F1 drivers to pay tribute to missing plane’s victims in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix

3 Comments

Formula One drivers and teams taking part in Sunday’s Malaysian Grand Prix will pay tribute to the 239 people aboard missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.

According to BBC.com, drivers will carry messages on their helmets and cars dedicated to the victims during the race. A minute’s silence will also be observed prior to the start of the event.

The fate of the missing plane has cast a definite pall over activities leading up to Sunday’s race, particularly since the runway from which the plane took off of is visible from the main grandstand of the Sepang track the race will be held upon.

“It’s devastating to hear about it,” Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton told BBC.com. “All you can do is pray.”

Added McLaren driver Jenson Button, “It’s good that the whole of the paddock are running tributes. It’s devastating. I really feel for all the families. We will do all we can. It’ll be difficult this weekend for all the Malaysian people.”

The plane disappeared on an overnight flight from Kuala Lampur, Malaysia, to Beijing, China. It is believed the plane may have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean, where investigators and potential recovery efforts are focusing their attention.

And, of course, the fate of the plane and its passengers remain at the forefront of most Malaysian residents, which will make Sunday’s race all the more difficult.

“I’ve experienced first hand how everybody in Malaysia is thinking of families and friends,” said Nico Rosberg, who won the season-opening F1 race at Australia two weeks ago. “There are billboards and signs here with people who have put stickers up with messages on them.”

As a result of the national mourning, several festivities have been either cancelled (including a concert with Christina Aguilera and Rain), or scaled back.

BBC.com also reported that while last year’s race was just over two-thirds full (84,000 out of 120,000 seats), due to the lingering pall from the fate of the plane, Sunday’s race may be only one-third full.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Fernando Alonso completes first test with United Autosports

Photo: United Autosports
1 Comment

Two-time Formula 1 World Champion Fernando Alonso enjoyed his first outing with United Autosports, with whom he will contest the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona, in their Ligier JS P217 LMP2 chassis.

The McLaren Formula 1 driver completed the test at Motorland Aragon in Spain alongside co-driver Phil Hanson, who will be a teammate with Alonso at next year’s 24-hour Daytona enduro. Filipe Albuquerque, a former GT class winner at the Rolex 24, was also on hand to help Alonso and the team ahead of Alonso’s first run in an LMP2 car, which comes only a couple days after he made his LMP1 testing debut with Toyota. Albuquerque races with Mustang Sampling Racing in IMSA, but will return to United’s European Le Mans Series program for all but one race in 2018.

“I had a great first test with United Autosports. Obviously, we are on a really tight schedule between now and Daytona, but it was nice to jump in the car for the first time,” said Alonso, who will rejoin the team at the official Roar Before the 24 test on January 5-7.

Alonso added, “There’s quite a few switches and things to study so it was important to do this initial shakedown before Daytona, so I could fully learn about the car. I’m happy with everything – the car felt great and the team were fantastic. The atmosphere here is wonderful, like a big family, so today has been amazing. I cannot wait for Daytona.”

Team owner Zak Brown, who also serves as executive director of McLaren Technology Group and helps lead the McLaren Formula 1 effort, shared Alonso’s enthusiasm and was not surprised he was able to acclimate himself relatively quickly.

“Fernando’s first test with United Autosports went awesome as expected. He is a world champion and it is a pleasure to have him in our car,” he said of Alonso’s debut with the team.

Alonso is currently schedule to contest the Rolex 24 with the aforementioned Hanson and McLaren test driver Lando Norris.