Ferrari technical director believes title talk is “not realistic”


Scuderia Ferrari technical director James Allison believes that talk of the Italian marque mounting a challenge for the constructors’ championship is “not realistic” in spite of Sebastian Vettel’s victory at the Malaysian Grand Prix two weeks ago.

Vettel clinched Ferrari’s first win in almost two years at the end of last month, beating the Mercedes duo of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg firmly and fairly on track.

The result came as a shock to the F1 community, which had previously deemed Mercedes to be unbeatable without some kind of divine intervention such as reliability woes or rain.

In practice for the Chinese Grand Prix on Friday, Ferrari continued to impress by producing a long-run pace that was within a few tenths of Mercedes’ efforts whilst enjoying greater durability with its tires.

However, Allison believes that those hoping for a Ferrari championship bid in 2015 are likely to be disappointed as the team sticks to its pre-season target of two wins.

“I think that we’re up against a car, in Mercedes, and others too, that are strong competition,” Allison said. “But Mercedes in particular, they have a bit more horsepower than us and a bit more downforce than us and until we’ve closed those two gaps it’s not realistic to talk about title challenges.

“Our objectives were set out at the beginning of the year, we thought it was realistic to score a couple of wins and of course we’ll take whatever comes our way and we’ll do our best to make our car close up as much as we can.

“Who knows what after that during the course of the year, but I think that sticking with the objectives we stated at the beginning of this year is still realistic.”

You can see how Ferrari get on in qualifying for the Chinese Grand Prix on NBCSN and Live Extra from 3a ET on Saturday.

NTT re-signs as IndyCar title sponsor in multiyear deal starting with the 2024 season

James Black/Penske Entertainment

The IndyCar Series has re-signed NTT as its title sponsor in a multiyear agreement starting in 2024.

NTT, a global information technology and communications company based in Japan, became the series’ title sponsor before the 2019 season after starting as a sponsor of the No. 10 Dallara-Honda for Chip Ganassi Racing.

NTT Data (a subsidiary of parent company Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp.) will remain the official technology partner of IndyCar, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, the Indy 500 and the NASCAR Brickyard weekend.

With the extension, an IndyCar spokesman said NTT would become the second-longest title sponsor in series history. The longest title sponsor was PPG from 1980-97 (under the CART sanction of the Champ Car Series).

NTT replaced Verizon, which was IndyCar’s title sponsor from 2014-18 after IZOD from 2010-13.

“NTT is an excellent partner across our enterprise with strong expertise and a deep commitment to our sport,” Penske Corp. chairman and IndyCar owner Roger Penske said in a release. “From Smart Venue technology at the Racing Capital of the World to the reimagined Series mobile application, NTT is transforming the fan experience in new and innovative ways. We look forward to a bright future together.”

NTT has used artificial intelligence-enabled optical detection technology at IMS to provide information to the track’s operations and security teams, helping improve fan traffic flow and safety, the track said.

“IndyCar is a great partner for NTT Data because of our shared commitment to driving innovation, increasing sustainability and delivering amazing experiences,” NTT Data CEO Kaz Nishihata said in a release. “We also appreciate how IndyCar is so diverse, with drivers from 15 different countries, and races that range from short ovals and superspeedways to road and street courses. It’s both an incredible sport and a wonderful example for our world.”

NTT also has been instrumental in helping redesign the IndyCar app and providing more race and driver data for use in NBC Sports’ broadcasts by utilizing 140 data points from every car in the field.

“NTT is fully invested in the development and growth of our sport and has already established a terrific track record in our industry with problem-solving capabilities and access to top talent and tools,” Penske Entertainment president and CEO Mark Miles said.

Said NTT Data Services CEO Bob Pryor: “We’re thrilled to continue our collaborations that enhance and expand the fan experience for motorsports and serve as proof points for data analytics, AI, and other innovative digital technologies. For more than a century, this racing series has pioneered innovations making driving safer for everyone, and by continuing this relationship, we will accelerate the pace of innovations and new technologies, particularly related to sustainability that ultimately can benefit organizations, communities and individuals around the world.”

Starting as a Japanese telephone company, NTT grew into a $100 billion-plus tech services giant with U.S. operations based in Plano, Texas.