Sirotkin claims maiden Formula Renault 3.5 victory

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Sauber junior driver Sergey Sirotkin has claimed his maiden Formula Renault 3.5 victory in Moscow today.

The Russian racer joined Sauber mid-way through last season with the view to claiming a full-time seat in 2014 and becoming the youngest driver in F1 history. However, after the necessary investment failed to materialize for this season, he opted to spend another year in the Renault-backed feeder series.

Sirotkin has come under fire since joining Sauber, with many deeming him to be too young and too inexperienced. In Formula Renault 3.5, he has failed to set the world on fire with his performances, but today in Moscow he finally claimed his first victory.

Having secured pole position for the race on Saturday, he went from lights-to-flag to beat Zoel Amberg and Pietro Fantin, giving the home crowd in Moscow something to celebrate today. However, no-one was happier than Sirotkin himself.

“Thank you to everyone, this is incredible,” he said. “It is the best moment of my life! The season got off to a bad start, but the team made good use of the short break to bounce back. And there is no better place to do it!

“We started strong in practice and it moved on today. It wasn’t easy to manage the temperature in the rear tyres, but we came through. Thanks to the entire team, really!”

Earlier this week, Sirotkin revealed that he will take part in free practice for Sauber at the Russian Grand Prix in October, and also called stablemate Simona de Silvestro a “marketing move” as the two drivers vie for a full-time seat in 2015.

Although one victory will not greatly change the F1 paddock’s view of Sirotkin, it is certainly a sign that he does have the pace to compete and could yet earn himself a seat in the sport with Sauber.

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.