UK FOTA Fans’ Forum another great success

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A ticket to the FOTA Fans’ Forum is quickly becoming one of the hottest in town, with the events preceding races in Canada and Britain this season drawing in some great crowds and providing a wonderful insight for the fans.

F1 can sometimes appear to put up a ‘brick wall’ to the fans who want to know more, but this project by FOTA (the Formula One Teams’ Association) certainly succeeds in rectifying this situation by allow ticket holders to put their questions to a panel of Formula One personnel, made up of drivers and team principals.

The event held in London yesterday drew in a sizeable crowd, welcomed by a Marussia and McLaren car outside of the venue and with a driver panel consisting of Valtteri Bottas, Max Chilton (pictured) and Daniel Ricciardo, they certainly were not going to leave disappointed.

The questions posed to the drivers ranged from their personal heroes and favorite eras of Formula One to rather more tenuous yet relevant topics such as mortality and – of course – tires. All of the drivers and team principals handled the questions in their usual friendly and knowledgeable manner, even if the questions did sometimes rival those of an FIA press conference in terms of difficulty.

It is events such as these which keeps Formula One in such a healthy state, allowing the fans to feel included and truly valued by the sport. Details for the next FOTA Fans’ Forum have yet to be confirmed, but be sure to visit the FOTA website for updates.

Neuville wins Rally Australia; Ogier takes FIA WRC title

Sebastien Ogier. Photo: Getty Images
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COFFS HARBOUR, Australia (AP) Belgium’s Thierry Neuville won Rally Australia by 22.5 seconds on Sunday as torrential rain added drama to the last day of the last race of the World Rally Championship season.

Neuville entered the final day with an almost 20 second advantage after inheriting the rally lead Saturday when his Hyundai teammate, defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen crashed and was forced to retire for the day.

His lead was halved by Jari-Matti Latvala early Sunday as monsoon-like rain made conditions treacherous on muddy forest stages on the New South Wales coast. The rain stopped on the short Wedding Bells stage where Neuville was almost 5 seconds quicker than his rivals, stretching his lead to 14.7 seconds entering the last stage.

COFFS HARBOUR, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 17: Thierry Neuville of Belgium and Nicolas Gilsoul of Belgium compete in their Hyundai Motorsport WRT Hyundai i20 coupe WRC during Day One of the WRC Australia on November 17, 2017 in COFFS HARBOUR, Australia. (Photo by Massimo Bettiol/Getty Images)

That stage was full of incident. The driver’s door on Neuville’s Hyundai i20 coupe swung open in the middle of the stage and Neuville had to slam it closed as he approached a corner.

Latvala’s Toyota then crashed seconds from the end of the stage, allowing Estonia’s Ott Tanak, in a Ford, to take second place overall and New Zealalnd’s Haydon Paddon, in a Hyundai, to sneak into third.

Sebastian Ogier was fourth after winning the final, power stage but the Frenchman had already clinched his fifth world title before Rally Australia began. Neuville’s win was his fourth of the season, two more than Ogier, and was enough to give him second place in world drivers’ standings for the third time in five years.

Ogier owed his drivers’ title to his consistency: he retired only once and finished no worse than fifth all season.

Neuville admitted the last day was touch and go as the rain made some stages perilous, forcing the cancellation of the second to last stage.

“That was a hell of a ride,” Neuville said. “Really, really tricky conditions.

“I kept the car on the road but it was close sometimes. I knew I could make a difference but I had to be clever. You lose grip, you lose control and the car doesn’t respond to your input.”