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Formula 1: Recapping the past week’s news

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News out of the FIA Formula 1 World Championship from this past week revolves exclusively around pre-season testing, which wrapped up on Friday. The next time Formula 1’s drivers and teams will get together as a group, it will be for the season-opening Australian Grand Prix (March 23-25).

A look at single-lap speeds from this past week saw Scuderia Ferrari lead the way most often, with Sebastian Vettel quickest on Tuesday and Thursday, while Kimi Raikkonen was quickest on Friday. Red Bull Racing also spent some time at the top of the time sheets, with Daniel Ricciardo setting the quick time on Wednesday.

Conspicuous in their absence at the very top of the speed charts was Mercedes AMG Petronas, with neither Lewis Hamilton nor Valtteri Bottas turning the quick lap of any day from the past week.

However, that may have been by design. A look at the time charts indicates that neither driver turned his best lap of any day this week on the new hyper soft Pirelli tires. With those now the softest tire compound available, they would be the tires used to set the quickest lap times.

However, while others used the new “hypers” to set an ultimate lap time, that did not seem to fit into the Mercedes game plan. In particular, Thursday and Friday saw them focus on long-run pace almost exclusively. This is also reflected in the total laps they turned, as the team crossed the 1,000-lap mark on Friday.

The overall feeling is that Mercedes remains the team to beat, with both Ferrari and Red Bull vying for next in line in the pecking order. Sahara Force India and Renault Sport F1 Team have also looked strong at various points, and may do battle for “best of the rest” behind Mercedes, Ferrari, and Red Bull. Haas F1 Team also showed speed at various times during the week, again putting them squarely in the mid-field mix.

The team that seemed to generate the most intrigue is McLaren F1 Team. While they made a power unit change in switching to Renault from Honda – after three problematic seasons plagued by reliability and power issues – the team struggled with reliability for much of the week, with both Fernando Alonso and Stoffel Vandoorne suffering a range of mechanical problems.

While the McLaren-Renault package seems to have speed, reliability remains a question mark.

Alfa Romeo Sauber and Williams Martini Racing were the teams that seemed to languish near the bottom in terms of outright speed – a Williams driver turned in the slowest lap each day during Week 2 of testing, with Sauber not far ahead of them.

As a result, Williams and Sauber might be the bottom two teams in the pecking order, and may need to rely on problems from other teams in order to contend for finishes in the points.

Testing recaps from this week are linked as follows: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday.



Andretti United team names drivers for inaugural Extreme E season

Extreme E drivers Andretti
Extreme E
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The Extreme E team formed by Andretti Autosport and United Autosports named Catie Munnings and Timmy Hansen as its drivers Monday for the series’ inaugural 2021 season.

Munnings is a successful veteran of rally series. Hansen is a past winner and champion in the World Rallycross Championship.

They both will race in the environmentally conscious electric SUV series that will hold events in five areas around the world that are threatened by climate change. Chip Ganassi Racing and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton also are fielding cars in Extreme E, which will feature male and female co-drivers on every team.

Catie Munnings

“I’m so excited to join Andretti United Extreme E,” Munnings said in a release. ““I was really intrigued when I first heard about Extreme E, I just knew I had to be involved. The male / female racing partnership is a fantastic and exciting new concept. The season has incredible locations and the racing will be very exciting. It will be a new challenge for the teams and drivers, and I’m so thrilled to be working with such a strong team.

“The championship is a really innovative concept, it’s combining motorsport and science and will produce an important legacy in each race location. Bringing the platform that motorsport has in line with the awareness that the planet needs right now is awesome and a really important message.”

Timmy Hansen

Said Hansen: “Going into the Extreme E will be a new chapter in my career, one that I am extremely excited about. It is something brand new, not only for me, but the whole of motorsport. The format is something

we’ve never seen before. I’m also delighted to be able to carry the message of something bigger – talking about the environment and doing something good for the world – that’s something that really drives me. It’s going to be a big adventure in life to see these locations and I’m going to do my best in carrying this responsibility and hopefully making people aware of the challenges we have in the world, together with our passion for racing.”