Photo: FIA

FIA celebrates F1’s champions, opening new FIA Hall of Fame

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On Monday night, the FIA launched its new Hall of Fame in Paris, which pays tribute to all 33 Formula 1 World Champions. Nine of them were in attendance.

Those present included Sir Jackie Stewart, Mario Andretti, Alain Prost, Nigel Mansell, Damon Hill, Jacques Villeneuve, Fernando Alonso, Sebastian Vettel and Nico Rosberg, along with representatives and family of F1’s other title winners in becoming the first drivers honored by the new initiative.

Drivers were inducted in order based on how many times they’d won the championship, with single title winners going first, then two-timers, and so on and so forth until reaching F1’s most statistically successful World Champion, seven-time champ Michael Schumacher.

His long-time manager Sabine Kehm on hand to accept his award. Updates have of course been scarce on Schumacher’s health since his skiing accident in late December 2013, with privacy for the family the course of action and something Kehm addressed.

“We all know Michael should be here and I am totally sure he would love to be here,” she said. “He always had the highest respect for everyone in this room and he would be very honored. What made Michael so special, what made him so successful was, as with everybody in this room, a love and passion for this sport.”

Vettel and Alonso were the two active World Champions present, with Lewis Hamilton not on site. Vettel’s four titles came with Red Bull Racing from 2010 through 2013 while Alonso’s two were with Renault in 2005 and 2006. Neither has emulated Schumacher in returning the championship to the Scuderia.

“It’s been incredible to see all these names, all these faces. Obviously a lot of them I only know from what I have read, what I have seen, but I think it’s a great idea. There’s so much history in the sports, it’s still so alive, and thanks to events like tonight’s, we’ll keep it like that. I love racing but as you get older you change your way of thinking and I think your appreciation for things and definitely for things like tonight grows,” said Vettel.

Alonso added, “It has been a fantastic night. I’m very honored to be here with these great champions. All of them inspired me to become a Formula One driver, they inspired all the kids of my generation, so I feel very proud.”

Rosberg, the 2016 champion, did what he’s been doing a bit more of in his year since retiring: making video blogs. His is linked below.

America’s last World Champion, 1978 champion Mario Andretti, took a selfie with 1996 World Champion Damon Hill and David Brabham, who raced in his own day in F1 in the 1990s and was representing the Brabham family for Sir Jack Brabham.

The new FIA Hall of Fame website has also been launched, and the FIA’s full release of the evening is linked here.

Follow @TonyDiZinno

MRTI: Keith Donegan earns Mazda Shootout Scholarship

Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
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Dublin, Ireland’s Keith Donegan claimed a $200K scholarship from Mazda after emerging victorious at the second annual Mazda Road to Indy Shootout. The 20-year-old Donegan earned an at-large nomination for the scholarship based on his performance at this year’s Formula Ford Festival, in which he finished second in the final, and emerged from a pack of 17 drivers from across the globe to claim the scholarship.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet,” said an emotional Donegan, who earlier in his career actually spent two years away from racing as he focused on academics. “The weekend was really good and I enjoyed it. I have to say a huge thanks to Mazda and Cooper Tires and everyone at the Mazda Road to Indy. I enjoyed every moment. Throughout the weekend we were consistent and I kept the small things in check. I didn’t make any stupid mistakes and kept my head cool and that really paid off in the end.”

The two-day shootout was held at the Bondurant Racing School in Arizona and saw the nominated drivers tackle the school’s 1.6-mile circuit in Formula Mazda race cars before facing on and off-track assessments. Donegan was selected by a panel of judges that included former driver and current Verizon IndyCar Series TV analyst Scott Goodyear, Mazda drivers Tom Long, Andrew Carbonell, and Jonathan Bomarito, as well as Victor Franzoni – the current champion of the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires – and Oliver Askew, the current champion of the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda.

Donegan was humbled to be in the presence of drivers who have won scholarships and championships previously, and added that he is grateful to have the opportunity to continue his racing career.

“You see all these champions here today that will go on to great things in the future and I’m sure the names you see here today aren’t going to disappear,” Donegan added. “They will be back up there and I’m sure I will be racing them again some day. It is an unbelievable opportunity to be given and for Mazda to provide that for any young driver. It just gives that bit of motivation that you need because the [U.S.] is where you need to go to become a professional these days. It is such a boost to my career.”

Donegan is now slated to join the 2018 USF2000 championship, with further announcements regarding the team with whom he’ll be racing to come in the future.

Follow @KyleMLavigne