Ryan Briscoe

A re-imagined “Month of May” at Indianapolis? (VIDEO)

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Seeing an IndyCar going the wrong way down the front-stretch of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway takes some getting used to. That much was probably true for everybody that was either at yesterday’s road course test at IMS, or have seen highlights of the affair.

We all know why the test came to fruition in the first place. IMS and INDYCAR officials wanted feedback as they ponder upgrades to the 2.6-mile layout while also considering a possible IZOD IndyCar Series road race at the Speedway for next season.

There have also been some rumblings about an end-of-year showcase on the Indy road course in the early fall, but it’s looking more and more like the IndyCars are leaning toward racing twice next May at the Brickyard.

It’s highly unscientific, but from what I’ve gathered, most folks aren’t opposed to the idea of an IndyCar road race at IMS itself. They just don’t want it in May, as they’re presumably concerned about keeping the traditions of the Indianapolis 500 sacred.

That argument is intriguing to me. Because if IMS and INDYCAR decide to stage a road race as a lead-in to the ‘500,’ would that not just be a re-imagined version of the one tradition that most purists have been upset about losing in recent times – the “Month of May”?

Oh, it wouldn’t be your father or grandfather’s Month of May with the pairing of a road race and the ‘500.’ But your father or grandfather’s Month of May was back in the days when the ‘500’ was the only race at Indy – and, more importantly, didn’t have to deal with the massive entertainment competition that it’s forced to contend with now.

For those that are worried a road race will detract from the month’s main event, just stop for a minute. Don’t you think that after a century, the ‘500’ has enough going for itself – even in American open-wheel racing’s recent state of struggle  – to ensure it won’t be overshadowed by a second race in May?

“I know it’s not going to be the ‘500’ – we all know that,” said Graham Rahal, who along with Ryan Briscoe tested out various configurations of the Indy road course yesterday.

“But if we can put on a good show, and get a good crowd and have a good vibe going into the month of May, it would be awesome. Times have changed. What was IndyCar 100 years ago isn’t what IndyCar is today. We have to change with the times.”

Graham, the son of 1986 ‘500’ winner Bobby, gets it. A road race at IMS in May wouldn’t be about ripping traditions apart.

In a perfect world, where INDYCAR is flush with cash and mainstream recognition, perhaps the series wouldn’t have to consider such a race like this. But if changes are made to the Indy road course and a lucrative title sponsor can be found for this potential endeavor, it could all work out nicely.

And, while it’d be in a different form, we’d get our “Month of May” back.

Esteban Ocon secures Mercedes DTM seat for 2016

2015 GP3 Series Round 9
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE.
Sunday 29 November 2015.
Esteban Ocon (FRA, ART Grand Prix) 
Photo: Sam Bloxham/GP3 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _G7C8733
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2015 GP3 Series champion Esteban Ocon will race in the DTM championship this year with Mercedes in tandem with a reserve role in Formula 1 at Renault.

Ocon joined Mercedes’ junior program in the spring of 2015 before becoming a fully-fledged member at the end of the year just days before his GP3 title success.

The Frenchman was known to be considering a move into either DTM or GP2 for 2016, but will now replace F1-bound Pascal Wehrlein at Mercedes’ factory team for the new DTM campaign.

“It’s an incredible feeling to be part of such a professional and strong racing series,” Ocon said.

“I’m very pleased to be driving for Mercedes-Benz. It’s the best team in the DTM and I’m very grateful for this fantastic opportunity.

“Mercedes is the most successful manufacturer in DTM history. You can only achieve that with real passion and hard work, and those are characteristics that we share. After driving in free practice during the final race weekend of the 2015 season at Hockenheim, I can’t wait to start a DTM race.

“I obviously have a lot to learn, but my goal – and that of everyone in the team – is to fight for wins as soon as possible.”

Trident completes 2016 GP2 line-up with Armand

2015 GP2 Series Test 3.
Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
Friday 4 December 2015.
Philo Armand (INA, Status Grand Prix).
Photo: Zak Mauger/GP2 Series Media Service.
ref: Digital Image _L0U4261
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Trident has completed its line-up for the 2016 GP2 Series season by signing Indonesian driver Philo Paz Armand.

Armand has previously raced in a number of European Formula Renault 2.0 championships, and most recently took part in half of last year’s Formula Renault 3.5 rounds, scoring one point.

Armand will now step up to GP2 for the 2016 season, racing alongside 2015 GP3 runner-up Luca Ghiotto at Trident.

“We are very excited to start this collaboration with Philo and we are confident he will express all his talent thanks to the team’s help,” Trident team manager Giacomo Ricci said.

The grid for GP2’s support series, GP3, is also beginning to come together for the new season following the announcements of Tatiana Calderon and Honda junior Nirei Fukuzumi.

Calderon moves into GP3 from FIA F3 and will race for Carlin, while Fukuzumi joins ART Grand Prix, continuing the French squad’s association with Honda.

Marchionne calls for Alfa Romeo to consider F1 entry

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 20:  The Alfa Romeo 4C on display at the Vanity Fair Campaign Hollywood Alfa Romeo Ride and Drive luncheon at The Polsky Residence on February 20, 2015 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Michael Buckner/Getty Images for Vanity Fair)
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Fiat-Chrysler CEO and Ferrari president Sergio Marchionne believes that Italian car manufacturer Alfa Romeo must consider entering Formula 1 with a team in the near future.

Alfa Romeo last raced as a constructor in F1 between 1979 and 1985, but has enjoyed no involvement within the series since 1988 when it supplied engines to the Osella team.

Marchionne believes that a return to F1 would be an effective way for Alfa Romeo to grow as a brand and gain more public awareness.

“In order to restore their name, they must consider returning to Formula 1,” Marchionne told Italian publication La Gazzetta dello Sport.

“Alfa Romeo are capable of making their own chassis, just like they are capable of making their own engine,” he added, before conceding that it could enjoy an engine supply from Ferrari should it wish to enter F1.

Marchionne believes that adding more manufacturers to the F1 grid is key to safeguarding the long-term future of the series.

“In the end this sport must be saved,” Marchionne said.

“The important thing is to make other car manufacturers enter grand prix racing.”

Grosjean unveils new helmet design for first F1 season with Haas

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Romain Grosjean has revealed his new-look helmet design ahead of his first Formula 1 season with Haas in 2016.

NASCAR team co-owner Gene Haas won the race to get an F1 team on the grid back in 2014, and has spent the past 18 months meticulously planning its arrival in the sport.

Haas F1 Team’s full debut is now just five weeks away, with the first on-track test of its new car coming on February 22 in Barcelona.

Grosjean walked away from Lotus at the end of last year to join Haas for the new season, where he will race alongside former Ferrari reserve Esteban Gutierrez.

In a post on his Twitter account on Saturday, Grosjean unveiled his new helmet design for the 2016 season, featuring plenty of Haas signage.

Grosjean also revealed earlier this week that he would be racing with a tribute to Jules Bianchi on his helmet, who died at the age of 25 last July.