Alex Zanardi returns to GT racing with BMW

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It’s hard not to love Alex Zanardi. The former CART champion and ex-Formula One driver who suffered the terrible accident at Germany in 2001 that cost him both his legs, continues to amaze and surprise on a regular basis.

The 47-year-old Italian will be back in a race car this year, in a modified BMW Z4 GT3 to compete in the Blancpain GT Series with the ROAL Motorsport BMW team. That reunited him with the team he competed with in the FIA World Touring Car Championship, where Zanardi won a handful of races.

Since he’s been out of the cockpit, Zanardi has turned to hand cycling and won two gold medals at the 2012 Paralympics. He also made the trip to the Indianapolis 500 this past year, where he was awarded his car from the 1996 CART race at Laguna Seca where he made “the pass” on Bryan Herta at the Corkscrew.

“Even after leaving the sport in 2009, I was still a racing driver at heart,” he said. “When I took to the track in the BMW M3 DTM at the end of 2012, I immediately got itchy fingers again. Ever since that moment I have been toying with the idea of returning to motor racing.”

And we’re delighted to see it come to fruition. The Blancpain GT schedule begins April 12-13 at Monza; a full link to the schedule is here via the ROAL Motorsport website.

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.