Sauber addresses Monaco clash in open letter to fans

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Sauber has written an open letter to its fans following the clash between drivers Marcus Ericsson and Felipe Nasr during last weekend’s Monaco Grand Prix.

Ericsson attempted a risky overtake at La Rascasse after Nasr ignored calls from the team to let his teammate past.

The two drivers collided, ultimately forcing both to retire from the race and leaving Sauber red-faced.

Team principal Monisha Kaltenborn blasted both her drivers, saying they shared blame, but the stewards deemed Ericsson to be responsible and handed him a three-place grid drop for the next race in Canada.

Sauber issued an open letter on its website on Thursday addressing the matter, in which both Ericsson and Nasr agreed such an incident must never happen again.

“So, there has been a lot of talk and speculation about what happened in Monaco this past weekend and we, as a team, understand your frustration… we really do!” the letter read.

“Seeing our two cars in pieces in Rascasse was disappointing, to say the least. And there has also been a lot of blame thrown around between the Felipe and Marcus camps of fans with just as many questions regarding whether the team order should have been given in the first place. We would like to address these concerns.

“What happened is unacceptable. The commentators of German broadcaster RTL put it like this: The crash was Marcus’ fault as he caused it with a risky manoeuvre. And it was Felipe’s responsibility as he should have listened to the team and shouldn’t have closed the door on his teammate.

“We all know football (or soccer, for our American friends). Right, F1 is not football but here’s an analogy which we hope will help to understand our point of view. Can we all agree that in football, what counts is the best possible result for the club… for the team? It doesn’t really matter who scores: as long as the team wins, everyone wins.

“Where does that leave us? Simple. We win together, we lose together.

“Many of you argue that team orders aren’t good for the sport and that we should just let our drivers race freely. We agree, but while this is true most of the time and it is what we do as much as possible, it is imperative to always look at the bigger picture and ask: ‘What is better for the team?’

“Some of you have said that you don’t understand why we even bothered to give a team order running in positions 15 and 16. Well, with every position gained, we are that much closer to points. And even without scoring any points, any higher position in a race can potentially mean keeping the position in the constructors’ championship (or, vice versa, a drop in positions).

“We are all racers. But the team’s overall interest will always be more important than that of any individual.

“Remember the days when team orders were given in secret codes and the fans didn’t have a clue about what was going on? We very much prefer today’s open communication.

“As emotions run high after this incident, it is important to remember that without the team, the drivers couldn’t prove their racing skills and without the drivers, the team wouldn’t be able to compete. Support ‘your’ driver by actually giving him support. Cheer for Felipe, Brazil. Cheer for Marcus, Sweden. But please do so with respect. We are all Formula 1 supporters after all.

“We have analyzed what happened; we have discussed it with Marcus and Felipe, and we all agree that this must never happen again. Everyone at the factory in Hinwil, as well as the drivers, now focus on the next race in Montreal. We’re all looking forward to racing soon again, as a team.

“We’d like to thank all of you who support our team and our drivers. We share your passion and we appreciate your commitment and engagement! And we thank each and every member of this team who is still giving it their very best on a daily basis during these trying times. Sacrificing for a shared dream is what keeps us going.

“Let us close off in team radio lingo: ‘Copy?'”

Cadillac confirms WEC driver lineup with Chip Ganassi Racing that will race Le Mans in 2023

Cadillac Ganassi Le Mans
Cadillac Racing

Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver lineup for a 2023 entry in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the sports car series that includes the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The Cadillac V-LMDh entry will be driven by Earl Bamber and Alex Lynn, who were teamed on the No. 02 Cadillac that competed in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi class this season and won the Twelve Hours of Sebring. The third driver will be Richard Westbrook, who will return to Ganassi after helping the team to a GT class win at Le Mans in 2018.

The team also will compete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the rebranded Grand Touring Prototype premier category, which is designed for crossover between the top prototypes in IMSA and WEC. Ganassi will field a second entry at Daytona with its No. 01 Cadillac that will compete full time in IMSA with Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.

A Ganassi spokesman said the team hopes to run its second entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans but only its WEC team is confirmed (an AOC invitation would be required for the IMSA team). The team also is exploring options but currently plans to have the WEC’s team base of operations in Indianapolis.

Ganassi is the first American-based prototype team to confirm its entry in the 2023 24 Hours of Le Mans. It’s expected that Team Penske, which raced this year’s Le Mans with a full-time WEC entry in LMP2, also will race Le Mans with Porsche’s new LMDh car that is set for IMSA, but the manufacturer has yet to confirm its driver and team lineup.

Next year will mark the return of Cadillac to Le Mans for the first time since 2002.

Before joining Ganassi last year, Lynn made 28 WEC starts since 2016, winning the LMGTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2020.

“I’m absolutely thrilled to continue with Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Lynn said in a release. “It’s a huge honor to drive for Chip in any capacity but certainly on a full factory sports car program, it’s seriously cool. Cadillac has so much heritage as a luxury North American sports car brand, so to be able to represent them is a huge privilege. I’ve had a lot of fun in my first year doing it and to continue that onto the World Endurance Championship stage is fantastic.

“For me, returning to WEC is sort of what I’ve always known and it’s a bit like going into my wheelhouse. This year in IMSA was a bit different with getting to know all-new circuits and a new style of racing so 2023 will be filled with a bit more of what I’m used to with more of a European focus. I think what’s significant about WEC is without a doubt Le Mans. As a sports car race, Le Mans is the crown jewel and everything that we want to win. To be able to take Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac back to Le Mans to fight for overall honors is a huge honor and that’s something that I’m going to work tirelessly to make sure we achieve.”

Bamber won the Le Mans overall in 2015 and ’17 with Porsche teams and also was a 2019 GTLM champion in IMSA.

“I am really happy to continue at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac,” Bamber said in a release. “I’ve loved my first season in DPi and now to continue over into the LMDh era and WEC is super exciting. Looking forward to fighting for a world championship and another Le Mans victory.

“The World Endurance Championships gives us the opportunity to race at the world’s biggest race, which is Le Mans, the crown jewel of sports car racing. I’ve been lucky enough to win it before and it’s obviously a huge goal for Cadillac and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing. To have that goal in sight is really exciting. It’s been great to have Alex as a teammate in 2022. We’ve been able to learn and grow together in the DPi, and we have a really good partnership going into WEC. We know each other really well and believe adding Richard will be a seamless transition.”

Said Westbrook: “After four really good years at Chip Ganassi Racing, I’ve got so many friends there and I’ve always dreamt to come back one day. It just worked so well between 2016 and 2019, and I’m delighted we found a route to come together again. I can’t wait, it’s an exciting era in sports car racing right now.

“I feel like I know Alex and Earl really well. I did Le Mans with Alex in 2020 and I’ve known him for years. It feels like I’m going back with an ex-teammate and exactly the same with Earl. Although I’ve never shared a car with Earl, we’ve always done the same sort of racing be it in WEC or in IMSA. We’ve had lots of battles, including this year in our dueling Cadillacs. We’ve always gotten along quite well, and I can say we’re going to have a great year together.”

The seven-race WEC season, which also includes a stop at Spa, will begin March 17 with the 1,000 Miles of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway in Florida.