Roberto Merhi dominates Formula Renault 3.5 race in Hungary


Caterham reserve driver Roberto Merhi has strengthened his case for a full-time race seat with the beleaguered F1 team by winning today’s Formula Renault 3.5 race at the Hungaroring in emphatic fashion.

The Spaniard enjoyed his first run out in a Formula 1 car in practice for the Italian Grand Prix, setting an impressive initial pace and finishing ahead of full-time driver Marcus Ericsson.

He was not able to make his grand prix debut at Monza as he had not completed the required running to obtain a super licence. However, he is thought to be in the frame to race in Singapore next weekend in place of Kamui Kobayashi.

In Hungary today, Merhi started the race from seventh place on the grid, only to catapult himself into second place by the end of lap one in damp conditions. He then enjoyed a battle with Fortec’s Oliver Rowland before passing (pictured) and pulling away. At the flag, his advantage was almost half a minute.

“We were not able to run to our potential in qualifying due to a red flag,” Merhi explained. “Happily, we made up for that at the start. There was a lot of water spray behind Oliver and I wasn’t able to see. He then made a small mistake that allowed me to get by.

“Afterwards, I was able to pull away while taking care of my tyres because this track is very demanding when it comes to tire wear, especially in drying conditions.”

Merhi’s win has also brought him back into the hunt for the Formula Renault 3.5 championship as points leader Carlos Sainz Jr. was forced to settle for fourth place after a poor qualifying result. The gap at the top now stands at 26 points with five races remaining, and both will be hoping to follow in McLaren’s Kevin Magnussen’s footsteps by lifting the championship at the end of the year.

Even if he does join Caterham in a full-time role until the end of the season, Merhi is likely to keep up his FR3.5 commitments as he looks to establish himself as a serious candidate for an F1 seat in 2015.

SuperMotocross set to introduce Leader Lights beginning with the World Championship finals


In a continuing effort to help fans keep track of the on track action, SuperMotocross is in the process of developing and implementing leader lights for the unified series.

Currently Supercross (SMX) utilizes stanchions in the infield that are triggered manually by a race official. At least two stanchions are used in each race as a way to draw the eye to the leader, which is especially useful in the tight confines of the stadium series when lapping often begins before the halfway mark in the 22-bike field. This system has been in place for the past two decades.

Later this year, a fully automated system will move to the bike itself to replace the old system. At that point, fans will be able to identify the leader regardless of where he is on track.

The leader lights were tested in the second Anaheim round this year. An example can be seen at the 1:45 mark in the video above on the No. 69 bike.

“What we don’t want to do is move too fast, where it’s confusing to people,” said Mike Muye, senior director of operations for Supercross and SMX in a press release. “We’ve really just focused on the leader at this point with the thought that maybe down the road we’ll introduce others.”

Scheduled to debut with the first SuperMotocross World Championship race at zMax Dragway, located just outside the Charlotte Motor Speedway, a 3D carbon fiber-printed LED light will be affixed to each motorcycle. Ten timing loops positioned around the track will trigger the lights of the leader, which will turn green.

SMX’s partner LiveTime Scoring helped develop and implement the system that has been tested in some form or fashion since 2019.

When the leader lights are successfully deployed, SuperMotocross will explore expanding the system to identify the second- and third-place riders. Depending on need and fan acceptance, more positions could be added.

SuperMotocross is exploring future enhancements, including allowing for live fan interaction with the lights and ways to use the lighting system during the race’s opening ceremony.