F1 Grand Prix of Germany - Qualifying

Force India success lies in decision to switch focus in 2013

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Just as Sauber’s decision to keep developing its 2013 car has come back to haunt the Swiss team in 2014, Force India’s Otmar Szafnauer has said the team’s call to focus on this year early has proven to be the right one.

In 2013, Force India made a good start to the season before its form fell off towards the end of the year, with the team eventually finishing sixth in the constructors’ behind McLaren.

Although Szafnauer, Force India’s chief operating officer, thinks that the team could have finished fifth, it would not have made such a superb start in 2014, and he feels that the changes made to Pirelli’s compounds damaged Force India more than others.

“We had a dilemma: do we stop what we’re doing for 2014 and react to the new tires, which would have taken us a while, or do we just continue?” he told Formula1.com, reflecting on 2013. “Had we tried to react, it would have had a bigger impact on this year’s car than what we could have gained last year.

“The only thing we could have gained was beating McLaren to fifth, and that was close anyway. So the potential upside was one position, but the downside this year would have been huge.”

Szafnauer was also quick to praise drivers Nico Hulkenberg and Sergio Perez, who have scored 98 points to put the team ahead of McLaren in the constructors’ with eight races to go.

“We have a very good relationship, a long-standing one, with Nico,” he said. “He is very intelligent, has good feedback and helps us develop the car.

“Sergio has fitted in very well in his first year. He is a very quick racing driver, especially in the races. He finished on the podium and Nico has scored in every race, so they’ve both done a very good job.”

NHRA: Alexis DeJoria brings free mammograms to Texas, Las Vegas races

DeJoria pink race car for breast cancer awareness month
(Photo courtesy Alexis DeJoria Racing)
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Some drivers see red when they’re behind the wheel of a 300-mph Funny Car.

But NHRA Funny Car driver Alexis DeJoria is seeing pink in the month of October – and she’s proud of it.

DeJoria, who owns Alexis DeJoria Racing and drives the Tequila Patron Toyota for Kalitta Racing, is using the color pink to call attention to breast cancer awareness month in October.

DeJoria has partnered with Baylor Healthcare Systems to offer free mammograms to race fans attending this weekend’s AAA Fall Nationals at Texas Motorplex (Friday and Saturday) in Ennis, Texas.

She’ll reprise that role, partnering with Nevada Health Centers for the Toyota Nationals at The Strip in Las Vegas Oct. 30-31.

According to a media release, ‘”Mammovans’ (mobile mammography units) will be parked in the nitro pits of the racetracks, and free mammograms will be available on-site during both weekends to female ticketholders over the age of 40, regardless of whether or not they have health insurance.”

Those who seek to be screened do not need an appointment or referral. If you have health insurance, bring your insurance information to the race. Test results will be sent via mail approximately ten days after the event.

This year’s initiative continues a program DeJoria began three years ago when she launched the “Free Mammograms for the Fans” program.

Also, DeJoria will drive a hot pink race car in both events.

“I really want to thank the Patrón Spirits Company and Toyota for their support, as well as Kalitta Motorsports, everyone who bought items on our eBay fundraising page, purchased our pink Fight Like a Girl bracelets and made donations,” said DeJoria. “It all goes toward this very wonderful life-saving cause and we would not be able to provide this service to our fans without their support.”

Added Ed Laukes, vice president of marketing, performance and guest experience for Toyota Motor Sales USA, “If we are able to save the life of so much as one mother, daughter, sister, wife or friend, it will be well worth our additional investment in our partners at DeJoria (Alexis DeJoria Racing). It truly is rewarding to be able to assist one of our race teams on a program that is so meaningful to so many people.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Sir Stirling Moss: Enclosed cockpits in open-wheel racing ‘ridiculous’

Sir Stirling Moss Getty
(Getty Images)
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While IndyCar mulls some type of enclosed cockpits or canopies in their race cars as early as 2017 to enhance driver safety, one racing legend scoffs at the notion that open-wheel racing should go down that path.

“I think it’s ridiculous,” Sir Stirling Moss told Road and Track at the recent Lime Rock Historic Festival. “Motor racing is dangerous. And one does it – some of us do it – because it is dangerous. I was one of those. And I think to go and put forward things like that is absolutely ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous.”

MORE: IndyCar CEO: No safety changes for 2016 car, despite Wilson death

It’s the opinion of the 85-year-old Moss that safety elements in one form of open-wheel racing – namely, Formula 1 – are as good as they can be at the moment.

“I think quite honestly, most events have good flag marshaling, which is very important,” Moss said. “The drivers know what they can do and they usually stick within their realistic limits.

“But of course, obviously, the sort of racing and etiquette you have on a circuit like this, or, a club circuit, is necessarily pretty different when you start talking Formula One.

“But, I think (danger) is part of the sport. I don’t think anybody wants to get hurt, but they’re all going to push themselves up to their limit, and that’s pretty good.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski