Race director nearly stopped British GP

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Formula One race director Charlie Whiting has admitted that he considered red flagging today’s British Grand Prix after a series of large tire failures during the early stages of the race.

Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa and Jean-Eric Vergne all experienced blowouts before their first stops during the race, with the Toro Rosso’s failure leaving debris strewn across the track and warranting a safety car period. Later on, Esteban Gutierrez and Sergio Perez also suffered similar failures, all of which caused Whiting to question the future of the race.

“It was quite close to being red-flagged; it did occur to me to do that,” Whiting told Autosport.

Whiting’s primary concern was the marshals who had to complete the large clean-up after Vergne’s failure.

“Obviously to clear up all that debris was putting marshals at risk, and it is not satisfactory.

“We haven’t seen a failure like this before; we have seen other types of failure – and that is what has been addressed. So we need to analyse it very carefully to see if we can establish the cause.”

Whiting has once again shown himself to have a cool head under pressure, prioritizing the safety of all involved with the grand prix going ahead. The failures have caused great concern, with Felipe Massa believing that his safety was “in the hands of God” during the race. Pirelli are expected to have a meeting with the FIA in the coming few days to discuss the issues.

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
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Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.