Razia contemplating IndyCar or Le Mans

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Brazilian driver Luiz Razia is determined not to give up on his dream of racing in Formula One, but he has admitted that without the required funding he may be forced to switch his attention to Le Mans or IndyCar in the near future.

Razia was originally confirmed as a driver for Marussia in 2013, testing the MR-02 car in pre-season. However, his track time was soon handed to his then-teammate Max Chilton whilst his financial problems were solved, but without a solution the team had no choice but to turn him away and instead hire Jules Bianchi. Although Razia believes he has the talent, he acknowledged that without the funding his chances of racing are slim.

“F1 these days is all about the money and second hand is the talent – unfortunately I don’t have money at the moment, so it is looking difficult to get back to it,” Razia explained to Sky Sports. “We had the issue at the beginning of the year and that was the end and we are still trying to sort out the situation.

“The end of August, into September we will still try, but if I don’t see any signs of sponsorship then I will move to sportscars and do GT, Le Mans, something like that.”

Razia also criticized the big step-up from GP2 to Formula One. Razia finished second to Davide Valsecchi in the 2012 championship, but neither driver has secured a full-time seat in F1 with Valsecchi currently working as Lotus’ reserve driver.

“There should be the step forward from GP2 to F1, but with these kinds of budget issues it is difficult to get promoted. So, for sure I am looking for opportunities – even IndyCar would be good if I got the chance. But it is all about getting the chance and if there is a good opportunity coming up I will take it for sure.”

Razia’s comments are nothing new, with many attacking the current state of motorsport that favors finance over ability. The Brazilian driver stated earlier this year that he believes Max Chilton has come into F1 too early, but the Briton’s funding has been enough to secure him a seat at Marussia.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.