Getty Images

Hamilton still has ‘utmost respect’ for Vettel despite Baku spat

Leave a comment

Lewis Hamilton says his relationship with Sebastian Vettel remains unchanged despite their clash and spat in Baku two weeks ago, claiming to have the “utmost respect” for his Formula 1 title rival.

Vettel and Hamilton came to blows behind the safety car during the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, with the latter receiving a penalty for dangerous driving when he side-swiped Hamilton at slow speed.

Hamilton told NBCSN after the race that he believed the lack of serious penalty set a “dangerous precedent” for the future, and was quoted by foreign media as saying Vettel had been “a disgrace”.

The clash was investigated by the FIA, who opted to take no further action, with Hamilton and Vettel facing the media for the first time since the ruling in Thursday’s press conference ahead of the Austrian Grand Prix.

When asked if the matter was over, Hamilton said: “It is for me yeah. I’m solely focused on this weekend. I said everything I felt I needed to say at the last race and just left it there.”

The Mercedes driver went on to reveal that he spoke with Vettel about the incident the day after the race, believing that their cordial rivalry and relationship had not changed.

“Sebastian and I spoke after the race on the Monday and then shortly after that he messaged me the day after,” Hamilton said.

“For me, I just said that I still have the utmost respect for him as a driver and will continue to race him hard throughout the rest of the season in the same way I always have. No less hard than we have already up until now.”

Hamilton did, however, want to make clear that he did not brake-test Vettel, as he had been accused of doing.

“My only point to Sebastian was him saying that I had brake-tested him. I said I hope you can correct that in public because people who were watching felt that was something I did and the data obviously showed that was not the case,” Vettel said.

“In actual fact he accelerated. I think he wanted to be as close as possible to me but that was an error in judgment.

“My only point there in my reply to him was that I hope he makes that clear because there was no need for me to do something like that because I was in the lead.

“I accept his apology and we move forward.”

” I’m happy to hear that it doesn’t seem to have a big impact [on their relationship]” added Vettel.

“Obviously what I did was wrong and I apologized. I think it’s totally up to Lewis. I did a mistake and it’s nice to hear that we’re able to move forward.

“I think the respect we have for each other on track, off track, it helps us in this regard.”

Regarding his post-race comments, Hamilton did not wish to take anything he said back, but was happy to move on from the incident and leave it in the past.

“I don’t feel I was particularly upset after the race. If I was it was for other reasons but I don’t feel like I said anything that I would wish to take back,” Hamilton said.

“I’m still under the same opinion of what happened but it is water under the bridge now.

“We have spoken about it and want to move forward so there is no point in saying much more.”

GAINSCO partners with JDC-Miller for Simpson, Goikhberg

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The bright yellow No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson, nicknamed the “JDC Banana Boat,” will morph into the latest incarnation of the bright red “Red Dragon” for 2018.

The now GAINSCO Auto Insurance-backed No. 99 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson will run the full 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, and the new livery will be revealed at the Roar before the Rolex 24.

GAINSCO revealed last month it wouldn’t run its own team, having partnered with Bob Stallings Racing for more than a decade with great success in GRAND-AM Rolex Series competition. But it was still going to partner with a team and received multiple proposals from other teams. The initial deal with JDC-Miller Motorsports is one year for 2018 with an option for 2019, but both parties envision this growing into a multi-year deal.

The last few years the team has run only on-and-off, with a one-off appearance in the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona as Alex Gurney scored pole, but a devastating accident for Memo Gidley having left him seriously injured. Gidley has made significant strides in his recovery.

Since that point, GAINSCO/BSR moved into Pirelli World Challenge, running first a Hyundai Genesis, then a McLaren 650S GT3, and then a Porsche 911 GT3 R with Gurney’s longtime co-driver Jon Fogarty. The same level of success was hard to find and while the team scored several podium finishes, wins eluded them over two years.

Alas, this provides John Church’s quality operation a major supporter both from visibility and agent standpoints, as GAINSCO is one of the biggest at-track activators in the sport. Primary drivers Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg continue for the full season with Chris Miller the third driver for Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds.

A fourth driver will be named later (likely within the next week to 10 days), but won’t be Jon Fogarty, as Bob Stallings offered him the opportunity but Fogarty declined owing to other business commitments.

“We offered Jon Fogarty the opportunity, took a couple days (to think), he couldn’t feature anyone else driving but him… he has successful business ventures and that takes priority at this time,” Stallings said.

Church and Stallings. Photo courtesy of GAINSCO Racing

Stallings, Executive Chairman of GAINSCO, as well as the founder of the GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Race team, recently decided not to run his own race team, but is committed to continuing the legacy of the Red Dragon by partnering with an organization capable of a long-term winning program.

“We had many opportunities to continue our quest for championships and JDC-Miller MotorSports was an easy pick,” said Stallings of the Minnesota-based team. “John Church and John Miller have established themselves as a team to be reckoned with, even against the formidable competition in IMSA.”

“We are very honored to gain the support of GAINSCO Auto Insurance and to carry on the livery of the No. 99 Red Dragon,” Church added. “It was immediately evident that the GAINSCO folks are as committed as we are.  This is a tremendous opportunity for JDC-Miller MotorSports and we look forward to the season ahead.”

Andy Jordan, Sr. Vice President of Marketing and Business Development led the search for the GAINSCO’s 2018 racing partnership.

“We were amazed and flattered by the amount of interest we received from teams who felt their racing programs would be elevated by an opportunity to partner with us and run the famous “Red Dragon” livery.  There were several important considerations for GAINSCO; the team had to compete at the highest level, and it had to feel like the kind of family we could be a part of and believe in.

“JDC-Miller Motorsports was the team we kept coming back to.  They race prototypes, they are great people, they are committed to win and the parallels between JDC-Miller Motorsports today and GAINCSO/Bob Stallings Racing in 2006/2007 were abundant.  I couldn’t be prouder and more excited to join John and his team for the 2018 season and hopefully beyond.”

JDC-Miller is adding a second car this season, with Simon Trummer its first confirmed driver and Robert Alon having tested with the team at Daytona earlier this month. This car will maintain the “banana boat” livery and will announce the rest of its program later.

Church said there “hasn’t been a discussion” in terms of adding Bob Stallings Racing personnel to JDC-Miller’s lineup as it sits, but it could be integrated.

The JDC-Miller Oreca 07. Photo courtesy of IMSA