Brabham sure he is ready for full-time drive in IndyCar

2 Comments

Matthew Brabham feels ready to make the step up to a full-time drive in the Verizon IndyCar Series following successful tests with Andretti Autosport at Iowa and Sonoma in recent weeks.

Brabham was one of a handful of rookie drivers to test at Sonoma on Thursday, sharing the running with regular driver Marco Andretti as part of the Mazda Road to Indy programme for young drivers.

Speaking after the test day, the 21-year-old expressed his enjoyment and belief that he is now ready to make the step up to a full-time drive in IndyCar.

“[I] had an awesome day,” Brabham said. “Driving an IndyCar around Sonoma was a lot more physically demanding than when I last drove at Iowa.

“You really had to muscle the car a lot more, but it was an incredible experience and so much more fun than anything else that I have driven.

“As a team we worked our way through the program which I was scheduled to do, so they were happy. And it was good to be able to ask Marco and Justin [Wilson] questions during the day, that was a big help.

“Speed-wise, it was difficult to really judge as the regular drivers were on different compound tires to the MRTI guys and there was no official timing.

“But it appears unofficially that Piquet and myself were the fastest rookie drivers, and we did almost identical times.

“I want to race one so bad now, and after today I am ready if given the opportunity.”

Brabham has spent 2015 sampling a number of different racing cars after finishing fourth in Indy Lights last year, but remains a firm part of the Andretti Autosport family.

The American-Australian has raced for the marque in Indy Lights and FIA Formula E this year, and will hope that this latest test has put his name in the mix for a possible full-time drive in 2016.

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
1 Comment

SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).