Formula 1 championship leader Nico Rosberg heads to next weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix full of confidence given that the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona is one of his favorites.
The German driver has claimed one win and three second places so far this season, but the momentum lies with teammate Lewis Hamilton who has won the last three races. Nevertheless, Rosberg is hopeful that the upgrades that Mercedes will bring to the race can maintain and extend the advantage it enjoys over the other teams.
“The Spanish Grand Prix is the first race of the season on European soil after four exciting races at various circuits overseas,” he said. “This is where the next phase of the season begins and there is probably no other track in the world that I know as well as the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
“I also have some good memories of race weekends in Barcelona. Last year, for example, I started from pole position so I’m looking forward to going back there again and maybe repeating that particular feat.”
Despite starting from pole last year, problems with tire wear meant that Rosberg quickly went backwards and eventually finished down in sixth place.
With the other teams also bringing major upgrade packages to the race, Rosberg is looking forward to finally gauging just how far ahead Mercedes is of the likes of Red Bull and Ferrari
“It’s also only now that we can slowly begin to get an idea of how the different cars stack up in terms of performance,” the German said. “Each team will have been pushing hard during the break since the last race to find some extra performance from new parts, so it will certainly be an interesting weekend and hopefully an exciting one for the fans too.”
Although we should have some answers as to which team could potentially overhaul Mercedes in 2014, Rosberg should perhaps be more interested in the competition on the other side of the garage as Hamilton chases a fourth straight win in Spain.
Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.
“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”
The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.
Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.
“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”
Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.