Wednesday, 11 April 2018

The 2018 FIA World RX cost saving measures

Image Copyright: FIA World Rallycross
The 2018 FIA World Rallycross season kicks off with the World RX of Catalunya-Barcelona on 14-15 April. It is set to be a thrilling championship with PSRX Volkswagen Sweden, EKS RX, Sebastien Loeb Racing, GC Kompetition etc. all battling it out for the championship title. PSRX Volkswagen Sweden were the most dominant team in their debut season winning 8 out of the 12 round in the 2017 World RX Championship. But the action is set to heat up with closer racing after changes were made by the FIA World MotorSport Council 

In December 2017, the FIA World MotorSport Council (WMSC) discussed measures for controlling costs for the 2018 FIA World Rallycross Championship. With a lot of discussion taking place during the various race weekends of the 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship where costs were said to be rising due to the increased Manufacturer involvement and development in the series, this led to talks about how to combat rising costs in World RX.

The FIA WMSC then announced the following measures for the 2018 FIA World Rallycross Championship to better control costs where there are new limitations on the following components:

  • Reduction from three to two engine seals per year
  • Introduction of a Technical Declaration form, to supplement the Technical Passport, which will be used to identify items that are restricted to remove development opportunities and costs
  • Restrict brakes to the declared specification for the year

  • Reduction from six to four turbochargers per year

  • Tyre usage: in the first two events a maximum of 12 new tyres (wet and dry) may be registered per car.
  • From the third event, a maximum of eight news tyres (wet and dry) and four used tyres (wet and dry) registered in a previous event may be registered. Only registered tyres can be used in the event [this represents a reduction in the number of tyres available as it removes the possibility to use unregistered tyres in practice and warm-up].

Gearbox Ratios:
  • The make, model and location of the gearbox.
  • If a central differential is used (transmission specification is locked for the year with or without a centre diff.)
  • Restrict gear ratios to two declared sets for the year.

Aerodynamic Devices:
  • Restrict the rear aerodynamic device to the declared specification for the year
Image: FIA World Rallycross

PSRX Volkswagen Sweden - The hunters become the hunted.

Petter Solberg testing the 2018 PSRX Volkswagen Polo R Supercar.
Copyright: FIA World Rallycross

After a hugely impressive debut season, the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team have to take on the challenge of defending their 2017 FIA World Rallycross Championship titles. The team won 8 out of 12 championship rounds with Johann Kristoffersson being crowned World Champion. 

The PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team will be supported by Volkswagen Motorsport: the world champion team from 2017 will receive technical support from Hanover and Wolfsburg in the form of the carefully enhanced 419 kW (570 HP) Polo R Supercar. 

“Winning titles is one thing, but it is often more difficult to retain them,” says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Sven Smeets. “We are proud of what we have achieved together with the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team. However, every team is starting from scratch in the new season, and the competition is extremely strong this year. But Johan Kristoffersson is the defending champion and Petter Solberg is a two-time world champion – we have a great driver line-up. At the first race in Barcelona this weekend, we will see who did their homework best.”

The car behind the championship success of 2017 has undergone some detailed development during the winter break – the Polo R Supercar for the World Rallycross Championship. The most obvious changes to the 2018 Polo for the WRX can be seen in the aerodynamics and the front cooling concept. The completely new rear wing provides engineers with more set-up options. The new front skirt provides improved cooling and airflow, compared to its predecessor.

“Just over twelve months ago, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden was formed from two world championship teams – one from the WRC, responsible for technology, one from the WRX, responsible for logistics,” explains Pernilla Solberg, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team principal. “It has been a pleasure to follow this development along the path to the World Championship titles. Everyone shares the same drive: to win. We are looking forward to the new season and intend to give our all to continue this success story.”

The 2018 World Rallycross championship roars into action at Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona

Image Copyright: FIA World Rallycross
The 2018 FIA World Rallycross Championship roars into action this weekend as the opening round of the eagerly-anticipated 12-event season kicks off with the World RX of Catalunya-Barcelona on 14-15 April 2018.

A field of 15 permanent Supercar entries will battle it out for the coveted World RX Drivers’ title this season, with reigning champion Johan Kristoffersson facing a renewed challenge from a high quality line-up as he bids to hold onto his hard-earned crown.

The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya once more sets the scene for the World RX season opener, its fast sweeping curves and undulating sections renowned for challenging drivers and thrilling spectators equally. Furthermore, the F1 and MotoGP venue is complemented by its Joker Lap sequence, which has led to memorable moments in previous years as drivers tackle the parallel, off-camber track sections. The start line has been repositioned ahead of this year's event with turn one now a left-hander leading uphill and into an unsealed section. Race strategy may also change now the Joker is located mid-lap.

Sweden’s Kristoffersson heads up the permanent Supercar entries alongside PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team-mate and two-time World Champion Petter Solberg, the pair getting their hands on a revised VW Polo R for 2018 in the manufacturer's quest to keep hold of both the Drivers’ and Teams’ titles.

EKS Audi Sport brings an all-new Audi S1 to the start-line for Mattias Ekstrom – the winner in Catalunya-Barcelona – last season and new signing Andreas Bakkerud, while the rebranded Team Peugeot Total outfit reflects the French manufacturer’s factory commitment for 2018 with Sebastien Loeb and Timmy Hansen leading its challenge.

Olsbergs MSE returns to World RX with a pair of latest specification Ford Fiestas for Kevin Eriksson and Robin Larsson, while GRX Taneco expands to include Timur Timerzyanov alongside Niclas Gronholm in two newly-constructed Hyundai i20 Supercars.

The World RX of Catalunya-Barcelona will also herald the much-anticipated race debut for the GC Kompetition Renault Megane RS R.X. Developed by legendary engineering house Prodrive, the cars will be campaigned by Guerlain Chicherit and Jerome Grosset-Janin.

Kevin Hansen (Team Peugeot Total), Janis Baumanis (Team STARD) and Gregoire Demoustier (Sebastien Loeb Racing) will compete for the Drivers' title as permanent individual entries.  

As well as the 15 permanent World RX drivers, two round-by-round entries will compete in the World RX of Catalunya-Barcelona; Oliver Bennett will debut the Team XITE MINI Cooper S and Herve "Knapick" Lemonnier will race a Citroen DS3. 

In addition to the headline World Championship, the FIA European Rallycross Championship for Supercars (Euro RX) joins an action-packed bill of racing for the first of its own five-round campaign. The Supercar class will see 26 drivers fighting it out for victory, with defending champion Anton Marklund bidding to get the defence of his Euro RX title off to a strong start against a new wave of rivals, including Reinis Nitiss, “CSUCSU” and Thomas Bryntesson. The highly-competitive FIA European Rallycross Championship for Super1600 machines will also kick off in Catalunya-Barcelona with 25 drivers out to succeed last year’s title-winner Krisztian Szabo. 

Monster Energy Super Charge Award

The Monster Energy Super Charge Award will once more reward the driver with the fastest reaction to the starting lights in the World RX final this season. Emphasising the importance of getting off the line quicker than the competition, this coveted award from the World Championship’s presenting sponsor will serve to ramping up the tension further ahead of the crucial final. 

World RX Managing Director for IMG, Paul Bellamy commented: “With new teams, updated cars and driver shuffles up and down the order, the stage has been set for what promises to be another fantastic season of World RX racing. The Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya is the perfect venue to kick things off with its tricky layout keeping drivers on their toes after the long winter break, while the decision to move the start and finish lines is bound to create a few exciting moments and shake up the Joker Lap strategies. The local fans have shown tremendous enthusiasm towards World RX ever since the Catalunya-Barcelona round was included on the calendar in 2015, and this year will surely be no different as we wait to see who will top the podium in round one. Here’s to another memorable World RX season.”

The 2018 World RX season will comprise of 12 events with the field moving from Catalunya-Barcelona to Montalegre in Portugal, Mettet in Belgium and for the first time Silverstone, which will host the World RX of Great Britain as part of the all-new Speedmachine festival on 26-27 May. From here, the series heads to familiar rounds in Norway, Sweden, Canada, France and Latvia, before the inaugural World RX of USA at the Circuit of The Americas on 29-30 September. The 2018 season wraps up with Germany and the Cape Town finale on 24-25 November.

SOURCE: FIA World Rallycross
Image Copyright: FIA World Rallycross

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

The Moment of truth for Audi factory backed EKSRX.

Andreas Bakkerud and Mattias Ekstrom pose with the 2018 EKSRX Audi S1 Quattro RX Supercar.
Copyright: AudiSport
The fifth World Rallycross Championship season commences at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on April 14–15. Finishing second in the FIA World RX championship last year, Mattias Ekström hopes to have a stronger 2018 season. To start the World RX season, the EKS Audi Sport squad must assert itself against the teams from Volkswagen, Peugeot and Co. The event also marks the first race as Audi driver for Norwegian Andreas Bakkerud.

At the final tests for all World RX teams in Silverstone, Ekström set the fastest time with the new Audi S1 EKS RX quattro. “That was great confirmation for the entire team that has worked extremely hard over the last few months,” says Ekström. “However, we’ll only really see exactly where we are in Barcelona. For this reason alone it is the most exciting weekend of the year.”

The track in the Spanish metropolis is Ekström’s favorite. On his premiere in 2015, he made a mistake in the semi-final at the extremely fast first corner, which cost him a possible win. In both 2016 and 2017, the Audi driver was however unbeatable in Spain. “Barcelona is the highlight of the year for me,” says Ekström. “When you charge towards Turn 7 – former Turn 1 – and see the many fans in the grandstands you get goose bumps. You take this corner almost flat out in fifth gear at around 150 to 160 km/h. I love the general layout of the track.”

Ekström’s new teammate Andreas Bakkerud also has fond memories of Barcelona. “I finished third there last year and was on the podium,” says the Norwegian. “The track is fantastic, fast and flowing. I travel there with a good feeling. We still have snow on the ground in Scandinavia, which is why I’m really looking forward to some sun and warmth.”

“We are all intrigued to see how the new Audi S1 EKS RX quattro performs in its first race,” says Head of Audi Motorsport Dieter Gass. “Rallycross is still our smallest project and the competition is very strong. Even so, everybody at EKS Audi Sport is fully motivated in 2018 to fight for wins and the World Championship titles.”

Source: Audi Sport
Image: Audi Sport 

Friday, 6 April 2018

2018 Bahrain Grand Prix: FIA Team Members Press Conference TRANSCRIPT

Guenther Steiner (left), Zak Brown and Claire Williams (right)

TEAM REPRESENTATIVES – Claire WILLIAMS (Williams), Zak BROWN (McLaren), Guenther STEINER (Haas)


Guenther, we’ll start with you: that looked like an encouraging first session, with Romain up in sixth place. Does that help you move ahead from the disappointment of Australia and start to put it behind you?

Guenther STEINER: Yeah, absolutely, it will help. It keeps the morale up with the guys, from the disappointment of Australia. But then again, FP1 doesn’t mean a lot. But it’s better to be there than to be last. It helps the guys to keep going and I hope we keep going in FP2, FP3 and Qualifying. And then hopefully in the race we have a flawless race.

And how did you pick up the guys after Australia?

GS: I think we just regrouped and said ‘these things can happen; they shouldn’t happen, we all know that’. You don’t have to beat anybody up; they all feel bad about it. Nobody does this intentionally. It was a series of things that went wrong and it just happened in one race and when we were in a good position. But you always have to take out the positives. We learn, it seems like we have a good car, we just have to keep pushing and we will be fine the rest of the year.

Thank you. Claire, Melbourne was quite a difficult weekend for Williams, certainly in the race. Was that race a fair reflection of where the team stands in the pecking order at the moment?

Claire WILLIAMS: Yeah, you’re right – it wasn’t our finest hour in Melbourne. I think we probably came into the season following testing knowing that we wanted to be. I think we would have hoped that we made some greater inroads into the performance delta to the frontrunners, however that didn’t transpire in Melbourne. But I’m not necessarily convinced that Melbourne was particularly representative, I hope it wasn’t. We know that there are three key areas of weakness that we need to focus on, which we’re doing now. We certainly believe we have more performance to extract from the car and that’s what the team are working on at the moment.

How do you move forward from here to improve the car in those areas?

CW: As I said, we know the three key areas of weakness and we just need to focus on those. The team needs to a good job trackside to make sure that our race ops are where they need to be. The drivers need to ensure that they’re doing what they needs to do from the start of the weekend. And then we need to make sure that we’re improving the performance of the car race to race. Probably it’s the car that’s our greatest weakness at the moment, so everybody at Grove is galvanised to make sure that we bring the upgrades that we need to bring and that we keep working on it. It’s just about keeping our heads down and not getting too stressed out but the first result in Melbourne. I think that’s really important – this is a long season and we need to look forward rather than back.

Thank you. Zak, coming to you, it’s a home race of sorts for McLaren and you had a strong result on the first race weekend, but was the pace where you expected it to be at the start of the season?

Zak BROWN: Our pace was there or thereabouts. It was a good race for us. We wanted to get both cars home, reliably and in the points. It was a good weekend. The drivers did an exceptional job, the pit stops were good, we’re in the rebuilding process, it’s a long season, but that was a long season for us.

Yesterday, Fernando Alonso said that the next two months are crucial for McLaren. Is that a sentiment that you share?

ZB: I think the next two months are crucial for every Formula 1 team, with the pace of development. No one is sitting still. This race is important, the following race is important, every race is important, but we need to build on Australia, find some more speed, make sure we continue with the reliable and good team work, and I think we’ll have a good season.


Q: (Kate Walker– New York Times) This week we saw the results of the gender pay gap figures published – I know Guenther your team was exempt – but what sort of efforts are you guys making to rectify any imbalances in pay in your workforce and to what extent are the existing imbalances down to people of different gender being in different roles, rather than any deliberate effort to underpay women?

CW: I can get on my soapbox now! Gender equality at Williams, and I’m talking on behalf of our team, is obviously an issue that we have been looking at and addressing for a number of years now. It’s hugely important as part of a wider societal conversation that we’re having and it’s really important that we tackle and we address these issues. I do think the report that came out this week is misleading. I think the criteria by which we have to report has been particularly misleading. You look at the tables of teams that have had to report and Williams is pretty far down the bottom, but they are looking at the mean and the median. And actually the most important thing when you’re looking at gender pay is that women are paid the same amount as their male counterparts for doing the same role. That’s the most important thing. At Williams we tackled that issue a while ago, probably 12-18 months ago. We know, and I can sit here with total transparency, saying all women at Williams are paid for doing the identical roles that men are paid. I think that’s the most important issue that we have to address. I think that these reports that have come out this week can be extremely misleading, because they are comparing situations where actually there are far fewer women in our roles in our teams, because this is a very male-dominated sport and always has been. However, we’ve done a huge amount of work to tackle that over the past 12 months and we continue to do so. I think at Williams we probably do more work than most of the teams in the paddock, and I’m really proud to say that, either through the initiatives we’ve set up over the past two years to address the situation, or through the work we do with external parties such as F1 in Schools and Dare to be Different. And we will keep plugging this conversation and keep doing this work to ensure that we have more females coming into our team and into motorsport as a whole. It’s so important when we’re looking at a shortage of engineers coming up. We have to be talking to all students, male and female, in secondary and tertiary education if we’re to make sure that at the end of the day this sport survives. But it is also really important to say that we recruit on merit. Sport has to be done on a meritocracy, it’s not just a box-ticking exercise for us to make surer that we have more women in. It’s to make sure that we have quality people coming into our racing teams to work.

ZB: I echo Claire’s comments, I think she laid that out very well. What I would say is that it is a very important issue for McLaren. It’s something that we speak about frequently. It’s something that we are doing something about, so we recognise its importance and there is definitely room for improvement.

GS: After Claire, what she said, I don’t know what to say! It was so good. Even if we are exempt, we are equal, it’s the job position, we don’t look at gender. It’s very transparent, we are very new, so we never had any history there. When we started it needed to be equal anyway. That is the position and that is the pay. It doesn’t matter whoever it is that is what gets paid. So we are very fair on that one. Even if we don’t have to report, we have no issues with that and we just keep it fair.

Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and Speed Sport) Liberty presented its broad outline for the future. It’s going to require co-operation from the teams. You’ve all observed Formula 1 for a long time and you know that teams rarely agree unanimously on everything. What’s different now than it has been in the past 30 or 40 years?

ZB: I can’t really speak to the last 30 or 40 years because I haven’t been around that long… but I have watched it. Yeah, I look like it! Thanks! I think we all recognise that the sport starts with the fan and that’s what Liberty are focused on – putting on a better for the fan. And if the fan wins, we all win. The sponsors win, the m4edia wins, television ratings win. I think we all recognise that the sport is not where it needs to be today so it’s in our collective interest to improve the show. That means we’re all going to have make varying degrees of compromises but I think we’ll ultimate get there at the end and I’m excited about the future of Formula 1.

CW: I was extremely positive about today’s meeting, I have to say. I think we’ve all hoped for change under our new management and I think today they presented change. I think for a team like ours, based on what they presented, it was an extremely good day for us. I came back thinking let’s crack open some champagne, because from our perspective if we can get these new regulations through, and if Liberty/FOM do everything they say they are going to do, that they presented this morning, then from our perspective I know that Williams’ future is safe. That’s not to say that we were on the brink, or anywhere close, but with today’s sport and the way it is structured and with the financial disparity between teams then the likelihood of Williams’ survival into the medium and long-term was looking pretty bleak. Everything they presented from revenue redistribution to cost caps is absolutely everything that we want to see from 2021 and beyond, so I’m personally delighted with the proposals that they laid down. I know that in the past you can have these conversations and they come out and not necessarily anything is ever done about it, but I’m not sure these discussions are negotiable. That’s not the message I got anyway.

GS: I think I echo what Claire and Zak said. We are looking all positive after our meeting. But to answer Dan’s question, there’s a different owner of the sport in place so they will do things differently. We knew what was before, there was always the same tactics. With the new owner that is what you have got the chance to make it happen different this time. That’s my opinion about it, to answer Dan’s question straight. I think it was good today. The presentation went well. For sure, everybody goes away and comes back with questions but I think as Claire and Zak said we are at the point where we need to change something to attract people, to attract new fans to do what we need to do to make the sport the leading sport in the world.

Q: (Jerome Pugmire – Associated Press) Just to follow up on that, is there anything – for all three of you – that you had any reservations about regarding the proposals? Any particular point?

ZB: I think we’re going to avoid getting into specifics of what was discussed this morning. That was what was agreed amongst the teams, Chase and Ross. But, as Claire and Guenther have said, I would say overall the impression is very positive and I think the direction they’re taking is the right direction. There’s obviously a lot of details, questions – but we’ll do that behind closed doors.

Guenther, anything to add?

GS: No. Nice try to get more information. But no, nothing more to add. The detailed discussions are behind closed doors, we all agreed on that one, and so we should keep it like in any other business and hopefully we bring back a better sport that is better for all of us.

Claire, you’re very happy but I assume you’re going the say the same?

CW: Yeah, the same. Thank you.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, Sorry to continue along the same sort of line but referring to this morning’s meeting, is it not… the presentation was more a Liberty wishlist rather than proposals for the future, given the fact that they aren’t actually the regulatory body. So, do you actually see this as a blueprint for the future or a discussion point?

CW: I believe it was a proposal rather than a wishlist. It was presented as such and I think that everyone felt it was a blueprint for the future. There are obviously elements in that proposal are under FOM’s control and others which fall under the FIA’s control – but I believe that FOM and FIA are working together and, as I’ve always said, if we’re going to protect the future of this sport then we need to work collaboratively. All three stakeholders.

Zak, did you see it like that?

ZB: Yep. I was in the same meeting.


GS: Yes – but there is something between a blueprint and a wishlist, which is called a proposal. That’s what it was. It’s not a blueprint but it’s not ‘oh, let’s try to do this’. It’s something in between but it’s a good starting point. A very good one, actually.

Q: (Jonathan McEvoy - Daily Mail) To Zak. As you’re chairman of McLaren and non-executive director at Motorsport Network, do you think it’s right that one of your drivers advertises a link to the magazine and the website.

ZB: Yeah, it was a free offering. I think some other drivers are going to be doing it. So yeah, it’s a free opportunity for consumers and hopefully more drivers will help share accordingly.

Q: (Scott Mitchell – Autosport) Just a quick one back on the topic of the meeting this morning. One of the things that was pointed out was a reiteration of the need for a cost cap. So, how much do you think is a sensible target for that and how to you think it would be employed?

ZB: I think that falls into the realm of items that we’re not going to discuss. I think there’s a lot of detail of what goes into a cost cap and what doesn’t. I think at the end of the day we’re trying to get the sporting field levelled so wherever we land on cost caps should be based around what makes a race car fast on the track – not necessarily some of the other items that go around a Formula One programme: marketing, things of that nature. What you see in the paddock – I think that’s quite special and unique to Formula One.

Guenther, do you have a figure in mind that you think would be good?

GS: No. I think as Zak said, it’s behind closed doors and we have to go back to that one because we agreed on it. It will come out when the deal is done. Or maybe it never will – but it needs to be reasonable that we can put a good show on, the technology still to showcase it, and what we put in and what we take out, we have to still obviously decide on it but again it will be done behind closed doors.

And Claire, if I could ask, if a figure was given, was it one that would actually affect many of the teams at the moment, or was it quite a high ceiling?

CW: I don’t know whether to say it was behind closed doors or not – because that’s what everyone else keeps saying. I think it’s a balanced figure. I think obviously whenever you talk about cost caps there are going to be winners and losers, aren’t there? And it’s about compromise at the end of the day.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, Question to Guenther – and I won’t ask what you could do with a $150million cost cap – but you’ve obviously played the listed parts regulation to the absolute limit and your performances and commercial performances to date in your last two years prove that it’s actually worked for you. Is this how you intend continuing going forward? To actually continue still getting all the listed parts from your favoured team supplier – or do you intend changing that model? And to the other two, do you believe that this is the way forward for Formula One? To basically be a semi-customer team acquiring as many parts as possible.

GS: We are doing it until 2020. We were waiting for this proposal and see where we get with the proposal with Liberty Media. And then we decide what we are going to do in the future. We haven’t taken this decision yet, what we are going to do but, for sure, it seems to be working and I don’t see any point to do it different at this moment in time. But it was this morning, the meeting, we have still have not the decision of what will be done with the sport for 2021. How the new contract looks. As soon as we have got that one, we will take a decision in the months after that one, how we continue there.

Zak, is this a future direction that you think Formula One should be exploring?

ZB: Yeah, I think it… Haas has done an outstanding job. Gene Haas is a very smart businessman, he obviously saw an opportunity to enter the sport and get competitive with less resources than a lot of the other teams out there and I think it does point to future regulations where you do talk about some standardisation of some parts that maybe aren’t visible to the race fan – therefore it doesn’t compromise the integrity of the sport, the customisation. So, I think it is something that they’ve done a very good job on and I think we need to look at some of that, or all of that, some of the basis on which we move forwards as we try to drive cost down.

Claire, your thoughts.

CW: Yeah, I think Haas have done a fantastic job. They’ve come into the sport and are now a hugely competitive. Obviously we are not very happy about that – but as a model I think certainly it is not one that Williams subscribes to. I think everybody knows our philosophy around being a constructor in our sport. For us, personally – I wouldn’t criticise the way other people want to do it – but we want to retain our constructor position. So it’s not something that I would want our team to subscribe to – to go and buy a whole load of another team’s parts. For me, success for us is us designing, developing and building our race car, ourselves, in-house. And success has to come from us doing it our own way. But, as  a philosophy for other teams, we totally accept that.

Q: (Arjan Schouten – Ad SportWorld) Zak, Formula Two is also starting this weekend. Last week, Nyck de Vries told on Dutch television that you said to him that he will definitely get a chance with McLaren in Formula One in 2019 when he wins the championship. Two questions: is that true and what does a chance mean?

ZB: That is not an accurate reflection of the conversation but Nyck’s a very good driver. McLaren will always look to put the two best drivers that it can in the car and no one has any promises from McLaren verbally or contractually as to who is going to be in our car in 2019.

Q: Indistinct

ZB: We won’t comment on our contracts but I can tell you that no one has a guarantee to be in our seat for 2019, regardless of any race results.

Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS) Do you think the Liberty plans secure the future of the ten teams?  For instance, will it keep Ferrari on board?

GS: I cannot speak for Ferrari so I think we need to ask Dr Marchionne that one but I think there is… I’ve no idea. Mr Marchionne wasn’t present and nobody committed this morning, nobody made any comment if they would join or not. I hope they stay on board, obviously, because Ferrari’s a big part of Formula One. I hope everybody stays on board because I think they’ve got ten good teams at the moment and we should try to all work together to keep it going like this.

Q: Claire, you said you came out very happy from that meeting. Do you think every team came out very happy from it?

CW: I’m sure that some people aren’t going to be very happy. If you hear the intricacies of that meeting then, as I said earlier, there are always going to be winners and losers in this situation and sometimes it’s about compromise if we’re to protect the future health of this sport. Like Guenther says, I can’t comment on Ferrari’s feelings around the proposals that were laid out. All I can comment on is our team and if their proposal is blue-printed then it does protect the survival of Williams and at the end of the day that’s all that matters to me. I want our team to be competing and hopefully winning in this sport for the next two, three, four decades.

ZB: No, nothing to add, I think we’ll find out soon who’s on board and who’s not. Hopefully everyone will be on board, that’s what’s going to be best for the sport and I believe for all the teams as well.

Q: (Julien Billiotte – AutoHebdo) Claire, you mentioned key areas of your car that need progressing, improving. Can you be more specific? Is it a case of lack of downforce, issues with stability or something else? And regarding the updates, do you think you can have them ready perhaps for Baku or will you have to wait for the start of the European season?

CW: Yeah, we don’t really like airing our dirty linen in public at Williams. It’s not fair. We know the areas and that’s half the battle, to make sure that you understand the weaker areas of your car. Clearly everyone always wants more downforce, that’s certainly something that we need to work on. But it’s across the whole car. We do believe that there is more performance to find, that we didn’t manage to get it out in Melbourne and so that’s the work moving forward. We do have some significant upgrades coming in the next few races and I’ll be really looking forward to seeing how those perform on the track but as I said earlier, it’s a long season but we have work to do. We’re not happy finishing where we finished in Melbourne, we’ve got to make progress but unfortunately a lot of the other teams that we thought we’d be fighting with have made greater progress than us and really we haven’t done a good enough job and we need to really dig deep if we’re going to make progress this year. It’s going to be a really tough year which is great for the fans, just not so great for us at Williams.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, Zak, the new regulations post-2020, whatever is in the public domain and other stuff that we’ve heard etc, would this incentivise McLaren to actually become a complete manufacturer and provide their own engines, because obviously the manufacturers will receive bonuses and with you sourcing an engine from a French production car company doesn’t qualify you for that yet you are also a supercar manufacturer?

ZB: You know it’s very early days, hours into understanding directionally which way this sport’s going to go with engines, so it is something that we discuss from time to time but with all that we have to accomplish right now, our heads are focused a little bit more on tomorrow and Sunday. As things become clear, then we’ll have that discussion.

Q: (Louis Dekker – NOS) We heard a lot about 2021, there’s a couple of years to go. Isn’t it frustrating that nothing much can be done to get more attractive races in the short term?

CW: Yeah, I think we’re probably all slightly disappointed by the race in Melbourne, that it didn’t bring the track action that we’d like to hope for. I think there are probably circuits coming up where we may see some more interesting racing. Melbourne’s not necessarily an easy circuit to overtake on. I hope that improves. I know that the TWG have been talking about means by which to improve the racing, to overtaking, in the coming weeks, so I think we probably have to wait and see the outcomes that they discuss to hopefully effect change for the next couple of seasons, because probably we can’t wait and our fans certainly can’t wait until 2021 for us to improve things.

GS: I would go back to the comment that we didn’t have a lot of interesting races; we’ve had one, one swallow doesn’t make a summer. I think we should wait a little bit longer to see if it is interesting or not. As Claire said, Australia’s not the easiest circuit to overtake on anyway. I would wait a few races before we jump to
conclusions but in the meantime, again as Claire said, the TWG has started its own ideas to make overtaking better and to see what’s coming out there. I stay calm. We didn’t have three years of uninteresting races, we had one this year so give us a little bit of time.

ZB: I agree with Guenther, it’s been one race. I they’re also talking about some modifications of that particular circuit and then hopefully we can have discussions. We’ve got an upcoming strategy group meeting where we will discuss things for 2019 so hopefully we don’t have to wait until 2021 to impact some change but let’s see what’s necessary after a few more races.


Thursday, 5 April 2018

The 2018 Bahrain Grand Prix: Drivers Press Conference Transcript.

DRIVERS – Valtteri BOTTAS (Mercedes), Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN (Ferrari), Fernando ALONSO


Kimi, if we can start with you. It was third place in Australia for the opening and it could have been even better and you said you were happy with the car during the first weekend.

Could you just tell us what about this car you like and does it suit you more than last year’s

Kimi RÄIKKÖNEN: Obviously it’s hard to say. I think it was a pretty straightforward weekend. For sure, we could have done more things and improved always, but it’s the same: it doesn’t matter if you win or are tenth of something; there are always things to improve or work on. Obviously we have a very limited amount of time over the weekend to do things, with the practice, and also with the weather it was a bit tricky. Overall, I think we were quite pleased with how things went. You want more, better positions, but I think we take that happily. As a team we did a pretty job out of it. Not much to complain about really. We want to win races, but it’s the first race out and we managed to do decent points, so we go forward here, try to make a good practice. So far the car has been working well, even with pretty limited testing over the winter, with some illness and obviously the weather was not ideal on the first test, so I’m pretty OK with how things are running, so let’s just keep doing our normal things and improving.

Thank you. Valtteri, coming to you: it was a difficult weekend for you in Australia, especially with the crash in qualifying. How much does a weekend like that play on your mind in the gap between races and how eager are you to get out on track this weekend?

Valtteri BOTTAS: Well, not so much been in my mind, because everything was kind of processed during the weekend. It was a bad weekend, that’s it. Now we still have 20 races to go and we’re here in Bahrain, so nothing really to worry about at this point. We have a competitive car. We know we still have a lot of work to do to make it better. Just a bad weekend, so looking forward to this one.

Thank you very much. Fernando, you said on Saturday evening in Melbourne that hopefully you’d finish higher than P7 or P6 in Australia and you went and finished in fifth place, so where will you finish this weekend?

Fernando ALONSO: I don’t know, I don’t have the crystal ball anymore! I think definitely the car has some potential. Over the winter we had some ups and downs in testing and then in Australia it was the same thing – the free practice was affected by the weather and the qualifying was not smooth enough for us to show the potential. It was a good race, a lucky race with the two Haas retirements and the Virtual Safety Car. Nevertheless, I think we take this fifth place and we move on. There is still a lot to improve for us if we want to catch up to the top three teams, but I think we have the potential there and hopefully we can unlock some performance in the next races.


Q: (Dan Knutson – Auto Action and Speedsport) Fernando, following on from that: as you say, ups and downs and still potential to come, but are happy days here again?

FA: Well, I think there’s still quite a reasonable gap to close with the leaders, but I think it’s up to us now. It’s up to the team to deliver the performance in the next weeks, in the next four or five or six grands prix. If we are able to bring the performance to the track and close that gap and, you know, being in a reasonable distance to the pole position and the podium finishes and things like that, then it’s up to us to deliver the result on the weekend. I think the next two months are crucial for our hopes in this year’s championship, but hopefully we can keep improving the car, keep putting more performance and if it’s not a world championship fight, it will hopefully be some podium positions during the year or it can be regular top six or top five positions, not only in Australia P5 because of the Virtual Safety Car and the two Haas retirements. Maybe P5 could become a normality. That’s something we need to discover and to find out and as I said before, it’s probably the first time in the last three years that it’s up to us now to deliver that result, so we will try to do our best.

Q: (Heikki Kulta – Turun Sanomat) Kimi, you have eight podiums here but the qualifying results have not been that good – only one P3. Is that the biggest difference you have between racing and qualifying in any circuit, and, if yes, where is that coming from?

KR: I don’t look too closely what has happened in the past, you probably know better. To be honest we try to do our best. Sometimes it works; sometimes not and obviously, you start where you qualify. If it’s a good place or not that great you try to make the best out of it. To be honest some years it’s been working out well here. You can choose the tyres and do a different race and it worked out well. Could it be better if you started at the front? Who knows? Another weekend where we try to do a good job and be up there and see where we end up. It’s a bit unknown. This is a completely different circuit to the previous two where we’ve been in Barcelona and Australia – so yeah, we have to see how everything plans out and where we are, where others are – but it’s been a pretty decent place in past years.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – To Kimi and Valtteri, starting with Kimi. Kimi, you were almost seven-tenths slower in qualifying in Australia. Do you think Mercedes can also have such an advantage in qualifying here? And, in race conditions, if you believe Ferrari will be more or less in the same gap to Mercedes – or even smaller due to characteristics of the track, and considering the history of Ferrari in this track?

KR: Who knows. You can keep guessing as long as you want, we see over the weekend where we are. I have zero interest to start guessing where we are, what’s the difference in qualifying. There’s so many things that will change that and y’know, we’ll do our best and see where we end up in qualifying and the race – but the most important part is the Sunday after the race where it will be finished. I am finished to be two seconds off if we win every Sunday. I don’t care. It’s pretty irrelevant on Saturday in that way. But yeah, I don’t know. That’s why we come here. To find out.

VB: I think pretty much the same. You can always guess but at this point we can only guess, so yeah… I think historically Ferrari has been good here. They had good race pace in Australia. Last year they had stronger pace here than in Australia, so I think it’s going to be a threat and they’re going to be close to us. Even Red Bull. But more than that, just can’t say. We will see how the weekend develops.

Q: (David Croft – Sky Sports F1) Interesting day coming up tomorrow where we understand Liberty Media will be presenting their blueprint of the future of Formula One to the teams. I was just wondering, as drivers, what input you’ve had, what consultations you’ve had and  where you see any changes necessary from a racing perspective to improve Formula One for the future. It’s a question to you all.

FA: I don’t think that there is anything thing that we can probably can say about that. Definitely Liberty has been quite open to us from Day One and they’ve been asking us all of last year about opinions and different ideas that we may have. So, they were very productive conversations. So, now I think they have a plan. They will show it tomorrow to the teams and we will agree with whatever their decision is because they have all the power and they have all the knowledge of who to do things. Hopefully they’ll bring new ideas, new things that can improve the show and that will be welcome from all of us.

Kimi, has there been any feedback you’ve been giving to Liberty about the direction of
Formula One?

KR: No, in the end it’s no our decision, it’s up to them. It’s their business. They make plans and obviously take decisions they feel is correct. I don’t know what they’re doing now. I know very little about it and I’m not interested in it, so we’ll see tomorrow what they say. It’s in many years’ time anyhow. I doubt I’ll be here so it doesn’t really bother me.

Valtteri, anything to add?
VB: Not really. I think Fernando covered well. In the end, it’s their decision and tomorrow we’ll
see what they will recommend. It’s difficult to speculate more than that – but it will be
interesting to see what they recommend.

Q: (Jerome Pugmire – Associated Press) Valtteri, you say it’s been processed - what
happened at the Australian Grand Prix - but how much pressure do you feel to have a good
performance here?

VB: I think it’s a normal race weekend, that’s my feeling at the moment, honestly. Sometimes you have bad races and then there’s always the next one and of course you always want to perform but there is no point in gathering pressure from one mistake in qualifying. Of course, I always hope for a good weekend but yeah, I feel a normal race weekend ahead.

Q: (Livio Oricchio – Just coming back to the previous question, to all
drivers, Fernando said they have the power to change Formula One. If you had the power,
what would you change in the Formula One we have today?

KR: I don’t have it, so…

Q: Nothing you’d change at all?

KR: No, I don’t have the power so what’s the point to wasting… even thinking about it because I don’t understand why you… what’s the point for me, to give you a list, because in the end I have zero power? I can’t. You understand? We can’t, we don’t make the rules, that’s my point. What’s the point of even making a story out of it.

FA: Well, I think it could be a closer battle, that will always be welcome but it has always been like that in F1. I remember watching the TV in the very old days… it was on television last week a race from ’90 or ’89 and apart from the first four cars, everyone was flat. We remember that era like a golden era, with big names etc and they’ve always been a big spread but I think if you see now, other series, if you watch a race of IndyCars or whatever, that unpredictable result until the last ten laps makes you excited in front of the television and now we can put (down) the qualifying order for this race right now, on Thursday and that’s a little bit sad.

VB: Well, I think, like everyone, all the spectators, all the drivers, we would all love more closer racing like Fernando said but how to do that? It’s not in my hands.

Q: (Dieter Rencken – Racing Lines, Fernando, one of the current stated
objectives this year is to return to the podium. Now based on what you’ve experienced in
testing and the race, what you’ve just said etc, in order to get onto the podium you have to beat both or one or both Ferraris, one or both Mercedes, plus two Red Bulls which have got the same engine. Do you honestly believe that that’s do-able and achievable this year?

FA: Yes. We were two places from that podium already in Australia. They were very close, the last ten laps, Ricciardo and Kimi fighting together so anything can happen in a race. I won two races in 2008 with that ING Renault. I was on the podium in 2009 with the introduction of KERS and that car that we were, I think, ninth in the World Championship or something like that, and I was on the podium so anything can happen in F1. If you are close to that position, sooner or later that opportunity will come and we will be there to take it. I think it’s very possible this year.

Image By: Sutton Images

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

The Circuit of the Americas Rallycross circuit is revealed

Copyright: FIA World RallyCross

The FIA World Rallycross Championship has officially landed in the United States as the much-anticipated World RX of USA held its official launch with the grand unveiling of the brand new rallycross track at Circuit of The Americas in Austin, Texas (Wednesday).

The iconic motorsport facility will welcome the world’s leading rallycross drivers on September 29-30 for Round 10 of the 12-event season, marking the first time the premier World Rallycross Championship has taken place on American soil.

Tickets purchased in advance for the entire weekend will start at $30 and are available for purchase at

The purpose-built track will see the world’s top drivers go head-to-head on the only permanent Rallycross track in the United States. The racing will be located in the stadium area of the facility between turns 12-15, creating a natural amphitheatre that ensures fans can see the entire track from any seat. Furthermore, World RX of USA will give event-goers the full festival experience with world-class music acts, action sports, and the finest food to complement the spectacular racing action.

World RX Managing Director for IMG Paul Bellamy said, “The inaugural World Rallycross (WRX) of USA will be a key moment for the World Championship, and we believe COTA is an ideal venue from which to showcase the series to a new audience. We have been wanting to race in the USA for a while, and the opportunity has now presented itself to come here. With competing brands, such as Volkswagen, Audi, Peugeot and Renault, the USA is a significant territory for all involved with the World Championship as well as being integral to its continued global growth.

“Those attending World RX of USA will benefit from COTA’s world-class facilities and a fantastic entertainment program around a venue designed to ensure spectators get the most from the short, sharp, and fast-paced racing action. We have absolutely no doubt US fans will love World RX when it arrives in September. Tickets have been priced at a level to entice all fans to come and sample a Rallycross weekend for the first time."  

The FIA certified World Rallycross circuit
Copyright: FIA World Rallycross

Bobby Epstein, chairman of Circuit of the Americas, added: “World Rallycross is exciting and fan-friendly. The new course that has been designed is sure to challenge the drivers and wow the spectators. I look forward to their action-packed partnership for years to come.”

Two-time FIA World Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg commented, “It’s always exciting to race somewhere new, but the first World RX of USA at Circuit of The Americas is going to be a particularly special experience. The new COTA layout is just the sort of fast and challenging track we love to race on, so fans can be sure of some spectacular action when World RX arrives. I cannot wait to compete at such a fantastic venue; it’s going to be an incredible atmosphere.”

In addition to World RX of USA, the United States’ most accomplished home-grown rallycross drivers, including Tanner Foust and Scott Speed, will race at COTA on the same action-packed bill as part of the all-new Americas Rallycross Championship (ARX), with more high-profile drivers set to be announced soon.

The World Rallycross of USA will be broadcast live on FloSports with a highlight show on CBS Sports.

For more information on World Rallycross at Circuit of The Americas, please visit the official Circuit of The Americas website 

Thursday, 29 March 2018

PSRX Volkswagen Sweden are prepared for a close championship battle

The 2018 PSRX Volkswagen Sweden Polo R testing in Silverstone.
COPYRIGHT: FIA World Rallycross
The second official FIA World Rallycross Championship test concluded at Silverstone Circuit earlier this week. With testing restrictions in place this season teams are only permitted to run on official WRX circuits in three official tests.

All the permanent 2018 teams assembled at the Silverstone Circuit in UK ahead of the official 2018 season launch. The season launch would also see teams testing there cars on the new Silverstone Rallycross circuit ahead of its official debut on the World Rallycross calender in May. 

Defending World Rallycross team champions, PSRX Volkswagen Sweden focused on more development work with an aim to improve the new Volkswagen Polo R ahead of the season opener in Barcelona, Spain.

Petter Solberg, PSRX Team Owner and Driver said: “Things are looking good. We’ve made more positive steps with the car here. We’ve been working on a few areas, but with things like the geometry, I feel like we’ve made some good progress. What we really wanted was some dry weather running, so much of our testing seems to have been done in the rain. We got some work done on Monday when the sun was out, but we had to stop testing for the launch and then it was wet again on the second day!"

COPYRIGHT: PSRX Volkswagen Sweden
The 2017 FIA World Rallycross season saw the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden team winning EIGHT of TWELVE championship events, in what was a very dominant season for the team. In 2018, the team will have a fight on there hands with the competition closing in on them.    

Defending World Rallycross Champion Johan Kristoffersson, said: “Petter and I have worked closely on what we want from the car and, as usual, Volkswagen Motorsport has done a great job in delivering that. As well as seeing the car’s performance moving forward, this week has also been really interesting to see the new track at Silverstone – and to see it in both the wet and the dry conditions.”

The 2018 FIA World RX Championship kicks off with the World RX of Catalunya-Barcelona in Spain on April 14-15.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Full steam ahead for the 2018 FIA World Rallycross championship

EKS RX driver Andreas Bakkerud on track during testing in Silverstone
Copyright - FIA World RallyCross Championship

The 2018 FIA World Rallycross Championship is shaping up to be the closest and most competitive season yet, with this year’s leading contenders predicting an unforgettable season. Less than half a second would split the top four drivers following Monday’s track test at Silverstone, the new home for the World RX of Great Britain, with defending champion Johan Kristoffersson anticipating big competition ahead for the Championship title that he will defend this season. 

“It is going to be really tough this year, the competition looks incredibly strong,” the PSRX Volkswagen Sweden driver commented. “World RX is all about small margins but we have been working hard to prepare, as I am sure our rivals have been too. We are ready to race!”

With Kristoffersson being joined by fellow title-winning alumni Mattias Ekstrom and Petter Solberg in gunning for this year’s World RX title, along with nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb and established front-runners Andreas Bakkerud and Timmy Hansen, the stage has been set for what promises to be a closely-fought title battle.

World RX Managing Director for IMG Paul Bellamy, said: “The depth of quality from this season’s World RX field is extraordinary. Everyone competing has a chance to reach the finals and challenge for wins. No-one can afford to let their guard down so the action is going to be intense. Fans are in for a real treat - it’s going to be a fantastic season!”

With two iconic venues joining the schedule in Silverstone for the World RX of Great Britain (May 26-27) and Circuit of The Americas for the inaugural World RX of USA (September 29-30), World RX’s growth continues unabated heading into its fifth season as a fully-fledged FIA World Championship.

“The 2018 season is going to be a pivotal year for the championship,” Paul Bellamy added. “We enjoyed a very successful first visit to Cape Town last year and now we have a brand-new rallycross track here at Silverstone – an iconic venue – and another at the Circuit of the Americas, which will be the perfect introduction for World RX in the United States. With our mix of classic rallycross venues and new purpose-built facilities, World RX has never looked more attractive.”

Copyright: FIA World Rallycross Championship

The World RX of Great Britain at Silverstone will form the cornerstone of the eagerly anticipated Speedmachine festival, which will incorporate thrilling on-track rallycross action with world-class live music from the likes of Dizzee Rascal, Lethal Bizzle and Ministry of Sound, as well as the opportunity for fans to test drive cars around the international circuit, watch classic motorsport demonstrations, participate in eSports and much more.

Testing will continue with a full-day of track action at Silverstone on Tuesday [March 27] before the opening round of the 2018 season takes place with the World RX of Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain on April 14-15.