Formula One|Why Pierre Gasly is a perfect fit for Toro Rosso in 2018

Above: 21-year-old Pierre Gasly will be hoping his opportunity in Formula One arrives sooner rather than later|Image: Formula 2

When Scuderia Toro Rosso announced that Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Saniz Jr. would remain with the team for the 2017 season, some were surprised by the decision. 

These people believed that the newly crowned GP2 Champion, Pierre Gasly, had demonstrated his worth and should’ve been promoted into Red Bull’s junior team.

The Frenchman claimed four wins in 2016 and pulled off a memorable overtake on Sergey Sirotkin at Eau Rouge in the Belgian round at Spa-Francorchamps, en-route to securing the title ahead of Antonio Giovanazzi by eight points.

Pierre Gasly pictured during his sucessful 2016 GP2 Campaign|Image: Autosport

Having been unable to find a way onto the Formula One grid, Gasly rejected the idea of a year on the sidelines and followed in the footsteps of 2015 GP2 champion Stoffel Vandoorne in joining the Super Formula Championship.

Racing for Team Mugen, Gasly has impressed so far and currently eighth in the drivers’ standings ahead of this weekend’s race at Motegi, with a best finish of fifth last time out in Fuji.

Gasly has been keeping himself race fit in the Japan-based Super Formula Championship in 2017|Image: Red Bull

It is also worth noting that Toro Rosso have been linked with a deal to use Honda engines from the 2018 season. 

Should this deal go through, signing Gasly would be benefitical for the team, as he is already developing a relationship with Honda’s engineers in the Japan-based series.

He also made a brief appearance in the FIA Formula E Championship for Renault e.Dams, where he replaced Sebastien Buemi for the Brooklyn ePrix, who had an existing commitment with Toyota in the FIA World Endurance Championship. 

Over the course of that weekend, he easily outperformed the experienced Nico Prost and finished seventh and fourth across the two races, demonstrating his ability to quickly adapt to a new car.

Gasly’s Renault e.Dams is wheeled across the pit lane by team personnel during the Brooklyn ePrix weekend|Image: Benjamin Schneider (Bcschneider53) via Wikipedia

On top of this, Gasly is Red Bull’s current reserve driver and drove for the team on day two of the Formula One test at the Hungaroring, competing 107 laps across the day with a best time of 1:20.337.

In contrast, Kvyat’s place in the team has been questioned after experiencing a rapid decline in form after being demoted before last year’s Spanish Grand Prix, and has only achieved five top ten finishes; in contrast, Sainz has picked up 13.

Furthermore, the Russian driver currently has seven penalty points on his FIA Super Licence for his involvement his collisions with others drivers over the last 12 months.

Sainz’s future has also been questioned after he was quoted as saying staying with Toro Rosso in 2018 would be ‘unlikely’. 

Both Daniil Kvyat and Carlos Sainz Jr. have doubts over their repsective careers with the Red Bull Junior Programme|Image: Sky Sports

This led to questions regarding his loyalty from the Red Bull hieracy and although it is believed they’ve taken up their option to keep him for next season, the Spaniard remains on Renault’s radar. 

The relationship between them has also been strained after Kvyat questioned whether he wanted Sainz as a team-mate after the Canadian Grand Prix as they conflcited over their slipstreaming strategy.

This was then strained further after the pair avoided a first lap crash on the opening lap at the Azerbaijan Grand Prix, in which Sainz was forced to take evasive action on the exit of Turn 1 as Kvyat went passed on the outisde of the corner.

Taking into account, the idea Gasly joining Toro Rosso next year is a no-brainer. However, with a new generation of drivers joining the Red Bull Driver Programme – most notably Niko Kari in the GP3 Series – time is slowly beginning to run out will be and Gasly will be hoping his chance comes sooner, rather than later.

2017 Super Formula Championship Preview – Twin Ring Motegi

Round Four of the Super Formula Championship will be taking place at the Twin Ring Motegi Road Course, with the track celebrating its 20th Anniversary this year.

Hiroaki Ishiura (P.mu/cerumoINGING) currently leads the drivers’ championship ahead of André Lotterer (Vantelin Team TOM’s) having inherited the race win last time out in Fuji following the retirement of his team-mate and defending champion Yuji Kunimoto.

Further down the field, series rookies Pierre Gasly (Team Mugen) and Felix Rosenqvist (SUNOCO Team Le Mans) will be looking to build upon their best finishes of the year in Fuji and sustain a challenge at the front.

The track has a reputation of putting the car’s brakes under much scrutiny and the circuit layout provides drivers with minimal overtaking opportunities. As a result, the race organisers and Yokohama will provide the teams with two tyre compounds to use during the race to make the competition more exciting and unpredictable.

In last year’s race, Yuhi Sekiguchi (Itochu Enex Team Impul) was victorious ahead of Lotterer and Ishiura in a race which relied heavily on the team’s decision making in which tyre compound to start the race on.

Qualifying coverage starts on Saturday at 2pm local time (6am BST) before the race coverage on Sunday at 1:40pm local time (5:40am BST), with the latter being streamed live on motorsport.tv (subscription required). 

Toyota in the FIA World Endurance Championship – Should They Stay or Should They Go?

Toyota’s LMP1 cars pictured at the 2016 6 Hours of Silverstone|Image: Toyota Motorsport via Sportscar365

Last month, Porsche announced that they would be quitting the FIA World Endurance Championship to focus on the FIA Formula E Championship ahead of the 2018/19 season.

This follows last year’s departure of Audi – who have also recently confirmed their entry into Formula E – leaving Toyota as the only manufacturer in the LMP1 class.

For a team that is spending an estimated €250Million per season, Toyota must explore whether this huge investment is worth their time.

Back in March, Toyota Motorsport’s technical head Pascal Vasselon told Motorsport.com that the automaker would consider leaving WEC should the series focus more on promote electric technology as to the current emphasis on hybrids.

“The main reason for Toyota to participate in the WEC is to develop technology and specifically hybrid, so it would be nearly impossible for Toyota to take a step backwards”, stated the Frenchman.

Toyota Motorsport’s Technical Head Pascal Vasselon has questioned the manufacturer’s involvement in the WEC|Image: autonewsinfo

In June, the WEC announced their regulations changes ahead of the 2020 season, including batteries charging during pitstops and cars to finish each only on electrical power, as well as numerous cost cutting measures and development limitations.

Considering that Toyota aren’t contracted to the series beyond the end of this year, their commitment is vital towards the WEC’s sustainability in the long term.

Ginetta, Perrinn and BR Engineering have all announced plans to join the LMP1 class as privateers for 2018, alongside the existing Bykolles outfit.

Furthermore, these projects are significantly cheaper than that of Toyota’s, with Ginetta stating each of their cars should cost around £2Million apiece; a humongous gulf in development costs.

And with no updates regarding Peugeot’s potential return to WEC since March, the Toyota entry is seemingly becoming more unjustifiable by each passing day.

F1 Dominators – Lotus 72

The Lotus 72 is considered by many to be one of Formula One’s greatest and iconic cars|Image: Snap Lap

One of Formula One’s most iconic cars can also claim to be one of the sport’s most successful.

Competing between 1970 and 1975, the Lotus 72 claimed 17 Pole Positions and 20 Grand Prix victories from 75 Grand Prix starts, resulting in two Drivers’ Championships and three Constructors’ Championships.

The car was designed by team owner Colin Chapman and Maurice Philippe, the latter of whom focused on keeping the unsprung weight minimual to maximise the handling performance.

As a result, the 72 only weighed 540kg, and used anti-dive geometry suspension to prevent the car from nose diving under braking.

In addition to the use of two wheel drive and the naturally aspirated, mid-engined 440bhp V8 Ford-Cosworth DFV which was dominant at the time; Lotus were on course to return to winning ways.

The Lotus 72 debuted at the 1970 Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama – the second race of that year’s championship – and experienced a difficult start as Austrian Jochen Rindt retired whilst British team-mate John Miles failed to qualify.

Jochen Rindt driving the Lotus 72 on its debut at the 1970 Spanish Grand Prix at Jarama|Image: Snap Lap

It took until the midpoint of the season for Rindt to demonstrated the car’s full potential, winning four consecutive races in the Netherlands, France, Britain and Germany to ease into the lead of the Drivers’ Chmapionship and establish himself as Formula One’s rising star.

Unfortunately, tragedy was waiting around the corner.

During a practice session for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza, Rindt went out on track with the wings removed from his car in a bid to reduce aerodynamic drag.

Under braking for the Parabolica, a faulty brakeshaft caused Rindt’s Lotus to snap to the left and slam into the barriers which werent installed properly and were shattered. 

Consequently, Rindt suffered injuries to his throat which were sustained from his seat belt and was pronounced dead on his way to a local hospital.

Jochen Rindt, pictured here with his wife Nina moments before his fatal incident at Monza, is the only driver to be crowned a Formula One Champion posthumously|© Getty Images

His nearest competitor in the championship, Ferrari’s Jacky Ickx, was unable to accluminate enough points – in part helped by Brazilian Emerson Fittipaldi winning the United States Grand Prix to secure the Constructors’ Championship for Lotus – and Rindt became Formula One’s first, and to date, only posthumous champion.

For 1971, Lotus drafted in designer Tony Rudd from BRM to help with their development of the suspension, and introduced a new specification chassis. 

Nevertheless, the upgrades didn’t see the team remain competitive and they failed to win a single race as they dealt with a legal battle regarding Rindt’s fatal crash.

In 1972, Lotus’ fortunes changed once again as the car was modified to comply with new regulation regarding driver safety.

Furthermore, the oil tank and rear wing were moved back to improve the car’s rear downforce. 

Subsequently, this helped Fittipaldi towards five wins and become the youngest world champion at the time, aged 25 years and nine months, whilst sporting the now famous John Player Special livery.

The team also claimed the Constructors’ Title despite their other drivers, David Walker and Reine Wisell, both failing to score a point that year.

Emerson Fittipaldi, pictured here en route to victory at the 1972 British Grand Prix, held at Brands Hatch|Image: Snap Lap

For 1973, designer Philippe left the team was replaced by Martin Ogilive and Ralph Bellamy.

On the track, Lotus were in the need of a competitive team-mate for and drafted in Ronnie Peterson in their challenge against the duo of Jackie Stewart and François Cevert at Tyrrell.

The Lotus pairing claimed seven wins between them, regardless of their reliability issues, with Peterson taking four to Fittipaldi’s three

Despite this, Stewart’s five wins was enough for the Scotsman to claim his third world championship, although Lotus’ pace across the season awarded them with another Constructors’ crown.

For 1974, Fittipaldi left to join the McLaren team and was replaced by Jacky Ickx, whose season was dogged by reliability issues and only managed two podium.

Peterson on the other hand picked up another three wins but too suffered with reliability problems and finish the season in fifth, whilst Lotus dropped to fourth in the Constructors’.

1975 proved to be more difficult for Lotus as they struggled to challenge at the front with the all-conquering Ferrari 312T, with Ickx claiming a solitary podium for second place at the imfamous Spanish Grand Prix at Montjuïc, before the Belgian left the team mid-season.

The 1974 and 1975 seasons proved to be more difficult Lotus 72 and their drivers Jacky Ickx (foreground) and Ronnie Peterson|Image: Snap Lap

Super Formula – Yokohama to Provide Two Tyre Compounds for Motegi and Autopolis

Round four at Twin Ring Motegi will see the competitive debut of newer, and faster, soft and medium compound tyres.

Image Source: Yokohama

The organizers of the Super Formula Championship, JRP, have announced that tyre manufacturer Yokohama will provide teams with two different tyre compounds for the next two rounds at Twin Ring Motegi (August 20th) and Autopolis (September 10th).

The regulations for the series state that drivers must use two different tyre compounds during a race for rounds four and five, in order to make races more exciting and unpredictable.

Yokohama confirmed that the soft and medium compound tyres will be used for these races following a two day test at the Autopolis circuit, which returns to the schedule following its cancellation last year’s after the Kumamoto earthquake.

Itochu Enex Team Impul drivers Yuhi Sekiguchi and Jann Mardenborough tested on behalf of Toyota, likewise did Team Mugen’s Naoki Yamamoto and Pierre Gasly for Honda.

In a engine test held last month at the Sportsland SUGO, Yokohama debut the newer spec soft tyre, which was believed to be in the region of 0.5-0.8 seconds faster per lap than the 2016 spec.

FIA Formula Three – Ameya Vaidyanathan to debut at Spa-Francorchamps

Image Source: Autosport

Indian driver Ameya Vaidyanathan will make his Formula Three debut for the Carlin team this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps. 

Vaidyanathan has worked with Carlin before, having taken part in last year’s BRDC British Formula Three Championship.

He has also raced with Carlin in this year’s EuroFormula Open Championship – which uses the same chassis as FIA F3 – and is currently third in the Drivers’ standings, having won the first race at Spa-Francorchamps in addition to two podiums at Estoril and Paul Ricard. 

“I’m really looking forward to dovetailing my EuroFormula Open commitments with the remainder of the Formula 3 season with Carlin” said Vaidyanathan. 

He added: “The team has been consistently strong this season, and with three fast team-mates in Ferdinand (Hadsburg), Jehan (Daruvala) and Lando (Norris), I’m grateful to have such a massive opportunity to learn and improve as the year goes on.

“The field has proven to be uber-competitive, but I’m determined to contribute to the team’s overall success.”

Team boss Trevor Carlin has also spoke positively of the team’s latest addition: “Ameya has been a real asset to our EuroFormula Open team and has been really impressed us with his dedication, determination and results from the season so far.

“It’s going to be a whole new challenge for him in the FIA F3 Championship but we know from experience that he will be putting everything in to he upcoming weekend and the rest of the season.”

Vaidyanathan took part in the official FIA-spec F3 test today, completing 49 laps over the two sessions, with a best time of 2:34.511.
Carlin ran Jake Dennis in the fourth car for the first three rounds before the British driver joined Team WRT in the Blancpain GT Series.

Mercedes in Formula E – Why it Makes Perfect Sense

(Above): Mercedes Benz’s motorsport programme will be key to the development of road cars over the next couple of years.

Image Source: Autosport

In the Autumn of 2016, Mercedes confirmed reports that they had signed an agreement to enter the 2018/19 season of the FIA Formula E championship. 

Since this announcement, there has been a lot of speculation regarding their commitment to the series, which is why I’ll explain why the move is ideal for them.

For starters, Mercedes have confirmed that they plan to have an electric car in their showrooms by 2019 under its new EQ brand, and teamed up with Chargemaster – the UK’s largest provider of EV infrastructure – in November 2016

In addition to this, Mercedes want to have a plug-in hybrid option for every model in their range by 2020.

The Mercedes Generation EQ concept which debuted at the Paris Motor Show.

Image Source: Jalopnik

This was done in response to their German rivals Volkswagen, BMW and Audi, all of whom have introduced an electric vehicle onto the market. 

This alone would be enough for people to be convinced by Mercedes’ commitment to electric vehicles, but there is more evidence from their recent motorsport activity.

Speaking to Motorsport.com, Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag expressed his views on a Mercedes entry in the series: 

“I think the interest [from Mercedes] is very strong but for 2018/19 if they come, they will not be a manufacturer”.

Agag continued: “They will need to come with somebody. For 2019/20 they could come as a manufacturer still”.

Formula E CEO Alejandro Agag believes Mercedes are serious about a Formula E entry.

Image Source: CNN

This helps to explain why since signing the agreement with Formula E, Mercedes have been working closely with HWA on the project, who currently run their works team in DTM.

In November, HWA sent Mercedes-affiliated engineers to the Marrakesh ePrix who were spotted around the Mahindra garage.

More recently, HWA returned to the paddock alongside Mercedes team director Ulrich Fritz at the Brooklyn ePrix to explore their options further before committing to the series ahead of the deadline in October.

Furthermore, Mercedes have been linked with a takeover of the Venturi team, as from the start of the 2017/18 Formula E season, they will be working with the ZF Group, who specialize in the development of the chassis and drivetrain and currently work with Mercedes’ Formula One team.

On top of this, one of Venturi’s current drivers, German Maro Engel, is a Mercedes works driver who returned to DTM this year after a six-year absence from the series is likely to be considered for a seat should Mercedes join Formula E.

Venturi have been constantly linked with Mercedes in Formula E and currently have Mercedes Works Driver Maro Engel within their ranks.

Image Source: Style & Race

Engel has also driven a Mercedes for Erebus Motorsport in the 2013 V8 Supercar Championship and has also competed for the team at the Bathurst 12 Hour race in recent years.

Alongside this, former team boss and pundit Eddie Jordan recently claimed that Mercedes would pull out of Formula One after 2018 as their main sponsors, Petronas and UBS wouldn’t renew their contracts. 

Despite this, Mercedes – who are contractually bound to stay in Formula One until the end of the 2020 season – strongly denied this, claiming “Petronas is committed to Formula One and Mercedes for the long term”.

Petronas’ president Datuk Wan Zulkiflee Wan Ariffin was quick to follow suit, stating “We intend to stay the course [of our contract]”. 

Petronas then announced that they had indeed renewed their contract in a partnership which has seen them win 57 Grand Prix since the start of the Hybrid era in 2014.

It also worth noting that when asked about Formula E in September, Mercedes Executive Director Toto Wolff said the following: 

“Electrification will play a major role in the future of the automotive industry. This will make Formula E very relevant in the future”.

Toto Wolff understands the benefits Formula E can bring to Mercedes.

Image Source: Autosport

Given how Mercedes have responded to the rumours regarding where their priorities lie within motorsport so far, it is viable to suggest that Mercedes could also consider managing both Formula One and Formula E simultaneously.

This is proven by the fact that Renault are currently doing so, although at one point, they were linked with handing over their Formula E team to Nissan; a rumour which has since been proven to be false.

Should Mercedes opt to confirm their entry for the 2018/19 season, they will join Manufacturers Audi Sport (with the Abt team), BMW (Andretti), DS Automobiles (Virgin), Jaguar, Mahindra and Renault in addition to NextEV and Penske on the Formula E grid.

Taking into account the aims of Mercedes in the foreseeable future, Formula E would be ideal in their development of a powertrain for their road cars and seems they’ll join in sooner rather than later.