Photo: Getty Images

Formula 1: Recapping the past week’s news

Leave a comment

Despite being an off week, in that there is no race this weekend, the week in between the Spanish Grand Prix and the Monaco Grand Prix has been quite busy for the FIA Formula 1 World Championship, with more testing following the Spanish Grand Prix and a couple teams and drivers experiencing fallout from last weekend’s race.

A recap of news from this past week is below.

Bottas Tops Final Day of Testing in Barcelona

MONTMELO, SPAIN – MAY 12: Valtteri Bottas driving the (77) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 on track during final practice for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 12, 2018 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

While Max Verstappen topped the first day of testing on Tuesday, it was Valterri Bottas who led the way in Day 2 on Wednesday.

However, Day 2 also featured a number of F1 hopefuls, as a result of a rule stating that two in-season test days must feature drivers with fewer than three Grand Prix starts.

For example, Antonio Giovinazzi – who had two starts with Alfa Romeo Sauber last year – was second fastest for Scuderia Ferrari, and Lando Norris was third fastest for McLaren F1 Team.

Nikita Mazepin and Nicholas Latifi (Sahara Force India), Jack Aitken (Renault Sport F1 Team), Jake Dennis (Red Bull Racing), and Sean Geleal (Scuderia Toro Ross) were other F1 hopefuls to take part.

Results from Wednesday’s test are below.

FIA Bans Ferrari’s Halo Mirrors

MONTMELO, SPAIN – MAY 13: Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track during the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 13, 2018 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

Scuderia Ferrari made waves at the Spanish Grand Prix by putting mirrors on the Halo that surrounds the driver’s head.

However, while they were within their right to do so – the FIA declared such a move legal ahead of the Azerbaijan Grand Prix – the FIA banned their mirror design, disapproving of the way they manipulated the aerodyamics.

The FIA has since subsequently clarified its stance on Halo-mounted mirrors.

“Whilst the FIA accepts that teams will legitimately design the mirrors, housings and mountings to minimise any negative aerodynamic effects they may cause, we believe that any aerodynamic benefits should be incidental, or at least minimal,” the organization declared in a statement.

They further detailed specifics about how mirrors should be mounted if placed on the Halo – specifically noting they should be placed on the “lower and/or inboard surface(s) of the mirror housing” – and asserted that the impact they should have on the overall aerodynamics of the chassis should be minimal.

Grosjean Gets Grid Penalty for Monaco

MONTMELO, SPAIN – MAY 11: Romain Grosjean of France and Haas F1 climbs from his car after spinning during practice for the Spanish Formula One Grand Prix at Circuit de Catalunya on May 11, 2018 in Montmelo, Spain. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

For his role in the Lap 1 crash that also took out Nico Hulkenberg and Pierre Gasly, Romain Grosjean will be penalized three places on the starting grid at the Monaco Grand Prix.

An investigation, the results of which are detailed in an article on BBC Sport’s website, revealed that Grosjean knowingly allowed his spinning VF-18 chassis to spin back across the track rather than lock down the brakes to keep it off line.

The verdict is quoted as detailing, “The stewards found that while it is speculation as to where the driver’s car would have ended up had he chosen other alternatives, it is certain that while crossing the track in front of the following pack of cars, which he chose to do, that a collision occurred.”

Follow@KyleMLavigne

 

Rahal determined to regain winning touch in 2019 IndyCar season

Photo by Shawn Gritzmacher, INDYCAR
INDYCAR
Leave a comment

AUSTIN, Texas – Graham Rahal entered the room with a smile on his face and a chip on his shoulder.

It was IndyCar “Media Day” and Rahal wasn’t happy with the way last season went at Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. He was less happy with the fact some aren’t considering him a serious threat in 2019. He playfully chided with one media outlet for failing to mention his team as one to watch in 2019.

“We use that as motivation to show everybody how we are viewed,” Rahal said. “We are here to win.”

Rahal just turned 30 in January but is entering his 13thseason in big-time Indy car racing. He entered the 2007 Champ Car Series season when he was just 17. He missed his high school prom because he was racing at Houston.

“That was the luckiest day of my life,” Rahal said. “I didn’t have to go to the prom. It doesn’t get any better than that.

“Plus, I got my second career podium that weekend.”

Rahal drove to victory in his very first race in the combined IndyCar Series in the 2008 Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg. He was hailed as the “Poster Boy of Unification” and a future star. What followed was a seven-year drought before he captured his second-career win in a thrilling race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.

He won two races in 2015, one in 2016 and two in 2017. He was expected to contend for victories and possibly the championship last year but struggled through a disappointing season and finished eighth in the standings.

“I’m looking forward for chance this year,” Rahal said. “Last year was a tough one for me and for the team. I’m looking forward to what my new engineer, Allen McDonald, has done so far. He is an accomplished engineer and brings a different mindset to our program this year from what we had last year. He and (fellow engineer) Eddie Jones are very close friends and that will help us from the standpoint they are on the same page.

“We needed a bit of life brought back to the team.”

Rahal believes his challenges are to get everything in order before the season starts. The team has defined the areas where it was lacking in 2019. The team needed to improve in research and development after starting behind last season.

“I’m excited for what I see, and I know in the end it will all pay off,” Rahal said. “It’s just a matter of when.

“There is a lot to be excited about for us. We are in a great position as a team. We have great sponsorship and that will allow us to push forward and do the things we need to do.”

Rahal believes at 30, he has a long time ahead of him to win races and championships and maybe even the Indianapolis 500. In order to reach those goals, however, Rahal’s team needs to regain the competitive level he displayed prior to last year.

“We’ve been fortunate to win six times,” Rahal said. “A lot of people come into this sport and never win. I fully recognize there is no reason we can’t win a lot. I don’t care what anybody writes, what anybody thinks – I really feel that when it comes to race day, we perform better than 99 percent of the other people out there.

“As a team and for myself, we have to qualify better. If we can qualify better, we’ll be a thorn in everybody’s side. We know the rear of our cars just aren’t good enough. When we need to find that extra tenth or two, it’s just not there but absolutely, we want to win.

“I don’t come here year after year to just drive around. Our sponsors don’t invest in us year after year to not see us win. We feel that. But our cars aren’t good enough and we know that.”

Rahal believes the team has identified the problems with the setup of its car. It has a deep engineering staff but hasn’t had a chance to develop the damper program and other important areas that provide a competition setup.

Takuma Sato, the winner of the 101stIndianapolis 500 when he was with Andretti Autosport, scored the team’s only victory in 2018 with a win in the Portland Grand Prix. The two are back this year and have built a respect for each other.

“He’s a good guy,” Rahal said of Sato. “Other than Helio Castroneves, Takuma is probably the happiest man on the planet. He’s a great guy and fits in well with our organization. We pride ourselves on being a family and he fits in extremely well to that.

“We need to do a better job for him as a team. He won a race last year, but we can both do better to win with both cars.

“The Andretti cars are the best right now and the Penske cars will be good. We have a lot of space to close up on those two teams but hopefully, we can do it.”