Mercedes to clinch the constructors’ championship at Monza?

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It is pretty obvious that Mercedes will win both F1 titles in 2014. It might seem rather gloomy to already be accepting that the championships are settled, but with the battle between Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg set to serve up a thrilling climax to the race for the drivers’ title, 2014 still has a lot to deliver.

However, on a UK F1 programme last night, one of the pundits made a throwaway comment and said: “Oh Mercedes will probably wrap up the constructors by Hungary or something.”

This got me thinking: just when will the Silver Arrows be crowned champions? After correctly working out that Sebastian Vettel would win his fourth world title in India last year, I’ve crunched the numbers once again and come up with a few possibilities.

Let’s set the scene for the here and now. Currently, Mercedes leads the constructors’ championship by 141 points, with a score of 240 to Red Bull’s 99. We must assume that Red Bull will be the closest challenger for the teams’ title, given its form in recent years and quite simply the fact that it lies second in the standings.

On average, Mercedes has scored 40 points per weekend (out of a possible 43), whilst Red Bull has scored 16.5. That’s a net gain for Mercedes of 23.5 points per race weekend. For the sake of argument, we’ll round that to 24.

Going on the ‘averages’ model, Mercedes will have a 285 point lead after the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August, with 301 points left to play for.

Therefore, by this model, Mercedes will win the constructors’ championship at Monza on the Italian Grand Prix weekend. After the race, it will lead by 309 with 258 points remaining

Of course, this is heavily based on the assumption that the gap between Mercedes and the rest of the field will remain constant. Instead, it might be better to have a ‘results’ model.

With this, we’ll assume that each race ends with Mercedes finishing first and second, and Red Bull will be third and fourth. 43 points plays 27, giving us a net difference of 16 points. Of course, there will be races where Mercedes doesn’t score a one-two, and races where Red Bull doesn’t finish third and fourth. If we assume that these occurrences are roughly even, we can use the 16 point net gain as a good base.

By this model, after the Belgian Grand Prix, Mercedes will have a 237 point lead over Red Bull with 301 left on offer.

That means after the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, it will lead by 253 points with 258 left on the table. So close! Given that this race is seven races away, making up this five means that we need less than one point ‘over’ the 16 point race average to make it up.

So once again, on this model, it’s probably going to be at the Italian Grand Prix where the Silver Arrows can celebrate its first ever constructors’ title as a works team, and its third as an engine supplier. And of all places, on Ferrari’s home turf.

Monza should be the place. However, if it happens one race early in Belgium, or one race later in Singapore, I’ll claim to be half right. For those interested, here’s the working to go with it.

Of course, everything could change. Red Bull could finally get on top of its engine problems, and make a return to the front of the field. Judging by how things are going at the moment, though, the Mercedes express won’t be slowing down any time soon.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.