Photo courtesy of IMSA

Pipo Derani confirmed for Patron ESM return in 2018

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Ending any speculation he might have been on other prototype team’s shopping lists, Tequila Patron ESM announced Tuesday that Brazilian star Pipo Derani will be in one of the team’s Nissan Onroak DPi cars next season. He’s the first of four full-season drivers confirmed; the team’s current contract with Nissan NISMO is set to continue through 2018, as a partnership between Tequila Patrón ESM, Nissan NISMO, and Onroak Automotive.

Derani has had a hodgepodge 2017 season where instead of being in one full-time role, he’s been in multiple seats.

He’s driven a handful of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races with Patron ESM in both its Nos. 2 and 22 cars – breaking through to win co-driving with Johannes van Overbeek a little over a week ago at Road America in the No. 22 car. He also ran the opening three races of the FIA World Endurance Championship in one of the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs in the GTE-Pro class, and then did the 6 Hours of Nürburgring with Rebellion Racing in a fill-in role in LMP2. He also made his first Verizon IndyCar Series test with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports in March at Sebring.

This solidifies him with the team where he’s made his name on the international sports car scene, having delivered two back-to-back wins at Daytona and Sebring to kick off the 2016 season that established him as a star on the rise.

“I am really happy to confirm I will continue to race for Tequila Patrón ESM next season in what I am sure it will be a super competitive IMSA WeatherTech championship,” Derani said in a release. “All of us at Tequila Patron ESM share a big desire to win and this team spirit is the fuel we need to continue to perform at the highest level possible at every track we go.

“I would like to thank Scott and Ed for their trust, and the entire team for their tireless job this year in order to bring our Nissan DPi to victory lane after a difficult start to our season. I am sure this is just the beginning and I can’t wait for 2018!”

“We are super excited to announce that Pipo will be back for a third year with Tequila Patrón ESM next season,” added team owner Scott Sharp. “On and off the track, Pipo has been exemplary and become part of the ESM family as he shows his talent again and again! We are working hard on all fronts for our 2018 program and Pipo will spearhead that attack!”

Hamilton: Abu Dhabi ‘the last race with good-looking cars’ in F1

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Lewis Hamilton believes that this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be remembered as the last race with good-looking Formula 1 cars ahead of the introduction of the ‘Halo’ cockpit protection for next year.

Officials from the FIA and F1 Strategy Group confirmed earlier this year that the Halo would be fitted to all cars from the 2018 season in a bid to improve safety standards, with the deaths of Justin Wilson and Jules Bianchi putting head protection high on the agenda for the series’ chiefs.

Hamilton has long made his opposition to the Halo clear, believing it will ruin the look of F1 cars, and echoed his thoughts ahead of the final Halo-less race in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

“It’s the last year of looking good I think in the cars. It’s the last race where the cars will look good,” Hamilton said.

“I think next year, it’s all downhill from there in terms of how they look.

“But safety will go up at least, and maybe it could be successful in some way.”

Hamilton’s F1 title rival Sebastian Vettel was less bothered about the change, believing the field will adjust and move on.

“The cars will look different next year. Everything I’ve seen so far looks different, but on the other hand it is something we all get used to,” Vettel said.

“But no doubt the cars look better now, but we’ll get used to it, and we’ll work on the aesthetics so it can be better. It is less of a big deal.”

Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo shared Vettel’s view, saying: “I don’t think it’s gonna be as dramatic as most people make it out to be.”