Marussia-Caterham battle set for grand finale

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The season-long battle between Marussia and Caterham is finely poised heading into the final race of the season with rain forecast that could see a race of attrition ensue to allow either team to finish well up the order.

Marussia currently occupy tenth place in the constructors’ championship by virtue of Jules Bianchi’s thirteenth-place finish at the Malaysian Grand Prix back in March. Although finishing P10 with zero points may not appear to matter much, there is a sizeable increase in prize money over eleventh place as well as the prestige of being the best of the ‘new’ teams on the grid.

With rain falling throughout today’s qualifying session for the Brazilian Grand Prix, both teams would have felt that there was a chance to get a jump on the field and make it through to Q2 as we saw at Spa earlier this year. Instead, the teams occupied their usual positions at the back of the grid, but Jules Bianchi feels that he could have qualified better than P21 after a mistake cost him time on his fastest lap.

“A very difficult qualifying today,” Bianchi said. “We had to do everything we could early on as we knew the rain was coming, but in the end the window of opportunity was really only one lap. For everything after that it was too wet to improve. I’d made a big mistake at the end of my one quick lap as well, so it’s disappointing as I was so close to van der Garde. So now we just have to be positive for the race and do everything possible to achieve the right result for the team.”

For Caterham to finish ahead of Marussia, either Giedo van der Garde or Charles Pic must finish thirteenth or higher during the race on Sunday. For this to happen, a race with multiple retirements must ensue but a wet race could allow this to happen. Regardless, the season-long battle between these two teams is set to go down to the very last lap.

This mirrors the events of 2012 when Caterham’s Vitaly Petrov passed Pic (then with Marussia) in the final few laps of the season to claim tenth place in the constructors’.

Audi bids farewell to Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich upon retirement

Audi Sport
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Audi bid farewell to its iconic head of motorsport, Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, at its end-of-season ‘Race Night’ event in Germany on Friday upon his retirement.

Ullrich took over the reins as Audi’s head of motorsport in 1993 and stayed in the role for 23 years, overseeing its arrival in the prototype class of sports car racing and domination of the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Ullrich stepped down from the position at the end of 2016, handing the reins over to ex-Audi DTM chief Dieter Gass, and attended his final racing event with the German marque at its first works Formula E outing in Hong Kong earlier this month.

Ullrich was honored at the Race Night event on Friday and thanked for his efforts in developing Audi into a force within global motorsport.

“In 566 factory-backed commitments during this period he celebrated 209 victories, 13 of them in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, eleven in the 12-hour race at Sebring and nine in the ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta,” a piece on Ullrich’s tenure for Audi’s website reads.

“31 driver titles in super touring car racing, in the DTM and in the sports prototype category are credited to him. 57 campaigners were Audi factory drivers during Wolfgang Ullrich’s era and he was responsible for 18 new developments of racing cars – an impressive tally.”