Niki Lauda’s son preps for season in NASCAR Euro Series

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Mathias Lauda, the son of three-time Formula One World Champion Niki Lauda, has done a little bit of everything in his driving career from open-wheel (GP2 and A1GP) to touring cars (DTM) and sports cars.

Now, the 33-year-old will try his luck in NASCAR-sanctioned competition. Lauda will drive for the two-car, Austria-based DF1 Racing team in this year’s NASCAR Whelen Euro Series alongside former 24 Hours of Le Mans champ Christophe Bouchut.

Lauda got to sample the NASCAR Euro machine recently on the “Indy” course at England’s legendary Brands Hatch, where his father won the British Grand Prix three times in his stellar F1 career.

“It’s totally different,” Lauda said about the car in a release from Motorsport Vision. “The DTM car has so much downforce and carbon brakes, and this car is like going back 20 years. But it’s really fun because it’s a proper driver’s car and only by driving can you make the difference.

“You have to rethink your whole driving style and watch the tires, watch the brakes – it’s so easy to lock up and you have to shift down not too early, so as not to over-rev the car. I think that it’s like when you start racing a little bit, but it’s a lot of fun and I enjoyed it a lot, so I can’t wait until the season starts.”

Lauda isn’t a complete novice with stock cars, however. In 2008, he competed in the now-defunct Speedcar Series, a Middle East-based stock car series, in addition to running in DTM.

This year’s NASCAR Whelen Euro Series season begins with a pair of races in Valencia, Spain on April 12 and 13. The series will then make its way to Brands Hatch for its third and fourth events of 2014 on June 7 and 8.

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”