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Panther Racing’s J.R. Hildebrand turned up the wick late in the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach to claim fifth at the finish for his second consecutive Top-5 at the fabled street course. The American was the top Chevrolet-powered driver at the end of the afternoon following Honda’s lockdown of the top four positions with winner Takuma Sato, Graham Rahal, Justin Wilson and Dario Franchitti.
A strong pit stop on Lap 51 enabled Hildebrand to climb into ninth position and over the final stint, he gained multiple spots on the track until he raced into the Top 5 before the caution came out for a incident with two laps to go involving Panther DRR teammate Oriol Servia and Tony Kanaan.
“I’m really proud of the run we had and the pit crew guys did such an awesome job, because we made up three or four of those spots in the pits on our last stop,” said Hildebrand, who needed a good run following a bizarre DNF at St. Petersburg and a 17th place finish at Barber Motorsports Park.
“…I didn’t see [the Servia/Kanaan incident] because I’d let those guys go a little bit while we were saving to make sure we had enough fuel. I saw some tire smoke as I approached Turn 1 and was able to split through the middle. Really happy to get another Top 5 here for the second year in a row, but we’ll make sure we put the work in to make sure we’re ready to rock and roll next race. If we continue to make gains like we have we’ll be running up front with the big boys a lot more often.”
As for Servia, he was initially hit with a 30-second penalty by IndyCar for avoidable contact following the run-in with Kanaan. However, the series rescinded the call upon further review of the incident and the Spaniard was allowed to keep his sixth place result.
Red Bull Racing team advisor Helmut Marko believes that modern-day Formula 1 drivers are overpaid due to the reduced risk and easier driving conditions they experience.
Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel are two of the highest-paid drivers on the grid in 2016, earning upwards of $30 million per year from their teams.
However, Marko believes that drivers in F1 are overpaid as there is now a reduced risk of suffering a fatal accident, and that with the cars being easier to drive, their worth has decreased.
“Basically, the drivers of today are definitely overpaid for two reasons,” Marko told Sport Bild in Germany.
“Firstly, there is only a small risk that serious accidents can result in injury or even be fatal.
“Secondly, young top talent like [Max] Verstappen or [Pascal] Wehrlein can take the modern car and straight away easily do 100 laps without tiring.
“Previously you had even a Vettel have to take breaks because he was not used to the high centrifugal forces. This means that the cars are easier to drive. The drivers must do less.”
Mercedes AMG Petronas team boss Toto Wolff believes that junior talents Pascal Wehrlein and Esteban Ocon have both earned their roles in Formula 1 for the 2016 season “on merit”.
Wehrlein will make his grand prix debut in 2016 with Manor Racing after winning the DTM title for Mercedes last year, becoming the youngest champion in the history of the series.
Ocon has been loaned to Renault Sport F1 Racing for its comeback season, and will work as the team’s reserve driver following his GP3 title success last year.
Wolff feels that both drivers deserve their chance in F1 this year, and also said that Mercedes will look to expand its junior program across the course of the season.
“We’re delighted that Pascal and Esteban will tackle a fresh set of challenges in 2016,” Wolff said. “Our aim is to build their experience in the best possible environment and, following positive discussions with our counterparts at Manor and Renault, it became clear that their respective Formula 1 programmes presented ideal opportunities to achieve that.
“It is very pleasing to see young drivers earning their spot in Formula 1 on merit and to see that talent is being rewarded by the system. Pascal and Esteban have proven themselves to be amongst the top young drivers out there – and both come into 2016 as champions of their respective series.
“But they still have plenty to learn and they will be staying humble, with their feet on the ground. This is an important year for them and we will be following their progress with great interest, while also looking to expand our junior program.
“Mercedes-Benz has a strong tradition of developing young racing talent and our eyes are very much open to other promising prospects for the future.”
What happens when you put a McLaren P1 owned by baseball star and CJ Wilson Racing team principal, and occasional driver, CJ Wilson, with two-time F1 World Champion Mika Hakkinen, and you turn them loose at The Thermal Club for a track day?
Of course there’s other cars besides the McLaren and hockey legend, Teemu Selanne, was also on site.
This really isn’t a post so much that needs words, but one that does need proper photos and noise.
The CJWR pairing of Marc Miller and Daniel Burkett, who drive the No. 33 One Capital/Motor Oil Matters Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport dubbed “Darth Cayman” in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, have been coaching and driving at an event this weekend out at The Thermal Club, a luxury race track in California.
See a mix of photos and videos below:
Formula 1 CEO Bernie Ecclestone has given officials at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza until the end of February to resolve the future of the Italian Grand Prix.
Monza has hosted the Italian Grand Prix for all but one year since 1950 when the F1 world championship was formed, establishing itself as one of the series’ most historic and legendary venues.
However, its future has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months following a cut in the amount of tax relief that the race receives by the Italian government.
Ecclestone said back in November that he had “no doubts” the race would remain on the calendar and extend its contract beyond the end of 2016 when it expires.
However, the 85-year-old has now cast fresh doubt on the race in an interview with Reuters, giving the circuit until the end of February to resolve its future.
“It’s Italian. A lot of conversations at the moment and not much action,” Ecclestone said.
“They said to me a few months ago: ‘Everything is sorted out, we know exactly where we are and it’s all agreed and no dramas.’
“And now I heard yesterday it’s become very political… They’ll get on with it. Or not. I don’t know what’s going to happen. Nothing we can do about it.
“The only people that can sort this out are the people that are currently involved in Italy. They can take as long as they like, provided it’s by the end of this month.”
The 2016 Italian Grand Prix is set to take place at Monza on September 4.