married’ sticker on the rear bumper of his Audi S1, celebrated with a race win in Q2 en route to fifth place in his semi-final. 

Rokas Baciuska, the GC Kompetition Academy driver was on the back foot from Q1 after being handed a five-second time penalty for twice hitting track markers. The misdemeanors dropped him to ninth place after Q2. 

The Lithuanian recovered to reach semi-final one where he finished fifth after clipping the tyre wall. Fellow GCK squad member Cyril Raymond was thwarted by a mechanical failure in the same semi-final.

Guillaume De Ridder’s run of bad fortune continued finishing in 14th place overall.

After a strong run to ninth in Q3, Oliver Bennett’s weekend ended in race 3 of Q4 when he was sandwiched off the line and suffered broken front right suspension.

It was an eventful outing for Jani Paasonen for Team Stard. Paasonen's issues began in free practice with contact with one of Trois-Rivieres’ famed concrete walls.

His Ford Fiesta then crabbed its way over the line in race three of Q2 after further contact with a tyre barrier resulting in damage to the right rear suspension. He would eventually finish in last place. 

ESmotorsport - LABAS Gas were fined €50,000 for failure to participate in Canada - "A permanent individual competitor has a responsibility vis-à-vis the FIA to ensure that the car entered takes to the grid for each competition of the championship."

The Lithuanian outfit issued a statement prior to the event in Canada citing a scheduling conflict for not participating - "Due to scheduling conflict Kevin Abbring was not able to attend Canada event, as agreed from the start he would be able only to manage Norway, Sweden and South Africa."

"From now our team will take a short pause from the races. We will continue our car testing and development based on feedback that we have received from the drivers this season."

TEXT - Junaid Samodien

Sunday 4 August 2019

FIA Post-Race Press Conference: 2019 Hungarian GP.

1 – Lewis HAMILTON (Mercedes)
2 – Max VERSTAPPEN (Red Bull Racing)
3 – Sebastian VETTEL (Ferrari)


(Conducted by Paul Di Resta)

Q: Lewis, I can see how much that one means to you. From a driving point of view that was exactly what you had to do to go out there and win it. You fought all the way the very end to get that one done. How do you feel?

Lewis HAMILTON: Tired, which is how it should be, but I feel really grateful for the day and for the team for continuing to believe in me and continuing to push to the limits and to take a risk and a chance on me. We’ve been together for seven years and it never gets old, it always feels brand new. It feels like a new win for us. If it wasn’t for these boys here and all the guys back at the factory this wouldn’t be even possible and I’m just grateful to be a part of it. Yeah, for a race to be able to push like that, I’m telling you now it was on the limit all the way.

Q: The gap was there to take that chance, to roll the dice and try something on strategy, but you had a bit of management in there with brakes, because you had nearly got Max before. Was it always going to be on edge to get that pass done?

LH: Honestly, we’ve had brake problems all weekend, having like separation of the front temperatures and glazing, and I was a bit worried. We made some changes and it still didn’t make a difference and naturally we get into the race and we have this problem, so I was doing a lot of lift and coast and not even touching the brake for half the lap. Now of course in the big stops you had to lose it. I was just trying to save as much as I could for that time when I do get a chance. It was very, very difficult to get by, defence was great, they were quite quick on the straights. But honestly I didn’t know if I could catch that 19-second gap because there is a big... my tyres were going to drop off and all these different things are going through your mind, but like the team said, you just keep your head down, so I did and kept pushing and pushing and the gap closed and closed and closed. The laps were like qualifying laps every lap. So my hat off to the team and I think if Niki was here today he’d take his hat off.

Q: I think everybody would. That’s seven wins in Hungary and a nice way to sign off for the summer break. Enjoy your rest. Max, I know you’re not going to be very happy with what happened but they had the chance to do what they did. You were not fortunately in that position (sic) but I guess you’ve got to be satisfied and Driver of the Day to say that.

Max VERSTAPPEN: Yeah, we were just not fast enough. I tried everything I could on that hard tyre to stay alive but unfortunately it was just not enough. But still, second and fastest lap, I think a good weekend overall for us. Of course congrats to Lewis for the win. He was pushing me very hard, so I like that. Today we didn’t win but again, like I said, it was a good day, a good weekend for us.

Q: What was missing today? That’s four very good races but the one we all thought you would get the job done, these guys came out very strong.

MV: Just lacking a bit of grip I guess. We tried the one stop, of course they had the opportunity to do a two and today that worked out well.

Q: Sebastian, right at the very end of the grand prix. I know these guys had a lonely race at the front but always satisfying to pass your team-mate, you did something different on strategy, and to sign off what is going to be a difficult break for you guys to bounce back?

Sebastian VETTEL: Yeah, I mean obviously I was sitting in P4 and had nothing to lose so we stayed out very long in the first stint and then just hoped that the soft would last until the end, and it did. I think it was the fastest tyre at the end so we were able to close the gap. We had one opportunity, which I took, so happy to get some champagne now and to cool down. Yeah, we couldn’t go the pace with these two; that was quite clear the whole weekend, so lots of work ahead of us. I think it’s good now for everyone to get a break, the guys have been working very, very hard. We need maybe to charge our batteries and then the battle continues. There will be tracks that we will be better for us but still, overall we need to get stronger.

Q: With Spa and Monza coming up after the summer break you guys have got to be favourites for that with your straight-line speed.

SV: Yeah, I don’t know what other people will do in terms of updates on power unit and the engine side, so we’ll see. Obviously on paper they look better of for us. But yeah, still we know we have margin with the car. As you said it will be a busy break for us. I don’t think anyone’s mind can rest in the two weeks, so maybe we come up with some good ideas for the second half.


Q: Max coming to you, great performance by you all weekend and so much rested on that strategic call. Were you tempted to pit as well?

MV: It wouldn’t have made sense because I would have been behind then so then you know the race is lost anyway. So the only option was for me to continue and that’s what we did. Of course at one point I started to run out of tyres, I think trying to keep up with Lewis’ pace on those medium tyres, trying to keep it within a second was almost impossible. And of course you can see it coming, so for me it was not a big disappointment once he passed me, it was just a normal thing to happen. Anyway, we have to be realistic and he was just clearly faster today. Always I was struggling a little bit more for grip than him. He could keep the pressure on. Of course when you are in second you can gamble to do a two-stop. For me it was always about trying to cover him or stay ahead. With the two-stop, worst case scenario is you stay second and best case you overtake me and that’s what they did today. Yeah, then we pitted at the end as well. Of course happy to then do that fastest lap. It’s still one point and hopefully at the end of the year it will matter. Let’s see.

Q: And when you were on the same tyres compound how much did you relish that battle with Lewis?

MV: So, I think on the first tyre he never really had a shot. We were still competitive in the last sector and then when we got on the hard tyre… also with the traffic, because of that he had a few goes at me because I couldn’t do my normal lines in the last few corners and he caught up with that. And then with the defending, I tried to do it as good as I could. Luckily I could stay ahead and then he had to manage his brakes and engine a bit but you could see clearly once that was sorted he closed the gap again. If he had stayed on that one stop I think I could have kept him behind. But once he was on the medium you know it’s going to be really hard.

Q: Sebastian, strategy played a significant part in your race as well. How tough was it to get the distance on that first set of medium tyres?

SV: Very tough. I think they were in very poor condition at the end. I was happy we tried. Obviously we tried to hang in there. I think we stayed out another 10 or 15 laps after Charles pitted, just to try to do something different, maybe hope for a safety car, but to be honest by then obviously the top two were sort of gone anyways. It was really for the sake of trying something different, which looked very distant to ideal when we had the stop and I came out but then I just tried everything I had and got one chance in the end. In the end it’s not a big deal, third or fourth for the team, it’s still the same. The big picture for today is that we were not quick enough and not able to follow them right from two laps into the race.


Q: (Christian Menath – motorsport-magazin.com) Max, usually Red Bull is quite good on race pace and not so good on qualifying pace. Do you have an explanation why it was the other way round this weekend? Was it becauswe of the Friday, which was a little bit weird?

MV: No, I think then you can see how much margin they have when they really need to push. I think Lewis today was on fire as well, but then you see, once he really has to go for it you can see that that car is still the dominant car, it’s as simple as that. Whereas in some races it’s not as necessary. Of course they had their issues in Austria with overheating so you can’t push. Of course in Hockenheim it was tricky conditions as well so you can’t really drive to the limit of the car. But here today I think he had to go for it flat out, because I was also pushing flat out and then you can see what they are capable of as a team.

Q: (Flavio Vanetti – Corriera della Sera) Sebastian, given the hotter temperature did you expect from your car. Is it now a step back in the performances?

SV: No, I think the temperatures were fine. It was quite warm, the track was near 50 degrees as well so I don’t think so. I think we saw our limits yesterday. We got a confirmation today, so I don’t think it’s a step back, we had some bits, it was a small step forward but what it shows is that it’s not enough. It’s important that the mood inside the team remains positive, which is the case. I think everybody knows what we are lacking. Obviously we are very competitive on the straights – yesterday 6 or 7kph faster at the end of the straight compared to Red Bull and also Mercedes – but obviously we are losing quite a lot in the corners. There were some tracks where efficiency is more important, this is a track where inefficiency pays off, so whatever you have in terms of downforce is positive. That’s where we are lacking performance and in the race I think it shows even more because you are sliding and then I think we are going through the tyres faster. So not to our advantage. We have seen that as well in recent weeks, so in a way not a surprise but as I said we need to keep our head down and do the work.

Q: Thank you Sebastian. Lewis, thank you for joining us. Can you just give us your thoughts when you were 19 seconds behind with 20 laps to go?

LH: Well, firstly, Max really drove a sensational race today, as he has done particularly the last few races. When I was behind him on the hard tyre it didn’t look like he had particularly good pace – maybe he was managing to get to the end - but I had a lot of grip and I was thinking ‘I can definitely make this tyre go to the end’, because the first one I got to go quite far. But the team said we were going to a two-stop and I was thinking ‘how is this going to work out, I’m going to come out quite far behind’. But you have to put complete faith in your team because they have different viewpoint to you, so we did the stop and I came out on the mediums and I thought ‘Jeez, I don’t know if these are going to go the distance at the speed I am going to have to go’. Also Max turned up the engine mode and they started doing mid-19s. I started thinking ‘I don’t know if I’m close this gap’. I think the trajectory, they said I was going to catch him with nine laps to go and then that changed super quickly and went to last lap. So after that I had to put all doubt and all question marks out of my mind and go for the best laps I could do every single lap and consistency and not drop any time whatsoever. I had one of the most consistent period of laps that I’d had. I don’t know if he had traffic or mistakes or whatever but the gap started to chop down quite quickly. I think with four or five laps to go I had him four seconds ahead and I could see him in my sights, so maybe he’s struggling with his tyres. So after that I was like ‘OK, we’ve got a serious race on here’. It felt like the steepest wall to climb when you come out that far behind but the team had relaxed faith that we would do it and I’m grateful for their hard work and the decision.

Q: (Stuart Codling – F1 Racing) Question for Max. You said just now that we saw how much margin Mercedes have. That notwithstanding, you had a brilliant race today. How much confidence does that give you, that you can come back after the summer break and take the fight to Mercedes?

MV: I think there are a few tracks coming up that are maybe not as ideal for us – but of course we know we have some updates coming soon to the car and the engine, so hopefully that will again bring us closer. We’ll find out then.

Q: (Giles Richards – The Guardian) Congratulations Lewis, after what happened in Germany, does this feel like a redemptive special win for you and for Mercedes, to come back so strongly?

LH: I generally don’t like to look at redemption, if that’s the right word. Naturally, you know I don’t really make a lot of mistakes and I think the last one was definitely a massive off-weekend for me, and so this weekend, these two weeks, the team have been really great and supportive and taking off the workload, allowing me to recover and really just giving me the best support group possible to take any extra pressure off. Coming to this weekend, I felt I was back on it. Qualifying didn’t go the way I’d planned and I’d hoped. Then today, once I got into second, I was like ‘OK, game on’. And I could keep up with Max, no problems. So I was like, ‘we’ve got an actual real race on here. How is it going to play out? I don’t know. We’re going to have to figure it out as we go along.’ And obviously we both know where we’re going to strategy-wise. Yeah. I truly believed I could get by him at some stage but we’re also fighting at different points in the Championship. I think if we were level on points today would have been an even more aggressive battle, I would say, in the wheel-to-wheels that we did have but obviously we didn’t need to take extra risks today. So, I think Max was really fair and great with where he positioned his car. I just always made sure I gave extra space, just in case. But, of course, going into the break, this is a great, great uplift for the team, particularly after a difficult weekend for us all in the last one. So all the guys back at the factory, a big, big thank you, and the guys here with the strategy. They’re very, very calm when they talk about the strategy like that today. “No, no, truly believed you could do it.” For sure they were nervous as hell that it wasn't going to work. I think collectively we made it happen, so it’s good.

Q: (Luke Smith – crash.net) Lewis, congratulations. We saw that battle you had with Max through the middle of the race. Could you talk us through that? How much do you enjoy these wheel-to-wheel fights with Max? And how nice is it that he’s stepped up and Red Bull have stepped up this year, so you’re fighting with him on a regular basis?

LH: Yeah. It’s really fantastic to see Red Bull’s progress. Obviously we’re in a period of time, particularly this track has been a track that they’ve always been particularly fast in, in previous years and it’s really awesome for Honda as well, to see their progression. They’ve got a lot of power in that engine. So, don’t for one second think when get the…  I think we all get it… the timings where we all layout… the Red Bull were quicker than us on a single lap this weekend and we thought we were relatively level in the race but we were just able to keep up with them and match their times. I think it’s going to continue for the races to come. Even the faster circuits, the engine’s going to be great in Monza, so hopefully we’ll see this battle continue for the rest of the season. And, fingers crossed, Ferrari also will take a step back towards us at some point over the next races. But going into the break, this is awesome.

Q: (Vladimir Rogovets – Sb Belarus) Thank you very much guys for a very good job, for very nice race. I am really happy to be here. My question to Max. How do you feel close with nine championship titles.

MV: I don’t know what to say! I have none! I don’t know what to comment on this! I still have a few years, hopefully in F1, so hopefully one day I can add one. Yeah. That’s it, I think.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – F1.com) Max, at the beginning you were only two-tenths on average slower than Lewis. Then from lap 61, 62, 63 more than 2s. So the tyre disappeared completely? And Sebastian, in spite of what you said to us, that you didn’t expect much from the team here, before coming – did you expect more than sixty seconds the difference between you and the winner?

MV: Yeah. I think it’s quite normal. Lewis was on a medium tyre, pushing flat out of course to catch up, and I was on a hard tyre trying to go flat out but trying to keep the gap but yeah, I was always trying to keep it within a second because then I knew, OK, we can get to the end but at one point the tyres were gone. I started losing one and a half second a lap and then at one point two seconds, and it was just sliding and you feel the rubber is gone, so there isn’t much you can do. It’s quite normal when you have to push that hard on the tyre quite late in the race, where you normally don’t want to push as hard on the tyre. So I guess it’s a normal progression of the tyre drop off.


SV: I think some tracks you know maybe suit you, some maybe less. Despite that I think I was fairly open-minded and you know, you don’t want to accept that. So I tried everything to prove the opposite. But looking now, after yesterday, we simply didn’t have the pace of those two in particular. So there’s obviously work for us to be done. We have room to improve, in the corners is where we’re lacking. With that obviously comes the advantage on the straight, one goes with the other. But, for sure, if we could make a trade, then we would go for it. We’ve been adding small bits to the car this weekend. They were working but obviously not big enough to really get close on a track like this. There might be tracks coming up next, especially with Spa and Monza that might be better for us – but in the end our ambition is to really force things to happen, be in control of the race. Where we are now, we’re quite far away from that. So, yeah, I think the spirit is good though. The team is willing to give everything they have, continue to give everything they have. And that’s all we can do right now.

Q: (Tom Jackson – City Press) Question for all three of you. The lack of meaningful running we saw on Friday afternoon went some way to us seeing the variation in strategy that we did today that allowed you to put on fresh tyres and go for the win and things like that. Would you, in the future, be happy to have less running earlier in the weekend, as drivers getting less track time, if it meant we got more unpredictability later on Sunday?

LH: I never really thought of it. I mean, if it can help with racing, sure. I think this weekend, not many people… I don’t think the Red Bulls did a long run, we did a long run in P1. I think one of few that did. I don’t know how much difference that made. It’s just that we did have an understanding of how far we thought we could take the tyres but somehow the other teams are able to do something similar with their strategies. But yeah… do you think it would make a difference.

SV: No, I actually like driving, so it would be quite bad to get rid of some. I don't think it’s a lot of driving anyway. We do a lot of races but overall I don’t think we drive very much. So, it would be a pity, I think. If you want to address the racing then there’s other things to focus on other than adding or taking away a practice session.

LH: It definitely does help when you go into a race and you don’t know how far the tyre’s going to go. That is quite… I think that is not a bad thing and I think that can add to the spectacle. If you put on a medium tyre or a hard tyre and don’t know how far it’s going to go, none of us do, it definitely makes it more questionable, the strategy. So, I understand what you’re saying but we’ve got more, bigger problems, fish to fry, the way the car’s designed and things like that for the future.

Max, your thoughts.

MV: I think anyway, this year already quite often you go into the race on a tyre you haven’t driven on in practice – because you only select one. I think it’s not bad. I like also sometimes the challenge of not knowing what’s happening. I mean, the problem is most of the time, you put that tyre on, if the balance is bad it’s hard to pass, for the guy behind. So it’s more about the following where we need to work on. If the guy behind is faster, he should be able to get by. So that’s all in relation to the tyres as well. Sometimes, of course, on purpose we don’t select the hardest compound more than once because that’s mandatory. Because you know if you stick it on, even without any knowledge, you can stay ahead and just get to the end.

Q: (Phil Duncan – PA) Lewis, lots will be made of the strategy decisions today and obviously while you say it was a great call but Max earlier said that you were on fire today so how highly do you rate your individual performance over those last 20 laps or so?

LH: Well, it was definitely a really good day today. I think today was clearly… once we got up to second I knew that me and Max were going to have a good race. Did I know I was going to get by? Honestly I was able to keep up with him, I was able to hold on to him within the two second gap and I was just trying to see whether I could make my tyres go longer than him and just kind of really studying him, I guess, really from behind, seeing how that was going. And then he started to drop off a cliff a little bit at the end and it’s really all about trying to make sure you’re in the right place at the right time. It’s not easy to follow, two seconds behind and obviously I had the brake problem as well, so I had to change my driving style quite a bit to enable this brake to go down in temperature so it meant doing a lot less braking and I had much much shorter bursts of braking and then in a lot of other places, half the lap I wasn’t really touching the brakes. So it really changes the balance of the car as well. I’m really glad of how I was able to delegate and work through that and collectively with the team, they did a really exceptional job. It will be interesting when we go back and talk about the two stop because today, this morning, we talked about the strategy and they said two stop was not going to happen and even when we called to do a two stop, I was like Jeez, I don’t know how this is going to work. A gamble’s always a good thing, it felt like a big gamble for us but at the time I felt like I had the pace on Max, I think, as I said, because I don’t know if he was backing off, or he was just controlling the pace but I felt like OK, I’m going to have a few attempts at trying to pass him but at some stage the tyres are going to go off, so I don’t know how many attempts that will be. I really don’t know how long I made those mediums go but I think it was just a collectively… a really bold, risky strategy call and then just doing the job. At the end of the day, I had to do those laps to chew out the gap that he had on me so I think collectively, as a team, we did a really exceptional job.

Q: (Péter Vámosi – Racing Line) Sebastian, you will become a father again, and with maximum respect to your personal life, can you tell us if you’re waiting (inaudible) girl and if a boy, will you be happy if he would chose your job as a racing car driver?

SV: Well, I don’t like to talk about my private life so thank you, but I think we will leave it there.

Q: (Dániel Májer – GP Hirek.hu) Now the summer break has started, the first part of the season is over so could you please rate your own performance from one to ten, one is the worst, ten is the best and explain briefly why you give yourself that mark?

SV: Five, not happy with the first half. I think I struggled here and there to really get on top of the car. I think we’ve been trying a lot of things so fair enough. Obviously we wanted to squeeze out more so you’re always looking for more but I feel I can do a better job in the second half. And five is my number, so take five.

LH: So that’s the first half of the season, yeah? I’d say like 8.9, 8.8.

SV: Go ten, man. Go for it, who cares?

LH: If it wasn’t for the last one, the last race, it would be a little bit higher. I think the good thing is always to score yourself a little bit lower so you’ve more to work on. For sure, it’s been the best start of the season that I think we’ve ever had as a team and I think it’s one of the best seasons that I’ve had personally to start off, but there are areas that we can continue to work on. That’s the great thing about this sport, you know, no matter how many years and days you race there are always areas you can improve on. So let’s see if we can try and up that into the nines or try to get to the tens in the second half of the season.

MV: I don’t rate myself in numbers.

SV: What do you do instead? Letters? Or…

MV: No, I hate putting a number on it because it reminds me of school as well, which is not that long ago. I’m always quite critical and I think it always can be better. I’ll never be satisfied. I think it’s been very positive and I’ve had good results but there are always things to work on.

SV: … a number man!

MV: No I don’t.

SV: We did it.

MV: Yeah, I know but… I don’t know, I think it’s… First of all, I cannot rate myself like that.

LH: Why not, you’ve done a good job man?

MV: I know, but… I don’t know. I find it a bit weird to say an eight or…

Q: Lewis, how would you rate Max if you gave him a number?

LH: I don’t remember all the races that you’ve done other than the last three or four. You could say he’s in the high nines over the last few races but I can’t remember how it went before.

MV: I’ve had a lot of fourths, P3 and then three times fourth. P5, P3… too many P3, P4.

LH: It’s easier to rate yourself because you often remember how many mistakes you’ve made, when you’ve done good, when you’ve kind of been under par and he’ll know whether he’s been on par or below par. I think today he drove exceptionally as he has particularly in the past three or four races so if that continues he’s going to continue to operate in the high nines towards tens.

MV: Nobody’s perfect. No, it’s never perfect…

LH: It’s like an impossible number to get.

MV: 9.9?

LH: It’s a hard one to get to.

Q: (Dániel Horváth – The Paddock Magazine) Lewis and Max, Fernando Alonso praised your performance on social media. It seems he enjoyed the battle as well. Would you like to see him back in Formula One and race against him again?

LH: Well, firstly that’s really awesome that he’s supportive… I was just actually watching some of the restarts, the starts of previous years and watching him from his Renault days and I remember just before I even got to Formula One watching how amazing their starts were. I don’t know how old Fernando is now but he’s always going to be a great driver. If he can get a good seat, he’s always welcome here to battle with us. It doesn’t make a difference, really, necessarily for me. I’m here to fight whoever’s here.

MV: Yeah, I think it was a bit of a shame that I never had an opportunity to fight against him in F1 so yeah…

LH: Could be a good team-mate for you.

MV: Fernando? Well, you have experience with it, I don’t know. Well...

SV: He could be your father!

MV: Yeah, it’s close! Yeah, I know. As a young father. How old is he? 36? 38! OK, well 17 is possible to be a father.

SV: Talking with experience?

MV: I don’t know. At least I don’t know.

LH: How old are you now?

MV: 21. Many years, plenty of years…

LH: Jeez. I like being in this room because I’m not the oldest!

MV: 34?

LH: I’m 34, yeah, nearly 35.

SV: I’ll tell you, the day we get beat by somebody who’s born in 2000 and upwards. We will know it’s time…

MV: I’m not that young!

Q: Sebastian, final thoughts on Fernando? Would you like to see him back?

SV: I don’t mind. I don’t know why… I don’t think he never really liked me. I don’t think we really had a… I don’t mind him. I respect him for what he achieved and for what he can do on track. I don’t know. I guess he’s bored if he has time to write these things. So bring him back, I don’t mind.

MV: Maybe as a social media manager. To me, he’s always been very nice and good. I like that he is also now looking into other opportunities for racing. He just loves racing and he wants to win, he wants to be competitive. It’s good to see.

LH: The sport needs the best drivers in the best seats and there is still at least a seat available that’s good enough for winning and he’s good enough for winning so it wouldn’t be such a bad…

MV: Maybe he could speak to Toto.

LH: Valtteri’s great; Valtteri’s been winning. You’re the one with the extra seat, I would say.

MV: I didn’t say that.

SV: I’m not sure…