F1 2014 Primer: The Drivers

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As part of MotorSportsTalk’s preview of the new Formula 1 season, we have put together a run-down of the drivers that will be racing in the sport this season. With three rookies joining the fray and nine of the teams making a change to their line-up, the grid is looking incredibly different to where we left off in Brazil last November.

RED BULL RACING

#1 – Sebastian Vettel – four-time world champion chasing an unprecedented tenth straight win in Australia, but may be denied by problems with the RB10 car.
#3 – Daniel Ricciardo – promoted to Red Bull from Toro Rosso as Mark Webber’s replacement; yet to truly prove himself as a front-runner, but a strong qualifier.

MERCEDES

#44 – Lewis Hamilton – 2008 world champion looking for a second title; 2014 could be his best chance in years.
#6 – Nico Rosberg – three-time race winner, and an intelligent and astute driver. He may be a dark horse for the title.

SCUDERIA FERRARI

#14 – Fernando Alonso – two-time champion, but yet to claim a title with Ferrari. Could be a case of fifth time lucky, but rumors of a move to McLaren in 2015 persist.
#7 – Kimi Raikkonen – 2007 champion returns to Ferrari, the team with whom he won the title. Known for his blunt personality, but possesses great ability.

LOTUS F1 TEAM

#8 – Romain Grosjean – likeable Frenchman who came of age in the second half of 2013, losing his crash-kid label. Due his first grand prix victory in 2014.
#13 – Pastor Maldonado – one-time GP winner but very inconsistent, scoring just one point in 2013. Yet to prove himself in Formula 1.

MCLAREN MERCEDES

#22 – Jenson Button – 2009 champion and the second oldest driver on the grid. Known for smooth and calm driving style.
#20 – Kevin Magnussen – one of three rookies, but impressed McLaren enough to warrant Sergio Perez’s departure. Could be one to watch this year.

FORCE INDIA F1 TEAM

#11 – Sergio Perez – failed to impress at McLaren, although his efforts were hindered by the MP4-28. Could revive his career with Force India.
#27 – Nico Hulkenberg – one of the top drivers yet to win a grand prix; tipped as a possible successor to Alonso or Raikkonen at Ferrari.

SAUBER F1 TEAM

#99 – Adrian Sutil – after seven seasons with Force India, Sauber is only Sutil’s second team. Yet to reach the podium, occasional points scorer.
#21 – Esteban Gutierrez – ‘Rookie of the Year’ in 2013, albeit with only six points. Yet to truly show what he can do, and under pressure in 2014.

SCUDERIA TORO ROSSO

#25 – Jean-Eric Vergne – entering his third season, and has shown glimpses of potential, but missed out on the Red Bull seat. Hard to envisage a long-term future with Toro Rosso.
#26 – Daniil Kvyat – 2013 GP3 champion and surprise choice as Ricciardo’s replacement; has impressed during practice run-outs and in testing.

WILLIAMS MARTINI RACING

#19 – Felipe Massa – joins Williams after eight years at Ferrari; could flourish out of Alonso’s shadow and without the pressures of Maranello.
#77 – Valtteri Bottas – debut season was hampered by troublesome FW36, but certainly has the makings of a capable driver.

MARUSSIA F1 TEAM

#17 – Jules Bianchi – Ferrari protege who single-handedly won Marussia P10 in the constructors’ last year; a star in the making.
#4 – Max Chilton – only person in F1 history to ever finish every single race during his debut season, but rarely came outside of the bottom two classified drivers.

CATERHAM F1 TEAM

#10 – Kamui Kobayashi – returns to F1 after one year away, a real fan favorite with a huge following in Japan. Known for his aggressive driving style.
#9 – Marcus Ericsson – the third and final rookie, stepping up after four years in GP2. First Swedish driver since Stefan Johansson in 1991.

Leah Pritchett has quickest run in NHRA history at 3.640 seconds

Photo courtesy Don Schumacher Racing
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BRAINERD, Minn. (AP) Leah Pritchett had the quickest run in NHRA history with 3.640-second pass at 330.63 mph Friday night at Brainerd International Speedway in Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals qualifying.

She broke her own Top Fuel record of 3.658 set in Arizona in February.

“We’ve looked forward to this night session for a long time,” Pritchett said. “Knowing that Brainerd, this track, this surface, the conditions and what NHRA is able to do to it, lays down the ground work for us to pull out the most power possible. That’s what this team did. They have been working tirelessly at finding small amounts of power here, there and everywhere and to be able to put it on the track tonight was incredible.”

Robert Hight broke the Funny Car time record with a 3.793 at 338.00 in a Chevrolet Camaro SS, the first run in the 3.7s in Funny Car history. He set the speed record of 339.87 last month at Sonoma Raceway.

“I could tell it was running fast and I saw the 3.79 on the scoreboard,” Hight said. “It’s just something you dream about. There are so many things that have to happen and work together for it all to come together. It’s not that easy. This is a big milestone. To be part of a milestone as a driver, this was big for me.”

Tanner Gray topped the Pro Stock field, and Hector Arana Jr. was the fastest in Pro Stock Motorcycle. Gray had a 6.607 at 208.617 in a Chevrolet Camaro, and Arana had a 6.879 at 194.24 on a Buell.

Back racing after F1 test, Norris dominates Zandvoort F3 opener

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McLaren younster Lando Norris made an emphatic return to racing action after the summer break by dominating the opening race of the FIA European Formula 3 weekend at Zandvoort, taking his sixth win of the season.

Norris, 17, moved up to F3 for 2017 after winning two Formula Renault titles last year, as well as linking up with McLaren’s junior program.

The Briton impressed during his maiden Formula 1 test in Hungary at the end of last month, and carried the momentum through to Zandvoort by taking pole position for Carlin for the first race of the weekend.

Norris retained his lead at the start and only came under pressure following a safety car period, with Swedish youngster Joel Eriksson running close for the lead.

Norris was able to create a gap and pull away, completing a wire-to-wire win with almost nine seconds in hand over the pack for his sixth win of the season.

The result sees Norris move to within eight points of championship leader Maximillian Günther, the German finishing third on Saturday at Zandvoort.

Carpenter, Jones crash as Hunter-Reay leads Pocono practice

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LONG POND, Pa. – The Saturday morning practice for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 at Pocono Raceway saw Honda jump to the fore, though a pair of incidents forced stoppages near the end.

Ryan Hunter-Reay topped the time charts with a quick lap of 219.268 mph, turned in the second half of the session. Hunter-Reay led Team Penske’s Simon Pagenaud, the best of the Chevrolet runners, the Frenchman turning a best lap of 219.211 mph.

Tony Kanaan was third for Chip Ganassi Racing, with Hunter-Reay’s teammate Marco Andretti in fourth after leading most of the session. Kanaan’s teammate Scott Dixon completed the top five, while sixth-place Takuma Sato and seventh-place Alexander Rossi made it four Andretti Autosport cars in the top ten.

The morning practice saw three stoppages. The first was only for a quick track inspection, but the next two were for crashes.

The first was for Ed Carpenter. Carpenter’s No. 20 Fuzzy’s Vodka Chevrolet broke loose exiting turn three 3 and smacked the outside wall with the left side. Carpenter climbed out unhurt, but the car sustained heavy damage. However, the team immediately began repairing the car ahead of qualifying this afternoon.

The other incident was for Dale Coyne Racing’s Ed Jones. Jones’ No. 19 Honda spun in the middle of turn 2, but only sustained minor damage to the front nose, which brushed the outside wall during the spin.

Both Carpenter and Jones were checked, cleared, and released from the infield care center. Times are below. Qualifying for Sunday’s ABC Supply 500 begins at 1:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN.

 

NHRA: Hight uncorks first 3.70 Funny Car run in history in Brainerd

Photo: Gary Nastase and Auto Imagery
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Last night, Robert Hight and the John Force Racing team took an even bigger step in their recent run of form with a new record elapsed time in NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series history for the Funny Car class.

With a 3.793-second pass at Brainerd International Raceway in Minnesota, Hight became the first Funny Car driver in history to run a pass under 3.80 seconds in the class’ history.

The full team release is below.

Auto Club of Southern California driver Robert Hight is getting pretty good at making history.

Two races ago, the Chevrolet Camaro SS driver set the national speed record of 339.87 mph at Sonoma, Calif.

On Friday at Brainerd International Raceway, Hight again went to new heights. The John Force Racing driver became the first in Funny Car to run under the 3.8-second mark, making a pass of 3.793 seconds at 338.00 mph to earn the provisional No. 1 spot for the NHRA Nationals on Friday night.

“It’s something you dream about,” Hight said. “There are so many things that have to happen, and so many people that have to work together for it to happen. It’s just not that easy. We’ve been on runs before that you think that, if it’d finished, it would have run in the .70s.

“To be the first – that’s history. This is a big milestone. It’s going to be a long time before we get into the 3.60s. To be a part of a milestone – I’ve been on John’s teams when he’s cracked barriers, but never done it as a driver – so this is big for me and the whole team. We’re ecstatic.”

Hight and his Auto Club team, led by crew chief Jimmy Prock and co-crew chief Chris Cunningham, have been on fire recently. Hight won in Denver and Seattle, earned No. 1 qualifiers in three of the last four races, qualified in the top three in each of the last nine races and now has set the national record for elapsed time and speed.

Hight sat in the No. 2 spot after the first session Friday with a run of 3.844 seconds at 335.07 mph but figured the “Prock Rocket” could go even quicker – and it certainly did.

“I could tell it was running fast,” Hight said. “The clutch disc was boiling, and that’s the way Jimmy runs it. That’s how he wants to wear the clutch. It was hard to see, but I did see the 3.79 on the scoreboard, because we shut off at 1,000 feet, I had the chutes out, and I glanced up there but I didn’t know the speed.”

Hight led a solid 1-3-4 effort for JFR, as PEAK Coolant & Motor Oil driver John Force was No. 3 with a run of 3.852 seconds at 334.15 mph and Advance Auto Parts driver Courtney Force was No. 4 with a pass of 3.863 seconds at 335.98 mph.

Brittany Force was No. 2 in Top Fuel, making a brilliant run of 3.685 seconds at a track-record speed of 333.16 mph. That speed was matched the third-best in NHRA history.

JFR now owns six of the nine fastest speeds in Funny Car history, as well as three of the six quickest elapsed times in Funny Car history.

Additionally, JFR Funny Cars own 12 of the 21 track records for elapsed time.