2014 Russian Grand Prix Preview

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Following the tragic events of last Sunday’s Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka, Formula 1 ventures to Russia this weekend under a cloud. Any thought that doesn’t lie with Jules Bianchi and his condition is secondary – this race, and for many, this championship, are no longer a priority.

This weekend’s race in Russia has been one that has been hotly debated for some time. When it was first announced, there was excitement: Russian drivers have been on the rise, Russia is a huge market that can be tapped into – why not hold a GP there? Following the political tensions that emerged in Spring and the MH17 disaster, though, there was a lot of pressure for the race not to go ahead in Sochi.

Ultimately, the paddock has arrived with very little fuss. This weekend’s race will go ahead as has been planned. For Bernie Ecclestone, this is a race some 30 years in the making. His push for a race behind the iron curtain in the ‘80s took him to Hungary, but he will now finally get his race in Russia.

Sochi will once again be buzzing with activity following the Winter Olympic Games back in February. The circuit itself is by no means the most inspiring layout, drawing early comparisons with the street circuit in Valencia used for the last incarnation of the European Grand Prix. However, the early signs are promising from Sochi, although we will wait until after the race weekend to make a definitive judgement.

The five talking points below are not worthy of their moniker this weekend. They are not “talking points” because there is only one person we are all thinking and talking about: Jules. None of these themes are overriding, nor do they, in the grand scheme of things, really matter.

Forza, Jules.

2014 Russian Grand Prix – Talking Points

Lewis and Nico have just four to go

Following three consecutive wins, Lewis Hamilton has put the ball firmly back in his court with regards to this year’s world championship. He leads Nico Rosberg by 10 points after his win at Suzuka, and will know that a fourth straight victory could be huge. With just four races to go, the end of the championship is well and truly in sight.

Decisions, decisions

Sebastian Vettel’s shock announcement in Japan has really shaken the driver market for 2015 up. He seems bound for Ferrari, supposedly following the formal arrival of new president Sergio Marchionne, but for the time being his future is still not 100% concrete. The man with more at risk is Fernando Alonso, who has been caught out by Vettel’s announcement. A move to McLaren is what he is angling for, but it is becoming a very complex web indeed – such is the F1 driver market.

Button and K-Mag fight for their futures

Assuming Alonso does move to McLaren, both Jenson Button and Kevin Magnussen are facing an uphill struggle to hold on to their seats. JB is the man more at risk because of his age, but his run to fifth in Japan showed that he is still one of the best around. Magnussen has been consistent if unspectacular this season, and will be hoping to get a second year with McLaren alongside Alonso if the Spaniard does indeed arrive.

100 years in the making

“Welcome to the first Russian Grand Prix” is not something you should hear this weekend. This is in fact the third Russian Grand Prix, with the first two being held in 1913 and 1914 in the last years of peace before the outbreak of World War One and the eventual seizure of power by the Bolsheviks in 1917. Of course, things have changed quite a bit since then, but, as I will touch on in an article coming later today, it is nice to remember motorsport’s roots. One century on, grand prix racing is back in Russia.

Austin on the horizon

How is it already nearly time for the United States GP again!? Time flies when you’re having fun. We’re all off to Austin, Texas in three weeks’ time for the third grand prix to be held at the Circuit of The Americas, and excitement is building. The break between this weekend’s race and the event at COTA will give the drivers a much needed reprieve ahead of the final three rounds. The end of the 2014 F1 season is well and truly in sight.

Russian GP – Facts and Figures

Track: Sochi Autodrom
Laps: 53
Corners: 18
Lap Record: N/A
First Race: 2014
Tire Compounds: Medium (Option); Hard (Prime)
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T18 to T1); T11 to T12

Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series triples to 34 races in 2023

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023
Xtreme Outlaw Series

After hosting 10 rounds in 2022, the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series 2023 schedule will more than triple to 34 races. The 2022 season featured seven different winners in the first seven races, a female racer in Jade Avedisian as the only repeat winner and Zach Daum as the champion.

“Dirt Midget racing is a growing entity in American motorsports, and the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series presented by Toyota is proud to drive further into the growth of the division with both a diverse and lucrative schedule for 2023,” newly appointed Series Director Tyler Bachman said in a press release. “From the kickoff at our first indoor event, to each of the new tracks we’re set to visit next year, it’s a lineup we know both our teams and fans will enjoy.”

The championship purse fund has also more than double with an increase of $42,000 to $80,000 in 2023. The champion will win $25,000. Last year, Daum pocketed $10,000.

In addition, the series will offer tow money to the top 12 in points. Six drivers attempted to qualify for all 10 races in 2022 with 89 drivers attending.

The series will begin on March 10 at Southern Illinois Center in Du Quoin, Ill. and end the same place it did in 2022 at I-44 Riverside Speedway in Oklahoma City on October 15.

During the season, they will visit 21 tracks in 10 states.

Some highlights of the season include the Xtreme Outlaw Midget Series pairing up with the World of Outlaws Sprint Cars in 2023 at Federated Auto Parts Raceway at I-55 in Pevely, Mo. in April for the Outlaw Showdown and again in August for the Ironman 55 weekend, as well as the creation of a five-day Midget Speedweek.

The Midget Speedweek will immediately follow the Ironman 55 with a swing through Pennsylvania and New York.

Xtreme Outlaw Midget 2023 Schedule

Friday, March 10 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Saturday, March 11 | Southern Illinois Center | Du Quoin, Ill.
Friday, March 31 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.

Saturday, April 1 | Farmer City Raceway | Farmer City, Ill.
Friday, April 14 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Saturday, April 15 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.

Friday, May 5 | Humboldt Speedway | Humboldt, Kan.
Saturday, May 6 | 81 Speedway | Park City, Kan.
Tuesday, May 23 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.
Wednesday, May 24 | Millbridge Speedway | Salisbury, N.C.

Thursday, June 1 | Tri-City Speedway | Pontoon Beach, Ill.
Friday, June 2 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.
Saturday, June 3 | Wayne County Speedway | Wayne City, Ill.

Friday, July 21 | TBA
Saturday, July 22 | Southern Illinois Raceway | Marion, Ill.
Friday, July 28 | TBA
Saturday, July 29 | Atomic Speedway | Chillicothe, Ohio
Sunday, July 30 | Brushcreek Motorsports Complex | Peebles, Ohio

Friday, August 4 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Sat, August 5 | Federated AP Raceway at I-55 | Pevely, Mo.
Tuesday, August 8 | Clyde Martin Memorial Speedway | Newmanstown, Pa.
Wednesday, August 9 | Action Track USA | Kutztown, Pa.
Thursday, August 10 | Linda’s Speedway | Jonestown, Pa.
Friday, August 11 | TBA
Saturday, August 12 | Bridgeport Motorsports Park | Swedesboro, N.J.
Friday, August 25 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa
Saturday, August 26 | Davenport Speedway | Davenport, Iowa

Friday, September 1 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Saturday, September 2 | Paragon Speedway | Paragon, Ind.
Friday, September 15 | Jacksonville Speedway | Jacksonville, Ill.
Saturday, September 16 | Red Hill Raceway | Sumner, Ill.

Friday, October 13 | Port City Raceway | Tulsa, Okla.
Saturday, October 14 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.
Sunday, October 15 | I-44 Riverside Speedway | Oklahoma City, Okla.

* Co-sanctioned with POWRi