McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh says action must be taken to prevent a repeat of the multiple tire failures which blighted yesterday’s British Grand Prix.
Time is short for Formula One to take action after yesterday’s dramatic race in which four drivers suffered sudden left-rear tire failures.
Whitmarsh said teams could boycott this weekend’s German Grand Prix if a solution is not found, leading to a repeat of the circumstances of the 2005 United States Grand Prix. Only six cars started that race after fourteen runners on Michelin were forced to withdraw over safety concerns.
“What’s not what we want for Formula One,” Whitmarsh told Sky. “We have faced some of these issues before at Indianapolis and that was terrible for the sport so we have really got to work together.”
“This is not a time to point fingers, it’s time to work together, find a solution and get on with it.”
Whitmarsh expects the sport will take action in time for this weekend’s race, the first session of which takes place on Friday:
“I think something will have changed by Germany. I’m not considering [withdrawing] at the moment, it’s something all the teams and drivers will have to take a view on, but we have to support Pirelli and make sure we give them all the information and enough time to make the right decisions.”
Post-Sebring, ‘Cruisin’ with the Racers’ sets sail from Ft. Lauderdale
Petit winners (center) and Nielsen among those set for racing-themed cruise. Photo courtesy of IMSA
The “36 hours of Florida” is the unofficial name for the kickoff to the North American sports car season, with the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring comprising 36 hours of grueling endurance racing to begin both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup seasons.
Post-those 36 hours, though, a good dose of R&R time is needed. And this is where an outside-the-box idea – a cruise featuring a number of those individuals who ran at either or both of Daytona and Sebring – comes into play.
“Cruisin’ with the Racers” came to light last year under a different branding and name, but is set to feature a number of full-time sports car competitors in a motorsports-themed cruise off the coast of Florida, starting in Ft. Lauderdale the day after the race (Sunday, March 19) and returning a week later to Key West.
More to the point is the deal on offer for racers and race fans, with a special promotional offer available for car club members and those with a series membership of just $200.
“It’s a hidden gem of a vacation idea,” said Marc Miller, who drives the No. 33 CJ Wilson Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and will be part of the cruise. He’ll share that car with Till Bechtolsheimer this season.
“Essentially this started as a cruise geared for racers. It’s morphed into the promotion where we’re inviting a bunch of racers on board. There can be even more interaction with auto enthusiasts and car club members. The goal is to get as many like-minded car enthusiasts as possible on the ship.
“A lot of road racers like to have a bit of downtime. There’s a busy week of lead up to Sebring, but there’s a decent size gap between Sebring and the next race (Long Beach for the WeatherTech Championship in April, Circuit of The Americas for Continental Tire Challenge in May). We know not everyone can go, but the invite is out there.”
Miller’s 2016 co-drivers at Riley Motorsports, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating, and team principal Bill Riley, will be on the cruise as well as others such as Christina Nielsen, Katherine Legge, Marc Goossens and Alex Laughlin. Miller, Bleekemolen and Keating combined to win last year’s Petit Le Mans in IMSA’s GT Daytona class, in the sendoff for the Dodge Viper GT3-R.
The $200 rate seems a bargain considering the cost of most luxury cruises. More information is available via the cruise website, linked here.
Liberty Media Corporation has taken another step towards its pending acquisition of Formula 1, following a special meeting of stockholders held today.
At the meeting, the stockholders approved proposals related to both shares and Liberty’s restated certificate of incorporation to change names from “Media Group” and the “Liberty Media Common Stock” to the “Formula One Group” and the “Liberty Formula One Common Stock,” respectively.
This leaves the last hurdle to clear for Liberty direct approval from the FIA (Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile) itself, with the goal of completing the transaction in full before the end of 2017’s first quarter.
Further information can be found at Liberty’s release, linked here.
It was 21 years ago, but Valtteri Bottas remembers as if it was yesterday — the day that would change his life forever.
Bottas, just six years old at the time, was riding in a car with his father in their native Finland when they came upon a go-kart race taking place.
It was love at first sight for little Valtteri – and dad, too. Although they were supposed to continue on to a neighboring town of Lahti, they decided to postpone the trip and spent the rest of the day watching the racing action.
It was also the first step Bottas would take towards becoming a race car driver. It’s a journey that two decades later has now, as of Monday, brought him to a seat with the sport’s most dominant team in recent years, Mercedes AMG Petronas, and made him teammates with three-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton.
Along the way to the present, Bottas became a go-kart champion, won countless races across a number of series, and now has just one thing in mind that he’s focusing on:
Winning a Formula 1 championship with his new team.
As the driver chosen to replace the now-retired 2016 F1 champion Nico Rosberg, Bottas’ dreams have come true. But at the same time, expectations have never been higher or more demanding upon Bottas, who spent the last four seasons with the Williams F1 team.
Bottas finished 17th in his first season with Williams in 2013, then scored a career-best fourth-place showing the following season. Bottas was fifth in 2015 before slipping to eighth last season, as the car regressed.
But now, Williams is in Bottas’ rearview mirror and all he hopes to see is clear pathways going forward, hopefully with him in the lead and every other driver chasing his Mercedes-AMG Petronas Motorsport Silver Arrow.
Yet having the best team in the sport is no guarantee of success, Bottas prudently says.
“Even if you’re the best driver, you’re not going to win anything if your engine packs up ten times during the season. As a driver, you have to concentrate on your performance and give everything for the team. On your own, you don’t stand a chance.”
But one of the reasons Mercedes chose Bottas over other F1 drivers is his determination and drive – both in the car and in life.
It’s something that traces back to the first two times he climbed into a go-kart to begin his path to F1: finishing third in his first race and winning his second. A few years later at the age of 13, even though he was larger and heavier than most of his competitors, Bottas would win the Finnish go-kart championship.
“I had to do everything I could to make my dream come true,” Bottas said. That included going on a diet and physical regimen that strengthened both his body as well as his championship-winning chances.
“This was the turning point, at which I became professional and saw racing as more than just a hobby and a fun ride,” Bottas said.
Now he has perhaps the most fun – and demanding – ride he’s ever had. But just like he did when he climbed behind the wheel of his first go-kart at the age of seven, one thing has remained a constant for the flying Finn.
“I never give up,” Bottas said. “I still cherish my ambition of winning the world title. I will do everything I can to achieve that. It’s my life goal right now.
“There is no better feeling than being in the pits on Sunday – race day. The mechanics start the engine; you hear it and you feel it, and you know this precious gem will be in your hands for the next two hours. It’s now all up to you.”
And while Bottas readily admits “I’m living the dream every day,” he’s not letting the team he’s with, or the success it has had over the years, get to his head.
“Ultimately, I’m just an average guy from Nastola (his hometown of 15,000) in Finland, who just happens to be a Formula One driver.”
Felipe Massa is a number of things, including a great driver, a fan favorite, a mentor to young drivers and a great representative for Formula 1.
But perhaps above all those attributes are the word that best describes Massa: loyal.
When Massa retired at the end of the 2016 F1 season from Williams, he was pretty sure his F1 days were forever behind him. But when teammate Valtteri Bottas surprised everyone by leaving the team to replace retired champion Nico Rosberg at Mercedes, Massa’s sense of loyalty kicked in.
The Brazilian driver knew that 2017 would be a very important year for Williams, as the organization celebrates its 40th anniversary. He also knew young teammate Lance Stroll needed a mentor to guide him through the rigors of F1.
Given all Williams had done for him the past three seasons, Massa felt he owed his old team something back: namely himself and his talent behind the wheel.
“I have a strong love for Williams,” Massa said in a Q&A on WilliamsF1.com. “I have enjoyed the last three years with the team, and therefore coming back to help give stability and experience to drive things forward in 2017 was something that felt right to do.
“When I joined Williams back in 2014 I found a team – and a family – that I have loved being a part of. I certainly haven’t lost the desire to race and fight on track. Whatever I would have turned my hand to this year, I would have been putting 100 percent effort into doing the best job that I can, and if I didn’t have that passion, I would not have agreed to return.”
While the 35-year-old Massa said his return to F1 and Williams is just for 2017, with all the elements in play, particularly since Bottas left, Massa feels reinvigorated. It may seem like he’s racing for a new team, even though he’s returning to the same team he left less than two months ago.
And that’s where the beauty of his loyalty truly is: Massa made it very clear that the only F1 team he would ever consider ending retirement for was, one and the same, Williams.
“My return is not about seeing Formula 1 as the best option, but is about seeing the role at Williams as the best option,” Massa said. “I would not have returned for any other team.”
And if retirement for the second time is in his future after the 2017 season, Massa will leave with no regrets.
“Whatever happens this season, I will always leave the sport with my head held high,” he said.
While he wishes Bottas the best with his new team, Massa is also very keen on working with Stroll.
“I’m looking forward to working with Lance, having known him for a long time,” Massa said. “He has proved in the championships he has competed in so far that he deserves this opportunity, and it’s great to welcome new talent into Formula 1.
“Lance may be young, but Williams has a history of bringing young drivers into the sport. He knows there is a steep learning curve ahead, but motorsport is a team sport and I look forward supporting him in any way I can.
“Valtteri has been offered a fantastic opportunity and, as a result, an opportunity arose for me. When the media began reporting that I might return, I was touched by the response from so many fans who wanted to see me back in the sport.
“That was certainly a factor in the decision, so I’d like to thank the fans for their support. But, at the end of the day, when I received the call it was an offer I couldn’t refuse. It was Williams!”