Thursday Austin press conference noteworthy by Kovalainen’s absence

Leave a comment

Thursday’s press conference for the United States Grand Prix was more notable for the one driver absent from the proceedings: new Lotus signing Heikki Kovalainen.

The Finn was meant to join the other five participants in Austin, but for the slight problem he hasn’t arrived in Austin yet. The team said he was en route to the facility in due course, before he replaces Kimi Raikkonen for the final two Grands Prix this Formula One season.

As it is, of the other five present, only Jules Bianchi (Marussia) has a contract in place for next year. The rest – Paul di Resta (Force India), Pastor Maldonado (Williams) and Mexicans Sergio Perez (McLaren) and Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) – are all figuring out plans for next season.

“I’m confident with the team as we try to do our best to finish this year,” said Bianchi. “It all started really well, but it has been difficult of late.”

Di Resta, who’s been back on form of late with back-to-back points scoring finishes in the last two races, is surprised by late the silly season is occurring.

“I think it’s very late, but what can you do really?” di Resta said.

Maldonado, who seemed optimistic about his future at last night’s FOTA Fan Forum, pretty much echoed those thoughts this morning.

“For sure I know (what I’ll be doing),” Maldonado said. “We have a couple options. I have a tough decision ahead.”

Perez and Gutierrez largely echoed the same thoughts as they did at the Fan Forum, although Perez had the line of the morning regarding the large Mexican contingent of fans expected to attend in Austin this weekend.

“The grandstands would be empty without the Mexicans,” he deadpanned.

Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

Extreme E drivers Andretti
Extreme E
Leave a comment

The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”