First Ferrari winner in Formula One, Jose Froilan Gonzalez, dead at 90

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Argentine driver Jose Froilan Gonzalez, Ferrari’s first race winner in the Formula One World Championship, has passed away at the age of 90 according to media reports from his homeland.

At the 1951 British Grand Prix at Silverstone, Gonzalez defeated fellow Argentinian and Formula One legend Juan Manuel Fangio by 51 seconds for the first of what would be many, many victories for Maranello’s finest.

“The news of the death of Gonzalez saddened me greatly,” Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo told the marque’s official website. “We had spoken not that long ago, talking about cars and racing, the topics he was most enthusiastic about. Over all these years, he was always very attached to Ferrari and, as a driver and a man, he played an integral part in our history.

“His death means we have lost a true friend.”

Nicknamed the “Pampas Bull” and “El Cabezon,” Gonzalez would win twice in his Grand Prix career, adding another victory at Silverstone in 1954. That year was a particularly good one for him, finishing second in the World Championship to Fangio and also scoring a win with Maurice Trintignant in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Altogether, Gonzalez raced in 26 Grand Prix events, with his last one coming in front of his home fans at the 1960 Argentine Grand Prix. In 2011, he was honored by Ferrari on the 60th anniversary of his first British GP victory; Fernando Alonso went on to win at Silverstone that day after he had earlier turned a few laps in Gonzalez’ Ferrari 375.

With Gonzalez’ death, three-time World Champion Sir Jack Brabham, 87, is now the oldest-living Grand Prix race winner.

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

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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.