Jakes shakes off cobwebs in first RLL test

Leave a comment

James Jakes had his first day of running for Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing on Wednesday at Barber Motorsports Park.

The Englishman spent two seasons with Dale Coyne Racing and waited an extra day to make his debut at RLL aboard the team’s No. 16 Acorn Stairlifts Dallara-Honda.

“It was nice to get back in the car,” he said. “I haven’t driven since September of last year so today was a case of dusting off the cobwebs and learning how everyone works at the team. Mike did a great job with the car on the first day.”

The aforementioned “Mike” is Mike Conway, who ran on Tuesday and ended the day fourth quick at 1:08.1584. Jakes went quicker, as all drivers did on Wednesday, to clock in at 1:07.8912. That time was 11th quickest overall for the week.

“It was pretty easy to drive really and you can’t ask for much more,” said Jakes, who will worth with engineer Eddie Jones. “It was a positive day and we will just keep working and hopefully we can carry on the momentum to St. Pete. Obviously Graham (Rahal) had a bad day but we managed to get a lot of work done so hopefully he can look at that and we can get both cars to the sharp end of the grid in St. Petersburg.”

Jakes has one of the least distinguished resumes on the IndyCar grid this season, but that said, Bobby Rahal’s team has had a history of polishing rough diamonds and turning them into potential race winners. Jakes could draw inspiration from Michel Jourdain Jr., who won twice for Rahal in the 2003 CART series, and finished third in the championship. He’d had only one top five finish through the first six seasons of his career.

 

F1: Red Bull Racing confirms switch to Honda engines next season

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Honda will become Red Bull’s engine supplier from next season after the Formula One team confirmed its anticipated split with Renault on Tuesday.

The Japanese manufacturer will supply engines for 2019 and 2020, and Red Bull team principal Christian Horner hailed the deal as “an exciting new phase” in the bid to return to the top of F1.

“After careful consideration and evaluation, we are certain this partnership with Honda is the right direction for the team,” Horner said in a team statement. “We have been impressed by Honda’s commitment to F1, by the rapid steps they have made in recent times with our (feeder) team Toro Rosso.”

It is a boost for Honda, which was unceremoniously dumped by McLaren at the end of last year.

Honda has started this season brightly as engine provider for Toro Rosso, and this may have been a key factor in Red Bull finally ditching Renault.

“Honda’s alignment with both Red Bull Formula One teams provides enormous potential,” Horner said. “Honda will have access to a wealth of data from both outfits, with Aston Martin Red Bull Racing leading the way, and the opportunities for faster, more effective and more competitive development are doubled.”

The deal brings to an end Red Bull’s 12-year partnership with Renault.

Although relations became increasingly strained between the two parties in recent years, it was once a dream partnership as Red Bull and Renault won four straight drivers’ and constructors’ championships with Sebastian Vettel behind the wheel from 2010-13.

During that glory era, Vettel and teammate Mark Webber won 47 grand prix. Since 2013, results have somewhat dried up and there have been only 10 race wins.

“We have sometimes had our differences but Renault has always worked tirelessly and to the best of its ability to provide us with a competitive power unit,” Horner said.

He was not always quite so complimentary about Renault. He has regularly and publicly criticized Renault’s reliability in recent years – although it has been hard to judge sometimes.

Red Bull showed good speed toward the end of last season when Max Verstappen won two races, and teammate Daniel Ricciardo won this season’s Chinese GP with a brilliant drive. The difference in speed between Red Bull and Mercedes appears less than before, although Ferrari remains noticeably quicker.

Verstappen’s form has picked up after a poor start to 2018, marred by crashes, and he has taken third place in two of the past three races.

Meanwhile, McLaren’s partnership with Renault has not been as successful as they anticipated after dropping Honda following three fruitless seasons together.

Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso has failed to finish the past two races and has yet to place higher than fifth. Renault teammate Nico Hulkenberg has a best finish of fourth place.