Barcelona F1 Test Paddock Notebook – Thursday

1 Comment

Following on from the first pre-season running in Jerez at the beginning of the month, Formula 1 burst back into life in Barcelona today with the beginning of the penultimate four-day test.

Testing may not be worth much in the grand scheme of things, but as the first race of the year in Australia draws ever closer, it is difficult to not read a little bit more into the results and the pecking order that appears to be shaping up.

That said, the man who topped the timesheets on Thursday was certainly not the one most were expecting. Pastor Maldonado produced a fastest lap of 1:25.011 to displace Kimi Raikkonen at the top of the timesheets with one hour remaining in the day, continuing Lotus’ good start to life with Mercedes engines.

The day was somewhat truncated, with four red flags being shown. Maldonado was responsible for two of them, albeit due to two minor technical problems, whilst Felipe Nasr was involved in the other two incidents. The collision with Susie Wolff was something out of the ordinary, but thankfully both drivers were okay.

Here’s today’s complete Paddock Notebook from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.




So that’s day one of the second test over and done with. Once again, Ferrari finished inside the top two, but it was Pastor Maldonado who ultimately took home the spoils by finishing as the fastest driver. Lotus certainly has made a big step forwards over the winter following its switch to Mercedes power units for the new season, and it comes as little surprise that both drivers are far happier with the E23 Hybrid than its predecessor.

The big talking point on Thursday in Barcelona was the on-track incident involving Sauber’s Felipe Nasr and Williams’ Susie Wolff, which took the entire paddock by surprise. In testing, incidents such as these are unheard of, and with no live TV footage to work from, all we saw at first were two cars left stranded in the gravel.

Both drivers gave their side of the story, and both claimed that they weren’t to blame. The only difference was that Wolff had obtained a video of the accident which showed that Nasr was at fault. Wolff was slowing to let Nasr past, and arguably should have stuck to the inside of the corner. Instead, she was on the outside, but stayed on her line and gave Nasr plenty of room. The Brazilian duked his car to the right at the last moment though, causing the crash.

Wolff hasn’t had much luck when it has come to F1 test sessions, suffering issues in Great Britain and Germany last year. However, she was very positive and mature about the incident, and said that she will get another test session in the coming months, most probably following the Spanish Grand Prix in May.

That aside, it was a very regular day of testing. Toro Rosso’s Max Verstappen put in the highest number of laps en route to sixth place in the final standings, whilst Daniel Ricciardo showed good signs of pace for Red Bull. He was surprised to hear that Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen had gone second on the medium tire, but has every reason to be pleased with his own display.

McLaren had a day to forget, though, as a problem with the MGU-K on Jenson Button’s power unit meant that he could not complete more than 21 laps. The issue is expected to happen once again tomorrow when Fernando Alonso gets behind the wheel of the MP4-30, and it is unlikely that the team will complete any real running until Saturday now.

Finally, spare a thought for Mercedes. Lewis Hamilton could complete just 11 laps on Thursday until he had to stop, having come down with a fever. Nico Rosberg is due to run tomorrow, but he has reportedly hurt a nerve in his neck that could sideline him tomorrow. Either way, the German marque continues to push on and remains the team to beat.

That’s it for day one in Barcelona. Be sure to return to MotorSportsTalk for complete coverage of day two tomorrow.

Will Power shows Flavor Flav what time it is in IndyCar: ‘This is the highlight of the weekend’

Will Power Flavor Flav
Joe Skibinski/Penske Entertainment

DETROIT – When Flavor Flav unexpectedly showed up in Team Penske’s pits for the Chevrolet Detroit Grand Prix weekend, Will Power knew what time it was.

So the defending NTT IndyCar Series champion dropped it on the man who made oversized clocks as fashion accessories famous.

And he used the kind of wordplay that was the pride of Public Enemy (the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame rap group led by Chuck D with Flavor Flav as loyal sidekick).

“I said to Flavor Flav, ‘You know, people today are going to have to ‘Fight the Power,’ ” Power said with a broad smirk, referencing one of Public Enemy’s most memorable and strident anthems. “And it was true! They had to ‘Fight the Power.’ ”

With a second place in Detroit, the No. 12 Dallara-Chevy driver earned his best finish since last September and impressed a musical hero who apparently attended his first IndyCar race this weekend and promptly fell in love with the sport.

After being interviewed by NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee during the Peacock qualifying broadcast Saturday, Flavor Flav made the rounds. He met with Roger Penske in Team Penske’s at-track headquarters and also ran into Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (who was at the track Saturday).

“I have a great picture of Roger Penske, the governor and Flavor Flav,” Detroit Grand Prix chairman Bud Denker said. “It’s a great one. I’ll cherish that one for a long time. It’s pretty precious.”

With the Detroit GP holding nightly free concerts in Hart Plaza inside the race course, Flav made an impromptu appearance to freestyle at Big Boi’s show Friday before also showing up during Steve Aoki’s Saturday night set.

He then rode with Power and his wife, Liz, in a pickup truck around the 1.645-mile street course during driver introductions Sunday morning.

Flav was wearing a red No. 12 Will Power shirt that the defending series champion believes was purchased at a track merchandise trailer.

“That is the highlight of the weekend,” he said. “Flavor Flav was wearing my shirt, man.”

It was a dream come true for the two-time IndyCar champion and 2018 Indy 500 winner. Power, 42, grew up listening to Public Enemy with his buddies in Toowoomba, Australia, and they went nuts when he posted photos with Flavor Flav to his personal Facebook page.

“My friends are like, ‘Dude, you should just quit racing now. You have made it to the top,’ ” Power said. “We all listened to Public Enemy, and they would never believe that I actually would be hanging out with Flavor Flav. That is nuts. I’ll have to go Vegas to hang out with him. Maybe we’ll do a rap together.”

“Yeeaaah, boy!” third-place finisher Felix Rosenqvist, who apparently gave “It Takes a Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back” a few spins while growing up in Sweden, chimed in during the postrace news conference.

The only disappointment for Power was coming up 1.1843 seconds short of beating Alex Palou.

Flav had promised to celebrate on the podium if Power had won the race.

“He is the most positive dude you will ever meet,” Power said. “Pretty cool experience. Pretty cool to put it on your personal Facebook.

“All your friends that you went to school with, they’re like, ‘Man this dude is big-time, he’s hanging out with Flavor Flav. ‘I sat next to Ice-T at dinner. I have also had dinner with Slash from Guns N’ Roses. I wish I got videos of those ones as well so I could put it on the personal Facebook

“No one cares about race cars or that I won the Indy 500. It’s like, ‘You had dinner with Slash? You know Flavor Flav?’ Yeah!”

Power already has in mind some future musical guests he’d like to meet, starting with another of Detroit’s own.

“I’m more of a ’90s rap guy, but if I met Eminem, that would also be epic,” Power said. “Ice Cube’s the one, man. If I could meet Ice Cube or Snoop Dogg in Long Beach. Why doesn’t someone bring them to Long Beach? Maybe they should have an Ice Cube day. That would be dope.”