Six-time and defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson said Friday the newly formed Race Team Alliance will be a good thing for the sport. In his mind, NASCAR and the RTA will work collectively for cost reduction.
“The RTA is all about saving costs; it’s about driving costs down,” Johnson said during his media availability at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. “I know the conversation is ‘owners against NASCAR,’ but NASCAR is trying to help bring costs down, too.”
Johnson said the first he heard of it was at the beginning of the week, just before the RTA was publicly announced. He said everyone wants the sport to succeed.
Johnson tried to dispel fears the RTA will be a bad thing for the sport. He said worry exists on any topic; additionally, he thinks having a single, unified voice (even if the RTA is avoiding the term ‘union’) will be clearer for NASCAR to understand the teams’ collective concerns rather than nine-plus different voices.
“It’s human nature for some to worry. It doesn’t matter what the topic is,” Johnson said. “I don’t see a downside in owners working closer together and sharing what’s important to them to run their business and put a car in the field each week. That’s the environment we have there today.
“It’s a case now where at Hendrick you’ll hear this, at Roush that, and Penske something altogether different. I don’t see any downside in being organized.”
With an off weekend coming after New Hampshire this weekend, the last of the season, Johnson said he was looking forward to doing “as little as possible.”
“I’m happy to see it. I want to see six or seven more of them; get down to a 25-race schedule,” he said. “I can’t wait to chill out and relax.”
Status Grand Prix has set its sights on winning the 2016 GP2 Series championship following its decision to close down its GP3 team at the end of the current season.
Earlier this week, GP3 issued a statement confirming its team roster for the next three seasons that featured new entries from DAMS and Virtuosi Racing.
However, both Carlin and Status did not appear on the list, signalling that both had opted to leave GP3 at the end of 2015.
Status first entered GP3 back in 2010, but only set up a GP2 team in 2015 after taking over the old Caterham Racing operation.
This will now become the main focus for the Irish outfit, though, as explained by team boss Teddy Yip Jr. earlier this week.
“Status Grand Prix has not renewed entry into the GP3 Series from 2016 onwards in order to maximize focus on our GP2 campaign,” Yip said.
“Having finished second in the team championship in the inaugural GP3 Series, we have enjoyed six successful years in the category collecting nine race wins, 26 podium finishes and vying for numerous team and driver titles.
“We are very proud to have given opportunities and achieved success with drivers such as Robert Wickens, Antonio Felix da Costa, Alexander Sims and our current GP2 race winner, Richie Stanaway.
“We now look forward to finishing the 2015 GP2 and GP3 seasons on a high before mounting a robust GP2 title campaign in 2016.”
Both GP2 and GP3 return from a one-month break next weekend in support of the Formula 1 Russian Grand Prix.
Two-time Formula 1 world champion Mika Hakkinen has heaped praise upon Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen, supporting his decision to ignore team orders during last month’s Singapore Grand Prix.
Verstappen only turned 18 on Wednesday, but has already made a big impression on the F1 world during his first 14 races with his aggressive driving style and mature approach to racing.
In Singapore, Verstappen was told by Toro Rosso to let faster teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. go past, but refused to give up his position and eventually beat the Spaniard to finish eighth.
Writing in his Hermes blog, Hakkinen backed Verstappen’s decision to stay ahead and praised the Dutchman for his performances so far this season.
“A driver must be alert and keep track of what is happening around him at all times,” Hakkinen wrote. “That’s what Verstappen is. He does not simply let anyone pass if it’s not for the world championship, but only a few championship points.
“Verstappen is 18 years old, but the guy’s already a real pro. Young people are developing incredibly fast nowadays, and by that I don’t mean just drivers.”
Despite having more than half a season of F1 racing under his belt, Verstappen only gained his road driver’s license on his 18th birthday, having previously been under the age limit to drive a regular car in public.