Photo: F4/SCCA Pro Racing

F3 Americas series announced; formal launch set for COTA F1 weekend

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The F4 U.S. Championship is racing at Circuit of The Americas in Austin this weekend, along with the FIA World Endurance Championship – the first of two times the junior open-wheel series will do that this year. Kyle Kirkwood has unofficially sealed this year’s championship.

When it does so the second time, in tandem with the FIA Formula 1 World Championship from October 19-22, there will be news of another FIA series getting formally launched – the F3 Americas racing series.

The full release from F4 about F3 is below.

Another step toward alignment with a globally recognized racing development structure will become much clearer on October 19th in Austin, TX, when the details of the new F3 Americas racing series will be announced, featuring an all-new F3-FIA* spec race car.

With the phenomenal growth of the Formula 4 United States Championship Powered by Honda that debuted in 2016, F4 series competitors are looking forward to the next level of open-wheel competition that continues affordability, modern technology, and the ability to obtain FIA Super License points. The F4 U.S. series’ final two races of 2017 will run during the F1 weekend activities at COTA, and the series champion will be invited to attend the Formula 1 Awards banquet.

This new F3 race car will feature an all-new, state-of-the-art, U.S.-designed and built Ligier Crawford chassis, developed by Onroak, and will be powered by a 270-horsepower Honda Performance Development version of the new Honda Civic® Type-R® turbocharged K20 motor (a non-turbocharged version is used in the F4 U.S. Championship). The new F3 Americas series will continue running on proven Pirelli tires developed for this series.

The F3 Americas series aligns with the global FIA development ladder philosophy of using common components to provide a cost-efficient, reliable, and powerful racing structure as drivers ascend through the levels on their way to U.S. or global racing success. The announcement event on October 19th will unveil the F3 car and provide preliminary vehicle specifications, as well as information on vehicle availability and ordering information.

“SCCA Pro Racing’s introduction of an FIA F3 race series is a great opportunity for our partners and SCCA Pro Racing to reset the current paradigm of open wheel racing in North America,” said Steve Oseth, Vice President/General Manager of SCCA Pro Racing. “Its introduction, combined with the steps above and below the F3 series, will work to greatly lower the running costs of open-wheel race cars.”

Art St. Cyr, President, Honda Performance Development, adds: “Our grassroots racing engines have provided the basis for many top-level racers and we’re excited to continue offering the affordable and reliable Honda K20 Type-R engine as part of this series. It also helps to showcase the ability of our grassroots racing programs to support racing skills development, as the competitors progress through higher levels of engine power.”

Max Crawford, General Manager of Onroak Automotive North America, notes that “The F3 race series will feature the next generation of all-new FIA race cars, the Ligier Crawford JS F3, designed and manufactured in the United States, at Onroak Automotive North America’s headquarters in Denver, North Carolina.  The Ligier Crawford JS F3 is the next step up from Onroak Automotive NA’s successful F4 car. The ability to design, manufacture and service the cars in the U.S. has always been part of Onroak Automotive NA’s commitment to the F3 series. The design team in Denver, NC, has worked comprehensively with the FIA on implementing all the requirements for the new generation of F3 cars, and this has enabled us to produce the new car at a level of performance and safety that leads the world.”

Orazio Mastracchio, NAFTA Motorsport Manager for Pirelli NA states: “With more than 100 years of Pirelli motorsport experience and development for the drivers of powerful sports cars, sports coupes and high-performance luxury sedans, we’re excited to be a part of this new F3 series, which directly ties into the learning and success we’ve had at the premier levels of motorsports.”

*Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile

Alexander Rossi remains the story in IndyCar in 2019

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ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. – Alexander Rossi’s greatness was on full display Monday at Road America.

He started on the outside of the front row, drafted behind pole sitter Colton Herta at the drop of the green flag, pulled out a perfectly timed move to race side by side with Herta going into Turn 1.

By Turn 2 of the first lap, Rossi’s No. 27 NAPA Honda was out front and drove away from the field, easily winning the REV Group Grand Prix of Road America by nearly 30 seconds over Team Penske’s Will Power.

Rossi was so good, it appeared he was running on a different race course than the other 23 competitors. There was some outstanding racing throughout the field with 191 total passes, including 175 for position, but none of those passes were at the front.

According to Rossi’s engineer, Jeremy Milles, there was just one thing kept Rossi’s race from being deemed complete perfection.

“It we had stayed out two laps longer on the last pit stop, we would have led every single lap instead of Graham Rahal leading one lap,” Milless told NBC Sports.com. “It’s good to see when we give him a proper car, he puts it to work.

“He’s not like a lot of drivers.”

Rossi led 54 of the 55 laps in the race and defeated Power by 28.4391 seconds – a huge margin of victory by today’s standards. Back in 1982, Hector Rebaque defeated Al Unser by a full lap at the 4.014-mile, 14 Road America road course, but those were far different times than today’s very deep field in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Although it was Rossi’s second victory of the season and the seventh of his career, the 27-year-old from Nevada City, California, has been the driver everyone talks about in 2019. The win snapped a four-race streak where he finished second three times and fifth in the other.

Simon Pagenaud won the 103rdIndianapolis 500 on May 26, but the fans and media were talking about Rossi’s bold, daring moves, including some wildly aggressive passes down the front straight and to the outside in Turn 1.

Rossi had a fantastic car the next week in the first race of the Detroit Grand Prix at Belle Isle but was burned by the timing of a caution period for a crash as his main challenger, Josef Newgarden, dove into the pit area to make a stop just before pit lane closed because of the caution.

Rossi had to wait until the pits were reopened to make his stop, and that put him behind Newgarden and ultimately decided the race.

After a fifth-place finish the following day in Race No. 2, Rossi was once again standing up in his seat and on top of the steering wheel in a tremendous battle with Newgarden at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8. Rossi tried his best to make his car stick on the outside lane going into Turn 1, but when he discovered the risk was much higher than the reward, he had to begrudgingly settle for second, finishing 0.816 seconds behind the current NTT IndyCar Series points leader.

Rossi left no doubt on his Sunday drive through the Wisconsin woods as he never was challenged.

In just three short seasons, Rossi has developed into one of the greatest drivers in a generation in IndyCar. He doesn’t even have 10 victories yet, and he already had the makings of a legend.

“It’s almost like Juan Pablo Montoya, when he arrived as a rookie, he was great immediately,” Rossi’s team owner Michael Andretti told NBCSports.com after the race. “Juan is one of the greats, and I think as time moves on, Alex will prove to be one of the greats.

“He is very aggressive, very calm, very confident, everything you want in a driver. He wasn’t racing anybody all day; he was just racing himself not to make any mistakes.”

For Andretti, this is a very important time in his relationship with Rossi. The driver’s contract concludes at the end of this season, and he is the focal point of speculation on where he will race in 2020.

Before Pagenaud revived his career with a sweep of the major events at Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Month of May, Rossi looked like “Penske Material” as the driver that would take over the No. 22 Chevrolet. After Pagenaud won the Indy 500, team owner Roger Penske assured him he would be back on the team in 2020.

Rossi’s loyalties lie with Honda. Both he and his father, Pieter, share a close relationship with the engine manufacturer that helped the former Formula One test driver at Manor find a full-time home in the NTT IndyCar Series.

Andretti told NBCSports.com on Friday that he was “optimistically confident” that he will re-sign Rossi once a sponsorship agreement with NAPA is completed.

INDYCAR Photo by Chris Jones

Andretti remains confident after Rossi’s win on Sunday.

“We’re getting there,” Andretti said. “I think we’re getting there. We are feeling pretty good about it.”

There are others, however, that aren’t as optimistic.

If Roger Penske wants a driver, who turns down an opportunity like that? After all, Team Penske is far and away the winningest team in IndyCar history, including a record 18 Indy 500 wins.

Think of these scenarios.

What if McLaren makes a substantial offer to align with Andretti Autosport for a full-time NTT IndyCar Series team in the future after McLaren’s debacle in this year’s Indy 500?

In order for that to happen, though, Andretti would have to switch to Chevrolet, because Honda ‘s parent company in Japan will no longer do business with McLaren.

The last time Andretti considered leaving Honda for Chevy, Rossi was set to leave Andretti to join another Honda team, Schmidt-Peterson Motorsports in 2017.

If Andretti Autosports and McLaren joined together, that would also mean the Andretti-aligned Harding Steinbrenner Racing would become a Chevy operation.

Honda could keep Rossi as one of its drivers by leading him to Chip Ganassi Racing. Five-time Cup Series champion Scott Dixon remains on top of his game, but it’s unlikely he will be racing Indy cars 10 years from now.

Barring unforeseen circumstance, Rossi will still be in the cockpit and winning races in a decade, and that would position Ganassi’s team for the future. The team’s second driver is rookie Felix Rosenqvist, who is currently racing with a one-year contract.

Even Rossi knows his situation for next year is complicated, which is why he chooses not to talk about it. He has developed a strong bond with Milless as his engineer and Rob Edwards (white shirt on left) as his race strategist.

Do both of those key members end up on a different team with Rossi? Edwards is a key member of management at Andretti Autosport as the Chief Operating Officer.

Rossi is as cerebral as he is aggressive. After his victory, when pressed upon his next contract, he concluded the conversation perfectly.

“I have no considerations,” Rossi said regarding his contract status. “It’s in God’s hands.”