MRTI: Matthew Brabham out for a third ‘Road to Indy’ series title

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Last year’s Pro Mazda champion, Matthew Brabham, continued his acclimation to Indy Lights earlier this week by taking part in the series’ two-day test session at Sebring International Raceway.

In just his second major outing in an Indy Lights car, Brabham was solid, posting the third-fastest time across all sessions – only beaten by Andretti Autosport teammate Zach Veach and Gabby Chaves.

Getting used to new equipment has been an interesting exercise for Brabham, who comes to Lights after storming to the Pro Mazda title in 2013 on the strength of 13 wins. But he believes he is making progress there.

“It’s definitely a step up compared to Pro Mazda,” he said recently. “So far it’s been challenging to get used to more power and more grip, but fun to drive. I’m slowly getting there, and it should be a good year for us.”

Brabham was a relatively early addition to the 2014 Lights grid, when he was announced to join Andretti Autosport’s Lights team during the 2013 IndyCar season finale weekend in October.

To him, that’s made things a little bit easier as he focuses in on conquering yet another stop on the Mazda Road to Indy (he also won the USF2000 championship in 2012).

“It gives us a jump up on everybody, and that definitely helps,” he said. “That’s what we did last year [in Pro Mazda]. We got ahead and managed to sort things out before everybody else did.

“It’s great to get out early and nice to have everything signed so I can just focus on testing and getting comfortable before we go out and start getting ready for the racing season.”

As the son of former 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Geoff Brabham and grandson of three-time Formula One World Champion Sir Jack Brabham, the third-generation racer has a lot to live up to.

But from what we’ve seen out of him so far, Matthew looks like he’s capable of making his own mark in the years ahead.

Sergio Perez wins rain-delayed race in Singapore over Leclerc; Verstappen seventh

Sergio Perez Singapore
Clive Rose/Getty Images,
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SINGAPORE — Max Verstappen’s Formula One title celebrations were put on hold after the Red Bull driver placed seventh at a chaotic Singapore Grand Prix, won by his teammate Sergio Perez on Sunday.

Perez’s second win of the season saw him finish 7.6 seconds ahead of Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc, with Leclerc’s teammate Carlos Sainz Jr. in third place.

Perez was investigated for a potential safety car infringement but still kept the win after a 5-second time penalty for dropping too far back after being warned.

Verstappen had won the past five races but needed to win here and finish 22 points ahead of Leclerc to be crowned champion for a second straight season. That could happen next weekend at the Japanese GP.

Verstappen made a mistake after the second safety car restart, following AlphaTauri driver Yuki Tsunoda’s crash on Lap 36. When Verstappen tried to overtake Lando Norris’ McLaren, he locked his tires and needed to pit again.

Leclerc started from pole position with Verstappen going from eighth after a team blunder in qualifying.

The race start was delayed by more than an hour to clear water off the Marina Bay Circuit track following heavy rainfall. Drivers had to finish the 61-lap race within a two-hour window; 59 laps were completed.

Tricky conditions saw the virtual safety car deployed three times and DRS was allowed with about 30 minutes remaining.

Perez made a good start and jumped past Leclerc while Verstappen dropped several places. The first safety car was on Lap 8 when Zhou Guanyu’s Alfa Romeo was cut off by Nicholas Latifi’s Williams.

Perez got away cleanly at the restart, while Verstappen climbed into seventh behind Fernando Alonso – whose 350th F1 race ended disappointingly when his engine failed on Lap 21, bringing out the first VSC.

With the track still damp, drivers decided against changing to quicker tires – apart from Mercedes’ George Russell, who struggled for grip.

Hamilton made a rare mistake on Lap 33 and thudded into the crash barrier. Soon after, the leading drivers changed tires in a flurry of stops. They did so just before the safety car was deployed again following Tsunoda’s error.

Verstappen overtook Sebastian Vettel’s Aston Martin right at the end for seventh place.