Esteban Gutierrez

F1 notes and quotes: Bahrain Day 2

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An improved day for Renault in the reliability department, if not on pace, highlighted the rest of the runners behind Thursday leader Kevin Magnussen of McLaren-Mercedes in Bahrain.

  • First up, although his best time was only good enough for seventh, more than 5 seconds behind Magnussen, four-time defending World Champion Sebastian Vettel said Red Bull made some key strides after nearly 60 laps on track. “Definitely a better day today. We did more laps, so that’s encouraging,” he said afterwards. “It was good to get a proper first feel for the car and it feels OK but there’s a lot more to come. The most important thing is to run and we did that. I hope Daniel can get some more good laps in tomorrow.” Indeed, Daniel Ricciardo takes over on Friday for the final two days of the test.
  • Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg was second on the day but hailed his two days as “very positive.” Team COO Otmar Szafnauer added, “We had some aero devices on the car this morning and then continued with the set-up program that we started yesterday,” via the team’s official website.
  • Fernando Alonso hailed Ferrari’s work in the factory, as the team continues to work towards reliability first before outright pace. “Despite the bad weather in Jerez we managed to complete a lot of laps. Here, in two days, we have done 161, so on that front we can be pleased. The work at Maranello has been well done and now it’s down to us to make the most of all its potential,” he said via Ferrari’s website.
  • It was a simulated race distance for Mercedes, now with Nico Rosberg behind the wheel on day two. There were two slight stoppages on track, but nothing major. Additionally, Rosberg said he felt more comfortable with the new car and the buttons on the steering wheel. Teammate Lewis Hamilton took the day off from driving to participate in a fans’ Twitter Q&A session, linked here.
  • Williams’ Valtteri Bottas clocked in 116 laps, in a big day for Sir Frank’s squad after fuel system issues limited Felipe Massa’s running on Wednesday. Chief test and support engineer Rod Nelson traced the fuel issue to a wiring-loom manufacturing issue. Bottas hailed the team’s aero work and its ability to run a race simulation.
  • Caterham’s Kamui Kobayashi said there was a slight interruption in the morning with a telemetry issue. But the Japanese driver said the team was beginning to extract the performance: “Even though everyone knows laptimes don’t really mean anything in the tests, it’s good for the team to start to see us unlocking some of the car’s performance,” he said, via the team’s website. Marcus Ericsson takes over on Friday.
  • Scuderia Toro Rosso’s struggles have more or less mirrored Red Bull’s, with minimal running done thus far. That’s what made it such a good day for Jean-Eric Vergne on Thursday. “A good day, the best since testing began. This morning was relatively trouble free and we got through plenty of items on the job sheet. It’s the first time I’ve been able to push the car on track and I have to say in terms of its balance, it gave me a good feeling.” 
  • Sauber’s Esteban Gutierrez ran 55 laps before electrical trouble limited running time in the afternoon. Said the young Mexican, “In Jerez it was important that everything was running and functioning. Here in Bahrain it’s time to put everything together and make sure all the components are in tune, so we can start working on the potential of the car.” He runs again on Friday with Adrian Sutil back in on Saturday.
  • Lotus made news earlier Thursday by announcing a Renault extension and Charles Pic as reserve driver.
  • Marussia got up to 17 laps completed with Max Chilton, but a fuel system issue interrupted its day. “Unfortunately we experienced the fuel system problem and to get to the root of that is quite a long and complicated process, so it took up most of the afternoon,” said the sophomore English driver to the team’s website. “We were seriously up against it time-wise, so all credit to the guys for pushing so hard and enabling us to get a further three laps in before the session end.”

Russian Grand Prix extended through 2025

during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Russia at Sochi Autodrom on April 29, 2016 in Sochi, Russia.
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The Russian Grand Prix at Sochi will continue to feature on future Formula 1 calendars, with event organizers confirming a long-term extension.

With the race already secure through 2020 following a past deal between then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and then-F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone, that end date has now been extended by five years through to 2025, according to Russia’s deputy prime minister Dimitry Kozak.

“We held negotiations and the contract for holding FIA Formula One racing Grand Prix in Russia has been extended till 2025,” Kozak told Russian news outlet TASS.

Sochi first appeared on the F1 calendar in 2014 and will hold its fourth race this year from April 28 to 30.

Hamilton fastest midway through day two of F1 testing

during day two of Formula One winter testing at Circuit de Catalunya on February 28, 2017 in Montmelo, Spain.
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MONTMELO, Spain (AP) Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton recorded the fastest time and the most laps through Tuesday’s morning session of preseason testing.

Hamilton’s lap of 1 minute, 20.983 seconds was 0.782 seconds faster than the leading time he set during the opening day of Formula One testing at the Circuit Barcelona-Catalunya on Monday.

As expected from the new regulations intended to boost speeds, Hamilton’s pace through two days is more than a second faster than the top time set on the same track through eight days of preseason testing in 2016.

The three-time world champion will hand over the wheel of the Mercedes to new teammate Valtteri Bottas for the afternoon session.

Just like Ferrari teammate Sebastian Vettel from Day 1, Kimi Raikkonen was the nearest challenger to Hamilton’s top speed, albeit almost two seconds slower.

Hamilton and Raikkonen also got in the most laps with 66 and 47, respectively, as Mercedes or Ferrari have yet to report any mechanical problems so far.

Red Bull driver Max Verstappen could only muster the fifth fastest time.

While world champion Mercedes and Ferrari continue to outperform rival Red Bull, a pair of the more modest teams struggled to get their cars rolling.

Antonio Giovinazzi, who has substituted for Pascal Wehrlein while he recovers from a back injury, spent most of the morning waiting for Sauber to replace his car’s engine. Jolyon Palmer’s Renault, meanwhile, only emerged from the garage in the final minutes of the four-hour morning session.

The opening test will run through Thursday.

The track near Barcelona will host a second round of testing from March 7-10 before the season starts at the Australian Grand Prix on March 26.

Sauber confirms Tatiana Calderon as development driver

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Photo: Sauber F1 Team
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Colombian driver Tatiana Calderon, who’s worked to further her racing career since moving from to Europe prior to 2012, has been named a development driver for Sauber F1 Team.

Calderon turns 24 in March. Her best result thus far is second in the MRF Challenge Formula 2000 and she’s also raced in GP3 and Formula 3 over the last five years. Her results haven’t necessarily matched her ability level, as she’s shown some promise enough to be scouted out by Sauber for this F1 role.

With Sauber, she’ll be heavily involved in simulator work and also attend some Grands Prix on site, but there’s been no timetable yet for her on-track debut.

“I am extremely happy to join the Sauber F1 Team as a development driver,” Calderon said. “I want to thank Monisha Kaltenborn and the whole team for giving me this opportunity, and also Escuderia Telmex for their support. I am grateful to be working with such an established Formula 1 team and to benefit from its long experience. I look forward to working with the team and learning as much as I can. It is a step closer to my dream – one day competing in Formula 1!”

Team principal Kaltenborn added, “We are very pleased to welcome Tatiana onboard to the Sauber family. We have the opportunities and facilities to provide Tatiana a professional platform on which she can further develop her knowledge and skills in racing. I am convinced that we can provide her lots of in-depth motorsport know-how for her future career in racing.”

Calderon’s been confirmed for her race program in GP3 this year with the DAMS team, alongside fellow F1 development driver, American Santino Ferrucci of Haas, and 19-year-old Bruno Baptista.

She’s not the first female driver Sauber has had – Simona de Silvestro was on board for a similar development plan three years ago – but it didn’t end well, so here’s hoping the F1 future is brighter for Calderon.

Longtime Knoxville Raceway promoter, Ralph Capitani, dies

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Photo via @KnoxvilleRaces Twitter
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Knoxville Raceway likely wouldn’t be what it is as one of the country’s most renowned short tracks without the work of Ralph Capitani.

Capitani has died following a battle of cancer (according to Speed Sport), news of which was announced Monday by the track. The longtime promoter at the track was born in 1932.

Capitani, better known as “Cappy,” oversaw a huge rise in the stature and popularity of the track’s premier event – the Knoxville Nationals – after taking the reins as the track’s new race director and promoter in 1978.

Some of the elements Capitani worked to implement were improved facilities, purses, safety standards, car counts and audience, the latter of which saw the Knoxville Nationals eventually make it to TV. He also established the Knoxville Raceway Hall of Fame.

In his 40th year at Knoxville in 2007, Capitani said the prestige of the Knoxville Nationals remained incredible.

“I think the Knoxville Nationals is the best sprint car race of the year, bar none,” he said in 2007, via InLappedTraffic. “It is the only time you see ALL of the best sprint car drivers competing on the same playing field. It is a United States and Internationally wide event.”

He retired from the track at the end of 2011.

Knoxville Raceway released a statement confirming Capitani’s passing, and thanking him for all he did to put the track and race on the map.

A portion of the statement reads: “A visionary in the sport, Cappy aimed to make sprint car racing at Knoxville Raceway grander, the purses bigger and the grandstands fuller. He achieved them all with a smile on his face and a hearty handshake for every team owner, driver, crew member and fan that ever crossed his path.”