Report: Longtime engineer Chip Bolin out at Roush Fenway Racing

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In what some may consider a big surprise – or perhaps a sign of several more departures to come – long time engineer Chip Bolin has been released by Roush Fenway Racing.

According to Motorsport.com, the departure of Bolin, 40, from RFR was confirmed Thursday by the company.

Bolin’s departure could be a signal that an even greater shakeup may be brewing, particularly involving drivers Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle, who are both in the final year of their respective contracts with RFR.

Bolin had been with RFR for 16 years, coming to the organization in 1998 after serving an internship with Andy Petree Racing. He joined the company at about the same time as Bob Osborne, who eventually went on to be Edwards’ crew chief.

Together, Bolin and Osborne formed what would become the engineering department for what was then Roush Racing.

Although he was involved with most Roush teams at one point or other in his career, Bolin is known most for his time with Matt Kenseth’s team, first as team engineer beginning in 1999.

Kenseth won the final Winston Cup championship in 2003 with Robbie Reiser as crew chief and Bolin as chief engineer.

In 2007, Bolin became Kenseth’s crew chief when now-RFR general manager Reiser was promoted into the team’s front office.

Although Ford has won four of the first 11 Sprint Cup races this season, three of those wins have come from rival Team Penske. Edwards is the only driver of the three Sprint Cup pilots at RFR to have won a race this season, having done so at Bristol in March.

Edwards is currently ranked fifth in the Sprint Cup standings, while Biffle is ninth. Both drivers are in the final year of their current contracts with RFR.

Biffle has stated several times that he plans on returning to the RFR camp, but there’s still some uncertainty that will happen.

As for Edwards, he is not saying one way or other whether he’ll come back to RFR or not. Whether Edwards stays or leaves could have a major impact upon whether Biffle also stays or goes – and if he does go, will his options be limited if Edwards also exits the organization at season’s end.

The third RFR driver in the Sprint Cup Series, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., is currently ranked 25th and has just one top-five finish this season.

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Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.