Mercedes and Williams unveil 2015 cars as F1 testing begins

0 Comments

Formula 1 2015 has burst into life with the start of the first pre-season test in Jerez today, giving the drivers and the teams their first taste of the cars for the coming season.

Ahead of the start of on-track running, defending world champions Mercedes lifted the covers off the new W06 Hybrid that follows in the footsteps of one of the most dominant cars in the history of F1, the W05.

The team had already released some spy shots and a short video profiling the car, but as the sun came up in Jerez, the media got its first real look at the new challenger as defending world champion Lewis Hamilton and teammate Nico Rosberg lifted the covers off the W06 Hybrid.

The new car features a reprofiled nose design and new sidepods, but is otherwise an evolution of the successful W05 design that took Mercedes to both world titles in 2014.

“The launch of a new car is an exciting moment for everybody involved,” team boss Toto Wolff said. “To see the product of all that hard work turn a wheel for the first time is a great source of pride – and rightly so.

“However, there is a long road ahead before we reach the first race. We must build a fast, reliable racing car to be able to compete with rivals whose ability and competitiveness can never be underestimated. At this point, every team is on zero points.

“The only thing we know for sure is that we have consistency in our driver line-up for the third year running and they know what’s expected of them, just as we know what they expect from us. We’re looking forward to seeing them push each other and the team forward. It will be another fascinating battle between the two, but we must wait until Melbourne until we know if we have provided them with a car that allows them to fight each other for wins.”

Following in Mercedes’ footsteps, Williams unveiled its new car in public for the first time before heading out on track just 30 minutes later.

The FW37 features a revised nose once again but breaks the trend of the flat, rounded designs that most of the other teams are sporting. Instead, a small protrusion – rather like a nose – extends from the front of the car.

“After such a strong season in 2014 we are looking to continue the move back towards the front of the grid,” team owner Sir Frank Williams said. “The move from ninth to third was a tough challenge, but ultimately every step up from now on will be even harder. I am confident that we have the appropriate personnel and talent in this team to make those steps.

“We have an experienced driver line-up, with both drivers finishing on the podium throughout last year and hungry for more success in 2015, new commercial partners to add to the continued support from our already impressive roster, and have a technical team that is amongst the best on the grid.”

After successful 2014 campaigns, both Williams and Mercedes will be hoping to hit the ground running in Jerez and start as they mean to go on in 2015.

Jack Miller wins MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his points slide

0 Comments

Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.