On Thursday’s edition, the NASCAR America guys weighed in on whether or not having a new crew chief will hurt Denny Hamlin at Watkins Glen. Mike Wheeler took the reins after Hamlin’s former crew chief Darian Grubb was suspended for six races. Hamlin has only had three crew chiefs since 2005.
SPA – Ex-Formula 1 driver Mark Webber believes that Red Bull’s decision to drop Daniil Kvyat in favor of Max Verstappen is “harsh” but has been brewing for some time.
On Thursday, Red Bull announced that Verstappen would be moving up from junior team Toro Rosso to take Kvyat’s seat from the Spanish Grand Prix, with the Russian moving in the opposite direction.
Webber enjoyed a turbulent spell with Red Bull in F1 between 2007 and 2013, enjoying a particularly frosty relationship with team advisor Helmut Marko who was instrumental in the decision to promote Verstappen to the senior outfit.
Speaking at the Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps ahead of this weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship race, Porsche driver Webber said he was not surprised by the call.
“It was probably on the cards even before Russia, so in a way you probably feel there was something brewing,” Webber said when asked about the decision by NBC Sports.
“They’ve done it. And let’s see if Max can break Red Bull records again. He’s got no choice [to be ready]. He has to be ready.
“[Kvyat has] had a year and 30% there in terms of time. They don’t believe that he’s done enough. In their eyes he hasn’t done enough and they see that one other guy is doing enough.
“Normally you wait until the end of the year but obviously you know that doesn’t happen sometimes, particularly with Red Bull. They change it whenever they feel – bang.
“Helmut just wants performance. He wants to put the fastest guys in the best scenario as quick as possible.
“People just say that the mistakes that Dany made, it was off the back of that, but obviously it was probably accumulating to a point where they were not overly happy with his performance in the build-up.”
Webber said that he felt it was harsh on Kvyat, but believes that part of the move was a ploy by Red Bull to ensure that Verstappen is tied down to them for longer and prevent rivals from signing him for the 2017 season.
“Yeah, I feel it’s harsh but it’s a big business and things move fast and I think also again getting ahead of the ’17 market a bit, making sure everything’s ready,” Webber said.
“It’ll be a complete non-topic in six months as usual in F1, even three months. Everyone moves on.
“In Formula 1 you have nowhere to hide.”
The upcoming round of the FIA Formula E Championship scheduled for June 4 in Moscow has been cancelled, the series confirmed today.
In a release, the series confirmed the cancellation in conjunction with local authorities, citing “recent and unforeseen circumstances related to road closures.”
Additionally, Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag said that owing to the tight time frame, there won’t be a replacement round scheduled.
It leaves the 2015-2016 season at 10 rounds, with three rounds remaining in Berlin (May 21) and two in London (July 2 and 3).
“While it is unfortunate news not to race in Moscow on June 4, we looked at a number of alternative options as a replacement but were not able to find a viable solution on that specific date,” Agag said in a release.
“We explored all possibilities including returning to Monaco, but regrettably couldn’t organize the change of venue on such short notice. I’d like to express my thanks to HSH Prince Albert II of Monaco, Mr. Michel Boeri, and the Automobile Club de Monaco who did their utmost to see Formula E return to the streets of the Principality for season two.
“We will now focus on the three remaining races in Berlin and the double-header in London, which I’m sure will deliver a thrilling conclusion in the battle for the championship.”
Helmut Marko believes that Daniil Kvyat could not cope with the pressure of battling with Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo, reasoning the decision to switch the Russian back to Toro Rosso from the Spanish Grand Prix.
Red Bull announced on Thursday that Kvyat would be returning to Toro Rosso, its B-team, in a swap deal that sees Max Verstappen join the senior operation.
The final straw for Kvyat came in Russia when he hit Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel twice in two corners, leading to crunch talks with team advisor Marko and team boss Christian Horner.
Speaking to Auto Bild, Marko said that he does not consider Kvyat returning to Toro Rosso to be a demotion, but instead a move that will allow him to race under less pressure.
“The decision was made after Russia. It has become increasingly clear that Daniil Kvyat could not withstand the pressure from Daniel Ricciardo, and he has been overdriving the car,” Marko explained.
“We wanted to take him out of the firing line and help his career, instead of harming it. Kvyat partly understands it. I don’t see this as a demotion. Toro Rosso is at a very good level this year.”
Marko said that Verstappen now has to prove himself against Ricciardo, while also hinting that there may be an opening for Toro Rosso’s second driver Carlos Sainz Jr. to move up to Red Bull at the end of the season.
“Max has to challenge Ricciardo now, which is not easy,” Marko said. “Daniel is very strong at the moment.
“At the end of the year the cards will be reshuffled. This also means that Carlos Sainz has a chance to step up.”
On the heels of last year’s successful debut of “Inside F1,” which premiered in November at the Ridgefield Playhouse in Connecticut, the NBC Formula 1 announcing team will have an encore run this June in Chicago.
“Inside F1” with the F1 on NBC booth of lead announcer Leigh Diffey along with analysts David Hobbs and Steve Matchett will be a live theater-style show at the Park West theater in Chicago, on June 15, at 8 p.m.
The show comes a few days after the NBC crew broadcasts the Canadian Grand Prix live from Montreal on June 12, before the first European Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan takes place the following weekend.
“Steve, David & I really enjoy meeting the Formula 1 viewing audience,” Diffey said. “There’s a lot of passionate, knowledgeable F1 fans in America, so to get a theater full of them and discuss the sport we love, makes for a really fun night!”
Tickets are available at http://jamusa.com/events/inside-f1-racing/, or by calling 773-929-1322.
The event sold out last year in a smaller theater; Park West will be a bigger theater this go-around and offer more fans the chance to go.