F1: Recapping the past week’s news

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Formula 1 has a week off after three consecutive races between the French Grand Prix, the Austrian Grand Prix, and the British Grand Prix.

However, that doesn’t exactly mean things have gone quiet. One big team announced a shakeup in its technical team, and a young F1 hopeful may be seeing the door close after a meltdown at Silverstone.

Major news stories to emerge this week are below.

Mercedes Details Changes to Technical Staff

Four-time defending constructor’s champions Mercedes are set to have a new look to their technical staff, beginning next year.

Current engineering director Aldo Costa will be departing the team at the end of the season to take a sabbatical, and Mark Ellis, the team’s performance director, will also be retiring from his role next year.

Current chief designer John Owen will move into Costa’s role as engineering director, with Loic Serra, current chief vehicle dynamicist, will move into the role of performance director in the wake of Ellis’ departure.

Team principal Toto Wolff, in a story posted on Formula 1’s website, said of the changes, “This is a significant moment for our team and a great opportunity. We have said many times that you cannot freeze a successful organization.”

Wolff added, “It is a dynamic structure and I am proud that we are able to hand the baton smoothly to the next generation of leaders inside the team. We have been in discussion for many months with both Mark and Aldo about how best to implement this transition and to empower their successors.”

Ferrucci’s Career in Doubts After Silverstone Meltdown

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Santino Ferrucci of the USA prepares to drive the Haas F1 Team Haas-Ferrari VF-16 Ferrari 059/5 turbo on track during during F1 testing at Silverstone Circuit on July 12, 2016 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Haas F1 junior driver, and young American F1 hopeful, Santino Ferrucci now faces an uncertain future following a problematic weekend at Silverstone that saw him have multiple run-ins with Arjun Maini, his Formula 2 teammate with Trident. Most notably, Ferrucci, unhappy with how he felt Maini was racing him, intentionally drove into him on the cool down lap in Sunday’s sprint race.

The team and drivers were summoned to the stewards’ office afterward to discuss the incident, but Ferrucci elected not to attend the meeting. He was ultimately fined over $70,000 U.S. dollars and given a two-race suspension for the incident and skipping out on the meeting.

Perhaps more damning, Trident has publicly voiced its support of Maini, as evidenced in the below tweets from the team’s twitter page.

Another bizarre twist surfaced following the weekend, when, in a story posted on Crash.net, it surfaced that Ferrucci and his family reportedly tried to run the political slogan “Make America Great Again,” made famous by current President Donald Trump, on his Trident entry.

Political references, ads, and slogans of any kind are not allowed in Formula 2, though Ferrucci and his family were persistent in their request, resulting in a letter being sent to them from the FIA further detailing that political advertisements and/or references of any kind are forbidden. More details can be found in the aforementioned Crash.net report.

Ferrucci did issue an apology afterward (see below), but has since been criticized for, among other things, highlighting his age and ethnic heritage as possible reasons for his actions.

As of writing, no update is available about his current role as a junior driver with Haas. Still, with his relationship with Trident now in shambles and a reputation that has taken a beating this week, Ferrucci’s budding career may now be in jeopardy.

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Heather Lyne, Dennis Erb Jr. make history in the World of Outlaws Late Model Series

Lyne Erb Outlaws Late
Jacy Norgaard / World of Outlaws
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More than two decades in the making, the pairing of Heather Lyne and Dennis Erb Jr. produced a historical milestone in Dirt Late Model.

Last month, Erb and his long-time crew chief Lyne won their first World of Outlaws Late Model Championship and with this achievement, Lyne became the first female crew chief to win in a national late model series. Their journey together goes back 21 years and tells the story of hard work, persistence and belief in oneself.

After a career-best season with the World of Outlaws, Erb and Lyne secured the points championship at US 36 Raceway in Osborn, Mo. with three races remaining in the season. The consistency and success of their season came down to pinpoint focus. Lyne and Erb are a team of two living out a David vs. Goliath tale. In order to be as successful as possible this year the duo knew they had to do as much as possible with the resources they had.

“It’s always a challenge when you only have two people, both at the racetrack and at the shop,” Lyne told NBC Sports. “I also work full time, so during the day, Dennis has to do a significant amount of work so that when I get down there I can start working and maintaining. It’s planning ahead. It’s having that system in place and making sure that you’re prepared ahead of time.

“When you have a problem at the track, making sure you have all that stuff ready so it’s a quick change and not a lengthy process to make a repair. We had zero DNFs in the World of Outlaws, we had only one DNF out of 96 races [combined among all series].”

Dennis Erb clinched his 2022 championship before the World of Outlaws World Finals. Jacy Norgaard – World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Taming Time

This was not an easy feat. Between a full travel schedule and Lyne’s full-time job as an engineer, time comes at a premium. What they lack in time and resources they made up for in patience and planning.

“We buckled down, and we got all the equipment that we needed back, motors freshened, and things of that nature,” Lyne said about the mid-point of last season. “We were able to keep up with that. We just had a higher focus. I tried to reduce my hours at my day job as much as I possibly could while still maintaining what I need to get done at work. I got rid of a lot of the other distractions and got a more refined system in place at the shop.

“We did certain tasks on certain days so we had time to recover. We were on the road a little bit more, as opposed to coming home to the shop. So we had to be more prepared to stay out on those longer runs. It was just really staying on top of things a little more. It was a heightened sense.”

This was Lyne and Erb’s fourth full season with the Outlaws, but they’ve been on the road together for the last 21 seasons starting in 2001. Their partnership began with Lyne’s bravery. When one door closed, she was quick to open another. In 2001, Lyne’s dad was ready to stop racing. Her mother wanted to regain her weekends, but Lyne knew this was her life path and wasn’t prepared to lose it.

“I’ve always been a tomboy at heart,” Lyne said. “I watched racing with my dad. Growing up he watched NASCAR. In high school, I got tired of playing at the lake house, so I went to the local dirt track and fell in love with it. I just couldn’t get enough. It took a year for me to convince my dad to come to the track with me. He finally did and we sponsored a car that year, the following year he started to race limited cars. He ran hobby stocks and limited late models.”

At some point, Lyne and her father’s level of commitment drifted apart.

“He did it for about five years,” Lyne said. “And then my mom said: ‘I’m done racing. I want my weekends back. It’s just not fun anymore.’ I wasn’t ready to hang up my wenches and Dennis raced out of the same hometown so I, on a dare, went down and introduced myself; told him if you ever need any help, I’ll drill out rivets, I’ll help wash, whatever you need. Twenty-one years later here I am.”

Heather Lyne became the first female crew chief to secure a national touring late model championship in 2022. Paul Arch / World of Outlaws Late Model Series.

Breaking Through

Lyne entered a male-dominated job in a field that is also male-dominated – and where there were few examples of women creating these places for themselves. In this way, Lyne became a blueprint for other women as they strive to find a place for themselves in racing and in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) overall. She has her mother to thank for providing a strong role model, her father for sharing her passion, Erb for taking a chance on an unknow entity and most importantly herself.

“I was raised to believe that I can do anything, I want to do, as long as I put my heart and soul into it.” Lyne replied when asked about role models in the sport growing up. “My parents did not raise me to have that limitation. But from a racing role model perspective, I went in there completely green and just introduced myself to Dennis, the fact that he was brave enough to take that risk and bring a girl to the racetrack. Someone he didn’t know at all speaks volumes for him.”

Lyne and Erb have learned how to survive and succeed with each other on the road. They do this by leveraging decades of combined experience and an ability to adapt to the everchanging landscape of dirt late models. Next year the World of Outlaws visits nearly a dozen new tracks and Lyne sees it as an opportunity for continued success.

“I just want to do it again,” Lyne says going into next season, “I’m looking forward to the competition, I always do. I wouldn’t do it if I wasn’t competitively driven.

“There are some new tracks on the schedule that I’m looking forward to trying for the first time that I haven’t been to myself,” Lyne said of the 2023 season, “Dennis seems to do well on those first timers. We won out at Marion center, we finished second at Bloomsburg. We have a good solid notebook of information to tackle them over the last three years with these rocket race cars that we’re running. It’s good to have that information and leverage it to try some new things.”