Sauber are heading to the Hungarian Grand Prix in confident mood after testing their latest upgrades at Silverstone.
“After a productive Silverstone test evaluating our updated package and the latest specification tires, we feel well prepared for this race,” said head of track engineering Tom McCullough.
Robin Frijns and Kimiya Sato spent two-and-a-half days running in the C32 while race driver Nico Hulkenberg had a half-day to work on Pirelli’s new tires.
“Our aim is to again qualify stronger and convert this into points scoring finishes,” added McCullough. Sauber have finished in the points in the last two races following a troubled start to the season with their latest car.
At the Nurburgring Sauber got one of their cars into Q3 for the first time since the Chinese Grand Prix. That prompted speculation that the switch to Kevlar-belted tires helped Sauber while compromising some of their rivals, such as Force India.
Sauber has not scored at the Hungaroring since becoming an independent team again in 2010.
Hulkenberg says precision is key to a quick lap on the tight Hungarian track: “The circuit is technically challenging and leaves little room for mistakes.”
“The second sector has several combinations that all flow on from each other. If you get off the racing line there, the whole sector is ruined. You have to be spot on.”
Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”
The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.
“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”
Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.