Sage Karam joins F Performance Racing’s new Lexus program in IMSA

© AP
0 Comments

Sage Karam will race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with F Performance Racing this season following the team’s announcement of a partnership with Japanese manufacturer Lexus.

Karam spent much of 2015 racing for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series, claiming one podium finish at Iowa and establishing himself as the championship’s new ‘black hat’.

However, Ganassi released Karam from his contract at the end of December, prompting the American to claim a drive with the Dreyer and Reinbold team for the 2016 Indianapolis 500.

In a statement issued on Friday, Karam confirmed his plans for the forthcoming year, joining forces with F Performance Racing and Lexus.

“Lexus and their F Performance Racing group have reached an agreement with the International Motor Sports Association to campaign the RC F GT3 in the IMSA Weather Tech SportsCar Championship,” a statement reads.

“The agreement gives the Japanese Luxury automaker a presence in GT Daytona (GTD) class the race series through the 2018 season.”

Karam was delighted to confirm his move to Lexus, where he will be joined by veteran sportscar racer Scott Pruett. The two have previously raced together in IMSA events at Daytona and Sebring.

“I’m really excited to be a part of the F Performance Team, it’s a great opportunity for me,” Karam said. “I have worked alongside Scott Pruett for a few years so we have a good relationship and I’m really looking forward to driving alongside him. We like to work with each other and we push each other to each other’s limits.”

“We have had our eye on Sage for some time,” F Performance Racing managing partner Paul Gentilozzi added. “His experience in IMSA events with Scott at Daytona and Sebring showed us great maturity.

“Our program is a building experience, and having Scott Pruett as a teammate/mentor is really a priceless commodity. I am sure Sage will fit in with our group and help us get a first victory for Lexus and F Performance Racing.”

Technical director John Gentilozzi confirmed that the team is still developing its car and testing ahead of hitting the grid later this year.

“The program is too new [to do the full season],” Gentilozzi said. “We have every intention to race hard, and every intention to win.

“Right now we’re going through extensive testing and engineering analysis, we hope to be racing as soon as possible.”

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
0 Comments

Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.